Posted Thursday and updated Friday evening, “The Fantasy Blueprint” will get you the stats and information that actually matter for fantasy football, and it will be produced in a way that doesn’t waste our time. If you don’t know what “Fantasy Usage” is, read this. If you want my best bets, they’ll be at the top on Friday night. If you need live Vegas odds, go here. If you simply just want my weekly rankings, subscribe here for $3.99 per month and use promo code WINKS10 for 10% off.
Note: After two months of experimenting, we’ve learned that the people want more writing, so starting this week, The Fantasy Blueprint will be swapping out team-by-team charts for longer team preview paragraphs. Since I can’t quit my precious charts, I’m keeping the league-wide ones at the bottom of the page. Hopefully this is the better mix of written and visual content. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).
1. Chiefs (32.25 points, -14 spread) vs. DEN
Firmly the favorite in MVP discussions, Patrick Mahomes is pacing for 46.5 total touchdowns and now has a fully healthy skill position depth chart. The Chiefs are rightfully projected for the most points of the week (32.0), even with the well-coached Broncos Defense allowing just 6.7 yards per attempt (30th). Scheme can’t stop the beast that’s the Chiefs Offense right now. … Tyreek Hill entered Week 12 with the most air yards over the last month and only added to his domination with the seventh most PPR points in a game ever. Hill’s volume is out of control right now after being slowed earlier, giving him more upside than any receiver in the game right now. He’s scored four touchdowns in his last three games against Denver, who just placed CB Bryce Callahan on injured reserve. In his first game since Week 5, Sammy Watkins saw seven targets on 43-of-59 routes. A notoriously volatile player, Watkins has handled 12.7 expected PPR points in his five healthy games with two usable games and three duds. Watkins would benefit if teams sell out to stop Tyreek. Watkins is a boom-bust flex play in the league’s most explosive offense. Mecole Hardman (6.1 expected PPR points with Watkins) and Demarcus Robinson (5.9) are in a tier below as big-play threats on very limited volume. … Travis Kelce, who is third in receiving yards in the entire NFL, is pacing for the second-most PPR points all-time at tight end as the only elite option at the position. In his last non-snow game against the Broncos, he posted 11-142-0 on 13 targets. …
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is averaging 11.4 expected PPR points in his five games with Le’Veon Bell. His usage can spike if the Chiefs opt for a more balanced approach, but the team is top-five in neutral game script and is still using Darrell Williams for pass protection on third downs. Edwards-Helaire has touchdown and game script upside as a volatile, low-end RB2 even with Bell only averaging 19.7 snaps per game.
2. Vikings (31.5, -10.5) vs. JAX
Coming off a season-high 45 pass attempts, Kirk Cousins projects for closer to 20-25 attempts as 9.5-point home favorites against Jacksonville, but upside QB2 production is in play with high projected efficiency. The Jaguars, who are dead last in passing EPA defense, run the most Cover 1 man coverage in the NFL (49%) and are missing their top two corners (C.J. Henderson, and D.J. Hayden) and possibly Sidney Jones, leaving them extremely vulnerable to deep shots. Cousins, the QB17 per game, is a recommended streamer. … No Adam Thielen and wacky game script allowed Justin Jefferson to set a new season high with 25.9 expected PPR points in Week 12. Averaging 12.8 yards per target and snatching ankles on tape, Jefferson’s upside is undeniable against the seventh worst defense versus fantasy receivers missing their top three corners. The rookie only trails Davante Adams in the predictive yards per route run, making him a must-start WR2 with big-play potential. Assuming he is cleared from the COVID-19 list, Adam Thielen will slide back into the volatile WR2 mix while leaning on red zone domination (10 TDs on 14 targets) for fantasy production. The Jaguars’ secondary injuries and the Vikings’ 30.5-point team total suggests touchdowns are coming. … Irv Smith has out-produced Kyle Rudolph when healthy, but Rudolph is averaging 11.3 expected PPR points in the two games Smith has missed compared to 4.2 with the second-year pro. Smith (back) didn’t practice Wednesday, giving Rudolph TE2 streamer appeal with Jacksonville allowing the second most fantasy points to the position…
Bad game script and a third quarter ankle roll played into Dalvin Cook’s Week 12 dud, but he’s a prime rebound candidate as 9.5-point favorites with the second-highest team total of the week if healthy. The Jaguars are allowing the fifth most PPR points to fantasy backs and just allowed 206 rushing yards to the Browns’ duo last week. Alexander Mattison deserves top-12 consideration if Cook is ruled out despite a dud in his lone 2020 start.
3. Titans (29.75, -5.5) vs. CLE
Currently 29th in neutral pass rate, Ryan Tannehill continues to live on the QB1/2 border on pure efficiency, but it’s been a bigger ask while playing behind a third-string left tackle and other backup offensive linemen. It’s a fair injury matchup in Week 13, however, with Cleveland missing CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams, S Ronnie Harrison, and others. The Titans’ 29.75-point team total keeps Tannehill in the top-12 mix despite the team being 28th in pass attempts. He’s the QB8 per game. … A.J. Brown is a bankable model breaker as one of the true efficiency outliers given his rare size/speed combo. Brown is averaging 17.8 PPR points in eight games since his injury and has enhanced big-play appeal against a Browns secondary that’s missing multiple secondary starters including Ward. Corey Davis has been a Robin-like sidekick as an efficient but volatile flex option on WR5-level volume while Adam Humphries (concussion) has been sidelined. Like everyone in this offense, Davis’ production has been tied to big plays. The Browns are 10th worst against fantasy receivers. … Jonnu Smith is not a full-time route runner (16-of-27 Week 12 routes) and even went catchless last week. He’s averaging 8.5 expected PPR points in the eight games since Brown’s return as a touchdown-dependent TE1/2. The Titans’ massive team total gives Smith a reasonable touchdown projection, particularly with the Browns allowing the second most tight end touchdowns this year. …
Derrick Henry is on pace for 372 carries, a number only one player has reached since 2007. The rushing and goal-line volume is bankable as an every-week top-five option, particularly in positive game scripts like what Vegas projects here as 5.5-point favorites. The Browns’ injured defense just allowed 128 yards and one touchdown to James Robinson last week. The Big Dog is averaging 19.3 expected PPR points per game while leading the NFL in inside-the-10 carries (28).
4. Seahawks (28.25, -10) vs. NYG
After a turnover-heavy November, the Seahawks rank middle of the pack in neutral pass rate over the last month with no plans of returning back to early-season levels. Russell Wilson’s weekly floor and ceiling will take a hit in the new balanced offense but expectations can only be dropped so far when everyone is healthy. The Giants are allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, firmly keeping Wilson inside top-five rankings. … The leader in receiving yards, DK Metcalf continues to take corners to school as one of the league’s best vertical and red zone weapons. Metcalf had 206 air yards just last week and has earned upside WR1 status regardless of matchup (except for CB Jalen Ramey), though the Giants have only been targeted 25-plus yards downfield seven times this season (31st) because they play a lot of Cover 3 defense. With the Giants only having one quality corner (James Bradberry) and utilizing lots of zone looks, this game profiles as a potential Tyler Lockett rebound candidate. His usage is statistically the most volatile in the NFL, leaving him prone to duds and week-winning box scores. Lockett is a must-play upside WR2 despite WR39 fantasy usage over the last month. … In the first game without Greg Olsen (foot), Jacob Hollister was the only Seahawks tight end to be targeted. Hollister profiles as the best pure receiving threat as the most likely direct Olsen replacement. Especially in a more balanced offense, Hollister maxes out as a touchdown-dependent TE2 streamer. …
Eased in after missing a month with a foot sprain, Chris Carson was eased into the lineup in Week 12. Carlos Hyde out-snapped Carson, 41 to 25, a trend that should reverse with Carson getting his feet wet again. Carson had low-end RB1 production prior to his injury and projects for more carries now with Let Russ Cook regressing. Carson is an upside RB2. Hyde is best-viewed as a pure-insurance play.
5. Packers (28.0, -9) vs. PHI
The current MVP runner-up, Aaron Rodgers is the QB4 overall per game on his second highest touchdown rate of his career (8.7%). The Packers are blocking very well (3rd in adjusted sack rate) and are finally healthy at the skill positions, a problem for the Eagles man-heavy defense. Rodgers is a locked-in top-five play with the Packers projected for 28 points and ranking second in passing EPA. … Davante Adams’ 22.1 expected PPR points per game leads the NFL, as does his 100.3 receiving yards per game. His floor is unmatched given his elite chemistry with Rodgers, and shadow CB Darius Slay is nowhere near good enough to stop Adams one-on-one. Adams is the WR1 overall until proven otherwise. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling likely trade off usable fantasy weeks as low-volume big-play threats. Lazard is only averaging 9.8 expected PPR points per game in healthy starts as a WR4/5, while MVS handles most deep-target responsibilities as a no-floor WR5. Valdes-Scantling went targetless despite running 29-of-33 routes in Week 12. … Robert Tonyan is a threat for a touchdown as an athletic seam stretcher with red zone abilities, but his week-to-week floor is nonexistent with the receivers healthy. Tonyan is the TE26 in fantasy usage over the last month as a TE2 option. The Eagles’ slow linebacker corps is a feather in Tonyan’s cap. …
Aaron Jones has major splits with Adams (16.4 expected PPR points per game) and without (24.0) this season. Jones’ calf injury and Jamaal Williams’ comfort in this scheme also play into Jones’ non-bellcow status. With that said, Jones is a rebound candidate in Week 13 against a defense that’s allowing the third most carries per game (28.5) and ranks 30th against fantasy running backs. Jones offers just as high of a ceiling as other RB1s, just with a lower floor in this two-back committee. Williams is averaging 9.4 expected PPR points per game with Jones healthy as a desperate RB3 play.
6. Colts (27.25, -3.5) @ HOU
With more weapons at his disposal, the Colts are now 12th in neutral pass rate over the last month, which has raised Philip Rivers’ floor and ceiling to QB2 levels. He has averaged 297 yards in the three games with both Pittman and Hilton, and the Colts are projected for a healthy 27.75 points this week. The Texans are 29th in passing EPA defense and just allowed 300-plus yard games from the Patriots and Lions while missing multiple front-seven starters. Rivers’ biggest threats to his QB2 status are the frustrating Jacoby Brissett goal-line packages and LT Anthony Castonzo’s absence. Rivers had zero touchdowns and two interceptions in his lone game without Castonzo in 2020. … Michael Pittman has taken on the No. 1 role as an every-down player in a suddenly more balanced offense. Pittman’s 10.8 expected PPR points in his four healthy games should increase down the stretch, particularly if his size (6’4/223) earns him more red zone usage. He’s been a playmaker in limited rookie reps as an upside WR4 and gets a weak Texans secondary missing top CB Bradley Roby who was suspended on Monday. Last week was the ghost of T.Y. Hilton’s first game above 13.0 PPR points and his only game with a touchdown. Hilton’s full-time role is safe despite a career-low 7.4 YPT average, and his odds of a big play are enhanced in this pristine dome matchup. Roby’s replacements (Lonnie Johnson and Vernon Hargreaves) have been lit up for two years now. Hilton is an upside WR4/5. Zach Pascal ran a route on 39-of-49 Week 12 dropbacks as the primary slot receiver. His 10.4-aDOT and Rivers’ spread-out attack makes Pascal a low-ceiling option. … The Colts continue to use three tight ends with Mo Alie-Cox (26 routes in Week 12) and Trey Burton (23) firmly ahead of Jack Doyle (12). Burton leads the way in expected PPR points over the last month (8.9 to 4.6 to 3.2) as the best bet for red zone work. Missing LB Benardrick McKinney, the Texans gave up 89 yards to T.J. Hockenson last week. Burton is a touchdown-dependent TE2. …
The Colts coaches have admitted to using a hot-hand approach at running back, leaving zero certainty between Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins. In his last active game, Jonathan Taylor dominated touches and remains the best bet for early-down and goal-line work, but Nyheim Hines has the passing-down role locked down and has hot-hand potential if Taylor continues to struggle with vision and cutting. The Texans are allowing a league-high 142 rushing yards per game to running backs, pushing Taylor into the RB2 conversation. Hines is a boom-bust RB2/3 in PPR leagues with game script potentially working against him here.
7. Raiders (27.25, -7.5) @ NYJ
With more surrounding talent and a more aggressive style in 2020, Derek Carr has been the QB21 per game on the 24th most pass attempts. In positive scripts, the ball gets put into Jacobs’ belly, but he’s capable of top-10 efficiency days in close games. Aided by the Jets waiving and sending cornerback starters to injured reserve, the Raiders are projected for 27.25 points, making Carr a mid-range QB2 with a limited ceiling. He only has two games over 300 yards. … Nelson Agholor is pacing the receivers in snaps, routes, and overall fantasy usage as the lone receiver in one-WR sets, particularly in the red zone. Agholor (WR63 in fantasy usage) has held off volatile rookie Henry Ruggs (WR86) and underneath presence Hunter Renfrow (WR82) but still maxes out as a big-play WR4 even in the best matchups. Ruggs is in a tier below as a player who primarily runs clear out routes on the perimeter instead of running more bankable intermediate routes despite flashing on tape when given a chance. The Jets are allowing the fifth most fantasy points to receivers on the third most receptions. … Darren Waller is the weekly TE2 overall by default but hasn’t separated from the pack because of a shaky 6.0 YPT average. His position-high 1.5 red zone targets per game over the last month are his best path to a ceiling now that his yards per game average is down by 22.3 yards. The Jets are allowing the third most points to fantasy tight ends. …
Josh Jacobs has a 42% touch share while leading and a 15% touch share while trailing over the last month as one of fantasy’s most game-script dependent backs. As long as his ankle holds up, Jacobs has a direct path to a ceiling game with the Raiders checking in as 7.5-point favorites even with the Jets’ defensive strength being run defense (7th in rushing EPA). Jacobs has a 20-touch projection with multiple touchdown upside. Devontae Booker is his change-of-pace back.
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8. Dolphins (27.0, -11.5) vs. CIN
After a one-week absence, Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) is expected to return in a plum matchup against the league’s worst pass rush. Tagovailoa will have time inside the pocket but needs to be more aggressive with tight-window throws to access any semblance of a fantasy ceiling in an offense that’s 29th in neutral pace. Vegas’ 26.75-point projection is bullish with Tagovailoa only averaging 6.2 yards per attempt on his first 97 throws, and the offense taking things easy alongside Miami’s strong defense. Tagovailoa is on the QB2/3 border. … DeVante Parker won’t get the 50/50 balls that he’d be getting with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Parker is averaging 17.4 expected PPR points in games without Preston Williams. Parker, now up to WR13 in fantasy usage over the last month, offers bankable target volume with big-play ability as a weekly WR2. There’s little behind Parker at receiver. Jakeem Grant ran fewer routes (19) than Mack Hollins (27) in Week 12 and others are mixing in as well. It’s a grouping to avoid. … Like Parker, Mike Gesicki was benefiting from Fitzpatrick’s willingness to throw 50/50 balls up, something Tagovailoa hasn’t shown yet. Gesicki is ceding routes, particularly in the red zone, to TE Durham Smythe as a forgettable TE2 streamer. He’s the TE19 in fantasy usage over the last month. …
Because they’re missing DT D.J. Reader and other veterans on the defensive line, the Bengals are allowing the third most rushing yards to running backs (119 per game). Game script points to another favorable spot from the Miami running back group, though it’s unclear who will be drawing the start. Myles Gaskin (IR) is eligible to return to his bellcow role, but Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) is also trending towards playing, too. If all are healthy, Gaskin is the best bet after a half-season worth of production on 18.9 expected PPR points per game. We’ll learn more on Friday.
9. Steelers (27.0, -10) vs. WAS
10. Rams (25.75, -3) @ ARI
The Rams Offense has changed dramatically over the last month compared to September. They’re passing more in neutral situations and have been opting for even more quick-timing underneath routes with LT Andrew Whitworth on injured reserve. Jared Goff has been inconsistent but shouldn’t be pressured against the Chandler Jones-less Cardinals, who are playing with league-fast pace on offense. Goff, who had 300-plus yards and two-plus touchdowns against Arizona in each 2019 game, has volume-based QB2 appeal with the Rams projected for 25.75 points (10th). … Low-aDOT Robert Woods has been the beneficiary of the new-look Rams attack with 30.6 and 15.8 PPR points in two difficult matchups since Whitworth’s injury. Woods is up to 16.6 PPR points per game on the year and gets a plus matchup on Sunday. He had 18- and 12-target games against the Cardinals in 2019 while taking CB Patrick Peterson to school in Arizona’s Cover 1 man looks that typically leave defenses vulnerable to big plays. For this reason, Josh Reynolds is in play as an upside WR4. Reynolds ran a route on every Week 12 drop back and is the primary deep threat. Cooper Kupp is benefiting from the Rams’ increase in neutral pass rate and will benefit from Arizona’s league-high offensive pace that leads to more plays on both sides of the ball. Kupp had at least 65 yards and a score in each of his 2019 Arizona games and has WR17 overall fantasy usage over the last month as Goff’s primary underneath receiver. He’s a solid WR2 play. … Playing with a massive elbow brace, Tyler Higbee is gutting through multiple injuries in two-way tight end committee with Gerald Everett. Over the last month, Higbee (TE27) and Everett (TE28) have nearly identical fantasy usage, and their Week 12 routes (18 to 19) suggests this tandem approach isn’t leaving. Higbee is the slightly better bet as a desperate TE2/3. …
Over the last month, all three of the Rams running backs haven’t seen starting-level volume. Darrell Henderson (RB48 in fantasy usage) is only averaging 7.5 expected PPR points since his injury while ceding more early-down work to improving rookie Cam Akers (RB46), who has also been completely sidelined on third downs for Malcolm Brown (RB60). Until it’s trimmed to two backs, it’s best to steer clear. I’m hoping Akers jumps out of the snap share basement after two-straight quality games.
11. Bills (25.25, -2.5) @ SF
Josh Allen is the QB5 per game but heads into the most difficult stretch of his schedule, now without John Brown. In five games without Smokey, Allen is averaging 22.0 fantasy points compared to 30.1 in the six games with him. This week, Allen will be tested by a 49ers defense that’s allowed the fourth fewest passing yards and has Richard Sherman back, plus takes place on the opposite coast. Allen’s earned every-week QB1 status, but this game doesn’t profile as a ceiling one. … 49ers starting nickel corner K’Waun Williams (calf) is unlikely to play and his backup Jamar Taylor (ACL) was placed on injured reserve this week, so second-year UDFA Emmanuel Moseley will be tasked with guarding slot receiver Cole Beasley this week. Beasley has averaged 11.5 expected PPR points without John Brown this year and walks into the best on-paper matchup for Buffalo. He’s a WR3/flex. Perimeter receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis will battle CBs Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett who stylistically match up well. With the 49ers allowing the third fewest pass attempts per game (33.6), Diggs profiles more of a WR2 than a WR1 this week. He’s the WR11 in fantasy usage over the last month. Davis, who is averaging 9.1 expected PPR points in games without John Brown, looks like an NFL starter but the projected slower pace of this game and modest team total (25.25) are enough to keep him on fantasy benches. …
The Bills are leading the NFL in neutral pass rate over the last month, pushing Devin Singletary and Zack Moss largely out of the RB2 picture. Singletary is the primary player on third downs but has under 10.0 expected PPR points in six of his last seven games. Moss handled the only inside-the-10 touch last week as the better bet for a score but has under 9.0 expected PPR points in five of the last six games. The 49ers are also fifth in rushing EPA defense and come loaded with elite speed at linebacker.
12. Saints (24.5, -3.5) @ ATL
Taysom Hill has two rushing touchdowns in each of his two starts as a rare power rushing quarterback, but his passing ability remains suspect on tape. The Broncos’ complex defense caused him far more trouble in Week 12 compared to the Falcons’ more simple man coverage that makes Hill’s progressions easier to read. Hill likely slides in between his Week 11 and Week 12 passing numbers as a reasonable QB2 with a rushing-based floor. It’ll help if LG Andrus Peat (concussion) can return with LT Terron Armstead on the COVID-19 list. … Michael Thomas’ floor and ceiling are far lower with Hill despite an insane 48% target share with the signal caller over the last two weeks. Thomas is less likely to find the end zone with New Orleans using more rushing looks inside-the-10 and scoring less in general. Thomas’ 9-104-0 line two weeks ago against Atlanta seems close to his ceiling, so he’s more WR2 than WR1. This week’s man-coverage matchup is a better on-paper fit for the Hill to Thomas connection. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Sanders (13% target share) and Jared Cook (8%) have nearly been completely erased in Hill starts. The heavy QB power rushing approach in the red zone severely limits their paths to touchdowns. …
Alvin Kamara is averaging fewer expected PPR points (23.8 to 9.7) on fewer targets per game (8.9 to 1.5) and fewer routes per game (27.2 to 12.5) in his games with Taysom Hill. It’s the difference between playing with a power rushing and scrambling quarterback versus a check-down passing quarterback. Kamara has big-play potential still but is unlikely to rebound to early-year totals with Hill, especially if Latavius Murray is deemed a relatively equal fit with Hill as a pure rusher. Kamara is down to RB1/2 levels until Drew Brees returns. Murray offers no floor as a desperate flex option with the Falcons allowing the second fewest carries per game (21.0) and ranking third in rushing EPA defense. The Broncos’ inability to move the ball likely played into Murray’s spiked Week 12 usage.
13. Browns (24.25, +5.5) @ TEN
The QB24 per game, Baker Mayfield rebounded Week 12 after three poor-weather games clouded his productivity throughout November. His floor and ceiling remain in check with the Browns 31st in pass attempts, but the matchup is solid. The Titans are just 29th in adjusted sack rate, are allowing the second most pass attempts per game (41.6), and are fifth worst against fantasy quarterbacks. The Browns’ 24.25-point total puts Mayfield on the low-end QB2 map. … Reduced by weather and nagging injuries, Jarvis Landry only has one 100-yard game and just one touchdown, both coming last week. Landry should close strongly with ancillary pass-catchers doing nothing behind him. The Titans are missing CB Adoree Jackson and S Kenny Vaccarro, while allowing the third most receptions to receivers. Landry is a quality WR3. Rashard Higgins (21 of 33 Week 12 routes) is running ahead of KhaDarel Hodge (12) but only has one game above three receptions as a deep-threat only. Higgins is the WR85 in fantasy usage over the last month. … Austin Hooper (18 of 33 Week 12 routes) is splitting time with rookie Harrison Bryant (17), and there’s not enough passing volume in general to make up for the lost routes. Hooper is the TE29 in fantasy usage over the last month and needs “prove it weeks” before returning to the TE1 discussion. The only thing to hang your hat on here is the Browns’ quality team total. …
Nick Chubb is having a historically great rushing season between the tackles (6.25 YPC) as a size/speed outlier behind a top-three offensive line. Chubb has big-play potential every down and handled three inside-the-10 touches in Week 12. When the game script is on his side, Chubb is an upside RB1 play, but Kareem Hunt is the 1A whenever the Browns are trailing. As 5.5-point road dogs, this profiles as a Hunt game slightly more than a Chubb game, although both deserve top-12 consideration. 20 of Chubb’s 22 touches from last week were on early downs.
14. Bears (24.0, -3) vs. DET
Mitch Trubisky is a walking turnover (nine fumbles plus interceptions in 3.5 games) but offers a QB2 ceiling in an ideal matchup against the Lions who are 30th in passing EPA defense if you can swallow his nonexistent floor. Trubisky has diced up Detroit for three touchdowns in each of his last three games, partially because the Lions play a lot of man without having the talent to play it with any success. The Bears’ 24.25-point team total is as high as it’ll be for the rest of the year. … Because he can’t properly read defenses, Trubisky tends to lock onto Allen Robinson far more than Nick Foles would. Robinson’s expected PPR points per game has jumped from 15.0 to 20.1 with Trubisky, and he’s now back to WR5 overall fantasy usage over the last month on a 26% target share. Lions first-round CB Jeffrey Okudah did not practice Wednesday and veteran CB Desmond Trufant was just placed on injured reserve. Robinson is a WR1 again. Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney are losers of the quarterback change for the reasons mentioned above and shouldn’t be counted on in 12-team leagues. Between the two, Mooney is the better bet for a big play because 29% of his targets are 20-plus yard down field. Of course, Trubisky’s deep-ball accuracy leaves a lot of air yards on the field. … Jimmy Graham is averaging 1.5 red zone targets per game but is trending in the wrong direction with the Bears playing second-round TE Cole Kmet more and more. Last week, Kmet ran more routes (36) than Graham (18). Graham’s path to touchdowns is dwindling. …
David Montgomery played 58-of-68 snaps in his Week 12 return as the Bears’ bellcow back. Despite doing very little with the opportunity, it’s nearly impossible to sit Montgomery as an RB2 because he’s averaging 14.1 carries and 4.1 receptions per game since Tarik Cohen’s ACL tear. His ceiling and floor are raised in this matchup, too. The Lions are allowing the fourth most carries per game (27.7), rank 28th in rushing EPA defense, and are the very worst against fantasy running backs by more than 2.5 points per game. This Wednesday, Detroit placed DT Danny Shelton on injured reserve.
15. Patriots (24.0, -1) @ LAC
Cam Newton’s accuracy has dipped post shoulder surgeries, and the Patriots haven’t put enough around him to elevate his passing difficulties. Adding to the fire is the loss of LT Isaiah Wynn (knee, IR) and Newton’s Week 13 matchup against a zone defense featuring Joey Bosa, who had his best game of his career last Sunday. Newton only has one game above 20.0 fantasy points since Week 2 despite racking up nine rushing touchdowns in 10 games. Newton is a mid-range QB2 with Vegas projecting the Patriots for 22.75 points (15th). … Jakobi Meyers is the WR30 in fantasy usage over the last month while earning more defensive respect in recent weeks. Meyers remains the best bet underneath but isn’t dominating target shares anymore with Damiere Byrd and James White emerging. Meyers is a PPR-league flex with a modest ceiling against slot CB Chris Harris. Byrd is nothing but an inconsistent deep threat who draws CB Casey Hayward in coverage. Only one of the two receivers will have a usable stat line most likely. …
With Rex Burkhead (ACL) on injured reserve, Sony Michel was activated for Week 12 but played just one offensive snap. Damien Harris was the featured early-down back but came up empty on his three inside-the-10 opportunities while James White managed to score on both of his last Sunday. Because he only has three receptions for three receiving yards all year, Harris is a touchdown-needy RB2/3. White’s path to passing-down touches is easier without Michel swapping in for Burkhead, but Newton is unlikely to throw to his backs unless it’s a designed screen and the Chargers’ zone defense swarms quickly underneath. As always, White is far easier to swallow as an RB3 in PPR formats.
16. Texans (23.75, +3.5) vs. IND
Over his career, Deshaun Watson’s yards per attempt drops from 8.7 to 7.3 without Will Fuller, and that of course mostly includes games with DeAndre Hopkins. Watson’s dual-threat abilities should save his QB1 numbers, but he has Jets-like help at receiver, along the offensive line, and with his coaching staff. Hurting his chances is the Colts’ 2-hi zone defense that’s fourth against fantasy quarterbacks and in theory limits his scrambling upside. Watson is a low-end QB1 only because he’s playing like Superman in 2020. Everything else is working against him. … With Fuller (suspended), Randall Cobb (foot), and Kenny Stills (released) all out of the picture, Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee will be every-down receivers. Cooks was already averaging 13.8 expected PPR points since Bill O’Brien’s firing and now slides into upside WR2 volume post-Fuller. A difficult on-paper matchup shouldn’t outweigh Cooks’ projected volume even with CB Xavier Rhodes on deck. A tiny (5’11/180) fourth round slot receiver, Coutee will be tasked with more than his profile suggests he can handle as the new No. 2 receiver. Oddly enough, Coutee’s only two career 100-yard games have come against Indy, possibly because he can sit in soft zones. Coutee is a volume-based flex play with upside. 2018 UDFA Steven Mitchell was the only other receiver to log a Week 12 snap. Fifth-round rookie Isaiah Coulter, who is a raw project from Rhode Island, will push him for No. 3 snaps. … The Texans could easily opt for even more two-TE sets without Fuller. Jordan Akins (19 routes in Week 12), Pharaoh Brown (11), and Darren Fells (7) have been a nearly even rotation over the last month with Akins being the best bet for production. Akins and Brown are the most athletic options, while Fells’ thicc 34-year-old body best projects for blocking and occasional red zone targets. Akins has more TE2 appeal now. …
The Texans are the worst rushing offense by a wide margin regardless of who is starting at running back. The offensive line is a mess (30th in adjusted sack rate), so this is a volume-based attack only even if Colts DT DeForest Buckner (COVID-19) and LB Bobby Okereke (ankle) miss again. David Johnson is eligible to return after missing three weeks with a concussion. Prior to his injury, Johnson was a weekly RB2 averaging 15.6 expected PPR points, but Duke Johnson could be more involved after a nice Thanksgiving showing and with the receiver depth chart gutted.
17. 49ers (23.5, +1) vs. BUF
Backed by an elite coaching staff, Nick Mullens looks functional in this quick-hitting balanced offense and will get both of his young receivers in the lineup for the first time since taking over. Last in neutral offensive pace and 18th in overall pass attempts, Mullens’ ceiling is limited to QB2/3 levels even with the Bills ranking sixth against fantasy quarterbacks. The 49ers are projected for a forgettable 22.75 points. … A bulldozer after the catch, Deebo Samuel popped for a season-high 11-133-0 receiving line in his return from a hamstring injury. Samuel is averaging 13.0 expected PPR points in his four healthy games as an upside WR3 play, although faces more target competition moving forward with Brandon Aiyuk returning from the COVID-19 list. Both receivers are low-aDOT, YAC types that could cannibalize each other’s weekly floor. The more-experienced Samuel is the better bet to win out as Mullens’ go-to receiver. There’s a battle for No. 3 duties between natural slot man Kendrick Bourne and Richie James who led the Niners in routes last week. James offers more juice on tape. … After two slow weeks following his ankle injury, Jordan Reed emerged in Week 12 on 25-of-38 routes. Reed likely stays active as a route runner but targets will be tough to bank if Samuel and Aiyuk stay healthy. The Bills at least have allowed the most receptions to tight ends. …
An efficiency outlier with elite speed, Raheem Mostert is averaging 12.8 expected PPR points in healthy games as easily the Niners’ best early-down option. 17 of his 18 opportunities last week came on early downs with Jerick McKinnon handling all pass-first snaps. Mostert has RB2 potential against the Bills’ 27th-ranked rushing EPA defense despite rotating with two others. He has a touchdown or 75 total yards in all four healthy games. McKinnon is only averaging 8.4 expected PPR points with Mostert.
18. Chargers (23.0, +1) vs. NE
On pace to break the rookie touchdown record, Justin Herbert’s outlook improves with pass-game weapon Austin Ekeler healthy. The Chargers are 4th in pace and have been 6th in neutral pass rate over the last month, signs that Herbert can overcome the Patriots’ league-low pass attempts per game allowed (30.2). Herbert should have time in the pocket against the No. 28 adjusted sack rate defense as a near matchup-proof QB1. … Keenan Allen’s target share plummeted in Week 12 with Ekeler competing for underneath looks, but the Chargers pass-heavy approach and his chemistry with Herbert earned the benefit of the doubt as a PPR WR1. The Patriots are just 28th in passing EPA defense as they age out of elite play. Allen just may have to get there on 8-10 targets rather than the 11-15 targets he was seeing a few weeks back. Mike Williams is also pressed for targets as the primary vertical element on the perimeter. Because 23% of his targets are 20-plus yards downfield, Williams’ box scores are volatile. He’s a weekly boom-bust flex. … Hunter Henry is up to TE2 overall fantasy usage over the last month as a steady TE1 play regardless of matchup. Henry ran a route on 48-of-59 Week 12 dropbacks and hasn’t been affected by red zone vulture tight ends in recent weeks. Henry has a few weeks left before entering free agency. …
After medical and national beat reporter pessimism, Austin Ekeler returned to a bellcow role in Week 12 after beating initial return estimates. Ekeler led all players in expected PPR points last Sunday while seeing a career-high 16 targets. Herbert’s arm strength should help Ekeler find even more space underneath, giving Ekeler strong RB1 upside down the stretch if his hamstring holds up. Goal-line vulture Joshua Kelley is Ekeler’s other hurdle, as three of Kelley’s five Week 12 opportunities came inside the 10-yard line. The target workload should buoy Ekeler’s RB1 status even if he’s not the goal-line back.
19. Cardinals (22.75, +3) vs. LAR
Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury didn’t seem to bother his accuracy and arm strength in Week 12, but he did keep fewer read options and was more hesitant to scramble, possibly to protect himself. The Cardinals’ passing offense can’t afford to lose Murray’s rushing threat, especially with the Rams second in passing EPA defense. To overcome L.A.’s No. 2 ranking against fantasy quarterbacks, Murray must rebound as a rusher. Vegas’ modest 22.75-point team total suggests Murray is more mid-range QB1 than elite. … DeAndre Hopkins is the WR40 in fantasy usage over the last month as both Hopkins (ankle) and Murray (shoulder) have played through ailments. Hopkins’ talent is far too good to bench, but he’ll catch shadow coverage from CB Jalen Ramsey, the best and most physical corner in the NFL for my money. Hopkins deserves to be knocked down a tier in Week 13. Christian Kirk gets the easier individual matchup but has been limited to deep routes on the perimeter and the Rams’ defense is allowing the fifth shortest aDOT on defense because they can rush the passer. Kirk’s volatility limits him to flex consideration only. He hasn’t eclipsed five receptions all year. The third receiver will be Larry Fitzgerald if he’s active and Andy Isabella if he’s not. Isabella’s chest-using catch habits have rendered his sub-4.4 speed useless for most of his young career. …
After getting gushed relentlessly by Murray on read options, defenses are beginning to slide more eyes Murray’s way allowing Kenyan Drake to find more lanes in recent weeks. Drake looks more explosive post-injury and is coming off a season-high 30.3 expected PPR points in Week 12 on seven inside-the-10 opportunities. Drake has touchdown potential as a borderline RB1/2, but the Rams are fourth in rushing EPA defense and fifth against fantasy running backs. Drake also can’t afford to get into negative game script, which favors change-of-pace back Chase Edmonds who averages 10.4 expected PPR points with Drake.
20. Falcons (21.25, +3) vs. NO
After a shaky September, the Saints have rebounded defensively following the addition of LB Kwon Alexander and the improved health of DE Marcus Davenport, CB Marshon Lattimore, and CB Janoris Jenkins. The Saints are now 1st in adjusted sack rate and are allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Matt Ryan was swallowed by the Saints in Week 11 (0 TDs, 2 INTs) and needs Julio in the lineup to be counted on in standard leagues. The Falcons are only projected for 21.0 points at home, the fifth-lowest team total Atlanta has had at home since at least 2010. … Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (foot) were limited in practice Wednesday and are on track to play Week 13. Jones has been a weekly WR1 whenever healthy, averaging 16.8 expected PPR points in his five healthy contests. In a must-win game, Jones will likely be pushed to the limits as an obvious must-start in redraft. CB Marshon Lattimore hasn’t played well enough in 2020 to downgrade Jones. Calvin Ridley has at least 14.0 PPR points in all but one game, and he still has a mouthwatering ceiling even with Jones in the lineup. 27% of Ridley’s targets have been 20-plus air yards downfield as the primary vertical threat in the offense, and no team has been targeted 25-plus air yards downfield than the Saints, who run a lot of man coverage. CB Janoris Jenkins covered Ridley in two weeks and isn’t expected to play. Ridley is a quality WR1/2. … Hayden Hurst is fourth in tight end routes this season and is the TE10 in fantasy usage over the last month. He’s been a reliable underneath presence for Ryan but is only seeing 0.6 red zone targets per game, limiting his total ceiling. The Saints’ speed at linebacker with Kwon Alexander and Demario Davis pushes Hurst down to the TE1/2 border. He went catchless two weeks ago against them. …
The Saints are allowing the fourth fewest carries per game (22.0), rank 2nd in rushing EPA defense, and are the best defense against fantasy running backs by more than 1.7 points per game. Everything, including injury, is working against Todd Gurley in Week 13. Brian Hill has been eating into his three-down workload of late, and Gurley’s reliance on red zone scoring is diminished by the Falcons’ 21.25-point team total. Gurley is a mid-range RB2.
21. Jaguars (21.0, +10.5) @ MIN
Mike Glennon earned another start by keeping last week’s Browns game competitive with two touchdowns and no interceptions. On tape, Glennon is an upgrade over Jake Luton and should have a much easier time sustaining drives with multiple receivers expected back. The Vikings can’t rush the passer and relies on youth at corner, a combination that’s allowed the second most passing touchdowns in 2020. Glennon’s in-game benching risk keeps him in QB3 territory, although the path towards QB2 numbers is easy to envision here. … D.J. Chark (ribs) is trending in the right direction and falls into a mouthwatering matchup against a defense that’s allowing the third most fantasy points to receivers. Chark is the WR35 in fantasy usage over the last month on a respectable 24% target share. Chark is an upside WR3 if healthy. Slot man Keelan Cole and gadget rookie Laviska Shenault round out the starting lineup, but their usage (WR69 and WR78 over the last month) is nowhere near high enough for redraft consideration. Cole and Shenault have a combined three games of over 60 receiving yards in 2020. … Tyler Eifert is the TE18 in fantasy usage over the last month but has been largely ineffective (5.0 YPT). Eifert has just two games over 10.0 PPR points. …
James Robinson’s backfield domination is reaching unprecedented levels, especially with Chris Thompson on injured reserve. The rookie is averaging 16.9 expected PPR points per game while handling all early-down, passing-down, and red zone work to himself. Last week, he played on 97% of the offensive snaps. There’s nothing about the matchup to move Robinson out of top-eight fantasy rankings. In fact, the Jaguars’ 21-point team total this week is higher than usual.
22. Lions (21.0, +3) @ CHI
No Matt Patricia gives OC Darrell Bevell more control of the offense, and it’s much needed with Detroit ranking 31st in neutral pass rate over the last month. In 2019, Bevell issued a more vertical-based attack and should unleash Matthew Stafford down the stretch of 2020, especially if Kenny Golladay returns. Bevell has repeatedly mentioned more up-tempo as a way the offense will change. For this week, asking for much production is a tough ask in Chicago with the Bears only allowing four teams to reach 300 passing yards in the last two seasons. Stafford is a forgettable QB2 with the Lions only projected for 20.75 points. … After not practicing Wednesday, Kenny Golladay (hip) appears iffy to return, leaving Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola as the primary receivers. Jones is averaging 13.2 expected PPR points in starts without Golladay but catches a Bears Defense that’s allowing the third fewest points to fantasy receivers. Jones looks a step slower right now as a volume-based WR4. Amendola is only averaging 9.6 expected PPR points in non-Golladay games as a low-ceiling slot man. … T.J. Hockenson has at least five receptions in five of the last six games as a steady TE1 that hasn’t shown much of a ceiling yet despite being the No. 8 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Hockenson isn’t a full-time player mysteriously, although he could eventually benefit from Bevell’s intent on speeding up the offense. The Bears have oddly allowed the third most fantasy points to tight ends. Hockenson is locked into top-five positional rankings. …
D’Andre Swift (concussion) is expected back and immediately slides into the RB1/2 discussion. In his five games since the bye, Swift is averaging 15.7 expected PPR points, including a Week 11 game that left Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson to less than 10 snaps each. Swift has a three-down profile with an RB1 ceiling if used properly. The Bears not having run-stuffing DT Akiem Hicks helps his between-the-tackles outlook.
23. Jets (19.75, +7.5) vs. LV
Simply outplayed by Joe Flacco, Sam Darnold continues to look undeveloped behind the No. 28 offensive line in adjusted sack rate. Darnold’s weaponry is no longer an excuse and this week’s matchup won’t be either. The Raiders aren’t rushing the passer (31st in adjusted sack rate) and are potentially missing first-round CB Damon Arnette (concussion). Still, Darnold is more QB3 than QB2 with Vegas projecting New York for just 19.75 points. … Dating back to college, Darnold has locked onto slot receivers, but slot man Jamison Crowder is unlikely to repeat his early-season totals with far more competition on the perimeter. Over the last month, Crowder is the WR92 in fantasy usage while Denzel Mims has been the top receiver, even cracking the top 10 in targets over that span. Mims is doing enough on tape to believe in as a WR4 in this plus matchup. Breshad Perriman, who has 8.7 expected PPR points per game with Mims, is a more distant option right now and remains off the radar. …
Hellbent on padding Frank Gore’s career stats, coach Adam Gase ranks 29th in neutral pass rate over the last month and even gave Gore 20 early-down touches in last week’s defeat. With La’Mical Perine (ankle) out, Gore faces little to no competition at running back. The Raiders are 31st in rushing EPA defense and are fourth worst against fantasy running backs, making Gore a plug-your-nose RB3/flex.
24. Eagles (19.0, +9) @ GB
Broken beyond repair (at least for 2020), Carson Wentz enters Week 13 as the QB14 per game largely because of his scrambling and garbage-time stat padding. His offensive line is last in adjusted sack rate and will be without stud RT Lane Johnson for the rest of the season. Wentz isn’t seeing the field and has been so inaccurate that there’s now risk of an in-game benching. The Packers 2-high and quarters-heavy defense will keep things underneath, making Wentz a forgettable QB2 without much of a ceiling. … The Eagles are rotating five receivers right now, including the ghost of Alshon Jeffery who played as many snaps as Travis Fulgham in Week 12 for no reason at all. There’s not a 12-team fantasy starter at the moment, although Jalen Reagor could pop up down the stretch as a flex play. Reagor has done very little on his 10.9 expected PPR points since returning from his thumb injury. He’ll see some CB Jaire Alexander, too. Fulgham is droppable now that he’s the WR81 in fantasy usage over the last month. … Zach Ertz was activated off injured reserve, but the soon-to-be free agent is likely to be the new 1B to the younger, under contract Dallas Goedert. Over the last month, Goedert is the TE4 in fantasy usage, a stretch that includes Week 12’s season-high 18.3 expected PPR points. Goedert is a mid to low-end TE1 play even with Ertz returning and Green Bay allowing the fourth fewest receptions to tight ends. Richard “Dick Rod” Rodgers likely heads to the bench. …
Miles Sanders is not a bellcow. He’s dropped too many passes (8-of-27 catchable targets) and isn’t separating as a between-the-tackles runner behind this porous offensive line. That’s why Boston Scott is mixing in on passing downs and why the Eagles signed Jordan Howard. Sanders’ RB28 fantasy usage over the last month is reflective of his Week 13 RB2 ranking placement despite the Packers’ allowing the third most PPR points to running backs.
25. Giants (18.25, +10) @ SEA
A 34-year-old journeymen, Colt McCoy is averaging 5.8 yards per attempt across 91 attempts since 2018. He’s not a threat in any way with this coaching staff and offensive line. Even the Seahawks’ No. 27 passing EPA defense isn’t enough to start McCoy in two-quarterback leagues. The Giants are projected for just 18.25 points in this cross-country road matchup. … Since returning from injury, Sterling Shepard has averaged 13.3 expected PPR points as the Giants most reliable receiver within 20 yards. His ceiling is capped by his underneath role, and his floor could be erased with a backup quarterback. The only saving grace here is the fact that the Seahawks are allowing the most fantasy points to receivers on the most pass attempts allowed per game (47.5). Darius Slayton is averaging 7.1 expected PPR points per game in the five games with Shepard back and isn’t a scheme fit with McCoy as a primary vertical receiver. Slayton is the WR94 in fantasy usage over the last month. … Evan Engram is the TE6 in fantasy usage over the last month and is coming off his first 100-yard game of 2020. On paper, Engram is better with check-down artist McCoy than the scrambling Daniel Jones, but the lowly 18.25-point team total certainly limits Engram’s ceiling potential. The Seahawks have also been far stingier against tight ends (11th) than receivers (32nd) because they are strong at linebacker and safety while getting little from their corners. …
Coaching staff favorite Wayne Gallman is up to RB4 overall in fantasy usage over the last month while averaging 16.9 expected PPR points in his five starts without Devonta Freeman. Gallman is the goal-line back and top between-the-tackles ball carrier but is averaging just 2.2 receptions per game over that span. With the Seahawks allowing the third fewest carries per game and second most receptions per game to running backs, Gallman needs the third-down role to be a high-floor option. Last week, Gallman ceded passing-down work to Dion Lewis. Gallman is a RB2/3.
26. Broncos (18.25, +14) @ KC
Vegas has little respect for the Broncos at Arrowhead, only projecting the team for 18 points. Drew Lock has earned that pessimism by averaging 6.2 YPA across his career with just one touchdown per game in 2020. Garbage time production is Lock’s only hope of digging out of QB3 purgatory. … If we throw out the Week 12 game, Jerry Jeudy is the WR10 in fantasy usage over the last month. He’s seeing more air yards now that he’s playing outside receiver full time. Jeudy has had little issue getting open on tape but needs to clean up his drops and needs better quarterback play before becoming a consistent asset. Jeudy’s skill set and usage downfield keep the light on for his flex prospects. Tim Patrick (WR22 fantasy usage) is in a similar position as Jeudy, just with half of the skills. Second-round rookie receiver K.J. Hamler should pop for big plays down the stretch as a rare mover but can’t be counted on yet. … Arguably slowed by his nagging ankle injury, Noah Fant has zero touchdowns and one game above 50 yards since Week 2. His raw athleticism is hard to bench in the tight end wasteland, however, especially with game script on his side as 14-point dogs. Both Waller (7-88-1) and Gronkowski (6-106-0) lit up the Chiefs in the last two weeks. …
A knee injury to Phillip Lindsay clears Melvin Gordon for RB2 re-entry. In games without Lindsay, Gordon averaged 16.4 expected PPR points per game as a near every-down workhorse. Gordon should be moderately effective on the ground against the Chiefs’ 29th-ranked rushing EPA defense and will catch dump-offs in garbage time as a volume-based RB2. He had a 17-68-1 rushing line with 2-12-0 receiving in a blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 7.
27. Football Team (17.0, +10) @ PIT
Alex Smith has elevated the floor of the offense, but this will be his toughest test yet as the Steelers are first in passing EPA defense and have only allowed 13.4 fantasy points to quarterbacks (1st). Smith doesn’t want to take hits in the pocket, something that’s bound to happen behind the No. 29 offensive line against the No. 2 defensive line in adjusted sack rate. Smith’s dink-and-dunk approach doesn’t mesh well with Pittsburgh’s blitz-heavy scheme. … Aside from the Jalen Ramsey game, Terry McLaurin has double digit PPR points in all contests as a possession receiver averaging 94 air yards per game. Volume won’t be a concern as 10-point road dogs and perimeter CBs Joe Haden and Steven Nelson aren’t lock-down threats. McLaurin is a strong WR2. The Football Team is rotating Cam Sims and Dontrelle Inman as the second boundary receiver with Isaiah Wright and Steven Sims rotating in the slot on Thanksgiving. … Logan Thomas is the TE11 in fantasy usage over the last month and ran a route on every single Week 12 dropback in Week 12. Volume isn’t an issue for his TE2 value but efficiency, projected red zone opportunities, and the Steelers’ No. 2 tight end defense are. Washington is only projected for 17 points. …
Antonio Gibson’s athleticism has taken over ballgames recently and his role continues to grow with more experience. On Thanksgiving, Gibson ran more routes (19) than J.D. McKissic (12) and severely out-targeted him, seven to two. If this trend holds, Gibson could flirt with RB1/2 numbers down the stretch as a bellcow in a fast-paced, well-coached offense. Gibson’s Week 13 issue is the Steelers Defense that’s allowing the fifth fewest carries per game (22.1) and third fewest fantasy points to running backs per game. McKissic is much harder to trust after last week’s role change, even in negative game script.
28. Bengals (15.5, +11.5) @ MIA
The Bengals passing attack has no chance with Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley under center. Vegas only projects Cincy for 15.25 points against Miami who blitzes at top-five levels and does an excellent job disguising looks pre-snap. With the Bengals league-worst offensive line and zero continuity at quarterback, the Dolphins Defense projects for lots of turnover opportunities. … The offense can likely only sustain one fantasy receiver at this point with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd being the only realistic options. Higgins is a better bet to beat the Dolphins’ man-heavy offense, but that is a tough ask with Miami ranking third in passing EPA defense on the backs of quality play from outside CBs Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. The rookie receiver needs a big play to be a WR4 while Boyd hunts for garbage time check downs as a low-ceiling WR4/5 in the better individual matchup. …
Giovani Bernard isn’t playing at starter levels, plays behind an atrocious offensive line with a backup quarterback, and no longer projects for an RB1 workload. Bernard only reached 8.1 expected PPR points last week with the team tanking and mixing in Samaje Perine. Bernard is a flex play only and comes with a minimal ceiling.
Cowboys (not posted yet) @ BAL
Andy Dalton is averaging 228 yards and 1.67 touchdowns in three healthy starts as a QB2 streamer in good matchups and a QB3 in tough ones. The Ravens certainly qualify as the latter (5th in passing EPA defense), especially with Dalton missing plug-in LT Cameron Erving and star RT Zack Martin to injuries. … In the three games with Dalton, Amari Cooper has separated as the top receiver on 14.4 expected PPR points per game. He’ll match up against CB Marcus Peters on the perimeter, while slot man CeeDee Lamb faces more CB Marlon Humphrey. Lamb is averaging 12.1 expected PPR points with Dalton as a PPR flex, a status aided by the Cowboys No. 2 offensive pace. Michael Gallup continues to see a large chunk of his targets near the sideline (87%) and 20-plus air yards down field (18%) as the Dallas receiver in the hardest, most volatile role. It will be even harder to complete those deep targets with backup’s backups at both starting offensive tackle spots. The Ravens are top-eight against fantasy receivers this season. … Thanks to constant negative game script, Dalton Schultz is the TE9 in fantasy usage over the last month as a steady TE2 option with a limited ceiling. He’s averaging just 3.7 receptions and 30.4 yards with one touchdown in seven games after Dak’s injury. He’ll be a hot-read check-down artist against the Ravens’ blitz-heavy defense. …
In addition to having a far lower touchdown projection post-Dak, Ezekiel Elliott’s workload, particularly as a pass-catcher, has been nearly cut in half while playing with backup quarterbacks. Without Dak, Elliott’s targets per game has dropped from 6.4 to 3.7 and his expected PPR points per game has dropped from 24.4 to 14.9. The $90 Million Fumble King will be a low-floor RB2 behind this ragged offensive line. Tony Pollard is mostly mixing in on passing downs but is well off the redraft radar.
Ravens (not posted yet) vs. DAL
Best Bets of Week 13
Visit our live odds page. My all-time record: 77-63-3 (54.9%).
Coming Friday Night.
Charts of the Week
It’s no surprise that the Chiefs are projected for the most points of the week, but it’s interesting that only the Titans are in a similar tier in terms of projected points and plays per minute. The Vikings, Seahawks, and Packers are projected for lots of points on few plays. On the flip side, the Cowboys and Cardinals are in questionable spots that likely can be saved by uptempo offensive play.
This chart compares each offense’s average pass attempts per game to their opponent’s defensive pass attempts allowed per game. Teams at the top are projected for more pass attempts than usual because of matchups, while teams at the bottom are projected for fewer pass attempts. The Browns and Titans game could go overlooked.
None of the elite passing offenses are in true eruption spots, but the Chiefs, Packers, and Titans are projected for the most efficient aerial attacks of the week. We can also expect the Vikings and Raiders to have above-average games through the air. The Cardinals matchup with the Rams projects to be one of the hardest of the year, particularly if Kyler Murray is limited by his throwing shoulder injury.
The offenses at the top are projected for more rush attempts because of matchup. That’s great news for David Montgomery, David Johnson, James Robinson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and Aaron Jones, and bad news for the Saints’ and Patriots’ duos.
Injuries across the offensive line could limit some of the appeal, but the Titans’ and Ravens’ rushing games are in eruption spots against the Browns and Cowboys. J.K. Dobbins was emerging as the clear lead back before going on the COVID-19 list. Derrick Henry has 150-yard upside once again.
Neutral pass rate is how often a team passes on early downs removing garbage time and the two-minute drill. The Bills, Steelers, and Chiefs have all but eliminated the ground game over the last month, while the Patriots, Lions, Jets, Eagles, Titans, Browns, and Raiders have steered towards the ground game. Expect the Lions to begin evening out with Matt Patricia out of the building.
The Steelers, Saints, and Packers are in a tier of their own in terms of projected sack rate and projected points allowed. I’d argue that the Dolphins are closer to this tier than the rest of the league with the Jets clearly tanking for Trevor Lawrence. I’d sit the Browns, Football Team, 49ers, and Broncos if I had them in season-long formats.