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Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 7

It's Week 7 and we are officially halfway through the fantasy regular season. With fingers crossed that the season continues to operate with minimal disruption, we can allow football to the forefront of our minds as it appears all games will be played as scheduled this week.

Assuming that's the case, fantasy GMs rostering Ravens, Colts, Vikings, and Dolphins will have to make alternate arrangements. That means prominent names such as Lamar Jackson, Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, and Ryan Fitz... err, I mean, Tua Tagovailoa, will not be available.

Luckily, our RotoBaller team is here to help fantasy managers navigate through issues such as bye weeks and waiver wire pickups while providing insight on every fantasy football matchup. As you prepare to set your lineups for a victorious Week 7, make sure to move potential fantasy landmines to your bench. Below are my top ten fantasy football busts for Week 7. Good luck!

 

Jared Goff vs. Chicago Bears

Jared Goff takes on a menacing Bears Defense in Week 7 that he has seriously struggled against in recent times. The past two matchups with the Bears have produced five interceptions and zero touchdown passes from Goff, the current QB16 on the season. Goff has been hit or miss, with three QB1 performances mixed in amongst three bust weeks.

The Bears have allowed the lowest completion percentage in the NFL at 57.1% and Goff lacks the mobility to extend plays and escape Khalil Mack and company. Expect the Rams to lean on the run in a projected low-scoring affair, affording minimal fantasy upside to the former number one pick.

 

Josh Jacobs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The entire Las Vegas Raiders’ starting offensive line currently resides on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That is troublesome, to say the least, for a starting running back. Fortunately, there is hope that they can be cleared prior to kickoff, but the NFL has changed the schedule in anticipation of a potential outbreak. Fantasy managers, therefore, must pay close attention to the status of this game, as well as its participants, as the fantasy fate of Jacobs could swing wildly depending on the outcome of test results.

Beyond that, the Buccaneers rank eighth against fantasy running backs, meaning Jacobs will have his work cut out for him even if his top blockers are available. The Buccaneers completely shut down the red-hot Packers last week and are an imposing matchup for offenses in general, as they rank third against quarterbacks to go along with their stifling run defense. Jacobs is a talented workhorse and simply cannot be benched, but managers rostering strong alternatives may be forced to consider such a drastic move if his offensive line is inactive.

 

Michael Gallup vs. Washington Football Team

Michael Gallup is fifth in targets for Dallas, behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalton Schultz. He has lost his starting quarterback and the division-rival Football Team poses a challenging test in Week 7, as Washington has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Andy Dalton looked much worse than many expected in his first start as a Cowboy and his injury-riddled offensive line could pose serious problems.

Dalton should have better days than he had versus Arizona, as Ezekiel Elliott’s costly fumbles put the team in a difficult position, but this offense is going to take a bigger hit than fantasy managers hoped following Dak Prescott’s injury. Gallup is best left on the fantasy sidelines this week.

 

Tyler Higbee vs. Chicago Bears

Over the past four games, Tyler Higbee has run 67 routes to Gerald Everett’s 52 routes, has out-targeted Everett only 12-11, and has been outscored by Everett 25.3 to 19.8 in terms of fantasy points. This has become a full-blown timeshare, a fact not demonstrated by Higbee’s TE8 standing. Higbee was the TE1 overall during his Week 2 explosion but has not finished above TE16 in any other week. With only two games above 40 receiving yards, Higbee is touchdown-dependent. Considering he has scored in only one game this season and Goff has failed to throw a single touchdown pass in his last two matchups with the Bears, GMs can find more viable options elsewhere.

 

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. New England Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo is fresh off a three-touchdown performance against a strong Rams’ defense. Unfortunately, he gets another tough opponent this week. Although he finally has both George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in the lineup at the same time, the Patriots have been downright dominant against opposing quarterbacks who aren’t named Russell Wilson.

Last week was the first time Garoppolo has finished inside the top eighteen quarterbacks and a road trip to Foxborough is not the recipe for streaming success. Even Patrick Mahomes was held to a QB17 finish against the Patriots. Garoppolo has yet to throw more than 33 times in a game this season and will require either increased volume or top-notch efficiency to justify a spot in fantasy lineups. Don’t bet on either of those things occurring and leave Garoppolo on benches this time around.

 

Henry Ruggs III vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Henry Ruggs is coming off the first fantasy-relevant performance of his career but faces the sixth-toughest matchup for wide receivers this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even in last week’s 118-yard performance, Ruggs accumulated only three targets. The volume is clearly not there for Ruggs yet. Fortunately, he possesses the type of skill set that does not require heavy volume. On any given play, Ruggs can produce a week’s worth of fantasy points.

While that makes him somewhat matchup proof, at least to an extent, the Buccaneers have not been prone to allowing big plays this season. Receivers average the second-fewest yards per reception against Tampa Bay. Further, with the entire Raiders’ offensive line in question, quarterback Derek Carr may be forced to get the ball out of his hands quickly. As such, the time for longer routes to develop may not be there. Ruggs is an upside play for managers needing a home run but be aware of his basement-level floor.

 

John Brown vs. New York Jets

John Brown went for 70 yards and a score in his first outing against the Jets this year. Since following that up with a second score in Week 2, Brown has done practically nothing. Injuries have played a big role in that, but the injury bug has not yet abandoned him. Brown missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday and appears nowhere near 100% health. Even if he suits up, Brown is likely to be extremely hobbled, as was evident in his zero-catch performance last week.

The Jets are middle of the road against fantasy receivers, mostly due to teams running out the clock in blowout wins against them and present a beatable matchup for Brown if healthy. Thus, it remains pertinent that managers monitor practice reports to see whether Brown returns to a limited session prior to gameday. Otherwise, Brown’s risk outweighs his potential reward.

 

Hayden Hurst vs. Detroit Lions

Hayden Hurst has not approached the breakout level that many fantasy enthusiasts dreamed of when he arrived in Atlanta to replace Austin Hooper. Although his involvement has not garnered every-week TE1 treatment, the state of the position has forced managers to treat him as such. While that remains the case, the Lions have been a surprisingly daunting matchup for opposing tight ends this season. That point remains to be truly tested, as the Lions have yet to face a top-tier tight end, but one could argue that trend is continuing this week.

The entire offense has functioned at a higher level whenever Julio Jones is in the lineup, for obvious reasons, so managers rostering Hurst can look to that fact for positive reinforcement. Otherwise, one could shutter at the notion that the Lions have allowed the lowest completion rate to tight ends in the NFL and that they allow only 5.3 fantasy points per game to the position, which is second in the league. Pivot where possible.

 

Jerry Jeudy vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Jerry Jeudy has taken a back seat lately as Tim Patrick has broken out with back-to-back games over 100 receiving yards. Patrick has out-targeted Jeudy fifteen to nine over that span. Jeudy had been averaging 8.33 targets per game prior to this slide and we will have to see him move back towards that number before getting excited about starting the rookie in tough matchups.

The Chiefs rank fifth against fantasy receivers, giving up an average of only 25.5 points to the position. Stefon Diggs was held to a meager 46 receiving yards against Kansas City last week, and although Diggs saved his day with a touchdown, Jeudy has scored only once thus far. Noah Fant is expected back this week, as is Melvin Gordon. The offense should operate more efficiently at full strength, but there is also more competition for targets. Jeudy is a promising stash but not one to be started until he reclaims a more prominent role in the offense.

 

Jared Cook vs. Carolina Panthers

There was a point this season that it appeared Emmanuel Sanders was done. In his last three games, Sanders has commanded 28 targets and turned that opportunity into 22 receptions for 271 yards and a touchdown. Comparatively, Jared Cook has been targeted only 4.5 times per game. That is notable, as last year Cook did not have to compete with Sanders for targets behind Michael Thomas.

Thomas has missed basically the entire season and is questionable for this week after picking up a hamstring injury to go along with his ankle issue. If Thomas suits up, it would mean considerably fewer targets available for options such as Cook, Sanders, and Tre’Quan Smith. Even if Thomas misses this week, the matchup is not ideal for a low-volume pass-catcher such as Cook. The Panthers are eighth against fantasy tight ends and have managed that success despite facing names like Darren Waller, Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry, Hayden Hurst, and Jimmy Graham. The common theme amongst brand name tight ends is that managers are forced to play them due to a lack of capable alternatives, and that remains true here. GMs should not kick Cook to the curb for a desperation streaming candidate but should plug in a more attractive option wherever possible.



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Booms and Busts - Starts and Sits for Week 7 Lineups

Week 6 in the NFL brought what may be one of the cleanest weeks of action to begin the season. With no catastrophic injuries affecting teams for the remainder of the year, the play on the field seemed to settle in as the more well-known players performed up to par. With big weeks from Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, along with others, it felt like all was right with the world. Now the question will be can they keep it up, or will we go back to the wild and wacky guessing game that is fantasy football?

Now that we are six weeks into the NFL season the crystal ball is becoming more clear. The cream always rises to the top and talent always finds a way. Which is what we are seeing if you look at positional rankings over the first six weeks. Players like Alvin Kamara and DeAndre Hopkins find themselves in their rightful places. But of course, there are outliers like Josh Allen and Robby Anderson taking full advantage of plus matchups to begin the season and it reflects in their rankings. The guessing game of the early parts of the fantasy season is out the window now and looking at matchups breeds success. Knowing which players are set up for big games while knowing which players are in for tough days and require benching is key for fantasy managers. With several weeks of data at our disposal, sifting through to set optimal lineups should be fairly easy.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 7. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

 

Week 7 Woos

Matthew Stafford @ Atlanta Falcons

The beneficiary of "Who plays the Falcons?" this week will be Stafford. He has been an up-and-down performer to begin the season and is valued as a QB2 most weeks. But the offense has been without a fully healthy Kenny Golladay and the passing offense was struggling without him. Now with Golladay back, the Lions will be facing the worst defense in fantasy in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (29.9 FPPG). The defense has continued to play horribly, allowing at least three touchdowns in each game except one (Week 5). Look for that to continue this week as the Stafford/Golladay connection is primed for a big day.

David Johnson vs. Green Bay Packers

I'm usually not one to promote playing David Johnson as I'm not very high on him as a fantasy player. But coming off a solid RB1 week against the Titans he is set up for success yet again in Week 7. He will be facing a Packers Defense that next to last in points allowed to the position (28.0 FPPG) and allows 6.8 FP over the average in scoring. They have had back-to-back weeks allowing multiple touchdowns to opposing RBs and we all saw what Ronald Jones did to this defense. Now the multi-faceted Johnson will get his turn and could turn in yet another RB1 scoring week for fantasy managers.

Tee Higgins vs. Cleveland Browns

Higgins continues to shine each week as the targets have been consistent since Week 3. He seems to be a big play waiting to happen as he is currently top-20 in air yards (525) and deep targets (9). This week he will look to take advantage of a Browns Defense that is near the bottom in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG). With the Bengals having plenty of weapons to cover on defense, Higgins should be able to see single coverage all day and I would count on another score in this matchup. I view him as a WR3 going into the week with WR2 upside and should be starting in all lineups.

Logan Thomas vs. Dallas Cowboys

Thomas re-emerged from his vanishing act in Week 6 as he found the end-zone for the first time since Week 1. There could be some sort of rapport between him and Kyle Allen as Thomas recorded a season-high 42 yards on four targets, finishing as TE9 on the week. This week he will look to take advantage of the porous Cowboys Defense, which is currently allowing 9.5 FPPG to the position. Thomas is the perfect candidate to start for managers that like to stream the position.

 

Week 7 Boos

Drew Brees vs. Carolina Panthers

My how the mighty have fallen. What used to be a perennial top-5 QB, Brees has been able to muster only two QB1 finishes on the season. He ranks 20th in passing yards (1,331) and 28th in air yards (1,010), showing that there is an unwillingness to take the shot down the field for the big play. This week could yet again be a struggle facing a Panthers Defense that is one of the best in the league in points allowed to the QB (14.6 FPPG). With Michael Thomas again in question for this offense in Week 7, starting Brees could be a risky proposition for fantasy managers.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire @ Denver Broncos

There are multiple factors here in play as I look at Edwards-Helaire for Week 7. Most fantasy managers will be starting him, or in a position to have to start him. But with Le'Veon Bell set to make his team debut, and facing a very stout Broncos run defense (12.1 FPPG, best in the league), Edwards-Helaire could struggle to find consistency. Sure, he recorded an RB1 finish a week ago (his first since Week 1) and is currently second in rushing yards (505). But he ranks just 16th in yards-per-carry (4.6) and 14th in evaded tackles (25). Look for the sure-tackling Broncos to bring him down early, eliminating his chances to get to the second level. He still will be played by fantasy managers in Week 7, but be sure to temper expectations.

Allen Robinson @ Los Angeles Rams

Robinson, bad quarterback play aside, remains the WR9 on the season. He requires plenty of targets to do his damage in matchups as his ability to get into the end-zone has just not been there (two TDs on the season). He is fourth in the league in receptions (40), third in air yards (674) but just 23rd in scoring. Expecting a quality start from him against a tough Rams secondary (16.3 FPPG, best in fantasy) will be a bit much to ask. He is another player that fantasy managers will be in a position to have to play, but the likelihood that he scores well enough to help you win will be minimal.

Tyler Higbee vs. Chicago Bears

Higbee has been by and large a disappointment for fantasy managers to begin the 2020 season. Aside from his three-score game in Week 2, he has not found the end-zone. The other statistics are not kind to him either. He ranks 21st in targets (21), 26th in routes ran (105), and 25th in red-zone targets (3). All showing a player that is inconsistently used in an offense that ranks 29th in the league in pass plays per game. This week he faces a tough road yet again as the Rams face a Bears Defense that allows just 7.8 FPPG to opposing TEs. With the poor play to begin the season, Higbee could be a player that most fantasy managers should be benching this week and use the waiver wire to stream a better matchup.



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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Avoid - Week 7

The CB Matchup Chart has been a helpful resource all season, specifically in Week 6Last week's article was predictive in forecasting boom games for Julio Jones, Justin Jefferson, and Christian Kirk. It also predicted let-downs from Robby Anderson, Cooper Kupp, and Mike Evans. This week's chart will give the most accurate landscape of CB matchups yet, as I have continued to update it with new data and left and right alignment splits.

The chart below is a snapshot of each team's cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the data compilation of cornerback play. The first being the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental errors, certain passing concepts, and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback isn't a perfect science. The purpose of this chart is to give more of a general sense of how defenses are handling opposing WR groups, rather than identifying exactly where, when, and how every single encounter happened.

The "Rtng" column is the rating of each cornerback based on film study and analytics. The lower a player is graded, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The "PPGA" is the number of fantasy points per game that the player has given up. A name in blue means the corner could possibly shadow the WR1. A name in red means that the player is dealing with an injury. WRs highlighted in yellow have an easy matchup. WRs highlighted in pink have a tough matchup.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups - Week 7

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

The analysis below will help contextualize the chart, as in most cases a receiver did not score 100% of his points against the same player. However, the chart is a useful tool in getting a sense of the weakest links among corners. This weekly process has made it clear to me that the WR talent and his target share are more important than his opposition.

It’s become a tradition to start this space each week with attacking Atlanta. Kenny Golladay could have his best game of 2020 this Sunday. All of Atlanta’s outside CBs are below average, so the fact that Kenny G and Marvin Jones Jr. split time on the right and left shouldn’t matter much. Jones has had a down year so far. If he fails to produce against Atlanta, it might be time to drop him in fantasy leagues.

I highlighted both A.J. Green and Tee Higgins because they play right and left side just about evenly.  Whoever gets more snaps on the left side will have the easier matchup against Terrance Mitchell. Denzel Ward is a completely different story.  It would make sense to attack Mitchell with Higgins, but we can’t be sure until game day. Ward plays exclusively LCB.

Denver’s secondary didn’t give up much to the New England passing attack last week. Prior to their win against the Patriots, they were one of the most frequently burnt units in the league. Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill are in bounce-back spots after Buffalo chose to play their safeties 20 yards deep in Week 6.

Detroit has been dominated by outside WRs, so in a game with a 56.5 total, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are both potential slate-breakers.

Stefon Diggs is in a good spot against the Jets. They move him around the formation and he has a plus matchup against two bad outside CBs.

The chart projects a very favorable matchup for DeAndre Hopkins as the LWR against Seattle. The Seahawks have been gashed by LWRs all year, and Hopkins lines up on the left side the majority of the time. However, it’s important to note that Tre Flowers has been responsible for a lot of fantasy points against that position. Quinton Dunbar hasn’t been good this year, but he’s better than Flowers. I’ll be watching that matchup very closely, especially after Hopkins inexplicably flopped against Dallas.

In the slot, Jamison Crowder gets a Bills Defense that he exposed in Week 1.  Meanwhile, Greg Ward gets a matchup with Giants rookie Darnay Holmes, who has been abysmal.  Finally, the underwhelming JuJu Smith-Schuster gets another easy matchup against Tennessee’s Kristian Fulton. Fresh off a disappointing outing against the Browns, anything other than a breakout game could mean JuJu simply isn’t a priority target for the Steelers anymore.

Finally, Tyler Boyd does not have as easy a matchup as the chart indicates. Kevin Johnson has been a much better slot corner in recent weeks compared to who the Browns used earlier this season.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Avoid

James Bradberry is having an amazing season and probably deserves some DPOY consideration at this point.  I expect him to shadow and severely limit Travis Fulgham in Week 7.

In that same game, I expect Darius Slay to match up against Darius Slayton and limit him as well.

Jaire Alexander is one of the best corners in the league and may shadow Will Fuller.  Alexander had Deshaun Watson's number in college so I wouldn't be surprised if Watson tried to avoid him.  The bad news for Brandin Cooks is that even if Alexander moves off his home at LCB and shadows Fuller, Cooks will have a tough matchup with Green Bay's other outside corners.

Tre’Davious White is back for the Bills, so Breshad Perriman is not an advisable start this week.

D.J. Chark plays both right and left, but the bad news for him is that both Chargers’ outside corners are outstanding. Laviska Shenault Jr. is going to have a game with an explosive touchdown sooner or later, but this not a good matchup for him either.

The Saints have done a terrific job against RWRs this year, so downgrade Robby Anderson a bit for the second consecutive week.

The Washington Football Team's pass defense has been well above average at limiting fantasy points to opposing WRs. With Andy Dalton at QB, all three of the top Dallas WRs should be downgraded a bit.  I especially don’t love Amari Cooper’s matchup against Kendall Fuller.

Similarly, Kyle Fuller and the Bears have done a great job against WRs all year.  This might not be the best week for the Rams’ WR group, especially Robert Woods.

As far as slots go, there are a lot of good players in bad spots.  Randall Cobb, Jerry Jeudy, Cole Beasley, Julian Edelman, and Hunter Renfrow have the most difficult slot matchups in the league this week.  I would like to specifically highlight Brian Poole, who has been stellar as the Jets’ slot corner.  The Jets have been atrocious, but Poole deserves All-Pro consideration at this point.  Nickel backs are no longer just sub-package players.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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Week 7 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 7 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as

Everything seemed to go off pretty well last week and we did not have any games recommended here canceled, so let's hope for the same as we head into Week 7. Some of the best options to stream are highlighted below.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

36% Rostered

Quarterback is slim pickings for streaming this week, so Mayfield gets the nod in this spot. He will be going up against a Bengals Defense that is currently allowing nearly 18 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. The total in this game is currently set at 50, so scoring should not be a problem. Also, Mayfield had his best fantasy performance of the season in Week 2 at home vs the Bengals when he threw for 219 yards and two scores.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

51% Rostered

I struggled to decide between recommending Jackson or Joshua Kelley here, but decided to go with Jackson based on his production from a week ago when he carried the ball 15 times for 71 yards while also hauling in five receptions for 23 yards. He gets a matchup vs. a Jaguars Defense that is allowing nearly 113 rushing yards per game to running backs as well as over 4.3 yards per carry. They have also allowed seven rushing touchdowns and are allowing backs to be active in the passing game as they have given up 36 receptions, which is tied for seventh-worst in the league.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

41% Rostered

This game is expected to be a shootout with a total currently sitting at 56. The Seahawks have been awful vs. wide receivers as they are allowing over 394 receiving yards to wideouts thus far in 2020. Kirk has seen an average of five targets per game and could have a major impact in this one much the way he did last week vs. the Cowboys when he hauled in two scores. The Cardinals are also 3.5 point dogs, so Murray could be throwing a bit more, not to mention the Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the league, likely making passing a priority for this offense.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

51% Rostered

Schultz is rostered a bit high for this section, but hopefully, you can grab him and stream him in your league. He saw five targets last week in Andy Dalton's first start and could see even more vs. a Football Team Defense that struggles vs. the tight end position. They are currently allowing almost 17 points per game to tight ends as they have given up 32 receptions for 386 yards and five scores.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

25% Rostered

Corey Davis should return from the Covid-19 list this week and could have a solid day vs. the Steelers. The Steelers are giving up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position by allowing nearly 40 points per game. Davis saw an average of over six targets per game through his first three games and could be the benefactor of a similar target share this week. The Titans are slight dogs, so some additional passing could be instore in this game, especially because Pittsburgh has allowed the fewest rushing yards to running backs thus far in 2020 with 274 rushing yards allowed through their first five games.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

4% Rostered

As I said above, choices are limited at the quarterback position this week and that is also why Allen finds himself in this spot. The Cowboys secondary has been atrocious in 2020 and the defense as a whole is currently allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They have given up 13 passing touchdowns on the season, which is ranked tied for fourth-worst in the league.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

25% Rostered

Williams has been involved in the past couple of weeks as he has 12 carries and eight receptions in the previous two games. He could find success with limited action vs. a Texans Defense that is allowing nearly six (!) yards per carry and has allowed eight rushing touchdowns to running backs, which is worst in the league.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

19% Rostered

I am going to stick with Patrick for the third straight week this week vs. the Chiefs. While the Chiefs do have a strong pass defense, the Broncos are 9.5 point dogs and are going to have to be throwing often to stay in this game. In the previous three weeks, Patrick has caught 14 balls for 257 yards and scored twice. He should be a favorite target of Drew Lock on Sunday.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

16% Rostered

Logan Thomas continues to see a solid target share as he received four targets last week and hauled in three of those targets for 42 yards and a score. He will be facing a Cowboys Defense that has allowed over 14 points per game to the tight end position.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers

4% Rostered

I am going out on a limb again this week and recommending Kendrick Bourne. Bourne has seen an average of nearly five targets per game in 2020 and could have a nice day vs. the Patriots' secondary. New England is allowing an average of 36 fantasy points per game to wide receivers and has allowed 164 receiving yards per game to the position. They have also allowed seven receiving touchdowns to wideouts, which ranks tied for fifth-worst in the league.



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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 7)

The more data we get as the season goes on, the better equipped we are to interpret matchups and make informed decisions. Then Week 6 comes along and blows it all to hell.

The unpredictability of sports is what keeps us intrigued, as frustrating as it may be at times. Numbers are supposedly to be black and white, with no inherent bias. That may be true, but it doesn't mean that we can't misinterpret them.

Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions for Week 7 and beyond.

 

Target Share

The very talented (and lovely) Phil Clark publishes his FSWA-award-nominated series on WR Snap Counts and Target Trends on RotoBaller each week. A major component of fantasy value for receivers, tight ends, and running backs alike is target totals. By recognizing trends and major risers or fallers, we can identify players to add, drop, start, and sit based on matchups.

Of course, this is where I reveal that even target share can be misleading at times. "Owning" a large market share of your team's passing targets doesn't always translate to production, especially on a bad offense. Thinking of one in particular where the gang wears green...

Conversely, players who are more efficient with the targets they see or may have a lower rate based on a high-volume passing attack could be undervalued. Let's look at both sides of the coin in this week's editions of "Stats That Lie."

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

26.4% Team Target Share

It's no surprise that Hollywood Brown is third in the league in total air yards and AY%. He is the field stretcher for a run-first offense that exploits the secondary when they least expect it. It might be surprising to see that he is ninth in TGT%. At first blush, the reaction is that he garners that market share because the Ravens don't have a deep receiving corps and limit their passes to Brown, Mark Andrews, and the running backs. This is true to an extent but Brown's 42 total targets rank 18th among all wide receivers.

Brown is known as a boom-or-bust player in fantasy but his target totals have been steady and he is among the leaders in that area. He hasn't seen fewer than six targets in a game this season, even as the Ravens rank in the top-five in total rush attempts once again.

Here's the deceptive part: his 61.9% catch rate ranks 133rd among all skill players. The targets will be there, but he isn't always going to come down with them. That's by no means an indictment on him as a player, it's a byproduct of how he is used in this offense. Brown does have seven receptions of 20 yards or more, so the boom aspect is still there while the bust has been mostly mitigated.

Brown isn't as risky as you may imagine, nor will he have the potential to be a top-1o fantasy receiver as some posited in the preseason. He is simply a volatile WR3 with a high weekly ceiling. If you happen to play in a league that rewards PP1D (points per first down), you'd be glad to know that Brown is tied for 19th in that department. More leagues should play PP1D instead of PPR, don't you think?

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

26.0% Team Target Share

I'm almost afraid to touch this one because anything short of calling Fulgham this year's breakout performer doesn't go over well in the fantasy community. This particular stat is also very telling yet misleading at the same time.

Fulgham was non-existent in terms of fantasy relevance for the first year of his NFL career and the first three weeks of 2020 as well. He caught two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in San Francisco but only saw two targets that game. Then came Pittsburgh where we ALL discovered his name. Fulgham didn't just have big yardage, he caught 10 of the 13 targets thrown his way. He followed up with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown, making it three straight games with a score. His 10 targets that day made 23 in a two-week span and 26 over his three weeks on the active roster.

While that target total ranks far down the list, his extraordinary target share over the small sample places him 11th among all wide receivers, ahead of Odell Beckham, Cooper Kupp, and DK Metcalf. With an average of 10.9 yards per target, this could indeed be indicative of a breakout season but perspective is needed.

Fulgham has achieved his target share due to two huge games. One down week might tank that. As of this writing, the Eagles haven't played on Thursday Night but once again I am being realistic in suppressing expectations. The Giants have only allowed one 100-yard receiver all year (CeeDee Lamb) and no other WR has even reached 75 yards, thanks mainly to James Bradberry. With no other options to distract from Fulgham, he'll draw plenty of attention from Bradberry and others. I am ready to buy into Fulgham as a streaming option even if Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson ever return but it's with the understanding that his target share will eventually even out.

 

Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints

21.3% Team Target Share

It was a slow start in the Big Easy for Sanders but the last couple of games before the bye reaped great rewards for fantasy managers. Sanders caught six of nine targets for 93 yards in Week 4 and outdid that with 12 catches on 14 targets for 122 yards in Week 5. Steadily trending upward, the return of Michael Thomas comes at an inopportune time. That is, if it's coming at all.

The team's franchise wideout is now questionable again after aggravating a hamstring that could be related to his existing ankle injury. Don't forget about his mysterious suspension that came on the eve of his supposed return too.


If Thomas doesn't go in Week 7 or beyond, Sanders seems like an obvious start. Otherwise, it's a tricky proposition.

His value has been buoyed by the target volume but a decline, especially a substantial one that could happen when Thomas returns, could make him unplayable outside of very deep PPR leagues. For what it's worth, Thomas had the second-highest target share among all WR in 2019 at 34.5%. The only player who topped that was... Emmanuel Sanders at 43.8%. Of course, that was with Denver and San Francisco, so circumstances have changed.

Targets are indeed the lifeblood of a receiver's fantasy value but we do need to see them convert into yardage and touchdowns. Sanders' 39.9% Air Yard Share is even higher than his target share but his 9.0 aDoT is middle-of-the-pack and his air yard total is barely higher than guys like Zach Pascal and Jeff Smith (see below).

Sanders is worth a shot in Week 7 based on the uncertainty surrounding Thomas but GMs should know that the Panthers allow the lowest points per reception to WR relative to the opponent's average. Here's a chance to share the very latest #DFBeersReport courtesy of Mike Beers on Twitter.

The Saints' next two opponents are Chicago and Tampa Bay which allow the third and 11th-fewest fantasy PPR to the receiver position. This is a good time to exploring trading Sanders away if possible.

 

Jeff Smith, New York Jets

21.2% Team Target Share

I'll admit to being excited for a minute about the potential of a fantasy sleeper on a forgotten team (or a team we wish we could forget) like the Jets. By Week 4, they were rolling out Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan as starting wideouts due to the sheer volume of injuries. In stepped Jeff Smith, an undrafted second-year player out of Boston College with 4.4 speed and apparent doppelganger to Travis Fulgham in terms of career trajectory.

He was inactive for three weeks, suddenly burst onto the scene with seven catches and 81 yards in Week 4 on nine targets, then saw 11 targets the following week, catching only three for 23 yards sadly. Was Smith the playmaker this team sorely needed? Apparently not, as he fell to four targets in Week 6 with Breshad Perriman back in action. Despite the ball being thrown his way a ton, he only averaged 4.7 yards per target.

Jamison Crowder is already second in the league in target share, so with Perriman on the field again and Denzel Mims looking ready to return this weekend, Smith is a distant fourth in pecking order for a team that ranks last in passing yardage. He could be a deep dynasty stash for 2021 if Crowder is traded and/or Perriman signs elsewhere but he would need Trevor Lawrence on the team in order to jump back to relevance.

 

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders

11.2% Team Target Share

The first WR picked in this year's draft, Ruggs hasn't gotten the chance to full showcase what he can do yet. He missed two games, exited early in two others and the Raiders have already had their bye. Since we're looking at target rate rather than total targets, that shouldn't matter if he was a major part of the offense in those couple of games, much like Fulgham.

Ruggs hasn't been targeted much when he's actually on the field but he doesn't need to be. Unlike a slot receiver who depends on volume, Ruggs is content to take one pass and turn it into a 72-yard touchdown. He has quickly shown exactly what Mike Mayock envisioned when drafting him with his blazing 4.2 speed. A mere 11 targets has resulted in 177 yards.


Simply put, his target share doesn't matter if he's hyper-efficient on deep balls and can outrun the defense at every step. When a player averaged 16.1 yards per target, it doesn't take very many to be productive. If Ruggs stays healthy, he has boom potential any given week regardless of opponent and may be considered a midseason trade target.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

15.2% Team Target Share

Here is another rookie, albeit one who has yet to explode on the scene to the level of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb or Chase Claypool. Shenault had been steady but not especially fantasy relevant until last week's dud. He had been on a steady climb in terms of targets and receptions until he laid an egg in a great matchup with Detroit.

image taken from RotoWire

His steady snap count totals and occasional involvement as a runner are good signs. The red flag isn't his one-week drop in target share, it's the complete lack of involvement in the red zone.

As far as his low Target%, it has to do with the fact that the Jags are passing so much to so many players. After six games, they are fourth in total pass attempts at nearly 43 per game. D.J. Chark absorbs most of those when healthy and Keelan Cole is actually the team leader with 38 targets. Shenault is right up there with 36.

Shenault has yet to provide a huge play or a breakout game but he should continue to grow as the season progresses. He can provide a steady floor in PPR leagues but is nearly useless in standard leagues without any touchdowns. He has seen just as many targets this year as Emmanuel Sanders, so being higher on the veteran than the rookie would reek of recency bias. Maybe reverse ageism too.



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The King's Week 7 Fantasy Football Lineup Rankings (Premium Content)


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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.

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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

It started off as a great day of football but the decision to have just two 4 p.m. games quickly backfired when the Dolphins-Jets and Bucs-Packers became blowouts after the first quarter. Another decision that is still, and will continue to be, scrutinized is the Texans decision to go for two. It was the right decision. Houston's defense was awful Sunday and Romeo Crennel, a defensive guy, knew his team wouldn't be able to stop Tennessee. A two-point conversion would've iced the game. They had the right play, the receiver was wide open, but the ball got deflected. I'm always in the belief when you can control a situation and finish something, then go for it.

Underdogs went 9-5 against the spread with six outright upsets. The biggest was the Broncos beating the Patriots in Foxborough which knocked out around 20 percent of remaining entrants in pools. Majority of entrants chose the Dolphins which required no sweat in an easy win against the Jets. My survivor plays went 3-1 straight-up. The Vikings were an avoid and they got blown out.

Week 7 kicks off with the Giants at the Eagles Thursday night. The Colts, Dolphins, Ravens, and Vikings are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 7

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 7; Bills -13.5 @ Jets, Chiefs -9 vs. Broncos, Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars, Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 7

Bills -13.5 @ Jets

Not only are the Jets winless but they're also 0-6 against the spread. There's really not much to say about this game, only whether the Jets will cover. It's really remarkable to not have covered a game yet but that should eventually end.

Bills 30 - Jets 19

 

Packers -3.5 @ Texans

Both these teams have similarly explosive offenses, but the one difference in the stats are the Packers are fifth in converting third down's while Houston is 21st. Green Bay hadn't been tested before Sunday and they got a refreshing wake-up call, especially their defense. The Texans Defense though is so bad giving up 6.1 yards per play, 27th, and 23rd in opponent third-down conversion percentage. Aaron Rodgers should pick apart the secondary.

Packers 31 - Texans 23

 

Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

The Chargers could really be 5-0. They should have beaten the Chiefs, had a great chance to beat the Panthers, and blew leads to the Bucs and Saints. Justin Herbert has been getting better by the week. Their defense ranks 17th in yards per play, 10th in getting off the field on third down, and fifth in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. But they have looked a lot better than the stats and they're fresh off a bye.

I wrote this last week about Jacksonville; "the Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team." The Chargers should finally cruise to a win.

Chargers 26 - Jaguars 14

 

Chiefs -9 @ Broncos

Denver played a great game Sunday in New England but six field goals just won't come close to cutting it against Kansas City. I don't care how great your defense is, you won't hold Kansas City to less than 17 points or less. The Broncos offense ranks 27th in yards per play, 29th in third down conversions, and 30th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They may very well cover but you can't beat the best offense like that.

Chiefs 28 - Broncos 20

 

Rams -5.5 vs. Bears

Chicago keeps winning despite an offense similarly bad to Denver's; 28th in yards per play, 27th in third down conversions, and 26th in touchdowns in the red zone. Their defense is in the top six in those defensive categories. The Rams though have had all their wins come against the NFC East. They've lost to the Bills and 49ers. Jared Goff struggles in bad weather and a good pass rush. The weather will be fine in LA but the Bears pass rush will put him under immense pressure. Sean McVay better have a good plan to get the ball out of Goff's hands quick.

Another point is if the Bears are actually good and since the Rams have played a cake schedule, shouldn't this line be three. I think that's a big tell from the Vegas bookmakers.

Rams 24 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

 

Saints -7.5 vs. Panthers

This game goes either two ways; the Saints come off their bye and win convincingly or struggle immensely. I can't get over the memory of last year when New Orleans came off a bye at 7-1, and were double-digit favorites over the Falcons only to be beat 26-9. The Saints don't look like a team that should be favored by more than a touchdown over anyone. Not even Carolina despite them looking awful against the Bears. However the Panthers have been up-and-down and this is a divisional game which usually tends to be close.

Saints 23 - Panthers 21

 

Browns -3.5 @ Bengals

This teams met on Thursday night football in Week 2 with the Browns winning 35-30. The game was not as close as the score was but Joe Burrow would not go down. Both teams are off losses, but Cleveland got blown out and you wonder how they'll respond. A road divisional favorite of 3.5 is too much with a guy like Burrow on the other side.

Bengals 23 - Browns 21

 

Best Bets for Week 7

  • Packers -3.5 @ Texans
  • Dallas -1.5 @ Washington - Cowboys are off an embarrassing blowout loss on national television. Teams in that situation usually rebound the following week.
  • Chargers -7.5 vs. Jaguars

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 9-9
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

We had some surprise defenses crack the top-10 in Week 6 with the Atlanta Falcons picking off Kirk Cousins seemingly at will and the Tampa Bay Bucs easily handling Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Even with that, we were able to get six of the top-10 defensive units, but the Indianapolis Colts may be showing some cracks in the armor, and Washington offensive ineptitude surprisingly flipped the script and allowed the Giants to finish as the only top-10 unit in that matchup.

I've been mentioning this for weeks, but it bears repeating that scoring and yards are at an all-time high this year. 4,621 points or 25.4 points per game so far this season and are gaining 363.3 yards per game, which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 7 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 7. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 7 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 7 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Buffalo Bills Defense @ NYJ 13.9
2 1 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. NYG 13.5
3 1 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ DEN 12.3
4 1 Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. CHI 11.8

Perhaps I'm about to be overly hard on the Bills as a life-long Bills fan, but their defense is concerning me right now. Yes, the Jets are a terrible offense. They rank 31st in passing yards, 26th in sacks allowed, 31st in drives ending in a score, and 15th in rushing and now are without Le'Veon Bell. But, as the Chiefs showed on Monday night, the Bills can be run on, even though Frank Gore and the Jets offensive line are not Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs unit. This is clearly not the same Bills defense that we've seen over the last couple of years. In addition to being gashed by the run, they are dead last in pressure rate. If you are not creating pressure, then you don't give yourself much chance to add fantasy points through sacks and turnovers. With Sam Darnold coming back, the Jets should become a little better on offense, though not much. I know you simply want to play defenses going up against the Jets, and the Bills have enough talented defensive players that you have to imagine they can take advantage of this matchup, but I could just as easily see the Eagles as the #1 DST this week due to their ability to create pressure.

The Eagles have started to get healthier on defense and are currently fourth in the NFL with 21 sacks. The Giants are 25th in the NFL with 17 sacks allowed, so I expect a healthy Eagles defensive front to get in Daniel Jones' face throughout the game which is good news since the Giants are already third-worst in the NFL with 18.4% of drives ending in a turnover. Even without the pressure, the Giants simply aren't a good offense right now. They're 27th passing yards, 28th in rushing yards, and 25th in drives ending in a score. If the Eagles are without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, who both left hurt on Sunday, the already sputtering offense will be even more short-handed which could lead to some short fields for the Giants. However, that's not enough to scare me off using this Eagles unit against one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

The Chiefs defense came to play Monday night against a solid Bills offense. The Chiefs send blitzes at one of the highest rates, and although they didn't sack Josh Allen, they were in his face all night long. Kansas City is 7th in the league in pressure rate, tops in quarterback knockdown rate at 1o.6%, and 9th in quarterback hurries. That will be useful against a Denver offensive line that is 22nd in sacks allowed and 5th-worst in the league with 16.7% of drives ending in a turnover. Obviously, having Drew Lock, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsay back will help the Broncos offense overall, but they don't have the firepower to keep up with the Chiefs and their defense is too banged up to keep the Chiefs from scoring. That will mean the Broncos will be forced to pass in the second half, which will lead to more blitzes, sacks, and turnovers for the Chiefs defense.

The Rams had been riding high on defense before falling short against the 49ers on Sunday night. However, maybe you're noticing a trend, but the Bears offense is simply not as good as the 49ers with all their pieces back. The Bears are 15th in sacks allowed, 18th in passing yards, 25th in rushing yards, and 27th in drives ending in points. While their sack numbers aren't egregious, the Rams defense is 5th in the league in sacks and 5th in drives ending in points against. With Jalen Ramsey likely shadowing Allen Robinson, I don't expect the Bears to be able to move the ball much in this game, which will allow more chances for Aaron Donald and company to get to a super immobile Nick Foles.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense  vs. LV 10.9
6 2 San Francisco 49ers Defense   @ NE 10.6
7 2 New York Giants Defense @ PHI 10.3
8 2 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense @ TEN 9.8

Tampa Bay thoroughly dominated Green Bay on Sunday, so it's not too much to expect a similar outing against a lesser-talented Las Vegas team. It's clear that losing Vita Vea didn't inhibit the Bucs' ability to stop the run. They're tops in the NFL with only 3.0 yards allowed per carry, which should help them against a Raiders' offense that relies heavily on Josh Jacobs. The Bucs are 3rd-best in pressure rate at 28.3% and second-best sack total, which means that, despite the Raiders not allowing many sacks this season, the Bucs should still be able to generate pressure on Derek Carr and the offense. That's good news considering Las Vegas is 9th-worst in the league in drives ending in turnovers. I expect Tampa Bay to score nearly at will against this Las Vegas defense, and even if the Raiders do put up points, they will also likely cough up a few turnovers. Tampa Bay is just playing too well to bet against right now.

The 49ers came to play on Sunday against the Rams, starting to look a little more like the playoff contenders they've been in recent years. Despite their rash of injuries, they are still fifth in the league in pressure rate, third in quarterback knockdowns and fourth in quarterback hurries. As we saw on Sunday against the Broncos, this is not the same Patriots offense, even with Cam Newton back. They are 17th in sacks allowed, 30th in passing yards, 7th-worst in drives ending in points, and worst in the league in drives ending in an offensive turnover at 19.2%. The Patriots are unlikely to put up lots of points against this 49ers defense, which raises their defensive floor and it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco can also notch a few sacks and force some turnovers.

I honestly can't believe I have the Giants this high, but here we are. They just finished as a top-10 unit against Washington and now will face an Eagles offense that will be without Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz and possibly still without Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. This is also an Eagles offense that is dead last in sacks allowed, 26th in yards per play, and 27th in drives ending in a turnover. Also, this Giants defense hasn't been as bad as many think. James Bradbury has been great in shadow coverage against opponents' top receivers, and the team is 9th in pressure rate, 10th in sacks, and 10th in quarterback knockdowns. With the Eagles not even entirely sure who will be starting for them at right guard on Thursday, I expect the Giants to be able to get into Carson Wentz's face throughout what should be an ugly game with lots of turnovers.

The Steelers absolutely dismantled the Browns on Sunday. Now they will get a much stiffer test in the Tennessee Titans. I think the Steelers are the best defense in the NFL, but the Titans are no joke on offense, so it moves Pittsburgh down a little bit in our weekly ranks. The Titans offense is second in the league in drives that end in a score, fourth in the league in yards per play, and best in the league in sacks allowed. However, there is only so far down that I can drop a Steelers defense that is the best pressure defense in the NFL by a large margin. Their 38.9% pressure rate is well above the second-best rate of 29.2%. The Steelers blitz the most in the league (46.3%), have the most quarterback hurries, and are 2nd-best in yards per rushing attempt at 3.3 yards. Add to that the fact that the Titans just lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL, and I think the Steelers will be able to get some pressure on Ryan Tannehill in this game.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 Los Angeles Chargers Defense vs. JAX 9.3
10 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ CIN 8.9
11 3 New England Patriots Defense vs. SF 8.6
12 3 New Orleans Saints Defense vs. CAR 8.3
13 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ LAR 7.7
14 3 Washington Football Team Defense vs. DAL 7.5
15 3 Green Bay Packers Defense @ HOU 6.9

The Chargers are fresh off the bye and have two weeks to prepare for a Jaguars offense that has been struggling with consistency of late. While Jacksonville is 6th in passing yards, Minshew has also thrown 11 interceptions, the offensive line has given up the 18th most sacks, and the Jaguars have the 7th-most drives ending in a turnover. The Chargers may only have eight sacks on the season, but they are 11th in pressure rate and 3rd in quarterback hurries. The Chargers are getting healthier on defense with Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones back both at practice. If either one of them, or both, is able to return on Sunday, it would be a big boost to a pass rush that could wreak havoc on an over-matched Jaguars offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns got trampled on Sunday by the Steelers, but their defense had been playing good football up until that point. They will also face a much softer test this week. The Bengals are 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed, 24th in drives ending in points, and have an offensive line that has been below average in almost every blocking metric. The Browns defense is 6th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing only 3.6 yards per attempt, but they have been destroyed through the slot. That means the Bengals only hope is Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd. If the Browns can build an early lead against a bad Bengals Defense and force passing downs, it will give more opportunity for sacks for a defense that is 2nd in the NFL in quarterback hurries and 2nd-best in the league in drives that end in an offensive turnover at 18.2%.

The Patriots defense certainly wasn't the reason they lost to the Broncos on Sunday. They are 4th in the league in pressure rate and best in the league in drives ending in a defensive turnover. That pressure will be a factor on Sunday considering the 49ers are 27th in the league in sacks allowed and may not have as strong of a running game with Raheem Mostert out to keep the Patriots from coming after Jimmy Garropolo. What keeps me from pushing the Patriots into the top-10 is the fact that their defensive faults have been overshadowed a bit by the talent-level of opponents and gamescript. They are 18th in the NFL in yards per play allowed, 13th in yards allowed per carry, 15th in drives ending in a score, and 27th in yards allowed per pass attempt. The 49ers offense is middle of the road in drives ending in turnover and has been much better at protecting the ball with Jimmy G and Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. I expect them to take better care of the ball and scheme ways to take advantage of a Patriots defense that is giving up a fair amount of yards per play and surviving by slowing down the pace of play.

The Saints will come off their bye week with two weeks to prepare for a Carolina offense that is 19th in sacks allowed and just scored 16 points against the Bears. Teddy Bridgewater has been solid for the Panthers, but he also has five interceptions to only six touchdowns on the season. With the Saints offense expected to get Michael Thomas back, they should exploit a vulnerable Panthers Defense and force Bridgewater to have to throw often to keep up. That will leave open opportunities for a defense that had the bye week to get healthy. What this comes down to for me is simply that the Saints have been a strong defensive unit for a couple of years now and have too many good players to keep giving up this many yards and touchdowns through the air. With Sean Payton and company coming out of the bye week, I expect them to begin to right the ship.

The Bears defense showed up to play against a solid Panthers offense on Sunday, but this still a defense that is underperforming its previous levels. They are 21st in pressure rate, 24th in quarterback hurry percentage, and 15th in drives ending in an offensive turnover. The best way to slow down the Rams offense is to get pressure on Jared Goff. However, the Bears pressure rate matched up against a Rams offense that is 4th in the league in sacks allowed doesn't give me confidence that Goff will be under a lot of pressure. That means he can manage an offense that is 10th in yards per play and 4th in expected points contributed by the offense.

What we saw from the Cowboys offense on Monday night made me even more confident in playing the Washington defense against them. The Cowboys may be 21st in sacks allowed, but their cobbled together offensive line gave up a ton of pressure against the Cardinals, and the task won't be any easier against a Washington team that is 8th in sacks, 13th in pressure rate, and 11th in quarterback hurry rate. The Cowboys offense is 31st in the NFL in offensive drives ending in a turnover and clearly doesn't have the firepower to score quickly with Andy Dalton under center. I don't expect Washington to handle them the way Arizona did, but a few turnovers and sacks seem likely.

The Bills' offense set the league on fire for the first four weeks, but we've seen the return of frazzled Josh Allen. The strong-armed quarterback has continued to score points and gain yardage with his legs, but he has also begun turning the ball over a bit more and the Bills are now 25th in the league drives ending in a turnover. The Jets get pressure at a below-average rate and their offense continues to put the defense in poor positions, but if Josh Allen is trending towards past issues with inaccuracy and holding onto the ball too long, it's likely going to lead to some questionable decisions, sacks, and maybe turnovers.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Dallas Cowboys Defense @ WAS 6.7
17 4 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. PIT 6.3
18 4 New York Jets Defense vs. BUF 5.9
19 4 Denver Broncos Defense vs. KC 5.1
20 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs. CLE 4.9
21 4 Seattle Seahawks Defense @ ARI 4.4
22 4 Atlanta Falcons Defense vs. DET 3.9

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 7 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Arizona Cardinals Defense vs. SEA 3.4
24 5 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. LAC 2.9
25 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense vs. TB 2.3
26 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ ATL 1.9
27 5 Houston Texans Defense vs. GB 1.1
28 5 Carolina Panthers Defense @ NO 0.9
29 5 Miami Dolphins Defense BYE 0.0
30 5 Baltimore Ravens Defense BYE 0.0
31 5 Indianapolis Colts Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense BYE 0.0


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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. In Week 6, we saw games that we expected to be close turn into blowouts, and we had blowouts turn into close games. If it weren’t for some winding back the clock magic by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, they were headed towards another loss to a bad Cincinnati Bengals team. 

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 6. Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus single-handedly beat the New England Patriots, as he scored all 18 of the team’s points en route to a 24-point fantasy outing. Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons also broke 20 thanks to his team’s 40-point scoring outburst.

With COVID-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. We have four teams currently slated for byes this week in the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. A couple of these guys have been locked for fantasy lineups, so you could be forced into a switch here.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ HOU
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ DEN
  3. Wil Lutz (NO) vs CAR
  4. Matt Prater (DET) @ ATL
  5. Brandon McManus (DEN) vs KC

The Green Bay Packers got absolutely waxed in Week 6 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite that, Crosby gets the top spot. Crosby has been automatic and the Houston Texans are the perfect get-right spot. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker grabs our second spot. The Chiefs can still put up points in bunches, and they’ll be looking to thrive in that thin Denver air, even if he hasn't been nearly as accurate this year. 

New Orleans Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz is up next. This offense has been playing well, and they should be getting All-Pro wide receiver, Michael Thomas, back. The recipe is there for a big week. Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides in at four this week. Detroit has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense is still not that good. Denver Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus rounds out the top five. His offense isn’t perfect, but they’re serviceable. At home against a KC defense that has been suspect over the last three years, he should get into scoring range frequently.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) vs SEA
  2. Tyler Bass (BUF) @ NYJ
  3. Chris Boswell (PIT) @ TEN
  4. Younghoe Koo (ATL) vs DET
  5. Jason Myers (SEA) @ ARI

We have Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Zane Gonzelez up to start the second tier. This Cardinals’ offense is still finding their footing, but just about anyone can put points up on Seattle. Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass comes in seventh. The New York Jets are bad, and the Bills are good on offense. That is all. Pittsburgh Steelers’ kicker Chris Boswell is in the middle of these ranks this week. This team is just playing good football. It’s not pretty, but it works. I think they move the ball better than their Tennessee Titan opponents in Week 7.

Koo grabs the ninth spot. This offense showed their explosiveness in Week 6, and they can do that again against the Lions’ defense that is allowing over 28 points per game on average this season. Seattle Seahawks’ kicker Jason Myers rounds out our second tier. This Seattle team is just firing away right now, and they’re not going to slow down against the Cardinals. Plug him in once again.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Michael Badgley (LAC) vs JAX
  2. Ryan Succop (TB) @ LV
  3. Robbie Gould (SF) @ NE
  4. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs PIT
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) @ WAS

Los Angeles Chargers’ kicker Michael Badgley is 11th in our rankings. Even if this team isn’t going to compete for a title, they’re finding ways to score, and that will continue against a Jacksonville Jaguars Defense that’s giving up 30 points per game. Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop slides in at 12. Tampa has all of their pieces back, and they’re going to continue to get in sync as the season moves along.

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould is next. The 49ers moved the ball well against the Los Angeles Rams, and I think they can put up some points on the road this week. Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski comes in at 14. The Titans are humming right now, but this is a tough defensive matchup. Some regression should be expected here. Dallas Cowboys’ kicker Greg Zuerlein rounds out the ranks this week. This offense has too many weapons not to score points against the Washington Football Team regardless of quarterback or location. They should bounce back enough to make Zuerlein at least streamable.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Jonathan Brown of the Jaguars grabs our second spot. This Jaguars roster continues to struggle after a surprising win to start the season. Until they’re able to turn things around, Brown just can’t be trusted to produce. The Jags have been inclined to go for it on fourth downs rather than attempt a long field goal these days.

Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers grabs our final spot. This New Orleans Saints team will be looking to come out and make a statement, and they can make that over this young Panthers’ roster. Teddy Bridgewater finally struggled in Week 6 and could do so again this week.



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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 7

After the NFL started with a scorching hot offensive showcase, last week was somewhat of a letdown. Many players came back down to earth for the first time this year. From the Tampa Bay defense smothering Aaron Rodgers to the Cardinals overpowering the dwindling Cowboys, something just didn’t feel the same last week. Thankfully, we have some great matchups in week 7 to fix that.

What is usually a tight division rivalry will have a new look this Thursday as both the Giants and the Eagles have multiple offensive injuries. Given the list of notable players above, it is clear that lots of players who are usually buried on the depth chart will have their time to shine this Thursday. Who will be up to the challenge?

It all starts on Thursday night with a division rivalry. Unfortunately, lots of players are injured, but the one thing you can’t take away is how much this game means for both teams. The winner of this game should be first in the division heading into this weekend. With so much on the line, it has to be a good game. Here is your Thursday night preview for Week 7.

 

NYG @ PHI 8:20 pm EST

Notable Injuries

 

Must-Starts

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI): After looking like he should be benched for Jalen Hurts in the first half, Wentz led his team to a 22 point fourth quarter against Baltimore’s stout defense last week. Though the comeback fell short, it was very impressive to see, especially given that prior to this performance, Wentz was commonly seen to be having a “down” year. What many people don’t realize is that he is the QB10 on the year and remains one of the most steady quarterbacks in the NFL.

For the second straight year, the Eagles pass catchers all seem to be getting injured. Thankfully, there is a possibility that Goedert, Jeffery, Jackson, and Reagor all back for this game. If even one of those weapons comes back this week, Wentz is a must-start.

Graham Gano (K, NYG): Yes, Gano makes this section. Currently, he is tied for fourth in field goal attempts, hitting 15 of 16, and has yet to miss an extra point. Rivalries usually bode well for the kickers, and I don’t think this game will be any different. Besides, don’t you remember when Jake Elliott hit that 61 yarder to win the game? It might be time for the Giants to return the favor.

 

Solid Options

Darius Slayton (WR, NYG): It might come as a surprise, but Slayton is currently the WR-20 in Half PPR formats. In the last two games, he has racked up 170 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. He is proving himself to be the WR-one on this team and is the only real deep threat on the roster. If Shephard comes back, he might see less volume, but I think it is time to give Slayton the respect he deserves and put him in your lineup. Darius Slay returning for the Eagles is the only reason I am placing him outside of the “Must-Start” tier.

Travis Fulgham (WR, PHI): Wow, if Slayton surprised you, just wait for this guy. Travis “Full-Yard” Fulgham was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 184th pick in 2019. Since then, he has had a nine-day stint with the Packers and joined the Eagles right before this season. With the current state of the Packers’ receivers, maybe they should have looked closer at this guy. Anyways, in Fulgham’s three games played, he is averaging six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.

To put this in perspective, he is currently averaging THE MOST fantasy points per game of all Wide Receivers (18.5). If Jeffery or Jackson come back soon, he may lose some volume, and like Slayton, he’ll have a great corner covering him in James Bradberry. This combination pushes him outside of the “Must Start” options. Even though it’ll seem risky, it’s time we stand in the flames and start him this week as a solid option.

Devonta Freeman (RB, NYG): Full disclosure, I do not think Devonta Freeman looks like a back talented enough to turn down a $4 million contract from Seattle. Having said that, last week Freeman was the only running back on the roster to have a rush attempt. There is no question he is the guy in New York. It is hard to find any back with that kind of workload, and he is going against a defense that is allowing the 12th-most rushing yards per game. I’m giving you the confidence to make him a relative must-start, RB-two/flex play this week. 

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG): I can’t believe I am doing this. Trust me, I don’t want to do this, but Daniel Jones should be in consideration in many 2QB leagues and 12+ team, single QB leagues. Hear me out.

Yes, Jones has yet to crack 18 fantasy points this year. And yes, four of his weeks are under ten points, but I like this matchup. Division game, against a defense that is allowing an average of 355.2 passing yards per game, plus he might get Sterling Shephard back. It might be gross, but the stars are aligning. The hidden gem for me is that Jones currently has the fourth-most rushing yards at the position. That’s only behind Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Cam Newton!

With the rushing floor, the passing volume, and if he can hang onto the ball (big IF) he should have a good week. I would start him over Sam Darnold vs. Buffalo, Drew Lock @Kansas, and Gardner Minshew @LA Chargers.

 

Potential Sleepers

Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG): Shepard looks to return to the field after his three-game absence on the IR. In the one full game we have seen, Shepard brought in 6 receptions for 47 yards. The next week, while only playing 23% of snaps due to injury, he was targeted four times. We’ve seen Jones hyper-target Shepard before, and with Tate disappointing lately, I’d keep my eye on Shepard. 

Evan Engram (TE, NYG): Fun fact: in Engram’s matchups against the Eagles he is averaging 10 targets, 6.5 receptions, and 66 yards. Fantastic. However, it is important to note that he has only played the Eagles twice in his career… and both times were in his rookie season. Ouch. This is the perfect section for Engram because all he has done is sleep. One of my favorite tight ends to draft this season, has shockingly underperformed. I blame a lot of this on the entire team looking horrific, however, you still expect more from the fourth-year tight end.

Given the tight end landscape, if you are looking to move away from Engram and stream the position, I’m going to encourage you not to. I would rather play Engram with his talent and his 17.4% target share over players like Eric Ebron, Trey Burton, and Logan Thomas this week. 

Since I’m already in the flames, I might as well start playing with fire. I’d like to make Engram my Pie Shop call for this week. The Eagles have allowed six touchdowns in six weeks to the tight end position, making this Engram’s best chance to get his first receiving touchdown of the season.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (usually used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

 

Consider Sitting

Boston Scott (RB, PHI): This might surprise some people, especially with Miles Sanders out, all the FAAB that was spent, and the fact that we know Scott is the next man up. Although he hasn’t shown much this year, he did end last year on a 33.8 fantasy game without Sanders. I’m not saying this can’t happen again, as he should get the majority of the work for a team that is 12th in rushing yards per game. However, if there is one bright spot on the Giants’ defense, it’s their defensive line. Despite trailing in almost every game they’ve played, they are currently allowing the eighth fewest rushing yards against.

I suspect this to be a tight game and for Corey Clement to get some work as well. Thankfully Scott should receive all the passing work making him game-script proof. I believe he will be a fine volume flex-play in any PPR format, but I am placing him in the “sit” section to warn people he might not have been worth the FAAB this week.

Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI): Before you read any further, as of this writing Goedert is still questionable to play. If he does, most people will think he is a smash-play. However, I think there’s something else going on with the Eagles.

Yes, Ertz looks like his age has caught up to him over the last few weeks. Plus, there is a world where Goedert explodes and takes the job in his absence, but I just don’t think it will be this week. I say that for two reasons. One, if he still hasn’t been cleared for the game and it’s Wednesday, we can almost guarantee he won’t be 100% healthy. Secondly, say what you will about Ertz being washed, but you can’t take away the fact he is the TE22 on the season. To me, that says more about the system than just Ertz’s ability. I’m thinking there is something else going on in Philly and that “role” isn’t the same this year.

The last deal-breaker for me is that the Giants have only allowed one touchdown to the tight end position all season. Pair that with him not being fully healthy, and I just don’t trust it. This goes for any other Eagles tight ends that are playing this week.  If you are a Goedert manager, there is reason to be excited if he heals up for next week against the dejected Cowboys Defense.

Corey Clement (RB, PHI): If I am not recommending Scott, there is no way I am putting faith in Clement. Corey Clement has proven himself to be a serviceable backup over the last few years. However, we don’t know what this backfield will look like, nor have we really seen Clement play this year. You can’t start this man. 

Golden Tate (WR, NYG): 3.8 receptions, 31.2 yards, and zero touchdowns is what Golden Tate is averaging a game this season. I’ll let you make the call here. 

Any Other Philadelphia Wide Receivers: Whether it’s Jeffery, Jackson, or Reagor, you need to be cautious with all of them - I would need to be blown away by a practice report in order to consider playing them. But I’ll warn you, you can’t win your matchup on Thursday, but you can definitely lose it.

 

There are some rivalries that always manage to end up in tight games and this is one of them. I think the Giants hang around in this game, and I expect both offenses to produce.

Here are my picks: Giants +4.5 (2-4), Over 43.5 (2-4)



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Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis: Cardinals vs Cowboys

Week 5 is in the books and the NFL train just keeps on rolling. Week 6 begins our first week with a heavy dose of bye teams (Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders) with each team off providing at least two majorly fantasy-relevant players this season. Navigating these bye weeks will be challenging, but luckily the Monday Night contest between the Cardinals and Cowboys boasts plenty of talent to pull your team through the bye week.

Arizona has been somewhat disappointing this year offensively but sits at 3-2 thanks to massive efforts from Kyler Murray on the ground and DeAndre Hopkins in the pass game. The Cardinals have tried (and failed) to get Kenyan Drake going, which in turn has opened up more opportunities for Chase Edmonds to have a role this season. More importantly, the Cardinals Defense looks to be improved from last season, although the loss of Chandler Jones should test their depth in the pass-rushing department.

Meanwhile, what started as an exciting matchup between two fast-paced offenses has become somewhat of an enigma. A compound fracture ankle injury has knocked Dak Prescott out for the season and has forced Andy Dalton to become the starter in Dallas. Dalton can utilize the Cowboys’ firepower at wide receiver, but only time will tell how much this changes the dynamic of their passing game. Ezekiel Elliott figures to see more work in Dak’s absence, and the Cowboys’ defense is still trying to get healthy enough to entertain stopping anybody’s offense this season.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys 

  • Game time: Monday 10/19 @ 8:15 PM EST
  • Game line: Arizona -1.5
  • Over/Under: 55

 

Must-Starts

Kyler Murray (QB, AZ)

Fantasy managers who were expecting a Lamar Jackson-esque breakout from Kyler Murray in year two have undoubtedly been disappointed so far. Murray is completing nearly 70% of his passes on the year with 1,299 yards, but he only has eight touchdowns with six interceptions passing thus far. Thankfully, his running ability has sustained him as a fantasy player thanks to 296 yards and five touchdowns through five games. Murray should have an excellent opportunity to stabilize his passing statistics against a Dallas secondary that is allowing 19.8 points per game to quarterbacks thanks to 11 touchdowns surrendered.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

After two games with underwhelming rushing totals against Seattle and Cleveland, Zeke Elliott returned in a big way against the New York Giants in week 5. Elliott carried the ball 19 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns but his pass game totals (one reception for 14 yards on two targets) took a considerable hit. However, Zeke should be poised to go absolutely nuclear in Week 6. The Cowboys will likely utilize the run game to help protect Andy Dalton from having to put the ball in the air too much. However, few teams run plays as quickly as the Cardinals, which could lead to a negative game script. Those things combined give Zeke a massive upside as a runner and receiver. The Cardinals have been average against running backs this year (21.8 points per week against) but struggle particularly in the passing game against players in the backfield.

Kenyan Drake (RB, AZ)

Of all the running backs selected in the first two rounds of NFL fantasy drafts, none have been more disappointing than Kenyan Drake. Despite getting double-digit carries in all five games this season, Drake has yet to surpass 90 yards rushing and has only found the endzone twice this year. More upsetting is his complete non-factor in the pass game, collecting just six targets in five games. The Cowboys aren’t a great matchup for running backs (20.6 points per week) but just lost run-stopping defensive tackle Trysten Hill to a torn ACL. Drake will have solid value once again and could bust a big run against an ailing Cowboys’ front seven.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, AZ)

One week after disappointing against the Panthers (seven receptions for 41 yards), DeAndre Hopkins exploded against the Jets. Hopkins was targeted seven times, catching six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown against a terrible New York secondary. Hopkins has been targeted at least seven times in every game this season and now has three games over 100 yards receiving this year. It seems like a strong bet that Hopkins will exceed those numbers yet again since the Cowboys hapless secondary is allowing 32.6 points per week to opposing wide receivers this year. The Cowboys have also allowed nine receiving touchdowns to wideouts, the most in the league this year.

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

Amari Cooper had been everything the Cowboys hoped for as a WR1 up until a disappointing Week 5 performance against the Giants. Cooper was held in check on Sunday, catching just two of four targets for 23 yards against James Bradbury. Thankfully, Cooper’s skill set meshes well with what Andy Dalton has historically liked to do (a steady diet of slants and short to intermediate routes), so the quarterback change shouldn’t negatively impact him too much. The Cardinals have been stellar against wide receivers this season (18.1 points per week), but few teams have the offensive firepower that the Cowboys utilize. We will get a real glimpse into how legit the Cardinals secondary is this weekend, led by Cooper.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ve likely missed the fact that CeeDee Lamb is, at this point, the 2020 Rookie of the Year. Lamb has been targeted 40 times, catching 29 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns through five weeks. Despite being on the field for the lowest percentage of offensive plays this season (55%), Lamb had his most productive day as an NFL wide receiver. Lamb was targeted 11 times, catching eight passes for 124 yards against the Cardinals. The Dak Prescott injury may harm Lamb, but it is worth noting that he runs a lot of his routes out of the slot which could make him a nice safety valve for Andy Dalton.

Consider Sitting

Andy Dalton (QB, DAL)

If you went out and added Andy Dalton on waivers, you ultimately made the right decision. There aren’t many teams in the NFL that boast two legitimate WR1’s, much less three. However, we had a very limited sample size with Andy Dalton running the Cowboys offense and it was largely with the team trailing. Dalton was 9 of 11 passing for 111 yards while leading the Cowboys to a game-winning field goal in his first game action as a Cowboy. So why is Dalton on the consider sitting list? We just don’t know what Dallas’ offense is going to look like with Dalton as a starter. It is highly unlikely Dalton has the same passing volume as Dak Prescott did, so the uncertainty is troubling at the moment. If you can afford to give Dalton a week on the bench, then it is for the best. However, if your team has a QB on bye (or had Dak Prescott), you can fire up Dalton and hope for the best.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, AZ)

Surprisingly, Larry Fitzgerald is getting plenty of volume in the Cardinals passing game… he just isn’t doing anything with it. Fitzgerald has been targeted 25 times this season, catching 18 passes for 123 yards this season. Fitzgerald has at least three targets in every game this year and has had at least five targets in three contests. For the first time in his career, Fitzgerald is under five yards per target and has been feasting on check-downs near the line of scrimmage. Dallas has been terrible against opposing wide receivers, but Larry Fitzgerald just won’t do enough to warrant being in a starting lineup this week with all the younger, more explosive weapons around him.

Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)

Michael Gallup was on his way to another disappointing fantasy day through three quarters in Week 5, catching one pass (on one target) for eight yards. Once Andy Dalton took over, Gallup saw his workload (and big-play potential) increase. Gallup caught all three of his targets from Andy Dalton for 65 yards, including two catches for 57 yards on the final drive of the game. Gallup has been a massive disappointment this season as he has seen his targets redirected to players like CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Zeke in the passing game. However, if Andy Dalton isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield, Gallup can rediscover some of his fantasy value. Give it a week with the new signal-caller before you lock him into your lineup, but a new quarterback may give Gallup new life this season.

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

After four pretty sizable weeks of production, Dalton Schultz fell flat in a big way against the Giants. Schultz saw his lowest number of targets (3), receptions (1), and yards (6) since taking over full time for Blake Jarwin in week 2. Schultz didn’t see any targets from Andy Dalton at the end of the game, which makes sense considering the Cowboys had to rely on deep shots to complete the come from behind win. After spending last season as a laughing stock against tight ends, the Cardinals have bounced back in a major way this season, utilizing their versatile defensive weapons to allow just two passing touchdowns and 6.9 points per week to tight ends on the season.

 

Potential Sleepers

Chase Edmonds (RB, AZ)

Chase Edmonds has seen his snap share rise for the Cardinals in the past three weeks (32% à 37% à45%) and with it so has his production. Edmonds has carried the ball seven times for 52 yards and a touchdown while adding 10 receptions on 12 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. Most importantly, based on just the eye test, Edmonds looks like the more explosive player out of the backfield for the Cardinals this year. Dallas has been awesome against running backs in the receiving game this season (just 100 yards allowed), but if you’re desperate for some big plays, Edmonds makes for an interesting FLEX option given his rising usage.

Tony Pollard (RB, DAL)

The injury to Dak Prescott should result in a higher dependence in the run game, which in turn could mean more work for Tony Pollard out of the backfield. Pollard has been on the field for over 20% of the offensive snaps the past two weeks and has steadily seen his role grow for the Cowboys’ offense this year. In Week 5, Pollard had six carries for 30 yards and added two receptions on three targets for two yards. If the Cowboys decide to utilize their running backs more, Pollard could be in line for a jump in his work. Given his explosiveness, he just needs one play to take the ball to the house and be a viable RB option on any given week.

Christian Kirk (WR, AZ)

Christian Kirk has steadily seen his work increase each week of the season, culminating in a seven target, five reception, 78-yard performance against the Jets in week 5. Kirk is seemingly starting to take some of the deeper routes from Larry Fitzgerald and is starting to be productive with that work. Hopefully, the Cardinals are getting more comfortable with finding ways to utilize Kirk alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Given how porous the Dallas secondary is, don’t be surprised if Kirk continues his upward trajectory this week.



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Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis: Chiefs vs Bills

What’s better than one football game? Two Football games! This Monday, I am moving from my usual Thursday preview to breakdown the first matchup of our Monday double-header. Originally, this was scheduled for Thursday, October 15th, however, due to COVID rescheduling, it is now being played at 4 pm EST on October 19th. 

This game features two 4-1 AFC division leaders and has a slew of fantasy-relevant pieces. The Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the Buffalo Bills after each team faced their first loss of the season last week. Both teams will be looking to rebound, but only one will be successful.

I hope you are all as excited as I am to break down this barn burner. So without further ado, here is your RotoBaller Monday Night analysis.

 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills

October 19, 4 pm EST

Notable Injuries:

  • Sammy Watkins (WR, KC) - Hamstring - Out
  • Mecole Hardman (WR, KC) - Ankle - Full Friday Practice
  • Chris Jones (DE, KC) - Groin - Full Friday Practice
  • John Brown (WR, BUF) - Knee - Questionable
  • Zack Moss (RB, BUF) - Toe - Full Friday Practice
  • Tre’Davious White (CB, BUF) - Back - Full Friday Practice

 

Must-Starts

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

Mahomes is the definition of a must start. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has continued to set the fantasy world on fire. He is the QB2 on the season, averaging 27.6 fantasy points per game on a foundation of 15 total touchdowns and just a single interception. One noticeable change from previous years is the degree to the Chiefs are utilizing his rushing ability, especially in the Red-zone. He has two touchdowns on the ground and is averaging 25.8 yards per game (more than Josh Allen). Although Buffalo is widely recognized for its elite defensive weapons, they are currently allowing the ninth-most passing yards per game. Josh Allen will make this game competitive and Mahomes will do what he always does and light the fantasy world on fire. 

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

The NFL’s most improved player from last year is Josh Allen. So far this season he is the QB3 with only three interceptions (two last week). Not only does he have the third-most rushing touchdowns at the position, but he also has the second-most passing yards. There is no reason he shouldn’t keep this pace up at home against the best offense in the league. However, one potential downside to consider is that four of his five games have come against teams that are Top 12 in passing yards allowed per game. Kansas, on the other hand, is averaging the fifth least passing yards against per game. 

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)

For the first time in his career, Tyreek Hill is having one of the most consistent fantasy seasons at the position. Although he has not cracked 20 fantasy points, he also has not had less than 13 (Half PPR). Currently sitting as the WR5 on the season, Hill is a must-start every week. 

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

The WR6 on the season has taken full advantage of Josh Allen’s jump forward. With the fourth most targets and second-most yards at the position this year, he appears to be a sure-fire WR1 and a weekly must-start. Considering he only has two touchdowns on the year, and his target share, it's only a matter of time before he gets another. If he falls in the endzone he has top-five upside.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC)

This may be the last week of the season we see CEH with the full workhorse role in this offense. The recent signing of Le’Veon Bell makes Edwards-Helaire’s outlook for the rest of this season questionable. Thankfully for CEH managers, Bell will be unavailable for this game due to COVID protocols. Edwards-Helaire is the RB-13 on the year and has the seventh most rushing attempts in the league. Although the matchup on paper isn’t amazing (the Bills are 12th in the least rushing yards allowed per game) this workload on the Chiefs offense makes him a must-start option. Clyde can get it done both on the ground and in the passing game, making him an RB1 with the top 3 weekly upsides. The Pie Shop looks to be open for CEH, and I expect him to take a pie on the road before Bell comes into play.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (usually used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

The best tight-end in fantasy over the last four seasons hasn’t missed a beat this year. Sitting on his throne on top of the 2020 tight end landscape, there is no questioning his elite fantasy ability. His 74.5 fantasy points on the season would make him the WR7 ahead of Mike Evans. There isn’t much to say. If you have the privilege of rostering Kelce, sit-back and watch one of the NFL's best put on a show.

 

Solid Options

John Brown (WR, BUF)

A surprise inactive last week for Tuesday night football, Brown has been listed as questionable going into this game. After watching the Bills’ last game, it seemed clear that Josh Allen was missing his sure-handed, veteran receiver. Although Diggs and Cole Beasley are solid receivers, Brown opens up the field for both players. In Brown’s three full games this season he has cracked 16 fantasy points twice. Surprisingly, last year’s WR-20 has maintained consistent production. Although Kansas is known to limit WR production, Brown has displayed the type of upside and consistency needed to be a good flex-play with upside for more.

Mecole Hardman (WR, KC)

Hardman is usually a very tough player to place in your fantasy lineups each week. His big-play ability is undeniable, however, he can completely disappear some weeks. This week, with Sammy Watkins offiically ruled out, Hardman may be a very reasonable flex player with week-winning upside. 

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

Unfortunately, last week Singletary failed to capitalize on the positive matchup and Zack Moss’s injury. However, in the first four weeks, Singletary averaged a steady 81 total yards per game and has five or more targets in three games this season. With this in mind and the Chief’s being slight favorites, Singletary should receive the volume to be an RB-three this week.

 

Consider Sitting

Cole Beasley (WR, BUF)

Beasley is sitting at the WR-29 on the season, and I’m warning you to not let this standing fool you. Currently having six or more targets in all but one game so far, and averaging 62.9 yards per game, he definitely has a steady floor. However, with John Brown returning from injury, he really only has value as a high-floor flex play in PPR formats. I would personally look for a higher-upside player elsewhere. 

Zack Moss (RB, BUF)

Coming off a toe injury, the rookie will look to make his NFL return. In his two-game career, he only has 17 carries and 64 total yards. You can’t start him in any format.

Demarcus Robinson (WR, KC)

Being linked to Mahomes makes you a weekly threat for a 50+ yard touchdown. With Watkins out, Robinson may receive more looks from the SuperBowl MVP, but considering he has 50 yards in 5 games played, you can’t bet on that.

 

This is just a great game. These two elite teams have shown to be Superbowl contenders and are both looking to bounce back from losses. Usually, in games with sky-high totals, I tend to look to the under. However, these quarterbacks and offenses are just too good. Buffalo being home definitely helps my confidence for them to stay in the game as they will look to keep the ball on the ground and out of Mahomes’ hands.

So, with that, here are my picks this week: 

Chiefs -4.5 (1-4), Over 57.5 (2-3)



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Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 6

Welcome to Week 6, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight choices and players to go with or consider avoiding when faced with tough lineup decisions in Week 6 of the fantasy football season.

These choices are based off my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a 10% discount and get access to all of my ranks in all formats, plus a full roster of tools and analysis for the entire 2020 season.

Skill position picks here are based on PPR ranks.

 

Week 6 RB Spotlight Options

Jonathan Taylor; He is tied for the lead among rookies with 3 rushing TDs and ranks 3rd with 307 rush yards this season. Taylor only has a long run of 16 yards  and has not shown much ability to create extra running room or big plays. If he doesn’t have his best game yet this week vs. Cincinnati, you may have to think about trading him if your fantasy team is not above .500. He eventually may display more upside, and is a must-start RB2 this week, but he needs to show us more soon.

Phillip Lindsay/Royce Freeman: Here is an interesting tweet from my friend and one of my favorite fantasy analysts nowadays, Jacob Gibbs of SportsLine. It reminds us that the Broncos have never been fully trustworthy of Phillip Lindsay. So if you are desperate for an RB option this week, expect Royce Freeman to get in he mix for Denver. New England is fifth-best in Fantasy Points Per Game allowed to RBs, so neither is an ideal option, yet you can still get enough from Lindsay to use him as a flex option and hope for close to 10 points for Freeman. With injuries and bye weeks forcing us to go deep, you have to look for potential volume over matchups in many cases.

La'Mical Perine: If you have a pressing need at the RB2 spot this week, you can consider Jets rookie La’Mical Perine. The frequently misguided Adam Gase has indicated he cannot expect to heavily lean on a 37 year-old Frank Gore with Le’Veon Bell gone. But Gase has proven he will often forgo the best apparent route of potential success. So a time share between Gore and Perine is very possible. Yet Perine may get enough touches to ably plug your flex or gaping RB2 hole this week, and even Gase can likely see that Gore has no goal-line potential anymore. No matter their record, the Jets always play Miami tough, so you may be able to get a decent amount of Fantasy output from Perine this week.

Darrell Henderson/Cam Akers; Henderson has 4 TDs in his past 3 games on the road. Cam Akers had a career-high 61 rush yards last week. Henderson has earned more playing time than expected, but Akers was drafted to play a significant role in the Rams offense. This backfield situation has the look of an emerging time share. San Francisco is an obviously challenging matchup, but Henderson remains in play as a low-end RB2 with better TD potential for now and Akers may get enough quality touches to consider him as a desperation play.

 

Week 6 WR Spotlight Options

Brandin Cooks: The suddenly resurgent Cooks led the Texans with eight catches for 161 yards and a TD in Week 5.  With Bill O’Brien gone, and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly free to operate the offense as he sees fit, Cooks re-emerged in the form we have often seen in the past. The Titans rank 24th vs. WRs, so Cooks has a better matchup than you may anticipate, and he is a quality fantasy WR3 play in Week 6.

Travis Fulgham: He set career highs with 10 receptions for 152 yards and had his second career TD catch in Week 5. The matchup looks very unfriendly vs. the Ravens this week, but again, we are looking for potential volume over matchups right now. Fulgham has already won the trust of Carson Wentz by making big plays and showing the willingness to battle for tough catches. He can be a worthy flex or deep WR play if you are thin at either position this week.

Preston Williams: The second-year man had four catches for a team-high 106 yards and TD last week. He has a TD catch in 2 of his past 3 games.  Williams seems to be finally getting close to his pre-injury form of his rookie year, when he was a very pleasant fantasy surprise. Expect another TD catch vs. the Jets this week. Isaiah Ford is also worthy of desperation consideration because of the matchup with the Jets.

Mecole Hardman: There is a lot of Hardman fantasy love going around this week with Sammy Watkins out. I can see starting him if you have a very pressing need at WR or the flex spot. But I would certainly not use him over a more reliable or proven option. Hardman has yet to show he can be reliable, even when Watkins has been hurt or simply not performing as hoped. While Watkins dealt with injuries for a three-game stretch last year, Hardman had receiving lines of 4-79, 4-45 and 2-28 with a TD. He has not yet proved that he can turn increased opportunities into more upside.  I am not saying a good outing cannot happen, but I need to see it first before I consider Hardman as anything more than a deeper streamer.

 

Week 6 QB Spotlight Options

Matthew Stafford:  He has two or more TD passes in his past three road games. We have not seen his best fantasy game yet this season, and Kenny Golladay is healthy after getting the bye week for extra rest from an earlier injury. The Jaguars are 25th in Fantasy Points Per Game Allowed to QBs, so he is a good streaming option, especially if you have Russell Wilson, Drew Brees or Justin Herbert unavailable this week.

Kirk Cousins: I expect the Vikings to continue to lean more on the run, because that is who they are. I don’t have Cousins ranked inside the Top 15 even while facing Atlanta. Cousins ranks 24th in completions and 20th in passing yards. I would not be surprised to see two-plus TD passes, but I am not expecting a 300-yard game, either. He is a respectable streamer, yet I am not expecting too much upside.

 

Week 6 TE Spotlight Options

Eric Ebron: Ebron has caught TD passes in two consecutive games. With JuJu Smith-Schuster underperforming, Diontae Johnson out and Chase Claypool sure to draw more defensive attention this week, Ebron will have opportunities to make more key plays for the Steelers in a big AFC North showdown with the upstart Browns. Cleveland is also 27th in FFPG allowed to TEs.

Robert Tonyan: When Tonyan caught three TD passes in Week 4, he became the first Green Bay TE since 2011 to pull off the feat (remember Jermichael Finley?) You may be wondering if Tonyan is going to be here today, gone tomorrow. I say he is here to stay as a quality fantasy option. There was much internal and inner circle chatter about Tonyan in the preseason. He worked out with George Kittle in the offseason and Green Bay does not have a dependable pass-catcher outside of Davante Adams. TE is extra-thin with Darren Waller, Hunter Henry and Jared Cook off this week. Tonyan is a top 5 play in Week 6 regardless of matchup.



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Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 6

Hi, y'all! Five weeks of NFL action are in the books and we're moving on to another. Welcome to our Week 6 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. Each week we'll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Be sure to check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information.

Frank Ammirante will start off by covering the first set of games that begin at 1:00 PM ET on Sunday, and Justin Carter will take you home with his analysis of the late afternoon and evening games. You can also read about the Cardinals vs Cowboys and Chiefs vs Bills Monday Night Football matchups. Let's help guide you to that Week 6 victory!

If you have any additional lineup questions, follow us on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ and @juscarts and feel free to ask away. Let's get on to the matchups!

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers

Matchups We Love:

David Montgomery (RB, CHI)

The Carolina Panthers have established themselves as a run-funnel defense, allowing the most PPR PPG to running backs. Last week, Todd Gurley ran for 121 yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts, while catching 4-of-5 targets for 29 yards. David Montgomery has received bell-cow usage since Tarik Cohen's injury, so this is a potential RB1 spot for the sophomore back.

Mike Davis (RB, CAR)

Mike Davis has put up elite RB1 numbers while filling in for Christian McCaffrey. Davis takes on a Bears Defense that just allowed Ronald Jones to rush for 106 yards on 17 attempts, so this is not a matchup to avoid, especially for one of the hottest backs in football. Enjoy the RB1 production because this could be the last week before CMC returns.

Matchups We Hate:

Jimmy Graham (TE, CHI)

The Panthers have allowed the 10th-fewest points to tight ends. Last week, this defense shut down Hayden Hurst, limiting him to only 2 catches for 8 yards. Jimmy Graham is a touchdown-dependent streamer with Nick Foles under center, so you can avoid him in this tough matchup.

Teddy Bridgewater (QB, CAR)

Bridgewater takes on a Bears defense that limited Tom Brady to 253 yards on 41 attempts (6.2 yards per attempt) last week. The Bears defense is tied for 1st in PPG to quarterbacks, so this is a matchup to avoid. Expect the Panthers to lean more on check-downs to Mike Davis in this one, which caps Bridgewater's upside.

Other Matchups:

Allen Robinson (WR, CHI)

Robinson is now a clear-cut WR1 with Nick Foles, totaling 39 targets in the last three games, but this is a tough matchup. The Panthers have allowed the sixth-fewest PPR PPG to wide receivers. The high volume keeps Robinson on the WR1 radar, but he's more of a floor play this week.

Robby Anderson (WR, CAR) & D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

Anderson has become Bridgewater's favorite option in the passing game, while Moore has become more of a deep-threat in this offense. The Bears have allowed the third-fewest PPR PPG to wide receivers, so Anderson is the preferred choice since he's getting more of the targets. Consider Anderson as the low-end WR2 with Moore as an upside WR3.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Matchups We Love:

Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, CLE) & Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

The Steelers are tied for 27th with the most PPR PPG allowed to wide receivers. This defense just allowed Travis Fulgham to go off for 10 receptions, 152 yards, and a touchdown. One of these Browns receivers should be able to get loose against this Steelers secondary. OBJ (17 targets in last two games) and Landry (15 targets in last two games) are starting to get more looks and this is a great spot for them.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Big Ben has quietly been rock-solid so far this season, with two top-12 finishes in his four games (both as QB11). The Browns rank 28th in PPG to quarterbacks, so this is an exploitable matchup at home. This should be a close game with shootout potential (51-point total), so fire up Roethlisberger.

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT), & Chase Claypool (WR, PIT)

The Browns rank 31st in PPR PPG to wide receivers, so this is a great spot here. Diontae Johnson missed practice on Wednesday, so if he were to miss this game, Claypool and JuJu would be strong options. Claypool is coming off a monster game, but we could see the Steelers try to get JuJu more involved this week (only 10 targets in last two games). JuJu mostly lines up in the slot and the Browns allowed CeeDee Lamb (5 receptions for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns) to have a big game against them. Consider Claypool an upside WR3 with JuJu as a low-end WR2.

Matchups We Hate:

Kareem Hunt (RB, CLE)

Hunt remains an RB1 in this one, but he's more of a floor play against a Steelers Defense that has allowed the third-fewest PPR PPG to running backs. Hunt will need to do more work in the passing game in order to reach his ceiling in this game, so I'd temper your expectations here.

Austin Hooper (TE, CLE)

I expect the Browns to funnel targets to their wide receivers in this one, as the Steelers have been stout against tight ends, allowing the 8th-fewest PPR PPG to the position on the season. While Hooper has seen his role increased in recent weeks (17 targets in last two games), this is a matchup to avoid - the Steelers just limited Zach Ertz to one reception for 6 yards.

James Conner (RB, PIT)

The Browns have been stout against the run, limiting opposing rushers to 3.70 yards per carry (6th in NFL). I expect the Steelers to air it out in this one, so Conner will need to find the endzone in order to have a big game here. Consider Conner a volume-based RB2 in this game.

Other Matchups:

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)

Mayfield could have one of his better games of the season in this potential shootout, but it's hard to love him as a streamer because he's been mediocre this year - four of his five games have been under 7.0 yards per attempt. While I don't hate this play because I like the outlook for the wide receivers, I'm not excited about it either.

 

Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings

Matchups We Love:

Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL) & Julio Jones

Ridley is in a great spot against a Vikings Defense that is tied for the fifth-most PPR PPG to wide receivers. You can toss the goose egg against the Packers out of the window because Ridley was banged-up in that game. Julio Jones returns to the lineup just in time for this great matchup. He's no longer on the injury report, so you should have no reservations about playing him this week. Both Falcons receivers are WR1s.

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Cousins has disappointed in recent smash spots against the Seahawks and Texans, but he gets another strong matchup here against a Falcons Defense allowing 8.47 yards per attempt (31st in NFL). Expect Atlanta to play well following Dan Quinn's firing, so this has the chance to be a close game with a lot of fireworks. Cousins is firmly on the streaming radar.

Alexander Mattison (RB, MIN)

Mattison will get bell-cow usage with the absence of Dalvin Cook. The Falcons rank 25th in PPR PPG allowed to running backs, so this is a terrific spot for Mattison to excel. The sophomore back was impressive last week while filling in for Cook, totaling 136 yards from scrimmage on 23 touches. Consider Mattison an upside RB2 here.

UPDATE: Dalvin Cook has officially been ruled out for Week 6.

Adam Thielen (WR, MIN) & Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

Thielen is an elite WR1 who leads the NFL in target share, while Jefferson is one of the more impressive rookie wide receivers in the NFL. Both are in great spots against the Falcons, who rank 24th in PPR PPG allowed to wide receivers. Jefferson is coming off a slow week (3 catches for 23 yards), so we could see the Vikings get him more involved here. Consider Thielen a top-3 WR1 and Jefferson as an upside WR3.

Matchups We Hate:

Hayden Hurst (TE, ATL)

Hurst has been pretty disappointing this year, especially lately, as he's totaled a combined seven receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown in his past three games. He takes on a Vikings defense that has been solid against the tight end, ranking 13th in PPR PPG. Look elsewhere at tight end this week.

Other Matchups:

Irv Smith Jr. (TE, MIN)

Smith finally got involved in the offense last week, posting season-highs in targets (5), receptions (4), and yards (64) against the Seahawks. He gets a terrific matchup against a Falcons defense that is allowing the second-most PPR PPG to tight ends. Smith is a great streamer or DFS tournament play this week.

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Ryan has a good matchup here, as the Vikings have allowed 8.28 yards per attempt (29th in NFL), but it's hard to love him without Julio Jones in the lineup. If Julio were to play this week, you can fire up Ryan as a low-end QB1, as he would be a play that I love. Monitor the practice reports before deciding on Ryan.

Todd Gurley (RB, ATL)

Gurley is rolling right now, with four touchdowns in his last three games. He has a good chance to keep it going against a Vikings defense that is tied for 17th in PPR PPG allowed to running backs. Gurley doesn't get enough volume for me to love him this week (18 touches or less in four of five games this year), but he's still a solid RB2.

 

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

Matchups We Love:

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Andrews gets a great matchup against an Eagles Defense that has allowed the fourth-most PPR PPG to tight ends this season. George Kittle exploded for 15 receptions, 183 yards, and a touchdown against this defense, so we could see Andrews have a ceiling game here.

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

Sanders has become a true bell-cow in this offense (18.25 touches per game).  This was a tough matchup: the Ravens are allowing only 3.96 yards per carry as well as the fifth-fewest PPR PPG to running backs - but DT Brandon Williams, the team's best run-stopper, is OUT for this game. The Ravens Defense has been much worse against the run without Williams in the lineup, allowing 4.6 yards per carry.

Matchups We Hate:

Mark Ingram II (RB, BAL), Gus Edwards (RB, BAL), & J.K. Dobbins (RB, BAL)

This Ravens backfield has become the easiest avoid in fantasy football, as it's a three-man committee where each back eats into each other's value. It's really surprising to see how sparsely used Dobbins has become (1 attempt last week). Until there is more clarity here, you can't play any of them, especially against an Eagles defense that ranks 8th in PPR PPG to running backs.

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI) & Travis Fulgham (WR, PHI)

Wentz has a new favorite target on the perimeter, as Fulgham has caught touchdowns in consecutive weeks, including an impressive performance against the Steelers last week, where he put up 10 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens just totally shut down the Bengals offense - Joe Burrow threw for 183 yards on 6.1 yards per attempt - so this is a really tough matchup. Look elsewhere at quarterback and wide receiver.

Other Matchups:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

It's concerning to look at Jackson's struggles through the air (51.4% completion rate last week). It's even more worrying to see his rushing volume: only two attempts last week. This is likely because Lamar is banged-up right now with some knee issues, so hopefully, he can get back on track following next week's bye. For this week, temper your expectations against an Eagles defense that ranks 10th in PPR PPG to quarterbacks.

Marquise Brown (WR, BAL)

Hollywood Brown is getting WR1 volume: 26.87% target share (13th in NFL) and 603 air yards (5th in NFL), but he'll likely be matched up with Darius Slay this week, which caps Brown's upside. While Claypool blew up against this Eagles secondary last week, he did so as the perceived number-two option at wide receiver - that won't be the case with Brown.

Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)

Ertz has been an after-thought in this passing game, combining for only five receptions for 15 yards in the last two games. I expect the Eagles to make an effort to get their star tight end more involved against a Ravens Defense that has been exploitable for tight ends (19th in NFL in PPR PPG).

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Matchups We Love:

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Taylor has been a disappointment - many believed that he was ready to produce at an elite RB1 level following the season-ending injury to Marlon Mack - but he gets a great matchup here. The Bengals Defense is allowing 5.26 yards per attempt (30th in NFL) this season. This is a positive game-script for Taylor, as the Colts are home favorites in a game where they can control possession. Taylor has a great chance at a ceiling game this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN), Tyler Boyd (WR, CIN), & Tee Higgins (WR, CIN)

The Colts Defense has established themselves as one of the best in the NFL this season. They are tied for the fewest PPG allowed to quarterbacks and rank 7th to wide receivers. I expect Burrow to be under duress for much of this game, as the Colts rank 15th in pass-rush win-rate, while the Bengals are 31st in pass-block win-rate. Expect more check-downs to Boyd, who looks like a low-upside WR3. Higgins is a player to avoid this week entirely.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)

The Bengals defense has been solid against the pass, limiting wide receivers to only 34.4 PPR PPG (11th in NFL). Hilton has been held under 70 yards in every game this season, as it's clear that veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is no longer the player he once was. Consider Hilton a low upside WR4 in this struggling offense. Expect the Colts to establish their running game in this one.

Other Matchups:

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Mixon has become an absolute bell-cow in this offense over the last week, averaging 30.5 touches per game over the last two weeks. What's most encouraging is that Mixon has caught 12-of-14 targets during that span, so he's starting to be used more in the passing game. While Mixon has a tough matchup against a Colts defense allowing the second-fewest PPR PPG to running backs, the high volume keeps him as a floor play.

 

Washington Football Team at New York Giants

Matchups We Love:

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)

Engram has been misused by new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who has opted to deploy the talented tight end in curl routes rather than downfield targets in the seam. Hopefully, Garrett comes to his senses soon because he's wasting Engram's talent. Engram has a great matchup against a Washington defense that ranks 27th in PPR PPG to tight ends. He's the top option in this Giants passing game this week.

Antonio Gibson (RB, WAS)

Gibson is in a bounce-back spot against a Giants Defense that is tied for 20th in PPR PPG to running backs. With Bradberry likely causing issues for McLaurin on the perimeter, Gibson might be the best option for Washington to score points in this game. While it was nice to see Alex Smith back under center last week, he struggled in his return, so we'll likely see improvement with Kyle Allen back in the fold. Expect to see a few more check-down passes to this dynamic rookie this week. Brandon Scherff, Washington's best o-lineman, is back for this game, which bodes well for Gibson.

Matchups We Hate:

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

McLaurin is the clear-cut number-one wide receiver on this team, but he has a tough matchup against cornerback James Bradberry, who just locked down Amari Cooper, limiting him to 2 receptions for 23 yards. This Washington offense is a mess right now, so it's best to look elsewhere this week. Consider McLaurin as more of a WR3 in this game.

Darius Slayton (WR, NYG), Golden Tate (WR, NYG)

Washington's defense ranks 4th in PPR PPG allowed to wide receivers, so this is a tough matchup for this Giants pass-catchers. Slayton is coming off a big game against the Cowboys (8 receptions for 129 yards) but it's hard to be too excited here. This Washington pass-rush could cause problems for Daniel Jones and his receivers, so consider Slayton as a WR3 with Tate as a WR4.

 


Hi, Justin taking over now. Thanks, Frank!

 

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

COVID List?

Let's get this out of the way first. Corey Davis and Adam Humphries are currently on the COVID list. If they stay on it, they won't play. For now, we're pretending they won't be available, but will update if things change.

UPDATE: Adam Humphries has officially been activated from the COVID-19 list.

Matchups We Love:

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Even if the Texans haven't been terrible against opposing quarterbacks, I think we still have to consider Tannehill to be among the best plays of the group of quarterbacks who aren't universally considered QB1s. Even with multiple key receivers missing last week against Buffalo, Tannehill threw three touchdown passes, though only finished with 195 yards. Tannehill's efficiency gives him a high floor, though, and he should be considered a strong QB2 play this week.

David Johnson (RB, HOU)

The Texans gave David Johnson a season-high 17 carries in the first game of the post-Bill O'Brien era. The Titans allow the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. With involvement in the pass game as well, this is a great chance for Johnson to have a RB1 finish this week. Start him with confidence as a RB2.

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

Houston's run defense has been bad this year. Derrick Henry's about to stiff arm all 11 defenders at once or something. Very, very confident in him as an RB1 this week, and as a strong play in DFS contests because of his seemingly unlimited upside.

Brandin Cooks (WR, HOU)

Cooks opened the post-O'Brien era with 12 targets. Against a Titans Defense that allows the 11th-most points to opposing wideouts, I'll be starting Cooks as a WR3 all day. Much better value this week than teammate Will Fuller V, and while he still has a low floor, I like following the targets here.

A.J. Brown (WR, TEN)

With Davis and Humphries likely out again, we're looking at Brown as a strong play this week. Against Buffalo, Brown caught seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He should continue to command a good number of targets and should be deployed as a WR2 and a great DFS play.

Jonnu Smith (TE, TEN)

Jonnu Smith rules. He'll get at least a half-dozen targets because of who's out and has five touchdowns already. If the Titans can get into the red zone a few times -- and why wouldn't they? -- then Smith has a great chance of ending the game with at least one touchdown.

Matchups We Hate:

Duke Johnson Jr. (RB, HOU)

Duke Johnson's Week 5 stat line: three carries for eight yards and one catch for 11 yards. Yes, the team has indicated that he'll get more work moving forward, but how am I supposed to trust Duke Johnson in a fantasy lineup this week???

Other Matchups:

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)

After seeing how the Titans Defense -- which wasn't even at full strength -- made Josh Allen look mortal this past week, picking him off twice and holding him to season lows in completion percentage, yards, and adjusted yards per attempt, I can't tout Watson as a strong play. Sure, he's a must-start in season-long because of the upside he brings, but he gets the big, flashing "LOOK ELSEWHERE" sign when it comes to DFS. So overall, a mixed bag for Watson.

Will Fuller V (WR, HOU)

Eight targets last week and a touchdown for the third game in a row, but he also seems like he's fallen behind Brandin Cooks in the pecking order, which makes me just a little worried about his production. He remains a guy with a huge ceiling, but he's also got a slightly lower floor than I like from my WR2.

 

Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars

Matchups We Love:

Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)

Doesn't it feel like we've all forgotten about Matthew Stafford? We should not do that, especially this week against a Jaguars Defense that allows the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers. With Kenny Golladay even healthier now, Stafford has a great chance here to provide high-end QB2 production. Love him as a bye week replacement or upside play for managers whose starting QB has a bad matchup, and love him as a good value play in DFS.

Gardner Minshew II (QB, JAC)

Speaking of streaming options at QB, Minshew takes on a Lions team that is only marginally better at not allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks. Detroit allows the 10th-most, which equates to 21.3 points per game. Minshew has shown that he's able to sling the football around and can throw for 300 yards. He's essentially about as good a play as Stafford.

James Robinson (RB, JAC)

The Lions allow more fantasy points per game to running backs than any other NFL defense does. Robinson had 18 touches last week against Houston. Yes, he struggled in that game on a per play basis, but he didn't struggle enough to suggest his role gets reduced going forward. Consider him an easy RB2 play with the upside for more.

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)

With a bye week behind him, Golladay is probably the closest to 100 percent he's been all year, and he faces a Jaguars defense that let Brandin Cooks go off for over 100 yards last week. While Jacksonville only allows the 14th-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, Golladay's talent makes him a high-end WR2 play with upside, especially with him having a 30.36 air yard percentage over his two games. He's the main deep threat for this Lions team.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, DET)

The Jaguars allow the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. While Hockenson only had nine yards last game, he did catch a touchdown. At a shallow position, his upside outweighs the risk and you should play him as a low-end TE1.

Matchups We Hate:

Lions Running Backs (RB, DET)

I actually really like the matchup itself against the Jags, who allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. But here's the thing: Adrian Peterson, D'Andre Swift, and (to a lesser extent) Kerryon Johnson are competing for snaps here in an offense that doesn't run the ball a ton. Until one player emerges here, I'd prefer to avoid this whole situation.

Other Matchups:

Marvin Jones Jr. (WR, DET)

Detroit should end up throwing a lot, but Jones has seen his air yard percentage shrink to 15.96 percent this year. It was 27.17 percent last year and 37.78 percent the year before. Shorter throws means less chances for big plays, limiting his upside even against a Jags defense that's susceptible to the pass. Decent flex play in a 12-team league, but a fairly low ceiling.

D.J. Chark Jr. (WR, JAC)

He's here because I'm not 100 percent sure about his injury status. If he plays, you easily plug him in as a WR2, though the Jaguars are spreading the ball around a little too much for my liking this year as a person rostering Chark in a lot of leagues.

Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, JAC)

Shenault is ascending right now and while he hasn't reached the level where I'm comfortable just straight up starting him in any of my leagues, I think he's a good sleeper pick against a Lions Defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to receivers. If Shenault continues to see his target share rise this week, it'll be time to fully devote ourselves to him as a fantasy play. As is, consider him an upside flex play and a great DFS value.

 

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

This game was supposed to happen last week, but it didn't. I already wrote a bunch of words about it here, so if you want week-old, possibly outdated analysis, read that. If you want much shorter, updated analysis, keep reading here.

Also, no idea what to do about Denver's running back situation. Melvin Gordon III was arrested for a DUI but hasn't been suspended yet, so...we'll see what happens there. Short answer: you have to start him if he plays, and you have to start Phillip Lindsay if Gordon does not play.

UPDATE: Melvin Gordon III is dealing with an illness and did not travel with the team. A source has stated on Saturday morning that he will not play this week. Phillip Lindsay owners should fire him up as an RB2/FLEX.

Matchups We Love:

Jerry Jeudy (WR, DEN)

The rookie did see a pretty big drop in targets last week, with just four of them. He caught two passes for 61 yards and found the end zone for the first time as a pro, though. The thing with Jeudy is that while he's a rookie, he's also the best receiver on this team and his dip in targets should be seen as a fluke. He'll have be a full-go this week and should be a solid WR3 option at worst for fantasy managers, even with all the question marks that this team has under center.

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)

Not a great stretch for Edelman, who has five catches in his last two games. He's also dealing with a knee injury. Those two facts do make me very tentative about playing Edelman in DFS, but as a season-long play, Edelman is a must-start as a third receiver. He'll face a banged-up Broncos secondary and will be the one real safe option for quarterback Cam Newton -- yep, he's back! -- to throw the ball to. It's not the kind of matchup I feel great about, but you gotta do what you gotta do in season-long leagues sometimes.

Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN)

While I don't love the matchup itself, this screams VALUE. Lindsay's going to be a great value play in DFS who'll get a pretty good chunk of the backfield touches here over Royce Freeman, and he's got RB2/3 upside in season-long. Love sticking him in the flex over one of the lower-upside guys that I have in right now in some of my leagues.

Matchups We Hate:

All The Quarterbacks (QB, DEN/NE)

Both teams face a lot of uncertainty under center, and with this game happening on Monday, managers in season-long leagues might just want to avoid this situation completely.

For Denver, we're still not sure if it will be Drew Lock (shoulder) will be back or if Brett Rypien gets another shot. The Patriots passing defense isn't the 2020 Patriots, but I'm still not sure that I want to play Lock coming off an injury or Rypien in his first start back against them.

For New England, Cam Newton (COVID-19) is eligible to return, but will he be ready? You can't rush a guy back from coronavirus, right? The other options are Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, neither of which excite me. Hoyer was benched for Stidham last game, so I think we should assume that Stidham gets the start. He completed 38.5 percent of his passes with two interceptions and an adjusted yards per attempt of -0.77. Yikes.

James White and Rex Burkhead (RB, NE)

Damien Harris grabbed the lead back reins last week, leaving White and Burkhead behind. Burkhead had 12 touches, a number that likely drops a little. White had seven receptions and is a fine play in full PPR, but he only had 38 yards on those catches, so even in half-PPR, I think the floor is too low to justify a spot for him this week.

N'Keal Harry (WR, NE)

Yes, Harry had a touchdown last week, but he also had just three catches for 21 yards. Ever since his eight-catch game in Week 2, Harry's volume has been declining. If that trend continues, Harry has the chance to really sink your fantasy lineup.

Other Matchups:

Damien Harris (RB, NE)

Suddenly, Harris went from the IR to being the lead back for the Patriots. He turned his 17 carries last week into 100 yards. Harris isn't yet to "trust every game" level because we can't really ever trust a Belichick early-down back that much and the Broncos are only allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. But hey, if the volume sticks around, he can be a solid RB3 play.

Damiere Byrd (WR, NE)

If you're a fan of chasing the targets, may I interest you in Damiere Byrd, who was targeted 10 times last week, catching five of them for 80 yards? He was also targeted nine times back in Week 2, so this isn't the only time he's seen heavy usage. Byrd isn't a super consistent play, but I like his upside if you need a flex in a deep league.

Tim Patrick (WR, DEN)

Is Patrick still a sleeper? He's had a great season so far and face a Patriots Defense that won't have Stephon Gilmore, which should make things easier for him this week. He's had touchdowns in consecutive weeks and is a WR3 play on Monday night.

 

Matchups Analysis - 4:05/4:25 PM ET Games

Just two games on the afternoon slate for y'all, which isn't the best for those of us who prefer watching RedZone! Let's break them down.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Matchups We Love:

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, MIA)

So, Fitzpatrick is currently the QB6 on the season. The Jets allow 19.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, tying them for 15th-most allowed. Not terrible, but I'm going to go ahead and trust Fitzpatrick this week if I'm in need of a quarterback due to bye weeks or a bad matchup for my starter. He should be a low-end QB1 as long as he remains the starter.

Myles Gaskin (RB, MIA)

Congrats to Gaskin, the biggest winner of Le'Veon Bell's decision to not sign in Miami. Gaskin remains the lead back in Miami heading into a meeting with the Jets, who allow the sixth-most points to opposing running backs. And with Jordan Howard now seemingly out of the picture after being a healthy Week 5 scratch, Gaskin saw four of the team's five red zone carries. He's an RB2 play moving forward.

Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ)

Arguably the only good thing about the Jets, Crowder has the fourth-highest target share in the league. Missing two games hurts his overall numbers, but his 111.7 yards per game would lead the league if he qualified for that leaderboard. Crowder's not exciting, but he'll command plenty of attention from quarterback Joe Flacco and should be considered a WR2 with upside for now.

Matchups We Hate:

Joe Flacco (QB, NYJ)

Looks like Sam Darnold will miss a second straight game. While the Dolphins secondary has surrendered a lot of passing yards, I can't get behind playing Flacco this week. The Jets are a barren wasteland of football talent and Flacco's going to be doing what...throwing 12 passes to Jeff Smith? Not interested.

Other Jets Receivers

Jeff Smith was targeted a lot last week. He also caught just three of those 11 targets. There are also technically other receivers on this team too, but I'm not interested in any of them until Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims are back.

UPDATE: Breshad Perriman is expected to return this week.

Chris Herndon (TE, NYJ)

Another Jets pass catcher that I don't like this week! Sorry, Gang Green fans. But the Dolphins allow the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Herndon has failed to live up to any of the hype.

Other Matchups:

Frank Gore (RB, NYJ)

Volume will probably lead to Gore having an okay day, though I think you'll need the veteran plodder to find his way into the end zone for him to have a good day. Maybe you bet on that because of the volume, as he'll get plenty of carries now that Le'Veon Bell is a Chief. But he's still just an RB3 play. (Also, I'm not writing about Lamical Perine other than to say "don't play Lamical Perine.")

DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Isaiah Ford (WR, MIA)

Three talented players who seem to have fairly inconsistent target totals each week. I think all have value -- Parker as a low-end WR2, Williams as a WR4 with upside, and Ford as a WR4/5 with upside -- but the competition for targets and the possibility that this game gets out of hand against a disastrous Jets team and leads to a non-passing game script makes them all a little risky.

Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)

Another talented player suffering from "too many mouths" syndrome. Gesicki had five catches for 91 yards last week, but that snapped a two-game skid for the third-year tight end when it came to catches, as he'd had just two total receptions the previous two weeks. I like Gesicki. I think his talent means you start him as low-end TE1/high-end TE2 play. But there's a lot lower of a floor with Gesicki than other TE1 options.

 

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matchups We Love:

Aaron Jones (RB, GB)

Yeah, Aaron Jones didn't regress. Fifth in rushing yards and 10th in receiving yards among running backs, he's third at RB in fantasy points per game and is a must start option every week. That's especially true this week against the Bucs, who'll be without Vita Vea up front, which will help open up inside space for Jones to run through. That he faces light fronts on 73.8 percent of his carries helps as well, as defenses spend a lot of time accounting for the whole Aaron Rodgers part of the equation.

Ronald Jones II (RB, TB)

It is FINALLY RoJo SZN. Consecutive 100-yard games and an increased involvement in the passing game have Jones set to keep the RB1 job in Tampa moving forward. Green Bay allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so go ahead and lock Jones in as an RB2 this week.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Is it...really you, Davante? Expected to be back after missing Week 3 and 4, you need to immediately deploy Adams as a WR1, even if this isn't a great matchup for the Packers receivers.

Chris Godwin (WR, TB)

He should return from a hamstring injury and will serve as Brady's main slot option. Godwin led the team in target share in the two games he's played and should see the most targets on the team again this week, giving him strong upside and making him a high-end WR2 play with upside.

Matchups We Hate:

Leonard Fournette (RB, TB)

Well, the Packers do surrender a lot of points to running backs, but Fournette's lack of passing-game upside mixed with RoJo's ascension has me avoiding Fournette as much as possible.

UPDATE: Fournette is expected to be active, but limited due to his ankle injury.

Other Matchups:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

YOU ARE PLAYING AARON RODGERS IN SEASON-LONG LEAGUES. But against a Buccaneers Defense that has been very, very good against opposing passers -- surrendering the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position -- there should be at least a good moment of pause before you throw Rodgers into your DFS lineup. Still, he's having a monster season and hasn't thrown a pick yet and is a locked-in QB1 play, though I do hate the matchup.

Tom Brady (QB, TB)

Tom Brady is a fantasy QB1 right now. But the Packers are allowing the 13th-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and Brady has been a roller coaster this year, with one game with five touchdowns and two games with one touchdown. Which Brady will we get on Sunday? Who knows, which is why I'm thinking of him as a QB2 despite his overall performance this year.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)

The return of Adams is set to cut into MVS's target share somewhat, making him a riskier play than usual. But an Aaron Rodgers receiver always has the ability to pay off, so don't be surprised to see a strong showing from him either. Little too risky to put in the "love" part of this matchup, though.

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

So, a fun stat I saw earlier:

Yikes. Something about the connection between Brady and Evans isn't fully working yet, though his touchdown upside -- three of them in the aforementioned two-game sample -- means you can never bench Evans, as he provides a big red zone target for Brady. He's like Rob Gronkowski in New England, though has the downside of potentially playing like Rob Gronkowski in Tampa plays.

Robert Tonyan (TE, GB)

The Buccaneers are fine against tight ends and Tonyan's track record of production isn't quite long enough for us to say he's a must-play TE1, but he's definitely trending in that direction after catching five touchdowns in three games this year. I'd still say he's a high-end TE2 with a slightly tough matchup, but I definitely get it if you play him like he's a top 10 tight end, since he's coming off a huge game.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, TB)

We can't ignore the red zone rapport between Brady and Gronk and he did post a season-high 52 yards last game. But he's also a tight end in a Bruce Arians offense and he's also not GRONK anymore, so there's risk here. Consider him a decent streaming play for the rest of the season.

 

Matchups Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Matchups We Love:

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

Should lead the Rams in targets in this one, making him a strong WR2 play. I...don't have much else to say about Kupp, who isn't the most exciting player but just keeps chugging along and putting up solid game after solid game.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Don't love the matchup, but also let's keep this simple: Kittle is a top-two NFL tight end. He's the only pass-catcher on this team that can be trusted on a weekly basis. Always play Kittle and always expect strong production, even if there are occasional lapses in that production.

Matchups We Hate:

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, SF)

I mean, Garoppolo was benched mid-game last week because the score got out of hand and team wanted to keep him healthy. He's likely not at 100 percent this week and considering how much of a disaster Week 5 was, I think we need to keep Jimmy G firmly glued to our collective fantasy benches for another week at least.

Rams Running Backs

Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown are swapping off lead back roles each week at this point, and Cam Akers is back and is getting some usage too. The 49ers have been a stout run defense this year, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Too much uncertainty here for me to want any of these guys in a starting lineup, though you could deploy Henderson or Brown as a deep-league flex option.

Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

No NFL team allows fewer fantasy points per game to wide receivers than the Rams. Add in that the Niners are a run-first team and you get a recipe for disaster for Samuel, Aiyuk, and whoever else gets snaps at wide receiver. These two are probably WR4/5 plays if you're desperate.

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

In Week 2, Higbee caught three touchdowns. In the three games since, he's averaging 2.3 catches for 24 yards. Now, he faces a 49ers Defense allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. There's (probably) a point where Higbee looks like the player he was at the end of 2019, but this week isn't it.

Other Matchups:

Jared Goff (QB, LAR)

I know the 49ers defense is banged up and that Ryan Fitzpatrick was all over them last week, but I'm not fully sold on Jared Goff and this offense being as explosive as Fitzpatrick was. Maybe I'm wrong. Goff's a fine start -- I've got him going in some leagues -- but if the Niners can get pressure, they can throw him off his game a little bit.

Raheem Mostert (RB, SF)

Mostert returned from a two-game absence last week, rushing 11 times for 90 yards and catching three passes for 29 yards. He's a solid option as an RB2 against this Rams Defense, even though they've done a pretty good job against opposing backs over the last few weeks. San Francisco's run-first offense will present plenty of opportunities for Mostert.

Robert Woods (WR, LAR)

Since Week 3, Woods has just a 19.57 target share and has 10 percent fewer air yards than Josh Reynolds. That's not to say you should bench him, but there's less room for error than you might want. Woods is a WR2 play with more downside than he's had in the past.

 

Matchups Analysis - Monday Night Football

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

Click here to read about the Monday Night Football matchup between the Cardinals and Cowboys.

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Click here to read about the Monday Night Football matchup between the Chiefs and Bills.



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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 6

The Week 5 wide receiver matchup article only featured one player that finished inside the top-10, and that was Jamison Crowder who finished as WR-7 on the week. Tee Higgins underwhelmed in a tough matchup against the Ravens Defense, Golden Tate flopped in a great matchup against the Cowboys and Deebo Samuel’s performance suffered due to poor quarterback play and the return of Byron Jones to the Dolphins secondary. Other than that, we did alright as CeeDee Lamb, Marquise Brown, Robby Anderson, Will Fuller and Laviska Shenault Jr. finished between WR-15 and WR-25 on the week.

As we’ve seen so far this season, nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. The 49ers Defense was once strong, but it has gotten so beat up over the last few weeks, they’re no longer a matchup you need to avoid. The Colts, Ravens, Patriots and Bears Defenses are looking like units you want to avoid in the passing game. The Seahawks, Falcons, Saints, Browns, Cowboys and now the Chargers Defenses are looking like units you can really exploit moving forward.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 6. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

 

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

$7,200 FanDuel / $6,200 DraftKings – vs Chris Claybrooks

The over/under is set at 54.5 points and the Lions are only favored by 3.5 points so this one should remain close throughout which means the Lions will likely need to throw for most of the game. Chris Claybrooks has been burned deep lately, and he’s giving up a 77% catch-rate along with 2.24 yards-per-route covered which is the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. The Jaguars Defense surrenders just over 38 fantasy points to wide receivers per game, and with Marvin Jones fading, Golladay should get most of the action in the passing game this week.

 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

$6,700 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Malcolm Butler

In general, the Titans Defense struggles to cover quicker wide receivers and they’ve given up the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far in 2020. Will Fuller is a speedster and should give Malcolm Butler problems. This game has an over/under set at 53.5 points and the Titans are favored, which means Fuller should be the recipient of plenty of targets this week.

 

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

$6,400 FanDuel / $6,800 DraftKings – vs Pierre Desir

At one time, Pierre Desir was a pretty good cornerback, but in 2020 he’s surrendering an 80% catch-rate and 1.79 yards-per-route covered which isn’t great either. The Jets Defense gives up the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL and 8.3 yards-per-attempt which is third-worst in the league. Parker is the Dolphins most-targeted wide receiver and he has a better matchup than Preston Williams or Isaiah Ford, so he should have a decent game.

 

Jamison Crowder, N.Y. Jets

$6,600 FanDuel / $6,100 DraftKings – vs Nik Needham

Byron Jones finally returned to the lineup for the Dolphins Defense in Week 5 which is trouble for opposing wide receivers that primarily play on the outside. Luckily, Jamison Crowder plays in the slot for 77% of his snaps and should avoid Jones for the most part. Nik Needham gives up a 67% catch-rate and 1.52 yards-per-route covered, both of which are the worst marks amongst all the Dolphins defensive backs. The Jets are 9.5-point underdogs so Joe Flacco should be throwing a lot here. Until Chris Herndon emerges, Crowder is the only thing going in the Jets passing game.

 

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

$5,900 FanDuel / $6,000 DraftKings – vs Isaiah Oliver

Although Justin Jefferson did have a poor stat-line in Week 5, he showed us his ceiling in Week 4. In Week 6, Jefferson will face Isaiah Oliver when he lines up on the outside, who surrenders a 74% catch-rate and 1.77 yards-per-route covered. When Jefferson bumps into the slot, which he plays 46% of the time, he will see Kendall Sheffield who gives up 2.35 yards-per-route covered which is third-worst in the NFL. On top of the solid cornerback matchup, in general, the Falcons Defense gives up over 42 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each game which bodes well for Jefferson’s outlook. This game has an over/under set at 54.5 points so Jefferson may be involved in a shootout.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

$5,800 FanDuel / $5,200 DraftKings – vs Desmond Trufant

The Lions have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far in 2020, allowing five wide receivers to score more than 15 fantasy points (note that the Lions have only played four games). Laviska Shenault weighs 30 pounds more than Desmond Trufant who figures to be covering him this weekend. Normally I wouldn’t make a big deal about the weight difference between a wide receiver and cornerback, but it’s relevant because Shenault is so dangerous running with the ball after the catch and Trufant may have trouble bringing him down. D.J. Chark suffered an ankle injury last week which means he may be slowed, possibly making Shenault the No. 1 option in the Jaguars passing game.

 

Isaiah Wright, Washington Football Team

$4,500 FanDuel / $3,000 DraftKings – vs Darnay Holmes

Steven Sims was placed on IR last week and in his absence, Isaiah Wright played 77.8% of Washington’s offensive snaps. While Wright didn’t do much in Week 5, in fairness to him, Kyle Allen was knocked out of the game early and the receivers did have a tough matchup against a solid Rams secondary. In Week 6, Wright will see Darnay Holmes in coverage who has been a weekly fixture in this article. Wright has a four-inch height advantage over Holmes who gives up 1.75 yards-per-route covered and a 74% catch-rate. The Giants secondary has been decent as a unit in 2020, but Holmes has been the weak link. Wright is more of an tournament play in DFS formats and should only be played in the deepest season-long leagues if you’re desperate.



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Booms and Busts - Surprise Starts and Sits for Week 6 Lineups

The hits keep on coming during the 2020 season of fantasy football. Each week that passes by seems to bring yet another major talent crashing down due to injury. This past week it was Dak Prescott that was lost for the season with a broken ankle. As much as this injury affects the outlook for the Dallas Cowboys, it is equally devastating for his managers in fantasy. Even with as deep as the quarterback position is viewed, an injury to a player the caliber of Prescott can be a catastrophic loss. The safety of having that spot filled every week is taken away and sends managers scrambling for a replacement. That replacement can come from a trade or most likely via the waiver wire. These types of moves bring strategy into play more for fantasy managers. As decisions now must be made more from a matchup standpoint as opposed to just plugging the player into the starting lineup.

After the first five weeks of the season, managers have a better understanding of good and bad matchups to take advantage of. The better defenses around the league are obvious, which can open the door for those under the radar plays against poor competition. At the beginning of the 2020 season, no one could have predicted the likes of Mike Davis and Travis Fulgham setting the fantasy world on fire, but here we are. It's what can make this game fun, while also make it maddening. The constant battle between who is good enough to be in the lineup and who should be left on the bench for the week. One wrong decision could be the difference between a win or a loss. Ultimately making that decision the difference between making the playoffs or not.

Knowing positive and negative matchups is vitally important to a manager's success. That is what we provide for you here with the Woos and Boos of Week 6. I take a look at those under the radar plays that should be considered starting options for the week, while also pointing out the household names that could be in for disappointing weeks based on tough matchups.

Week 6 Woos

Kirk Cousins vs. Atlanta Falcons

You always have to question yourself when you're high on a QB that has not put up a QB1 performance since the first week of the season. That is where we are with Kirk Cousins. But facing a Falcons Defense that is the worst in points allowed to the position (30.5 FPPG) can do wonders for a player's performance. In fact, the Falcons have surrendered at least four scores to opposing QBs in all but one game. Add in the possibility of Dalvin Cook missing this game and you could see Cousins put together his best game of the season. If you are looking for a QB this week with Russell Wilson and Drew Brees on bye, look no further than Kirk Cousins.

David Montgomery @ Carolina Panthers

Montgomery has struggled to get it going in 2020 with three of his five games finishing outside the top-30 in scoring at the position. But look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces a Panthers Defense that has been run all over to start the season. They are third in the league in points allowed to opposing RBs (27.4 FPPG) giving up at least one score in each game. Even though his rushing totals have been suspect, Montgomery has been picking up the slack in the receiving game (seven receptions in Week 5). If he can put it all together in Week 6, Montgomery is a lock to finish as an RB1.

Preston Williams vs. New York Jets

After weeks of disappointing results, Williams finally put together a solid effort in Week 5 (four receptions for 106 yards and a score). The production has yet to fully click, but he is top-10 in average depth of target (15.8) and inside the top-30 in air yards (348). Something has to give and that should be this week in a plus matchup against a very subpar Jets Defense that is allowing 23.8 FPPG to opposing wideouts. With the Dolphins offense playing well in recent weeks, take a shot with Williams as your WR3 in Week 6.

Austin Hooper @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Hooper started his Browns career very slowly with subpar performances during the first few weeks. But he has picked up the pace with back-to-back games with five receptions each. Even with the slow start, he is top-12 at the position with 17 catches on the year (speaking to how poor the position has been this year). Although the matchup may not be the best in Week 6 against the Steelers (5.7 FPPG allowed), you have to ride the hot hand if you are in need at the position. With the Browns possibly playing from behind in this game, Hooper may find himself as a vital piece to the makeup effort. Managers that like to stream the position could use Hooper as a valuable fill-in for Week 6.

 

Week 6 Boos

Tom Brady vs. Green Bay Packers

Brady's performances have been like clockwork to start the 2020 season. If the matchup is good, he has performed well. In three plus-matchups, he has three QB1 finishes. In two tough matchups, his best finish is QB19. That could be the case in Week 6, facing a Packers Defense that is 20th in the league allowing just 18.6 FPPG to the position. With other QBs out there with better matchups (Cousins, Fitzpatrick), managers may want to look elsewhere in Week 6 to fill this position in their starting lineups.

Joe Mixon @ Indianapolis Colts

Obviously, you will be starting Mixon in your lineups due to the workload he gets on a week-in-week-out basis (first in opportunity share at 85.5% and second in carries with 101). On the season, he has just one RB1 finish (RB1 in Week 4) with all other performances outside the top-24. Facing a stout Colts Defense will not help matters either (only 13.5 FPPG allowed). Managers must adjust expectations for this matchup as he will be likely starting for most due to lack of depth. But expecting an RB1 finish might be a stretch for Week 6.

Robby Anderson vs. Chicago Bears

One of the bright spots early during the 2020 season, Anderson has risen to become a weekly staple in fantasy starting lineups. He has been the most targeted receiver for Teddy Bridgewater, ranking third in the league in receptions (36) and fourth in yardage (490). But what has been hurting him is the lack of scoring (one touchdown back in Week 1). That could be the case yet again this week facing a Bears Defense that has allowed just one touchdown to opposing wideouts on the season (Mike Evans in Week 5). This may be a week for managers to look elsewhere to fill their WR3 role in the starting lineup.

Zach Ertz vs. Baltimore Ravens

Talk about disappointing and you have to look at the performance of Ertz to begin this season. The targets have been there (35) and he is first in routes run at the position (194). But the production has yet to catch up as he is 22nd in yardage (145) and has found the end-zone just once. Don't look for that to change in Week 6 as he faces the tough Ravens Defense that is currently allowing just 7.7 FPPG to the position. Ertz is a player that most owners keep in their lineups because of who he is, but until the production picks up you must continue to temper expectations.



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WR/CB Matchups to Target & Avoid - Week 6

It's Week 6 and with a larger sample size, the CB Matchup Chart is becoming even more meaningful. This week's chart will give the most accurate landscape of CB matchups yet, as I spent time reviewing alignment percentages for WR and CB groups and updated the chart accordingly.

The main idea of the chart was previously to assign points based on defenses scheming to take away their opponent's "WR1." This was somewhat arbitrary and didn't take into account where that "WR1" was lining up. Or the "CB1" for that matter.

I'm excited to present this week's chart which reflects actual alignments in terms of LWR vs RCB and RWR vs LCB. All the numbers are updated accordingly.

 

WR/CB Matchups Chart

The chart below is a snapshot of each team's cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the data compilation of cornerback play. The first being the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental errors, certain passing concepts, and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback isn't a perfect science. The purpose of this chart is to give more of a general sense of how defenses are handling opposing WR groups, rather than identifying exactly where, when, and how every single encounter happened.

The "Rtng" column is the rating of each cornerback based on film study and analytics. The lower a player is graded, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The "PPGA" is the number of fantasy points per game that the player has given up. A name in blue means the corner could possibly shadow the WR1. A name in red means that the player is dealing with an injury. WRs highlighted in yellow have an easy matchup. WRs highlighted in pink have a tough matchup.

The analysis below will help contextualize the chart, as in most cases a receiver did not score 100% of his points against the same player. However, the chart is a useful tool in getting a sense of the weakest links among corners. This weekly process has made it clear to me that the WR talent and his target share are more important than his opposition.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups - Week 6

click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

Each week, this space starts with attacking Atlanta's terrible CB play. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson should feast against the Falcons.

Chase Claypool is an example of why gathering CB data is tricky. Last week, he scored from various alignments, including the slot matched up with a linebacker despite his primary home for stat-gathering being at RWR. James Washington subbed in at LWR when Diontae Johnson left with an injury. So, while Claypool was the beneficiary in terms of targets and designed plays, he did not actually slot in Johnson’s position. In Week 6, Claypool at RWR has an on-paper matchup versus the highly-skilled Denzel Ward, who has played almost exclusively at LCB for Cleveland. The better matchups for the Steelers are actually at LWR and in the slot. It would make sense for Claypool to play more on the left side to take advantage of Terrance Mitchell. Whoever plays LWR - whether it’s Claypool, Diontae Johnson, or James Washington – has an easy matchup.

Dallas’ corner situation is a mess as they have been shredded by all three receiver spots at different times this season. Odell Beckham Jr. dominated Trevon Diggs in Week 4, while Darryl Worley was assigned zero points due to no Browns WR2 recording a catch. Last week, Darius Slayton torched Worley, but the Giants' non-existent WR2 situation assigned a zero to Diggs. This is a perfect example of what has become abundantly clear to me doing this work – the WR matters more than the matchup. In the case of Dallas’ secondary, start all your WRs against them regardless of position. DeAndre Hopkins is in line for a monster game, and all of the other Arizona WRs have the potential to put up good numbers. I wouldn't mind taking a flier on Christian Kirk this week.

Detroit has been terrible against outside WRs. Laviska Shenault Jr. let managers down in Week 3, but he might be worth a look again. If D.J. Chark is out, that could mean even more targets. If Chark is in, Shenault is still not a bad play because the offense just seems to be better with their No. 1 healthy. Chark is a fine play if he starts.

D.K. Metcalf just torched the Vikings' outside corners, who have been consistently terrible since Week 1. Julio Jones (if healthy) and Calvin Ridley are in boom spots.

The RCB spot in San Francisco has been a problem for a defense decimated by injuries. Whether it's Akhello Witherspoon or Brian Allen, the Rams should have no issue taking advantage on Sunday night. Robert Woods is in a great spot.

DeVante Parker also has a cake matchup against the New York Jets. He and Preston Williams play both right and left, so we don't know exactly who will draw more of RCB Bless Austin's subpar coverage. The good news for both is that Pierre Desir is arguably worse than Austin.

As for slot WRs this week, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Randall Cobb get upgrades. The chart lists Tyreek Hill as the primary slot for Kansas City, but they use all of their receivers in the slot in different formations. Buffalo has been gashed by slots all year, so Hill and Mecole Hardman get a boost.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Avoid

A.J. Green has looked like a shell of himself and will likely see a lot of Xavier Rhodes in Week 6. If Green is out, or the Bengals choose to use Tee Higgins as the LWR, the rookie would have to deal with Rhodes. Regardless, T.J. Carrie has been stellar as the LCB, so Higgins has a tough matchup no matter what.

The Rams' pass defense has been terrific at limiting wide receiver production. Jalen Ramsey is a household name, but both Darious Williams and Troy Hill have also been excellent this season. Downgrade all the 49ers receivers, including Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, and Deebo Samuel. One of them may have a decent game based on volume, but it's going to be tough.

Darius Slayton just enjoyed some success against the pitiful Dallas secondary, but this week he's up against Kendall Fuller. Washington's shutdown RCB has been outstanding this season.

Kendall's brother Kyle will face off against the red-hot Robby Anderson in a very interesting matchup of two guys having great years. Anderson has been tremendous for Carolina but this could be his worst game as a Panther.

Finally, there are three possible shadow situations that aren't highlighted in the chart. First is with Arizona's Patrick Peterson who would cap Amari Cooper's upside if the Cardinals choose to shadow with Peterson. If Peterson stays at LCB, Michael Gallup gets a downgrade. The second is with Jaire Alexander in Green Bay. The Packers could choose to stick him on Mike Evans. Using one of their bigger corners on Evans might make sense. It's a tough matchup for Evans regardless. The third shadow situation to look out for is Darius Slay on Marquise Brown. The Ravens' speedster finally scored a touchdown last week but may have a tough assignment in Week 6.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 6

Week 6 is here! The weirdness from last week has continued, as we have now had a Tuesday Night Football game but then had Thursday Night Football taken away from us.

Assuming and hoping that there are no cancellations this weekend, fantasy managers can count on not having any Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, or Raiders this week due to the ever-changing bye week schedule. Those four teams happen to roster several star fantasy players and GMs will have to navigate their absence.

Fortunately, our RotoBaller team is committed to providing top-notch advice each week to aid you with waiver wire pickups and provide insight on every fantasy football matchup. I'm here to help you set winning lineups by highlighting players who are poised to let you down. Below are my top ten fantasy football busts for Week 6. Good luck, Rotoballers!

 

Joe Mixon vs. Indianapolis Colts

Joe Mixon is the RB11 yet has only finished inside the top 23 running backs on one occasion. In fact, 52% of Mixon’s fantasy points this season came in only one game. Otherwise, you have performances of RB46, RB27, RB33, and RB23. Managers of Mixon last year should be unsurprised by this development, as he was the RB32 after five weeks a season ago. He ultimately finished as the RB13 for the season, meaning GMs should keep the faith long-term. Short-term, however, is an unappetizing date with a stingy Colts’ defense.

The Colts rank third against rushers in fantasy points allowed per contest and only Kareem Hunt has posted a finish better than RB17 against them. Game script is unlikely to favor Mixon in this matchup and Joe Burrow could have trouble moving the offense coming off a rough showing versus Baltimore. Looking at the current running back landscape, it is impossible to bench Mixon. Nonetheless, managers should keep expectations in check for the workhorse back this week.

 

Deebo Samuel vs. Los Angeles Rams

It has been a slow return to action for Deebo Samuel, as he has posted fantasy finishes of WR61 and WR78 in his limited work thus far. Awaiting him in Week 6 is a matchup with the top-ranked defense against fantasy wide receivers. Terry McLaurin made an appearance in my bust column last week and was appropriately shut down versus Jalen Ramsey and company. The Rams have employed a run-heavy approach that limits the opportunity for opposing offenses and the 49ers’ offense looked shockingly terrible against the Dolphins last week. Jimmy Garoppolo was forced to exit that tilt due to aggravating his ankle injury and it is unclear whether he will be at full health against Los Angeles.

Brandon Aiyuk has been used in a similar fashion to Deebo and George Kittle remains the clear number one target for this squad. We need to see the 49ers’ passing attack get back on track before inserting Deebo into fantasy lineups, especially in matchups as daunting as this one.

 

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears rank second against fantasy quarterbacks through five weeks. Here are the quarterbacks who have faced the Bears: Matthew Stafford, Daniel Jones, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady. Here are their weekly fantasy finishes versus the Bears: QB21, QB31, QB27, QB27, and QB19. This is not a team you want to throw on and Bridgewater is not a matchup-proof starter.

Teddy is off to a nice start in his new home and checks in as the QB15 to this point in the season. Coming off a predictably nice stat line versus the Atlanta Falcons “defense”, Bridgewater is in for a rude awakening as the competition level ramps up significantly this week. While he did come through versus the Cardinals, Bridgewater struggled in his two previous games when he took on the Buccaneers and Chargers. Although he does have a couple of excellent receiving options in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, Chicago also happens to be the second-toughest opponent for fantasy receivers, making this a matchup to avoid.

 

Rob Gronkowski vs. Green Bay Packers

Rob Gronkowski is the most highly rostered TE30 in recent memory. His top finish has been TE16 and he has given managers performances of TE36 and TE33 while adding a goose egg for good measure. It is promising that he is coming off a season-high 52 receiving yards, but unfortunately for Gronk he gets a matchup with the Green Bay Packers this week.

Green Bay ranks second against tight ends. T.J. Hockenson, Jared Cook, and Hayden Hurst posted finishes of TE19, TE40, and TE14 against the Packers and they have allowed only 6.6 points per game to the position. Chris Godwin has a legitimate shot to take the field this week and his presence would take even more targets away from Gronk. While O.J. Howard is lost for the season, Cameron Brate was resurrected to tie Gronk in targets last week, showing that Howard’s injury hasn’t actually opened up the level of additional opportunity that was expected. Managers are better off streaming the position in hopes of finding the end zone, a destination Gronk has yet to reach in 2020.

 

Mark Ingram II vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have been sturdy versus fantasy runners this season, rating 13th as we approach Week 6. Mark Ingram has been an immense disappointment as the volume that was there a year ago is nowhere to be found, leaving Ingram at RB37 on the season. Ingram has handled only nine carries per outing and has only three total receptions.

To make matters worse, a player who seemed a sure bet for touchdowns has scored only twice thus far. Finding himself in a true three-back committee, Ingram has topped 37 scrimmage yards only twice all season. The floor and ceiling are extremely low, as Ingram has devolved into a touchdown-dependent RB3. Ingram has out-carried Gus Edwards only 19 to 16 the past two weeks and the snap count has actually favored Edwards, with J.K. Dobbins also mixing in almost evenly with Ingram. The last three weeks have featured running backs such as Joe Mixon and James Conner fail to impress against the Eagles and those players do not come with the volume concerns of Ingram. Starting Ingram is banking on a touchdown, which is something we have not witnessed with regularity to this point.

 

Darius Slayton vs. Washington Football Team

Darius Slayton, the WR21 on the year, has been the definition of boom-or-bust this year. Finishes of WR4 and WR15 bookend performances of WR82, WR69, and WR55. Last week’s performance snapped a three-game funk for Slayton, but keep in mind that it came against the barely-there Cowboys’ secondary.

Washington has completely shut down opposing wide receivers this season, ranking third against the position. Robert Woods managed a WR21 performance against the Football Team last week, but Cooper Kupp finished as the WR39 after watching Marquise Brown do the same a week prior. Continuing the trend, Odell Beckham posted a WR47 finish against Washington in Week 3. Daniel Jones has really struggled in his sophomore campaign and hasn’t topped 222 passing yards since Week 2. Slayton is always one big play away from saving an outing from a fantasy perspective but is best left on benches in this matchup.

 

Joe Burrow vs. Indianapolis Colts

Joe Burrow appeared in my busts list last week and responded with a QB29 finish. Unfortunately, things do not get any easier this week for the much-hyped and likable rookie sensation. Burrow has only finished above QB20 twice this season and has only one QB1 finish. The Colts rank first against fantasy quarterbacks and have yet to allow a QB1 finish. Granted, the Colts have yet to face any elite signal-callers, but they appear to be quite formidable in every defensive area, as evident by their rankings of ninth against receivers, third against rushers, and first against tight ends.

With the obvious ability to shut down all positions, there will be slim pickings for Burrow as he attempts to evade the Colts’ pass rush behind a troublesome offensive line. A.J. Green is unlikely to play this week, and although he has not been producing for fantasy, he still commands attention from opposing defenses and therefore opens up space for other pass catchers. Leave the rookie on the bench during his first road trip to Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Jimmy Graham vs. Carolina Panthers

Jimmy Graham is enjoying a surprising resurgence to fantasy relevance in his first season with the Bears, checking in as the current TE6. The Panthers also happen to be enjoying a surprising run of success, but on the defensive side of the ball. The young Panthers were expected to be dreadful defensively but have actually been solid against both tight ends and quarterbacks, limiting Graham’s upside this week. The Panthers rank ninth against tight ends and third against quarterbacks, respectively.

The Panthers are the friendliest team in the NFL to fantasy running backs and this recipe should allow the Bears to lean on the running game. Graham’s season-long numbers are inflated by his TE1 performance in Week 3, as he has only one other top-12 fantasy finish through five games. The touchdowns have been there for Graham, as he has four on the season. However, his floor is still extremely low, as evident by the fact that he has only topped 33 receiving yards in one game. Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, and Hayden Hurst have all failed to deliver against the Panthers, and Graham is likely to do the same.

 

Damien Harris vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been the toughest matchup for opposing rushers in fantasyland in 2020, even after facing the likes of Derrick Henry and James Conner. Damien Harris took over early-down duties for the Patriots versus the Chiefs after Sony Michel was placed on IR and managed to hit the century mark on seventeen totes. Unfortunately, there are a few concerns with putting your trust in Harris this week, and possibly moving forward.

Both James White and Rex Burkhead operated ahead of Harris in the passing game, and this remains a true committee. Further muddying the waters is the fact that Harris’s breakout came with Cam Newton residing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. With Cam now activated and ready for game action, he takes away significant opportunity on the goal-line and in the running game in general. Harris essentially stepped into Sony Michel’s exact role as the early-down bruiser, and while he did look both better and faster than Michel, his fantasy success will be limited unless Cam concedes more goal-line looks than he did early this season. It is advisable that fantasy managers give this situation a week to play itself out before anointing Harris a starting running back, especially due to this week’s unfavorable matchup.

 

Travis Fulgham vs. Baltimore Ravens

Travis Fulgham broke out in a big way last week and stepped forward as the number one receiver for the Eagles. There are positives with Fulgham, such as his 6’2, 215 lb frame, but there are also notable red flags to pay attention to this week and in general.

Fulgham was a 6th-round pick of the Lions in 2019 and has a total of twelve NFL receptions to his name. Ten of those receptions came last week. Greg Ward has established himself as a reliable target for Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz is still a threat to command significant looks. Although Ertz has had a slow start to the season, the Ravens are more vulnerable to the tight end position than perhaps any other. The Ravens rank 19th against tight ends but seventh against wide receivers. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are both practicing this week and if either were to be active it would further limit the targets available for Fulgham.

Tyler Boyd was the WR54 last week versus Baltimore. Will Fuller was blanked versus Baltimore. Odell Beckham was the WR77 versus Baltimore. Although there is room for success, as Terry McLaurin and Tyreek Hill were able to prove, Fulgham is not someone to force into lineups the way managers should with players of their ilk. Sit Fulgham this week.



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Week 6 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

I was riding high after predicting eight out of the top ten defenses two weeks ago, but we saw some craziness this Sunday (along with some top tier defenses postponed or canceled), which caused only a 50% success rate in identifying top-10 units. Miami throttling San Francisco was truly a surprise, as was a Kansas City defense that hadn't allowed more than 20 points in any game this season allowing 40 points to Las Vegas.

I touched on this last week, but teams have now scored 3,900 points or 25.6 points per game so far this season and are gaining 367.4 yards per game which are both the most through the first five weeks of any season in the Super Bowl era. With offenses putting up video game numbers, it means that we can't continue to judge a defense solely by the number of points they allow or the number of yards they give up. Those numbers will naturally be higher than we're used to. Instead, we need to look for which offensive lines are truly weak points and which defenses will either be blitz-heavy or get consistent pressure with their pass rush. These are all incredibly important pieces of information in determining which defenses to play in any given week.

Remember that picking the right defense is not about identifying who will allow the fewest points, but who will cause the most turnovers or tally the most sacks since that has a higher correlation to weekly fantasy DST leaders. That means that, as much these rankings are about the talent on the defensive side of the ball, it is equally about taking advantage of the lack of talent on the offensive side. Starting the right defense every week can be a difference-maker, so remember to check back here during the week as I will make updates once we get more information on some of these injuries and also get a better sense of the weather for the game.

 

Week 6 Defenses To Start & Stream: Tiers & Rankings

Below are my Week 6 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 5 of the NFL and fantasy football season. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver wire pickups to improve your lineups, and to decide which defenses to start, sit, target, avoid or stream for Week 6. I've broken out our defense rankings into tiers with analysis on each matchup. Some of these Week 6 defenses have good matchups and are not widely-owned, representing fantasy scoring opportunities if they are available on your league's waiver wire for a Week 6 pickup or add.

Returning for this year: Confidence Ratings (out of 15) - Since every league's DST scoring is different, projections don't always make a ton of sense. The confidence rating, which Bill Dubiel started last year, is a guideline for how much more I like one team over another instead of a straight point projection. A zero means "do not start," then the confidence rises from there. I take a lot of factors into account: opponent injuries, home-field advantage, weather (which will be updated during the week), etc. We still have only one game of in-season data to work with, so this week's rankings weigh schedule and personnel heavier than they will down the line.

Typically the top three tiers will be DSTs you should target, with Tier 4 being options in deep leagues and Tier 5 being desperation plays or good defenses in horrendous matchups.

 

Tier 1 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
1 1 Baltimore Ravens Defense @ PHI 13.4
2 1 New England Patriots Defense vs. DEN 12.9
3 1 Indianapolis Colts Defense vs. CIN 12.1
4 1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. CLE 11.6

Yes, Philadelphia is set to get a little bit healthier on offense with the returns of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, and they just put up 29 points on the Steelers, but they are also the third-largest underdog on the slate, according to Las Vegas.  The Eagles are still going to be hobbled on the offensive line, and Lane Johnson is getting a second opinion on his troublesome knee, which is an even bigger issue than their beleaguered receiving corps. Philadelphia has allowed the third-most sacks in the league, with 19 in only five games. The relentless pressure has also caused Carson Wentz to throw nine interceptions, which is the most in the league. As I mentioned above, I'm not really concerned if the Eagles are able to put up 20 points in this game since most teams are doing that relatively consistently this year. The Ravens defense hasn't been elite this year, ranking only 14th in pressure ate, but they are 6th in the NFL in sacks and should find themselves in the backfield consistently on Sunday, racking up sacks and causing a few interceptions. All of which makes them one of the best bets at DST in Week 6.

Holding the Chiefs offense in check the way the Patriots did during the first half last Monday night was a truly impressive feat; however, I'm not sure we should have expected much different from Bill Belichick. Yes, the Chiefs wound up with 26 points and the win, but their offense was stalled way more than usual. Belichick has always been an incredible defensive coach, but now his task gets significantly easier on Sunday, even if the Denver Broncos get Drew Lock back under center. The Patriots may only have six sacks on the season, but they are second in the NFL in pressure rate at 30.9% and third in the league with 26 quarterback hurries, numbers that are more impressive when you consider that three of the four teams the Patriots have played are in the top-13 in pressure allowed. Meanwhile, the Broncos were 28th in the league with 13 sacks allowed before missing this Sunday with a "BYE" and simply don't have the playmakers to scare these Patriots defenders. Yes, Jerry Jeudy will be good, but he's not somebody that is going to consistently get the better of Stephon Gilmore, who should be back from his COVID diagnosis on Sunday. I expect the Patriots to control this game and cause lots of problems for the Broncos offense.

The Colts are the second-largest favorite according to Vegas odds, but this game will hinge on the health of their defense. Star linebacker Darius Leonard missed Sunday's game against the Browns with a groin injury and, despite playing, fellow linebackers Anthony Walker and Bobby Okerele were banged up during the week and came into the game hobbled. As a result, the Colts gave up 385 yards to the Browns and lost 32-23. The Colts were able to pick Baker Mayfield off twice, but only got one sack against the Browns stalwart offensive line. It will be a much different story on Sunday against a Bengals offensive line that has been one of the worst in football, allowing a league-leading 22 sacks, including seven last week to a Ravens team that has consistently gotten less pressure on the quarterback than Indianapolis. That's good news for a Colts defense that is 8th in the NFL in pressure rate and 9th in quarterback hurry percentage. With Phillip Rivers more likely to find success against the Bengals Defense than he did against the Browns, and the Bengals likely playing this game without A.J. Green (who admittedly wasn't really productive when in) the Colts should get up early in this game and take advantage of a weak Bengals offensive line.

As I mentioned above, the Browns don't give up a lot of sacks, but Baker Mayfield is still one of the more turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league. Only 53.2% of his passes have been on target, according to Pro Football Reference, and he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league last year when pressured. So far this season, he has only been pressured on 13.5% of dropbacks and has been hurried a total of 13 times in five games. That has allowed him to curtail some of his mistakes (even though there have been a few head-scratching throws); however, the Steelers have the third-highest blitz percentage at 38.7% and the best pressure rate in the league at 38.1%. Since the Steelers are second in the league with only 3.3 yards allowed per rush, the Browns may have to turn to Baker more often than they want. If he is not able to stand in a clean pocket, he's more liable to make mistakes that lead to turnovers. Pairing that with the likely low-scoring total in this division rivalry, and I like the Steelers as a high floor offense with a good chance at a defensive touchdown.

 

Tier 2 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
5 2 Miami Dolphins Defense  vs. NYJ 11.3
6 2 Washington Football Team Defense @ NYG 10.4
7 2 Tennessee Titans Defense vs. HOU 10.2
8 2 Los Angeles Rams Defense @ SF 9.8

The Dolphins defense just manhandled a near-full strength 49ers team, so it makes sense to have faith in them to put up a similarly inspired effort against an undermanned Jets team. Le'Veon Bell came back, but his usage continued to be questionable. Sam Darnold missed last week, as did left tackle Mekhi Bechton, but they may return this weekend which would be a boon for the Jets. The Dolphins as a unit have been fairly average on the year, ranking 13th in pressure rate and 16th in hurry percentage despite being tied for 7th in sacks. This pick is really more about the ineptitude of the Jets offense that is 25th in the league in sacks allowed and 28th in total yards.

If we're attacking the Jets, then we should also be attacking the other New Jersey (sorry, New York) team. The Giants put up 30+ points against the Cowboys, but that is more about Dallas featuring one of the worst defenses in the league than the Giants all of the sudden becoming a strong offense. Devonta Freeman lacks explosiveness and Darius Slayton gives the Giants one consistent weapon on the outside, but he doesn't have much help. Washington got Chase Young back this Sunday, which is great news for a pass rush that suffered a bit without him. However, on the year, they are 3rd in the league in interceptions, sixth in the league in sacks, 12th in quarterback hurry rate, and will now face a Giants team that is 27th in total yards and 26th in sacks allowed. I think Washington will be a surprisingly high-scoring defensive unit this week.

As of this writing, the Titans have only played one half of football in two weeks, but they look pretty good for a team that was a bit short-handed due to their COVID designations. Another week should allow them to get talented players that Kristian Fulton and Jeffrey Simmons back in the fold. Coming into Tuesday night's game, they are fourth in the league in pressure rate and first in quarterback knockdowns, despite having only four sacks. That tells me that a big week is coming, and who better to have it against than a Texans offensive line that is 28th in sacks allowed. The Titans defense is 7th in the league in drives ending in points, so I expect them to keep this from turning into a truly high-scoring affair, especially with Derrick Henry grinding down a weak Texans Defense, so I feel more confident in using the Titans this weekend.

As I mentioned above, the Dolphins defense held the 49ers to 259 yards of offense, picked off two passes, and registered five sacks. They've also consistently generated a worse pass rush than the Rams throughout the season. That makes me a little bullish on a Rams defense that is 9th in the NFL in pressure rate and tied for first in sacks. The 49ers are 29th in the league in sacks allowed and are clearly discombobulated right now as they recover from a slew of injuries, which means it's the wrong time to have to face Aaron Donald. The Rams defense has been steadily improving on the season, so I look for Los Angeles to take advantage of a beaten-down 49ers team.

 

Tier 3 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
9 3 New York Giants Defense vs. WAS 9.1
10 3 Kansas City Chiefs Defense @ BUF 8.9
11 3 Chicago Bears Defense @ CAR 8.4
12 3 New York Jets Defense @ MIA 8.1
13 3 San Francisco 49ers Defense  vs. LAR 7.9
14 3 Denver Broncos Defense @ NE 7.6
15 3 Cleveland Browns Defense @ PIT 7.1

OK, we all know the Giants defense is not that good, but Washington's offense may be worse. They benched Dwayne Haskins and got even worse production from Kyle Allen and Alex Smith. It was great seeing Smith back on the field, but he was hit constantly and he clearly doesn't have the mobility that he used to. The Giants are 11th in pressure rate and 12th in sacks, but this play is simply about attacking one of the worst offenses in the NFL. If Alex Smith starts again, which should be expected, the Giants really only have to worry about stopping Terry McLaurin and can go to work on an offensive line that is 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed with 21 in five games.

The Bills offense has been an elite offense this season, but they looked relatively mediocre in a first half without John Brown and both starting right guard Jon Feliciano and his back-up Brian Winters. That's not a great sign against a Chiefs defense that is 7th in the league in pressure rate. Josh Allen has gotten away with a few questionable throws heading into Tuesday night, and then had those decisions come back to bite him against the Titans on national television. The Chiefs were exposed against the Raiders on Sunday, but this is still a strong defensive unit that blitzes the 6th-most in the league and could cause problems for replacements on the Bills'offensive line. I think this game will be fast-paced and involve a fair share of sacks and turnovers.

The Bears defense has so far lacked the bite of recent seasons, ranking 18th in pressure rate, 16th in sacks, and 23rd in quarterback hurry percentage. They're also 12th in the number of drives ending in scores and will face off against a surprisingly strong Panthers offense that has the fourth-most yards in the league. The Panthers have allowed the 15th-most sacks in the NFL, so it's likely that the Bears bring down Bridgewater a couple of times, but this isn't the slam dunk game people would have assumed once Christian McCaffrey went down.

I know we don't want to pick on the Dolphins offense after what they just did to San Francisco, but we've seen enough of Ryan Fitzpatrick to know that turnovers are always on the table when he takes the field. The Jets' secondary has struggled, but they are 9th in the NFL with five interceptions, tied for third in quarterback knockdowns, and are 17th in the NFL in pressure rate, so they still have a little bit of pep, unlike the offensive side of the ball. Maybe I'm alone here, but I think we could just as easily see the Dolphins throw two interceptions and yield three-plus sacks as I can see them turn in another rout.

This hasn't been a great season for the 49ers, and they've lost some key pieces on the defensive line, but they are still 5th in the NFL in pressure rate and 7th in quarterback knockdowns, which means they're getting after the quarterback. The Rams have only allowed seven sacks total on the season and are third in the league in total yards, so they will score points and keep the 49ers from putting up a massive fantasy total, but we all know how Jared Goff's play diminishes when he's under pressure, so there's a chance we can see Bad Goff on Sunday in a messy game overall. I think the 49ers are too well-coached to come out and lay another egg.

An extra week means the Patriots will most likely be starting Cam Newton in this game instead of Jarrett Stidham, which is, as I'm sure you know, a massive difference. The Broncos defense is still 6th in the NFL in pressure rate and 5th in quarterback hurry percentage, but they banged up enough that I'm not sure they can contain a well-coached Patriots offense for the entire game. I just don't see a lot of upside in the matchup, especially with how the Broncos offense put their defense in bad positions throughout the entire game against the Jets. However, I think the Broncos can get to Cam a couple of times, and I can't envision this being a high-scoring, or exciting, football game.

The Browns have played really solid defense of late, including a strong game in limiting an admittedly average Colts offense. The Steelers have a near-elite offensive line that has allowed only six sacks in four games and should have little problem with a Browns pass rush that has a mediocre 19.6% pressure rate. However, the Browns do lead the league in quarterback hurries with 30, which could cause problems for Ben Roethlisberger since the veteran loves to hold the ball a little longer than he should. Chase Claypool was superb last week, but if Diontae Johnson misses next week, Claypool will really need to deliver against since JuJu Smith-Schuster will likely get a heavy dose of Denzel Ward. I expect this to be a grinding, low-scoring game that should keep the fantasy DST floors relatively safe.

 

Tier 4 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
16 4 Buffalo Bills Defense vs KC 6.9
17 4 Green Bay Packers Defense @ TB 6.3
18 4 Carolina Panthers Defense vs. CHI 6.1
19 4 Cincinnati Bengals Defense @ IND 5.3
20 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense vs. GB 4.9
21 4 Arizona Cardinals Defense @ DAL 4.5
22 4 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs. DET 4.2

 

Tier 5 Defenses

Rank Tier DST Week 6 Opponent Confidence Rating
23 5 Houston Texans Defense @ TEN 3.8
24 5 Philadelphia Eagles Defense vs. BAL 3.1
25 5 Detroit Lions Defense @ JAX 2.7
26 5 Dallas Cowboys Defense vs ARI 2.1
27 5 Atlanta Falcons Defense @ MIN 1.2
28 5 Minnesota Vikings Defense vs. ATL 0.9
29 5 New Orleans Saints Defense BYE 0.4
30 5 Las Vegas Raiders Defense BYE 0.3
31 5 Los Angeles Chargers Defense BYE 0.0
32 5 Seattle Seahawks Defense BYE 0.0


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Week 6 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2020 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

This NFL season continues to be the weirdest one that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ve seen teams come out and get embarrassed by bottom dwellers, and I just watched Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins absolutely dismantled the San Francisco 49ers. If you ever think that you’re going to be able to accurately predict a week in the NFL, you’re wrong.

We saw some explosive kicker performances in Week 5. Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders put up 22 points on the afternoon, and he was tightly contested by New York Giants’ kicker Graham Gano, who had a 20-point outing for himself. As defenses are adapting and improving, we’re going to see more big kicker performances, so keep that in mind when setting your lineups.

With Covid-19 continuing to weave its way through NFL locker rooms, bye weeks are getting more and more difficult to navigate. The New England Patriots were originally slated to have their bye in Week 6, but there will now be just three teams off this week. Those will be the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to their regular fantasy talent, all three of them have had great fantasy kickers thus far.

 

Tier 1 NFL Kickers

  1. Justin Tucker (BAL) @ PHI
  2. Harrison Butker (KC) @ BUF
  3. Dan Bailey (MIN) vs ATL
  4. Tyler Bass (BUF) vs KC
  5. Jason Sanders (MIA) vs NYJ

Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker has reclaimed our top spot. After his team thoroughly beat the Cincinnati Bengals, they now draw the Philadelphia Eagles’ who have struggled mightily on defense all season. Points should abound here. Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker gets our next spot. Even in a loss, this offense still put up 32 points. I think we should see plenty of points from these two high-scoring units. Minnesota Vikings’ kicker Dan Bailey is up next. Even though they’re 1-4, they Vikings are putting points up, and Bailey is the primary beneficiary of that.

Buffalo Bills’ kicker Tyler Bass grabs the fourth spot this week. This offense has put up at least 27 points in all four games this season, and they’ve cleared 30 in their last three. Against the Chiefs, they will find ways to move the ball. Sanders wraps up our first tier. Through five games, he has scored 62 points, which leads all players at the position. Against the dumpster fire that is the New York Jets, he’s a near must-start for the week.

 

Tier 2 NFL Kickers

  1. Mason Crosby (GB) @ TB
  2. Samuel Sloman (LAR) @ SF
  3. Rodrigo Blankenship (IND) vs CIN
  4. Cairo Santos (CHI) @ CAR
  5. Ryan Succop (TB) vs GB

Green Bay Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby gets our next spot. He’s nearly perfect to start the season, and he’s playing with one of the NFL’s best offenses. Have no qualms starting him this week. Los Angeles Rams’ kicker Samuel Sloman comes in at seven. His offense continues to hum along, and they have a matchup with the division-rival 49ers. This game could be lower scoring, but I think Sloman still gets a good amount of work.

Indianapolis Colts’ kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is next. After five games, Blankenship is the only other kicker to clear 60 points. His offense isn’t perfect, but the Cincinnati Bengals are the perfect get-right spot. Chicago Bears’ kicker Cairo Santos gets the next spot. This team isn’t winning pretty, but they’re still winning. They can move the ball enough to get Santos scoring chances against the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ kicker Ryan Succop rounds out this next group. The Packers’ defense isn’t the best unit, and the Bucs should be able to get some plays working against them.

 

Tier 3 NFL Kickers

  1. Matt Prater (DET) @ JAX
  2. Stephen Gostkowski (TEN) vs HOU
  3. Zane Gonzalez (ARI) @ DAL
  4. Robbie Gould (SF) vs LAR
  5. Greg Zuerlein (DAL) vs ARI

Detroit Lions’ kicker Matt Prater slides into the lineup after a week off. The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost four straight after a surprising win over the Colts in Week 1, and this Lions’ team has been moving the ball well as of late. Tennessee Titans’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski is up next. As of this writing, he has played just three games, and he’s still tied for K12 on the year. I think they can move the ball on the Houston Texans. Zane Gonzalez sneaks in at the 13th spot. This offense finally showed some life last week, and now they head for a shootout in Texas with the Dallas Cowboys.

This San Francisco team struggled last week, but kicker Robbie Gould remains consistent. This team should be able to bounce back at home to give him a solid outing. Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein gets our final spot this week. Even with quarterback Andy Dalton in over Dak Prescott (ankle), this offense has enough weapons to keep putting up points, especially against a suspect defense like Arizona.

 

Kickers to Avoid

Sam Ficken is our first avoidance of the week because *checks notes* Adam Gase is still the head coach. Even if quarterback Sam Darnold returns, I don’t want any piece of the Jets regardless of the matchup. 

Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons grabs our next spot in this category. This Falcons’ team is reeling, and they just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Even with an easier matchup, I’m not seeking Koo out this week, especially with a new head coach calling the shots. 

Randy Bullock of the Bengals is our final avoidance of the week. Quarterback Joe Burrow has looked as advertised to start the year, but he gets another tough matchup in this Colts’ defense that has played very well through five games. Bullock and the team as a whole could easily struggle.



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NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 6) - Targets and Avoids

Five weeks into the season and we're starting to see who some teams really are. We already knew the Jets and Giants were awful, but are the Rams actually good? They're 4-1 with all their wins coming against the NFC East and their lone loss against the Bills. It'll also be real interesting to see how the Saints play in the coming weeks with Drew Brees unable to zip a throw in.

Underdogs went 8-6 against the spread with four outright upsets. The biggest was the Raiders beating the Chiefs which knocked out around 25 percent of remaining entrants in pools. The Dolphins beating the Niners did a little damage too. My survivor plays went 5-1 straight-up. None of my avoids lost but the Saints and Seahawks both had to come back late to win.

This is a difficult week with only three teams favored by a touchdown or more, but there is one play I really like and it's a team you won't want to choose again. There is no Thursday night football this week due to COVID rescheduling. The Chargers, Raiders, Saints, and Seahawks are on bye.

 

Survivor League Week 6

Teams favored by a touchdown or more in Week 6; Colts -8 vs. Bengals, Ravens -8 @ Eagles, and Dolphins -8 vs. Jets.

If you're reading this article on Thursday or later, these lines are from Tuesday. Check the current spreads and see how the line moved.

I also give out my three top plays against the spread. That can be found at the bottom of the column.

 

Top Survivor Picks for Week 6

Lions -3.5 @ Jaguars

You won't get another chance to take the Lions. They fit one of my favorite gambling trends; road favorite off a bye. The trend is 63-26 since 2002. RJ Bell explained why the trend is so successful.

"The team that's traveling is clearly better. Because you can't be favored on the road unless you're clearly better. But because you're clearly better, you have the distractions on the road. You might be looking ahead. You might be a little beat up from last week. Whatever it is, it's going to cause you not to play your best game; you're more susceptible to a team you think you should easily beat, even more susceptible on the road. That's why road favorites are so dangerous. Well, when you have a bye, all that stuff goes out the window. If you haven't played for two weeks, you're not going to look ahead. You're going to be focused on that team. You're not going to be tired. All the things that make traveling tough, you have that total focus."

The Lions are 1-3 and have held a double-digit lead in all three of their losses. The Jaguars are who we thought they were before the season; a bad team. They surprised many with their Week 1 against the Colts but have since lost four in a row. The stats point to Jacksonville but the eye test points to Detroit. If the Lions shore up their defense, particularly in the red zone and on third down, they could run away with this one.

Lions 27 - Jaguars 16

 

Colts -8 vs. Bengals

Cincinnati better figure out a way to protect Joe Burrow because he's been getting crushed. Now they face a ferocious Colts Defense that's first in opponent yards per play. Phillip Rivers was awful Sunday but should rebound against an average Bengals Defense. They allow 159 rushing yards per game, 29th in the league. That will allow Indy to go back to the running game to open up the passing game. Colts will control this through and through.

Colts 24 - Bengals 13

 

Ravens -8 @ Eagles

As I keep saying, Baltimore beats up on bad teams. Are the Eagles bad though? It's unclear because their win over the 49ers two weeks ago doesn't seem so good after they got blown out by Miami. Philly is off a tough loss to Pittsburgh in which their defensive front looked better, but will they be able to stop the Ravens rushing attack? They're 17th in that department and even if they do slow down Baltimore, their offense won't be able to keep up. Baltimore is fifth in opponent yards per play, and fifth in getting off the field on third down.

Ravens 30 - Eagles 20

 

Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears

Chicago is the most overrated 4-1 team I can ever remember. They should've lost to the Lions, barely beat the Giants, should've lost to Falcons, were a no-show against the Colts, and somehow beat the Bucs last Thursday. Their offense is bottom-ten in yards per play, third-down conversions, touchdowns in the red zone. But their defense is top-ten in all those statistical categories. But the defense will have their hands full with the Panthers offense. They rank sixth in yards per play and are sixth in converting on third down. Teddy Bridgewater has looked better and more comfortable each week. If they can put up 20 points in this one, they should win.

Panthers 23 - Bears 17

 

Top Survivor Picks to Avoid 

Dolphins -8 vs. Jets

You probably think I'm crazy to lean toward the Jets here but, Miami is off their biggest win of the season. This is a divisional game with an over/under at 47.5. That's pretty low for current NFL standards with 59 percent of games going over the total. A lower total means less points will be scored which gives you a lean to the underdog. The stats are pretty even for these teams with Miami's defense ranking 27th in opponent yards per play and the Jets, 22nd.

Dolphins 23 - Jets 21

 

Vikings -3.5 vs. Falcons

Minnesota may be an appealing survivor pick because they're playing the putrid Falcons and when would you be able to take Minnesota again? Atlanta is also off firing their general manager and head coach. Their owner won't even commit to Matt Ryan in the future. The team is a mess. But there are just too many question marks with not only the Falcons but Vikings too. How will Minnesota respond after a gut-wrenching last-second loss in Seattle. Their defense seems to be much improved in the past two weeks but the Falcons will throw, throw, and throw. I don't trust the Vikings in this spot.

Vikings 31 - Falcons 30

 

Best Bets for Week 6

  • Lions -3.5 vs. Jaguars - Road favorite off a bye.
  • Panthers -2.5 vs. Bears - Chicago will get exposed in this spot.
  • 49ers +3.5 vs. Rams - Niners have lost two in a row, and looked awful Sunday. Rams haven't beat anyone good yet. I'll take the home team and the hook.

 

Running Totals

  • Last week: 2-1
  • 2020 season total: 7-8
  • 2019 season total: 23-26-2


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Wide Receiver Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 6

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly wide receiver rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in WR3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 6 WR Start/Sit

Pierre looks at wide receiver matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Running Back Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 6

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly running back rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in RB3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 6 RB Start/Sit

Pierre looks at running back matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Week 6 Stream Team - Shallow and Deep-League Pickups

Welcome to Week 6 of the NFL season. Each week we will be providing streamer advice for all of those who need it, which is pretty much anyone and everyone. Streaming players with the best matchups each week as well as during your stud's bye weeks is an integral part of winning a fantasy championship and we are here to provide the best choices week in and week out.

Each week in this article, we will break down streamers for both shallower leagues of 8-10 teams (around 40% rostered or less) and deeper leagues of 14 or more teams (around 20% rostered or less). We will provide a specific roster in each type of league, which will include a QB, RB, WR, TE, and Flex. It should also be noted that if you play in a deep league, but a shallow-league player mentioned here is available in your league, feel free to stream them as

Waivers ran a day later this week with the Tuesday Night Football installment, so we now have a Friday edition of the Stream Team instead of the usual Thursday edition. Last week was a royal disaster with the Patriots/Broncos game getting moved, but we did hit on some guys like Teddy Bridgewater and Eric Ebron. Keep in mind, at the time of this writing the Falcons have shut down facilities due to Covid-19. For this reason, I will leave players from the Falcons at Vikings game off of this list. With that being said, if the game does play, I do like Kirk Cousins and Irv Smith Jr. as streamers at their respective positions. Now, let's see what Week 6 has to offer.

 

Stream Team for Shallow Leagues (<40% Rostered)

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

32% Rostered

Jones should be able to have a solid game vs. the Washington Football Team this week. The Football Team is currently allowing over 21 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. They are doing this in large part by allowing over 240 passing yards per game, and they have also given up nine passing touchdowns, which is tied for ninth-worst in the league.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

49% Rostered

Nyheim Hines has been getting some work in the running game as he has 19 carries in the Colts' previous three games. He also sees plenty of action in the passing game as he has 12 targets in the previous three games. He should be able to find success vs. a Bengals Defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards to backs. While they haven't allowed a ton of action to backs in the passing game, that is mainly because they have been trampled up front.

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

42% Rostered

I hate being the guy that recommends someone right after they have a monster week, but Claypool fits the bill here. He has a matchup vs. a Browns Defense that has allowed nearly 47 fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2020, which is second-worst in the league. The game also has a total of 51, so you could see quite a bit of passing from both teams, which makes him even more intriguing. Also, if Diontae Johnson misses time with the back injury he suffered last week, Claypool is in a smash spot.

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

49% Rostered

Ebron has gone up in rostership since last week, but he still can be squeezed into the piece for likely the final time. He gets a dream matchup vs. the Browns who are allowing nearly 18 fantasy points per game to tight ends. They have given up the fourth-most receptions and fifth-most scores to the position. He is in a prime spot and I will likely be using him in DFS as well. Update: He was dealing with a hand issue recently, so please monitor that before plugging him in.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

42% Rostered

Hardman is usually a bit of a boom-or-bust type play and that very well may be the case this week. The Bills are currently allowing 37 fantasy points per game to wideouts, which is ranked in the middle of the pack. They have allowed six receiving touchdowns, however, which is tied for sixth-worst in the league. Hardman has scored in two of the Chiefs' previous three games and has seen 13 targets across those games. He could certainly find the endzone again on Monday night.

 

Stream Team for Deep Leagues (<20% Rostered)

Joe Flacco, New York Jets

2% Rostered

This is a bit of an odd choice, but Flacco does get a pretty good matchup this week vs. the Phins. Miami is allowing quarterbacks to put up nearly 19 fantasy points per game. They are also allowing quarterbacks to throw for 275 yards per game and have allowed seven touchdown passes. Add in the fact that the Jets are 9.5 point underdogs, and Flacco could be throwing quite a bit.

Frank Gore, New York Jets

19% Rostered

I hate recommending two Jets, but here we are. Le'Veon Bell is no longer a member of the Jets and that means it is one again Frank Gore time. The Dolphins are giving up almost five yards per carry. They have also allowed six rushing touchdowns and are allowing  96 yards per game to backs. While Gore leaves much to be desired, the volume should be there, which is why he is in the article this week at 19% rostership.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

17% Rostered

I am going to stick with Patrick again this week vs. the Patriots. In the previous two weeks, Patrick has caught 10 balls for 156 yards and scored in each contest. He is going up against a surprisingly struggling Patriots secondary that is allowing the 11th-most receiving yards to wideouts.

Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts

6% Rostered

The tight end position in deeper leagues is scarce this week. Burton has seen 11 targets in his first two games since returning from injury and gets a decent matchup vs. the Bengals. The Bengals are allowing nearly 14 fantasy points per game to the position. They have also given up the seventh-most receiving yards to the position.

Damiere Byrd, New England Patriots

4% Rostered

I am going out on a limb with this one, but I do like the matchup. Byrd has seen 22 targets in the last three games and will be facing a Denver defense that has struggled vs. wideouts in 2020. They are allowing nearly 200 receiving yards per game to the position and rank fifth-worst in terms of points allowed per game to the position by allowing just over 44.

 



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The King's Week 6 Fantasy Football Lineup Rankings (Premium Content)


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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 6)

Are five games enough to start reading into ROS player values based on performance? Unlike baseball, where certain statistics can start to become reliable or "sticky" after a certain at-bat or innings-pitched threshold, it's never the case in football. It's a game where big individual plays make all the difference and only 16 games make up an entire season. Wait long enough to parse through the data and the season is over before you can do anything with it.

What about those teams who've been forced to early bye weeks and only played four times or those with unexpected schedule changes that forced them to play on Tuesday or extend their time between games? The answer: it's 2020 so accept it and move on.

A one-game sample in which a game flow goes completely off script can skew things dramatically on both sides. Outlier games (Travis Fulgham anyone?) can make a player look far more effective than his true value would indicate. On the other hand, some players might be underachieving based on unfavorable schedules. Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out those potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions for Week 6 and beyond.

 

Yards per Carry

One of the first ways a running back gets evaluated is by how much yardage he produces on average when touching the ball. We know opportunity is everything in fantasy, but more touches only mean more yardage if a player can do something with the ball. Just ask those who added Joshua Kelley off waivers.

Context matters, of course. Le'Veon Bell averaged 3.2 yards per carry last year but not many players could do better in that offense. That's the reason several teams were scrambling to acquire his services as soon as he was released.

Here's a look at the 2019 RB leaders for yards per rush attempt:

image taken from NFL NextGenStats

Here's the current list for 2020 after Week 5:

image taken from NFL NextGenStats

So, apparently, Raheem Mostert is for real. While we also see the list littered with the best players at the position, some odds ones stand out.

When you see backups like Gus Edwards, Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, and Matt Breida on last year's list (and again for Edwards and Mattison this year), it might make you wonder why they don't get more touches. In the case of Pollard and Mattison, they have an elite RB ahead of them on the depth chart. Breida can't stay healthy and Edwards is limited in many other ways outside of running the ball straight ahead.

What you don't see on these charts is that Derrick Henry is now averaging 3.7, Kenyan Drake also 3.7, Josh Jacobs is at 3.6, and Christian McCaffrey 3.8 Y/A in 2020, all in the bottom 10 among backs with at least 30 carries. It's almost like this figure can change from year to year!

There are many reasons for this but it varies so the best idea as always is to take it on a player-by-player basis. Let's dive into some running backs whose rushing average might be deceptive at this point in the season, for better or worse.

Rankings listed below are based on running backs who are on pace for at least 100 rush attempts this season.

 

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

5.1 Y/A - 7th among RB

I won't hate on Sanders here because there is no denying his talent. He was my favorite RB of the 2019 draft class and should be a solid RB2 for the next few years. The problem is the Eagles offense as a whole.

Sanders ranks seventh in rushing average among qualified RBs and is 12th in the NFL in total rushing yards. Savvy readers may remember that 74 of his 316 yards, or 23%, came on one play in Pittsburgh last week. Otherwise, he totaled six yards on his other 10 carries. The Steelers Defense is great at stopping the run, but there's more at play here.

Philadelphia has seen its offensive line decimated by injuries. Starters Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, and Jason Peters are all on IR or PUP. Lane Johnson is questionable as he battles an ankle injury. This will make for tough sledding, making it necessary for Sanders to create big plays on his own. Those home run plays won't always be there.

Sanders isn't the type of player you ever want to bench when healthy but he won't deliver big numbers each week and could be considered a candidate to trade coming off his two-TD performance if you can fetch a WR1 or more consistent RB in his stead (see Mixon, Joe below).

 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

3.7 Y/A - 37th among RB

Any GM who selected Mixon with a first-round pick has likely considered trading him away at some point this year. He's not close to sniffing four yards a carry and has scored fewer than 16 fantasy points in four of his five games so far (full PPR). In half-PPR and standard scoring leagues, he's been far less valuable. While he ranks right around RB11 for the year, nearly all of that production came in his Week 4 outburst against the lowly Jaguars Defense.

Was Mixon overvalued? Not fitting in with the new Joe Burrow-led Bengals? Quite the opposite. If anything, we can ignore his rushing average for two reasons.

First, schedule matters. It's easy to use that excuse, but in this case, it's true. In his four duds, Mixon faced the Chargers, Browns, Eagles, and Ravens. Those teams currently rank sixth, 10th, 12th, and third in limiting fantasy points to running backs. Looking strictly at rushing average, they allow the 16th, sixth, fourth, and 13th-most yards per carry. The Bengals did not win any of those games, so game script definitely played a role as well.

Second, Mixon could stay under four yards per carry all year long and still finish as a top-10 fantasy RB. His involvement as a receiver keeps him valuable in any given matchup but is also increasing as of late. In the first three contests, Giovani Bernard was targeted 15 times compared to nine for Mixon. In the last two games, Bernard has seen a total of two targets while Mixon has 14. Bernard is nursing a groin injury, so expect Mixon to be the third-down back for the foreseeable future.

Going against the top-ranked defense in Indianapolis this weekend, Mixon will probably have another poor day on the ground. he can make up for it through the air and then should be off and running once the schedule softens considerably in the second half with defenses of the Cowboys, Giants, Texans, and Dolphins lined up.

 

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

5.5 Y/A - 6th among RB

First, the obvious. McKinnon's average is inflated by the Jets game where he broke off a 55-yard run and then another 16-yarder for a score. He turned three carries into a delightful fantasy game without needing to catch a single pass. He's also broken off a few more runs with double-digit yardage attached since then. The problem is that's all he brings to the table, so without the big play he can easily flop like last week against Miami.

The bigger problem is the lack of usage that could get lower as the season progresses. Even with Raheem Mostert sidelined for three games, McKinnon is averaging 38.6 rushing yards per game on seven attempts. He wasn't expected to carry the ball a ton, maybe 10-12 times a game, but it was even less than we imagined. His prowess as a pass-catcher would provide the fantasy floor but Week 4 was the only game where McKinnon caught more than three passes.

Between carries and catches, the most touches per game McKinnon has ever received was 13.5 as a Viking back in 2016. If he wasn't even at that threshold before Mostert returned, there's no way it approaches that going forward. If we imagine that Tevin Coleman returns at some point midseason and the Niners can figure out their QB situation to utilize the pass more, McKinnon becomes a desperation flex the rest of 2020.

 

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football

3.9 Y/A - 34th among RB

We saw Gibson struggle to get anything going whatsoever in Week 5 as the Rams stifled him. Gibson finished with 27 rushing yards on 11 carries, marking the third straight game he couldn't even reach the 50-yard plateau on the ground. Maybe he isn't cut out to handle the load as an NFL running back after all.

Or, and hear me out here, he's on a bad offensive unit shuffling ineffective quarterbacks and hasn't gotten enough usage to make the most of his skillset. Dwayne Haskins was unceremoniously yanked as the starting QB after four modest games, so it was a mixture of Kyle Allen and Alex Smith in Week 5. This came in a game where the Rams jumped out to a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter and never let Washington back in it.

Washington has now lost four straight games, all by 14 points or more. Negative game script plus inconsistent quarterback play is not the recipe for a successful running game. The reason Gibson hasn't seen more than 13 carries in a game yet has nothing to do with the team's faith in him. They just can't afford to chew up clock when they are constantly behind on the scoreboard.

The main reason his subpar rushing average is misleading, however, has to do with the accumulated total that doesn't show how effective he was, when given the chance, on a weekly basis. he averaged four Y/A or more in his first three games; his average sank mainly due to last week.

image taken from Pro-Football-Reference

Rather than rushing production, notice the more important stats related to his target share and red-zone rushes.

image taken from RotoWire

Gibson is up there near the leaders in broken tackle rate at 20%, placing him in the 84th percentile. We know he is elusive with the ball in his hands. With a strong 49.5% team share of rush attempts and heavy involvement in the red-zone (11 touches, tied for team lead), Gibson should deliver eventually. Of course, eventually could mean 2021...



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Tuesday Night Football Starts and Sits: Bills vs Titans

It's Tuesday football time! And no, this article isn't about a MAC football game between Akron and Bowling Green -- it's about an actual NFL game on a Tuesday night.

After having their Week 4 game postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Tennessee Titans have had their Week 5 game pushed as far it could have been without pushing it out of Week 5. Now, we get some mid-week football between the Titans and the Buffalo Bills. At this point, it's far too late to make any season-long lineup decisions around this game, so we'll mainly be talking about DFS.

Let's talk about the matchup and what to expect from certain players.

 

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans

  • Game time: Tuesday 10/13 @ 7:00 EST
  • Game line: BUF -3.5
  • Over/Under: 53

 

The COVID-19 List

Let's just get this out of the way. It appears that the following offensive players for Tennessee are still on the league's COVID list: wide receiver Cameron Batson, full back Khari Blasingame, wide receiver Corey Davis, wide receiver Adam Humphries, and tight end MyCole Pruitt. Unless we hear otherwise, I think we should assume that the Titans won't have those players. Considering how many are wide receivers, Tuesday could see some unexpected sources of production for Tennessee.

 

Must-Starts

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

Josh Allen is one of the only players in this game that I'm actually starting in any of my season-long leagues. Why? Because he's been great this year. He's third in average completed air yards and in addition to throwing the deep ball more accurately in 2020, he's also rushed for three touchdowns already. Plus, Tennessee won't be at 100 percent on defense because of COVID. It all adds up to another strong performance for Allen.

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

The other player in this game that I'm definitely starting in season-long leagues still even after things were pushed back is Derrick Henry. I'm worried because the Bills allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but Henry already has two 100-yard games in three attempts this year, including a two-touchdown day against the Vikings. He's a must-start RB1 option every week.

Devin Singletary (RB, BUF)

The Titans rank pretty firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, but with two defensive lineman out for COVID, this run defense should take a hit. Singletary will benefit the most from that hit. He's already has two games with at least five yards per carry and has been an increase in his pass-game usage the last two weeks, and in Week 4 he found the end zone for the first time. He's a solid play, though his ceiling is limited by how many red zone runs go to Allen instead.

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

The rumored return of Adoree Jackson does definitely worry me, but Diggs is on fire this year. Through four games, Diggs has 26 catches for 403 yards. There were valid concerns about Diggs moving to Buffalo, but so far, he's on pace to be a fantasy WR1 this year thanks to Josh Allen's improvements. If Jackson is out, start Diggs with confidence in all formats, including DFS. If Jackson plays, maybe go a little lighter on Diggs in your Showdown slate and avoid making him your captain.

A.J. Brown (WR, TEN)

Yes, Brown is dealing with a knee injury that's kept him off the field for the past two games. And yes, he's matched up with Tre'Davious White, one of the NFL's best cover corners. But guess what? You probably should have at least a solid amount of Brown in DFS this week because the Titans are so bare at receiver with Davis and Humphries on the COVID list. Brown should see a good number of targets, which can hopefully translate into production even with White on him.

Jonnu Smith (TE, TEN)

A.J. Brown has a knee issue and the rest of Tennessee's past catchers are out. It's JONNU SZN, y'all. Buffalo allows the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Smith has three touchdowns in three games. I know playing a tight end as your captain is always a risky strategy, but this might be the week to do it.

 

Consider Sitting

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Likely to be down his two and three receivers, it's hard to trust Tannehill this week. Sure, he has the advantage of playing a Bills secondary that has surprisingly struggled lately, but he'll also be coming off two weeks with barely any practice on a team that's suddenly got a lot of holes. The 3-0 Titans appear overmatched in this one, but I don't think the garbage time potential is high enough to outweigh the negatives for Tannehill. Don't think I'm going to really play him in Showdown tonight, even if his completed air yard number this year ranks seventh in the league.

John Brown (WR, BUF)

Dealing with a calf injury, we don't know if Brown will play, which is why he's listed here. If he suits up, he's got upside, but have to figure he sees a lower than usual snap rate, adding in some risk.

UPDATE: John Brown is officially out for Week 5.

Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft (TE, BUF)

Too much uncertainty about which one will get the most work. Fine with Knox as a contrarian play in DFS, but think Kroft -- coming off a two-touchdown game last week -- might be too trendy of a play and will be overused in DFS.

 

Potential Sleepers

Zack Moss (RB, BUF)

Moss has seven red zone attempts in two games. In those two games, that's 53.85 percent of the team's red zone runs. Against a weakened front line defense, Moss has some real "fall into the end zone once or twice" potential, even if his seven red zone carries this year have netted just one yard so far.

UPDATE: Zack Moss is officially out for Week 5.

Cole Beasley (WR, BUF)

Beasley really deserves some more respect for his performances as a Bill. He's a solid floor play in full PPR every week, especially against a Titans secondary that will be without Kristian Fulton this week. Beasley's worthy of a spot in your DFS lineup.

Gabriel Davis (WR, BUF)

If John Brown sits, I love Davis as a DFS play. Suddenly would have some touchdown upside and is likely to be a little lower-rostered than fellow Bills sleeper receiver Cole Beasley, but would have more big play chances.

Kalif Raymond (WR, TEN)

Raymond will be the No. 2 receiver for Tennessee this week. With Brown facing a likely shadow from Tre'Davious White, Raymond should wind up seeing a lot of footballs thrown his way. Last time out, he was targeted three times, catching all of them for 118 yards. That yardage total might not be here this time, but more targets will, making Raymond a solid DFS sleeper.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR, TEN)

The rookie has never been targeted in an NFL game, but he might be the third receiver this week for the Titans. If you're looking for an extremely cheap play in DFS to help you with your lineup construction, you can take a chance on Westbrook-Ikhine, though there's a good chance it doesn't pay off.



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Monday Night Football Starts and Sits: Chargers at Saints

Week 4 has come and gone and COVID remains prevalent in the NFL heading to Week 5. With bye weeks upon us, fantasy managers also have to contend with positive cases for the Titans, Patriots, Raiders, and Chiefs. All of us understood these possibilities heading into the season, but seeing the NFL move games is still an odd sight.

Looking to Week 5, the primary Monday Night Football matchup comes in the form of the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints. The Chargers have declared rookie first-round pick Justin Herbert their starting quarterback after three strong performances to open his career. The Chargers come into this game somewhat banged up on offense thanks to an injury to Austin Ekeler in Week 4 and Mike Williams in Week 3.

Meanwhile, the Saints are hoping to get Michael Thomas and Jared Cook back for this game after both players missed Week 4. It could be irrelevant though given the fact that Alvin Kamara looks as explosive as ever and is dominating teams both on the ground and in the air. With Drew Brees rounding into form after a quarter of the season, this game could be more entertaining than it looked at the start of the year.

 

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints 

  • Game time: Monday 10/12 @ 8:15 EST
  • Game line: New Orleans -7
  • Over/Under: 50.5

 

Must-Starts

Drew Brees (QB, NO)

After a shaky opening to the season, Drew Brees seems to have righted the ship a bit in recent weeks. Despite not having access to Michael Thomas in the passing game, Brees has thrown for 534 yards and five touchdowns (with one interception) the past two weeks against the Packers and Lions. If Thomas can play (more on him a bit later), it will at the very least force coverage to account for him and open up his other weapons. The Chargers have struggled in the passing game on defense this season without Derwin James, allowing 22.7 points per week to opposing quarterbacks. They are fresh off Tom Brady throwing for five touchdowns without Chris Godwin and with a hobbled Mike Evans.

UPDATE: Michael Thomas has officially been ruled out for Week 5.

Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)

Justin Herbert continues to be the rookie surprise at the quarterback position. Herbert wasn’t able to surpass 300 passing yards for the third time in three starts, but he did complete a career-high 80% of his passes and three touchdowns against a relatively strong Tampa Bay defense in Week 4. The Chargers may be 0-3 in Herbert’s three starts, but he has played well enough to keep them within a touchdown against the Chiefs, Panthers, and Buccaneers, which isn’t too bad. Herbert will likely have to throw it again in Week 5 against the Saints, a secondary that has allowed 11 passing touchdowns this season and 22.2 points to quarterbacks per week.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

Alvin Kamara failed to meet his lofty expectations in 2020 in what should have been a smash spot against the Lions. Kamara was still productive, carrying the ball 19 times for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions and 36 yards through the air, but he wasn’t needed once the Saints overcame a 14-point deficit to take a commanding lead against the Lions. It didn’t help that Latavius Murray was able to steal two scores from him in the red zone. Kamara has been the RB1 in fantasy this season, a trend that should continue against the Chargers. Los Angeles has done very well against the run this year (315 yards) but has struggled against pass-catching backs (154 yards and two scores), setting up for a great Kamara game once again.

Latavius Murray (RB, NO)

If you drafted Latavius Murray in your fantasy draft, then you have been happy with the results considering where you got him (typically right before or around the double-digit rounds). Murray has had at least 12 carries in three games, giving him a consistent enough workload to be a bye week fill-in or flex play. The only game where Murray failed to log a strong workload was a loss to the Raiders where the Saints were caught playing catch up the whole night. He has also been targeted at least once in every game, which adds to his value. Murray isn’t the strongest play, but in a week where numerous options are on bye or facing a COVID cancellation, you could do worse than a double-digit carry back.

Joshua Kelley (RB, LAC)

With Austin Ekeler out of the picture, Joshua Kelley would seem to be the logical player to see an increase in work. For one, he has already been utilized in a heavy usage role, totaling 35 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown the first two weeks of the season. Kelley has also seen an uptick in the passing game lately (despite going down to just 17 carries since Week 2), totaling seven catches (on seven targets) for 88 yards since Week 2. Kelley will likely split time with Justin Jackson, the RB2 in Los Angeles at the beginning of last season, but should have a solid game with double-digit touches. This week’s matchup isn’t great (New Orleans is only allowing 19 points per game to running backs), but Kelley should have the workload to justify a spot as your RB2.

Tre'Quan Smith (WR, NO)

After the Michael Thomas injury, Tre'Quan Smith has seen his role and production grow in the New Orleans Saints’ offense. Smith has been targeted 17 times since Week 1, catching 13 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. This culminated in a perfect week against the Lions where Smith caught all four of his targets for 54 yards and two scores. Michael Thomas may be able to return on Monday night, so time will tell on how concrete Smith’s role will be if that happens. However, Thomas will likely need time to shake off his high ankle sprain, making Smith a startable player given bye weeks and potential COVID cancellations.

UPDATE: Michael Thomas has officially been ruled out for Week 5.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

The emergence of Justin Herbert as a legitimate passer has provided a stable weekly floor for Keenan Allen. Since Week 1, Allen has been targeted 40 times, catching 28 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown against some solid competition. He has always been a fringe WR1, and the Chargers’ young quarterback hasn’t done anything to end that trend. Marshon Lattimore will be Allen’s stiffest competition so far this season, but given his double-digit target floor, he must be in your lineup no matter what.

Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)

Hunter Henry finally had his first down week against a tough linebacking and safety corps in Tampa Bay. After seeing at least seven targets and catching five passes the first three weeks, Henry only caught two of four targets for 39 yards in Week 4. Henry has been steady and reliable this season, serving as the safety blanket for Justin Herbert. He should have no problem getting back on track against a Saints Defense that has allowed 16.3 points per week to tight ends (second-worst in the NFL). The New Orleans secondary is allowing 10.3 yards per reception and five touchdowns to tight ends through four games this season.

 

Consider Sitting

Emmanuel Sanders (WR, NO)

After an initial disappointment as the Saints’ WR1 in the wake of the Michael Thomas injury, Sanders has been utilized far better in the past two weeks. Sanders was targeted nine times against the Lions in Week 4, catching six passes for 93 yards in an impressive come from behind victory against Detroit. These past three weeks probably were important for Sanders and quarterback Drew Brees to establish some rapport given the condensed offseason program they both faced. Even with Thomas potentially returning, the Chargers have two of the best perimeter cornerbacks in the league with Casey Hayward and Desmond King. Sanders will be up for a challenge, but with all the COVID-related madness, he may be a worthy pivot if you have a player with a safer matchup.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)

This one is pretty simple: Mike Williams hasn’t played since early in Week 3 thanks to a hamstring and is registered as a "did not play" against the Buccaneers. Despite the week of rest, Mike Williams missed practice through Thursday of Week 5 as well. Even if Williams can practice over the weekend, we have seen players struggle to recover from hamstring strains only to reinjure them when going full speed again. Give Williams a week to prove he is healthy before re-inserting him into your starting lineups.

Jared Cook (TE, NO)

Like Michael Thomas, Jared Cook has also been practicing on a limited basis this week. With an extra day to practice, he should have the ability to get close to ready after having Week 4 off against the Lions. Cook has had a relatively modest role for the Saints this year, catching nine of 15 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown in three games. Given the poor state of fantasy tight ends, that is a downright robust line that probably got him close to a TE1 through three weeks. Waiting until Monday to play Cook is a dangerous game, especially against a Chargers Defense that has allowed only 10.3 points to tight ends every week this year.

Potential Sleepers

Justin Jackson (RB, LAC)

Justin Jackson saw a spike in his role after the injury to Austin Ekeler in Week 4 (although to be fair, it isn’t hard to see a workload spike when your previous two weeks were zero percent of the offensive snaps). Jackson carried the ball six times for nine yards and added two catches for 12 yards in the loss to the Buccaneers. However, he was on the field for 40% of the time, which suggests he could see an uptick in his work on the field. Jackson played well last season during the Melvin Gordon holdout, and will likely see 40% of the backfield’s touches with Ekeler injured. If you need a desperation flex play, he should be serviceable.

Jalen Guyton (WR, LAC)

Jalen Guyton has been a serviceable player during Mike Williams’ absence thanks to a hamstring injury. Guyton has been targeted seven times, catching five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He has filled in the role of a downfield threat well and should continue to do so with Williams on the mend. Guyton has a high-risk, high-reward feel to him this week with Keenan Allen likely to draw the attention of Marshon Lattimore and the injury to Austin Ekeler.

Adam Trautman (TE, NO)

To be clear, the only way Adam Trautman should find his way into your lineup is if Jared Cook doesn’t play AND you missed your waiver period the last week due to a catastrophic fantasy football blunder. Trautman registered no stats last week and played only 27% of the Saints' snaps in Week 4 despite the absence of Jared Cook. Trautman comes from the University of Dayton (like a certain someone writing this article) and still likely needs time to develop. He is an absolute desperation play but could find himself with a touchdown at any time given the injuries to the Saints.

 

Tough Call

Michael Thomas (WR, NO)

For the second straight week, Michael Thomas has been limited in practice trying to test out his ankle. Last week, it turned him into a late scratch against the Lions and only time will tell what the result of this week’s work will be. Ultimately, I would be wary of Thomas heading into this Monday night matchup. High ankle sprains notoriously take a lot of time to heal and we have seen numerous players recently (Alvin Kamara and Saquon in 2019) struggle once they return. A hobbled Thomas being hounded by Casey Hayward on defense is a potential recipe for disaster. It is very difficult to pivot off the player you likely took in the mid-to-late first round of your fantasy draft, but I am extremely skeptical of Thomas’ ability to produce in a tough matchup on Monday night.

UPDATE: Michael Thomas has officially been ruled out for Week 5.



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Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 5

Hi, y'all! Four weeks of NFL action are in the books and we're moving on to another. Welcome to our Week 5 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. Each week we'll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Be sure to check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information.

Frank Ammirante will start off by covering the first set of games that begin at 1:00 PM ET on Sunday, and Justin Carter will take you home with his analysis of the late afternoon and evening games. You can also read about the Monday Night Football matchup. Let's help guide you to that Week 5 victory!

If you have any additional lineup questions, follow us on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ and @juscarts and feel free to ask away. Let's get on to the matchups!

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team

Matchups We Love:

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

Higbee has been a bit of a disappointment this season, as he's not receiving the same volume (12.82% target share, 20th among tight ends) that he saw down the stretch last year. The good news is he takes on a Washington defense that ranks 29th in PPR PPG to tight ends. Mark Andrews just put up 57 yards and two touchdowns against them last week.

Antonio Gibson (RB, WAS)

Gibson is taking over this backfield, coming off a breakout game that saw him finally get some more receiving volume (5 targets, 4 receptions, 82 yards). The dynamic rookie takes on a Rams Defense that has allowed 29 targets (T-21st) to running backs. New quarterback Kyle Allen loves to check it down to his backs, which bodes well for Gibson.

Matchups We Hate:

Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB, LAR), Cam Akers (RB, LAR), & Malcolm Brown (RB, LAR)

This backfield has become a mess, with Henderson surprisingly taking a back-seat to Brown last week. Cam Akers' return this week further muddles this backfield, making it a clear avoid against a Washington defense that has been decent against the run, allowing 4.03 yards per carry (14th) and 17.6 PPR PPG (T-11th).

Other Matchups:

Jared Goff (QB, LAR), Robert Woods (WR, LAR), & Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

The Rams' passing game has an exploitable matchup against a Washington defense that is tied for 26th in PPG to quarterbacks. Washington has allowed a few big plays downfield, so we could see one or both of these receivers have decent games. Temper your expectations though, as Washington has allowed the second-fewest PPR PPG to wide receivers.

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

McLaurin should see a boost in value with Kyle Allen at quarterback, but he has a tough matchup here against an elite cornerback in Jalen Ramsey. McLaurin's high volume (27.27% target share, 7th) keeps him in play as a WR2, but this is more of a floor week for him against Ramsey.

 

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Matchups We Love:

Teddy Bridgewater (QB, CAR)

Bridgewater is coming off a QB4 finish and has a great opportunity to keep it going against a depleted Falcons secondary allowing the most PPG to quarterbacks. It appears as if Bridgewater is getting more comfortable in Joe Brady's offense, so he's one of the best streamers in an exploitable matchup this week.

Mike Davis (RB, CAR)

Davis has become the bell-cow RB1 in CMC's absence, finishing as the RB9 and RB7 in his two starts. The Falcons have allowed 40 targets (31st) and 34 receptions (31st) to opposing running backs, so expect Davis to continue racking up the catches (21 receptions in his last three games) in this one.

D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

Moore has been disappointing, but he still has a 42.83% air-yard share and 23.36% target share, so the volume is there, he just needs to build more of a rapport with Bridgewater. Moore has a great opportunity to get his season back on track against this struggling Falcons secondary.

Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)

Ridley was shut out against the Packers, so we could see the Falcons make more of an effort to get their stud wideout more involved in the offense. There's a chance that Julio Jones misses this game, in which case Ridley would see a bump in targets. While the Panthers have allowed the seventh-fewest PPR PPG to wide receivers, I still love Ridley here because of his volume.

UPDATE: Julio Jones is officially out for Week 5.

Todd Gurley (RB, ATL)

Gurley is coming off a two-touchdown effort against the Packers and has a good chance to keep it rolling against a Panthers Defense that has allowed the fourth-most PPR PPG to running backs. We could see the Falcons look to establish the run again, especially if Julio is out, which makes Gurley a strong RB2 in this one.

Matchups We Hate:

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Ryan has a tough matchup against a run-funnel Panthers defense that has limited opposing passers to 6.34 yards per attempt (3rd) this season. It's hard to start Ryan whenever Julio is out of the lineup, which appears to be the case at this point. This profiles more as a Gurley & Ridley game for the Falcons.

Other Matchups:

Robby Anderson (WR, CAR)

Anderson has shown more chemistry with Bridgewater than Moore has, but I expect the Panthers to make an effort to get their young wideout going in this one. However, the Falcons secondary will have a tough time with these wideouts, so we could see a big game from Anderson as well. I'm not ready to concede that Anderson has supplanted Moore as the top target in this offense, so consider him more of a strong WR3 play.

Hayden Hurst (TE, ATL)

Hurst has a tough matchup against a Panthers defense that has limited tight ends to 9.8 PPR PPG (T-10th), but he could see a bump in volume if Julio were to miss this game. Consider Hurst a lukewarm play on the TE 1/2 fringe against the Panthers here.

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Matchups We Love:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

Lamar Jackson is in another smash spot against a Bengals Defense that has allowed 93 rushing yards to quarterbacks (24th). Last season, Jackson ran for a combined 217 yards and two touchdowns on 26 attempts in two games against the Bengals. Expect another Top-5 finish for Lamar here.

Marquise Brown (WR, BAL)

Hollywood Brown hasn't had a big game yet, but his volume is encouraging - 27% target share and 43% air-yards share - so the breakout is coming soon. He has a good matchup against a Bengals defense that just allowed D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault to combine for 13 receptions, 181 yards, and two touchdowns.

Matchups We Hate:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

Burrow has had a terrific start to his rookie season, but he'll be in tough against a Ravens Defense that is limiting opposing passers to 7.18 yards per attempt (10th). The Ravens have posted a 46% pass-rush win-rate (T-6th) and the Bengals have a 52% pass-block win-rate (25th), so this is a clear mismatch - Burrow could be under duress often on Sunday.

Tee Higgins (WR, CIN) & A.J. Green (WR, CIN)

Since the Ravens pass-rush will likely cause issues for the Bengals, it's going to be difficult for Burrow to connect with Tee Higgins and A.J. Green downfield. Higgins is starting to supplant Green on the depth chart, so the rookie is the preferred play here, but I'm not excited about this matchup at all.

Other Matchups:

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon broke out last week against a weak Jaguars Defense, but he has a much tougher matchup here - the Ravens have limited opposing backfields to 23 PPR PPG (10th). The good news is that Baltimore has allowed 36 targets to running backs (26th), so we could see Mixon do some damage in the passing game.

Tyler Boyd (WR, CIN)

Tyler Boyd has established himself as the number one option in this offense. We could see the Bengals focus their gameplan on short passes to Boyd and Mixon against this pass-rush, so both players remain lukewarm options, but I don't love the matchup against the Ravens.

Mark Ingram II (RB, BAL) & J.K. Dobbins (RB, BAL)

The Ravens' backfield has a great matchup against a Bengals defense that has allowed 26.1 PPR PPPG to running backs (20th), but it's hard to rely on Ingram or Dobbins as anything more than average FLEX options. Gus Edwards also eats into their value, so this has become a situation to avoid until one back starts to take over.

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Andrews has received three targets in two of his four games this season, lowering his weekly floor and making him more of a touchdown-dependent choice in some weeks. While he remains a Top-5 tight end, this profiles more of a Lamar-to-Hollywood game mixed with chunks of rushing yards, making Andrews more of a lukewarm play.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Matchups We Love:

James Robinson (RB, JAX)

Robinson has a great chance to keep up his RB1 production against a Texans Defense that just allowed Dalvin Cook to rush for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Houston is allowing the fourth-most PPR PPG to running backs, so this is a smash spot for the biggest surprise in fantasy football this season.

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU) & Will Fuller (WR, HOU)

The Jaguars defense just got shredded by Joe Burrow (300 yards, 8.1 yards per attempt), so Watson will have a good chance at a big week in his first game without Bill O'Brien. Fuller is the clear-cut number one option in this offense when he's healthy, so we could see this duo connect early and often against an exploitable Jaguars defense.

Other Matchups:

Gardner Minshew II (QB, JAX), D.J. Chark (WR, JAX), & Laviska Shenault (WR, JAX)

The Texans have a run-funnel defense, as they have limited opposing passers to 19.8 PPG (T-4th) because teams are opting to run more and pass less against them (114 pass attempts allowed, 3rd-fewest in NFL). I expect the Jaguars to lean on Robinson in this game, which caps the upside of Chark and Shenault. Consider Chark a mid-range WR2 with Shenault as an average FLEX in this one.

David Johnson (RB, HOU)

DJ has a great matchup against a Jaguars defense that just got shredded by Joe Mixon for 181 total yards and three touchdowns. The issue here is that we're not sure if Bill O'Brien's departure will lead to decreased usage for Johnson. Last week, DJ's snap count fell from 90.30% to 55.38% with Duke Johnson's return, so there's some concern here. Consider DJ an average RB2 this week and temper your expectations despite the strong matchup.

Brandin Cooks (WR, HOU)

Brandin Cooks was a non-factor last week, putting up a goose egg on three targets against the Vikings. While we could see the team make more of an effort to get Cooks back on track, he's merely a low-end WR3 until we see some improvement from this offense. This is a lukewarm play even though the Jaguars have a weak defense.

 

Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

Matchups We Love:

Josh Jacobs (RB, LV)

Josh Jacobs has a good matchup against a Chiefs run defense allowing 4.99 yards per carry (27th). Jacobs should be a major part of the gameplan as the Raiders try to play keep-away from Mahomes and Co. He could also get a few check-down targets when the Raiders are playing catch-up, especially since the status of wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards is still in question.

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC), Tyreek Hill (WR, KC), & Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

Mahomes is in a smash spot against a banged-up Raiders secondary that just got shredded by Josh Allen for 288 yards on 8.5 yards per attempt. Tyreek Hill has a great opportunity to get loose deep against a defense that ranks 30th in defensive DVOA. Travis Kelce has dominated the Raiders throughout his career and has the highest floor at his position. Fire up the top two Chiefs' pass-catchers in this one.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC)

CEH takes on a Raiders defense that is allowing 38.1 PPR PPG (32nd), 39 targets (T-28th) and 31 receptions (T-31st). The Chiefs should be able to move the ball with ease in this matchup, so the touchdown upside is high for CEH. They'll also likely be playing with a lead, which will lead to more rushing volume. CEH is an elite RB1 for this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Derek Carr (QB, LV) & Henry Ruggs III (WR, LV)

The Chiefs have allowed 21.1 PPR PPG to opposing quarterbacks (8th), so this is a tough spot for Derek Carr, despite the fact that he'll likely be trying to play from behind and airing it out in the second half. The Chiefs have allowed the fewest PPR PPG to wide receivers, so this is a bad matchup for Ruggs, who has a chance to return from a hamstring injury.

Other Matchups:

Darren Waller (TE, LV) & Hunter Renfrow (WR, LV)

Waller is an every-week TE1, but the Chiefs Defense has been tough against tight ends (13th in PPR PPG). This is more of a floor week for Waller. Like Ruggs, Renfrow has a difficult matchup, but he can at least rack up underneath targets, so he's a lukewarm play in PPR formats.

Mecole Hardman (WR, KC) & Sammy Watkins (WR, KC)

Hardman and Watkins are dart throws who can be appealing DFS tournament punt plays in a game where Mahomes should be able to have his way with the Raiders defense. I wouldn't consider starting them in season-long formats, but they're definitely worth a look as GPP plays.

 

Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets

Matchups We Love:

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, ARZ)

DeAndre Hopkins' 34.07% target share ranks 2nd in the NFL. After a slow week against the Panthers (7 receptions for 41 yards), Nuk is in a bounce-back spot against the Jets. With his volume, Hopkins has the highest floor among any receiver in the NFL. It's always good to play an alpha WR1 in the week immediately following a down game, as they tend to bounce back often. Fire up Nuk here.

Other Matchups:

Kyler Murray (QB, ARZ) & Christian Kirk (WR, ARZ)

Kyler Murray's rushing output gives him a terrific combination of floor and upside, but there's a chance that the Cardinals get out to an early double-digit lead here which will lead to more volume for Kenyan Drake, capping Murray's upside. I think this is more of a floor play this week, which still makes Murray a Top-7 option, but one that I'm avoiding in DFS. Christian Kirk is merely a DFS tournament punt play who needs more usage. I expect him to play more of a role as the season progresses.

Kenyan Drake (RB, ARZ)

Kenyan Drake has been the biggest disappointment at running back this season, failing to produce in a smash spot last week against the Panthers. Luckily, he gets another great matchup against a Jets Defense that just allowed Melvin Gordon to rush for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals should control this game from start to finish with Joe Flacco quarterbacking the Jets, so Drake remains a high-end RB2 for this matchup.

Chase Edmonds (RB, ARI)

Drake is trending down, with Edmonds potentially putting his name into the "who will be Arizona's lead back by the end of the season" conversation. He's already a bigger passing game threat than Drake. It's not yet time for a change, but Edmonds increasingly workload does give him flex appeal.

Le'Veon Bell (RB, NYJ)

Le'Veon Bell finally returns to action at a moment of dire need with Flacco at QB. We could see the Jets scale back his touches while they get him up to speed, so Bell is more of a lukewarm FLEX play in this one. However, it wouldn't surprise me to see him rack up a few checkdown receptions as the Jets try to play catch-up.

Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ)

Jamison Crowder has caught 14-of-23 targets in two games this season, so it's clear that he's become a focal point of this offense. The Cardinals rank 4th in PPR PPG to wide receivers this season, so this isn't a smash spot, but Crowder's volume should keep him in your lineup as a WR3.

 


Hi, Justin taking over now. Thanks, Frank!

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers

Matchups We Love:

Eric Ebron (TE, PIT)

The Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Ebron was targeted 12 times over the past two games. Great chance for him to have his first huge game as a Steeler.

Matchups We Hate:

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI)

Meh. Wentz is currently the QB16 in overall scoring, which was actually surprisingly higher than I expected. The Steelers are allowing 18.7 fantasy points to game to quarterbacks, which is more than I expected. And yet, even with those positive signs, I can't get behind playing Wentz unless I'm desperate.

All The Eagles Receivers

Alshon Jeffery might be returning! DeSean Jackson might be too! And that'll suddenly cut into Greg Ward's snaps and targets! This is all a mess! None of these guys can be trusted to be more than a WR4! Ahh! Exclamation points!

Other Matchups:

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

The Eagles allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but they've played the following quarterbacks: Dwayne Haskins, Jared Goff, Joe Burrow, and the combination of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Translation: I don't think the Eagles are as good defensively as expected. Roethlisberger isn't a QB1 this week, but don't let the matchup fool you: he's still a very good QB2 play this week.

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

Ahh, the classic "matchup vs. volume" conundrum. The Steelers are a rough matchup for running backs, but Sanders is getting plenty of usage in both the run and passing game. He's not an RB1 this week, but he's a solid RB2 option with upside who has been targeted 19 times this season.

James Conner (RB, PIT)

Another player who borders on dislike here, but should see the right volume to be an RB2 option even against an Eagles Defense allowing the 13th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so far.

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

A pair of decent plays here. Smith-Schuster isn't getting his expected volume and is dealing with a knee injury, but he has three touchdowns already. Diontae Johnson should be back from his concussion and is the top target for Roethlisberger so far this year. The matchups against Philly isn't the easiest, but both guys should be considered solid starting options.

Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)

This has not been a good year for Zach Ertz. The targets are there, but the yardage isn't. Last week, he had four catches but finished with just nine yards. Yikes. But some returning receivers might allow Ertz to see lighter coverage, and you have to start him as a TE1, even if there's a lot of risk here.

 

 

Matchups Analysis - 4:05/4:25 PM ET Games

Three games on the afternoon slate for y'all. Let's break them down.

Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers

Matchups We Love:

49ers Running Backs

So, some caveats here, even though the 49ers face a Dolphins team that's allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs:

  • Raheem Mostert (knee) practiced and could play. If he does, he's probably the lead back and a solid RB2 play.
  • If Mostert is held out, Jerick McKinnon will be the lead back and also an RB2 play. If Mostert plays, McKinnon is more risky, but still an RB3/RB4 option.
  • Jeff Wilson is an RB4 option if Mostert is out, but not playable if Mostert plays.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Okay, look: the Dolphins are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, but George Kittle is back and you have to consider him a top-two tight end anytime he plays. Don't overthink this.

Matchups We Hate:

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, MIA)

At some point soon, Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting benched for Tua Tagovailoa. That Fitzpatrick faces a scary (but injured) 49ers Defense this week makes this feel like a bit of a swan song for Fitz. Will he even make it through the game before the Dolphins bring in Tua? Not only is Fitzpatrick not a fantasy start, you can probably go ahead and drop him in most formats.

The 49ers Quarterback (QB, SF)

Jimmy Garoppolo? Nick Mullens? C.J. Beathard??? Too much uncertainty here, so I'm avoiding this situation when planning my lineups.

UPDATE: Jimmy G. will make his return in Week 5.

Myles Gaskin (RB, MIA)

Volume for Gaskin makes him playable every week, but the Niners allow the fewest fantasy points to running backs of any team in the league, so while Gaskin is playable, he's also an extremely risky play in most formats. Kind of a catch-22 here, isn't it?

Preston Williams  (WR, MIA)

Yikes. Not only is this a horrendous matchup, but Williams has only six catches all year for 89 yards. I'm not playing him anywhere. No way.

Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)

Big Gesicki fan, but the 49ers allow the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Gesicki is coming off consecutive games with just a single catch. Maybe when a QB swap happens, we'll see Gesicki involved as a safe option, but don't love the usage patterns right now.

Other Matchups:

DeVante Parker (WR, MIA)

If you're going to play a Dolphins receiver, it should be Parker. The 49ers allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers, but Parker's role as the No. 1 guy on an offense that throws a ton makes him a WR3 option.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

Fine matchup, but concerned about just how many times he'll touch the football. The floor is too low for me to play him in shallow leagues, but think he's an intriguing DFS play.

Deebo Samuel (WR, SF)

Again, fine matchup, but what's the workload look like? A 34 percent snap rate last week in his return is worrisome, because if that number doesn't rise a good bit, Samuel will have an extremely low floor.

 

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Matchups We Love:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

This defense is horrible, which means Prescott just keeps throwing the football. And while the Giants have been really good defensively when it comes to limiting fantasy production for quarterbacks, this game has the makings of a shootout. Dak's the best quarterback New York has faced. He's easily a top QB1 option again.

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

Daniel Jones has not had a good 2020 season, but maybe the antidote to that is facing a Cowboys Defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Something has to give here, and *looks at this Dallas secondary* I don't think it's the Cowboys who change course. Jones is a good streaming option.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

Touches each week for Elliott: 25, 28, 20, 20. While he hasn't had a 100-yard game yet on the ground, his increased usage as a receiver has helped make up for that, and Elliott is currently the overall RB4 in half PPR. Yes, he's a must-start RB1.

Darius Slayton & Golden Tate (WR, NYG)

I like Slayton more, but both should see ample targets against a Cowboys secondary that's been really rough so far. Consider Slayton a solid WR3 and Tate to be someone with WR3 upside, but a little more risk since Slayton's been higher in the pecking order for Jones.

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

I don't love this week quite as much for Cooper as I should, because Cooper will have a tough matchup against James Bradberry. But look, Cooper's been a stud so far, and you start him as a WR1 every week because of his upside in this high-powered offense.

CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)

Lamb is a strong WR3 play with upside every week. This game is no exception, as he'll see lighter matchups from the defense than Cooper and should get a good number of easy looks.

Matchups We Hate:

Nothing here. Expecting a lot of offense.

Other Matchups:

Devonta Freeman (RB, NYG)

Solid matchup, but not totally sure I'm ready to trust Freeman yet. He averaged just three yards per carry last week after averaging two yards per carry the week before. There's a lower floor than you think here, even if he has RB3 upside.

Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)

I am officially concerned about volume. Three or fewer catches in three of the four games this year. One huge performance against Seattle and three mediocre ones. But you'll play him in a lot of leagues as a WR3 because of the upside, as we know he can deliver in the right situation.

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)

Dallas allows the sixth-most points to tight ends, so why is Engram only here? Because Engram has been a disappointment relative to expectation. He was targeted 10 times last week; he finished with 35 yards, which was also his second-highest yardage total of the year. In season-long, you have to start him, but in DFS, I have big, flashing "NO AVOID HIM THIS TIME" letters beside his name.

Dalton Schultz (TE, DAL)

The Giants are allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, so there's that major minus. Still, Schultz has been very good in the lead tight end role here, with 17 catches for 208 yards and two scores in the last three games. So, he's still a high-end TE2, but might have to work for it more than usual.

 

Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns

Matchups We Love:

Kareem Hunt (CLE, RB)

With no Nick Chubb, Hunt slides in as the No. 1 running back for Cleveland. He has a tough matchup against a Colts Defense allowing the third-fewest points to opposing running backs, but relative to what you spent in the draft on Hunt, he's a great value and a high-end RB2.

Zach Pascal (WR, IND)

The Browns struggle against wide receivers, and with injuries to Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr., Pascal has an expanded role now. This matchup screams "DFS VALUE" to me, and he's fine as a flex play in deeper season-long leagues as well.

Mo Alie-Cox (TE, IND)

Okay, so we thought that with other options back, Alie-Cox would take a step back last week. And he did, getting targeted just twice, but he found the end zone for the second week in a row. I like him a lot as a streaming play this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)

No team has allowed fewer points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year. Just 11.2 per game for passers facing this Colts defense. Not a week where I want to rely on Mayfield at all.

Austin Hooper and David Njoku (TE, CLE)

The Colts allow the fewest fantasy points to tight ends of any team, and Hooper won't see the needed volume to make him a decent play. Sit him in 12-team leagues if you have a good streaming option available. (Also, Njoku should be back which hurts Hooper even more. Njoku isn't someone to add either at the moment, but keep an eye on him.)

Other Matchups:

Philip Rivers (QB, IND)

It's a good matchup! But Rivers isn't throwing a lot, has four touchdowns in four games, and has three picks. He's just not a quarterback I want to use as anything but a matchup-dependent play in a two-QB league. And hey, this is probably an okay time to use him as that, if you want to.

Jonathan Taylor & Nyheim Hines (RB, IND)

The Browns allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Taylor has been getting a ton of carries lately, including 17 last week, so volume alone gives him RB2 upside, though a better matchup would give him RB1 upside. Hines might get 10ish touches, but the tough matchup makes him risky as anything but a deep-league flex play.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)

The Browns allow the third-most points to wide receivers, though that number is inflated because of last week's game against the Cowboys. Hilton should be able to take advantage still, but something is off with the veteran wideout, who is averaging just 40.5 yards per game. What do we make of Hilton? An upside play, but with a WR5 floor? Sure, let's go with that.

Odell Beckham Jr. & Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

Nothing wrong with either of these guys, but the Colts defense is just a little too good for comfort. Beckham had a big Week 4, but should take a step back in Week 5, though you still start him as a WR2. Landry isn't getting a lot of volume or yardage, but his role does make him a low-end WR3 play in full PPR leagues.

 

Matchups Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

Matchups We Love:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Seattle's defense is allowing 28.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the second-highest amount in the league. Cousins has had a growing rapport with Justin Jefferson lately and while this doesn't have the makings of a full-on shootout, Cousins still has to be considered a very good streaming play.

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)

You play Russell Wilson against anyone and you expect him to deliver. Full stop. The end.

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)

The Vikings allow the 13th-most fantasy points to the running back position. Last week, Carson went from being very, very questionable with a knee injury to scoring two touchdowns. Play Carson this week and expect low-end RB1/high-end RB2 production.

UPDATE: Carlos Hyde is officially inactive for Week 5

Adam Thielen & Justin Jefferson (WR, MIN)

If we expect the Seahawks trend against the pass to continue, we should expect Thielen and Jefferson to be the primary players who benefit from that. Both players can easily finish as WR2s or better this week and both should be in season-long lineups in any league where you have them. They're good DFS plays too, though could be a bit chalky.

D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)

These two should be started as high-end WR2s every week, especially with multiple rookies playing heavy minutes in this Vikings secondary.

Matchups We Hate:

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)

The Seahawks allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Rudolph has six catches this year. Not a streaming option this week.

Other Matchups:

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Look, you obviously deploy Cook as a looked-in RB1 in season-long, but the Seahawks are only allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so you might want to use Cook in fewer DFS lineups than you'd usually have him in.

 

 

Matchups Analysis - Monday / Tuesday Night Football

We have a whacky schedule this week for games on Monday and Tuesday night, due to COVID-19.

 

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints

Click here to read about the Monday Night Football matchup between the Chargers and Saints.

 

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

UPDATE: TheBroncos-Patriots game has been cancelled for Week 5. It is postponed from Monday October 12th, and moved to next Sunday October 18th.

Click here to read about the Monday Night Football matchup between the Broncos and Patriots.

 

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans

This game has been moved to Tuesday night, though we'll see how that ends up working out. Check back soon for updates...



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Booms and Busts - Surprise Starts and Sits for Week 5 Lineups

We are a quarter of the way through the NFL season and the major storyline continues to be the mounting injuries across the league. It seems as though each week there are several new injuries to vital producers in fantasy football. This is causing managers to traverse the waiver wire and reconstruct their rosters much sooner than they have in years previous. This has opened the door for some under the radar players to move of the rankings on the season. Players like James Robinson, Jerrick McKinnon, and Robby Anderson all find themselves ranked inside the top-12 at their respective positions. Something that we are seeing quite a bit of as the voids left by injuries must be filled by someone.

As you can imagine, the void left from injuries to studs in fantasy football leaves managers with tougher decisions to be made with start/sits each week. Instead of "sitting and forgetting" the starters, now more forethought must be put into decisions. This means paying closer attention to matchups that can affect a player's potential output. A player could be deemed a no-brainer start most weeks, but with a certain matchup, his value could be diminished, opening the door for a player on your bench. With how frustrating the 2020 season has been thus far, every avenue should be exhausted for fantasy managers to put forth their most optimal lineups.

That is what we are doing here as I bring to you my Woos and Boos for Week 5. Some players that you may not view as typical starters, but have advantageous matchups and should be plugged into lineups. While our Boos are players that are weekly starters with tough matchups and could be destined for letdowns this week.

 

Week 5 Woos

Teddy Bridgewater @ Atlanta Falcons

Yes, that's right. Coming off of his best game of the season (QB4), Teddy "Two Gloves" is primed for another solid effort in Week 5. Facing a Falcons Defense that is currently the worst in the league in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (33.0 FPPG), Bridgewater should be viewed as a potential QB1 this week. The Falcons have allowed at least three touchdowns in each game played and with the Panthers playing sound football at the moment, I expect to see another multi-touchdown game here. If you are missing Aaron Rodgers this week with the bye, Bridgewater is the perfect candidate as a bye-week fill-in.

Chase Edmonds @ New York Jets

This may perhaps be the most sneaky play of the week. With Kenyan Drake continuing to disappoint, Edmonds is seeing an increased role in the offense. He finished at RB21 in Week 4, and now faces a Jets Defense that is among the worst in points allowed to the position (24.3 FPPG). Edmonds has had multiple receptions in each game and may be a solid Flex option in PPR formats regardless of Drake's performance in this matchup. If the Cardinals get out to a big lead, it is even better for Edmonds value as he will see more snaps late in the game to drive the team to victory.

Golden Tate @ Dallas Cowboys

Although Tate has been the face of mediocrity to begin the 2020 season (14 catches for 103 yards in three games). But Week 5 will be a get-right game for not only Tate but the Giants' offense as a whole. Facing the atrocious Cowboys secondary (36.4 FPPG allowed to the position), Tate should find plenty of open space to operate in all day. He is the perfect option to slide in as a low-end WR3 in PPR formats this week as a five-catch game should be viewed as the floor. Look for him to find the end-zone as well, making him a solid option to start for those managers currently dealing with the injury bug.

Mo Alie-Cox @ Cleveland Browns

In what was viewed as a prime matchup in Week 4, Alie-Cox was somewhat of a disappointment. The one catch performance was bailed out by a trip to the end-zone at the end of the day. He finds himself with another plus matchup in Week 5 as the Colts face a Browns Defense that is bottom five in points allowed to opposing tight ends (12.9 FPPG). The Browns have allowed a touchdown in three of four matchups, meaning good news for managers looking to start Alie-Cox this week. He should be viewed as a solid streaming option this week and should return low-end TE1 numbers in this matchup.

 

Week 5 Boos

Matt Ryan vs. Carolina Panthers

Ryan has been the epitome of Jekyll and Hyde over the first quarter of the season. Over the first two games, he was one of the top tier QBs in fantasy. But since Julio Jones got banged up, Ryan's performances have dropped dramatically (QB27 and QB25 over the last two games). Now he faces a surprisingly tough Panthers Defense in points allowed to the position (30th, 15.5 FPPG). With Jones likely to miss this week's game, Ryan should be viewed as a QB2 in fantasy. Putting most managers in a position to stream at the position for the week.

Miles Sanders @ Pittsburgh Steelers

The workload has been there, but the production has dropped in each of the last two games for Sanders as he has finished as no better than RB22. He may not fare any better in Week 5 as the struggling Eagles offense travels to face the stout Steelers Defense. The Steelers currently rank 31st (11.9 FPPG) in points allowed to the position and with the way the Eagles offensive line has struggled, Sanders could be in for a long day.

A.J. Green @ Baltimore Ravens

The time has come where we no longer view A.J. Green as a consistent starter in fantasy. The targets have been consistent (33 in four games) but the production has been less than stellar (14 receptions for 119 yards). He has yet to find the end-zone and is the third option in the passing game for the Bengals behind Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Add that to the tough matchup against a Ravens secondary that is allowing only 20.6 FPPG to opposing wideouts and it equals a sit for Green in Week 5.

Hunter Henry @ New Orleans Saints

Call this one a gut feeling but Henry is primed to disappoint in Week 5. The matchup is a good one against a Saints Defense that is currently one of the worst in points allowed to the position (16.3 FPPG). But without Mike Williams in the starting lineup, the passing attack has been funneled through Keenan Allen as Henry has been somewhat forgotten (just 10 targets over the last two games). Look for the Saints defense to try and stifle Herbert and the passing game with Austin Ekeler out for this game, meaning less operating space for Henry in this matchup.



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