Evan Silva

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Silva's Week 5 Matchups

Sunday, October 8, 2017



Tennessee @ Miami
Team Totals: Titans 22.75, Dolphins 20.25

Despite a favorable Weeks 2-4 schedule against the Saints, Jets, and Chargers, Jay Cutler emerged with QB17, QB26, and QB30 results and is up to 11 straight games of fewer than 260 passing yards with just two multi-touchdown performances in that stretch. Simply not a good fantasy quarterback, Cutler is difficult to trust outside of two-quarterback leagues even against the Titans, whom Derek Carr (QB7), Russell Wilson (QB2), and Deshaun Watson (QB1) all flamed in the opening month. Blake Bortles’ QB25 finish in Week 2 against Tennessee is probably the range in which we should expect Cutler to land at this point. If Cutler’s play continues on his Weeks 3-4 track, the Dolphins are going to have to give serious consideration to inserting Matt Moore, even though coach Adam Gase shot down that idea in post-Week 4 press conferences. With all of this said, I've decided to have some matchup-driven DFS tournament exposure to Cutler this week. … Tennessee’s stout defensive front limited enemy running backs to a combined 98/347/3.43/2 rushing line in Weeks 1-4 and poses a less-than-ideal Week 5 matchup for Jay Ajayi, whose snap rates plummeted in the last two games (52%, 62%) due to negative script. As Ajayi is being used as essentially an early-down back only, his number of routes run has also dipped weekly (33 > 17 > 16). The good news is Miami should experience better script at home facing hamstrung Marcus Mariota or Matt Cassel. Albeit a major disappointment so far, Ajayi remains a volume-based, low-end RB1.

Cutler’s Weeks 2-4 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 33; DeVante Parker 27; Kenny Stills 18; Julius Thomas 12; Ajayi 6; Kenyan Drake 5. … The Titans bleed wide receiver production, having yielded stat lines of 10/107/1 (DeAndre Hopkins), 10/105/1 (Doug Baldwin), 6/83/0 (Michael Crabtree), 6/82/1 (Allen Hurns), 7/76/0 (Marqise Lee), 5/62/1 (Amari Cooper), and 2/30/1 (Paul Richardson). They’ve been dusted badly by slot and perimeter receivers alike, playing nicely into Landry and Parker’s hands. (This is one reason we can perhaps keep a light on for Cutler despite his atrocious to-date play.) Running nearly 80% of his routes outside, Parker has breakthrough potential against Titans RCB Brice McCain and rookie LCB Adoree Jackson, who both have bottom-30 coverage grades among 110 qualified corners at Pro Football Focus. … Landry plays 68% of his snaps in the slot, similar to Baldwin and Hurns listed above. Averaging 11 targets per game, Landry should be a high-floor WR2 play in this cupcake matchup. Landry has scored just four TDs over his last 25 games, so perhaps he is “due" for an end-zone trip. … If Stills is going to pop up for a big week, it would be more probable to occur in a matchup like this, although we could have said the same for Stills against the Saints last week. Nevertheless, Tennessee has allowed the NFL’s eighth-most 20-plus-yard completions and Stills ranks second on the Dolphins in 20-plus-yard targets (6) behind only Parker (9). … Thomas’ target totals three games in are 3 > 5 > 4. He’s just a touchdown-or-bust streamer for Week 5.

The Titans are a tough team to analyze because their quarterback situation may come down to a game-time decision. For this column, we’ll assume Marcus Mariota (hamstring) starts after he practiced in some capacity each day this week. Mariota would likely have limited mobility, concerning since Mariota has gone ten games without reaching 300 passing yards and has thrown for 300 yards just once in his last 25 starts. A disappointment thus far, Mariota’s weekly finishes are QB6 > QB18 > QB24 > QB16. I’m streaming guys like Jacoby Brissett over him this week. … Last week’s loss to Houston got so lopsided so early that we gleaned zero concrete takeaways on Tennessee’s backfield distribution. We do know DeMarco Murray is averaging 12 touches per game to Derrick Henry’s 10, and coach Mike Mularkey has indicated a near-even timeshare is the new norm. Murray is a low-floor RB2 option and Henry a risky flex against a Miami defense that has held enemy backs to a combined 66/214/3.24/2 rushing line.

Mariota’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Rishard Matthews 29; Delanie Walker 23; Eric Decker 19; Corey Davis 13; Murray, Jonnu Smith, Taywan Taylor 6; Henry 1. … This is a “revenge game” for Matthews against the same Dolphins team that refused to play him for the first four years of his career, then let him walk for a below-market free agent deal to Tennessee. Miami’s secondary is among the worst in the league, notably yielding big games to Keenan Allen (9/100/0), Robby Anderson (3/95/1), and Michael Thomas (8/89/1). If Mariota indeed starts, Matthews needs to be played in season-long leagues and considered seriously in DFS tournaments. … Decker has finished below 50 yards in every game this year. He’s in prove-it mode for the foreseeable future until he puts something substantial in a box score. … Walker is an entirely Mariota-dependent fantasy play. Over the past three seasons, Walker is scoreless with a 61-yard average in Mariota’s five missed games.

Score Prediction: Dolphins 24, Titans 20

Buffalo @ Cincinnati
Team Totals: Bengals 21, Bills 18

Bills-Bengals projects as a sluggish, fantasy-unfriendly affair with Week 5’s second-lowest game total (39.0). Even after back-to-back multi-touchdown performances and last week’s overall QB3 result, Andy Dalton is tough to trust versus a Bills defense that has surrendered quarterback finishes of QB25 (Matt Ryan), QB27 (Trevor Siemian), QB21 (Cam Newton), and QB23 (Josh McCown) while yielding a league-low 13.5 points per game. Even if improvement on his atrocious Weeks 1-2 was always inevitable, Dalton is just a two-quarterback-league option against the shutdown Bills, who have allowed one touchdown pass through four games. … Joe Mixon’s Week 4 production wasn’t there, but the requisite usage was. He tallied backfield highs in touches (21) and snaps (48%) for the second straight week, but Jeremy Hill remained frustratingly involved with 26 yards on seven touches, and Giovani Bernard turned his lowly six touches into 79 yards and a score. While Mixon’s per-play efficiency left much to be desired in last week’s road-game win over Cleveland, I’m sticking with Mixon as an RB2 in this home date with Buffalo. Showing signs of a run-funnel defense, the Bills gave up a combined 45/230/5.11/2 rushing line to Broncos and Falcons backs in their last two games. I sympathize with any frustration associated with Mixon, but the usage, matchup, and home-favorite boxes are all checked for a bounce-back Week 5.

Dalton’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: A.J. Green 38; Brandon LaFell 17; Bernard and Tyler Kroft 12; Mixon 11; Tyler Boyd 7; Alex Erickson 6. … The Bills’ zone defense has had a limiting effect on enemy wideouts, giving up just one game of 80-plus yards to the position (Demaryius Thomas, 6/98/0) four games in. Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin (6/77/0), Emmanuel Sanders (7/75/0), Devin Funchess (4/68/0), Jermaine Kearse (7/59/0), and Bennie Fowler (4/55/0) all reached or exceeded expectations against Buffalo in Weeks 1-3, however, before Julio Jones (hip) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) suffered game-ending injuries in last week’s upset. Based on to-date data, we should expect a solid game but not a high-upside one from Green. I’m obviously still starting him in all season-long leagues and sprinkling him into DFS lineups. … LaFell has been held to 30 yards or fewer in four straight weeks to begin the season. … Kroft’s two-touchdown Week 4 breakout speaks more to the Browns’ burnable defense than Kroft’s going-forward outlook. The Bills checked Jets tight ends in Week 1 (5/59/0), Panthers tight ends in Week 2 (3/36/0), Broncos tight ends in Week 3 (4/23/0), and Falcons tight ends in Week 4 (8/71/0).

Tyrod Taylor’s home-away splits were stark in 2016 and have spilled over into this year. Taylor has thrown just 6-of-22 touchdown passes (27%) on the road since the beginning of last season, and this year Taylor has recorded weekly finishes of QB9 and QB17 at The Ralph compared to QB27 and QB17 in away games. The good news is Week 5 opponent Cincinnati has allowed a league-high 100 rushing yards to enemy quarterbacks, while Taylor ranks first at his position in rushing attempts (31) and third in rushing yards (118). Still, Tyrod is tough to back as more than a two-quarterback-league starter and low-end streamer away from Buffalo against a Bengals defense yielding the NFL’s tenth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and third-fewest passing yards per game (164.8). … Stymied on the ground in three straight games, LeSean McCoy draws another difficult test versus a Bengals run defense that got back WLB Vontaze Burfict last week and has limited enemy running backs to a 96/332/3.46/2 rushing line on the season. Since gashing the Jets for 159 total yards in Week 1, McCoy has averaged just 73.3 total yards per game and 2.30 yards per carry. McCoy remains an every-week RB1 based on talent and locked-in volume, but it’s fair to say first-year OC Rick Dennison’s new zone-based running scheme is off to a slow start.

Taylor’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Charles Clay 25: McCoy 23; Zay Jones 17; Jordan Matthews 13; Andre Holmes 8; Kaelin Clay 4; Mike Tolbert 3. … Clay enters Week 5 with the NFL’s eighth-most targets, fifth-most catches (18), third-most yards (227), and second-most touchdowns (2) among tight ends. He is a legitimate every-week TE1. For matchup purposes, it is notable the Bengals gave up a combined 5/64/1 receiving line to Packers tight ends in Week 3, but have otherwise shut down the position. Still, slot man Matthews’ (thumb) loss should free up targets in the middle of the field for Clay to continue to eat. … Jones’ Weeks 1-4 target totals were 4 > 6 > 2 > 5 with zero games of 25 yards. Even in Matthews’ absence, Jones can be left on season-long waiver wires. Holmes will start opposite Jones going forward.

Score Prediction: Bengals 20, Bills 17

LA Chargers @ NY Giants
Team Totals: Giants 24, Chargers 21

In a battle of 0-4 teams, the Giants host the cross-country-traveling Chargers in a 1pm ET game where L.A. is at a distinct time-zone disadvantage in addition to facing significant on-field matchup concerns. The Giants have allowed just 17.9 points per game at home since the beginning of the 2016 season, while New York has the necessary coverage mavens to slow Bolts top wideouts Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams in CBs Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Philip Rivers has been a top-12 fantasy quarterback in three of his first four games, but he also has 28 turnovers over his last 16 starts. I like the Giants’ fantasy D/ST as a Week 5 streamer. … Melvin Gordon handled his usual snap rate (74%) in last week’s loss to the Eagles, but his 11 touches were a season low, and the coaching staff’s decision to mix in Branden Oliver and Austin Ekeler more than usual suggests they were seeking a spark. Ekeler delivered on his lone carry, scoring from 35 yards out for the Bolts’ longest run play of the year. Battling an ongoing knee injury, Gordon is averaging an anemic 3.11 yards per carry with just one 15-yard run among 54 attempts. The Giants have played sub-par run defense by surrendering 4.50 yards per carry to enemy running backs, but they’ve allowed the NFL’s third-fewest receiving yards (94) and a league-low 12 receptions to the position. Until Gordon shows he is healthy enough to resume handling big workloads and producing at enhanced efficiency, we need to downgrade him to a risky fantasy RB2. My gut says Gordon is a sell-while-you-still-can commodity in season-long leagues, ideally targeting a slow-starting wideout like Julio Jones or Dez Bryant.

Rivers’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Keenan Allen 40; Tyrell Williams 24; Travis Benjamin 20; Gordon 19; Antonio Gates 17; Hunter Henry 10; Oliver 8; Ekeler 5. … Running 55% of his routes inside, Allen will have his hands full with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who played a pivotal role in containing Cole Beasley (3/32/0), Golden Tate (4/25/0), and Nelson Agholor (2/20/0) in Weeks 1-3 before Bucs slot WR Adam Humphries dropped a 6/70/0 line on the G-Men last week. Allen’s matchup doesn’t stand out, but his volume is bankable, and he is one of the NFL’s hardest receivers to cover. He has at least nine targets in all four games. … The Eagles busted Williams’ three-game slump last week, allowing Williams to get far behind their defense for a 75-yard TD en route to a season-best 5/115/1 receiving line. Williams moves around enough to sporadically avoid Janoris Jenkins and draw struggling RCB Eli Apple on a healthy dose of plays, but this matchup isn’t nearly as favorable as last week’s. Williams is a boom-bust WR3. … If the Giants don’t use Jenkins to shadow and play the Bolts straight up, Benjamin projects to run the most routes at Apple. Benjamin, of course, if far from trustworthy. He is a WR4 dart throw with weekly target counts of 4 > 3 > 8 > 2 and one 50-yard game in four. … The Giants have been dusted by Jason Witten (7/59/1), Eric Ebron (5/42/1), Zach Ertz (8/55/1), O.J. Howard (2/63/1), and Cameron Brate (4/80/1). There isn’t a better matchup for tight ends, but figuring out which Bolts tight end will capitalize is a weekly conundrum. My bet is on Henry, who ran a season-high 25 routes in last week’s loss. Gates is entirely touchdown-or-bust with zero games above 30 yards.

Widely left for dead after the first two games – including by me – Eli Manning has been resurrected in the Giants’ up-tempo, quick-out passing game with Odell Beckham at full strength. Manning has turned in back-to-back top-ten fantasy QB finishes in a pass-first attack, averaging 48 attempts per game over the past two weeks. A run-funnel defense that has limited enemy passing games but is highly vulnerable on the ground, the Chargers contained Carson Wentz (QB16), Alex Smith (QB22), and Jay Cutler (QB19) in Weeks 2-4. The run-deficient Giants seem unlikely to change their pass-oriented approach based on L.A.’s defensive strengths and weaknesses, however, keeping Manning on the fantasy-starter fringe. As long as Beckham is healthy, he is capable of elevating teammates, and Eli in particular. … With Paul Perkins (ribs) and Orleans Darkwa (back) banged up, rookie Wayne Gallman looks like the favorite for Giants backfield touches after parlaying 11 carries and two catches into 50 yards and a score in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay, logging 39% of the snaps. Shane Vereen played only 28% of New York’s Week 4 downs, logging six touches. Vereen has yet to reach double-digit touches in a game this year. Gallman is a flex play with upside for more against a porous Chargers run defense that is allowing 5.36 yards per carry to opposing running backs and got pummeled for 214 rushing yards by the Eagles last week.

Manning’s Weeks 2-4 target distribution with Odell Beckham playing: OBJ 33; Brandon Marshall 26; Evan Engram 25; Sterling Shepard 19; Vereen 7; Perkins 6; Gallman 2. … No. 1 wideouts to face the Bolts the past three weeks are Alshon Jeffery (3/29/1), Tyreek Hill (5/77/1), DeVante Parker (4/85/0). Top CB Casey Hayward won his battles against Jeffery in last week’s Eagles-Chargers game, but didn’t shadow him for four quarters. Last season, Beckham scored seven of his ten touchdowns at home. … The Bolts put clamps on Julius Thomas (3/26/0) and Travis Kelce (1/1/0) in Weeks 2-3 before Zach Ertz stung them for 5/81/0 on eight targets last week. Engram has earned every-week TE1 treatment by ranking second among tight ends in targets (30), third in catches (19), and fifth in yards (200). The Giants’ fast-paced, ball-out-quick, pass-based approach perfectly suits Engram’s game. … Despite continued inefficiency, Marshall has stayed PPR relevant with consecutive double-digit-target games as the G-Men try to feed him run-after-catch opportunities. It’s worth noting Chargers RCB Trevor Williams has been excellent in place of Jason Verrett (knee, I.R.). As long as the Giants keep throwing at high-volume clips, Marshall can be a weekly WR3/flex factor. … Shepard has reached 60 yards once in four games this season and just four times in 20 career games. Shepard will likely pop up for another solid week at some point, but it won’t be easy to see coming. He’s taken the biggest hit from Marshall and Engram’s offseason additions.

Score Prediction: Giants 24, Chargers 20


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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