Sunday, Feb 2nd — Early
Bye Week:
49ers
Bears
Bengals
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
Chiefs
Colts
Cowboys
Dolphins
Eagles
Falcons
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Panthers
Patriots
Raiders
Rams
Ravens
Redskins
Saints
Seahawks
Steelers
Texans
Titans
Vikings

Week 11 Player Grid

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This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.

Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.

FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom

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TIER 1

Quarterback

There are a lot of quarterbacks to like this week — and realistically, I would not be against the idea of playing any of the Tier 3 quarterbacks on a Main Build this week over these guys. The two listed here carry the highest floor/ceiling combo, but all of the guys in Tier 3 carry just as much point-per-dollar upside, and it won’t be surprising if two or three players from that group outscore the players up top.

  • Carson Wentz // Cam Newton :: It’s very, very close for me between Wentz and Cam — and given Wentz’ price on FanDuel (12.83% of the salary cap — not only $900 cheaper than salary leader Cam, but also cheaper than three of the Tier 3 guys), he especially stands out there. On DraftKings, there is only $100 separating the price tags of these two, and there is almost nothing that separates expectations. I lean slightly toward Cam for his higher rushing upside (Wentz has not topped 28 rushing yards this year on his surgically repaired knee; Cam has topped 28 rushing yards in all but one game), but I don’t expect we can go wrong with either. Each guy has a good matchup; each guy has looked great lately; and each guy should account for most of (if not all of) his team’s touchdowns.
  • Bonus :: Drew Brees is very clearly in the same class as Cam and Wentz; I prefer the other two myself, but I would have no qualms with replacing one or the other with Brees.

Running Back

There are at least four running backs in Tiers 2 and 3 (David Johnson, Christian McCaffrey, Kerryon Johnson, and Dion Lewis) who could also have a case made for this tier — but when I read the NFL Edge on Thursday and built my notes and my initial Player Grid, these were the guys who stood out the most. No Gurley or Hunt on this slate, but there is still plenty to like at fantasy’s most consistently fruitful position.

  • Saquon Barkley :: Saquon has at least 22 touches in six of nine games this year, and he has not yet fallen shy of 19 touches. The Giants are the pass-heaviest offense in the NFL, which has led to target counts for Saquon this year of 6 // 16 // 5 // 8 // 4 // 12 // 10 // 10 // 5. He would have a very, very difficult time failing in this spot, and I expect the Giants’ offense (which has struggled in the red zone all season) to see a noticeable boost against the league’s 32nd-ranked red zone defense.
  • Ezekiel Elliott :: From this week’s NFL Edge :: “Since Week 3, Zeke has only one game below 21 touches, and he has gone for 25 or more touches in four of his last six games. This week, he’ll take on an Atlanta defense that has allowed the most running back receptions in the league, with the second worst YPC allowed and the third most running back touchdowns allowed.” That just about says all that needs to be said in this spot. Zeke pairs a strong floor with a strong ceiling.
  • Bonus :: Melvin Gordon is very clearly in the same class as Zeke and Saquon; I prefer the other two myself, but I would have no qualms with replacing one or the other with Gordon.

Wide Receiver

This is one of my favorite wide receiver weeks on the season, as there are several guys to really like at the high end of the price range (with all of these guys even rivaling the high-priced running backs this week), and there is also a set of talented, cheaper wide receivers with a target projection of (at least) eight to 10. Going off the board at one or two wide receiver spots will be an interesting way to differentiate in tourneys — but on paper, these plays stand out above the rest.

  • Corey Davis :: Ten targets is a genuinely fair projection here, with the only obvious concern being the inconsistency of the Mariota-to-Davis connection. No one will be happier than me if Davis pops off in this spot (I took an inordinately large percentage of sixth-round Corey Davis in Best Ball this year), but we also shouldn’t be surprised if he lands at something like 6-70-0. As his price, that’s still a strong floor. We saw last week what his ceiling can look like.
  • Kenny Golladay :: When Marvin Jones went down last week, Matthew Stafford essentially rolled all of the “Jones/Golladay” targets toward Golladay alone. The Panthers will obviously try to scheme Golladay out of this game and force Stafford to go elsewhere, but 10+ targets remains a fair projection, and he’ll carry strong price-considered floor and big upside on these looks.
  • Amari Cooper :: It’s close among Davis // Golladay // Cooper — but while I like the talent on the other two a bit more, I like the matchup the most for Amari. As noted in this week’s NFL Edge :: Atlanta’s defense has allowed the fourth most points per game, the third most yards per game, the highest drive success rate, the third highest red zone touchdown rate, and the third most touchdowns to wide receivers. Amari should make a push for double-digit targets once again.
  • Julio Jones :: Julio is the likeliest to draw low ownership from this group, as he has the toughest on-paper matchup against a Dallas defense that has allowed only 12 passing touchdowns (the third lowest mark in the league) — but the Falcons are going to throw, Julio is going to see his nine or more targets (he has finished shy of nine targets only once, and he has four games of 12+ looks), and he has been producing all season without touchdowns. Julio is the “least safe” play of the bunch, but his slate-winning upside still leaves a lot to like.
  • Odell Beckham :: He has topped 100 yards in every game this year in which he has caught eight passes, and he has at least nine targets in every game this year. The Bucs allow the highest catch rate in the NFL. They are also the worst red zone defense in the league. OBJ pops as a safe, high-upside bet in Week 11.
  • DeAndre Hopkins :: Teams have essentially refused to run on the Redskins this year, as only two teams in the NFL have faced a higher opponent pass play rate. The Texans have recently been one of the run-heaviest teams in football — but as Deshaun Watson continues to regain health after his early-season chest injury, it seems likely that Houston begins to shift back toward the pass. If Nuk sees 11+ targets this week (he has five such games this season), he could prove to be the on-field equivalent of the man-on-fire GIF.
  • Bonus :: Michael Thomas is very clearly in the same class as Julio, OBJ, and Nuk Hopkins; with price considered, I prefer the other three myself, but I would have no qualms with replacing one with Thomas. Julio would be the easiest guy to replace, but with Thomas so touchdown-reliant (three games of 100+ yards, compared to six for Julio, five for OBJ, and four for Nuk), and with touchdowns being higher-variance bets, Thomas remains down here for me. Obviously, he remains a top play.

TIER 2

Running Back

  • Kerryon Johnson :: This is not the greatest matchup, against a team that opponents generally avoid attacking on the ground (fifth fewest rush attempts faced in the league), but Kerryon has run 49 pass routes and seen 11 targets across the last two weeks, while out-snapping LeGarrette Blount 94 to 20. With Blount finally (mercifully) behind Kerryon, and with Theo Riddick playing half his snaps at wide receiver, another four to six catches is a fair bet for the Lions’ future-superstar rookie, and he should top 20 touches against a Carolina defense that has allowed the second highest opponent red zone touchdown rate in the NFL.
  • Christian McCaffrey :: McCaffrey has topped 17 carries only one time this season, and he has topped 14 carries in only three of nine games. And while most would say, “Yeah, but his pass game role…” — CMC’s 63 targets on the year are 13 fewer than Saquon (whose carry counts are similar), and even with a 15-target game on his ledger, CMC has only 15 more targets than Zeke, with a whopping 45 fewer carries. But enough with the reasons why CMC isn’t in Tier 1! He’s in Tier 2 for me (safe play, with a lower shot at upside than the Tier 1 plays) because it is going to be difficult for him to disappoint in this spot, with this role. He’s less likely than the Tier 1 guys to strike gold — but he’s still capable of doing so, and his floor provides nice stability for any roster.
  • Dion Lewis :: Dion Lewis is almost guaranteed 19+ touches at this point, and as long as the Colts play a more competitive game than the Patriots, this should include three to five receptions. At Lewis’ price, then, I’m actually a bit surprised he didn’t find his way into Tier 1 for me. He’s on the borderline, for sure — but on a team whose offensive line ranks 26th in adjusted line yards, against an Indy run defense that ranks 10th in adjusted line yards and seventh in yards allowed per carry, there are still some paths for Lewis to fail to reach his upside. He played over 75% of the snaps in a blowout win last week, so his workload is secure, giving him a really strong floor for his price. The upside is obviously still present as well, making him a valuable all-around play.
  • Theo Riddick :: This is a DraftKings special, as Riddick is essentially the best “underpriced wide receiver” on the slate for PPR scoring. Riddick has averaged 42.5 snaps per game the last two weeks, with half of these snaps coming in the slot. Minus Golden Tate, Riddick’s workload is locked in, giving him a safe floor. From a “ceiling” perspective, it is worth noting that (ready for this one?) only two of Riddick’s 15 targets have come more than three yards downfield. Those two targets? — came four yards downfield and six yards downfield. He’ll need a broken play or a touchdown for upside.

Wide Receiver

  • Alshon Jeffery :: Alshon topped 100 yards against Tennessee in Week 4 — and that was the first time he had done so in an Eagles uniform. While he theoretically could pop off for a big yardage game here, you cannot bet on that — which leaves him as a strong floor play in a good matchup, but reliant on touchdowns for his ceiling. He’s a safe piece this week, with a thinner chance of popping for upside.

Tight End

  • Zach Ertz :: Against what has been one of the two or three toughest tight end defenses across the last two seasons, it is less likely than normal that we see Ertz pop off for one of his truly monster games; but given his role in this offense, and given the connection he and Wentz have, he should be about as safe as they come at tight end, keeping him very much in the conversation this week.
  • James O’Shaughnessy :: If the O’Shaug Dog hits a touchdown this week, we’re just getting lucky. Realistically, O’Shaughnessy cannot be rostered with any true hope of capturing ceiling — but four to six targets is a reasonable bet here, and somewhere in the range of six to 10 full PPR points is a reasonable expectation. This is a play for DraftKings and FantasyDraft, where the savings at tight end can really open up a lot. If the popular mid-range tight ends land on the lower end of their range, O’Shaug could easily end up as a better point-per-dollar play while creating valuable savings for other spots.

TIER 3

Quarterback

  • Deshaun Watson :: Watson is always in play in tourneys — and this Washington pass defense has been ripped to shreds the last month and a half, allowing (beginning with the most recent) 406 yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick, 350 yards to Matt Ryan, 316 yards to Eli Manning, 273 yards to Dak Prescott, 275 yards to Cam Newton, and 363 yards to Drew Brees across their last six games. The only thing keeping Watson out of the top tier for me is the recent run-heavy nature of this offense (Watson has not topped 25 pass attempts through four consecutive games, and this team ranks 29th in pass play rate on the year) — but if he sees his pass attempts rise against this defense that teams rarely attack on the ground, he has a shot at posting the top score on the slate.
  • Matt Ryan :: As noted in this week’s NFL Edge :: Matt Ryan has quietly been playing at a near-MVP level, with 300+ yards in six of his last seven games (he had 285 yards in his other game in that stretch), and with recent passing touchdown totals of 5 // 3 // 1 // 3 // 1 // 4 // 2. He has accounted for three or more touchdowns in four of his five home games. The only thing keeping him out of Tier 1 (and it’s a thin concern) is that Dallas could slow down this game just enough for Matty’s counting stats to fall shy of Wentz and Cam.
  • Andrew Luck :: The matchup sucks, but Luck has passed for three or more touchdowns in six consecutive games (a stretch that includes games against Buffalo and Jacksonville) — an astonishing run that is somehow going largely unnoticed. Given the matchup, Luck’s floor is lower than other guys in this range, but his ceiling keeps him in the tourney conversation.
  • Dak Prescott :: Dak has thrown the ball 30+ times in three straight games (after notching only one such game through his first six contests), and he has also seen a recent rise in usage on the ground. That’s enough to keep him in the “upside” conversation against a poor Atlanta defense, in a game the Falcons will hopefully be leading.
  • Eli Manning :: Given how much this team passes (first in the NFL in pass play rate) and how bad the Bucs’ pass defense is, it will genuinely be a surprise if Eli falls shy of 300 passing yards. The question, then, becomes: does he toss only one touchdown here? Or does he push two or three balls into the end zone? Tampa ranks dead last in red zone touchdown defense. The Giants rank 30th in red zone touchdown offense.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick :: The red zone woes could continue this week against a Giants team that ranks third in red zone touchdown defense — but “Tampa QB” has, incredibly, thrown for 365+ yards in seven of nine games. If the Bucs can add some touchdowns here, Fitz could be magic.

Running Back

  • James Conner :: A bet on workload against a very tough defense. This play carries a lower-than-normal floor, but the ceiling remains intact.
  • Leonard Fournette :: Only two teams in the NFL have allowed fewer rushing yards to running backs than the Steelers — but this is more a function of game flow (Pittsburgh lowers the league-average rush attempts per game by nearly 16%) than it is of matchup (the Steelers rank middle of the pack in yards allowed per carry). Fournette saw 29 touches last week (think about that for a second…), on only 39 snaps (think about that as well…). He should see more snaps this weeks, and the Jags clearly plan to ride him. This play could go off the rails if game flow breaks the wrong way, but if the Jags can keep this game relatively close, Fournette has a shot to be a legitimate difference-maker this week.
  • Mark Ingram // Alvin Kamara :: These two should combine for somewhere in the range of 28 to 35 touches, and touchdown upside in this offense keeps both guys very much in play in the “upside” conversation. This matchup sets up better for Kamara, but with a lower guaranteed touch total than some of the other guys up top, he’s more “ceiling” than “floor/ceiling” this week. Obviously, I have a soft spot for Ingram as well in this offense, and at the very least I will have a bit of action on him in large-field tourneys.
  • David Johnson :: The Cardinals have topped 18 points only once this year; they are averaging under 240 total yards per game; and they rank 32nd in yards per carry and in run offense DVOA. With that said: DJ could not ask for a better matchup; he has accounted for literally half of his team’s touchdowns; and he should see another 18+ carries and four or five targets. His floor in this offense is thinner than some of the guys within striking range of his price, but his ceiling is clearly as strong as any.

Wide Receiver

  • Antonio Brown :: The heavy volume should be there as the Steelers search for ways to move the ball against this stingy D. The floor is lower than normal, but the ceiling remains — and with so many other guys to like at the top end of the price range, AB will go overlooked. He’s in the tourney conversation.
  • Sterling Shepard :: Shepard could ship you a tourney at low ownership if he’s able to take advantage of his targets the way he did a few weeks ago in a similar matchup against the Falcons. He has a broader range of outcomes than the more obvious “underpriced” wide receivers, but he’ll also draw very little ownership, and it wouldn’t be crazy for him to post the highest score in this range.
  • Mike Evans :: Janoris Jenkins has been a major coverage liability this season, and Evans should match up on him plenty this week — creating an opportunity for him to bounce back after back-to-back disappointments. Evans has shown recently how low his floor can be, but keep in mind how high his ceiling can be as well. He’s an interesting piece to consider on a few builds if multi-entering.
  • DeSean Jackson :: If Fitzpatrick throws for 365+ yards, DJax will likely be involved. And while the target counts can roller-coaster, the upside is always there. As is the case most weeks, he’s an interesting piece in the tourney conversation.
  • Larry Fitzgerald // Christian Kirk :: I don’t expect the Raiders to push the Arizona offense to get too aggressive, but both of these guys will remain involved, and each guy carries upside against what might actually be the worst pass defense in football. The floor here is thinner than I would love, but there is enough upside for these guys to potentially matter.

Tight End

  • Evan Engram // Austin Hooper // Vance McDonald // O.J. Howard :: Tight end is thin this week, with all of these guys carrying potential to see as few as two to four looks, but with each of them also carrying potential to push for double digits. Hooper and Vance set up best for a rise in workload, though in their respective offenses, this is no guarantee that their volume will actually spike. It seems likely that at least one guy from this group hits, but it also seems likely that one or two disappoint — and given the inconsistent and unpredictable usage these four see, you’re on your own trying to figure out which is which.

DST

  • Chargers :: The Chargers will be at home against a turnover-prone quarterback in Case Keenum. This is one of the safer plays on the slate, and it carries upside behind the Chargers’ pass rush.
  • Cardinals :: The Raiders have been beyond inept on offense the last couple months, while the Cardinals have had one of the tougher defenses in the league. The Raiders’ point total should be low here; Derek Carr should take at least three or four sacks; and there will be opportunities for turnovers.
  • All the rest :: The Ravens at home are interesting against a broken-down Bengals offense // the Redskins are good at forcing turnovers, and they have a good pass rush, against a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who can prove to be sack-happy // the Steelers’ pass rush could become interesting on the road against Blake Bortles, especially if Pittsburgh takes an early lead // with nothing truly standing out at defense this week, there is also a case to be made for simply jumping off the board in tourneys — targeting a defense that you feel could somehow trip into a haymaker score.

 

Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.

I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Tuesday night for the Thanksgiving writeups and next Thursday morning for rest of the Week 12 edition of the NFL Edge!

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FantasyDraft Players:

If playing the Full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft:

There is no one I would prioritize in this game on the Main Slate — unsurprising given that this game carries the third lowest Over/Under on the day. No players from this game stand out to me over the Tier 1 plays from the Main Slate, and I am unlikely to overhaul my Main Slate DraftKings roster to account for these late plays on FantasyDraft.

If targeting players in tourneys and trying to do something different: a clear case could be made for Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as Tier 3 plays (reminder: Tier 3 carries just as much point-per-dollar upside as Tier 1, but with a lower floor, and/or with a lower likelihood of hitting that ceiling), as the only clear way to attack the Bears is with wide receivers.

You could also take a shot in tourneys on the explosive upside of Tarik Cohen, and you could even make a case for mixing and matching stacks in a Bears offense that has experienced rises and dips this year (with those rises primarily coming in favorable matchups) — but with those rises climbing high enough that this team warrants some large-field tourney consideration regardless of matchup.

Outside of these approaches, nothing would make my list — though I should note that a big game from Dalvin Cook (while not the likeliest scenario) would not be particularly crazy to see.

Again: I’ll be leaving this game alone myself — hoping to take down the final week of the One Week Season Survivor contest(!) with players from the early games.