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Evan Silva

Matchups

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Silva's Week 8 Matchups

Sunday, October 28, 2018



Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Team Totals: Steelers 28.5, Browns 20.5

Whereas the Steelers are fresh off their bye, Cleveland visits Heinz Field having gone to overtime in 4-of-7 games and logged 524 defensive snaps, 34 more than any other NFL team. Browns defenders played an exhausting 95 downs in Week 7’s road loss, allowing Jameis Winston to emerge with QB4 results. Cleveland badly misses 2017 Pro Bowl MLB Joe Schobert (hamstring), and CBs Terrance Mitchell (wrist) and E.J. Gaines (concussion). This is a home-game smash spot for Ben Roethlisberger, who showed a high floor and ceiling with top-12 fantasy finishes in 4-of-5 pre-bye starts. Big Ben has the NFL’s fifth-highest QB rating when blitzed (114.7), notable since Browns DC Gregg Williams blitzes at the league’s second-highest rate. … As Le’Veon Bell again failed to report, James Conner will get at least one more game as Pittsburgh’s workhorse versus a Browns defense that has surrendered a crisp 177/784/8 (4.43 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. Despite facing eight-plus defenders in the box at the league’s third-highest rate (39%) and receiving the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards created before contact per rushing attempt (2.4) from Pittsburgh’s middling offensive line, Conner is averaging 4.40 yards per carry – superior to Bell’s 4.02 average in 2017 – with five 20-plus-yard runs on 103 attempts, already more than Le’Veon had all last season (3) on a league-high 321 carries. Pittsburgh is scoring 3.1 more points per game than last year, and their yards-per-play average has risen from 5.8 to 6.2 with Conner at tailback.

 

 

Big Ben’s Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Antonio Brown 72; JuJu Smith-Schuster 63; Conner 35; Vance McDonald 25; Jesse James 21; Ryan Switzer 15; James Washington 14. … Even in an abysmal game by Roethlisberger, Brown emerged from these clubs’ Week 1 meeting with 9/93/1 receiving and has scored in 5-of-6 games this year. Not that it’s a fantasy worry, but Brown will likely draw shadow coverage from impressive rookie CB Denzel Ward, who checked John Brown (5/58/0) in Week 5, Keenan Allen (4/62/0) in Week 6, and a combination of Chris Godwin (5/59/0) and DeSean Jackson (2/25/0) in Week 7. A.B. can teach Ward a thing or two. … JuJu overcame multiple drops in Pittsburgh’s pre-bye win over Cincinnati for 7/111/0 receiving despite losing a touchdown on replay review. In two career dates with the Browns, JuJu has landed haymaker lines of 9/143/1 and 5/119/0. … McDonald shook off a quiet Week 5 for seven catches and 68 yards on eight targets in Week 6, most notably dump-trucking NFL-dirtiest-player Vontaze Burfict on a 26-yard catch and run. Among NFL tight ends, only George Kittle (359) and Travis Kelce (264) have more yards after catch than McDonald (210), who has well over 20 fewer targets than both. The Browns have defended tight ends better this year, although they did give up 111 yards to Bucs tight ends last week and badly miss MLB Schobert as their defensive communicator.

Week 7’s most-worrisome development was Hue Jackson stating after Cleveland’s OT loss to Tampa Bay that he needed more offensive say. First-year OC Todd Haley has done miserable play-calling and game-planning jobs, but no one is worse than Hue. Thankfully, Jackson backed down later in the week. … Baker Mayfield heads to Heinz Field with fantasy results of QB20 – QB15 – QB21 – QB8 in four starts, giving him two-quarterback-league but fringe streamer appeal. Showing incremental signs of defensive competence, the Steelers held Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton to below-par QB18 finishes in their final two pre-bye games. Pittsburgh is a selective blitzing team, but this is a good opportunity to dial it up. Mayfield has the NFL’s fourth-lowest QB rating (66.3) when blitzed, and Browns pass catchers have dropped a league-high 7.4% of their targets. As Mayfield has taken 15 sacks in the past three weeks, I'm eyeing Pittsburgh as my DFS cash-game D/ST. … Pittsburgh’s defensive strength is versus the run, where DC Keith Butler’s unit has held enemy backs to a 112/400/3 (3.57 YPC) rushing line and league-low 124 receiving yards. Nick Chubb was stymied for most of Week 7 at Tampa Bay, saving his box score with a fourth-quarter goal-line TD resulting from end-zone pass interference. As Chubb has been targeted just three times this year, negative game script would pose a major threat to his Week 8 outlook. … Duke Johnson touched the ball five times in Week 7, although he had multiple solid gains called back on penalties. Chubb is a volume-based RB2. Johnson is a PPR-only flex option.

Mayfield’s 2018 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 53; David Njoku 38; Antonio Callaway 31; Johnson 18; Rashard Higgins 12; Damion Ratley 11; Chubb 3. … Mayfield promised to feed Landry last week and kept his word for team highs in targets (15), Air Yards (185), and receiving (10/97/1). In a game where Cleveland is likely to chase points, Landry should stay hot against a Steelers defense that has had trouble with slot WRs Landry himself (7/106/0), Mohamed Sanu (4/73/1), Tyler Boyd (7/62/2), and Willie Snead (6/56/0). … The Steelers allowed above-expectation stat lines to Travis Kelce in Week 2 (7/109/2), Bucs TEs in Week 3 (9/106/1), Ravens TEs (10/99/0) in Week 4, Austin Hooper (9/77/0) in Week 5, and C.J. Uzomah in Week 6 (6/54/0). With 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in all four of Mayfield’s starts, Njoku is fast tracking toward elite-TE1 distinction. Only six NFL tight ends have more catches (31), and only five have more Air Yards (397). … Higgins’ (MCL) continued absence locks in Callaway as Cleveland’s No. 2 receiver after the drop-prone rookie ran 35 routes to Ratley’s 30 in last week’s loss. Callaway drew a season-low two targets, however, and Ratley three in a passing game dominated by Landry and Njoku. As Callaway runs more routes on Steelers RCB Artie Burns’ side of the field and Ratley will see more of LCB Joe Haden, Callaway is the preferred dart throw. Burns has been benched multiple times this season.

Score Prediction: Steelers 35, Browns 17

Baltimore @ Carolina
Team Totals: Ravens 23, Panthers 21

Cam Newton orchestrated a heroic Week 7 comeback win at Philadelphia, shaking off a brutal first half to complete 21-of-30 (70%) second-half throws for 245 yards (8.17 YPA) and two TDs en route to last week’s QB3 result. Newton is on pace to complete a career-high 65.6% of his passes, equal his career high in rushes (139), and take a career-low 27 sacks. Cam’s touchdown-pass pace (29) would be his second most, and Newton’s 11 INTs would be his second fewest. This matchup is inarguably tough; just 1-of-7 quarterbacks to face Baltimore has logged top-12 scores, while the Ravens have yielded a league-low eight touchdown passes and held 5-of-7 opponents to 12 points or fewer. Nevertheless, Cam’s return home, high floor, and career-best consistency render him a matchup-proof QB1. He has multiple TD passes in five straight games with QB16 results or better in 6-of-6 starts. For the forward thinkers: Cam’s Weeks 13-16 fantasy-playoffs schedule is a dream (TB, CLE, NO, ATL). … Holding enemy backs to 3.45 yards per carry with just two all-purpose TDs in seven games, the Ravens reproved their run-defense mettle by stymieing Saints backs for a 29/96/1 (3.31 YPC) rushing line in last week’s loss. Baltimore’s 22.6 receiving yards per game yielded to running backs are the NFL's second fewest. As Carolina’s offensive line ranks No. 2 in average yards created before contact (3.5) and No. 6 in Football Outsiders’ run-blocking metrics, it’s still not crazy to believe Christian McCaffrey could surprise on the ground. With five-plus catches in 5-of-6 games, CMC is a fade-matchup, bet-on-usage RB1 start.

Cam’s Weeks 1-7 target distribution: Devin Funchess 47, McCaffrey 46; Torrey Smith 27; Jarius Wright 26; D.J. Moore 18; Greg Olsen 14; Curtis Samuel 5. … Funchess had negative 2017 splits with Olsen on the field, but they haven’t rolled over. His 19 combined targets since Olsen (foot) returned in Week 6 are tied for the most during any two-game stretch of Funchess’ career. As Michael Thomas (7/69/1) showed last week, Ravens top corner Jimmy Smith has struggled since coming off suspension with 7-of-8 targets allowed for 124 yards and a TD in the last two weeks. Smith gave up a 32-yard gain to Thomas and a 24-yarder the week before to Corey Davis. Making his contract-year leap, Funchess ran a gorgeous slant-and-go route to whip Eagles top CB Ronald Darby on last week’s 18-yard TD. … In Weeks 4-7, tight ends caught 25-of-31 targets (80.6%) for 303 yards (9.8 YPA) against the Ravens, including Ben Watson’s season-best 6/43/1 receiving line last week. Olsen has been quiet since returning from his foot injury, but he ran the NFL’s third-most routes among tight ends (73) in Weeks 6-7 and caught last week’s game-winning goal-line score. He remains a confident TE1 play. … Wright, Moore, and Samuel get mild usage bumps with Smith (knee) sidelined against a Ravens secondary holding enemy WR corps to the NFL’s third-fewest yards per game (137.6). Moore has the best chance to start in Smith's place and is the highest-ceiling dart throw in the group.

Joe Flacco visits Carolina with top-12 fantasy scores in 4-of-7 starts but QB20 or worse results in his other three. As Baltimore’s rushing attack has disappointed and its passing game flashed explosiveness, Flacco has volume on his side with the NFL’s third-most pass attempts per game (43.3) behind Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger. The Panthers have surrendered multiple touchdown passes in five straight games and struggled to rush the passer, ranking 19th in sacks (16) and 25th in QB hit rate (13.1%). … Alex Collins enters Week 8 with uneven touch counts of 14 – 19 – 13 – 12 – 21 over the last five weeks, while Javorius Allen has touched the ball just 6 and 4 times in two games since losing a Week 5 fumble. Despite Collins’ inconsistency, this game sets up better for him against a Panthers defense that has yielded an efficient 109/502/2 (4.62 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. Allen’s value is limited to the passing game, where Carolina’s 173 receiving yards allowed to the position are third fewest in the NFL. In RT James Hurst (back) and LG Alex Lewis (neck), the Ravens will play Week 8 without two starters up front.

Flacco’s Weeks 1-7 target distribution: Michael Crabtree 64; John Brown 54; Willie Snead 50; Allen 33; Nick Boyle 24; Mark Andrews 21; Collins 18; Maxx Williams 14; Chris Moore 12; Hayden Hurst 5. … Kept quiet by Marshon Lattimore (5/66/0) in Week 7, target leader Crabtree still has 60-plus yards in four of his last five games and five-plus receptions in five of his last six. Crabtree has settled in as a stable WR3 play after his drop-filled start. … As Lattimore chased Crabtree, Brown went bonkers (7/134/1) against the Saints and nearly scored twice, only to get tackled at the two-yard line at the end of his 56-yard gain. “Smokey” has reemerged as one of the NFL’s most-explosive wideouts with a league-high four 40-plus-yard catches and the third-most Air Yards (1,014) in football. Regardless of matchups, Brown’s spiked-week ability locks him in as an upside WR2. I'd expect Panthers plus-sized CB James Bradberry to chase Crabtree while Brown draws speedy rookie CB Donte Jackson. … Snead hasn’t cleared 60 yards all year and is scoreless since Week 1. With seven or more targets in six of his last seven games, Snead is a PPR-specific WR4 who became more interesting when he popped as Week 8's No. 2 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer's Air Yards model. … The Ravens’ four-man tight end committee remains safe to ignore.

Score Prediction: Panthers 24, Ravens 23

 

 

4:05 PM ET Game

Indianapolis @ Oakland
Team Totals: Colts 26.5, Raiders 23.5

Actively shedding young talent with the NFL’s third-worst point differential (-66) in an obvious tank year, the Raiders draw a Colts defense that yielded consecutive scores of 37 - 38 - 42 before holding Derek Anderson's Bills to five points last week. 5-of-7 passers to face Indy have logged fantasy results of QB15 or worse, while Derek Carr has finished above QB18 just once in six starts under Jon Gruden. Monday’s Amari Cooper trade is hardly a surefire downgrade; Cooper ranked just 53rd among 82 wideouts in PFF’s yards per route run (1.35) – same as Jordy Nelson -- with one TD in six games. In a potential shootout, Carr is a viable if low-end streamer with some DFS-tournament appeal. … With Marshawn Lynch (core muscle) on I.R., Doug Martin inherits Oakland’s lead-rusher role to face a Colts defense that permitted a juicy 120/554/3 (4.62 YPC) rushing line to running backs in its last five games. Unfortunately, Martin has shown nothing since the 2015 season, pathetically averaging 3.00 yards on 309 carries across 2016-2018 with two missed tackles forced (PFF) on 31 touches this year. Perhaps the Raiders’ biggest 2018 disappointment has been offensive line play; Oakland’s once-studly front five ranks dead last in yards created before contact per carry (1.8). … Particularly versus an Indy team yielding the NFL’s second-most catches (49) to enemy backs, passing-down maven Jalen Richard is a more-enticing PPR play. Despite an early bye, Richard ranks top ten among NFL backs in targets (37), catches (31), and receiving yards (253). And it’s hardly out of the question Richard will see an uptick in post-Lynch carries.

Cooper and Lynch’s departures free up 8.7 targets per game. Pre-Week 7 bye target leader Jared Cook is among those set to benefit against the Colts’ zone coverage, which is missing FS Malik Hooker (hip) after surrendering the NFL’s third-most catches (42) and eighth-most yards (477) to tight ends in Weeks 1-7. Although Cook had back-to-back quiet weeks before the open date, he ranked No. 8 among NFL tight ends in routes run in Weeks 5-6 and now gets a volume bump. … Jordy Nelson also becomes a more-intriguing WR3/flex. Nelson is third on the Raiders in catches (22) behind Cook and Richard, and the Colts have given up the NFL’s ninth-most receptions to wideouts (95). Jordy is second on the team in red-zone targets (5) behind Cook (11). … Cooper led Oakland in Air Yards (338), and Martavis Bryant was right behind him (307) on ten fewer targets. Bryant has been wildly error prone, but his big-play potential has flashed. Bryant also logged season highs in snaps (72%) and routes (34) in Oakland’s pre-bye loss to Seattle. He’s squarely in the WR3/flex and DFS-tournament hunt. … Seth Roberts will also see more opportunity. The fifth-year slot man popped as Week 8's No. 5 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer's Air Yards model, putting Roberts on the radar as a PPR-specific WR4/flex.

Andrew Luck visits Oakland having gone a career-high 125 straight pass attempts without taking a sack to face a Raiders defense that is the league’s unlikeliest to threaten his streak with NFL lows in sacks (7) and QB hit rate (10.5%). Luck has 15 TD passes in the last month, bringing his 2018 total to 20 to quietly threaten Patrick Mahomes’ league lead (22). Oakland gave up top-12 fantasy weeks to Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers, and Russell Wilson in three of its last four games. In between, Baker Mayfield flamed them for 295 yards and multiple scores in The Black Hole for Mayfield’s first NFL start. Fresh off four straight top-eight fantasy results, Luck is a high-floor, high-ceiling play. … Marlon Mack’s emergence is similarly exciting with a game-breaking 31/215/1 (6.94 YPC) rushing line and 3/37/1 receiving in Weeks 6-7. Mack had a tendency to bounce runs outside on college tape and was tackled at or behind the line at the NFL’s second-highest clip (33%) last year. Mack has been far more decisive in October, combining flashes of interior power with his trademark burst. Most importantly, GM Chris Ballard finally fixed the Colts offensive line! First-round picks LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Quenton Nelson, and C Ryan Kelly are healthy, December 2017 waiver claim Mark Glowinski has solidified right guard, and second-round rookie Braden Smith locked down right tackle. Mack set Week 7 career highs in playing time (59%) and carries (19). The Raiders’ plodding defense has been gashed for 138/674/5 (4.88 YPC) rushing by enemy backs. … As Mack barely practiced with an ankle injury this week, Nyheim Hines remains stash worthy in PPR leagues. Hines served as the Colts’ Weeks 3-5 lead back with Mack hamstrung, logging 10 – 13 – 23 touch counts on 73% - 68% - 68% playing-time clips. A PPR machine, Hines’ target totals were 5 – 11 – 9 in the three games before Mack returned.

Luck’s Week 7 target distribution: Eric Ebron 7; T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers 4; Mack 3; Hines 2; Jordan Wilkins, Erik Swoope, and Mo Alie-Cox 1. … Jack Doyle is (hip) is off the injury report, while Swoope (knee) is out indefinitely. Doyle drew 10 and 5 targets in Weeks 1-2 and should be added in season-long leagues where he was dropped, but he is difficult to trust in a timeshare with Ebron after a month away. ... Despite last week’s scoreless 31-yard clunker, Ebron led the Colts in targets and Air Yards (59) in a 37-5 blowout of the Bills where Luck needed a season-low 23 attempts for the win. Until shown otherwise, Ebron remains an every-week focal point of Indianapolis’ passing game and every-week TE1. It's entirely possible Ebron begins trending downward soon, however, with Hilton and Doyle back and the Colts potentially throwing the ball less with a viable rushing attack. … Fantasy leaguers who rolled the Week 7 dice on Hilton lucked into two short TDs; T.Y. set season lows in targets, routes run (22), and Air Yards (24) in the smooth-sailing win. Even against a tanking team, Hilton will likely be needed more in this week's mouth-watering draw. Oakland has permitted the NFL’s fifth-most 20-plus-yard completions (28) and a league-high seven 40-plus-yard pass plays. Discombobulated in the secondary, the Raiders benched CBs Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin for retreads Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Daryl Worley in their pre-bye blowout loss to Seattle. … Rogers’ target counts in games left early or missed altogether by Hilton are 11 – 11 – 10. Rogers’ target counts in games Hilton has played fully or nearly fully are 3 – 3 – 4 – 4.

Score Prediction: Colts 28, Raiders 27


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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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