The NFL Handbook – Week 6

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The NFL is wild.

So, I’ve analyzed the data for each of the 14 NFL games on tap in Week 6, and have compiled this handbook to help you identify which match-ups to target in your fantasy leagues (should you find yourself with multiple starters on bye like myself), and have also laid out my game predictions should you find yourself in Vegas this weekend.

For the fantasy portion, I’ve broken each team’s fantasy relevant players into four categories:

  1. Ballers –  Either the you just aren’t benching, or the ones with favorable match-ups.
  2. Under the Radar – Guys who you may not start typically, but have a good opportunity to produce. Good for dfs (DraftKings, Fanduel, etc.) as they should have low ownership.
  3. Temper Expectations – Proceed with caution. May be players you’d normally start, or guys who’ve been playing well, but might not put up the numbers needed to justify a start this week.
  4. Bums – It’s a good idea to just avoid these guys in your lineups.

Complete Week 6 Player Rankings

For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from sportsinsights.com. A lot of the lines have moved in reaction to the money, injuries, etc., but picking and choosing which current odds to use felt a bit too arbitrary. If you have any questions regarding the updated odds, feel free to comment, shoot me an email: leonard@maximizeyourodds.com, or hit me up on Twitter: @maxingyourodds

Miami Dolphins (2-2, 2-2 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1, 2-2 ATS)

Spread: ATL -10

O/U: 47.5

Yeah, so the Dolphins have a (former) offensive line coach who wishes he was licking some woman’s urine producer while he records himself sniffing lines, a QB who just put up 92 yards against one of the league’s worst passing defenses (6 RBs rushed for more than 92 yards in Week 5, Leonard Fournette had a TD run that was just 2 yards less, and 9 WRs/3 TEs had more yards receiving in Week 5), and an offense that’s responsible for just 35 points (fewer than 16 kickers).

Yet, the Falcons are only favored by 10?!

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
MIA 14.64 (10th) 14.63 (8th) 17.90 (12th) 8.70 (24th) 9.50 (30th) 6.50 (8th)
ATL 15.00 (12th) 19.43 (19th) 16.80 (7th) 6.70 (11th) 6.25 (14th) 11.50 (31st)

Oh, that’s why.

The ineptitude of this offense draws most of the attention, rightfully so, but quietly this defense has been balling. Only Drew Brees has thrown multiple TD passes against them (2), at 70.25 rushing yards per game they’ve allowed the 6th fewest to opposing backs, no RB has reached the 60 yard mark against them, Keenan Allen is the only WR to hit 100, and they’ve allowed the 4th fewest points per game (16.75).

Balling.

Not to mention, Matt Ryan had just 3 TDs to 5 interceptions over his last 2 before the bye; don’t let the recency effect cause you to overlook that. He also has just one game this season in which he’s scored more than 15 fantasy points despite putting up a 6th best 277.3 passing yards per game.

He’ll start clicking at some point in the near future, but this week might not be the best to bet on a Ryan breakout performance. Thing is, there are 4 more teams on bye this week, so chances are he’ll still finish in the Top-15.

Another red flag with regard to going all in with the Falcons this week is Miami’s dominance against opposing running backs. Having allowed the 8th fewest fantasy points, and 6th fewest yards per game to the position, there aren’t many tougher matchups to be had.

However, Melvin Gordon caught 7 passes for 65 yards against them in Week 2, and Alvin Kamara brought in 10 for 74 in Week 4. So, combining the fact that Freeman has found the end zone in each of the Falcons games this season with his pass catching ability, I think he’ll be able to remain a viable fantasy starter this week.

I-I-I… I’m trying to give some sort of analysis on this Dolphins offense, but my fingers keep locking up. Even with the quality of this Dolphins defense, I struggle to see how they keep this scoring margin under 10 given the trashness of their offense. Falcons cover the 10, and it goes under the total.

Dolphins 12 – Falcons 27

Ballers: Jarvis Landry (PPR), Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Falcons DST

Under the Radar: Dolphins DST, Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy

Temper Expectations: DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Tevin Coleman

Bums: Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, Austin Hooper

Green Bay Packers (4-1, 3-2 ATS) at Minnesota Vikings (3-2, 2-3 ATS)

Spread: GB -4

O/U: 47

The Vikings haven’t announced their starter for this matchup with the division leading Packers, but if Monday night was of any significance, it should be Case Keenum.

At least until Bradford is 100%; which clearly is not the case at the moment.

Yes, they were able to get away with it against the deplorable Bears, but seeing how the Packers have won 12 of the last 15 against them, a less than 100% QB doesn’t seem to be the most effective strategy. Especially when you consider that Keenum has averaged 223.75 passing yards per game, has thrown 4 TDs, and has completed exactly 0 passes to guys wearing a different color jersey than his.

But, what do I know? I guess we’ll wait, and see.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
GB 14.79 (11th) 19.68 (22nd) 21.28 (21st) 2.94 (2nd) 7.60 (21st) 7.80 (13th)
MIN 12.81 (6th) 12.58 (2nd) 20.36 (18th) 8.88 (25th) 3.40 (8th) 8.40 (20th)

Regardless of who’s under center for the Vikes Sunday, they’ll need to take a page out of the Cowboys book and dominate on the ground if they’re going to stand a chance. The good news is, the Bears held Devonta Freeman to 37 yards in Week 1, Jacquizz Rodgers put up just 67 in Week 2, and Le’Veon Bell was held to 61 in Week 3… Jerick McKinnon just ran for 95 on them in his 1st start for the injured Dalvin Cook.

Oh, and the 104 yards the Packers have allowed per game to opposing RBs? Yeah, that’s the 8th most of any team.

If McKinnon is somehow available in your league, go ahead and change that now.

Last week also saw Aaron Jones make his 1st start of the season (and career) on Sunday. He also ran wild like a toddler’s nose in November as he dropped 125 yards on the Cowboys, and has a solid chance to make it 2 straight. Yes, the Vikings have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. But, that’s largely due to the 1 TD that they’ve allowed to the position; 2nd fewest of any team.

Le’Veon Bell, Ameer Abdullah, and Jordan Howard each ran for more than 75 yards against this defense while combining to average 3.89 yards per carry. Unfortunately for Jones, there’s a chance that Ty Montgomery makes his return this week. But, you have to figure he’ll still have a decent role in this Packers offense after his welcome to the NFL party Sunday.

And through the air for Green Bay? Should you consider leaving Aaron Rodgers on the bench? I mean, Rodgers has averaged just 211.3 yards per game while throwing 5 TDs and 2 INTs over his last 3 games at Minnesota, and the Vikings have allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points to the position.

But, wait! There’s Xavier Rhodes; who hasn’t allowed a #1 WR to put up more than 67 yards. Not sure if that’s a bad omen for Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams, but Adams has faced the Vikings 6 times in his young career and has gone over 50 yards just once, while averaging a mere 30.2 yards per game.

I’d err on the side of caution with Adams before Nelson.

All told, unless you have Watson or Brady, you’re not benching Rodgers. He’s Aaron Rodgers. However, the Vikings are the better team defensively, and their Top-10 rushing offense should be effective enough to keep Rodgers grounded. I like the Vikings +4, and a push on the total. Kai Forbath knocks down the game winner, and Vikings fans rejoice worldwide.

Packers 23 – Vikings 24

Ballers: Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Martellus Bennett, Jerick McKinnon, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen

Under the Radar: Aaron Jones, Case Keenum, Latavius Murray (PPR)

Temper Expectations: Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Kyle Rudolph

Bums: Jamaal Williams, Lance Kendricks, Michael Floyd

Detroit Lions (3-2, 3-2 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (2-2, 2-2 ATS)

Spread: NO -5

O/U: 50

The Lions were cubs for 3 quarters on Sunday, but that 4th though? Well, they looked like the Lions. Their 2 losses have now come by a total of 7 points – and to 2 of the NFC’s best teams I must add – yet, they open the week as 5 point underdogs at New Orleans?

Interesting, but not crazy.

For starters, this Saints defense – which has been a joke in recent memory – has been less Dave Chappelle, and more Tommy Lee Jones. True, it doesn’t appear to take the ’00 Ravens to hold these Dolphins scoreless, but they’re still an NFL team, with NFL talent, which no other team has managed to shutout. And before that, they went into to Carolina and held the Panthers to 13 points. The same Panthers who just put up 27 on a Lions defense which many consider to be one of the better units in the league.

Now, I’m no statistician (I just happen to know how to use Excel and have some extra time), but it seems to me that this Saints defense deserves a bit more credit than they’re receiving. Their 2.75 sacks per game rank 11th in the league, the 19.5 points they’ve given up per game are the 12th fewest, and they’ve allowed just 1 rushing TD on the season.

After Week 1 I thought the Saints defense looked a lot better than the box score indicated, same in Week 2, well the stats are starting to back up the potential they showed early in the season.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
DET 13.83 (8th) 16.54 (15th) 20.56 (20th) 8.26 (20th) 6.60 (16th) 6.20 (5th)
NO 17.59 (22nd) 19.68 (21st) 21.80 (22nd) 7.60 (18th) -0.25 (2nd) 8.00 (15th)

Not much of a disparity.

Well, the difference in fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs is rather large, but the Lions just allowed Cam to complete nearly 80% of his passes en route to 355 yards and 3 TDs; the Saints held him to 167 yards and 0 TDs just 2 weeks prior.

Yes, Cam still had the blonde tipped goatee at that point, and it’s hard to imagine a drastic change in health over that time period. But, you be the judge.

There’s also the extra week of rest, preparation, and the Adrian Peterson trade; which might just be the best thing that’ll happen for this Saints offense all season. You ever meet someone, find them attractive and interesting, and go out on a few dates only to realize it’s just not going to work out?

Maybe you like dogs, and they’re a cat person. Perhaps you like to read about football, and they’d rather discuss the economic effects of global climate change… Whatever the reason, you just know it’s not going to work.

Well, most of us have been there, and the Saints just ended their relationship with AP. It never really made sense to begin with, but that’s neither here nor there. What matters is that they no longer have to worry about getting AP his obligatory touches, and I think the result is addition by subtraction.

Even the greatest of RBs need touches to find a rhythm and truly get into that Christian Dior Denim flow. Trying to split carries between 3 backs kills that rhythm, and puts a damper on your rushing attack. No longer an issue. An improved run game also means less DBs in coverage, more effective play action, and an even better Drew Brees. Which doesn’t seem plausible; he’s been lights out to start the season.

That said, if you drafted Ingram or picked up Kamara, you can finally start them with confidence this week. The Lions Week 1 foe, Arizona, just traded to get AP because their run game has been nonexistent, and the Giants – who they faced Week 2 – haven’t fared much better. So, don’t let the their #15 ranking vs. opposing RBs scare you away.

Devonta Freeman dropped a buck-oh-six on them in Week 3, and Dalvin Cook followed that up in Week 4 with 66 yards on just 13 carries. They’ve also allowed the 5th most receiving yards per game to opposing RBs at 58.4 per contest, and a RB has found the end zone on them in 3 straight games.

Meanwhile, the Saints run d is trending in the opposite direction. After allowing 235 rushing yards in their 1st 2, they’ve held the opposition’s backs to just 149 yards combined over their last 2. Problem is, McCaffrey put up 101 yards on them via the pass back in Week 3, and on the season they’re allowing a league worst 75.8 receiving yards per game to opposing backs.

Theo Riddick will be a tough to pass up, low-cost, home run DFS play this week.

I’m really not sure why I put so much emphasis on the defenses early on because this game will not be a low-scoring affair. But, at the end of the day, I think the Saints have enough balance on both sides of the ball to come away with the W. Just not by 5.

Lions 23 – Saints 27

Ballers: Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara (PPR), Michael Thomas

Under the Radar: Theo Riddick (PPR), Marvin Jones, Willie Snead

Temper Expectations: Ameer Abdullah, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Jones, Ted Ginn

Bums: Eric Ebron, Brandon Coleman, Coby Fleener

New England Patriots (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at New York Jets (3-2, 3-2 ATS)

Spread: NE -9

O/U: 47

Just when I was starting to get excited about this early slate of games here comes this ish.

No, I’m not buying the other New York football team, but it was fun while it lasted. If you look at their remaining schedule there’s maybe one winnable game, and this isn’t it. The Patriots have won 10 of the last 12 against the Jets, and the last time the Jets beat them, Lonzo Ball was in High School.

Not sure why that’s relevant, but the NBA regular season tips off next week, and I’m excited. Sorry.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
NE 24.98 (32nd) 21.92 (29th) 27.36 (31st) 11.20 (29th) 1.60 (3rd) 7.60 (11th)
NYJ 16.04 (18th) 22.12 (31st) 20.30 (17th) 6.48 (10th) 8.40 (25th) 3.80 (1st)

The Patriots defensive struggles this season have been well documented, but deep down, we all knew it was just a matter of time before Matt Patricia took that pencil out from behind his ear and drew up something that would work.

Yes, Jameis Winston still dropped 334 yards on them  – making it 5 for 5 on QBs throwing for 300+ yards this season – but, for the 1st time in ’17, the Pats didn’t allow multiple TD passes, and allowed fewer than 20 points. They also limited the Bucs backs to just 79 yards rushing.

Oh, and this Jets offense is nowhere near that of the Bucs. And, even if they were, the Patriots had a long week to prepare.

This Jets defense has been somewhat better than expected, though. So, it’s not all love for the Patriots. The Jets have allowed just one 100 yard rusher, not a single receiver has eclipsed the 80 yard mark on them, and Tom Brady is dealing with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. But, stop it. Nobody really thinks the Jets defense is legit, they just happened to play the Browns, Jags, Dolphins, and Bills (Oakland lit them up).

So, listen. If you have to start Forte or McGuire, you’ll be fine. Especially in a PPR league. But, please do yourself a favor, and don’t go all “Oh, the Pats have stunk against the pass…”.

They’ve faced 5 of the most dynamic offenses in the league, and over the past 3 weeks, just 3 receivers have gone over 75 yards against this defense: DeAndre Hopkins (76), Kelvin Benjamin (104), and DeSean Jackson (106). Neither Jermaine Kearse – I always want to call him Jevon – nor Robby Anderson are on the level of any of those cats, and Josh McCown is still their QB; only 8 starting QBs have put up fewer passing yards per game than his 204.

*Plot Twist* The objects in mirror are closer than they appear Jets have covered the spread in 7 of their last 10 against New England, and will do enough to keep this one remotely competitive.

Patriots 27 – Jets 20

Ballers: Tom Brady, Mike Gillislee, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Under the Radar: Jermaine Kearse

Temper Expectations: Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Matt Forte, Elijah McGuire, Robby Anderson

Bums: James White, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, Josh McCown, Jeremy Kerley

San Francisco 49ers (0-5, 3-2 ATS) at Washington Redskins (2-2, 2-2 ATS)

Spread: WAS -10.5

O/U: 46.5

The 49ers are 0-5, yes. But, their last 4 losses have come by a combined 11 points, and they probably should’ve won 3 of them…

But, they’re the 49ers.

Meanwhile, the Redskins can’t seem to decide whether they want to be a good team, or a bad one. On the surface, it seems like their offense has taken a step back sans McVay. But, in reality, they’re averaging 22.8 points per game this season; just 2 fewer than the 24.8 they averaged a season ago.

It’s the defense that’s had multiple personalities. A defense that will be without Josh Norman, and possibly, leading tackler Zach Brown (though he’s likely to suit up).

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
SF 17.28 (21st) 21.96 (30th) 23.98 (25th) 2.14 (1st) 6.00 (12th) 12.40 (32nd)
WAS 15.12 (14th) 15.18 (11th) 11.88 (2nd) 12.10 (30th) 7.50 (20th) 9.25 (23rd)

The 49ers are dealing with a host of injuries on the defensive side of the ball as well, but lucky for them, they’ve had just one personality. Unlucky for them, that one personality has been magnanimous.

San Francisco has allowed practically everyone – the exception being opposing tight ends – to ball out on them. But, at the same time, no TE has seen more than 4 targets in a game. So, one could say that they’ve shut down opposing TEs, and another could say there’s really no need to utilize a TE when your RBs, and WRs are having their way.

Nobody eats the celery before the wings.

On the other side of the ball, Brian Hoyer has quietly thrown for 300+ in 2 of their last 3 games. Well, somewhat quietly. That Thursday night explosion was pretty loud, and unexpected. And, against the Colts? I think most of us saw a good game, just not quite that game. The problem with Hoyer is that he’s about as reliable as… Well… Brian Hoyer.

The good news is that the arrow is pointing up for this 49ers offense, and the bad news? We probably just saw Hoyer’s best game of the season. I wouldn’t advise streaming him this week expecting a repeat. Although, Washington has allowed at least 90 yards or a TD to every #1 TE they’ve faced this season, and Hoyer targeted George Kittle 9 times last week connecting on 7 for 83 and a TD.

Kittle has a gang of potential this week.

Then, there’s the Carlos Hyde/Matt Breida situation. I didn’t watch any of the game last week, but judging off Hyde’s 1.38 yards per carry, I have to assume his hip was giving him trouble. Thankfully, he’s not listed on this week’s injury report and has been practicing in full. But, given his injury history, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Breida continue to get around 10 touches per game.

If you have room on your roster for a stash, Breida is one of the better options. But, it’s probably best to leave him, and Hyde on the bench this week.

And, all the rest of the 49ers for that matter.

49ers 19 – Redskins 30

Ballers: Kirk Cousins, Chris Thompson, Terrelle Pryor

Under the Radar: George Kittle

Temper Expectations: Carlos Hyde, Pierre Garcon, Samaje Perine, Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed

Bums: Brian Hoyer, Matt Breida, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Josh Doctson, Vernon Davis

Chicago Bears (1-4, 3-2 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (3-2, 3-2 ATS)

Spread: BAL -7

O/U: 40

He wasn’t perfect. Missed a few throws, made a few bad reads, and settled for the check downs more often than not. But, I liked what I saw from Mitchell Trubisky Monday night.

A hell of a lot more than what I’d seen from Glennon at the least.

For starters, the Bears offense actually looked to have a bit of life. And secondly, the Bears actually had a chance to win the football game. Sure, it took a fake punt, and an obviously limited Bradford. But hey, sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

They’ll have to pull out all the stops again this weekend as Trubisky makes his 1st road start against a Ravens defense which has allowed the 7th fewest passing yards per game, and has the 2nd most interceptions.

Good luck, buddy.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
CHI 15.70 (15th) 18.02 (16th) 20.36 (18th) 7.96 (19th) 9.40 (29th) 8.60 (21st)
BAL 11.15 (4th) 20.30 (25th) 15.70 (6th) 9.52 (27th) 7.60 (21st) 6.40 (6th)

It’d be wise for the Bears to lean on the run game in this one.

As mentioned, Baltimore has been stout against the pass, but they’ve allowed 109.6 rushing yards per game to opposing backs; 7th most. They’ve also allowed more rushing TDs than all but 6 teams, and a total of 4 over the past 3 weeks.

Jordan Howard currently sits 9th among RBs in total fantasy points on the season, and the list of backs I’d start over him this week is about as long as Kluber’s outing tonight against the Yanks.

Outside of that, and you’re pushing your luck. But, I do think Kendall Wright, and Zach Miller are worth speculative adds with Trubisky under center, and Wright isn’t the worst of dice rolls this week. But seriously, there just isn’t much fantasy value to be had here.

On either side.

I mean, chances are, you’re not depending on any Ravens in your fantasy lineups (if you are, you’re probably not doing very well in the standings), but I’d suggest keeping them on your bench (waiver wire) this week if you were.

Yes, Flacco has looked better these past few weeks, but the Bears held Rodgers to 179 (he did toss 4 TDs though), Roethlisberger put up just 235, and Winston threw for a mere 204. Buck Allen looked good last week, Collins has been an under the radar staple, and the Bears have allowed a rushing TD in every game this season. But, come on. It’s just not a very wise move to depend on this Baltimore offense.

If you must, the Raven I’d feel most confident in is Allen. Just don’t set the bar too high.

Bears 20 – Ravens 23

Ballers: Jordan Howard

Under the Radar: Kendall Wright, Bears DST, Javorius Allen, Ben Watson

Temper Expectations: Zach Miller, Alex Collins

Bums: Mitchell Trubisky, Benny Cunningham, Tarik Cohen, Deonte Thompson, Markus Wheaton, Joe Flacco, Terrance West, Nick Boyle

Cleveland Browns (0-5, 1-4 ATS) at Houston Texans (2-3, 3-2 ATS)

Spread: HOU -9

O/U: 44

The question isn’t whether or not the Texans win. The question is, by how much?

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
CLE 19.97 (29th) 15.24 (12th) 18.36 (13th) 12.30 (31st) 9.80 (29th) 6.00 (4th)
HOU 18.18 (24th) 15.08 (10th) 19.90 (15th) 8.48 (22nd) 8.80 (27th) 9.40 (24th)

The answer? By less than you may think.

We’ve all heard that J.J. Watt is done for the season, you might have also heard that Whitney Mercilus is done as well. What you may not have heard, is that this defense had the 8th fewest sacks per game with both of them playing, has allowed more points per game than all but 5 teams, and has a questionable (at best) secondary.

Sure, it might not matter this week against the Browns and Kevin Hogan, but Mr. Hogan just completed 84% of his passes for 194 yards and 2 TDs… In a half.

Now, I’m not going to go all crazy, and call Hogan a must start. But, I’m letting you know now, he’s going to have himself a day.

I won’t waste any more of your time here, but this total? 44?! Entirely too low.

Browns 27 – Texans 35

Ballers: Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller

Under the Radar: Kevin Hogan, Isaiah Crowell, Ricardo LouisDavid Njoku, Seth DeValve, Ryan Griffin, Stephen Anderson

Temper Expectations: Duke Johnson, Kenny Britt, Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman

Bums: Kasen Williams, Bruce Ellington

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2, 1-3 ATS) at Arizona Cardinals (2-3, 0-5 ATS)

Spread: PK

O/U: 44.5

Everyone has a vice. Evidently, mine is the Cardinals.

It took me 4 whole weeks to accept that this was just not a good football team, and when I finally realized, processed, and accepted that as fact, what did I do? Well, I picked them to pull off an upset against the Eagles.

That worked out well.

I don’t know what it is about this team, but they keep calling me. I’m drawn to them like a cat to a ball of yarn. I write about how terrible they are for weeks, then recommend their players and pick them to win games.

It all makes no sense.

Well, I promise I’m done flip-flopping. I don’t care that they traded for Adrian Peterson, and his 3 yards per carry. Hell, bring back Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, and Dick Butkus while you’re at it. I’ve had it with this team, and their antics. Frankly, I don’t care if they play the Browns – they don’t – I’m fading them until further notice. They’ll lose every game from here out as far as I’m concerned; the love affair is a wrap. Done. Finito.

The breakup was long overdue. But nonetheless, liberating. Thankfully, I don’t owe any child support.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
TB 19.74 (28th) 15.55 (13th) 30.30 (32nd) 4.48 (3rd) 2.50 (6th) 7.50 (10th)
ARI 18.75 (27th) 14.20 (5th) 25.78 (28th) 6.96 (13th) 8.40 (25th) 9.40 (24th)

Carson Wentz threw about 12 TD passes against this Cards defense Sunday. Wait, what’s that? Apparently, he just chucked another one. Now, I promised I wouldn’t flip-flop, but I do have to point out one thing.

In Week 2, the Cards gave up 27.08 fantasy points to Stafford. The following week? 8.84 to Jacoby Brissett. In Week 4, they gave up 22.92 to Dak Prescott. The following week? 7.66 to Hoyer. Last week, they gave up eleventy-six to Carson Wentz… This week?

Yeah, Jameis Winston isn’t Brissett or Hoyer. Back to being the bitter ex who leaves all of your belongings in the yard, and burns all of your mementos.

Jameis will ball, as will DeSean Jackson and co. But, as is the case with most breakups there are always a few good memories. And, in this case, there’s one. Patrick Peterson is the best cornerback in the league. Period. Sorry, Mike Evans owners – and Mike Evans for that matter – but, this is not your week.

Everyone else on the Bucs gets the Oprah treatment. You get a TD, you get a TD, you get a million yards, you just do what you want, you get a house.

I hate the Cardinals.

Buccaneers: 27 – Cardinals 20

Ballers: Jameis Winston, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, Larry Fitzgerald

Under the Radar: Adam Humphries

Temper Expectations: Doug Martin, Mike Evans, Carson Palmer, Jaron Brown, John Brown

Bums: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andre Ellington, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham

Los Angeles Rams (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2, 3-2 ATS)

Spread: PK

O/U: 44

The Texans have recurrently won their division and made the playoffs. They’ve also been a QB shy of making any real noise in the postseason. Now, we’re only 5 weeks in, but this Jaguars defense has been one of the best units this league has to offer. Problem is, they’re a QB shy of making any real noise this season.

The Jaguars are now the Texans.

Evidently, actual jaguars (like the real life cats) once called Texas home. Who knew?

Anyway, back to the game at hand. If you’re anything like me you’re probably wondering, “Which animal would win in the wild? A ram, or a jaguar?” Clearly, this a major component when analyzing games between two animal mascots, and the 1st place your mind should go after reading thousands of words about football.

Well, based on some quick googlage, jaguars have the strongest bite force of any big cat (relative to weight), and seeing how mountain lion predation on bighorn sheep is the biggest factor in sheep mortality in many areas and jaguars are substantially stronger than mountain lions, the jaguar would win comfortably.

You’re welcome.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
LAR 15.10 (13th) 24.16 (32nd) 17.36 (9th) 7.36 (17th) 3.60 (9th) 7.80 (13th)
JAX 6.90 (1st) 19.66 (20th) 12.86 (3rd) 8.56 (23rd) 2.00 (4th) 7.60 (11th)

The football Jaguars will also win this one comfortably, and here’s why…

First and foremost, over 56% of Jacksonville’s offensive plays have been running plays; most in the NFL. Leonard Fournette ranks 2nd in rushing yards, and his 4.3 yards per attempt rank 13th. Meanwhile, only 4 teams have allowed more rushing yards per game to opposing RBs than the Rams, they’re allowing backs to average 4.59 yards per carry, and they’ve given up over a TD per game on the ground.

Secondly, this Jaguars pass defense is no joke. They lead the league in sacks and interceptions, have allowed the 3rd fewest passing yards per game, and have given up just 3 passing TDs on the season.

Yes, Goff has been impressive to start the season against some suspect secondaries, but he came back down to Earth last week against Seattle and it’s likely we’ll see a 2nd straight mediocre performance.

Third, the Jags run defense finally stepped up last week after being abused in 3 straight games. If they can hold Le’Veon Bell to 47 yards on 15 carries, no reason to think they can’t (at the least) slow down Gurley this week.

And lastly, Blake Bortles. He’s trending downward over his last 2 games (1 TD, 2 INTs, 3 sacks), but has done a good job at being who the Jags need him to be; a game manager who doesn’t force throws, and avoids putting them in tough spots. He shouldn’t have to throw the ball more than 20 times in this one, and that’s the recipe for success.

Rams 13 – Jaguars 24

Ballers: Leonard Fournette, Jaguars DST

Under the Radar: Cooper Kupp (PPR), Tyler Higbee, Chris Ivory, Marcedes Lewis

Temper Expectations: Todd Gurley

Bums: Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Gerald Everett, Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2, 2-3 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0, 5-0 ATS)

Spread: KC -4

O/U: 47

Ben Roethlisberger attempted 55 passes last week; more than any QB this season (From 1950 on, Drew Bledsoe’s 70 in 1994 are the most attempted in a single game in case you were wondering). He also managed to throw 5 interceptions, and it was the Steelers 5th game of the season.

I guess 5 was his lucky number.

Hopefully 6 is too, because it’d be pretty incredible to see him follow up the 5s with 66 pass attempts and 6 interceptions in the 6th game. I’m just weird like that.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
PIT 8.76 (2nd) 21.36 (27th) 10.42 (1st) 5.58 (7th) 7.00 (17th) 4.40 (2nd)
KC 18.62 (25th) 14.40 (6th) 25.64 (27th) 7.30 (16th) -0.40 (1st) 6.40 (6th)

For what it’s worth, the Chiefs have seen more passes thrown against them than all but 6 teams; so I’m saying there’s a chance!

But, switching gears for a second (because obviously the whole 6 thing is not going to happen), Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined to rush for 216 yards against these Steelers in Week 3. Alex Collins gained 82 on just 9 carries against them the following week, and last week saw Leonard Fournette galloping to the tune of 181 yards… Yeah, there’s also a chance that Kareem Hunt goes ballistic.

A pretty damn good chance.

There also seems to be a chance that Alex Smith isn’t quite as prolific as we’ve seen in recent weeks as Pittsburgh has allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs, the fewest to opposing WRs, and the 7th fewest to opposing TEs.

Don’t fret.

60% of the Steelers games this season have come against teams which find themselves among the Bottom-10 passing offenses; they also faced a Browns team which was led by a rookie QB making his 1st career NFL start. The one sensible game to look at in terms of the Steelers pass defense came Week 2 against the Vikings; they held Case Keenum to 167 yards.

Thing is, Alex Smith has found success this season without big numbers from his WRs. In fact, Tyreek Hill‘s 133 yards in Week 1 are the most a receiver has put up in this offense with the next closest being Hill’s 77 in Week 3. Smith still has more fantasy points than all QBs, is averaging 23.3 per game, and has been a Top-10 fantasy QB in 3 of 5 weeks. Over 30% of his passes this season have targeted Travis Kelce, and you’d have to combine the TEs that the Steelers have faced to match his ability.

And, if Seth DeValve, Kyle Rudolph, and Ben Watson can each go for 40 yards against this d, Kelce can go for 100+.

Big Ben will be fine too; even after his dreadful performance against the Jags. Yes, he’s been noticeably worse on the road in recent years, and yes he’s getting a little long in the tooth, but he’s still Ben Roethlisberger; around 260 and 2 feels about right.

I have a feeling this game is closer than we’d think based on how these two teams have looked to start the season. Especially if Justin Houston can’t go. But, the Chiefs are too explosive, and the Steelers offense has been too meh to think that they’ll cover the spread this week… At Arrowhead.

Steelers 20 – Chiefs 24

Ballers: Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce

Under the Radar: Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Temper Expectations: Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill, Chiefs DST

Bums: Jesse James, Albert Wilson, Demarcus Robinson

Los Angeles Chargers (1-4, 1-3-1 ATS) at Oakland Raiders (2-3, 2-3 ATS)

Spread:

O/U:

E.J. Manuel didn’t look terrible in his spot start against the Ravens, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the scoreboard. In any case, did you feel that breeze? Well, it was the collective audible exhales of Raiders fans across the globe with Carr practicing this week, and expected to start on Sunday.

Hopefully, he’s the Carr of old because this Raiders offense has averaged 12.3 points per game over their last 3, and look like a shell of the unit we saw lighting up the boards last season. And, they’ll have a good chance to get back on track against this Chargers d who’ve allowed 23 points per game; 12th most.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
LAC 15.79 (16th) 21.42 (28th) 23.36 (24th) 4.52 (4th) 4.60 (10th) 9.40 (24th)
OAK 16.22 (19th) 18.50 (18th) 17.12 (8th) 8.28 (21st) 7.00 (17th) 10.40 (29th)

While the Chargers have allowed 8 passing TDs to just 2 interceptions, the 214.2 yards they’ve allowed through the air – on a per game basis – is good for the 4th lowest average in the league. So, seeing how the Raiders have averaged the 7th fewest passing yards per game, I’m not expecting a 300 yard, 3 TD, triumphant return from Mr. Carr.

And, the Raiders won’t need it.

The artists formerly known as San Diego have surrendered the most rushing yards per game, and the highest yards per carry average to opposing RBs. Hell, even the Giants rushed for more than 100 yards against them; a feat they hadn’t accomplished all season.

Marshawn Lynch can get back to dancing.

His fellow dread-donning counterpart, Melvin Gordon, should also find some success – on the heels of his 1st 100 yard game of the season – as the Raiders have allowed more rushing yards per game to opposing backs than all but 5 teams. They’ve allowed just 1 back to find the end zone on the ground this season though, so I wouldn’t get too crazy with the Gordon love this week.

This game should be run dominant, tightly contested, and seeing how the Chiefs are running away with the division – the Broncos aren’t too far behind – I can’t see the Raiders letting this one get away. It has the feeling of an early season must win.

Chargers 24 – Raiders 27

Ballers: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree

Temper Expectations: Philip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Amari Cooper

Bums: Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates, Seth Roberts, Jared Cook

New York Giants (0-5, 2-3 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-1, 2-1-1 ATS)

Spread: DEN -9.5

O/U: 41

The Giants weren’t good. Then, they lost OBJ and Marshall for the season, Shepard will be out a few weeks, Rodgers-Cromartie said “eff it” and left so he’s suspended, Richburg has a concussion, Vernon is out, Casillas is out, Collins is questionable…

You could bathe in the tears of Giants fans. Hell, maybe even swim. I wonder if they’ll update the lyrics to the Sunday Night Football theme song… Nobody will be waiting all day for this one, and I doubt there will be much action.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
NYG 18.17 (26th) 20.30 (25th) 14.72 (4th) 14.28 (32nd) 7.60 (21st) 9.60 (27th)
DEN 15.85 (17th) 9.13 (1st) 20.28 (16th) 9.13 (26th) 6.00 (12th) 8.00 (15th)

If the Giants score, it’ll be an impressive feat. I guess if you want to play Engram he’s not the worst option at TE, but seeing how the Giants have -3 threats on the outside, he’s likely to see a ton of attention. Just avoid the temptation, and pick up A.J. Derby.

It should go without saying, but start all of your Broncos. The good news is, we get to go to bed early Sunday night. I’m done here.

Giants 10 – Broncos 28

Ballers: Trevor Siemian, C.J. Anderson, Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, Broncos DST

Under the Radar: A.J. Derby

Temper Expectations: Evan Engram

Bums: Eli Manning, Giants RBs, Roger Lewis, Tavarres King

Indianapolis Colts (2-3, 3-2 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (2-3, 2-3 ATS)

Spread:

O/U:

I’m sure this game had some appeal when the Monday Night Football schedule was being composed, but now?

Yawn.

There should be an abundance of offense though – even without Mariota – so it does have some appeal from the fantasy perspective. I just kind of enjoy defense, and this game won’t feature much.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
IND 20.38 (31st) 20.24 (24th) 23.10 (23rd) 10.22 (28th) 13.40 (32nd) 10.40 (29th)
TEN 20.34 (30th) 18.10 (17th) 26.24 (29th) 5.94 (8th) 8.00 (24th) 10.00 (28th)

See what I mean.

Colts 24 – Titans 31

Ballers: Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, DeMarco Murray

Under the Radar: Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack, Matt Cassel, Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker

Temper Expectations: Donte Moncrief, Kamar Aiken

Bums: Derrick Henry

As always, thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe, and follow on Twitter @maxingyourodds to stay up on all of the fantasy insight, and betting tips.

*Thursday Night Football*

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1, 3-2 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (4-1, 3-2 ATS)

Spread: CAR -3

O/U: 45

Over the past few seasons, staying awake through the Thursday Night Football games was tougher than making it through an 8 AM quarterly earnings meeting without coffee. This season, though? Hella entertaining.

For the most part.

And, this week’s matchup – between 2 of the best the NFC has to offer – might be the best one yet.

Coming into the season, many expected a bounce back season from Cam and company – after whatever the hell that was last season – and they haven’t disappointed. Well, depending how you feel about Greek yogurt and misogynistic (ish) remarks, they haven’t disappointed.

Those commercials were corny af anyway.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were a team who looked improved on paper. But, playing in one of the tougher divisions in football with a 2nd year QB at the helm, they seemed likely to be a year or 2 removed from serious contention.

Well, they’re for real, and this one should be fun.

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
PHI 16.98 (20th) 14.14 (4th) 26.34 (30th) 7.08 (14th) 3.20 (7th) 5.40 (3rd)
CAR 14.03 (9th) 14.56 (7th) 19.50 (14th) 6.08 (9th) 7.20 (18th) 8.00 (15th)

Remember the aforementioned 2nd year QB? Well, he goes by the name of Carson Wentz, and he’s looked pretty damn good despite facing some pretty tough defenses to start the season. 6th most fantasy points at the QB position, and more passing TDs than every QB not named Rodgers, Watson, Brady, Smith, or Prescott. Oh, and we can’t forget his 108 rushing yards; 8th most among QBs, and more than about 57% of the RBs who’ve touched the rock in 2017.

Well, what does he get for his efforts? A matchup against the team who’s put up the 3rd most sacks while allowing the 5th fewest passing yards per game, and 9th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs… On a short week.

You’re welcome.

Thing is, the Panthers opened with the 49ers, and Bills; 2 of the league’s worst passing offenses. Over the past 3 weeks – against Brees, Brady, and Stafford – they’ve allowed 7 passing TDs, 252 yards per game, and an average of 18.8 fantasy points per game. While it’d be a bit reckless to mention Wentz in the same breath as those 3 at this point, you have to figure he’ll be able to find some success through the air given how he’s performed thus far.

Cam should too.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s the adversity, maybe he’s 100% healthy, or perhaps it’s the little blonde tips of his goatee, but whatever it is, Cam Newton is back to performing at a MVP-esque level. Over the past 2 weeks, the former face of Oikos has 6 TDs to just 1 INT, an average of 335.5 passing yards per game, a rushing TD, and 59.24 fantasy points.

It’s not likely he’ll slow down this week either as the Eagles have been fairly generous to opposing QBs, and have about as many injuries on the defensive side of the ball as Derrick Rose has had over his career (bitter Knicks fan – sorry DRose).

One thing that caught my attention in looking at this Eagles team is the fact that they’ve ran the ball 155 times (3rd most), and have accumulated the 4th most rushing yards this season. I think we all know the Panthers are a run 1st team, but surprisingly, the Eagles have employed a similar approach.

This is not a week you’ll want to start your backs, however, as the Panthers have allowed just one RB to go over 50 yards (Mark Ingram – 56 in Week 3) and the Eagles have held opposing RBs to an average of 47.8 rushing yards per game. In fact, if you combine the average rushing yards allowed to opposing backs of these 2 teams (111.8) they’d still be better than 6 NFL teams.

The Panthers have allowed a rushing score in each of their last 3, though.

If you’re a fan of QB play, then this one’s for you. And, for that reason, I like the Panthers here at home. Yes, Wentz appears to have a bright future, but Cam is a proven vet, the Panthers are the healthier team, and have the advantage of playing at home. Give me the Panthers -3, and the under.

Eagles 20 – Panthers 24

Ballers: Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Cam Newton, Devin Funchess – Q, Kelvin Benjamin

Under the Radar: Alshon Jeffery

Temper Expectations: LeGarrette Blount, Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith, Christian McCaffrey (PPR), Ed Dickson

Bums: Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner, Jonathan Stewart

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