Week 10 Matchups



(Jump to Games)

Reminder: I always write my initial diagnosis of my roster right before games kick off, in order to capture my honest thoughts on the build. Here are those thoughts.

Second reminder: this is my DraftKings roster, as that’s where the majority of my play goes; but the breakdown of thought process is beneficial for all sites and styles of play.

Week 9 was a strange week for me, for a pair of reasons.

Firstly: as most of you could likely assume — I’m a pretty “low-emotion” person (if emotions are a roller coaster for some, they’re more like a pleasant stretch of highway for me, with only small rises and dips; I never get too excited about “exciting things,” which can be a bit boring, but the tradeoff is that I don’t get too down when things in life swing the other way); and generally speaking, I’m fairly optimistic and positive as well. But on Monday evening at the start of Week 9 — absolutely out of nowhere — I got hit with a strange wave of depression. It was entirely illogical, and it had nothing to do with anything in particular; it just sort of showed up, and I just had to fight through it.

Many of you probably noticed that the NFL Edge was completed late in Week 9 (end of Thursday, rather than start of Thursday). That was the reason why. Each game felt like something of an insurmountable task until I got started — which made the whole process take about a day longer than normal.

Obviously, none of that is comfortable to talk about or write about or share, but I think there is value to putting that out there.

When I sat down to read the Edge on Friday, I was concerned that I would feel it was a sub-par offering — but I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) to read it and feel like it was one of the best NFL Edges we had put together yet. I’ve been really proud of the ways in which the NFL Edge has been developing and growing lately, and this became especially noteworthy when I started looking back on Week 8, at the end of Week 9.

When I recorded my roster breakdown after Week 8, I was thinking too much about the fact that my main team performed poorly, and that Jameis performed poorly; and I failed to truly appreciate the fact that in addition to my main team (where about 70% of my money was), I had 46 teams in play in large-field tourneys (Milly Maker, etc.). All I did on those teams was build off the Player Grid, with upside in mind. And incredibly, five of those 46 teams (11%) finished in the top half of the top 1% of large-field tourneys (with the Jameis dud on four of those teams). Once I took a moment to think about it, that stood out to me as truly remarkable.

Which brings us to the other thing that was strange for me about Week 9: I’m becoming better and better at “trusting myself” and realizing that the research really is as good as it is; and in Week 9 — if I took a stand and decided to not “force” things, but to instead just trust what the research showed — there were very few players I felt truly certain about. It was just that sort of week.

And so, in Week 9 I did something different. I took some pressure off myself by deciding that I was only going to roll with “one team” if I managed to narrow things down more than expected during the second half of the week.

As it turned out, I ended up with nine teams in the $333 Wildcat (which is not unusual for me), with three of those teams going into the $777 Checkdown. I also mixed and matched some multi-entry play — messing around with various Upside elements from the Player Grid. And I trusted that if we played out this slate a hundred times, this would provide my best shot at profit on this slate.

And so, here is the closest thing I had to a “Main Team,” as these were the main players I built most heavily around in higher-dollar contests:

26.02 – Ryan Fitzpatrick (5 of my 9 Wildcat teams; 2 of my 3 Checkdown teams)
33.10 – Kareem Hunt (100% of my Wildcat/Checkdown teams)
6.30 – Adrian Peterson (4 of my 9 Wildcat teams; 100% of my Checkdown teams)
19.90 – Cooper Kupp (100% of my Wildcat/Checkdown teams)
5.80 – D.J. Moore (100% of my Wildcat/Checkdown teams)
10.70 – Emmanuel Sanders (3 of my 9 Wildcat teams; 2 of my 3 Checkdown teams)
21.30 – O.J. Howard (100% of my Wildcat/Checkdown teams)
33.60 // 3.30  – In this spot, I had a fairly even split of Ingram and Kamara
5.00 – Broncos (4 of my 9 Wildcat teams; 2 of my 3 Checkdown teams)

Other “main players” I mixed in:

21.18 – Cam Newton
19.90 – Todd Gurley
10.40 – Phillip Lindsay
2.30 – Tarik Cohen
26.40 – Brandin Cooks
11.40 – Sammy Watkins
10.30 – Tre’Quan Smith
28.90 – Travis Kelce
6.00 – Chiefs
8.00 – Jets

Typically, this is where I would detail how I narrowed things down to the final Main Build — but this week, anyone who spent time on the site in Week 9 can see how these players ended up on my builds.

I typically wrap up my roster recap right before kickoff — but by that point in Week 9, I hadn’t slept for about a day, so I took a short nap and wrote this up at halftime of the early games. It’s been a good start for my core, with game flow turning against Adrian Peterson (a known risk, of course), but with most of the other items looking solid.

Time to settle in and see how the rest of this day shakes out.

This sets up as a great week for Main Slate play, with 11 games to choose from, and with plenty of top offenses available on the slate — a rarity for this time of year, when bye weeks and flex scheduling can eat into the available options. With the offenses of the Cowboys, Giants, and 49ers taking up three of the four slots in the primetime games, and with the Broncos and Ravens among the teams on bye, we have a slate that gives us the Chiefs, the Patriots, the Bucs, the Falcons, the Saints, the Bengals, the Chargers, the Packers, and the Rams. Unsurprisingly, only two of those nine teams have been installed with early-week Vegas-implied team totals below 27.0 — and those teams are the Patriots (26.5 at the Titans) and the Bengals (24.5 at home against the Saints).

Furthermore, only two of these offenses (the Saints and Bengals) are playing each other, which creates seven spots in which opponents will likely be forced to open things up on the offensive end in response to the high-scoring offense they are facing — which is how we end up with a slate on which 10 of 11 games carry an Over/Under of 45.0 or higher, with five of those games sitting at 50+.

This brings two things immediately to mind, as we begin to dive in:

1) Recognize that points will be scored in these games on Sunday afternoon, and you will need to have some upside on your roster in order to outpace the field.

2) As with any week, ownership is likely to congregate in a handful of places. On a week like this — with plenty of good spots for offense on the slate — you will likely be able to land on a few plays that carry plenty of upside and low ownership by simply ignoring ownership projections and using the research to think for yourself. As always, I encourage you to narrow down your own favorite plays before ever looking at ownership projections. This is the type of week in which this can be especially valuable, as you will likely find on Saturday afternoon — when you finally glance at projections — that you are on a few plays that it appears the bulk of the field will be overlooking. Think for yourself first, and watch as the other elements fall into place.

With that :: let’s get started!


Kickoff Thursday, Nov 8th 8:20pm Eastern

Panthers (
23.75) at

Steelers (

Over/Under 51.0


Key Matchups
Panthers Run D
32nd DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O
12th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D
20th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O
19th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
Steelers Run D
13th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O
25th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D
7th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O
32nd DVOA/32nd Yards per pass


Week 10 provides us with the rare “appealing Thursday Night Football game,” with the 6-2 Panthers traveling to take on the 5-2-1 Steelers. These teams have combined for 10 consecutive wins (four straight for Pittsburgh; six straight for Carolina), and while this game would set up even better if each team were given a full week to prepare, we won’t complain about the NFL giving us something that is actually worth watching on Thursday night.

The Steelers have gotten to this point with one of the better defenses in the league (ninth in yards allowed per carry, fifth in yards allowed per pass attempt, 12th in yards allowed per game) and one of the better offenses on the other side (fourth in yards per game, ninth in points per game), while ranking eighth in time of possession and second in red zone touchdown rate.

The Panthers have gotten to this point with a more average defense (16th in yards allowed per carry, 10th in yards allowed per pass attempt), but with their above-average ball control style, they have managed to rank 11th in yards allowed per game. Carolina’s offense ranks just a few spots behind Pittsburgh in red zone touchdown rate (fifth overall), but the big mismatch in this game will come when the Panthers’ defense tries to slow down the Steelers’ offense close to the goal line. While Pittsburgh ranks second in red zone touchdown rate on offense, the Panthers rank 31st on defense — better than only the Buccaneers. The Panthers have allowed six touchdowns to running backs (middle of the pack), seven touchdowns to wide receivers (seventh fewest in the NFL), and seven touchdowns to tight ends (worst in the NFL).

One thing to watch for in this spot: the Panthers run the ball at the seventh highest rate in the NFL, which shortens their games — leading to Carolina ranking only 22nd in plays per game, while allowing the 10th fewest opponent plays per game. Pittsburgh is tough to run on, but they are also tough to pass on, so expect Carolina to stick to this approach as long as this game stays close — which tilts us toward “upside plays” over “volume plays” in roster decisions.


Speaking of “volume” and “upside” — Cam Newton has four games already this year of fewer than 30 pass attempts, but he also has three games this year of 39+ pass attempts. Competitive games have led to spikes in passing workload for Cam, as the Panthers seem content to keep the ball in his hands more often when games stay close. In those three games in which Cam threw 39+ times, Christian McCaffrey carried the ball eight times, eight times, and seven times. Outside of his game against Atlanta (15 targets), CMC’s targets did not spike when his rushing volume went down — with six and eight targets in those other two games games, right in line with what he has seen in all his other games this year. The Panthers should enter this game with a game plan to lean on the run as much as normal, but we should recognize that Norv Turner and Cam have shown a tendency to move away from the run in back-and-forth games — which would lower McCaffrey’s floor if that trend continues. Encouragingly (and ironically, given that we highlighted this stat just last week), CMC saw one target inside the 10 last week and three carries inside the five…after seeing only one such target and one such carry all season heading into that game.

Cam’s target distribution over the last two weeks (sans Torrey Smith) has looked like this (Week 9 snap count in parentheses) ::

:: Devin Funchess — 3 // 5 || (45)
:: Greg Olsen — 4 // 6 || (60)
:: Christian McCaffrey — 6 // 6 || (61)
:: D.J. Moore — 6 // 2 || (53)
:: Curtis Samuel — 3 // 4 || (17)
:: Jarius Wright — 3 // 1 || (22)

In this spread-the-wealth offense, Devin Funchess (once) and Christian McCaffrey (once) are the only players who have seen double-digit targets in a game this year. On the Showdown slate, it’s safe to assume a slight bump in volume for Cam, which will spread a few extra looks across these names. Moore and Samuel can each be penciled in for one to two carries per game as well, as the Panthers use each guy on a lot of pre-snap motion that opens the door for jet sweeps and end arounds.

The Steelers have allowed the second fewest receptions in the league to running backs, but they have provided a slight matchup boost to wide receivers, and they have allowed the second most tight end receptions (the Panthers are the only team that has allowed more).


The Steelers and Panthers each run a similar zone-and-pressure based defense that allows opponents to attack on aggressive, downfield-based routes, but that makes up for this by allowing a below-average catch rate and tackling well after the catch. The Steelers have allowed the second lowest YAC/R rate in the league. The Panthers have allowed the lowest.

The Steelers have gratifyingly produced the fifth highest pass play rate in the league this year, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to pile up the following pass attempt numbers :: 41 // 60 // 38 // 47 // 29 // 46 // 36 // 47. Primary pass catchers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster have piled up 11.38 and 9.75 targets per game, respectively, with AB seeing eight or more looks in all but one game this year, and with JuJu seeing eight or more in all but two games. Brown has reestablished himself as the clearly superior play in this attack, with more games of double-digit targets (five, to four for JuJu), a higher percentage share of the team’s air yards (36.24%, to 26.17% for JuJu), a deeper aDOT (10.7 to 9.0), and more touchdowns (nine, to two) — but realize that JuJu is still heavily involved, seeing what would amount to a WR1 workload on most other teams. While AB is tied for the league lead in targets per game, JuJu ranks 11th; and while AB has all the touchdowns, JuJu leads the team in red zone targets and targets inside the 10. In fact, his 19 red zone targets rank second in the NFL.

It is likely that one of the tight ends on the Steelers will take advantage of this plus draw (no team has allowed more catches or touchdowns to tight ends than the Panthers, and only two teams have allowed more yards). Vance McDonald out-snapped Jesse James in Week 9, but roles were reversed in Week 8, as the Steelers continue to deploy these two in a game plan specific manner. For what it’s worth, Vance’s quickness should play much better against this Carolina defense, with the Bucs providing a solid blueprint last week with O.J. Howard of how to attack this unit with an athletic tight end. Vance has recent target counts of 2 // 8 // 3 // 6. James has topped three targets in only one of his last six games.

If digging deep on the Showdown slate, the Steelers reinstalled James Washington as their number three receiver last week, giving him 69 out of 80 snaps and showing him a season-high-tying five targets. Washington was a healthy scratch in Week 8 and has yet to top 25 receiving yards in a game.


Another week without Le’Veon Bell, which leaves James Conner locked into lead duties. Because of Conner’s three-week dip early in the season, people seem to not quite have registered the fact that Conner has been the best fantasy back in the NFL (better even than Todd Gurley) across his other five games. In two of those lower-production games, the Steelers fell into a deep hole early, and in the other they were playing the stout Ravens’ D (a defense that Conner pasted last week to the tune of another top-tier box score). Barring an outlier scenario, Conner should be considered the most workload-secure player on the slate, with a fine draw against a Panthers team that is middling against the run and awful in the red zone. Conner has recent touch counts of 25 // 23 // 29 // 31, and Gurley is the only player in the NFL with more carries inside the five.


If playing the full-weekend slate, there are actually some pieces to like in this game — and this will especially be a fun game for the Showdown.

Cam and Ben are both in play at quarterback, with Cam slightly preferred, given the multiple ways in which he can pick up points (and given his more locked-in red zone role), though it’s a close call between the two.

Conner jumps out (as always) as one of the top plays on the slate, while CMC carries a high floor with his guaranteed touches — but the matchup and his uncertain red zone role make him more “solid” than “elite.”

On the full-weekend slate, I would have strong interest in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, with Greg Olsen and Vance McDonald as solid upside options behind them. A.B. is my favorite of the bunch, but JuJu would definitely make my early-week list if this game were on the main slate.

Volume projections are far lower on the Panthers’ side of this game, as Carolina throws less and spreads the ball around more; but if digging deeper in the Showdown, I would prefer Moore over Funchess (more snaps last week; more upside with the ball in his hands), while the latter will provide solid value if he scores a touchdown. Samuel and Washington are dart throws. Wright has almost no role outside of third downs.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Cards (
16.5) at

Chiefs (

Over/Under 49.5


Key Matchups
Cardinals Run D
31st DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O
11th DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
31st DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O
6th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Chiefs Run D
27th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
8th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D
5th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
25th DVOA/29th Yards per pass


This is a matchup of two teams moving in opposite directions, with the no-hope Cardinals sitting at 2-6, and with the Chiefs topping the AFC West at 8-1. This week I watched film of the Falcons immediately after watching film of the Chiefs, and it looked like the Falcons (5th in the NFL in yards per game; 8th in points per game) were moving in slow-motion compared to what I had just been watching. This Chiefs team develops plays so quickly, and Patrick Mahomes gets the ball into tight windows with so much zip, it is absolutely incredible. I was surprised this week to discover that only the Jaguars, Ravens, Browns, and Colts have more dropped passes as a team than the Chiefs have…and then I realized this isn’t so surprising at all. Mahomes gets the ball in so quickly, it’s almost impossible for there to not be a few drops along the way. This team ranks third in the NFL in yards per game, first in points per game, second in drive success rate, second in points per drive, and second in yards per drive.

The Cardinals, on the (far) other hand, rank 32nd in yards per game and 31st in points per game. The Bills are the only team that ranks worse than Arizona in drive success rate. Watching the Cardinals on film is like watching a team stuck in mud. In Week 8, new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich tried to jumpstart this offense with a creative and consistent screen game, but until the game-winning 4th quarter drive against the poor 49ers’ pass defense, this was all the Cardinals were really able to get going, as Rosen consistently crumbled in the face of pressure and regularly failed to fit passes into tight windows. It is probably worth mentioning that most of Rosen’s success against the 49ers in Week 8 (outside of screen passes) came when San Francisco was in zone coverage. Kansas City runs one of the man-heaviest coverage schemes in the league.

With all of this, it is unsurprising that the Chiefs have been awarded a Vegas-implied total double their opponent’s, with an early line of Chiefs -16.5, and with Vegas-implied totals of Cardinals :: 16.5 // Chiefs :: 33.0.


When people see “Chiefs’ defense,” their eyes tend to light up, as the widespread narrative is how awful the Chiefs’ defense is. And when you break things down by yards allowed per pass attempt (KC ranks 31st) or by passing yards allowed per game (KC ranks 30th), it seems clear that this is a team to attack with pass catchers. Because of the way the Chiefs’ aggressive man coverage forces offenses to spread the ball around, however, the Chiefs have somewhat surprisingly allowed only three wide receivers all year to top 78 receiving yards: Keenan Allen did it in Week 1 (8-108-1) on 11 targets; JuJu Smith-Schuster did it in Week 2 (13-121-1) on 19 targets; and A.J. Green did it in Week 7 (7-117-0) on 14 targets. Christian Kirk has yet to top eight targets on the year, and he has maxed out at 85 yards. Larry Fitzgerald has topped eight targets only twice, and he has topped 76 yards only once. With Arizona ranking dead last in the NFL in time of possession and dead last in plays per game, a bet on players from this side of the ball is a bet on Josh Rosen playing well in one of the toughest road environments in football, against a defense that ranks fourth in the NFL in sacks and plays an aggressive man coverage scheme. If you want to make that bet, realize that Chad Williams has yet to top 34 yards this season, and has caught only 11 of 31 targets in his direction, while Ricky Seals-Jones has recent target counts of 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 4 // 4, and has hauled in only 50% of the targets that have come his way. To put that another way: Kirk and Fitz are the only guys who are worthy of consideration outside making pure Hail Mary plays.

The Cardinals disappointingly failed to stretch the field on their run plays in Week 8, which left David Johnson running into the backs of his linemen all day, to the tune of 16 carries for 59 yards. DJ saw four targets, which was right in line with what he was seeing under Mike McCoy — and while one of these came on a wide receiver screen and a couple others came on plays designed to get him into the open field, he will need more than four or five targets to justify his price tag on DraftKings (13.6% of the cap) and FantasyDraft (12.7% of the cap). He’s cheaper on FanDuel (11.5%), but the low touchdown upside in this offense makes him less valuable there. Ultimately, a bet on DJ at his price is a bet on him getting more involved through the air. If you want to make that bet, you can lean on the fact that Duke Johnson and the Browns provided a blueprint for the Cardinals of how to use DJ this week, in the likely event that the Cardinals fall behind. It wouldn’t be crazy to bet that DJ does, in fact, see seven to nine targets (the bye week certainly will have given the Cardinals some time to incorporate more elements in DJ’s favor) — but this would obviously be a guesswork-driven play.


The starting point on the Chiefs’ offense should be acknowledgement of the fact that matchup has legitimately not mattered for Patrick Mahomes this year, as he has topped 300 yards in eight consecutive games now and has recent touchdown totals through the air of 4 // 4 // 4 // 3. He has only two games all year under three touchdowns passes (zero at home against Jacksonville; one on the road at Denver), and in each of those games he added a touchdown on the ground. The Jacksonville game was the only one all year in which he did not post an elite score, and that game still produced a perfectly acceptable score.

With that cleared out of the way: this is a below-average quarterback matchup, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Cardinals force the lowest average depth of target in the league. Along with this, they allow an average catch rate and are below-average at preventing YAC, leading to a middling yards allowed per pass attempt of 7.5 (17th in the NFL). But secondly (and more importantly): the Cardinals are bad on offense, and they are bad against the run. This has led to teams regularly taking a lead and deciding, “Hey, instead of facing this stout pass rush and throwing short passes all day, why don’t we just run the ball?” Only six teams have faced fewer pass attempts than the Cardinals, and only one team is allowing fewer fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. On the other hand: no team has faced more running back rush attempts than the Cardinals (an incredible 29.5 per game), and while the Cardinals have allowed the fewest QB passing touchdowns in the league (eight, through eight games), they rank behind only the Browns, Bucs, and Chiefs for most touchdowns allowed to the running back position.

From a “likeliest scenario” standpoint, we should note that Kareem Hunt ranks third in the NFL in carries inside the 10-yard-line (behind only Gurley and Kamara), and he ranks second in the NFL in carries inside the five (behind only Gurley). Hunt also has the same number of red zone receiving touchdowns (three) as Gurley, and his 13 touchdowns on the year are not far off the blistering pace Gurley is setting with 16 touchdowns through nine games. Hunt has reached 20 carries only once this year, and he has two games in his last five with only a single catch — but he also has three games in his last five with five receptions, and he is steadily seeing 16 to 18 carries. On a per-carry basis, the Cardinals have been more “below average” (4.48 YPC allowed to running backs) than “awful,” so it would be preferable for volume to pile up for Hunt (which is unlikely to happen, as Andy Reid will be happy to spell Hunt with Spencer Ware if the running back workload begins to climb for this team), but he still has a solid shot at a multi-score game, and he’ll be involved early and often.

Recent target counts among the Chiefs’ three primary pass catchers look like this:

:: Travis Kelce — 9 // 5 // 10 // 9
:: Tyreek Hill — 12 // 10 // 4 // 5
:: Sammy Watkins — 4 // 7 // 9 // 5

Kelce has fallen shy of eight targets only twice all year, and he has fallen shy of 78 receiving yards only twice. The Cardinals have been solid against tight ends, but this is Mahomes and the Chiefs at home; there is no reason to expect anything but Kelce’s typical range of production.

As always: Hill has scary low floor for his price (six games already this year of 70 or fewer receiving yards, and four games of four or fewer catches — with five games this year in which he has scored zero touchdowns), but he also carries slate-winning ceiling (two games of seven catches, 140+ yards, and multiple touchdowns). Hill’s biggest games came in back-and-forth affairs against high-powered offenses (the Chargers in Week 1; the Patriots in Week 6), but the Cardinals have gotten beat deep for big plays by Emmanuel Sanders and Brandin Cooks, and there is nothing in the matchup that says this is a spot in which Hill can’t hit.

Watkins will primarily occupy the short crossing routes that are best suited to beating this defense for consistent catches and YAC-driven gains — a lower-upside role without a broken play or a touchdown, but one that should lead to nice floor if there are enough pass attempts on the Chiefs for a volume-driven play like Watkins to matter. In a vacuum, Watkins is simply a “floor” play in this spot; but as we have seen a few times already from this offense: this group is explosive enough that a talented “floor” play can produce a big stat line.


I don’t expect to have any pieces of the Cardinals’ passing attack (Kirk // Fitz // RSJ), as this offense is just not good enough for me to want to bet on garbage time points in one of the toughest road environments in football. With that said: I see these guys as guesswork-driven upside plays, and I don’t hate the idea of chasing if you want to go there. I’ll be hoping to find higher-certainty plays myself, but that’s a “style of play” thing that may differ from the risk you feel comfortable taking on.

On the other hand, I could see myself taking some shots on David Johnson, with a “Main Team” shot even in the conversation. At this point, it almost seems like we are betting on name more than game with DJ, but there is a case to be made that the bye week and the matchup will provide an opportunity for this man to finally get involved with the seven to nine targets he should be seeing. If he gets that type of work, he could really come alive; and even with as bad as this offense has been, DJ’s floor has been solid (only two games below 13.9 DK points; only two games below 12.0 FanDuel points) — creating a scenario in which he won’t kill your team if the workload remains what it has been, and he’ll have a chance to carry you deep into the leaderboards if the usage through the air spikes. The matchup is certainly appealing.

On the Chiefs’ side, Mahomes is in the tourney discussion for me, as always — though the volume concerns in this matchup will likely take him out of Main Team consideration for me, especially at his elevated price. Like Todd Gurley last week: Mahomes’ chances of failing are slim, but his chances of hitting a week-winning score are lower than normal.

I’ll have interest in Hunt, Kelce, and Watkins on Main Builds, with interest in Hill in large-field tourneys. If pricing were lower on all these guys, they would be lock-button — but given how tremendous this offense has been throughout the year, all of these guys are priced accordingly, and this makes them “part of the conversation” early in my research of this slate, rather than making them truly jump off the page.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Bills (
15.5) at

Jets (

Over/Under 38.0


Key Matchups
Bills Run D
18th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O
32nd DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D
9th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O
31st DVOA/31st Yards per pass
Jets Run D
14th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O
5th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Jets Pass D
3rd DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O
3rd DVOA/7th Yards per pass


The “Battle for the Bottom of the AFC East” will take place without much national viewership or DFS attention, as the 2-7 Bills and the 3-6 Jets have been awarded a laughably low early-week Over/Under of 37.0. Incredibly, there is room for this total to drop a bit further given how inept each team is on offense and how solid the Bills are on defense. If the Bills’ quarterbacks can keep from turning the ball over (a major “if,” of course), this could turn into an absolute snooze-fest. No team has scored fewer points per game than the Bills (10.7), and only the Cardinals have piled up fewer yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Bills’ defense has allowed the third fewest yards per game — with their middling “points allowed” total the byproduct of so many turnovers from their offense providing short fields for opponents.

Each team prefers to lean toward the run, with below-average pass play rates in spite of playing most of their games from behind. Each offense ranks bottom three in drive success rate, and Buffalo ranks 23rd in red zone touchdown rate while the Jets rank 32nd.


The Bills’ passing attack is averaging a league-low 5.5 yards per pass attempt, with a league-low 151 passing yards per game. Through nine games, the Bills have only 161 completed passes (17.89 per game). “Best yardage games” from this offense look like this:

:: Kelvin Benjamin — 4-71-0 (no other games above 45 yards)
:: Zay Jones — 2-63-0 (only one other game north of 38 yards)
:: Andre Holmes — 2-45-0 (no other games above 29 yards)

Incredibly, Terrelle Pryor finished second among wide receivers in snaps in Week 9 (behind only Zay), after getting signed off the street. He turned five targets into two catches for 17 yards.

The Jets have been slightly above-average against the pass this year, allowing a below-average catch rate and a below-average aDOT. They rank 22nd in adjusted sack rate, but with aggressive-minded Todd Bowles at the helm, this team ranks seventh in the league in takeaways. The Bills rank 29th in adjusted sack rate on offense, and they have given the ball away more times than any other team in the league. There will be a slightly higher likelihood of high-value turnovers if Nathan Peterman somehow ends up under center again this week, though it appears likely that Josh Allen will miss another week and Derek Anderson will get cleared from his concussion in time to play. Anderson is only a slightly better option than Peterman, while Allen is the only quarterback who will have any significant hope of moving this offense.


Regardless of who is under center, expect the Bills to lean run-heavy in what should be one of the rare games in which they are able to keep things close (or possibly even play with a lead).

The Jets have allowed a middling 4.03 yards per carry to running backs, while also ranking middle of the pack in receptions and receiving yards allowed to the position. Consider this a neutral draw for LeSean McCoy, though realize that he had only 14 touches last week to 10 for Chris Ivory — while playing only 37 of 91 snaps (ceding 30 snaps to Ivory and 24 to Marcus Murphy). Ivory dislocated his shoulder and may miss time — but as long as he is healthy, this should be viewed as a 65/35 backfield split on early downs (with the fat side of that split belonging to McCoy), with Murphy soaking up most third down work. Encouragingly, McCoy does have five or more targets in all but three games this year — though this entire committee has incredibly seen only three carries all season inside the five-yard-line.


The obvious starting point for this writeup is to note that Sam Darnold has yet to crack even 20.0 fantasy points in a game this season, and the Bills have allowed the third fewest fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. Buffalo ranks third in the league in yards allowed per pass attempt, and only the pass defenses of the Ravens and the supposedly-crumbling Jaguars have allowed fewer yards per game. The Jets’ offensive line has held up this year (12th in adjusted sack rate), but their offense has been generous to opponents with the ball — with the third most giveaways in the NFL. Expect each team to turn the ball over a few times in this game, and for points to pile up from short fields rather than from sustained drives. This brings up a point we emphasize from time to time: fantasy scoring comes from more than just “touchdowns.” Yards and volume (targets, carries, etc.) are valuable as well, making this a thin game all the way around.

NOTE: Darnold is now set to miss, and Josh McCown will take over under center. This is a slight upgrade to this offense across the board, but it still leaves the under-talented Jets against an elite pass defense. Nothing much changes in expectations for players in this “attack.”

If targeting short-field scoring on this offense, your best bet is to look to the running backs, as there are only four teams in the NFL (the Browns, Bucs, Cardinals, and Chiefs) who have allowed more touchdowns to the position. (On the other hand: only six teams have given up fewer wide receiver touchdowns than the Bills.) The Jets rank 23rd in yards per carry, but they rank seventh in the NFL in rush attempts, and 15.7% of completions from Sam Darnold have gone to backs as well. Last week, Isaiah Crowell played only 23 snaps while Elijah McGuire played 36. McGuire also ran 27 pass routes to only nine for Crow, giving him more overall upside. If considering this spot, it is worth noting that (as with the rest of the Buffalo defense), the issue for the Bills has been short fields, rather than sustained production; in spite of all the touchdowns to running backs, only five teams are allowing fewer yards per carry than the Bills.

Quincy Enunwa returned last week to play 34 snaps on the perimeter and only 14 snaps in the slot, with Jermaine Kearse locking down the interior routes. It’s difficult to say whether the Bills will see Enunwa or Robby Anderson as the shadow-worthy piece for Tre’Davious White (or if they will simply let White play his side and take on whichever guy happens to line up across from him). Either way, this is a difficult draw for the perimeter options against a defense allowing the eighth fewest yards in the NFL, on the strength of the fourth-shallowest opponent aDOT and the fifth lowest opponent YAC/R rate in the league.

The best way to pick up yards through the air against the Bills is with interior routes. Kearse has seen a healthy 21 targets across the last three weeks…leading to six total catches for 50 scoreless yards.

Chris Herndon, Eric Tomlinson, and Jordan Leggett continue to rotate at tight end. Herndon did ascend to a 63.6% snap rate last week. He has recent target counts of 2 // 7 // 2 // 4. Buffalo has been above-average against the tight end, but they are not a shutdown force against the position.


I will continue avoiding the Bills’ offense (a profitable approach all season so far), though depending on how value shakes out on this slate, McCoy may need to be considered at a high-water mark of only 9.33% of the salary cap on FanDuel (9.0% on DK; 8.8% on FDraft). Value would have to be extremely thin before I would consider this on my Main Build, but if Ivory misses, McCoy will gain value, and it’s not impossible that he puts up a solid game in this spot.

I have also been largely avoiding offensive players against the Bills, and a game against the Jets is unlikely to jolt me out of this approach. McGuire could potentially provide cheap exposure to a safe point-per-dollar floor — but last week was a special circumstance for considering McGuire, with how little there was to love from a “value” standpoint on the slate, and with McGuire likely to produce around nine to 10 points for an affordable price. In a tougher matchup, with what appears to be more to like on this slate, everyone on this Jets offense will be a tough sell for me.

Unsurprisingly, rostering DST units against either of these offenses has been profitable throughout the year, and that will likely remain the case this week. Both defenses are in play, with sacks and turnovers likely to pile up.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Jaguars (
22.5) at

Colts (

Over/Under 48.0


Key Matchups
Jaguars Run D
6th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O
9th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D
12th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O
17th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Colts Run D
24th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O
26th DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Colts Pass D
14th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O
13th DVOA/18th Yards per pass


Following their 3-1 start (with a loss to the Titans, wins over the lowly Giants and Jets, and a surprisingly dominant 31-20 victory over the Patriots), the Jaguars have lost four games in a row. They will emerge from the bye week traveling to Indianapolis to take on a 3-5 Colts team that is coming off back-to-back wins (over the Bills and Raiders), and that recently played both the Eagles and Texans close. The Colts have had two weeks to prepare as well.

This is quietly a pace-up game for both sides, as the Colts have played at the fastest pace in the NFL this season, and the Jags have played at the fourth fastest pace. Each team also ranks bottom five in time of possession, which leaves some minutes/plays to be added to this spot.

The hand-wringing over the Jags’ defense is unwarranted, as they have allowed the second fewest yards per game in the NFL, and even with the Jags’ offense giving the ball away more than 27 other teams, the Jags’ defense has still managed to allow the eighth fewest points per game. Jacksonville has allowed the seventh lowest red zone touchdown rate. (Indy ranks a respectable 12th in red zone touchdown rate on offense.)

The red zone matchup on the other side tilts strongly in favor of Indy, as the Jags have produced the third lowest red zone touchdown rate on offense, while Indy ranks right behind the Jags on defense (eighth in the NFL in lowest red zone touchdown rate allowed). Indy also has an edge in the “takeaway” department, ranking fifth in the league in takeaways. The Colts essentially run the same defense that the Buccaneers run, but they have the speed to make it work, leading to the second-lowest aDOT allowed and the sixth lowest YAC/R rate allowed.

Each offense should have a difficult time moving the ball, and each team will be looking to capitalize on whatever mistakes they can force from the opposing side. With Blake Bortles under center for the visiting team and Andrew Luck under center for the home squad, this tilts the matchup in favor of the Colts, who Vegas has installed as early three-point favorites, in a game with a surprising Over/Under of 47.0. The Jags have had only one game all season (against the Patriots) that rose above 47.0 combined points.


It is notable that no team in the NFL has more dropped passes on the year than the Jaguars, and beleaguered Bortles actually ranks ninth in the NFL in expected completion percentage — an interesting setup against a team in Indianapolis that forces short throws and tackles well, but that has allowed the second highest catch rate in the NFL (behind only the Bucs). Part of the knock against Bortles this year is that he has thrown nearly everything short, but this actually sets up nicely in this spot, as he should be able to produce a high completion rate as long as his receivers are holding onto the passes that come their way. The Colts rank only 20th in drive success rate allowed (in spite of forcing the fourth most turnovers per drive), which should allow the Jags to put together some sustained drives. Naturally, things should fall apart close to the end zone. As noted above: Indy ranks eighth in opponent red zone touchdown rate, while the Jags’ offense ranks 30th in red zone touchdown rate.

It has once again become impossible to figure out the Jags’ wide receiver rotation, as Weeks 7 and 8 saw them running Donte Moncrief on the slants and shallow crossing routes that they were previously using Dede Westbrook on. In Week 8, the Jags also played Keelan Cole only 15 snaps while giving D.J. Chark 48 snaps. Recent target counts on these four (Weeks 6 through 8) look like this:

:: Moncrief — 3 // 10 // 7
:: Westbrook — 5 // 4 // 6
:: Chark — 1 // 7 // 5
:: Cole — 5 // 7 // 3

Westbrook has topped six targets only once, while Moncrief has topped six targets in four of eight games. This has amounted to only two touchdowns and only one game north of 76 receiving yards for Moncrief. For whatever it might be worth, it is also worth pointing out that Moncrief’s targets have shown a tendency to dip against zone-heavy coverage schemes (the category in which the Colts fall), while rising against man-heavy coverage schemes. The Jags surely did some self-scouting during the bye to figure out how to fix their passing attack, but none of these guys have played especially well. Chark is the most exciting play of the bunch, given his size and his 4.34 speed, but he has also played as poorly as any of the other three.

Behind these guys, David Grinnage and Blake Bell are splitting tight end reps. This offense has not produced usable TE stat lines all year, and either guy would need a multi-touchdown game to become worth a spot on a roster.


The Jags’ offense could get back some of its juice this week with Leonard Fournette tentatively expected to return (this appeared to be the game the Jags were targeting for the last few weeks, and Fournette has been practicing early in the week). Last year on their way to the AFC Championship game, the Jags ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass play rate; this year, at 3-5, they rank fourth in pass play rate, as they have been unable to get anything going on the ground all year.

With the Jags adding Carlos Hyde via trade as an insurance policy for Fournette, they will have plenty of incentive to ease their star starter back in, which will likely render both guys unusable options against a middling Colts run D (12th in fewest yards allowed per carry) — especially as T.J. Yeldon should soak up some work on passing downs. If you do want to take a risk on Fournette’s workload returning to what we were used to in 2017, realize that he averaged a very strong 23.4 touches per game last season. Again: this usage should not be “expected” to be there this week, but there is an outside chance the Jags throw him all the way into the fire.

If Fournette misses, Hyde will handle early-down work while Yeldon will handle passing situations — lowering the floor and ceiling on each, but giving Yeldon some price-considered upside if the Colts jump out to an early lead.


This remains one of the most challenging matchups a quarterback can have, as the Jags have allowed the lowest catch rate in the NFL, and only three teams have allowed a lower YAC/R rate. The Jags have allowed the fewest completions in the league, the fewest passing yards, and the fewest passing touchdowns. Only three teams have faced a lower opponent pass play rate.

While the Colts began the year with the highest pass play rate in the NFL, they actually have the fourth lowest pass play rate across their last three games, with this team showing an ability to shape-shift, and with the emergence of Marlon Mack giving them extra incentive to keep the ball on the ground.

Over their last two games, targets on the Colts have looked like this:

:: T.Y. Hilton — 4 // 5
:: Eric Ebron — 7 // 3
:: Jack Doyle — DNP // 7
:: Chester Rogers — 4 // 1
:: Dontrelle Inman — 0 // 7
:: Nyheim Hines — 2 // 2
:: Marlon Mack — 3 // 4

This spread-the-wealth offense is going to need an unexpected volume spike to provide floor for any pass catcher. It can obviously be pointed out that Hilton always carries upside at home, given the way his speed plays on the turf.

The Jags have allowed the second fewest receptions in the league to running backs, the third fewest to wide receivers, and the fourth fewest to tight ends.


While teams have attacked the Jags on the ground, this has been done more to avoid the teeth of the Jags’ pass defense than to attack a clear weakness, as the Jags have allowed only 3.83 yards per carry to running backs (a number that drops to 3.48 if we take away the magical run Saquon Barkley had against them in Week 1 — a run only Barkley is capable of). The Jags rank middle of the pack in yards allowed to running backs, but only four teams have allowed fewer touchdowns to the position.

If you want to target this spot, recognize that Mack does possess unique upside, and it won’t be unexpected if he pops off for a long run or a touchdown — though a big game in this spot is obviously not the “likeliest scenario.”


I was hoping to find one or two things to like in this game, but the Jaguars’ defense is just way too stout for me to have interest in any Colts players from an “optimal play” perspective — and even the upside-hunting that can be done on Hilton and Mack comes with a low floor and without a major price discount. Hilton has been given a bigger bump down in price across all three sites, but it’s more difficult to see a big game coming from him against this Jacksonville secondary.

On the Jags’ side, the wide receiver rotation is too convoluted to be targeted with confidence (and even if you guess right on who will see the most targets, there is no guarantee that these targets will turn into box score production), while the backfield appears to carry messy timeshare potential in a non-notable matchup. There are plenty of games to like on this slate — and as such, this is a game I will likely find myself leaving alone altogether, outside of possibly the defenses. Indy’s defense is the more attractive to me, given Bortles’ tendency toward mistakes, though they’ll move down my list a bit if Fournette returns, as the Jags will likely lean on the run more often (taking away opportunities for Bortles mistakes). If Fournette misses, the Colts’ defense becomes a significantly more appealing play.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Patriots (
26.5) at

Titans (

Over/Under 46.5


Key Matchups
Patriots Run D
1st DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O
18th DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D
13th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O
24th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Titans Run D
10th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O
23rd DVOA/24th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D
24th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O
29th DVOA/28th Yards per pass


It’s scary that three of the top four teams in the league (Patriots, Chiefs, Rams) have not yet had their bye week, as this will give these teams an opportunity to rest up, regroup, and improve late in the season before the final push for the playoffs. After this game at the Titans, the 7-2 Patriots will go on bye before closing out the year with a home game against the Vikings, a road game at the Steelers, and four games against weak AFC East opponents. The 4-4 Titans, on the other hand, have a winnable schedule down the stretch (out-of-division games against the Jets, Giants, and Redskins, mixed in with four games against the Colts, Jags, and Texans) — and given their ability to “win ugly,” it won’t be all that surprising if they find a way to sneak to the top of the AFC South when it’s all said and done. Obviously, “sneaking to the top of the AFC South” does not put the Titans in the same class as the Patriots, and Tennessee already has losses this year against the Dolphins and the Bills. But they also have wins over the Jags and Eagles, and they lost to the Chargers by one point. The Titans rank 30th in yards per game on offense and 29th in points per game, but they have made up for this by quietly allowing the fewest points per game in the National Football League, on the strength of the eighth fewest yards allowed per game and the best red zone touchdown defense in the NFL.

While everything above is factual, it is also a fact that the Titans have not yet played an offense like the Patriots. Five of the eight teams the Titans have faced so far rank outside the top 20 in the NFL in points per game, with only the Ravens (16th), the Texans (14th), and the Chargers (11th) approaching the conversation of “above-average offenses” (and you could argue that at least the Ravens, and possibly even the Texans, do not belong in the same tier as any of the teams ranked above them). Tennessee has five games already against teams that rank bottom 10 in red zone touchdown rate.

Vegas had hedged a bit in this spot, installing the Patriots as 6.5 point favorites, at Vegas-implied totals of 26.5 to 20.0. The Pats have topped 26.5 points in five of their last six games. The Titans have held their opponent below 26.5 in seven straight, but they have topped 20 points themselves on only two occasions.


As a pass defense unit, the Titans have been entirely non-threatening, allowing a league-average aDOT and a league-average catch rate — holding opponents to a low YAC per reception rate in order to remain middle-of-the-pack in yards allowed per pass attempt. But the bigger issue — from a box score standpoint — is that the Titans play back against the pass between the 20s, inviting teams to attack them on the ground. Halfway through the season, the Titans are facing the 10th lowest opponent pass play rate. The Titans also play at a slow pace on offense (31st) and run the ball as much as any team in football (31st in pass play rate), which effectively shortens the game and has led to Tennessee not only running the fifth fewest plays per game themselves, but also allowing the fifth fewest opponent plays per game. Add it all together, and the Dolphins are the only team in the league whose games are featuring fewer total plays.

This has led to only five teams facing fewer pass attempts per game, which is a concern for “upside” from a passing attack that relies on volume over explosiveness, with Tom Brady sitting on an average intended air yards of only 7.5, and with the Patriots ranking a middling 15th in pass plays of 20+ yards. (The Titans have allowed the eighth fewest pass plays of 20+ yards.)

With Rob Gronkowski dipping in and out of the lineup lately, target counts on the Patriots have looked like this:

Rob Gronkowski — 7 // 4 // DNP // 8 // DNP
Julian Edelman — 9 // 7 // 8 // 10 // 10
Josh Gordon — 4 // 9 // 7 // 6 // 10
Phillip Dorsett — 3 // 0 // 1 // 0 // 3
Chris Hogan — 4 // 4 // 7 // 2 // 1
James White — 14 // 7 // 10 // 13 // 7

No team in the NFL has allowed fewer yards to the tight end position than the Titans, but to put that in context: the Titans have faced the Dolphins, Texans, Jags, Bills, Chargers, and Cowboys — none of whom feature the tight end position. Zach Ertz pasted this team for a 10-112-0 line on 14 targets in Week 4, and Gronk should have no trouble in this spot if the targets are there. The targets, of course, will be a question mark — and given the routes Gronk runs, he’s also the easiest team for an opponent to “scheme out of the game” if the Titans choose to dedicate extra attention to one guy. Gronk has proven this year that his floor is lower than it was in the past, but the ceiling is still there in this spot.

Edelman pulls the toughest matchup against Logan Ryan in the slot — but after practicing against Ryan for years on the Patriots, Edelman and Brady should have an idea of how to beat him. Edelman should see at least seven or eight targets in this spot — with upside for a couple additional looks if Brady has to unleash a few more passes than expected.

Gordon will run most of his routes at Malcolm Butler, who has been an absolute bust for the Titans thus far, ranking 143rd in the NFL (out of 168 listed corners) in receptions allowed per coverage snap, while giving up a 72.2% completion rate with seven touchdowns allowed to only one interception. PFF has charted Butler as allowing a QB rating of 141.8. Gordon’s floor is insecure, but his upside is big in this spot.

The Pats’ passing attack wraps up with White, who has been an elite force this year, with recent reception counts of 8 // 10 // 5 // 8 // 10 // 6, and with 10 total touchdowns on the year. Sony Michel is expected to return this week, but White will retain a big role regardless. When these backs shared the field in Week 6 against the Chiefs, the Patriots chose to attack heavily on the ground, but White still saw six carries of his own (39 yards) and went 5-53-0 through the air. The week before against the Colts, White went 10-77-0 through the air with Michel taking on 18 carries. With White’s price rising, it would be preferable if Michel missed, but White will have a shot at posting a strong score even if Michel is on the field.

As for Michel himself: he has only four receptions all season, but his last three games yielded carry counts of 25 // 18 // 24, and he has seven carries inside the five-yard-line already (fifth in the NFL) in spite of having played only about four and a half games. Tennessee has allowed a middling 4.03 yards per carry to running backs, but the Bears are the only team in the NFL that has allowed fewer rushing touchdowns to enemy backs — a scary stat for a yardage-and-touchdown guy like Michel.


The starting point for the Titans’ passing attack is the same stat we used last week:

If we take away the outlier 300-yard passing game this Titans team had against the Eagles, Taywan Taylor has not topped 32 yards in a game, and Corey Davis has not topped 62 yards in a game. Tajae Sharpe went for 101 yards out of nowhere in the Titans’ Week 7 tilt, but he had previously not topped 33 yards in a game.

All of these stats remain in place, on a Titans team that has produced only one game all year north of 240 passing yards. Tennessee ranks 30th in passing yards per game and 30th in passing touchdowns. The Patriots have faced the second most pass attempts in the NFL, but they have allowed the third lowest catch rate in the league (behind only the Jags and Ravens), and they rank sixth in fewest yards allowed per pass attempt. As noted the last couple weeks: Stephon Gilmore should be viewed right now in the same class as Tre’Davious White, as White and Richard Sherman remain the only corners in the league with at least 100 coverage snaps who have allowed fewer receptions per coverage snap. Gilmore has been targeted 48 times and has allowed only 20 catches, with a QB rating allowed of 69.2 (better than Sherman, and just a couple ticks below White and Patrick Peterson). Gilmore should shadow Davis, which will leave Marcus Mariota throwing to poor route runner Taylor or non-explosive Sharpe. Tennessee relies heavily on two tight end sets and — as noted earlier — is one of the run-heaviest teams in football.

If you feel compelled to put your faith in Mariota in this spot, your best bet is likely the big-play upside of Taylor — though Taylor played only 18 snaps last week before injuring his foot in the third quarter, and is no guarantee for more than one or two targets. If Taylor fails to return to the field this week, Cameron Batson (30 snaps last week, three targets) will be a last-gasp option.


The best way for the Titans to move the ball this year has been with Dion Lewis, who has seemingly taken control of the Titans’ backfield at this point — playing 59 snaps in Week 9 to only 14 snaps for Derrick Henry, after playing 45 snaps (to 24 for Henry) in Week 7 before the Titans’ bye. Lewis has touch counts of 19 and 23 in his last two games, with 10 total catches across these contests. The Patriots are tied with the Vikings, Titans, and Eagles for second fewest rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs, but New England has allowed the fourth most receptions and the second most receiving yards to the position. When pricing came out before the Titans’ Week 9 game on Monday night, Lewis was already priced too low for his role in this offense (9.67% of the cap on FanDuel // 9.2% on DraftKings // 10.3% on FantasyDraft), but with his role atop this backfield further solidified after Monday Night Football, he really pops off the page. I have to imagine the masses will be on this play, but outside of the low touchdown ceiling on this offense as a whole, there is nothing to dislike about this play. The only reasonable way for Lewis to fail is for the Titans to jump out to a big lead — and even then, they will likely discover that it is better to run the ball with Lewis than with Henry. If game flow goes as expected (with the Patriots taking a lead), Lewis will be guaranteed plenty of time on the field, and he will have a solid role in the pass game.


Lewis pops off the page in this spot and will certainly vault to the top of my early-week list. That’s all I can see on the Titans, as the rest of this offense has been an absolute mess — and even with opponents constantly playing from behind against New England, they have been one of the tougher teams to pass on, on a per-play basis. The Titans’ passing attack has been unusable almost all season, and it’s tough to see that changing with their main weapon locked up in sticky coverage from an elite corner.

On the Patriots, there is a “many mouths and not a ton of volume” problem, but I see a solid floor for Edelman and a solid ceiling for Gordon. Neither guy jumps off the page, but each guy belongs in consideration — with Gordon in particular carrying enough upside to become a viable tourney piece. Gronk is obviously in play as well — and he may even become chalk this week on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, where his price has dropped all the way down to 11.2% and 10.6% of the salary cap, respectively. (Even on FanDuel, he’s only 11.5% — though it’s easier to get up to Kelce on there.) The matchup is not much of a concern if Gronk is healthy…but that will be the question. Even if he plays, it will be difficult to be certain he is truly healthy. If he were priced a bit higher, he would likely be an industry-wide fade (making him a “game theory tourney play” with a lower floor than we would love)…but with the price drop, everyone will have to at least consider him this week, and this could lead to him blooming into cash game chalk (with heavy tourney ownership) if he is indeed set to play. This will be a fascinating situation to watch this week, and it will be interesting throughout the rest of this week’s NFL Edge to see if there are any cheap tight ends who have a higher floor/ceiling at this impossibly thin position.

The Patriots’ side of the ball wraps up with the backfield, where Michel is a modest-floor, solid-ceiling play as a running back on a high-scoring offense who needs touchdowns in order to truly matter. I’ll hope to find a more multi-use back to roster on my Main Build(s), but Michel will at least gain an early-week place on my tourney list for his upside in this offense. White rounds out this backfield as a monster floor/ceiling play if Michel misses, and as a solid-floor, solid-ceiling play if Michel takes the field. If Michel does happen to miss, Cordarrelle Patterson will become a “yardage and touchdown” play as well — with only one catch the last two weeks, but with 21 carries. Unless he scores multiple touchdowns, however, his likeliest role on this slate will be to take away points from others, rather than to pile up big points himself.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

23.75) at

Bucs (

Over/Under 51.0


Key Matchups
Commanders Run D
16th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O
29th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D
32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O
15th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
Buccaneers Run D
11th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O
16th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D
15th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O
27th DVOA/27th Yards per pass


This week, the first-place, 5-3, injury-wrecked Redskins will travel to Tampa to take on the bad-but-entertaining 3-5 Buccaneers in a matchup of extremely contrasting styles of play. The Bucs play at a top eight pace while Washington plays at a bottom five pace. Tampa ranks sixth in pass play rate while Washington ranks 22nd. And the Buccaneers’ offense is built around downfield passing, while the Redskins try to avoid downfield passing at all costs. This week, Washington lost both of their starting guards for the season, while Paul Richardson was put on Injured Reserve with his lingering shoulder issue. Starting left tackle Trent Williams missed Sunday’s game, and Washington’s lone true playmaker in Chris Thompson has played only one game since Week 5.

The good news for Washington, of course, is that they are taking on a Tampa team that ranks 28th in drive success rate allowed, and that is dealing with injuries of their own that have led to them being susceptible on the ground these days, in addition to their well-documented issues through the air.

Washington’s goal in this game will be to control the game on the ground as much as possible — slowing down the pace and hopefully taking a lead that can force Ryan Fitzpatrick into mistakes as he becomes more and more aggressive.

Tampa’s goal will be the opposite. They will try to jump out to an early lead that will put pressure on Washington to become more aggressive than they typically like to be. This will be a truly intriguing pairing of styles — and while the uncertainty introduced by this type of setup may prove to be too much for this game to be heavily considered in cash games, we will likely find some strong tourney options that emerge from this spot.


You know the drill by now: Tampa is one of the most aggressive offenses in the NFL — and while this has led to them giving the ball away 21 times (the second most giveaways in the league), this has also led to them ranking seventh in the NFL in points per game and second in the NFL in yards per game. Furthermore, the Bucs cannot run the ball (29th in yards per carry; 23rd in rush attempts on the year), which has led to them piling up the most passing yards per game and the second most passing touchdowns in the NFL. Tampa plays at a fast pace and ranks sixth in pass play rate, which has allowed them to run the fourth most plays per game while still allowing a middling number of opponent plays per game. And with all of this, the Bucs have allowed the most points per game and the fourth most yards per game in the league, while allowing the second most yards per pass attempt in the league and giving up 22 passing touchdowns to only one interception. Frankly, it is a shame (and a waste) that Washington will likely try to lean on the run early in this game. This may give Washington their best shot at a win, but it will limit opportunities on what is routinely one of the best DFS spots on any given slate.

From a DFS perspective, an optimal scenario would call for the Redskins to fall behind early — which would lead to Smith pushing toward 40 pass attempts. This happened in Week 2 against Indy (46 pass attempts), in Week 5 against New Orleans (39 pass attempts), and in Week 9 against Atlanta (46 pass attempts). Atlanta — with their high-powered offense, and with their below-average aDOT but high catch rate allowed on defense — is the closest cousin of the Bucs, and the Redskins’ Week 9 game against the Falcons provides a convenient blueprint of how they are likeliest to attack in this spot if Tampa takes a lead.

After falling behind against Atlanta last week, Washington threw the ball 46 times, with only three of these passes traveling more than 20 yards downfield. Smith had another seven throws that traveled 15 to 20 yards, and he went one of seven on these attempts. In all, he completed two of his 10 passes that traveled 15+ yards (with one interception), while completing 28 of his other 36 passes. If Washington scores an early touchdown and figures out how to run the ball behind their beat-up offensive line, this entire passing attack will go into the tank. But if the Bucs jump out to a lead (or if Washington fails to get anything going on the ground), we should once again see a good 22 to 28 short completions from this offense — creating an interesting situation for targeting volume-based upside.

In last week’s high-passing affair, targets on the Redskins looked like this:

:: Josh Doctson — 6
:: Paul Richardson — 6
:: Maurice Harris — 12
:: Jordan Reed — 6
:: Vernon Davis — 7
:: Kapri Bibbs — 1
:: Adrian Peterson — 3

The targets to Doctson and Richardson (which may now be Doctson and Michael Floyd, with Richardson out) are largely wasted, as Smith is uncomfortable pushing the ball outside the numbers. He has yet to produce more than 63 yards to either of these guys.

Harris is a non-pedigree player, but he has provided reliable value for Smith across his last four games, catching 18 of 21 passes while providing a body over the middle and toward the sidelines on the short routes Smith prefers to take (and that the Bucs prefer to give). Harris’ relevance is dependent on two things: 1) The absence of Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder, and 2) the Bucs jumping out to a lead. We’ll know before kickoff if CT and Crowder are playing. You can then guess if you think Washington will be forced into pass-heavy mode.

Smith rarely attacks up the seam, which has left Reed flattening out his routes and seeing most of his work on sideline-breaking routes within five yards of the line of scrimmage. This has been enough to provide respectable floor but poor ceiling. A bet on Reed at this point is a bet on extreme volume or a change in role. Reed has not topped 43 yards in five consecutive games.

Davis has cracked 43 yards in two of his last four games, as Washington has been using him on routes that get his momentum moving upfield while refusing to do the same for Reed. For whatever reason, Gruden’s designs have Reed running lower-upside routes — and while it is true that these trends can change, this has been a consistent theme throughout the Redskins’ season. Davis played 31 snaps last week to 38 for Reed and should be involved once again if Washington is forced to lean toward the pass.

When Thompson is out, the backs are barely involved in the pass game. A bet on Peterson is a bet on 1) The Redskins opening holes with their backup guards, and 2) The Redskins’ defense keeping Tampa’s aggressive attack in check.

If Thompson returns, he will immediately become an important part of this offense, and he will be the likeliest piece to soak up valuable targets if the Redskins fall behind.


Although Washington has not been particularly dominant against the run, teams are simply choosing not to attack this front — in the same way teams around the league avoid the run defenses of the Panthers and the Eagles. On the year, the Redskins have faced the fourth highest opponent pass play rate in the league, which has led to them facing the second fewest rush attempts in the NFL. The Bucs, on the other hand, have the 10th fewest rush attempts in the league, and only two teams have fewer rushing yards. Peyton Barber has yet to top 85 rushing yards in a game, and outside of an outlier game against the Falcons (24 receiving yards), he has yet to crack double-digits in yards through the air. Regardless of game flow, we should expect the Bucs to lean on the pass.


Washington’s defense tries to capitalize on forcing short throws (they have forced the third lowest aDOT in the NFL), while tackling well after the catch — but with a league-average catch rate allowed and a league-average YAC/R rate allowed, opponents are managing to keep drives going, and to pile up yards through the air, creating an average to slightly-above-average matchup for opposing wide receivers. The issue for us as DFS players, of course — in targeting Tampa pass catchers — has little to do with the matchup and much to do with the often-reiterated “too many mouths to feed on this offense” problem. Targets on this offense across the last four weeks look like this:

:: O.J. Howard — 4 // 9 // 4 // 6
:: Mike Evans — 5 // 11 // 13 // 10
:: DeSean Jackson — 9 // 4 // 8 // 4
:: Chris Godwin — 9 // 6 // 7 // 3
:: Adam Humphries — 4 // 9 // 10 // 8

Because each pass catcher in this offense has clear and consistent responsibilities, we can often narrow things down a bit based on the way the matchup sets up. For example: against Atlanta, we liked Godwin and Howard the most, and each guy topped 50 yards and scored a touchdown. And last week, we liked Howard at tight end and “Humphries and/or Godwin” as salary savers with solid floor and sneaky potential for upside. Howard (4-53-2) and Humphries (8-82-2) proved to be true difference-makers on the slate, but Godwin (2-40-0) played only 37 snaps and posted a dud. This is the concern when targeting these three pieces on this offense: any of these three can disappear on a given week. This week, the matchup sets up no better for any one over the other, but Howard has shown true and consistent playmaking ability (he genuinely ranks as a top five tight end in the league right now, in my estimation — and PFF actually has him rated out as the number one pass-catching tight end, just ahead of Kelce and Kittle), while Humphries is seeing far more consistent time on the field than Godwin. Of course, along with that comes the fact that Howard has (terrifyingly) topped four targets only three times all season, while Humphries has only two targets inside the 10-yard-line (compared to nine for Godwin — the third-most in the NFL). There is risk on all these guys, but there is potential for reward as well, in one of the most bankable high-scoring offenses in the league.

The safest bet on this offense is Evans, who is a clear bounce-back candidate after failing to a 1-16-0 line last week on a whopping 10 targets (a poor followup to his spectacular 6-179-1 line the week before). Through eight games, Evans has posted three disappointments, two solid scores, and three elite scores. He has seen double-digit looks in five of his last seven games. This matchup sets up no better or worse for him than it does for anyone else on this offense.

The highest point-per-dollar bet is Jackson, whose role is also clear, with only three games all year north of five targets, but with zero games below four targets. Jackson will get his deep shots, and he will either hit or not. If he hits, he becomes one of the more valuable pieces on the slate. If he misses, he disappoints. Further analysis is largely wasted, as the truth is as simple as “he hits or he doesn’t,” though this does seem like a spot in which DJax is less likely to see a spike in targets, as Tampa is facing a non-aggressive opponent.


Washington’s side of the ball probably requires too much guesswork for me to want these guys near my Main Team on a week with plenty to like in other spots, but I do think that Harris and Davis make for interesting pieces if building with the belief that Tampa will be as successful through the air as they have been for much of the season. Throwing Harris and/or Davis onto a roster with Evans and/or DJax could be a fun way to capture quite a bit of upside if Tampa can strike early. Harris has a respectable aDOT of 9.0, which gives him at least some shot at upside.

As is the case almost every week: I like Tampa’s passing attack, though I’m not quite sure where to go on it this week. Evans’ price stands out this week across all three sites, as his inconsistency popped up last week, but we were reminded of his ceiling just the week before. Especially in tourneys, this is a strong play — but I’ll also have Main Team consideration here. Away from Evans, I’m not sure I could pull the trigger on anything for small-field stuff, but Howard and DJax are always in play for their upside. I’ll likely take a stand against Humphries this week in the belief that last week was ‘Humphries Week,’ and that those who chase will see him land in his lower range; but that’s simply a game theory play, as there is nothing in this matchup to suggest Humphries is any more or less likely than normal to hit.

Naturally, I will also have interest in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sometimes for better (Week 6 against Atlanta; Week 9 against Carolina), sometimes for worse (Week 4 against Chicago, Week 8 against Cincy), you can always tempt me with a Tampa quarterback this year. Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback in the NFL with more passing touchdowns than “Tampa QB,” and no quarterback in the league has more yards than what Fitz and Jameis have combined for. It’s not always pretty, but they continue to play aggressive football and get the DFS job done.

Kickoff Sunday, Nov 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Falcons (
27.5) at

Browns (

Over/Under 49.5


Key Matchups
Falcons Run D
8th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O
21st DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Falcons Pass D
29th DVOA/16th Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O
26th DVOA/13th Yards per pass
Browns Run D
5th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Falcons Run O
20th DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Browns Pass D
2nd DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Falcons Pass O
22nd DVOA/8th Yards per pass


The Falcons are clinging to life in the NFC playoff race at 4-4., and they will travel to Cleveland this week to take on the 2-6-1 Browns. Cleveland has lost four straight since their win over the Ravens, dropping a close overtime game against the Bucs and getting pasted by the Chargers, Steelers, and Chiefs. Outside of a game against the Raiders, the Browns have failed to top 23 points in any game this season. The banged-up Falcons defense will give Cleveland a chance to finally eclipse this mark again — though Atlanta boasts a high-motor team that will do everything possible to make life difficult for Baker Mayfield and company. Vegas has kept the Browns just below 23.0 in their early-week numbers, with an Over/Under of 50.5 and Vegas-implied totals of 27.75 for the Falcons and 22.75 for the Browns.

Even with the coaching change in Cleveland, the Browns did not slow down their pace of play last week — overrating their ability to compete on offense, and holding steady at the third fastest pace in the league. Cleveland has allowed the most opponent plays per game this year, and even when we break out the overtime periods, Cleveland remains one of the most generous teams in the league in terms of opponent plays allowed. Atlanta also allows an above-average number of opponent plays per game, as they rank eighth in pass play rate and face the third highest opponent pass play rate on defense — creating additional opportunities for clock stoppages and for plays to pile up. This game should see a few extra plays added to both sides of the ball.

Atlanta has the better offense in this game :: fourth in drive success rate (29th for Cleveland) // fifth in yards per game (23rd for Cleveland) // eighth in points per game (23rd for Cleveland).

Cleveland has the better defense :: 10th in drive success rate allowed (Atlanta ranks dead last) // fourth in yards allowed per drive (Atlanta ranks dead last) // sixth in points allowed per drive (Atlanta ranks dead last). As noted last week, the Browns — in spite of their great “per drive” stats — actually rank 30th in yards allowed per game and 28th in points allowed per game, as their fast pace and their mistake-prone offense have allowed opposing teams to pile up plays; but on a per-play basis, this matchup is tough. Cleveland’s defense is weakest in the red zone (24th in opponent red zone touchdown rate), while Atlanta ranks seventh in red zone touchdown rate on offense.


Cleveland has competed hard in the secondary this year, allowing the second lowest catch rate in the league and notching the third most interceptions. Only 10 teams have allowed fewer passing touchdowns than Cleveland, and only the Bears have allowed a lower quarterback rating. The Browns have already faced Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the only quarterback in that group who topped 300 yards with multiple touchdown passes (Roethlisberger is the only other QB in that group to have topped 300 yards, and he added only one touchdown and three picks in that game). Mahomes is also the only quarterback in that group to notch more than two touchdowns against the Browns.

As noted last week :: The interesting thing about the Browns’ style of defense is that there is really no “type of receiver” or “type of route tree” that works best against them, as this unit has stymied John Brown while getting torched by Tyrell Williams; they forced Michael Thomas to pile up 12 catches just to reach 89 yards, but they let Mike Evans go 7-107-0 on 11 looks; they gave up 119 yards to JuJu Smith-Schuster in Week 1 and held him to 33 yards in Week 8; and they let Amari Cooper, of all players, go 8-128-1. When it comes down to it, this is a defense that is going to make life difficult on a per-play basis, but that is also going to get overaggressive a few times per contest, allowing one or two guys to pick up chunk gains.

Denzel Ward (who left last week’s game early but reportedly “looked good” on Wednesday) should see a decent chunk of Julio Jones, but the Falcons’ star receiver can win in this matchup if the targets are there. Ward has keyed the low completion rate allowed by this secondary, with a slim 55% completion rate allowed on 60 passes charted in his direction, but if Julio sees 12 to 14 targets, something like an 8-110-0 line is not at all out of the question. It is worth pointing out that Julio’s touchdown last week came from outside the red zone, and he is still sitting on an embarrassing three red zone targets (and zero red zone receptions) nine weeks into the season.

Behind Julio (who has recent target counts of 12 // 9 // 14 // 12 // 10), Calvin Ridley encouragingly came out of the bye playing the same number of snaps as Mohamed Sanu (after topping him by one snap in Week 7), and he has seen fairly steady target counts over his last five games (6 // 5 // 3 // 6 // 9). His unsustainable touchdown binge this year (seven touchdowns through eight games, on only five red zone targets and one target inside the 10) has him priced higher than he should be as a guy seeing five to six steady targets, with only one game all year north of 71 yards. But for whatever it’s worth: it did pop out to me when watching film this week that Ridley’s unique burst will create opportunities for him to hit for a big play against this aggressive defense. If the Browns get over-aggressive on a misdirection play or simply overplay the ball while hunting for an interception, Ridley could notch another long touchdown. His score in Week 9 came on a creative third down play that was designed to get him into open space, with Sanu literally blocking his guy out of the way before the ball was even thrown.

Sanu has seen his targets dwindle while playing through a hip injury, with recent target counts of 2 // 2 // 5. He has topped 46 yards only twice this year, and he is third in line for targets right now, though it’s never out of the question for him to hit for a big game.

The same could be said of Austin Hooper, who has recent target counts of 4 // 2 // 12 // 10 // 4 // 3. No one in the country knows when and why Hooper’s targets will spike. This is an above-average matchup for tight ends, making Hooper a low-floor, decent-upside play.


The Falcons emerged from the bye last week feeding a season high seven targets to Tevin Coleman — getting him set up with consistent screen passes that worked him into open space. Washington had not shown any notable weakness to pass catching backs before that, though they are a team that opponents shy away from on the ground (fourth highest opponent pass play rate faced), so there remains a chance this was game plan specific. As noted time and again in this spot: Steve Sarkisian has consistently failed to utilize his backs out of the backfield — a shame given how explosive both Coleman and Devonta Freeman can be in this area. If Coleman sees a heavy target share again, he’ll set up as a potentially explosive play against a Cleveland defense that has allowed the fifth most receiving yards in the league to the position, while giving up the second most running back touchdowns. If Coleman drops back to the target range in which he entered Week 9 (3 // 3 // 2 // 2 // 2), he’ll be a “yardage and touchdown” back who can be counted on for 10 to 15 carries.

While Coleman has recent touch counts of 17 // 9 // 11 // 13 // 18, Ito Smith has not been far behind him, with touch counts in that same stretch of 10 // 4 // 13 // 9 // 11. Smith has, incredibly, scored four touchdowns in his last five games. Another touchdown here would make him “salary-saver relevant” once again.


Last week was encouraging for the Browns, as Mayfield notched his highest completion rate in a start this year, while piling up his highest yards per pass attempt in four games. Freddie Kitchens used David Njoku as a big body over the middle; he used Jarvis Landry as a “possession receiver with the ability to go downfield,” rather than trying to turn him into a true downfield threat (four of Landry’s six catches came within five yards of the line of scrimmage); and he used Duke Johnson as a mismatch-maker out of the backfield.

Yards will likely pile up for this passing attack, but it is difficult to pinpoint any individual players likely to post a big game, as this team is developing a broad target distribution :: seven different players saw at least four targets last week (think about that for a moment…), and 10 players in all saw at least one target — including Seth DeValve and Dontrell Hilliard. The only players to see more than six targets were Landry (seven) and Duke (nine). Most of Duke’s targets were concentrated around the two-minute offense, and a more reasonable projection for him is one or two carries and six or seven targets.

If you feel compelled to consider guys in this offense, I don’t blame you, as Atlanta has been one of the most generous defenses in the league, and the Browns are an ascending unit, playing at home. Landry’s upside appears limited against a team that forces a below-average aDOT and tackles well after the catch, but he carries the highest floor. Njoku has a good matchup and should return solid tight end value.