The fantasy playoffs are right around the corner with nearly 75 percent of the fantasy regular season already completed. Optimizing your decision-making the next few weeks could make-or-break your entire season so staying up-to-date on the latest news is crucial. Before we dive into the injury reports from Wednesday and my Thursday Night Football preview, be sure to check out Ian Hartitz' WR/CB Matchups.
Thursday Night Football
This week’s installment of Thursday Night football pits two AFC West teams against one another. The Chargers travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders as 1-point road-favorites. There has been a lot of line movement since opening with the Raiders as 2.5-point favorites and a total of 47.5. The total is all the way up to 49.5 in some spots. This means the projected team totals shifted from 25-22.5, Raiders to 25.25-24.25 Chargers. The Chargers team total has gone up by exactly three points while the Raiders team total has seen a slight decrease. A lot of this movement is likely in response to the Chargers' resounding 26-11 victory over the Packers last week.
The Chargers Offense should look to attack the Oakland Raiders through the air in this game given the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent. The Raiders are a “pass-funnel” defense which means they are much better at defending the run than the pass. They rank 11th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA and 15th in rushing success rate allowed while ranking 29th in pass defense DVOA and 29th in pass success rate allowed. Not to mention the Raiders are dead last in pressure rate and explosive pass rate allowed. A pass-heavy game plan would certainly be optimal for the Chargers but we truly can’t make the assumption of rational coaching. Regardless, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen still have solid matchups. Philip Rivers also in play as a fringe QB1. Melvin Gordon looked a lot more explosive last week as he ripped off 109 yards from scrimmage last week and should be trusted as a fringe RB2 play. Last week he and Ekeler split the running back touches 23-16 in Gordon’s favor. Barring an injury, I expect that type of split to continue.
The Raiders Offense has been a pleasant surprise this season, scoring 24-or-more points in 6-of-8 games this season. They match up well against the Chargers Defense which ranks 25th in run defense DVOA and 23rd in pass defense DVOA. The Raiders Offense has been buoyed by great offensive line play and the Chargers are just 13th in pressure rate so Carr should have a clean pocket for most of the game. For fantasy purposes, Darren Waller is a TE1 play even after his dud in Week 9. Josh Jacobs is firmly in play as an RB1 against the Chargers deficient run defense and Derek Carr is a back-end QB2, even in an unimposing matchup.
7-2 on TNF predictions
Coach Freddie Kitchens hinted Nick Chubb's touches could take a hit with the addition of Kareem Hunt to the backfield. Oh no. This was everyone’s worst fear when drafting Nick Chubb this season. Most people rightfully guessed that Chubb would see the lion's share of touches prior to Week 10 but once Kareem Hunt finished his suspension all bets were off. There’s no reason to bench Chubb this week but the timeshare between he and Hunt should be something to watch. It’s possible Hunt just takes over RB Dontrell Hilliard’s role as a pass-catcher and around 40 percent of the snaps.
Evan Engram (foot) didn’t practice on Wednesday. He was then diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain and is now considered week-to-week. This means he’s out for Sunday’s game against the Jets and potentially multiple weeks. Sterling Shepard also didn’t practice on Wednesday and saw a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh. There’s a good chance he doesn’t suit up this week after suffering two head injuries this season already and the Giants are reportedly considering placing him on injured reserve. With Shepard and Engram both out for the foreseeable future, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton are now the top pass-catchers for the Giants with Rhett Ellison as the starting tight end.
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Le'Veon Bell (knee, ankle) didn’t practice on Wednesday. Coach Adam Gase reportedly pushed Bell to practice who ultimately decided against it because he’s “really sore.” Even with him missing Wednesday’s practice, Bell is expected to play against the Giants on Sunday. Bell is a good start against the Giants average run defense.
Coach Mike Zimmer said Adam Thielen's latest hamstring aggravation isn't believed to be a long-term issue. This is good news for dynasty owners but Thielen still isn’t expected to play this weekend against the Chiefs. This puts Stefon Diggs in a great spot this weekend as their clear No. 1 target. Right now, Thielen's best bet at returning is after the Vikings’ Week 12 bye.
Jacoby Brissett (knee) will practice on a limited basis Wednesday. He has a sprained MCL but is really trying to push it in order to return. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Colts let Brian Hoyer start for another week as 10-point favorites against the Dolphins.
Coach Zac Taylor expects A.J. Green (ankle) to make his season debut Week 10 against the Ravens. He said this prior to Green not feeling well enough to practice. Taylor now considers Green day-to-day. With rookie QB Ryan Finley under center and the Bengals sitting at 0-8, Green probably isn’t too worried about rushing back. Finley was an accurate passer on short and intermediate throws but struggled to make NFL passes at the collegiate level. Even if Green plays he’s a dicey fantasy start.
Patrick Mahomes (knee) was a full participant for Wednesday's practice. This is a great sign for Mahomes’ potential availability this Sunday against the Titans. His return puts Tyreek Hill back on the radar as a weekly top-3 fantasy play and bolsters the value of Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins. It also enhances the game environment and the potential of a back-and-forth affair for Ryan Tannehill and his pass-catchers.
Eagles signed WR Jordan Matthews. With the loss of DeSean Jackson it makes sense to bring back Matthews who knows Carson Wenz from his last two stints with the Eagles. … NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports Dwayne Haskins is expected to start in Week 11 against the Jets. Haskins hasn’t played well this season but that could chance against the vulnerable Jets secondary. … ESPN's Todd Archer reports Amari Cooper (knee) is expected to play in Week 10 against the Vikings. This isn’t a surprise as the injury wasn’t serious enough to even hold him out for more than a handful of plays on Monday Night. …. Dez Bryant said he plans on reaching out to NFL teams in two weeks about a potential return. If Dez has any juice left after a 2018 Achilles tear then he has a chance at resurfacing with an NFL team. … James Conner (shoulder) was limited for Wednesday's practice. Coach Mike Tomlin is “optimistic” that Conner will suit up this weekend but it’s something to monitor going forward.