I really don’t understand these Saturday games, but whatever, I won’t bore you with my grumbling. Two more games on deck this Saturday, and I’ve analyzed both – providing an overview of each team’s outlook from the fantasy football perspective, some statistical “analysis”, and my betting picks.
For the fantasy portion, I’ve broken each team’s fantasy relevant players into four categories:
- Ballers – Either the guys you just aren’t benching, or the ones with favorable match-ups. Either way, they should be in your lineups.
- Under the Radar – Guys who you may not start regularly, or have what appear to be tough matchups, but have a good opportunity to produce. Good for dfs (DraftKings, Fanduel, etc.) as they should have low(er) ownership.
- Temper Expectations – Proceed with caution. May be players you’d normally start, or guys who’ve been playing well in recent weeks/have a plus matchup, but might not put up the numbers needed to justify a start this week.
- Bums – It’s a good idea to just avoid these guys in your lineups.
For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from sportsinsights.com. The lines have moved in reaction to the money, injury updates, etc., but picking and choosing which current odds to use felt a bit too arbitrary.
Indianapolis Colts (3-11, 6-8 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 8-5-1 ATS)
Spread: BAL -13.5
|FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION|
|IND||17.73 (26th)||20.44 (28th)||22.64 (26th)||8.21 (24th)||10.64 (30th)||8.57 (22nd)|
|BAL||10.05 (2nd)||19.42 (22nd)||16.21 (3rd)||7.76 (21st)||5.43 (12th)||7.57 (15th)|
The Colts literally have nothing to play for; outside of securing a top draft pick of course. But, riddle me this, since ensuring a loss would kind of involve them not “playing”, does that really count as something to play for? Don’t give me that “pride” argument either.
Pride is long gone at this point.
But the Ravens? Well, they find themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race and giving a game away, at home, to the woeful Colts?
The Colts have a -143 point differential on the season (only the Browns are worse) and this Ravens defense is one of the best that this league has to offer.
Again, not happening.
Yeah, yeah, Baltimore allowed 506 passing yards to Ben Roethlisberger just two weeks ago. They’ve held every other QB they’ve faced under 300 – including their 1st matchup with Big Ben. In fact, 7 of the 14 starting QBs who’ve tried their luck against this Ravens D failed to even reach 200 yards through the air.
Jacoby Brissett ranks 27th at 197.8 yards per game.
Seems like a good time to also mention that Baltimore hasn’t allowed a receiver to find the endzone in five-straight games, and they’ve kept tight ends from dancing in eight-straight. ATTN: T.Y. Hilton/Jack Doyle owners, you’ll need to look elsewhere this week. If you hadn’t already made that move, that is.
And, I hate to say it – I’ve been a fan of Frank Gore since the U days – but his owners draw a similar fate this week. Not because the Ravens run D is dominant (it’s not), but because the Colts offense has been tragic.
Let’s start with the positives…
Over the Ravens last four games, they’ve allowed RBs to pick up six TDs on the ground, another two receiving, and the 12 rushing TDs they’ve allowed backs on the season are more than all but three teams. So if I had to bet on one Indy player to score this week, the answer would be Gore.
The bad news, well, Gore has just three rushing TDs on the season – which puts him 35th among running backs. The bad, bad news, two of the Colts last three losses have come by double-digits, and in those two games, Gore had 13 and 10 carries. Here’s why the bad outweighs the good in this case:
- Remember how Indy has nothing to play for, but Baltimore does? Yeah, this will likely be a double-digit W. Meaning we’re probably not going see a gang of carries from Gore.
- The 18.3 points the Ravens are allowing per game are the 4th fewest, and the 16.1 Indianapolis scores leads only the Browns. Meanwhile, only the Texans are allowing more points per game than the Colts, and surprisingly, Baltimore ranks 8th at 24.6 points per game. Again, this will likely be a double-digit W. Meaning we’re probably not going to see a gang of carries from Gore.
- Baltimore is allowing RBs to pick up 3.96 yards per carry. So, if we generously estimate 15 carries, that’ll put him at 59 yards – he’s averaged 56.6 on the year.
I could go on, but unless he scores, you’re looking at about 7 fantasy points max. Not exactly a good look in the fantasy playoffs. However, if the Colts can slow down the Ravens offense and keep the game semi-close, Gore could be solid.
Here’s why the Colts won’t slow down the Ravens offense or keep the game semi-close…
They just made Brock Osweiler look like a Hall of Fame QB while also allowing C.J. Anderson to rush for 158 yards – Anderson hadn’t rushed for more than 75 yards in six-straight games, and the Broncos backs had combined to rush for 188 total yards in their three games prior.
True, Jeremy Maclin is listed as doubtful – and that hurts – but Joe Flacco has put up three-straight solid performances. Mike Wallace was his leading receiver in all three. Oh, and the Ravens also boast one of the better rushing attacks in the league.
Colts 10 – Ravens 26
BAL -13.5, UNDER 41
Ballers: Alex Collins, Mike Wallace
Minnesota Vikings (11-3, 10-4 ATS) at Green Bay Packers (7-7, 7-7 ATS)
Spread: MIN -9
|FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION|
|MIN||12.42 (4th)||13.67 (1st)||18.44 (9th)||5.25 (1st)||2.57 (4th)||7.79 (17th)|
|GB||17.54 (24th)||19.81 (23rd)||23.32 (29th)||6.17 (7th)||7.93 (21st)||8.71 (24th)|
So many parallels between this game and the Colts x Ravens matchup we just broke down. The NFC just said, “hold my beer…”
Like Indy, Green Bay has nothing to play for as they’ve officially been eliminated from Playoff contention. So yeah, the return of Aaron Rodgers was fun while it lasted, but it’s back to Brett Hundley we go. And, seeing how their injury report is about as long as the UCONN women’s basketball team’s historic winning streak, I’d imagine he’s not the only vet we’ll see missing on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Minnesota still has some work to do if they’d like to lock up a first-round bye. Now no, I don’t have any “sources” nor have I confirmed this next statement in any way imaginable, but the Vikings would like to lock up a first-round bye. And while a W here won’t complete that objective, it’s a necessary first step.
Consider step one complete.
If you haven’t heard by now, Case Keenum is balling his ass off this season. His 3,219 passing yards rank 12th, his 98.9 passer rating ranks 8th, and his 67.9% completion rate is higher than every QB not named Drew Brees. Keenum has thrown multiple TD passes in four-straight games, and over their last four, Green Bay has allowed a whopping 13 passing TDs (including three to DeShone Kizer who has just six total in his 12 other games).
Oh, and making matters even more bleak for this Packers D, Clay Matthews is listed as questionable while Nick Perry is doubtful. Matthews leads the Packers with 7.5 sacks, and Perry is right on his heels with 7. Considering that Mike Daniels is next on the list with just four, and no other player even has three, doesn’t sound like Green Bay will be able to apply much (if any) pressure on Keenum.
Not a good look.
There’s also that part about this Vikings rushing attack ranking 9th in yards, and 7th in TDs. Green Bay hasn’t allowed a rushing TD to a RB in four-straight games, but they have allowed two backs to rush for 100+ yards over that stretch – Le’Veon Bell almost made it three with 95 – while giving up 4.7 yards per carry. Lest we forget, the 51.5 receiving yards they’ve allowed to backs on a per game basis are the 5th most – Jerick McKinnon ranks 9th among RBs in receiving yards.
So, let’s connect all of the dots…
It’s hard to imagine this Vikings offense struggling.
Hard to imagine their defense struggling either with Hundley back under center for the Pack. Don’t get me wrong, Hundley hasn’t been horrible in relief of Rodgers, but over his seven starts receivers not named Davante Adams combined to put up 53 catches for 457 yards (65.3 yards per game). Adams alone brought in 41 passes for 489 yards over those same seven (69.9 yards per game).
Adams will not be playing in this game.
That said, Randall Cobb is likely to gain some interest as a streaming option this week – I mean he has been Hundley’s 2nd favorite target and is the best bet to see a plethora of targets – seems logical, right?
Don’t do it.
Rodgers, Hundley. Adams, no Adams. Only one WR has gone over 100 yards against this Vikings D, and the nine TDs they’ve allowed to the position are fewer than all but five teams.
… Minnesota has also been virtually unrunonable (yes, that’s a word).
Lambeau has produced quite a bit of magic over the years, yes. But, even David Copperfield would struggle to produce a favorable outcome in this one.
Vikings 27 – Packers 3
MIN -9, UNDER 42
Under the Radar: N/A
Temper Expectations: Jamaal Williams, Randall Cobb