Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: NO, TB, BAL, IND, KC, SF, GB, DAL
Page 2: ARI, NYG, LAR, MIN, CHI, CLE, TEN, NYJ
Page 3: CAR, SEA, PIT, DET, BUF, ATL, CIN, MIA
TNF: OAK, LAC
Byes: DEN, HOU, JAX, NE, PHI, WAS
Panthers (20.5, 5.5) @ GB
Kyle Allen had some love from #QBWinz truthers earlier in the season, but he’s simply not good. In fact, he’s so bad that I want the Panthers to put in rookie Will Grier. Anyways, the Packers Defense has negatively regressed recently, but the Panthers Offense runs through this CMC cat. Allen is, at best, a low-end QB2 with the Panthers projected for 20.5 points on the road. … Christian McCaffrey is literally on pace to break fantasy records this season. He’s the RB1 overall every week, especially against the Packers who are in the bottom 16th percentile against fantasy running backs.
Curtis Samuel is fifth in air yards (932), third in 20+ yard targets, and has the third-highest team share of red-zone targets (33%). In terms of volume, Samuel is borderline elite, but Allen’s struggles have made Samuel a boom-or-bust WR3. Luckily for Samuel, the Packers are in the bottom 25th percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays, and he’ll run some routes against CB CB Kevin King has allowed the most receiving yards per coverage snap per PFF. … D.J. Moore is far more consistent week to week because he’s targeted closer to the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t have as much upside with Samuel hogging downfield and red zone looks. In fact, D.J. Moore has fewer red-zone targets (3) than Antonio Brown (4). Still, Moore is averaging 5.6 receptions and 70 yards as a fantasy WR2. … Since beating the Cardinals flow chart defense, Greg Olsen is averaging 2.2 receptions and 22 yards in his last five games. Olsen is a touchdown-dependent TE2 on a team that doesn’t score many touchdowns.
Steelers (20, +3.5) vs. LAR
I’m not playing Mason Rudolph this season, especially with the Rams’ above-average defense coming to town. Rudolph is averaging 195 yards and 1.6 touchdowns in his five starts. … James Conner (shoulder) isn’t likely to play, so we should see Jaylen Samuels draw another start. Samuels is not a traditional running back, which actually helps him in fantasy. Dating back to the end of last year, Samuels is averaging 12.5 carries and 6.25 receptions in his four starts, and he had an eight-catch game three weeks ago when he didn’t start. His reception projection makes him a strong RB1/2, especially with backups Benny Snell and Trey Edmunds also banged up. Samuels is basically a true bellcow this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster’s efficiency stats remain near career averages, but he’s averaging just 4.1 receptions per game this season after a nice 6.9 season in 2018. That’s what happens with a backup quarterback. JuJu can still single-handedly break off a big play, but the Rams Defense is also in the 13th percentile at preventing 20+ yard passes. JuJu is a WR3. … James Washington has more air yards than Diontae Johnson in back-to-back games, but neither is more than WR5 dart throws when everyone is healthy. … Vance McDonald is only catching the ball right next to the line of scrimmage, and he has limited touchdown equity with the Steelers projected to score 20 points.
Lions (19.5, +2.5) @ CHI
Update: Matthew Stafford is out and Driskel is the backup, so everyone needs to be dropped quite significantly.
Matthew Stafford is averaging five more pass attempts per game in his last three games, which lines up with Kerryon Johnson’s injury. It appears that the Lions will use Stafford a lot down the stretch, something they should be doing since he has a career-high 8.6 YPA and 70 QBR. The matchup in Chicago is somewhat difficult, but these aren’t the same Bears we are used to and this isn’t the same conservative Lions Offense. Stafford needs to be slightly downgraded with Vegas only projecting 19.5 points for Detroit, but I like Stafford as a low-end QB1 still. He’s a contrarian DFS tournament option, too. … Ty Johnson led the backfield in carries (9) while tying J.D. McKissic with three receptions last week. This is primarily a two-man backfield, but Paul Perkins also had two carries. I think those touch totals are good projections for this week, making Johnson a low-end flex option who needs to find the end zone to pay off. The Lions would be smart to completely scrap the rushing attack except in short-area situations.
With Stafford slinging the ball downfield more than ever, we are seeing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones at their best. Golladay’s average depth of target has increased by 3.1 yards this season, which has helped vault him inside the top three in air yards this season. Babytron is on pace for 1,280 yards and 14 TDs as an upside WR1/2. Heading into Chicago is less than ideal (see bar chart above), but it’s not scary enough to drop him much in Week 10 rankings. Golladay is an upside WR2 with a 7-10 target projection. … Marvin Jones has been the best red-zone receiver this season, scoring six red zone touchdowns on 10 red-zone targets. There’s no way he can keep that up, but he’s still a high-touchdown projection because he’s targeted in the red zone and downfield often. The Bears are in the top 17th percentile at preventing 20+ yard plays, so I’m not expecting a ceiling game. With that said, Jones’ targets and air yards (see above chart) keep him as an upside WR3. … Danny Amendola is a sneaky flex option as Stafford’s No. 3 receiver, but that’s not this week. … T.J. Hockenson has averaged 2.3 receptions and 23 yards since Week 1. He has been slightly more involved post-Kerryon, but he’s still a touchdown-dependent TE2 who typically sees fewer than 50 air yards and six targets. The Bears are also in the top 10th percentile against fantasy tight ends.
Seahawks (20.5, +6) @ SF
The 49ers defense is pretty good, but I think most are overrating this unit. San Francisco hasn’t played a single top-15 quarterback (Kyler Murray, Kyle Allen, Case Keenum, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston) in The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin’s predictive EPA+CPOE composite metric and defensive efficiency statistics largely depend on the offenses they’ve faced. I’d much rather bet on MVP candidate Russell Wilson than a defense that’s faced nobody. Wilson is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback and gets to incorporate Josh Gordon into the lineup as his No. 3 receiver. If the Hawks fall behind like Vegas projects, we should actually see Russ throw the ball with some volume. I’m keeping Wilson in the top eight at the position despite the perceived terrible matchup. … The Niners’ defensive line has a lot of talent, which has led them to be first in adjusted sack rate. But they aren’t nearly as awesome against the run; PFF has them as the No. 29 run defense and DVOA has them as a below-average run defense. I’m not very concerned that Chris Carson won’t run efficiently in this matchup (he’s leading the NFL in yards after contact), but I am slightly concerned about volume. The 49ers are 27th in rush attempts allowed (22 on average) because they have a clock-draining offense and are often leading (SF is a 6-point favorite here). Carson should still see 15-20 touches, but I’m viewing him as more of a low-end RB1 than a stud RB1 for this week. … Rashaad Penny is basically just a handcuff to Carson.
For the reasons I laid out above, I like Tyler Lockett as an underrated play in DFS tournaments. Lockett is seeing lots of volume when the Seahawks are trailing (Week 3 vs. NO, Week 9 vs. TB) and Vegas projects that to happen this week. Lockett should see 6-10 targets, and he’s averaging 10.7 yards per target this season. Lockett remains in the upside WR1/2 conversation despite the 49ers checking in as PFF’s No. 2 pass coverage defense. … D.K. Metcalf also sees extra usage while trailing, and he gets the softest WR/CB matchup with Emmanuel Moseley, who is four inches shorter, 44 pounds lighter, and 0.14 slower (forty) than Metcalf. Metcalf remains an upside WR3. … Josh Gordon is more likely to be on a snap count than be a full-time player. Gordon isn’t a recommended play this week -- I think he’ll face CB Richard Sherman on most snaps -- and should be a low-volume dart throw when fully acclimated to the offense. … Jacob Hollister, not Luke Willson, is the tight end to know for fantasy on the Hawks. Hollister has six targets in 2-of-3 games and even scored two touchdowns last week. There are worse tight end dart throws than Hollister, who is at least tied to Russ Wilson.
Bills (19, +2.5) @ CLE
Josh Allen always has volume concerns in this offense, but this week is even more concerning with the Browns defense allowing the fifth-fewest pass attempts per game (31). Allen will need to get going with his legs to be a worthwhile start, which is always possible given his athleticism, but I’m agreeing with Vegas’ 19.25-point team total. There is a mismatch in the trenches favoring Myles Garrett and the Browns (see sack rate above), so Allen is more of a QB2 than QB1/2 streamer. … Last week, Devin Singletary took over the backfield by seeing a season-high 20 carries, while Frank Gore was limited to 15 yards on 11 carries. It’s safe to project Singletary for 12-16 carries against the Browns, who are PFF’s No. 30 run defense and have allowed the fifth-most rush attempts per game (29), but Singletary needs the goal-line role to reach weekly ceilings. Right now, Frank Gore has taken 64% of the Bills’ inside-the-five carries and was subbed in near the goal-line last week, even when Singletary was balling out. Gore did fail multiple times and Singletary did have a late goal-line touchdown, so I do think Singletary earned more goal-line reps but worth monitoring. Singletary is an RB2 while Gore belongs on fantasy benches.
John Brown has fewer red-zone targets than Antonio Brown, which partially explains why he only has two touchdowns despite 603 receiving yards. Brown should score more touchdowns in the second half of the season because he’s consistently seeing WR2 usage as an intermediate and deep target. Brown somehow has at least 4 receptions and 51 yards in all 8 games, which gives him a decent floor to pair with his upside tied to positive touchdown regression. Brown is on the WR2/3 borderline. … Cole Beasley has touchdowns in three straight games, but we aren’t starting low-ceiling slot receivers on the road when they are averaging 4.4 receptions per game. … Dawson Knox is no longer a TE streamer with Tyler Kroft playing.
Falcons (19, +13) @ NO
With the Falcons non-existent defense and running game forcing the offense into pass-heavy scripts, Matt Ryan is filling up the box score and is arguably an every-week QB1. Despite missing one game and already having his bye week, Matty Ice is leading in 300-yard passing games (6). Vegas expects the Falcons to only score 19 points this week, but Ryan still offers a decent floor as a low-end QB1. … The Saints are PFF’s No. 3 run defense and have allowed the second-fewest rush attempts per game (20). Devonta Freeman isn’t likely going to put up great numbers on the ground, but Freeman is averaging 4.4 receptions and 34 receiving yards this season. While trailing heavily in Week 8, Freeman posted an 8-63-0 receiving line. His receiving projection keeps him in the mix as an RB2, but it’ll be very hard for him to reach a ceiling this week.
I always find my buddy Ian Hartitz’s WR/CB column very informative, but his breakdown of the ATL/NO game was especially good. Hartitz notes the Saints have used stud CB Marshon Lattimore on Calvin Ridley while using a No. 2 corner (this time CB Eli Apple) and a safety over the top on Julio Jones. Hartitz also notes that both receivers balled out when this happened. Okay, back to the Forecast… It’s more of the same for Julio Jones this season. He’s on pace for 100 receptions, 1,424 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Julio is an every-week WR1 with elite usage (No. 4 in air yards). Not much to say about him. … The Mohamed Sanu trade should make Calvin Ridley a more consistent WR2/3 because he should see 1-2 more targets per game and could eventually see more slot snaps. Another place for improvement is in the red zone, where Ridley has fewer targets (3) than Antonio Brown (4), but we shouldn’t expect more red-zone usage in a game where the Falcons are projected for 19 points. Ridley is a WR3. … Russell Gage is the new No. 3 receiver. … Austin Hooper has been hyper-efficient in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 5-of-9 red-zone targets. But even without his touchdown luck, Hooper has been a stud TE1. He’s on pace for 104 receptions, 1,182 yards, and 10 touchdowns. With the Saints in the bottom 22nd percentile against tight ends and with Sanu gone, continue to fire up Hooper as a top-five TE1.
Bengals (17.25, +10) vs. BAL
The Andy Dalton Era is over. Enter fourth-round rookie QB Ryan Finley, who had a very similar NFL projection to Daniel Jones per my NFL Draft analytics model. At NC State in 2018, Finley had a top 10 passing EPA season as an accurate passer, but he was a redshirt senior. I think he’s better than most fourth-round quarterbacks, but fourth-round quarterbacks usually suck. Finley isn’t a recommended 2-QB start with the Bengals projected for 17.25 points. … The Ravens defense has allowed the fewest rush attempts per game (19), and Joe Mixon was already only seeing 12.6 carries per game. Mixon has limited touchdown and pass-game equity, too, so Mixon is merely a low-floor, low-ceiling flex option, even if the Ravens have struggled to stop the run (see above chart).
A.J. Green (ankle) won’t be playing this week -- I think he just doesn’t want to play this season -- so we’ll have another week of Tyler Boyd (slot), Auden Tate, and Alex Erickson. All three receivers have had decent volume recently, but we can’t expect Finley to pass as often as Dalton. Tate is my favorite of the three because he’s clearly leading in air yards in the last three games (see air yards above) and because he’s due for positive touchdown regression -- Tate has 13 red-zone targets with just one red zone touchdown. Tate is a decent flex option considering six teams are on bye. … Tyler Boyd has had consistent WR2/3 usage, but he’s a low-ceiling fantasy asset given his low average depth of target and the status of the offense in general. The last time Boyd played Baltimore, underrated CB Marlon Humphrey held him to 10 yards on 7 targets. Boyd is barely a flex play this week. … Alex Erickson is a volume-based WR5 with no floor. Not really trying to use Finley’s No. 3 receiver in his debut though. … Tyler Eifert had a season-high nine targets last week while trailing against the Rams, but he’s averaging 2.9 receptions and 24 yards this season. Eifert has a career-low 5.8 YPT. He’s a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Dolphins (16.75, +10.5) @ IND
Ryan Fitzpatrick can actually have serviceable fantasy weeks because he throws the ball deep often, but the Colts’ run-heavy offense should limit Fitzpatrick’s volume and he no longer has Preston Williams. … Mark Walton played at least 50 snaps in the two games without Kenyan Drake, but he’s now suspended. Kalen Ballage and rookie Myles Gaskin are expected to take over the backfield in one of the most uninspiring committees in NFL history. Even against PFF’s No. 31 run defense, neither are fantasy starters. Here was my 250 characters or fewer scouting report on Gaskins: “Four-straight seasons with 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns is a ton of production, but it’s tough to move past his small frame and poor advanced metrics. Gaskin needed to run faster than 4.58 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His path is as a pass-catcher.”
Preston Williams (knee, IR) leaves behind 30% of Miami’s air yards and 21% of targets. When Williams was easing into the lineup in the first two weeks of the season, DeVante Parker had his two highest air yard games, which makes sense because they win in similar ways -- Parker has a 14.8 average depth of target and Williams was at 13.2, both operating as deep targets. Parker, who is already top 20 in air yards, will likely have WR2 usage without Williams. Efficiency on this Dolphins team is awful, but I like Parker as a WR3. … Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Allen Hurns will have more opportunity as well, but they are all purely wait-and-see options. … Mike Gesicki, who is a 97th percentile SPARQ athlete, also could get interesting. The second-year tight end set a season-high in routes run last week and had his second-highest air yards game. Gesicki is a touchdown-dependent TE2, who has some minor breakout potential.