We’ve made it more than halfway through the fantasy regular season for most leagues out there. Week 7 continued the trend of having a major injury, this time to Carson Palmer while also continuing to be an overall low-scoring week with subpar passing output. The loss of so many high-caliber playmakers may be taking its toll on passing games. Seven teams failed to score a touchdown last week and we now have only six players with at least 500 receiving yards on the season, the fewest number through seven weeks of a season since 1998 (5). For the season, we’re currently at 241.5 net passing yards per team per game, the lowest total at this point in a season since 2010. Week 8 features our largest bye week of the season, with six teams on bye, so make sure all of your Jacksonville, Tennessee, Green Bay, Arizona, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants players are out of lineups.
As for the token disclaimer, the goal of this article is to provide a top-down, statistical snapshot for each game each week, running down weekly point spreads, team totals, play calling splits, and statistical bullet points on the players and teams involved. Although we’re focusing strictly on PPR league scoring here as a baseline, there’s more than enough to spread around across formats and daily leagues. The reason we’re operating under a PPR umbrella is it allows us to cover a larger portion of the players involved in action weekly.
Lastly, as the author, it’s imperative that I note that this is NOT a start/sit column, rather an expectations column. The labels for each subset of players for each game are simply a vehicle for those expectations and have a different context for each player that you can find at the end of the column. I encourage that you use the game by game tables and data points here in conjunction with the Start/Sit column posted weekly by Nick Mensio, Pat Daugherty’s rankings in the Goal Line Stand, Evan Silva’s Matchup’s column, Ray Summerlin's Waiver Wired and most importantly, your own information and thought process. Remember, you control your own team. With that out of the way, let’s hit all the Week 8 games with a PPR light…
Dolphins @ Ravens
|39.3%||9||Opp. Rush %||50.7%||32|
|60.7%||24||Opp. Pass %||49.4%||1|
- Miami ranks 32nd in yards from scrimmage per game (278.8 yards) while Baltimore ranks 31st (295.1).
- The Dolphins haven't scored a rushing touchdown in seven straight games dating back to last season, their longest drought in franchise history.
- 30.7 percent of the Miami rushing attempts have failed to gain yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Baltimore is allowing 169.4 rushing yards per game over the past five weeks, the most in the NFL.
- Miami has led for 8.7 percent of their offensive snaps, 30th in the league.
- Jarvis Landry is the only wide receiver with double-digit points in every game this season that has not missed a game.
- Landry has accounted for 35.7 percent of the Miami receptions, the highest rate for a player in the league.
- Matt Moore has targeted Kenny Stills on 23.8 percent of his throws when filling in since last season and Stills has caught five of Moore's 10 touchdowns over that span.
- Joe Flacco has completed 21.4 percent (6-of-28) of his passes on throws 15 yards or further downfield --last in the league-- with one touchdown and five interceptions on those attempts.
Bust: Matt Moore (Moore is the fourth consecutive quarterback to face Baltimore that wasn’t the starter for his team in Week 1. I can get on board with Moore playing better than Jay Cutler and aiding the offensive players here, but he himself was in the top half of scoring in just one of his three starts last year while Baltimore hasn’t allowed a 250-yard passer on the season and just one quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns. On a short week, I'm streaming elsewhere.), Joe Flacco (he hasn’t given us any reason to chase a matchup alone as he’s yet to clear 235-yards passing and has thrown one or fewer scores in six of seven games), Mike Wallace/ Breshad Perriman (Wallace has put in light work in practice already, but both are still in concussion protocol on a short week), Alex Collins (the 5.9 yards per carry are a deodorant that he’s still without a catch or a red zone touch on the season), Kenny Stills (it’s no secret that he and Moore have an affection for one another and I would have no issue taking a swing on Stills if Parker remains sidelined, but this is a tough spot for Stills against a Baltimore team that has allowed just three top-40 wideouts and are much more vulnerable on the interior), Julius Thomas (Baltimore has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but they are 11th in receptions allowed to the position, you’d strictly be chasing a touchdown), DeVante Parker (he’s been limited in practice and will likely be a game time decision, but Baltimore has flatlined boundary receivers so far on the season, so you can give him another week), Ben Watson (Miami is allowing the second-most receptions per game to opposing tight ends if you really need a reception based-option, but Watson turned into a lesser version of what Dennis Pitta was a year ago and is dealing with a knee injury leading into the game)
Reasonable Return: Jay Ajayi (he’s had 26 or more touches in each of the past three games and this matchup is favorable, but Ajayi hasn’t shown an RB1 ceiling on the season nor has he been elevated by previously soft matchups), Jarvis Landry (he’s scored in three straight games for the first time in his career, but is still more of a floor play when those short goal line targets are eventually absent), Buck Allen (he’s sixth in receptions for all backs and has been a top-30 scorer in four straight games), Jeremy Maclin (it’s been a long time since we’ve even entertained using him and he’s returning from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the past two games, but with the Ravens’ WR unit ravaged with injuries and Miami struggling versus the pass, Maclin is an option for teams as a WR3/flex for potential volume in a solid individual matchup)
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Vikings @ Browns (in London)
|38.4%||6||Opp. Rush %||46.1%||27|
|61.6%||27||Opp. Pass %||54.0%||6|
- The Browns have scored a touchdown on 13.3 percent (11-of-83) drives, tied for the lowest rate in the league.
- The Vikings have allowed a touchdown on 13.2 percent (10-of-76) drives to opponents, the second-lowest rate in the league.
- Isaiah Crowell ranks seventh in the league in first half rushing attempts (60) while ranking 32nd in second half carries (30) and 63rd in 4th Quarter carries (seven).
- Cleveland has trailed for 95.9 percent of their snaps in the second half this season, the highest rate in the league.
- Minnesota has led for 64.9 percent of their second half snaps, the fourth-highest rate in the league.
- Latavius Murray's snap rate has gone from 31 percent to 43 percent to 47 percent over the past three weeks,
- 40 percent of the rushing attempts against Cleveland have failed to gain yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Opposing teams target their wide receivers 46.6 percent of the time versus Cleveland, the lowest rate in the league.
- Opposing teams are targeting tight ends 32.6 percent of the time versus Cleveland, the highest rate in the league.
- Kyle Rudolph has been targeted on 27.9 percent of his routes over the past three weeks after receiving a target on 13.7 percent of his routes over the first four weeks.
Bust: CLE WRs (it’s hard to look for help from this group), DeShone Kizer (the news of him starting only helps those who were already holding the Minnesota defense), David Njoku (he's still nothing more than a Hail Mary play as his snap rate has dropped the past two weeks and he’s still yet to have more than three receptions in any game), Stefon Diggs (between his history of pedestrian performance while not playing 100 percent, the Browns not giving up tons of splash plays and having Jason McCourty to throw at him, he's more of a boom/bust WR2 this week with more probabilty to bust than hit big, but don't dig too deeply)
Reasonable Return: Jerick McKinnon (even with Murray garnering more opportunity, McKinnon still totaled 17 touches himself and offers a receiving floor against a Cleveland defense that has low-key been good versus the run), Latavius Murray (as a huge favorite, the game script should set him up to be a volume-based RB2/flex play with the upside for more if he finds the end zone, but he still has a worrisome floor), Case Keenum (the ceiling is low here, but the Vikings’ total and matchup dictate that he’s in the mix to be a streaming option this week), Isaiah Crowell (as bad as he’s been, he’s still been the RB28, RB29 and RB22 over the past three weeks if you’re really thin at the position during this heavier bye week) Duke Johnson (he’s the only Cleveland player you can truly have any hopes for upside weekly that comes along with a safe floor), Adam Thielen (with Diggs returning, his overall outlook comes down a touch, but he's still the safest commodity in this passing game), Kyle Rudolph (he has 25 targets over his past three games with at least five catches in each game while the Browns have allowed double-digit points to six of the seven starting tight ends they’ve faced this season, but his target spike share ssymmetry with Diggs' absence, which makes him more volatile)
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Chargers @ Patriots
|LA Chargers||Rank||@||New England||Rank|
|45.8%||26||Opp. Rush %||37.7%||3|
|54.2%||7||Opp. Pass %||62.3%||30|
- New England has run 17.9 percent of their offensive plays from inside of the red zone, the highest rate in the league.
- The Chargers are allowing just .9 red zone scores per game, second in the league.
- Over the past three weeks, opposing teams have scored on 19.4 percent (6-of-31) of their possessions versus New England, the third-lowest rate in the league.
- Over that span, they are still allowing 37.6 yards per possession, 22nd in the league.
- Melvin Gordon's 17 carries of 10 or more yards ranks third in the league. His 34 runs for no positive yardage rank second in the league.
- 87.2 percent of the runs against the Patriots have gained positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Gordon is third in the league in receiving points (75.8) for all running backs. New England is allowing 15.8 receiving points per game to opposing backfields, 31st in the league.
- The Chargers are allowing a touchdown once every 13.8 targets to opposing wide receivers, 31st in the league.
- New England backfield snap rates with all four backs active in Week 7: Dion Lewis at 35 percent, James White at 31 percent, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee at 18 percent each.
Trust: Melvin Gordon (the rushing inefficiency and health of the Chargers offensive line are a turnoff, but those have been consistent issues since the beginning of last season while the volume and upside is here weekly while the Patriots can beat by backs in each component of the offense), Rob Gronkowski (the Chargers have stifled tight end production in bulk and have yet to allow a touchdown to the position, but Zach Ertz showed that top-shelf options are still in play against them and they lack an individual asset that is a pressing concern)
Bust: Tyrell Williams (he’s been held to fewer than 30-yards receiving in four of his past five games while receiving just six targets over the past three weeks), Mike Gillislee (he’s been unusable for five weeks and Lewis appears to have taken over as the back to own outside of White)
Reasonable Return: Tom Brady (he’s maintained QB1 output, but it’s been on more of the lower end over the past month of the season while the Chargers are eighth in the league in passing points allowed per game), Philip Rivers (he’s also been on that lower-end QB1 plane this year and while the Patriots have improved in terms of allowing touchdowns, they are still allowing teams to move the football), Hunter Henry (he’s averaging 18.9 percent of the team targets over the past three weeks and is fifth in receiving yards for tight ends over that span), Keenan Allen (he’s been in a bit of a slump, cracking the top-30 just once over his past five games, but still is averaging 9.7 targets per game while New England has allowed top-24 weeks to slot options Mohamed Sanu, Jeremy Kerley and Bruce Ellington so far), James White (last week was his first touchdown of the season, but he’s been outside of flex status in just one game this season), Dion Lewis (his opportunity on the ground continues to rise, but it still hasn’t come along with passing game action, keeping him weekly flex territory), Brandin Cooks/Chris Hogan (although both Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams have played well, the Chargers have been vulnerable to vertical options, allowing top-30 weeks to Tyreek Hill, Kenny Stills and Odell Beckham, while they are allowing also high rate of touchdowns to wideouts per opportunity, which keeps Hogan in play and he runs nearly half of his routes from the slot to begin with), Danny Amendola (he’s had back to back floor games, but is a floor hedge on either Cooks or Hogan being limited by the good boundary corners for Los Angeles and/or the Chargers overplaying Gronk)
Bears @ Saints
|42.1%||18||Opp. Rush %||38.4%||5|
|58.0%||15||Opp. Pass %||61.6%||28|
- The 37 offensive plays run by the Bears last week where the fewest they've run in a game since 1967.
- Mitchell Trubisky has completed eight and four passes over the past two weeks. The last time a team won back to back games with their quarterback completing single-digit passes was the Broncos in 2011, winning three straight games in which Tim Tebow completed two, nine and nine passes.
- The Bears have reached the red zone twice since switching over to Mitchell Trubisky, the fewest times in the league over the past three weeks.
- Jordan Howard played a season-high 90 percent of the Chicago snaps last week, His previous high was 68 percent in Week 6.
- 84.3 percent of Howard's fantasy output comes from rushing, the highest rate for all top-24 scorers at the position. Average for the group is 50.4 percent.
- 45.4 percent of the points scored by backfields against the Saints have come from rushing output, 26th in the league.
- 86.1 percent of the New Orleans rushing attempts have gained positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Mark Ingram has a touch or target on 62.9 percent of his snaps over the past two weeks after a 41.9 percent rate through the opening four games.
- Alvin Kamara has been targeted on 33 percent of his routes, the highest rate for all running backs with at least 100 or more routes run on the season.
- Ted Ginn has caught 81.5 percent of his targets, the highest rate for any wide receiver with 25 or more targets on the season. His previous career-high was a 60.2 percent catch rate in 2008.
- Ginn's 10.2 yard average depth of target would be the lowest of his career.
Trust: Mark Ingram (he’s been the RB2 and the RB7 since the Adrian Peterson trade with 56 touches, while the Saints should continue to get him the volume he’s had over the past two weeks as a huge home favorite), Alvin Kamara (he has double-digit points in four straight games as he’s effectively taken the RB2 and pass catching roles this offense has recently had and rolled them into one. He’s the second option in the passing game outside of Thomas and is getting more rushing opportunities than secondary backs have had in the past)
Bust: Mitchell Trubisky (the Bears are keeping the gloves on with him and while he should be forced to throw more this week than in any game prior, the Saints have allowed just one quarterback to finish in the top half of scoring over their past four games), Bears Pass Catchers (outside of Zach Miller given his position, there’s no one to force into lineups until we see this passing game become something to place even marginal stock in)
Reasonable Return: Drew Brees (at home and with a near 30-point implied team total, you’re playing him confidently, and he’s had a great floor, but has one game higher than QB10 on the season while the Bears aren’t a team that should invite a shootout), Michael Thomas (he’s yet to hit 100-yards, but has been steady, going for at least 80 yards in four of his past five games and has five or more catches in every game except for one on the year), Ted Ginn (the Saints have embraced getting him shorter targets around just using him over the top, especially over the past few weeks), Jordan Howard (he’s been a top-20 scorer just once over the past four weeks and this game sets up to get away from a climate that can funnel him touches and he isn’t providing receiving points, but we know the Bears will keep funneling him touches for as long as they can)
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Panthers @ Buccaneers
|39.8%||10||Opp. Rush %||42.9%||21|
|60.2%||23||Opp. Pass %||57.1%||12|
- Tampa Bay is allowing 4.2 red zone trips per game (31st) while Carolina is allowing 2.0 per game (tied for first).
- Tampa Bay is allowing 18.1 passing points per game to opposing passers, 31st in the league.
- The Buccaneers are the only team to allow at least 250 passing yards to every opposing quarterback this season.
- Cam Newton has had at least 50 yards rushing in back to back games for the first time since 2014.
- Jonathan Stewart ranks 46th in rushing points per carry (.30) while Christian McCaffrey ranks 48th (.25) out of 48 backs with 40 or more rushing attempts on the season.
- Panthers' running backs have carried 149 times for 419 yards (2.8 yards per carry), the fewest amount of total rushing yards and yards per carry for any backfield in the league.
- 60.3 percent of Jameis Winston's completions have gained 10 or more yards, the highest rate in the league. League average is 46 percent. They have no rushing touchdowns, tied with the Dolphins' backfield for the fewest.
- Winston is completing 56.6 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions (for 38.3 points) in the first half this season while completing 69.6 percent of his throws for seven touchdowns and two interceptions (for 62.7 points) after the half.
Trust: Cam Newton (the Cam Coaster has been in full effect this year as only DeShone Kizer has more turnovers than Newton on the season, but this sets up for a high rather than a low as opposing quarterbacks are averaging 21.9 points per game versus Tampa Bay over the past five weeks), Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess (Tampa Bay has been gashed by wideouts so far, allowing the most receptions and yardage per game to the position and double-digit points to 13 different wide receivers on the season), Jameis Winston (it hasn’t been pretty, but Winston is consistently getting it done for fantasy, passing for more than 300-yards in each of his past four full games since the Tampa Bay defense has been so giving to opponents while Carolina had allowed four straight passers to score 15 or more points prior to last week’s game versus Mitchell Trubisky), Mike Evans (he’s been a WR1 in four of six games without truly dropping a hammer yet and has scored in each of his past two games versus Carolina)
Bust: Ed Dickson (Week 5 is now a distant memory, his only game finishing higher than TE17 on the season), Jonathan Stewart (he’s going to fall into the end zone one these games, but you don’t need to pursue it), Doug Martin (he’s here because I’m considering him more of a low RB2/flex option since the Panthers have only allowed three top-24 backs with no RB1 scoring weeks and those RB2 games came to backs who are used far more in the passing game than Martin is), O.J. Howard (he had six catches last week after having five all season, but still ran only 20 pass routes, seven fewer than Cameron Brate. It’s possible this is the beginning of him making a turn in production, but also could be happenstance)
Reasonable Return: Christian McCaffrey (he leads all backs with 44 receptions on the season and has been RB21 or better in each of the past four games), DeSean Jackson (he’s had 12 or more points now in four of the six games this season as he’s found steadiness in Tampa Bay having to match points), Cameron Brate (even without a touchdown last week, Brate still turned in a TE1 scoring week and despite the big day from Howard, Brate still ran more routes and saw more targets)
Colts @ Bengals
|44.4%||24||Opp. Rush %||46.5%||28|
|55.6%||9||Opp. Pass %||53.5%||5|
- The Colts are allowing an 11.3 percent sack rate (32nd) while the Bengals are allowing a 9.1 percent sack rate (27th).
- Indianapolis has allowed 222 points --the most in the league-- the most they’ve allowed through seven games in franchise history.
- The Colts are allowing 310.9 passing yards per game to opposing passers, 31st in the league.
- 25.9 percent of the completions versus the Colts have gone for 20 or more yards, the highest rate in the league.
- A.J. Green has accounted for 66.5 percent of the Cincinnati wide receiver yardage, the highest rate for a wideout in the league.
- After allowing 361 rushing yards on 106 attempts (3.4 YPC) through five weeks, the Colts have allowed 348 yards on 64 carries (5.4 YPC) to opposing backfields over the past two weeks.
- The Bengals have run 13 plays from inside the opponent's 10-yard line, the fewest in the league.
- Tyler Kroft is the TE8 in overall scoring since Tyler Eifert was lost for the season, but ranks 18th in targets (20), 13th in receptions (17) and 17th in receiving yards (157) at the position over that span.
- Jacoby Brissett has a 1.49 percent touchdown rate, the lowest rate of all passers with at least 100 attempts on the season. League average is 4.35 percent.
- Marlon Mack played a season-high 32 snaps (48 percent of the team total) in Week 7, topping his previous highs of 17 snaps and 34 percent of the team total.
Trust: Andy Dalton (he hasn’t had many soft spots on the schedule so far, but coming off bye at home against a team that has allowed 295 or more passing yards to every quarterback except one is as good as it gets) A.J. Green (we like Green most weeks when Dalton isn’t desirable, so if we’re going to be high on Dalton, Green easily goes along with him)
Bust: Jacoby Brissett (his only functional weeks have come in three of the softest quarterback matchups you can find), T.Y. Hilton (ditto for Hilton as it pertains to wide receivers and the Bengals allow the fewest receptions per game to opposing wide receivers), Frank Gore (he’s had just 12 and nine touches the past two weeks as the offense is in dire need of playmaking), Giovani Bernard (he’s had eight or fewer touches in every game while catching more than two passes just once)
Reasonable Return: Joe Mixon (maybe Marvin Lewis tries to make an example of Mixon speaking out this week by making this more of a committee since Bill Lazor took the reins, but this game sets up as a week to stack volume in the rushing game and Mixon is the only option in that regard to place an stock in), Tyler Kroft (he’s still really only an option if you want to chase a touchdown, but there are far worse weeks to take a dive when we’re anticipating the passing game to click), Marlon Mack (there’s no doubt that his snap count last week was enhanced by game script, but that is in play once again. He’s now been active in five games and led the backfield in fantasy points in the three of them), Jack Doyle (he has 18 targets over the past two weeks 13 receptions while the Indy wideouts can’t be counted on in this matchup), Brandon LaFell (you can chase the matchup raising all tides and he has 15 targets over the past two games, but Lafell has a season-high of 32 yards)
Raiders @ Bills
|46.7%||30||Opp. Rush %||37.4%||2|
|53.4%||3||Opp. Pass %||62.6%||31|
- In the two games in which they both were the main running backs in 2016, DeAndre Washington played 55 percent of the snaps, totaling 24 touches for 101 yards while Jalen Richard played 29 percent of the snaps, totaling 20 touches for 110 yards.
- 43.5 percent (10-of-23) of Washington's carries have failed to gain yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- Amari Cooper was the first Raiders' player to record 200-receiving yards in a game since Art Powell in 1965.
- 53.3 percent of Cooper's seasonal scoring output was scored in Week 7.
- Oakland leads the league with 10 touchdowns scored from outside of the red zone.
- The Raiders are the only team in the league without an interception and are allowing 9.1 adjusted yards per pass attempt, the highest rate in the league.
- Tyrod Taylor has scored 17.8 or more fantasy points in all three games at home this season with five of his seven touchdown passes coming at home.
- Buffalo wide receivers have collectively totaled just 34 receptions and 461 receiving yards on the season, the lowest totals for a wide receiving group in the league.
- Zay Jones has now turned 19.6 percent of the Buffalo targets into 6.7 percent of the team receptions and 7.1 percent of their receiving yards.
Trust: Tyrod Taylor (he’s cruised in his three home starts while Oakland has allowed QB1 games in five of their seven games), LeSean McCoy (he finally found the end zone last week and draws an Oakland defense allowing 157.4 total yards per game to opposing backfields), Michael Crabtree (he's still the safer play of the Oakland wideouts as he has double-digit points in every game except for one and can always boost his floor with a touchdown while the Bills have allowed top-10 wideouts in back to back games), Derek Carr (the overall volume won't be nearly as high as last week, but while Buffalo has had an excellent start defensively defending the pass, they have some injuries mounting on the back end that has seen them allow 328 and 384 passing yards over the past two games)
Bust: Jordan Matthews (still wearing a splint to protect his finger, he’s had three or fewer catches in every game this season), Deonte Thompson (I would roster him as he should earn a larger role moving forward coming off his performance last week and the Bills are starving for competent receiver play while he has an old history working with Taylor as backups in Baltimore if you’re into those narratives, but it’s hard to suggest to thrust a player who had just four targets and ran just 14 routes into lineups. He’s still a deeper play or a DFS swing in positive matchup)
Reasonable Return: Amari Cooper (this is a spot where Cooper can turn last week’s big game into a springboard for the future as the Bills will be without E.J. Gaines and safety Jordan Poyer and have allowed solid WR2 lines to secondary options such as DeSean Jackson and Emmanuel Sanders in two of their past three games), Nick O’Leary (he had just two catches last week, but turned them into 58 yards while the individual matchup is a lot better this week as Oakland has allowed five TE1 scoring weeks on the season), Jared Cook (he’s seventh at the position in targets and Buffalo just allowed 12 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns to the Tampa Bay tight ends, the first strong competition they’ve faced on the season outside of Greg Olsen when he left the game with an early injury), DeAndre Washington/Jalen Richard (with Marshawn Lynch out, both are pedestrian flex options and would side with Richard being the better play. This split will likely continue to hedge towards Washington on the ground and Richard through the air, while the Bills have allowed more than 80 yards from scrimmage to just one back on the season)
49ers @ Eagles
|48.5%||31||Opp. Rush %||28.6%||1|
|51.5%||2||Opp. Pass %||71.4%||32|
- The Eagles face 17.6 rushing attempts per game, the fewest in the league. San Francisco faces 34.3 rushing attempts per game, most in the league.
- 50 percent of the rushing attempts against the 49ers have gained five or more yards, the highest rate in the league.
- The 49ers are allowing the fourth-most rushing points per game (15.7) while allowing the most receiving points (17.5) per game to opposing backfields.
- Opponents have scored on 48.7 percent of their possessions versus the 49ers, the highest rate in the league.
- San Francisco is allowing 4.4 red zone possessions per game, the most in the league.
- Carson Wentz is the second Eagles quarterback to throw three or more touchdown passes in three straight games, joining Bobby Thomason in 1953.
- Per Pro Football Focus, George Kittle ran a season-low 17 routes Week 7 after averaging 31.5 routes per game through six weeks.
- Philadelphia is allowing 42 rushing yards and 88.3 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing backfields, the fewest in the league.
Trust: Carson Wentz (he’s been a top-5 scorer in five games this season as he’s throwing a ton of touchdowns and rushing for yardage weekly while San Francisco has allowed 28.4 points per game to past four quarterbacks they’ve faced), Zach Ertz (the 49ers have been stout against tight ends, but Ertz has double-digit points in every game this season and the Eagles are expected to move the ball at will)
Bust: C.J. Beathard (a late rushing touchdown turned a terrible day into a below average one and while the Eagles have allowed six consecutive QB1 games, this is just an all-encompassing spot that isn’t trustworthy on a week with good quarterback options)
Reasonable Return: Carlos Hyde (the Eagles have been rough on opposing running backs, but they have hardly faced any volume and have faced a litany of timeshare units to start the season. Volume is still a major issue here being such a large road underdog, but both of these teams run a lot of plays per game and Hyde has been a top-20 back in every game except for one), Alshon Jeffery (he’s had just one top-30 scoring week on the season, but the matchup is right, and we love Wentz here), LeGarrette Blount/Wendell Smallwood (backs have tormented the 49ers once again in phases of the offense), Pierre Garcon (you know what you’re getting here, he’s been a WR3 or better in every game except for two), George Kittle (there was no sign as to why he lost opportunity last week, but the Eagles just lost Jordan Hicks for the season and then were gashed by Jordan Reed afterwards for anyone that can stomach going back to the well), Nelson Agholor (he has yet to catch more than four passes since Week 1, but has scored in three straight games. As long as Wentz is this hot --which we expect him to stay in this game – you can keep using him)
Falcons @ Jets
|40.3%||11||Opp. Rush %||44.5%||25|
|59.7%||22||Opp. Pass %||55.5%||8|
- Over their past three games, Atlanta has scored on 25.9 percent (7-of-27) of their drives, 27th in the league and has averaged 13.7 points per game (30th).
- The Jets are allowing a touchdown pass once every 16.5 pass attempts, 31st in the league.
- Matt Ryan has thrown a touchdown pass once every 29 pass attempts, 26th in the league.
- Ryan has finished outside the top-12 scoring quarterbacks in all five games since Week 1. He finished outside of the top-12 quarterbacks five times all of 2016.
- New York has allowed 83 rushing yards over two games versus the Dolphins and 160.6 yards rushing per game to everyone else, with at least 118 yards rushing to every one of those teams.
- Austin Hooper has been targeted on 7.5 percent of his routes in the four games Mohamed Sanu has played in full as opposed to 23.1 percent Week 4 and Week 6.
- With their entire backfield healthy, Matt Forte played 28 snaps, Bilal Powell 21 snaps, and Elijah McGuire seven snaps in Week 7 for the Jets.
- The Jets have averaged 66.7 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks, the fewest in the NFL.
Trust: Julio Jones (his demise was always overextended since he had double-digit points in every full game played and has averaged 92.5 yards per game over his past four full outings)
Bust: Austin Hooper (with Sanu on the field, you just can’t count on the targets being there), Taylor Gabriel (ditto), Robby Anderson (always a candidate for splash play, but Atlanta has allowed the fewest receptions of 20 or more yards in the league), Tevin Coleman (he’s still an option for teams hurt by the bye weeks, but his receiving use has dropped off, receiving just two targets over the past two games and has just 16 touches total over that span while hitting 50 yards from scrimmage just once over the past four weeks)
Reasonable Return: Matt Ryan (the Jets have allowed 16 or more points to opposing quarterbacks in five of seven games, but there may not be much of a ceiling to chase here as Ryan hasn’t shown the ability to cash in yet and both teams don’t push to run a lot of plays), Devonta Freeman (he’s had a strong floor, but has been higher than an RB2 just twice and although the Jets are hemorrhaging rushing yardage regularly to teams, they’ve allowed only one individual running back to hit 100-yards on the season), Jermaine Kearse (he’s far from intoxicating, but has been a WR3 or better in five of seven games), Mohamed Sanu (he’s been a WR3 or better in every full game of the season), Matt Forte (while the backfield is a slight mess and shouldn’t be counted on for rushing output, Forte is the player to use as he’s now been a top-20 scorer in each of his past three full games played 15 receptions in those games), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (he’s averaged just 34.6 yards per game since returning, but has averaged 5.2 receptions and has scored in three straight games), Josh McCown (I haven’t given McCown enough credit here because he’s passed for 250 yards just once on the season and, yet he keeps finding his way to usable fantasy lines, but only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have been top-12 scorers versus Atlanta this season. He's a floor option at the position only)
Texans @ Seahawks
|44.3%||23||Opp. Rush %||39.0%||7|
|55.7%||10||Opp. Pass %||61.0%||26|
- Deshaun Watson is the first rookie quarterback to ever to throw three or more touchdown passes in three consecutive games.
- Watson has thrown a touchdown pass once every 11.6 pass attempts, best in the league. Seattle is allowing a touchdown pass once every 43.2 pass attempts, third in the league.
- Watson leads the league in fantasy points scored from inside the 10-yard line (39.8 points) while DeAndre Hopkins ranks second (37.2 points).
- Opposing teams have run just 26 plays from inside the red zone, five plays from inside of the 10-yard line and two plays inside of the 5-yard line versus Seattle this season, all lows for the entire league.
- Since Pete Carroll has been with Seattle, starting rookie quarterbacks have a 1-6 record with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, averaging 172 passing yards per game (with a high of 218) in Seattle.
- 55.3 percent of Will Fuller's fantasy output is due to touchdowns, the highest dependency for all wide receivers.
- Houston is scoring .447 points per play, the third best rate in the league. Defensively, they are allowing .409 points per play, 31st in the league.
- Russell Wilson leads all quarterbacks in 4th Quarter fantasy scoring, completing 69.2 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He has completed 61.9 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and three interceptions outside of the 4th Quarter on the season.
- Jimmy Graham leads the league with six targets from inside of the 5-yard line.
Trust: Russell Wilson (he’s been better on the road and has stacked points late in games, but Houston had allowed 15 or more points to each of the three quarterbacks they faced prior to Kevin Hogan and 25 or more to two of those), Jimmy Graham (he left a ton of points on the field last week, but turned in his fourth straight TE1 scoring week and Houston has allowed top-5 weeks to both top tier tight ends they’ve faced thus far)
Bust: Will Fuller (he has five touchdowns on eight catches in his three games returning from injury with a high of 62 yards in a game, a flimsy way to live against one of the best secondaries in the league while he runs half of his routes against Richard Sherman), Paul Richardson (he hasn’t had more than three catches in a game since Week 1 with more than five targets in just one of those games), Tyler Lockett (he’s been a top-40 scorer just twice on the season), SEA RBs (this backfield has been the heart of darkness for fantasy)
Reasonable Return: Deshaun Watson (we know regression is inevitably going to set in at some point and this spot looks as good as any for his touchdown rate to come down, but that doesn’t mean you have to run and hide since he also adds production with his legs), DeAndre Hopkins (Seattle has allowed just one top-24 scoring wide receiver since Week 1, but Hopkins the majority of his routes away from Richard Sherman), Lamar Miller (“reasonable return” was made for Miller, he’s been the RB23 or RB24 in four of his six games), Doug Baldwin (Houston has only allowed two wide receivers to score above WR30 and they both came in the Patriots game, but Baldwin showed last week he’s still capable of overcoming a tough draw on paper and the individual corners for New York are better than the ones Houston has)
Cowboys @ Washington
|38.3%||4||Opp. Rush %||39.2%||8|
|61.7%||29||Opp. Pass %||60.8%||25|
- Dak Prescott is averaging 2.23 fantasy points per possession, the most in the league.
- Including the postseason, Dez Bryant has scored 14 touchdowns over his past 17 full games played, scoring at least once in 11 of those games.
- Bryant is averaging 4.7 receptions per game, which would be a high for him since 2014, but is also averaging 11.6 yards per reception, which would be a career low.
- Dallas averages 4.0 red zone trips per game (third) and has converted 66.7 percent of those trips into touchdowns, the second-highest rate in the league.
- After rushing for 89.3 yards per game over their first three games, Dallas has run for 189, 163 and 265 yards over their past three games.
- Josh Doctson played a season-high 54 snaps (84 percent of the team total) while Terrelle Pryor played a season-low 30 plays (47 percent of the team total).
- Chris Thompson's five touchdowns are the most through six games for a Washington running back since Alfred Morris in 2012.
Trust: Dak Prescott (he’s been a QB1 in every game this season while Washington has surrendered QB1 and QB5 games in two of their past surrounding a home a game with the 49ers), Ezekiel Elliott (he’s had 219, 132 and 139 yards from scrimmage over his past three games), Kirk Cousins (he’s been a QB1 in each of his past four games while Dallas has allowed 20.1 points per game to quarterbacks since Week 1), Chris Thompson (he’s had 12 or more touches in three of his past four games and Dallas is 25th in receiving points allowed to opposing backfields), Jason Witten (his 20.4 percent target share ranks fourth among tight ends and Washington has allowed a TE1 in every game except for one and the third most points per game the position)
Bust: Josh Doctson (he’s overtaken Terrelle Pryor, but is still just a hold for seasonal leagues and an upside flyer in DFS since the production for fantasy still hasn’t manifested and no Washington wideout has been leaned on at any point this season), Jamison Crowder (I'm all out of analysis for Crowder)
Reasonable Return: Jordan Reed (he did his damage when all hell broke loose last week, but it’s the best he’s looked all season by a long stretch and this offense is running through Thompson and the tight ends), Dez Bryant (the big yardage remains absent and should continue to elude him against Washington who has allowed one wide receiver to reach 70 yards in a game, but Bryant can score in any game), Rob Kelley (we know Washington wants to be more balanced on offense and they can achieve that versus Dallas, but Thompson is earning more touches, leaving Kelley as only a flex option), Cole Beasley (the two biggest weeks that Washington has allowed to wideouts this season have been to Nelson Agholor, a primary slot option, while Beasley had 5-56 and 5-75 in two games versus Washington a year ago with Bryant active in each game)
Steelers @ Lions
|40.9%||15||Opp. Rush %||40.6%||12|
|59.1%||18||Opp. Pass %||59.4%||21|
- Le'Veon Bell has 56.1 percent of the Pittsburgh offensive touches, the only running back with over half of his team touches on the season
- Bell leads the league with 18 touches inside of the 10-yard line. He had 16 all of 2016.
- Bell has 137 touches over the past four weeks, 40 more than the next closest player (Jordan Howard).
- Detroit is allowing 6.7 receptions per game to opposing backfields, 31st in the league.
- Antonio Brown has four 100-yard receiving games on the season. No other player has more than two.
- The Steelers are allowing .695 rushing points per carry to opposing backs (30th), but face just 21.3 attempts per game from backfields (12th).
- The Steelers are allowing 4.4 yards per play, the fewest in the league.
- Matthew Stafford is averaging 37.5 pass attempts per game, second in the league.
- Pittsburgh is allowing 172.3 passing yards per game to opposing passers, the fewest in the league.
- Pittsburgh is allowing 8.3 receptions (second) and 88.4 receiving yards (first) per game to opposing wide receiving units.
Trust: Le'Veon Bell (he’s averaging 25.2 points per game over his past five games and the Lions lost Haloti Ngata for the season while they are dripping receiving output to backs), Antonio Brown (he’s been the WR8 or higher in each of his past four games and while Darius Slay is a fine player, there’s no downgrade here for Brown)
Bust: Matthew Stafford (he’s the best quarterback Pittsburgh has faced outside of Alex Smith, but with Pittsburgh limiting opponent plays per game, it’s hard to love his outlook), Eric Ebron (the Steelers have allowed double-digit points to just one tight end on the season), Ameer Abdullah (Pittsburgh can be run on, but how long does Detroit stick with it and who else shares touches with him in this game? Abdullah entered the bye coming off games with just 11 and 14 touches and sharing goal line work), Kenny Golladay/T.J. Jones (given the Steelers performance so far against opposing wide receivers, I wouldn’t look to any of the ancillary options at the position as blind faith plays in hopes the receive a large target boost)
Reasonable Return: Ben Roethlisberger (he’s averaged 9.7 yards per attempt over the past two weeks and Detroit has allowed multiple touchdown passes to three of the past four quarterbacks they’ve faced, but while the Steelers have been riding Bell, the ceiling just hasn’t been there for fantasy output), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Martavis Bryant may have finally talked his way out of rest of season opportunity and that’s all we need to finally unlock for Smith-Schuster, who still has had more than three catches in just one game while Detroit has been vulnerable to slot production all season), Theo Riddick (his snaps and receiving opportunity were on the rise prior to the bye, finishing as a flex option in each game. Pittsburgh has allowed five or more catches to three different backs and I hate to sound like a broken record, but Tate’s volume has to trickle down somewhere while the Steelers should handle these wideouts), Marvin Jones (the most yards the Steelers have allowed to any receiver this season has been 61 yards, but with Golden Tate on the shelf, Jones should see the most targets he’ll get all season and is still a WR3 volume-based option)
Broncos @ Chiefs
|40.9%||14||Opp. Rush %||40.8%||13|
|59.1%||19||Opp. Pass %||59.3%||20|
- Kansas City is allowing 6.5 yards per play, the most in the league. Denver is allowing 4.5 yards per play defensively, the second-lowest rate in the league.
- The Chiefs have scored nine touchdowns from outside of the red zone (second in the league) after scoring nine all of 2016.
- 42 percent of Alex Smith's passing yards have come on throws 15 yards or further downfield, the highest rate in the league. 19.6 percent of his yardage in 2016 came from such throws, 38th in the league.
- Smith is the second quarterback in NFL history to have double-digit passing touchdowns with no interceptions through the first seven games of a season, joining Milt Plum in 1960.
- Kareem Hunt ranks 17th in the league in yards from scrimmage in the first half this season (275 yards). He leads the league in yards from scrimmage in the second half with 727, 239 more than the next highest player.
- Denver has scored a touchdown on 3-of-48 (6.3 percent) drives since Week 2, the fewest and lowest rate in the league over that span.
- Demaryius Thomas has not scored a touchdown in 12 straight games dating back to last season. The only wide receiver with a streak of having a reception in a game without a touchdown longer is Robert Woods (14 games).
- 18.6 percent of the runs against the Chiefs have gained 10 or more yards, highest rate in the league.
Trust: Travis Kelce (he received 27 targets in two games versus the Broncos last year, posting over 100-yards in each game while tight ends have accounted for 34 percent of the receiving yards against Denver, the second-highest share in the league)
Bust: C.J. Anderson (it’s another great paper matchup, but just like last week’s matchup was in his favor but netted no results, Anderson is not a player to pursue when Denver is anticipating negative game script), Demarcus Robinson (this is not a matchup to chas ehis WR26 scoring week from Week 7)
Reasonable Return: Alex Smith (I feel similarly about Smith as I do Deshaun Watson this week. Sure, the matchup is bad, but we’re just not anticipating a ceiling game as opposed to running away from using them in lineups. Denver has already allowed 11 touchdown passes this year after allowing 13 all of 2016), Tyreek Hill (we don’t target receivers versus Denver and I certainly wouldn’t enter with high expectations, but Hill has a unique scoring ability that can afford him production in the toughest of matchups), Kareem Hunt (he’s been the RB10-RB16 in each of the past four weeks without a touchdown, and I expect that to be the area of expectations for Hunt this week. Denver’s ability to limit running backs on the ground outside of the lone hiccup versus the Giants is real, but they have allowed some production in the passing game to backs as Melvin Gordon and LeSean McCoy each had games with five or more receptions against the Broncos), Demaryius Thomas (he runs 60 percent of his routes from the left and the slot, the two areas to attack the Chiefs and the area that allowed Amari Cooper to rise from the ashes and with Emmanuel Sanders still expected to be sidelined, his targets should rise over last week’s total), AJ Derby (he’s had over 20 percent of the team targets in two of the past three games, but I admittedly have cold feet after he inexplicably wasn’t used versus the Giants), Bennie Fowler (he caught all five his targets last week and was in play as a flex against a much tougher opponent), Trevor Siemian (the Chiefs can allow opportunities for splash plays as 21.9 percent of the completions against Kansas City have gained 20 or more yards, the second-highest rate in the league and they’ve allowed 20 or more fantasy points to four quarterbacks on the season. I’d easily rather stream Dalton or Tyrod over him, but I would go Siemian over McCown if those were my options)
Trust = Player to outperform baseline expectations
Bust = Player to underperform baseline expectations
Reasonable Return = Baseline Play that won't hurt you
**All Vegas Lines are taken from Yahoo listings on Tuesday Evenings