Bengals Run D29th DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D19th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O8th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Ravens Run D7th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O19th DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D2nd DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O17th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 11 kicks off with Cincinnati facing off with Baltimore for a 46 total game with the Ravens favored by 4. Tee Higgins looks likely to miss for the Bengals, while the Ravens have Odell Beckham Jr. listed with a sore knee but he wasn’t on the initial injury report so it seems likely that he’s just getting some rest but will play. The Bengals, after a slow start due to Joe Burrow’s preseason calf injury, have won four of their last five games while scoring at least 24 points in four of them, while the Ravens are coming off of a tough upset loss in a game they were up by multiple scores. Still, the Ravens have scored 30+ points in four straight games while their defense is allowing the fewest points per game. After so many island games involving the Jets, the Giants, the Raiders, and other bottom-barrel teams, this is a fun one to write up. Let’s dig in.
The Ravens backfield is always a mess. Gus Edwards is the lead back but he’s a 2-down back who is averaging just 12 carries per game and 50 yards per game. His fantasy production is propped up by touchdowns. He has yet to reach 100 yards rushing in a game but he has eight end zone trips. The Ravens, of course, score a lot of touchdowns, and Gus is reasonably priced at $7,000, but he’s almost certainly going to need to score in order to find his way into the optimal lineup. His touchdown equity is solid, but at $7k, I personally will be underweight as I don’t like spending $7k on guys who don’t have paths to success without an end zone visit. Behind Gus is rookie phenomenon Keaton Mitchell, who has seen 12 NFL carries so far but has games of 23.4 and 13.6 Draftkings points on the strength of two long touchdown runs. He’s no longer dirt cheap, and the volume in the Ravens backfield is always shaky, so he’s essentially a very similar play to Gus: a low volume back who will need a touchdown to pay off. Gus is the favorite to lead the backfield in touches, though I do expect Mitchell’s role to continue to grow and he has better per-touch upside. Justice Hill is fading away with the emergence of Mitchell, but can still be used as a punt play, and the same goes for fullback Patrick Ricard, who could always luck into a random touchdown. Both are thin MME plays.
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The Ravens passing game is generally a low volume group that relies on high efficiency (much like the Ravens as a whole, really). Zay Flowers leads the wide receiver group and has roughly a 25% target share – good, except that has only amounted to 6.8 targets per game. Flowers is a guy I’ve mostly avoided on main slates due to lack of ceiling, but Showdown is a very different beast, and here at just $7,600, he’s a strong play as his modest volume is accounted for in his price. When the Ravens pass in the red zone (which is not often), Flowers is second on the team in targets with 10, and that’s resulted in just one touchdown so far this season, but the volume supports more and we can lean into regression here. Behind Flowers, Rashod Bateman’s role seems to be climbing, with 62%, 57%, and 74% of the snaps in the last three games. The oft-injured Bateman is talented but has struggled to convert that into fantasy production this season, having yet to reach even 10 Draftkings points. Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. round out the receiving corps, with Beckham on the field less often but having a couple of scores to boost his production, while Agholor’s role has dipped of late as Bateman has been playing more, resulting in just one or two targets in each of the last four games. Behind Flowers, the volume gets thin really fast. Personally, I view these guys all as highly volatile options.
Tight end is led by Mark Andrews with Isaiah Likely mixing in occasionally. Andrews, of course, is the other primary weapon in the passing game, but like Flowers, the overall low volume nature of this offense has limited him to just 5.9 targets per game. He’s outperformed Flowers on a per-catch basis and he also has a robust red zone role of 13 targets with six of those leading to touchdowns. The difference between Andrews and Flowers is narrower than their fantasy outputs would lead you to believe, with Andrews’ outperformance coming almost entirely from touchdowns – something that’s highly volatile and hard to predict from game to game. They’re obviously the two best plays of the Ravens pass catchers, but I think they’re closer to 50/50 than projections might account for.
Cowboys Run D9th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D6th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O30th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Panthers Run D32nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D22nd DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O7th DVOA/9th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The Cowboys listed all 53 players on the active roster as full participants on Wednesday’s estimated practice report (held a walkthrough).
- Panthers TE Hayden Hurst missed practice Wednesday while in the concussion protocol – he will likely miss Week 11.
- Panthers WR D.J. Chark returned to full practice on Wednesday after missing Week 10 with an elbow injury.
- CeeDee Lamb has absolutely destroyed man coverage this season but has been more human against zone, which is important considering the Panthers play the third-highest rate of zone coverage this year.
- Adam Thielen holds an elite 33.3 percent TPRR rate against man coverage this season, which is interesting because the Cowboys have run man coverage at the third-highest rate this season.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
We all know the infamous offseason quotes from Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy by now, three separate times alluding to the fact that he didn’t necessarily want to “light up the scoreboard” with every possession. And that is exactly how he approached the game plans before the team’s Week 7 bye, ranked near the middle of the league in pass rate over expectation and pace of play through the first six weeks. After their bye, however, this team has fully leaned into transforming their offense into something that looks to maximize each possession. Their three highest pass rate over expectation games have all come in the previous three weeks, moving them to the 12th overall in PROE on the season. Two of those games resulted in blowout wins (against the Rams and Giants), during which Dak Prescott played exactly zero fourth-quarter snaps – and the team still had elite PROE values. Furthermore, after failing to throw for more than 300 yards in any game over the first six weeks of the season, Dak had surpassed 300 yards through the air in every game since the bye and has thrown for three or more touchdowns in each contest in that time after just one game of multiple touchdown tosses in the first six weeks (two in Week 2 against the Jets). Dak (and the Cowboys) are cooking, and his head coach (and offensive play caller) is putting him in a position to succeed. Finally, and something that could be viewed as the most important change for this team, the Cowboys have remained aggressive regardless of game script (for at least three quarters) and have become extremely player-focused, with Mike McCarthy going so far as to keep CeeDee Lamb in the game on the first two plays of the fourth quarter after the rest of the starters left the game in Week 10 to feed Lamb two short passes to get him over 150 yards receiving for three straight contests.
Lead back Tony Pollard continues to operate in a pure workhorse role with the starters, seeing near 80 percent of the team’s opportunities with the starters since Week 8. So, while his snap rates appear to be “near lead back status and below workhorse status” over the previous three games, we must remember that the starters played in only one fourth quarter during that span.
The goods with Pollard:
- 44 red zone touches ranks second in the league behind only Christian McCaffrey.
- Averages 15 carries and 3.9 targets per game this year.
- Near 80 percent opportunity share with starters.
The bads with Pollard:
- 4.4 yards per touch ranks 36th, while 3.9 yards per carry ranks 42nd this year.
- Modest 4.4 percent breakaway run rate ranks 22nd in the league.
- Just six goal line carries through nine games played.
- 13.4 percent juke rate ranks 52nd in the league.
- The team is not getting him the ball in space as they did last season; instead, they are utilizing him in a between-the-tackle, straightforward way.
The matchup on the ground is pristine against a Panthers’ defense, allowing 4.3 yards per carry, 15 rushing scores, and 1.39 yards before contact this season, but the efficiency concerns remain rooted in schematic usage. In other words, it is much likelier that Pollard remains a victim of an uninspiring run scheme than that he forgot how to be a running back this offseason. Pollard will be backed up by Rico Dowdle in a strict change-of-pace role, who typically sees around 20 percent of the team’s snaps and opportunities in the absence of a blowout.
It should not be understated just how elite CeeDee Lamb has been during this recent three-game surge. During that time, Lamb has seen a combined 44 targets (14.67 per game) while seeing 14 targets or more in every game. He has surpassed 150 yards receiving in each game while scoring four total touchdowns, three receiving, and one rushing, including two games of multiple touchdowns scored, leading to two games of 42.5 DK points or more in three tries. All of that on an absolutely elite 40 percent team target market share. The team’s second option through the air until last week had been tight end Jake Ferguson, highlighted by a robust 29.8 percent red zone target market share. That was until Brandin Cooks saw only his second game with more than four targets and proceeded to easily set season-highs in targets, receptions, and yards on his way to a tidy 9-173-1 receiving line. What’s most impressive about that performance is that it came on just 41 offensive snaps while splitting snaps with Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, and Jalen Brooks (KaVontae Turpin was inactive). Expect the Dallas to continue to run from an 11-personnel base with Lamb and Ferguson in near-every-down roles while Cooks sees sub-elite snap rates and the tertiary options through the air (Gallup, Tolbert, Turpin, and Brooks) share the remaining snaps. The Panthers enter Week 11 playing the third highest rate of zone coverage (more than 85 percent), against which Lamb’s targets per route run rate drops from 33 percent against man to 22 percent against zone.
How carolina Will Try To Win ::
Steelers Run D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O20th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D7th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O29th DVOA/25th Yards per pass
Browns Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O8th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Browns Pass D2nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O20th DVOA/24th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Pittsburgh has a 6-3 record despite having a negative-26-point differential this season.
- Cleveland just lost franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season to a shoulder injury and will start rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson this week.
- Both defenses are performing at a very high level this season and have feasted.
- This is a rematch of an early-season Pittsburgh victory largely due to two defensive touchdowns.
- There will certainly be a lot of bad blood on the field after Nick Chubb was lost for the season to a devastating knee injury on a relatively dirty-looking play.
How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
The Steelers find ways to win. No other way to say it, they aren’t statistically or, on film, one of the top teams in the league, but they have a 6-3 record and are in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Steelers also appear to be evolving and improving as the season progresses. This could potentially make them a dangerous team late in the season if Kenny Pickett’s level of play can improve even a little bit. Pittsburgh acknowledged how good running back Jaylen Warren was last week by formally announcing him as a starter. Warren responded with his best game of the season and made several head-turning plays. The Steelers still gave Najee Harris the ball, and he also performed well against a struggling Packers run defense. The bottom line is that Pittsburgh’s game plan on a week-to-week basis is to lean on their improving run game and defense and rely on their opponents to make mistakes that allow them to win.
This week against the Browns will almost certainly be the same recipe for Pittsburgh as what was just described, as they face a team that handed them a win with multiple turnovers leading to defensive touchdowns in their first matchup and now are trotting out a rookie quarterback who looked completely overwhelmed in his only previous start against a similar Baltimore defense. Kenny Pickett is playing fine football but isn’t being asked to do much. On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be any reason why the Steelers would try to force the issue against one of the top defenses in the NFL. The Browns have given up some big offensive performances this season, but those have primarily been against very aggressive offenses. They have fared very well whenever they have faced a conservative, run-heavy offense. Pittsburgh will not try to fix what isn’t broken, especially with the unproven nature of their opponent’s quarterback, and we should see a healthy dose of Harris and Warren with a focus on the passing game of protecting the ball and getting it out quickly. Perhaps some screens will slow down the Browns pass rush and neutralize Myles Garrett.
How cleveland Will Try To Win ::
Bears Run D11th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O4th DVOA/4th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D27th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O9th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
Lions Run D7th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O9th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D13th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O23rd DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- WR Kalif Raymond picked up a “mild high-ankle sprain” in the Lions’ Week 10 win over the Chargers. He practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday.
- QB Justin Fields returned to practice as a full participant Wednesday and appears likely to start against the Lions.
- RBs Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman were both limited participants in Wednesday’s session; Herbert is currently in his 21-day practice window to be activated from injured reserve.
- Amon-Ra St. Brown has gone over 100 yards through the air in six of eight games and has 100 yards and/or a touchdown in every game this season.
How chicago Will Try To Win ::
The Bears have experienced a season of change through the first 10 weeks, failing to get anything going in a static offense over the first three weeks of the season, erupting for massive offensive performances in Week 4 and Week 5 against the Broncos and Commanders, respectively, and then adapting to a change at quarterback with the injury to Fields. That has given this team three separate identities through just over half of the season, and it remains pure conjecture to speculate on what that will look like with Fields expected back for a difficult matchup with their division rivals. That said, if we take the Bears at face value and examine the overall tendencies we’ve seen in those three different mini-eras, we’re left with the assumption that they’d like to base their offense on the ground game, with the potential for downfield passing with Fields back in the fold. In the two eruption games this season (Week 4 and Week 5), the Bears attempted 64 passes to 63 total rush attempts. That gives us a solid baseline expectation, one that involves modest pace and a run-balanced offensive design.
As was touched on above, there are continued uncertainties at play with this backfield. Herbert had his 21-day practice window opened but has yet to get in a full practice in his bid to return from injured reserve. Fill-in lead back Foreman also popped on the injury report Wednesday with a limited session, which makes sense considering his robust workload in recent weeks. We only have a one-game sample with all three of Herbert, Foreman, and rookie Roschon Johnson active together this season, which occurred way back in Week 1. The three shared duties in a near-even three-way split in that contest. Foreman and Herbert remain efficient backs capable of the gritty, between-the-tackles work in this offense while Johnson is best served for change of pace and obvious passing-down work. Either way, expect 28-32 combined rushing attempts between those three and Fields, which leaves little room for upside for any single member in that discussion unless either Herbert or Foreman miss, and even then, the matchup on the ground is about as difficult as the Bears will see this season. The Lions have held opposing backs to just 3.7 yards per carry and have yielded seven total rushing scores in nine games. Finally, Fields averages just under eight rush attempts per game this season (10.67 per game last year), which has to be considered in the equation of uncertainty as far as expected workload split amongst the ball carriers here.
Wide receiver DJ Moore and tight end Cole Kmet are the only remaining players to play near every-down roles in the pass game, with Darnell Mooney, Tyler Scott, and Equinameous St. Brown sharing the remaining work in an offense that utilizes 12-personnel at an above-average rate. That leaves very little room for upside to develop for any pass catcher not named Moore or Kmet. The Lions have run near league-average rates of man and zone coverage this season, a departure from recent history when they were one of the highest man-coverage units in the league. The stout nature of their defensive front has filtered additional volume to the air this season, leaving them ranked in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to both wide receivers and tight ends. Their linebacking group is one of the more athletically gifted units in the league, which has held opposing tight ends to modest yards-per-route-run numbers. Where teams have truly exploited the defensive tendencies of the Lions is in the red zone, with Detroit having allowed 15 combined touchdown passes to wide receivers and tight ends this season.
How detroit Will Try To Win ::
Chargers Run D26th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O25th DVOA/20th Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O10th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Packers Run D19th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O23rd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Packers Pass D17th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O6th DVOA/18th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Chargers WR Keenan Allen (shoulder) missed practice Wednesday before returning to a limited showing on Thursday. I expect him to play.
- Chargers TE Gerald Everett (chest) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and appears on the wrong side of questionable.
- Chargers backup TE/red zone threat Donald Parham (hip) was a ‘DNP’ Wednesday before a limited session Thursday.
- The Green Bay injury report is relatively clean, with RB Aaron Jones and WR Christian Watson practicing in a limited fashion on consecutive days.
- Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen combined to see 40 opportunities (carries plus targets) on 68 offensive plays run from scrimmage in Week 10 without Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer’s absences have taken their collective toll on offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense, with no viable secondary options left behind Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. Jalen Guyton has never commanded targets at a high rate, Quentin Johnston is clearly not ready for the NFL game (and is largely being utilized in ways that don’t optimize his talents), Derius Davis is a diminutive slot man behind Allen, Gerald Everett is showing his age, and Joshua Kelley has been wildly inconsistent. As such, a massive portion of this offense should run through Allen and Ekeler, more so than we have seen before. One good aspect of this offense is the proven ability to game plan and game manage to exploit deficiencies in their opposition. As such, expect a run-balanced approach emphasizing short-area passing over the middle of the field when they go to the air. As was mentioned above, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen combined to see 40 opportunities on 68 offensive plays run from scrimmage in Week 10 in the absence of Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer, a situation that is highly likely to continue forward due to the absence of viable secondary options.
Ekeler is fresh off a 26 running back opportunity game against a difficult Lions opponent in Week 10, marking the third consecutive game with seven or more targets. That said, he has really struggled on the ground this season, trudging to 3.6 yards per carry and not going over a modest 3.5 yards per carry mark in any games since Week 1. That is down significantly from the 4.5 and 4.4 yards per carry values he put up in the previous two seasons, respectively. Even so, he has 23 red zone opportunities and eight goal-line carries through six games played, which puts him on pace for the third-best red zone role in a per-game framing of all backs in the league. The Packers rank 26th in DK points allowed per game to opposing backfields, giving up eight rushing scores to the position. Joshua Kelley should continue in his change-of-pace role but has not seen more than seven running back opportunities since week 4, the last game Ekeler missed.
The duo of Ekeler and Allen combined for a robust 21 targets on 40 Justin Herbert pass attempts in Week 10 against the Lions, which honestly could be on the low end of the weekly range of outcomes as far as team target market share goes without Williams and Palmer. We could see these two in the 70-75 percent range in a game or two at some point over the remainder of the season. There just isn’t a lot of viable depth behind those two on the roster currently and Kellen Moore has a proven record of emphasizing his top options. Seriously, Jalen Guyton (14.0 percent TPRR against zone) is the closest player to the TPRR rates of Allen and Ekeler against zone coverage this season amongst the remaining skill position players on the roster. Quentin Johnston (12.1 percent)ranks 113th in fantasy points per route run against zone coverage this season. We’re exploring zone so heavily because the Packers run the ninth-highest rate of zone coverage in the league this year, against which Allen holds an elite 0.54 fantasy points per route run (fourth) and a solid 26.1 percent TPRR rate.
How green bay Will Try To Win ::
Cardinals Run D30th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O27th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D31st DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O3rd DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Texans Run D10th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O15th DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
Texans Pass D26th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O27th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Breakout WR Noah Brown did not practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday, making his outlook appear grim for Week 11.
- WR Nico Collins got in back-to-back limited sessions and told the media that he intends to play against the Cardinals.
- RB Dameon Pierce continues to miss practice leading up to Week 11, listed as a ‘DNP’ in both sessions this week (as of Thursday).
- The Texans excel in so many areas that the Cardinals struggle with defensively.
How ARIZONA Will Try To Win ::
As an Arizona native, I was absolutely shocked to see the Cardinals give so much effort on that final drive of the game and kick a field goal to blindly give up the inside track to the first overall pick. This team was sitting with a 1-8 record with zero chance at making the playoffs, and yet they called that final drive like it was a must-win, lose-and-go-home-type drive. Either way, the Cardinals showed us, without any shadow of a doubt, that they are not going to keel over and die for the rest of the season… which is at least good news to us DFSers. Furthermore, the Cardinals had their first positive pass rate over expectation (PROE) game in quite some time in Week 10, with quarterback Kyler Murray attempting 32 passes to just 19 called running back carries. And that came in a game in which they trailed by just two points going into the half and traded the lead with the Falcons for the entire second half. Even so, the Cardinals have been far from efficient and continue to struggle in the red zone. Their 61.0 plays per game ranks 24th in the league after running just 58 offensive plays from scrimmage against the Falcons.
James Conner returned from injured reserve to see 63 percent of the team’s offensive snaps and 16 carries. Somewhat confusingly, no Cardinals running back saw a target against the Falcons, which is likely a trend we see continue forward with Murray back under center. Kyler saw six carries himself, which is right in line with his returns on the ground from a season ago after fewer designed runs were called for him while dealing with a multitude of injuries. Either way, the matchup on the ground is not ideal against a Texans defense holding opponents to 3.5 yards per carry (third) behind 1.22 yards before contact per carry allowed (eighth). Emari Demercado appears likely to return from a two-game absence this week, which should kick Keaontay Ingram back to the tertiary role and Tony Jones back to inactive status.
The Cardinals have run elevated rates of 12-personnel all season, a trend that continued into Murray’s first start of the year. That has left Marquise Brown and rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson as the only near every-down pass catchers in this offense, with second-year tight end Trey McBride the next closest player (in the absence of Zach Ertz), who averages a 76 percent snap rate over the previous three games. Rondale Moore continues to play snap rates in the high 60s, while the offense has at long last appeared to trim the proverbial fat, with Zach Pascal and Greg Dortch combining for only four offensive snaps in Week 10. The Texans notably run zone coverage at the league’s seventh-highest rate this season, against which no pass catcher jumps off the page in targets per route run (TPRR). It’s actually McBride that leads the team in fantasy points per route run against zone coverage this year at 0.48, which is a number in line with some of the top wide receivers in the league against zone. Wilson is the top wide receiver in that split at 0.38 and is the only other pass catcher to rank inside the top 90 at his respective position in fantasy points per route run in 2023 (yea, bad, bad).
How houston Will Try To Win ::
Titans Run D2nd DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O24th DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D30th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O11th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Jaguars Run D1st DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O16th DVOA/15th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D8th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O21st DVOA/12th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By PAPY324 >>
- This game has a low total because only the Jaguars are expected to do any scoring. How much scoring the Jaguars do will directly depend on the Titans’ ability to keep up in the game.
- Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley both qualify as “play passing game pieces against the Titans” guys this week. Both are priced at or below $6K on DK.
- Trevor Lawrence hasn’t scored more than 20.7 DK points all season! This is a get-right spot at home, against a pass-funnel defense, but he has shown no upside so far this year.
- Travis Etienne saw his lowest snap share (61%) of the season last week coming out of the Jags’ bye. The game was also a blowout, and he got his bell rung on a trick play.
- The Titans still want to play 1990s football, but Will Levis looks like a gunslinger, boasting the highest aDOT in the league.
- DeAndre Hopkins has seen an elite target share and is the only Titans WR to collect any volume. He burned a large portion of the field last week and might be underowned.
How TENNESSEE Will Try To Win ::
The 3-6 Titans limp into Week 11 having gone 1-4 in their past five games. The Titans are in the basement of the AFC, and it would take a small miracle for them to make the playoffs. They’ve essentially accepted their fate, finally turning to Levis, who has played a lot more like a first-year starter the last two weeks than he did after his hot start against the pass-funnel Falcons. Levis needs to go through normal growing pains, but he does have the look of a QB who is going to be good. We’ve seen this archetype over the years (Peyton Manning being the best example) of a strong-armed rookie who makes a lot of plays alongside a lot of mistakes in his first season. The Titans have opened the offense by their standards the past couple of weeks (Levis leads the league with a 11.4-yard aDOT), but they still rank second to last in pace of play, are 22nd in pass rate over expectation (PROE), and 19th in passing rate. Mike Vrabel’s team has a ground-and-pound identity. That isn’t going to change as long as he is the head coach.
The Titans’ long-term future is better served by losing out for higher draft picks, but Vrabel’s butt is probably starting to feel warm. He’s going to try and do everything he can to motivate his team to win this game, likely giving a speech that involves “hitting them in the mouth.” Despite Vrabel’s zeal, this version of the Titans has one of the worst offensive lines in the league (31st-ranked by PFF). They couldn’t protect Levis at all last week, leading to 13 hits and four sacks. Even though the Jaguars defense was gashed by the 49ers, they’ve generally been good this year. Their run defense has been strong (No. 4 in DVOA), and their pass defense has been well above average (No. 6 in DVOA). There isn’t an obvious place to attack them, and even if there was, the Titans would still run the ball. The Titans’ best chance is to come out throwing, but that is unlikely to be their game plan. Expect another run-heavy approach, with a little bit more willingness to let Levis attack downfield than we’ve seen over the past few years with Ryan Tannehill.
How Jacksonville Will Try To Win ::
Raiders Run D21st DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O2nd DVOA/1st Yards per carry
Raiders Pass D14th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O4th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Dolphins Run D21st DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Raiders Run O29th DVOA/31st Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D12th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per pass
Raiders Pass O29th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Electric rookie RB De’Von Achane returned to a limited session Wednesday and Thursday after having his 21-day practice window opened. It remains to be seen if he’ll be activated for Week 11, but it’s currently looking like he will be active on Sunday.
- Dolphins RB Raheem Mostert was limited in both practices this week, which is notable, at bare minimum, considering the team is coming off its bye week.
- All Raiders players got in a limited session, at minimum, on Thursday, meaning they appear likely to be at full strength against the Dolphins.
How LAS VEGAS Will Try To Win ::
The Raiders have fallen to 25th in pass rate over expectation (PROE) with two straight games of extreme rush rates under interim head coach Antonio Pierce, during which time rookie starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell has attempted just 52 passes in total. That compares to the 64 combined team rush attempts over a two-game sample since Josh McDaniels’ dismissal. The Raiders have been one of the more run-funnel defenses in the league this season, which has allowed Pierce to keep the ball on the ground and shorten games recently. Expect more of the same moving forward, even in a matchup with a Dolphins team that should find some level of success in this spot.
After seeing 20 or more carries just twice in the team’s first eight games played, workhorse running back Josh Jacobs has seen 26 and 27 carries the last two weeks. That said, his once consistent pass-game usage has fallen off a cliff during that time, seeing just two total targets in the previous two contests. Even so, averaging 27.5 running back opportunities after a coaching change should be treated as more signal than noise as it comes with a true predictive factor (as opposed to a more descriptive statistic that would be more influenced by game-noisy inputs like game environment). All of that to say, Jacobs currently holds one of the most robust workloads of any back in the league. He is also coming off his first game all season with more than 100 yards on the ground as he continues to struggle through inefficiency, even behind an offensive line generating the fifth-highest yards-before-contact mark at 1.52 yards per carry. The matchup on the ground should be considered middling, at best, against a Dolphins defense holding opposing backs to 3.9 yards per carry behind just 1.24 yards allowed before contact. Ameer Abdullah should mix in for obvious passing down work, while customary change-of-pace option Zamir White has been utilized sparingly in recent weeks.
After double-digit targets in four of his first six games played, complementary wide receiver Jakobi Meyers has seen just seven targets over the previous two games while taking a distant back seat to alpha wide receiver Davante Adams. For comparison, Adams has seen 20 targets over those two games, with 13 his last time out. In fact, Adams has seen a target on 33 of O’Connell’s 91 pass attempts as the starter this season, good for an insane 36.3 percent target market share. Meyers has seen just 11 targets in O’Connell’s three starts, a paltry 12.1 percent target market share. Tight end Michael Mayer has become far more involved from the perspectives of snap rate and route-participation rate, seeing 88 percent or more of the offensive snaps in each of the previous three games but failing to eclipse a modest six targets in any game this year. In other words, this offense went from a highly concentrated unit amongst three players to a highly concentrated unit amongst one player, with everyone on the team outside of Adams highly unlikely to see more than five or six targets on a given week. With that likeliest scenario understood, it is at least worth mentioning that the Raiders have not experienced a negative game script while under the tutelage of Pierce, which could open up an opportunity for one of the secondary pieces to see an increase to their modest expectation.
How miami Will Try To Win ::
Giants Run D28th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O18th DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Giants Pass D23rd DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O23rd DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Commanders Run D12th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O32nd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O32nd DVOA/31st Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Tommy DeVito experience will continue for the Giants as they set their sights on the top pick in the 2024 draft.
- New York’s defense is suffering as it struggles to keep up a high level of play due to the continued short drives from their offense.
- This is one of several rematches on the Week 11 slate, as the Giants won the first matchup between these teams 14-7 with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.
- Washington has been quietly competitive throughout this season despite their 4-6 record.
- The Commanders pass defense has been horrific this season, but that might not matter in this matchup.
How new york Will Try To Win ::
Rewatching the Giants 49-17 loss to the Cowboys in Week 10, as strange as it may sound, it feels hard to put much blame on the Giants defense. The New York offense was off the field so quickly on every drive that it became hard to continue to hold their ground against the high-powered Dallas offense. Looking at the box score, you can see that Dallas scored only 7 points in the opening quarter and 7 points in the fourth quarter, dropping 35 points combined in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. This isn’t to say the Giants defense looked great, as they gave up 640 total yards of offense, but rather to point out how, despite football having separate components (offense, defense, special teams), those components are correlated in terms of performance in many ways. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, good performance on one side of the ball often predicates better conditions for the opposing side. This is why we can often see teams with wildly different outcomes on a week-to-week basis. As for the Giants, it is hard to see big swings in a positive direction as currently constructed. Their defense ranks 26th in DVOA against the pass and 30th in DVOA against the run, while their offense roughly resembles a high school JV team.
Looking at this week, the Giants are sticking with Tommy DeVito at quarterback and have not shown much trust to let him push the ball down the field even when they are getting run out of the building, making it hard to imagine they will be aggressive to start this game. That’s a bit of an issue this week, as Washington’s defense is far more vulnerable against the pass. This is a secondary that we have been actively attacking in DFS so far this season and that opponents have noticed and have been letting their quarterbacks loose against them. The fact that New York likely can’t take advantage of its opponent’s biggest weakness is a negative factor for their projection. The Giants game plan will be squarely built around Saquon Barkley and the running game, with their passing focused on play action and short to intermediate “bunny” throws that let DeVito protect the ball. New York won an ugly, low-scoring game against Washington the first time around, and they will attempt to do so again this week. There will likely be a bit more energy on the defensive side of the ball as well, knowing that they’ve accomplished this feat once and that this is an offense they can contain to the point where maybe 14 to 17 points from the offense can be enough.
How washington Will Try To Win ::
Buccaneers Run D13th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O3rd DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D20th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O1st DVOA/1st Yards per pass
49ers Run D20th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O26th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O18th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- These teams are in the thick of tight divisional races and are coming off big Week 10 victories that ended their respective losing streaks.
- Tampa Bay’s defense has been one of the league’s bigger “pass funnel” units this season.
- The 49ers offense is primarily built around their running game but is perhaps the most efficient passing offense in the league.
- Matchups and situational tendencies will likely lead to elevated play volume for this game relative to what the “first layer” of stats would indicate.
- The 49ers have a quick turnaround for a Thanksgiving night showdown with the Seahawks, which will have huge divisional and playoff implications.
- Both defenses rank top-5 in opponent pass rate, pointing to a potentially explosive game environment.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
The Bucs lost four straight games before last week’s dominant victory over the Titans, and their season appeared to be slowly slipping away. However, closer inspection shows that the most recent three losses in that span were all by single digits and were by a combined 11 points. Tampa Bay quickly went from a team whose record appeared to be fluky at 3-1 coming out of their Week 5 bye to a team that has been more formidable than their current 4-5 record would indicate. The Bucs likely were robbed by a missed pass interference call on a Hail Mary against the Bills that could have led to an upset victory on Thursday night football in Week 8 and were stunned by late-game heroics and a historic performance from CJ Stroud in Week 9. As they say, it’s a game of inches, and the Bucs are extremely close to being a 6-3 team right now (coincidentally, the same record as the 49ers currently boast). Despite those narrow losses, the Bucs are only a half-game behind the Saints in the NFC South, and with the Saints on bye, they could take the division lead with an upset win this week.
Baker Mayfield’s return to relevance continued with another solid performance in Week 10 against the Titans. Mayfield has had his rough moments this season, but for a player that so many had written off after last season (and the one prior), Mayfield has shown toughness and competitiveness for the Bucs and has been very good at getting the ball to the right players at the right times this season. The Bucs will need him this week, as their running game is one of the worst in the league, and they face a tough 49ers defense that may not have the greatest run defense “metrics” right now but is far from a pushover. The Bucs rank 32nd in the NFL in yards per carry, 31st in rushing offense DVOA, and 25th in PFF run-blocking grade. They are almost certain to have very little success running the ball this week, and with the 49ers offense appearing to be clicking again, they should enter this game knowing they will need to score points early and often to have a chance. The Bucs defense has been extremely opponent-sensitive this season, having strong showings against weaker offenses like the Titans, Falcons, and Saints while struggling against the more explosive teams on their schedule like the Eagles, Bills, and Texans. This 49ers offense is among the best in the league, and Tampa Bay will need to approach this game aggressively offensively to have a chance.
How san francisco Will Try To Win ::
Jets Run D17th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O6th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Jets Pass D4th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/8th Yards per pass
Bills Run D14th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O32nd DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D16th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O31st DVOA/30th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Jets season is on the brink as they continue to lose close games despite solid play from their defense.
- All things considered, Zach Wilson looked better than most people will admit last week.
- Buffalo is playing on a short week and just fired their offensive coordinator for throwing interceptions and defensive substitutions.
- This is a rematch of a Week 1 game that the Jets won on Monday Night Football in dramatic fashion on a punt return touchdown.
- The Bills have lost three of their last four games with two of those matchups coming at the hands of teams that have not played well this season.
How new york Will Try To Win ::
The Jets are a frustrating team to watch for many reasons. Zach Wilson has obviously had his struggles and does some head-scratching things at times. On the other hand, he also made a few plays in Week 10 against the Raiders that were absolutely incredible and only a handful of QBs in the league could even think of trying. The interesting thing about the Jets and Wilson is that their apparent lack of confidence in him, and his frequent lack of confidence in himself, leads to a very conservative approach that leans on the run. Watching the games, and seeing how he performs when they are down late and have no choice but to cut it loose, I can’t help but wonder if he would actually be better if they took a more aggressive approach. The early down runs are pretty predictable and often lead to longer third downs in predictable passing situations. Just a theory, but the Jets may benefit from playing as the aggressor rather than on their heels all the time. While there is a greater chance of being run out of the building with that approach, the alternative is they just continue being put in these close games that they are going to come out on the wrong end of in most instances.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the Jets offense has been their offensive line. They rank 30th in PFF pass blocking grade, and this week face the Bills and their 12th graded pass rush. Buffalo’s defensive scheme is primarily a Cover-3 look that focuses on preventing big plays in the passing game. Ironically, the Jets offense also focuses on preventing big plays in their passing game. The Jets had a ton of success running on the Bills in Week 1 and that was when they were still taking things slowly with Breece Hall. In that game, Hall had 127 rushing yards on only 10 carries. Now operating as the clear bell cow for this team, Hall will be the centerpiece of the Jets offensive game plan in this matchup and seems very likely to see 20 to 25 touches with work on the ground and through the air. Garrett Wilson continues to operate as a true alpha wide receiver and is almost a lock to see double digit targets once again with a legitimate shot at 15 targets in this game if New York falls behind. Meanwhile, tight end Tyler Conklin has had his best two games of the season the last two weeks and should see a lot of volume once again with Buffalo’s scheme forcing things underneath. All things considered, the Jets are going to once again rely on their defense keeping them in this one, with the offense built around Hall and Garrett Wilson while they attempt to play “hide the quarterback” with Zach Wilson.
How buffalo Will Try To Win ::
Seahawks Run D18th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O11th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D23rd DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O16th DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Rams Run D23rd DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O22nd DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Rams Pass D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O15th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- A rematch of a Week 1 game that was a surprising and dominant performance by the Rams in a 30-13 victory.
- The Seahawks have a quick turnaround for a Thanksgiving night showdown with the 49ers which will have huge divisional and playoff implications.
- The Rams are coming off their bye week and need some wins to stay in playoff contention after a hot start to their season.
- Seattle’s defense has been elite against the run for most of this season.
- The Rams have scored more than 20 points only once in their last five games.
How seattle Will Try To Win ::
The Seahawks are a hard team to nail down, as they have a 6-3 record and a couple of impressive performances but also have been dominated twice this season, including a season-opening defeat at the hands of the Rams. That game was a 30-13 Rams victory and the Ravens steamrolled Seattle two weeks ago in Baltimore 37-3. If you look closer at the Seahawks victories this season, this is what you see:
- 37-31 impressive road win over a very good Lions team
- 37-27 home win over the 1-8 Panthers
- 24-3 win over the 2-8 Giants
- 20-10 win over the 2-8 Cardinals
- 24-20 home win over the Browns with their backup QB
- 29-26 home win over the 4-6 Commanders
Looking down that list you can see that the Seahawks really haven’t had an overly impressive performance since Week 2 against the Lions. The Seahawks can’t control who is on their schedule, but it is hard to give them the respect their record would initially indicate once you understand the totality of what went into that record. The Seahawks have a negative one point differential for the season through Week 10. For comparison’s sake, they are tied for the NFC West division lead with the 49ers who have a plus 89 point differential.
This week’s matchup with the Rams presents an opportunity for the Seahawks to avenge their embarrassing Week 1 loss but it will surely be no easy task. The Rams and Seahawks know each other well and both coaching staffs have been in place for several years, so there should be very few surprises but also both teams know a few things that will work against their opponent on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks passing game appears to be hitting its stride after a very good performance against the Commanders last week. In Week 1, rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba was coming off an injury and the Seahawks lost both starting tackles during the game. Seattle’s pass protection should be much improved by comparison this week and Geno Smith is playing well with all his receivers available. The Rams play the 6th highest rate of zone coverage and rank 26th in the NFL in QB pressure rate. This creates a situation where Geno Smith should have a clean pocket and be able to find his receivers in open spots in the Rams zone coverage this week to move the ball. The Rams run defense metrics are a little misleading, as they have Aaron Donald who can disrupt things and grade out as PFF’s 8th ranked run defense. The Seattle running game has been up and down this season, but they have not run well against the Rams historically. Notably, the Seahawks passing game had one of their best performances of the season last year against the Rams on the road in the second half of the year. It was one of the few times that both DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett had highly productive games in the same week.
How los Angeles Will Try To Win ::
Vikings Run D8th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O12th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D9th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O12th DVOA/23rd Yards per pass
Broncos Run D31st DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O30th DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D28th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O14th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football has the Vikings visiting the Broncos for a 42.5 total game with Denver favored by 2.5 points. Side note: what a fun week to write up Showdowns after some of the miserable games we’ve endured lately. This one is super interesting because we have the Vikings implied for just 20 points though they’ve scored 31 and 27 in two games with Josh Dobbs at quarterback. Meanwhile, as noted in last week’s Showdown writeup, the Broncos defense has played better of late (and better than their season-long numbers would have you think). After struggling in the early season, culminating in a disastrous 70 points allowed to the Dolphins (and an almost-as-bad 31 to the Jets), they’ve held the Chiefs to 19 and 9, then upset Buffalo on the road and held them to 22. The Broncos D still rates poorly by DVOA, largely based on the early half of their season, while the Vikings D has been above average against both the run and the pass. Overall, we have a lot of uncertainty around the offensive identity of the Vikings with their new quarterback, and the Broncos defense has been alternately terrible and really, really good at different points of the season, so there are a lot of ways this one could go.
Injury update, Mattison expected to play
Mattison is coming back from the concussion protocol in a single week, making him a very rare case this season. I was confident that Chandler would get the significant majority of the work if he was the lead back because his backup was largely unproven. Mattison, however, was usually playing around 55-60% of the snaps lately. It seems like the Vikings have lost some faith in him. I still think he’s likely to out-touch Chandler but it’s probably more like 60/40 instead of 70/30 (or higher) if it was Chandler/Nwangwu. Still, Mattison is only $7400 but the situation is now shakier, and if it’s a split backfield, neither Mattison nor Chandler will project as very strong plays (and thus likely won’t be super heavily owned). You can take a risk here on Mattison (or even on Chandler if you want to bet that the Vikings are discouraged with Mattison and hand the reins over), but it’s not as clear-cut of a situation as it was with Mattison out.
Injury notes (original write-up)
We also have a lot of injury stuff to deal with so let me quickly sum up how I’m writing this. I’m assuming Justin Jefferson is still out. T.J. Hockenson will play – no injury designation and he played through the pain last week so he’s clearly going to be in. Jerry Jeudy picked up a hip injury mid-week, and he’s the one I’m most uncertain about. I’m going to write this as if he’s in, but if he happens to be out, it’s obviously a boost to the rest of the Broncos, and especially Marvin Mims. Alexander Mattison sustained a concussion last week, and aside from Brock Purdy, most players this year have returned the next week following a concussion as the NFL is taking a more cautious approach.
On the Broncos side, as noted in last Monday’s Showdown write-up, we’re seeing Javonte Williams’ role become elite as he gets further into the season and away from last year’s injury. Williams has handled 19, 30, and 25 running back opportunities in his last three games, including 11 targets. Assuming the game stays close, we can reasonably project 18-20 touches with upside for more, and as a home favorite running back with a solid passing game role, he’s a strong play even as his price continues to creep up – $8,800 is more than fair for his role. He’s not quite a bell cow in that he’s still ceding some snaps to both Jaleel McClaughlin as a change-of-pace back on the ground and Sameje Perine as a passing down back, but that’s more a function of how Denver prefers to play with a ground-heavy attack (bottom-10 passing play percentage at 55.7%). There’s volume to go around here on the ground. McLaughlin is handling about 4-6 carries and a couple of targets per game, giving him enough volume-based floor that if he finds his way into the end zone, he could pay off without needing a volume spike (i.e. he can hit without Javonte getting hurt), while Perine is playing more snaps but is only averaging about three targets a game – he’s being used more as a blocker, and he’s more game-script sensitive than the others. Perine is more valuable in “Vikings win” lineups that could potentially cause an increase in targets. Otherwise, you’re hoping for a lucky receiving touchdown, which is something of a longshot with his one target inside the 10 yard line all season.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Broncos remain maddeningly spread out and low volume, with their “alpha” wide receiver Courtland Sutton averaging just 6.5 targets per game. Sutton has been getting by on touchdowns, finding the end zone in seven of nine games – a wildly unsustainable rate, but he does have the best red zone usage on the team with 13 targets while nobody else has more than six. It’s really hard to love a guy who is so touchdown dependent, but at least Draftkings did a good job with his price, as $8,200 is reasonable for a WR1 on a lower-volume offense. He’s fine. Jerry Jeudy, on the other hand, is much shakier as noted in the Showdown writeup for the game against the Bills last week – his receiving numbers per game are very similar to Sutton’s, except without the touchdowns, and that isn’t just variance because Jeudy has only three red zone targets on the year. Of course, in any given game things could swing his way, but when he’s priced right next to Sutton, just as it was against the Bills last week, Sutton is the stronger on-paper play. Ok, next up . . . Marvin Mims truthers unite! After waiting and waiting for the Mims’ role to expand, coming out of their bye the Broncos played him on 69% of the offensive snaps (nice). That resulted in just a single target, but with him being on the field so much more, surely better things are coming for the talented rookie. It’s a bit of a bummer that Draftkings priced him all the way up to $5,600 – quite a huge price increase from $1,600 two weeks ago even though he has just one catch in that time – but also smart by them to avoid him being hugely chalky. I expect that, given his production to date, people will shy away from the price tag, but we know he has the ability to pay it off even on limited volume as we’ve already seen him do it twice this year. Is it Mims SZN? I don’t know – he’s on the field more, which is a great sign, but we still have to consider him a highly volatile, likely low-volume kind of play. The upside, though, is enticing. WR4 Lil’jordan Humphrey saw his role decrease as Mims’ role increased, and he will likely only play a handful of snaps, relegating him to the pile of punt plays.
At tight end, the Broncos will trot out Adam Trautman, Chris Manhertz, and OWS Discord Hero Lucas Krull. Trautman and Manhertz are almost entirely blockers with very modest target volume, and both can be viewed as punt plays (Trautman does have some “pray for a touchdown” upside as he is actually second on the team in red zone targets with six). Krull . . . is intriguing. He came out of nowhere to play 27% of the snaps last week, and he was running some nice downfield routes on many of them. He only saw one target, on which Russ missed him (badly). I’m not sure many people outside of OWS even know who this guy is, and to be clear, he is a very thin play, but at $200 and likely very modest ownership, he’s a non-crazy punt option for tournament play.
Eagles Run D4th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D21st DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O5th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Chiefs Run D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O5th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D3rd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O8th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Oh boy. After a lot of disappointing island game slates, Week 11 brings us a really exciting one with the Eagles visiting the Chiefs for a 45.5 total game with Kansas City favored by 2.5. Wait . . . what? 45.5?! If I had looked at the complete Showdown calendar before the season, I would have circled this as an obvious 50+ total spot for a shootout. The Eagles offense has continued to be elite this season, scoring 28 points per game but the Chiefs defense is legit, allowing a league-low 15.9 points per game. The Chiefs offense, meanwhile, has sputtered this season, scoring just 23.1 points per game (13th in the NFL is respectable, but not what we’re used to seeing from Kansas City – they’re below Cleveland and Indy, for crying out loud), while the Eagles defense is middle of the pack, allowing 21.7 points per game. In aggregate, these teams are scoring 51.1 points per game but allowing just 37.6 points per game, so maybe this total is . . . reasonable? Weird how things change and we have to adjust our perceptions, eh? The Chiefs are no longer an uber offense that scores on everyone and gets into shootouts, while the Eagles D has backslid a bit from last year’s elite unit. There are a lot of ways this one could go.
Let’s start with the Chiefs ground game. Isiah Pacheco has a solid lead back role this season, playing around 60% or so of the snaps most weeks. But the Chiefs are such a pass-heavy offense that this role has led to just 13.8 carries per game to go along with about three targets. $7,200 is a fair price for a running back averaging 16.8 opportunities per game including passing game work, but the matchup on the ground here is truly awful against an Eagles D ranking second in DVOA against the run but just 22nd against the pass. The Chiefs are a pass-heavy offense and it’s reasonable to expect them to tilt even further in that direction given the matchup, which adds some concerns to Pacheco’s potential volume. With modest volume and a difficult matchup, he’ll almost certainly need to find the end zone in order to put up a strong score, but when the Chiefs get in close, they’re usually passing: Pacheco has 10 carries inside the 10 yard line while Mahomes has 26 pass attempts. “Home favorite running back at $7,200” jumps off the page initially, but when we really dig in here, there isn’t much to make us like Pacheco besides the fact that he’s a running back on a good offense. He can still hit, of course, but I’m less excited to play him than I thought I would be at first glance. Behind him is Jerick McKinnon in a primarily passing game role, but the volume here has been abysmal with just 23 targets in nine games. The thesis for McKinnon in Best Ball and in the earlier part of the year was that towards the end of last season, we were seeing him get a ton of schemed usage in the red zone, leading to nine touchdowns in the final six games of last season, but that just hadn’t materialized this year. McKinnon has just two targets inside the 10 yard line. I was surprised to see him at $5,600 given his complete lack of volume. At a cheaper price, he could be worth taking some shots on, but at $5,600, he’s wildly overpriced for his role and only really in play as a “hope for a touchdown” option. Given how the Chiefs spread the ball around, I get it, but there’s really nothing that makes him jump out at me.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, we’ll start at tight end because that’s where the Chiefs offense starts. Travis Kelce hasn’t lost a step in his age 34 season, averaging nine targets per game and 74 receiving yards. Kelce has at least eight targets and has reached double-digit Draftkings points in all but one game. The guy is still elite and he’s in a pass funnel matchup – it’s wheels up here on Kelce. Beyond him, as we know, the Chiefs are wildly unpredictable, with six other wide receivers likely to see snaps: Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman are all likely to see the field. Rice is the rookie who seems to really be emerging here, with his snaps climbing from below 50% earlier in the year to 59%, 61%, and 68% in his last three games. He’s also quickly become a trusted red zone weapon for Mahomes with five targets inside the 10 yard line (Kelce has six, no other wide receiver has more than six). MVS and Watson both play deep threat roles, averaging 17.8 and 19.7 yards per catch, respectively, but on very limited volume (24 and 25 targets, respectively). Skyy Moore is looking more and more like a bust and saw his snaps plummet to 25% last game, his lowest mark of the season and first time below 50%. Toney and Hardman play very limited roles but both have been schemed usage when on the field, though it looks like Hardman is eating into Toney’s role in that regard (three of Toney’s four lowest snap-count games have come since Hardman rejoined the Chiefs in Week 7). This group is a mess. Rice is the guy with the clearly ascending role, but that’s still resulted in just 4.5 targets per game, and at $7,400, he’s overpriced for his volume. He’s the safest option but the most expensive, while everyone else is hard to feel a tremendous amount of confidence in. The Chiefs already pass at the sixth highest rate in the NFL so there isn’t a ton of room for them to go even more pass heavier, but even if they do, things are so spread out that we can’t realistically project much volume for any of the wideouts. Yikes. Rice is the best play here, followed by Watson (I think), then MVS, then Hardman, then Moore, then Toney – at least that’s how I’d rank them, but to be clear there’s a lot of volatility here and it’s mostly guesswork. I’ll share some thoughts on groups for the Chiefs WRs in the suggested rules section of the article. Oh, and you can also include TE2 Noah Gray in your player pool – he’s playing around half the snaps as well, with another 2-3 targets per game. Good grief.