Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, regardless if you're playing season-long fantasy, DFS, or are grinding player props. If you're just looking for fantasy football rankings and only have 10 minutes to skim through for your sit/start decisions, then head over to the "Forecast" sections below where I project each player's PPR finish based on a 12-team league. But if you want to get your research on, then I have full player breakdowns. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: NO, TB, BAL, IND, KC, SF, GB, DAL
Page 2: ARI, NYG, LAR, MIN, CHI, CLE, TEN, NYJ
Page 3: CAR, SEA, PIT, DET, BUF, ATL, CIN, MIA
TNF: OAK, LAC
Byes: DEN, HOU, JAX, NE, PHI, WAS
Saints (32 implied points, -13 spread) vs. ATL
Drew Brees has 370 yards in both of his healthy games this season, and he’s coming off the bye to face the Falcons’ No. 30 defense against fantasy quarterbacks. The Falcons are 31st in pass defense DVOA and 32nd in adjusted sack rate. With a week-high 32-point projection, Brees is obviously a stud QB1. … The Falcons defense has allowed the fourth-most rush attempts per game (31), largely because they’ve been trailing frequently. That trend should continue with the Saints listed as 13-point home favorites. Alvin Kamara is expected to return, but I’d be surprised if Latavius Murray wasn’t more involved after his two great games with Kamara sidelined. There should be enough volume and enough points scored to make both Kamara and Murray fantasy starters this week. Kamara is an upside RB1, while Murray belongs in the upside flex range.
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The Falcons are PFF’s No. 32 pass coverage defense. Michael Thomas is leading in targets per game and is a top-five talent. Elite WR1. … Ted Ginn should benefit from Brees returning to the lineup because Brees has historically completed more passes downfield than Teddy Bridgewater and Ginn has a high 14.8 average depth of target. The Falcons are in the bottom 22nd percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays, too. Ginn is a quality dart throw option for those in bye-week hell and for those looking to stack the Saints in DFS tournaments. … Jared Cook is set to return, and he’ll likely go overlooked after missing a ton of time and struggling to start the season. But not having Brees for most of those early-season weeks definitely has played into his 2.5-28-0.3 receiving line average. With Brees back and with a huge 32-point team total, Cook has upside as a TE1/2. He’s worthy of a pickup in season-long if he was dropped.
Bucs (28,.25 -4.5) vs. ARI
Jameis Winston is tied for the second-most games with at least 300 passing yards (5). He’s a wild card in real life but he hits his fantasy ceiling frequently. With the visiting Cardinals up next, Winston is a candidate for another 300-yard, multi-touchdown game. Arizona is dead last against fantasy quarterbacks and is in the bottom 12th percentile in pass defense DVOA and at preventing 20+ yard passes. Winston is an upside, mid-range QB1. … With the second-most projected points of the week and as 4.5-point favorites, this is the best week for the Bucs’ running backs. This week, coach Bruce Arians said, Ronald Jones "earned the right to start" and "play more snaps." Jones, who has averaged 11.5 carries and 1.0 receptions per game, can now be projected for 13-18 touches per week, enough to vault him into the RB2 discussion. The Cardinals are slightly better against the run than the pass (see chart above), but this is still an above-average matchup for Jones as an RB2.
The Cardinals are PFF’s No. 30 pass coverage defense, and Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both been WR1s all season long. Of the two, Evans offers more upside since he’s leading the NFL in air yards -- he came the first receiver to eclipse 250 air yards in a single game last week -- and has the biggest red-zone target share (see my tweet below). … Chris Godwin’s production is more bankable because he’s targeted shallower (11.1 aDOT to Evan’s 15.3), but he still offers a ceiling with WR1-level usage. Winston to Evans and/or Godwin stacks will rightfully be very popular in DFS with this game having the highest over/under. … Breshad Perriman ran a route on 78% of dropbacks and was targeted a season-high eight times last week, so he’s a deep sleeper and potential DFS tournament stack with Winston. … O.J. Howard is expected to return after missing three weeks, and the matchup literally could not get better. Arizona is averaging 14.7 non-PPR points allowed to opposing tight ends (for reference, second-most is 12.9 and third-most is 10.9). Howard has some upside based on the matchup, but the floor is still very low. Howard was averaging 2.2 receptions and 29 yards without a touchdown prior to his injury. Howard is just an upside TE2, especially with Cameron Brate healthy.
Ravens (27.25, -10) @ CIN
Lamar Jackson is averaging the most rushing yards per game (79.6) for a quarterback in NFL history, and he’s rushed for 119 and 152 yards in his two starts against Cincy. The Bengals simply do not have the talent to stop LJ right now, even when he’s battling a sickness. Jackson is in the mix for the QB1 overall this week. … The Bengals defense has allowed the most rush attempts per game (35) because they suck. Mark Ingram is a candidate for 20+ touches, which gives him plenty of touchdown upside since he’s already third in carries inside-the-10 (17). With Vegas projecting Baltimore for 27.25 points as 10-point favorites, Ingram is a fringe RB1/2 while Gus Edwards and Justice Hill work behind him.
Marquise Brown wasn’t very involved against the Patriots (as expected), but he’s a candidate for a ceiling game this week. The Bengals are 30th in the NFL at preventing 20+ yard passing plays and 29th in pass defense DVOA. I’m expecting a couple of deep targets to Brown this week, making him an upside WR3 and perfect stacking option with Lamar in DFS tournaments. … Miles Boykin and Willie Snead aren’t seeing enough volume to play in even the best matchups with Brown healthy. … Mark Andrews is the real No. 1 pass-catcher in the offense, operating as both a safety net and down the seam option for Lamar. Against Cincy a few weeks back, Andrews caught six passes for 99 yards. He’s a locked-in top-five TE1 with upside.
Colts (27.25, -10.5) vs. MIA
Update: Jacoby Brissett is out, so Brian Hoyer will start with Chad Swag Kelly as his backup. I'm slightly downgrading Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Jack Doyle, and Eric Ebron. The Colts also waived WR Deon Cain.
Jacoby Brissett (knee) was limited at practice early in the week and is shaping up as a game-time decision. If he can’t play Brian Hoyer will dink-and-dunk his way through a conservative game plan against the bottom-shelf Dolphins. Brissett offers a little more upside as a high-end QB2, but I’m projecting low passing volume regardless of who starts. The Dolphins defense has allowed the fourth-fewest pass attempts per game (30), and the Colts like to get run-heavy when they can. … That is obviously great news for Marlon Mack, who has averaged 18.3 PPR points in the eight games he’s played in where the Colts won by at least 7 points. Not only are the Dolphins 31st in run defense DVOA, but Miami is also 29th in rush attempts allowed per game (32) since they’re often playing behind. Mack has 20+ carry upside as an upside RB1/2 with plenty of touchdown equity with the Colts projected to score 27.25 points this week.
T.Y. Hilton is expected to miss again, and rookie Parris Campbell will join him on the sidelines. The Colts will ride with Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, and Deon Cain as their primary receivers against PFF’s No. 31 pass coverage defense. Pascal is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver right now after scoring 18.6 DK points last week on six targets (19% team share), 80 air yards (44% team share), and 98% routes run. Pascal is also averaging 11.9 yards per target, making him a rock-solid WR2/3 without Hilton. … Chester Rogers has less upside because of his low average depth of target, but he’s a candidate for 4-7 targets as a near full-time route runner, which is enough to be on the WR4 radar against the Fins. … Jack Doyle has more receptions (24 to 18) on the season and ran more routes last week (32 to 20) than Eric Ebron. Doyle has a slightly better floor, but Ebron is averaging 13.8 yards per catch and has more touchdown upside. Both are on the TE1/2 borderline this week given the opponent, but Ebron is the better DFS tournament play.
Chiefs (27, -6) @ TEN
Update: Patrick Mahomes was named the starter.
Patrick Mahomes was a full participant in practice, meaning he’ll likely start this week. I’m partially worried about his re-injury risk and mobility, but his ceiling is far too high to keep on the bench in season-long leagues. The Titans will be without one of their starting corners and were already a below-average defense against the pass. Mahomes is a high-end QB1, but I’d be willing to listen to trade offers on him. … The Titans run defense is far better than their pass defense. PFF has them as the No. 2 run defense and DVOA has them in the top 7th percentile. Efficiency is a potential concern, but we possibly have one back pulling away from this three-man committee. LeSean McCoy had a fumble in Week 8 and since then touches are Damien Williams 21, Shady 4, and Darrel Williams 1. I’d be surprised if this split continued, but Damien is the one to start as an upside flex this week, especially because he can win as a receiver where he’d avoid the Titans’ solid run defense. Shady, meanwhile, is a very risky flex with the upside that comes with playing with Mahomes.
Tyreek Hill easily survived his two games with Matt Moore as the starter and will re-enter every-week WR1 status with Mahomes getting back into the lineup. The Titans secondary is banged up right now, but even at full health, there’s nobody stopping Tyreek with Mahomes at quarterback. … Sammy Watkins is averaging 9.3 targets in his healthy games this season, and he’ll have a better shot hitting a ceiling with Mahomes. Watkins hasn’t scored or reached 65 yards since Week 1, but he still has a huge weekly ceiling and may go overlooked because it’s been a minute since he’s full balled out. I like Watkins as an upside WR3/4. … Demarcus Robinson (45% routes last week) and Mecole Hardman (18%) will fight for leftovers. … Nobody, and I really mean nobody, is due for more positive touchdown regression than Mr. Travis Kelce. Just check out his red zone numbers in the tweet below:
49ers (26.5, -6) vs. SEA
Update: George Kittle did not practice Friday and his MNF status is "in doubt". Ross Dwelley would become a TE2 streamer if Kittle is ruled out, which is now seeming more and more likely. Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister is also an MNF tight end option. With Kittle likely sidelined, I've moved Tevin Coleman and Deebo Samuel slightly up and have more confidence in Emmanuel Sanders as a top-24 option.
Jimmy Garoppolo has been efficient (8.0 YPA, 5.8 TD%, 70% completions), but he’s only averaging 225 yards and 1.3 touchdowns with San Francisco dead last in pass attempts per game (28.75). The Seahawks and Niners are likely to slow the game down with rushing attacks, so projected volume is, once again, a concern. Garoppolo can still provide high-end QB2 value, however, with the Niners projected for a healthy 26.5 points. The Seahawks Defense is pretty bad right now. … Last week, Matt Breida had more opportunities than Tevin Coleman (17 to 16) for the first time since Coleman returned in Week 5. This backfield will continue to be a two-back committee, but the usage split should start favoring Breida because, well, Breida is better. Coleman is still the favorite for high-value touches (red zone and receptions) but I’m projecting Breida for more carries between the 20s. With Seattle in the bottom 32nd percentile in run defense DVOA, I like Breida as a flex and Coleman as a higher-upside, low-end RB2 with more touchdown equity.
Emmanuel Sanders has a 24% target share in his two games with San Francisco, which extrapolates to approximately seven targets per game if Jimmy G continues to average 28.25 pass attempts. I’ve been (wrongly) betting against the 32-year-old coming off an Achilles tear, but all of his efficiency metrics have been on par with his career numbers. The Seahawks are in the bottom 35th percentile in pass defense DVOA, making Sanders a WR3. … As you can see above, air yards and targets for non-Emmanuel and non-Kittle pass-catchers have been desolate, but here are routes run from last week: Deebo Samuel (25 of 40), Kendrick Bourne (16), Dante Pettis (14), Richie James (6), and Marquise Goodwin (healthy scratch). … George Kittle has at least 50 yards in 7-of-8 games and has remained heavily involved in the two games with Sanders (6-86-0 and 6-79-1). Kittle is a top-end TE1, especially since he is due for positive touchdown regression (8 red-zone targets with 0 TDs), whenever healthy. I'll update this Saturday when more news surfaces. Ross Dwelley would be a decent TE2 option if Kittle can't play. You'll want Jacob Hollister or Dwelley on the bench if you have Kittle so you can go into Monday Night Football with a starting tight end.
Packers (26, -5.5) vs. CAR
Although the Panthers are ranked highly in pass defense DVOA, they’ve been closer to the middle of the pack at stopping fantasy quarterbacks because Carolina has allowed the sixth-most pass attempts per game (38). Aaron Rodgers should bounceback with Davante Adams this weekend, but Rodgers has been very inconsistent for many seasons now. In his last 20 games, Rodgers has just two 3+ touchdown games. He’s a low-end QB1. … Aaron Jones is coming off season lows in carries (8), yards (30), and receiving yards (-1), but he’s a bounceback candidate this week despite sharing a backfield with Jamaal Williams. The Panthers are last in run defense DVOA, and the Packers are 5.5-point favorites with a 26-point team total. Jones is an upside RB1/2. … Jamaal Williams is one of the luckiest pass-catchers right now with four-straight games with a receiving touchdown. Williams should see 5-10 carries and 2-5 receptions, making him a low-end flex option for those in trouble with byes.
The Panthers are PFF’s No. 4 pass coverage defense and No. 3 in pass defense DVOA. That’s not an ideal matchup for Davante Adams who has admitted that he’s still working through his problematic toe injury. Also working against Adams is the fact that the Packers are 5.5-point favorites because Adams has historically been targeted a lot less with Green Bay leading. Even with all of this, Adams is at worst an upside WR2 after seeing 11 targets last week. … Here were last week’s targets, air yards, and percentage of routes run for the rest of the receivers: Marquez Valdes Scantling (2, 51, 70%), Geronimo Allison (2, 4, 60%), Allen Lazard (4, 72, 50%), and Jake Kumerow (2, 57, 25%). That’s very messy and probably best to avoid given the matchup. Of these receivers, I’d take my chances with MVS and Lazard if I needed to pick one from the group. … Jimmy Graham had back-to-back 0-catch games in Weeks 2 and 3. Since then, he’s averaging 3.7 receptions for 37 yards and 0.3 touchdowns. That’s enough to be a high-end TE2 but he needs to find the end zone to reach any sort of ceiling.
Cowboys (25.5, -3) vs. MIN
Dak Prescott belongs near the top in the NFL MVP discussion. He’s second in EPA/play, second in success rate, and third in completion percentage over expected. Dak is balling, and it’s translated to plenty of fantasy production. When Tyron Smith and Amari Cooper are healthy, Prescott is a borderline elite quarterback, and they’re healthy right now (Cooper reportedly should be fine). The matchup could be better since the Vikings are in the top 10th percentile in adjusted sack rate, but Prescott remains a mid-range QB1. … Ezekiel Elliott has carry totals of 28, 22, and 23 over the last three games and has been targeted 3-6 times when game scripts calls for it. Zeke is obviously a top-five RB1.
Amari Cooper is averaging 18.3 PPR points with Dak through 17 games, and there’s still some more room for improvement because Cooper somehow has the same amount of red-zone targets (4) as Antonio Brown this season. Cooper’s matchup with CB Xavien Howard and company is easier than it’s perceived, so Amari remains a WR1 as long as reports indicate his health is cooperating. … Michael Gallup has had WR2/3 usage in all but one game (Week 7), and there’s no reason to stop projecting him for 5-8 targets per week as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver. With the Vikings in the bottom 35th percentile against fantasy receivers and with Gallup averaging 9.9 yards per target, the second-year pro is an upside WR3. … Randall Cobb is averaging 3.6 receptions and 39 yards as a low-ceiling WR5. … Jason Witten has been a low-aDOT check-down option whenever Prescott is pressured, and it’s resulted in him averaging 4.3 receptions and 40 yards per game. The upside is limited, but he’s on the TE1/2 borderline.