Lions Run D7th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O25th DVOA/20th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D13th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O10th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Packers Run D19th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O4th DVOA/4th Yards per carry
Packers Pass D17th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O9th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 4 begins with an exciting matchup as the Lions visit the Packers for a 45.5 total game with (wait for it) . . . Detroit favored by 1.5. When was the last time you can remember the Lions being favored over the Packers? We also have some key injury info to sort through on this one. As I sit down to write this on Tuesday night, I’ll have to make some guesses as to how things turn out and then update this article when we know more (or, update things in our Discord if we don’t get clarity until close to kickoff).
On the Packers side, Aaron Jones has been marked as a limited participant in practice walkthroughs the last two days. That seems like a positive trend so I’m going to take a guess that he’s playing in this one. If he does, we know the matchup is great and we saw Jones score two touchdowns in Week 1 on 14 touches before getting hurt. But, we need to recognize that this is a different Packers offense. Jordan Love appears to be a more aggressive quarterback through the air than Aaron Rodgers was, which could ding Jones’ pass game role if Love is taking deep shots (Love currently leads the league in average depth of target). The Packers might also take it a bit easy on Jones coming back, and they’re also expecting Christian Watson to return and that would provide another option to soak up volume. At $10.8k, Jones is the second most expensive skill position player on the slate. If we get news early, I expect him to carry a significant chunk of ownership (though we’ll have to wait for point projections, as those drive ownership). If he’s a game time decision, he’ll be less owned and that makes me more interested, but if we see him get the 40-50% ownership that the premium skill position players usually get, that’s an underweight position for me at his price and with an uncertain workload. Behind Jones is AJ Dillon, who has looked awful, quite frankly, in the RB role for the last two weeks. The matchups haven’t been great but Dillon is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the season so far and has just four targets. Volume matters more than talent at the running back position so if Jones is out, $7k is too cheap for Dillon and I’ll want to utilize him, but he’s too expensive as an RB2 if Jones plays unless you want to go for a pay up to be contrarian play (he DOES still have a ceiling, as does any running back in Showdown. Even as an RB2, it’s feasible that he could reach 10-12 points if he scores a touchdown, with ceiling beyond that if he breaks a big play, lands in the end zone twice, or if Jones is eased back in or reaggravates his hamstring).
Ownership updates automatically
The passing game for the Packers should take a step forward with the return of Watson, who absolutely crushed towards the end of the season last year. Now that we’ve seen Love act as a capable NFL quarterback, any preseason concerns I had about this offense are put to rest. We do need to remember two things about Watson: first is that he could well be eased back in as he’s missed a lot of time, so there’s no guarantee he will step into a full-time role. The second is that his fantasy production last year came on some pretty insane efficiency – he caught 41 balls for 611 yards and 7 touchdowns, which is nuts. He had three games over 100 receiving yards (despite topping out at six catches in a game) and the touchdowns are pretty fluky. That said, he clearly showed that he has explosive upside and the price is more than fair at $8,200. The question is how much he will play. Unless we get clarity from beat reporter info before kickoff, that’s going to be something of a shot in the dark. In a volatile situation like this, I will take my normal approach of “lean into volatility at lower ownership, lean away from it at higher ownership.” With Watson back, we can expect him to mostly impact the roles of Dontayvion Wicks and Samori Toure, leaving Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed as the primary wideouts with Watson and Doubs on the perimeter and Reed in the slot (this also means that, based on what we’ve seen so far, Reed is the most vulnerable to losing snaps when the Packers run heavy sets). Doubs is a guy I’m generally not a huge fan of – he feels like “just a guy” to me, and at $8,800 and with both Watson and Jones returning, I think he’s overpriced for his likeliest role. In three games so far Doubs has a healthy 20 targets, but he’s only caught 11 for 129 yards, with his production buoyed by three scores. I’m more interested in Reed at $5,600, who has similar numbers to Doubs on the year (20 targets, 9/148/2 line) but should be less affected by Watson’s return and is overall more talented than Doubs. Of the Packers wide receivers, I think Reed is the safest no matter what, Watson is a highly volatile option, Doubs is steady but overpriced. Wicks and Toure should still see the field, with Wicks likely leading the backup WR snaps, but at $5k, he’s pretty unplayable except as a very contrarian piece if Watson is in. Toure at $600 is a better option, to me, as a value play. The Packers have used five wide receivers in every game this year so he should be on the field even with Watson returning and his price is very generous. There is a possibility that the Packers surprise us and use Malik Heath instead but we should get clarity on that before kickoff as I doubt they carry six wide receivers into the game. Tight end is dominated by Luke Musgrave, who has played no fewer than 75% of the offensive snaps in a game thus far, to go along with a healthy 15 targets. He hasn’t popped off yet, but it’s coming. The matchup for Musgrave is great. While it feels weird to play a rookie TE who hasn’t yet really put up a good game yet, at $6,400, I think he’s in play here. To be clear, he isn’t a “must play,” but he’s not a guy I’d just consider overpriced and ignore. I think he has upside and the price is a little high but not outrageously so. Backup TEs have so far been Josiah Deguara, Tucker Kraft, and Ben Sims. They have two total targets between them (both Deguara’s) so there’s not much upside here unless you want to chase the whole “backup/random tight end in Showdown” thing.
Falcons Run D16th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O24th DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Falcons Pass D29th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O11th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Jaguars Run D1st DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Falcons Run O9th DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D8th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Falcons Pass O24th DVOA/13th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
We get our first London game, which of course means an extra Showdown! The Falcons and the Jags travel across the pond this week for a 43.5 total game with the Jags favored by three. This line seems to reflect the early season struggles of the Jags offense, which has scored just 57 points in their first three games. Eek. Not a great start for Jacksonville considering their 2022 season and the lofty expectations for this year, but obviously plenty of time to turn it around. It also creates an interesting dynamic for this slate in which I expect the field will largely be on Jacksonville, but you can take the angle of, “but, what if they actually ARE bad this year?”
We’ll start with the Jags and their run game. Travis Etienne has a stranglehold on this backfield, playing at least 71% of the snaps in each game, with preseason and Best Ball darling Tank Bigsby stuck in the 20% or less range. Etienne has 49 carries and a healthy 13 targets (expanding on his passing game role from last year a bit in which he saw 45 targets in 17 games played, 12 starts), but the matchup here is not great against an Atlanta team that plays slow, suppresses opposing team plays (ATL is allowing just 61 opposing plays per game so far), and has a solid run defense. Etienne is also losing close-in work to Bigsby. Even though Tank only has nine carries on the season, three of them have come inside the 5-yard line, while Etienne does not have a single carry inside even the 15-yard line, much less the 5. I don’t expect that Etienne will get completely ghosted on close-in work for the whole season, but what the Jags have shown us in the early going is they clearly don’t want to overexpose him to those bruising goal line carries. Etienne’s overall role is strong, his passing game role is ascending compared to last season, but everything else – his price, the matchup, the pace of play, and the goal line work – point to this being a hard spot for him to find a ceiling performance. Bigsby’s workload is minimal and you’re just hoping for a goal line plunge or something that increases his usage, and at $3,200 he isn’t exactly cheap enough to be used as a pure punt play.
Ownership updates automatically
The passing game is where the Jags are more likely to find success. Zay Jones looks likely to miss again this week (coach Peterson described him as a “long shot” to play), which would solidify Christian Kirk’s role, as Kirk was somewhat surprisingly not a primary in 2-WR sets in both preseason and Week 1. With no Zay, we can expect to see Calvin Ridley and Kirk as the primary wideouts, with Jamal Agnew, Tim Jones, and perhaps Jacob Harris supporting. Ridley smashed out of the gate in Week 1 before the Jags entire passing game collapsed in Weeks 2 & 3 (8/101/1 Week 1, 5/72/0 on 15 targets since). The volume is there, and how to approach the Jags passing game overall is a critical strategic decision that we’ll get into later. For now, we can simply say that Ridley is a really good receiver in a positive matchup who’s seeing a lot of volume, and at $9,600 he’s priced below where we normally see WR1s of his caliber. Kirk at $8,000 also looks cheap for his workload – he’s seen 20 targets the last two weeks after being mostly MIA in Week 1, turning that into a 15/164/1 line. Agnew saw a healthy five targets last week while leading the rest of the WRs in snaps and routes, and at $2,800 he’s a solid value option as long as Jones is out. Tim Jones saw three targets and can also be viewed as a non-crazy punt option, while Jacob Harris only played 10% of the snaps and went back to the practice squad after the game (if he’s called up again, he’s a thin punt option). Tight end is primarily Evan Engram, with Luke Farrell and Brenton Strange backing him up. The latter two are just punt options, but Engram is continuing his strong 2022 season in the early going with 21 targets so far on the year for an 18/173/0 receiving line. Here’s a weird stat for you: when you take Zay Jones out, the only Jacksonville pass catcher who has seen a target inside the 20 is Calvin Ridley, with a whopping five (Zay also has five). Nobody else has a single one. Obviously, this won’t continue all season, but just something to note when we often think of tight ends as “guys who are heavily utilized inside the red zone and have great touchdown equity.” Engram had a great season last year but only scored four touchdowns and he only saw nine red zone targets (all three primary JAX WRs last season had 10+, and even Agnew had six). Engram’s a fine play here but just recognize he’s more of a between-the-20s yardage guy vs. a high red zone usage guy.
Dolphins Run D21st DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O6th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D12th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O2nd DVOA/8th Yards per pass
Bills Run D14th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O2nd DVOA/1st Yards per carry
Bills Pass D16th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O4th DVOA/3rd Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Jaylen Waddle cleared the concussion protocol and was removed from the team’s injury report.
- River Cracraft and Erik Ezukanma did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, likely leaving the bulk of the WR3 role to Braxton Berrios.
- These two defenses have combined to allow just five total touchdowns through the air through three weeks of play, well below the league average.
- The Bills run the bulk of their defensive snaps from nickel, split between Cover-2 and Cover-3 alignments, while the Dolphins new defensive coordinator effectively set the league on its current trajectory of two-high base alignments (Vic Fangio). Both of those schemes force opponents to march the field through efficiency while aiming to take away splash plays.
How Miami will try to Win ::
By going for the jugular, that’s how. The Dolphins rank 12th in second per play (27.7) and, discounting their extreme run-heavy ways in their Week 3 dismantling of the Broncos, operate via a highly concentrated, pass-balanced offense. Tyreek Hill leads the league in targets per route run at a ridiculous 40.7 percent and ranks second in team target market share. He also leads the league in red zone targets, deep targets, air yards, and air yards share. The new piece of the puzzle this year is defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is largely responsible for the near league-wide shift to a two-high base defense. His 3-4, 4-3 under hybrid front asks a lot of the linebackers because they are typically employed closer to the line of scrimmage than in other defensive schemes around the league. It requires them to be athletic, instinctive, and capable in coverage through the passing game. When you look at this defense on paper, the injury to Jaelan Phillips and the inconsistent play of Jerome Baker have been the weakest links in this defensive chain. The Dolphins have also, almost inexplicably for a two-high base, allowed their opposition to average a 9.1 aDOT against them, which ranks seventh deepest in the league. Yeah, sorry for taking so much time on this defense, but the offense more or less remains static from last year until now, meaning more insight can likely be gained by looking at how the changes on defense influence their game plan. As for the offense, we know head coach Mike McDaniel hails from the Gary Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. He has taken those layered route concepts and outside zone run scheme principles and tweaked things ever so slightly to create an offense the league quite simply has not seen before.
One of those offensive tweaks is the inclusion of inside zone run concepts in conjunction with the standard Shanahan outside zone concepts. We’ve seen that misdirection spring three touchdowns already this season, one by Raheem Mostert in Week 2, one by Mostert in Week 3, and one by De’Von Achane (de Vaughn Ay-chan, apparently) in Week 3. Now teams have to have the idea in the back of their minds that this team could throw zone gap run-blocking principles over the guard and between the tackles in addition to off-tackle work, which is #notfair. Oh, I guess this is a good time to mention that this team has accounted for all six of the top speeds in the NFL this year – two by Tyreek Hill, two by Mostert, and two by Achane. Oh, and Jaylen Waddle is no slouch in the speed department. That puts egregious amounts of strain on an opposing defense, and when you think you have the edge, they just run off guard with a pulling opposite guard. It’s silly the things this man has drawn up. By DVOA, the Bills are no slouches against the run, but they are currently allowing a robust 5.9 yards per carry to opposing backs this season and are no longer stout in the linebacking corps as they have been in seasons past.
The passing game is Tyreek Hill, a fairly large gap, Jaylen Waddle, an even bigger gap, the running backs, a massive gap, and then everyone else. The “everyone else” is likely to include tight end Durham Smythe and wide receiver Braxton Berrios this week with River Cracraft and Erik Ezukanma appearing unlikely to play (both missed practice Wednesday and Thursday). As was covered above, Tyreek Hill leads the league in numerous pass-catching categories through three weeks and is currently on pace to best Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving record of 1,964 yards (to be fair, Hill is one of three players currently on pace to eclipse Megatron this year, joined by Justin Jefferson and Keenan Allen). But yeah, historic-level alpha stuff going on in Miami. The Bills have held opponents to just 4.9 net yards pre-pass attempt this season, sixth best in the league, introducing a strength-on-strength matchup for us in Week 4.
How Buffalo Will Try To Win ::
Vikings Run D8th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O28th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D9th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O30th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Panthers Run D32nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O30th DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D22nd DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O14th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By MIKE JOHNSON >>
- Both of these defenses have struggled in all phases this season and have some injury situations they are dealing with.
- Minnesota’s passing offense is loaded with talent and will be a problem for Carolina’s beat-up secondary.
- The Panthers offense appears to be a matchup-sensitive group that will look to take advantage of this juicy setup.
- Frank Reich and Kevin O’Connell have these teams playing with pace, as they both rank in the top 10 in the league in tempo through three weeks.
- This game has the makings of a sneaky shootout due to struggling running games and beatable defenses.
How MINNESOTA Will Try To Win ::
The Vikings are a team that is clearly reeling and quickly has their season slipping away from them. After a 13-4 regular season record in 2022, the Vikings are one bad game away from matching their loss total already. The Vikings 0-3 record is not the same as some other teams, as they have lost those games by three, six, and four points respectively. After great luck in close games last year, the Vikings have been unable to make enough winning plays in 2023. This has some people suggesting they trade Kirk Cousins and “tank” the season to get a shot at one of the heralded class of 2024 QB prospects. The ironic part of this is that Cousins has been terrific, as he currently ranks 1st in the NFL in passing yards, 7th in completion percentage, 1st in passing TDs, 5th in yards per attempt, and 3rd in QB rating. There are a lot of issues in Minnesota, but the quarterback hasn’t been high on that list. The Vikings defense has struggled in all facets and their running game has been able to get nothing going – ranking 31st in the league in rushing yards despite two of their three games coming against the Chargers and Buccaneers, which rank 29th and 30th in the league in PFF run defense grade.
Let us be clear. The Vikings are the best passing offense Carolina has seen this season. While the Seahawks have a good on-paper skill group, their offensive line is beat up and they’ve had to adjust what they do a bit early in the season. Still, Seattle managed 37 points against this Carolina team, and given the hot start for the Vikings offense along with their talented personnel, we can expect Minnesota to maintain their brisk pace of play and aggressively attack Carolina’s banged-up secondary from the outset of this game. Their running game should once again have some success as they did against the Chargers after running into brick walls from the Bucs and Eagles to start the year, but the passing game will be the focal point. The expected relative success for the running game is critical mainly in the fact that it will help Minnesota sustain drives and therefore increase its likelihood of scoring points.
How CAROLINA Will Try To Win ::
Broncos Run D31st DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O9th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D28th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O23rd DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Bears Run D11th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O12th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D27th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O12th DVOA/23rd Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- We’ve talked about teams still trying to find their identity in other writeups this week, and that sentiment could not be more true than when talking about these two teams.
- Something has got to give in this spot – sharp money would appear to be on the Broncos, who somewhat quietly have a top 10 offensive line and have blocked to 2.0 yards before contact on the ground (fourth in the league).
- Nothing from this game truly pops on paper regardless of the current state of each defense.
How denver Will Try To Win ::
The Broncos have looked competent (competent, not spectacular) against lesser competition (Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders) and have been historically embarrassed by the lone top end team they have played this season (Miami Dolphins). Sean Payton is very clearly still working through how he wants this offense to look and run, with his most explosive play-maker (Marvin Mims) topping out at 17 offensive snaps this year, practice squad players Brandon Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey thrust into legitimate roles due to injury, Jerry Jeudy missing Week 1 and working his way back into game shape the following two weeks, Greg Dulcich’s trip to injured reserve, and a backfield that very clearly needs to feature Javonte Williams (who might be limited by his health after working back from a torn ACL suffered last season). From a top level perspective, this team has played with a modest pace (19th-ranked 28.5 seconds per play) and moderate pass rates (10th-ranked pass rate over expectation (PROE) through three weeks), but we have to question when those tendencies are going to change considering the team’s performance to this point in the season and the coaching staff in charge. Payton has long been hailed for his ability to extract the maximum amount of talent from the players on his roster. The problem with just assuming those tendencies will immediately present themselves on the football field is that sweeping schematic changes take time to institute, and the shortened offseason does these teams with significant changes no favors. I have confidence that things will eventually turn around for the Broncos, but we have to realize we have no idea when (or if) that happens this season.
Javonte Williams is far and away the most talented back on the Denver roster, but he has played between 42 percent and 45 percent of the offensive snaps in each game through three weeks. Again, we have no idea if or when that changes moving forward, but we have to assume that Payton and Joe Lombardi have been forced back to the drawing board after last week. There’s also the uncertainty regarding Williams’ health after suffering a torn ACL in week 4 of last year. What we do know is that the team wants Williams in their primary early down role. A low route participation rate (32.7 percent, 42nd in the league amongst running backs) means Williams should primarily be viewed as a yardage-and-touchdown back, one that has seen only 36 carries through three weeks due to the low overall snap rate. Can that change in an instant? Of course it can. Are we going to know when that is likeliest to happen? Nope. Samaje Perine’s offseason hype was quickly extinguished this season, accounting for just 12 carries and 11 targets through three games. He is the unquestioned change of pace and clear passing down back, but that hasn’t translated to much on the opportunity or box score front just yet. As far as red zone usage, Williams has seen four red zone opportunities, Perine has seen five, and rookie Jaleel McLaughlin has seen three of his own (one of which he converted to a five-yard touchdown plunge). The matchup on paper could not be better against a Chicago defense allowing 34.7 DK points per game and seven total touchdowns to opposing backfields this year. One final note here – the Broncos offensive line is actually above average this season, allowing pressure at a below average rate and blocking to 2.0 yards before contact, the latter of which ranks fourth in the league.
In this offense’s current state, only Courtland Sutton is playing close to every snap. Jeudy has not seen the snaps just yet, but his 94.3 percent route participation rate is acceptable and he has transitioned back to a heavy slot snap rate. I will continue dying on the “Marvin Mims is the skeleton key to unlock this offense” hill, as his downfield ability would allow Sutton more space and one-on-one coverage on the perimeter in the X-type role and allow Jeudy to run routes more optimized to his skillset out of the slot. And yet, two practice squad wide receivers (Brandon Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey) continue to play over the electric rookie. Again, when or if Mims sees more involvement in the offense remains to be seen, keeping a high level of uncertainty attached to this offense until further notice. Per Scott Barrett on Twitter, eight of the Broncos 10 longest plays this season have come via Mims, who has touched the football just 12 times total (seven catches and five kick returns). Adam Trautman has been forced into a role he is not best suited for following the injury to Greg Dulcich and would be optimally used as a blocker moving forward.
How chicago Will Try To Win ::
Ravens Run D7th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O20th DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D2nd DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O29th DVOA/25th Yards per pass
Browns Run D3rd DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O1st DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Browns Pass D2nd DVOA/16th Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O8th DVOA/5th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The Cleveland defense has been nothing short of remarkable through three weeks, holding opponents to just 163.7 total yards of offense per week (first, by a lot), 6.2 fantasy points to quarterbacks per week (first, by a lot), 19.9 fantasy points to wide receivers per week (first, by a lot), 12.6 fantasy points to running backs per week (first), and 3.2 fantasy points to tight ends per week (first).
- The Ravens have been no slouches on defense themselves, holding opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry and 4.3 net yards per pass attempt behind a forced 6.5 defensive aDOT allowed.
- The biggest glaring shortcoming of the Baltimore defense is a robust 34.5 percent blitz rate (eighth) that has led to a subpar 18.6 percent pressure rate.
- Both of these offenses are very clearly trying to figure things out in the early goings, with the Ravens once again fighting through injuries and the Browns now without Nick Chubb for the season after he was such a cornerstone to their offense.
- Rashod Bateman (hamstring), Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle), and Justice Hill (foot) did not practice Wednesday for the Ravens.
- Both teams are in the bottom half of the league in pace of play.
- These two teams are first and second in net yards allowed per pass attempt.
How baltimore Will Try To Win ::
The Ravens, aside from a slight uptick in pass rate, don’t look all that different on paper from years past, which is interesting considering the supposed massive shift in offensive philosophy with the move to offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Their pass rate over expectation (PROE) value sits right around league average, their pace of play ranks in the bottom half of the league, and they’re still running 30-40 percent heavy alignments through the usage of fullback Patrick Ricard. And now Lamar Jackson isn’t even attacking downfield at the same rate when they do pass, having his intended air years per pass attempt fall (IAY/PA) from 8.3 in 2022 to 6.9 this season. This honestly could be another offense where we haven’t seen the entire picture yet considering the numerous offensive injuries they have suffered this season. Tight end Mark Andrews missed the first game of the year, Odell Beckham Jr. missed Week 3, Rashod Bateman is clearly not fully recovered from his Lisfranc injury and is now missing practice with a hamstring injury, JK Dobbins was lost for the season, and they have played two games without their starting offensive line intact.
Gus Edwards and Melvin Gordon split the snaps and backfield work at a 44/40 percent split in Week 3, with Kenyan Drake playing cleanup with a modest 15 percent snap rate. The big picture here is that Patrick Ricard continues to be involved in the offense at a meaningful rate and the player that should lead the team in rushing for the remainder of the season is quarterback Lamar Jackson (he has led the team in carries in each game played without Dobbins). The matchup on the ground could not be more difficult against a Browns defense holding opponents to 2.8 yards per carry and holding running backs to 12.6 DK points per game. No, thank you.
I’m not sure how this is possible, and I had to double check the accuracy multiple times, but the Browns are currently allowing just 6.2 DK points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve allowed just one offensive touchdown all season. Their 3.5 net yards allowed per pass attempt ranks first in the league by a wide margin. Combine the elite performance through the air for the Browns with the now conservative offensive approach from the Ravens (and their lowered IAY/PA number this year), and we’re left with an offense that is likely going to have to march the field through dink-and-dunk pass attempts this week. Furthermore, Rashad Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. missed practice on Wednesday, potentially leaving just rookie Zay Flowers, tight end Mark Andrews, Nelson Agholor, and Devin Duvernay as the top pass-catchers this week. Lamar Jackson’s time to throw is the quickest of his career in 2023 (2.82), which makes sense considering the injuries up front and the underperforming nature of the offensive line in pass-blocking metrics thus far. That could spell trouble against a Cleveland defense that is generating pressure at the highest rate in the league (32.3 percent). Another nod to a likely short area approach through the air for the Ravens here.
How Cleveland Will Try To Win ::
Steelers Run D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O27th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D7th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O3rd DVOA/2nd Yards per pass
Texans Run D10th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O8th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D26th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O20th DVOA/24th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Pittsburgh enters this game with a 2-1 record, and their victories have primarily been driven by their defense.
- Pittsburgh’s offense is a work in progress as they deal with the absence of Diontae Johnson due to injury and a lack of a running game.
- Houston is coming off a huge divisional win in Jacksonville and looking to build on their growing success after showing progress each week so far.
- #2 overall pick CJ Stroud looks every bit the part of a franchise quarterback through three games and has yet to throw an interception despite attempting 121 passes already.
- Both of these teams play at a brisk pace, ranking 5th and 6th in the NFL in seconds per play on offense.
How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
The Steelers enter Week 3 with a 2-1 record and sit in a 3-way tie for the AFC North division lead. They have done this primarily on the back of a strong defense after scoring two defensive touchdowns courtesy of Deshaun Watson in Week 2 and holding the Raiders under 20 points (which has happened in every Las Vegas game this year) on Sunday night football. The Steelers offensive line may be their biggest issue, ranking 32nd in PFF pass-blocking grade and 29th in run-blocking. They are playing without star wide receiver Diontae Johnson, whose ability to separate quickly for short-area targets was an integral part of their offense’s ability to overcome these offensive line deficiencies. They’ve made a couple of big plays in each of the past two weeks but have had a lot of trouble sustaining drives. This week, they play the Houston Texans, whose head coach, DeMeco Ryans, was previously the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers – who coincidentally absolutely dominated this Steelers offense in Week 1. While Houston doesn’t have the same level of individual talent as the 49ers, their schemes, terminology, and concepts are almost certainly very similar, and he should be able to derive a game plan that makes things very difficult for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh ranks 9th in the NFL in pass rate over expectation and 5th in the NFL in seconds-per-snap (aka, tempo). This quick-moving offense has not resulted in strong production, however, as they rank 27th in the league in yards per game through three weeks despite a 70+ yard touchdown pass in each of the last two weeks. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are both getting opportunities but have struggled to sustain success due to their struggling offensive line play and inconsistent passing game. The Texans do rank 31st in the NFL in run defense DVOA, but that isn’t necessarily a great thing for Pittsburgh as it somewhat forces their hand into their least efficient method of attack. The Steelers will certainly take the bait early in this game, however, as they have won back-to-back games relying on their defense and are not going to want to box themselves into a corner with early mistakes from being too aggressive.
How houston Will Try To Win ::
Rams Run D23rd DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O6th DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Rams Pass D14th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O19th DVOA/14th Yards per pass
Colts Run D24th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O11th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Colts Pass D10th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O16th DVOA/4th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By HILOW >>
- Anthony Richardson was a full participant in practice Wednesday and should make his return to the starting lineup after missing one game with a concussion.
- Tyler Higbee (Achilles) was listed as a ‘DNP’ on the Rams’ estimated practice report Wednesday – Los Angeles played on Monday night, meaning their first full practice will come Thursday.
- Michael Pittman should continue to see double-digit looks week in and week out, but his 5.9 aDOT and 6.8 yards per target leave little in the way of pure upside at his cost.
- The Colts have been most susceptible to perimeter wide receivers but have run zone coverage at one of the highest rates in the league – the wide receiver that has seen the most targets against zone coverage this season is none other than Puka Nacua.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams rank 14th in seconds per play (27.9) and are sixth in pass rate over expectation (PROE) through three weeks. Los Angeles has battled through injuries along its offensive line and varied personnel groupings up front, which has led to an underperforming offensive line to this point in the season. Even so, head coach Sean McVay continues to design and operate an offense that places continued stress on opposing defenses in multiple areas of the field via layered route concepts designed to get his playmakers in space with the ball in their hands. Furthermore, quarterback Matthew Stafford has experienced a relative career resurgence after missing portions of the 2022 season with a back/neck injury, currently ranking fourth in pass yards, second in intended air yards (IAY), third in completed air yards (CAY) per completion, and eighth in intended air yards per pass attempt (IAY/PA). He also somewhat quietly ranks second in total pass attempts through three games, behind only Kirk Cousins. This team should continue slinging the rock in their hunt to prove the doubters wrong this season.
Following the doghousing and subsequent trade of Cam Akers, Kyren Williams has played 95 percent and 100 percent of the team’s offensive snaps out of the backfield. Sean McVay noted this week that the insane workload from Williams is likely unsustainable, but he and the team have expressed little optimism surrounding backups Ronnie Rivers and Royce Freeman to this point in the season. The Colts have allowed opponents to average the third highest rush rate over expectation through three games, but it would take a large leap of faith to project McVay to tilt to a more run-heavy approach based on previous tendencies. Even so, a valid expectation of 14-16 carries and a handful of targets puts Williams in the top seven or eight in expected workload this week, in what should be viewed as a neutral-to-positive spot.
As mentioned above, the Colts have run some of the highest rates of zone coverage found in the league this year, and Nacua has been a hit against zone for these Rams. That should persist moving forward, at least until Cooper Kupp returns to the lineup from his hamstring injury. Now consider that the Bengals went into Week 3 running top-10 rates of man coverage and it begins to make sense why we saw Nacua’s target totals dip from his historic pace. This matchup presents a nice opportunity for those targets to spike once more. The Rams shifted to an offense based almost entirely from 11-personnel after experimenting with inflated rates of 12-personnel in Week 1. That has left an extremely concentrated pass offense amongst Nacua, Tutu Atwell, and Higbee, with Van Jefferson running a lot of empty routes as the safety manipulator of the offense and Williams chipping in with 17 targets over the previous two games. We touched on Stafford’s relative resurgence above, with the lone missing piece to his fantasy puzzle being touchdowns to this point in the season. At some point, that shortcoming is likely to correct fast and hard, which might require Kupp’s return to the roster (or it might not, and nobody will be stacking up Stafford). Even with the up and down performance from the offensive line, Higbee has run the second-most routes amongst tight ends this season and carries a healthy-for-a-tight-end 7.2 aDOT. The offense has simply been so hyper-focused on getting Nacua in space against zone coverage that his fantasy expectations take a slight hit in this spot.
How indianapolis Will Try To Win ::
Buccaneers Run D13th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O10th DVOA/28th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D20th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O22nd DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Saints Run D22nd DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O26th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Saints Pass D11th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O18th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By papy324 >>
- Jameis Winston adds a lot of variance to this game.
- Rachaad White and Alvin Kamara are both underpriced for their anticipated touches.
- Mike Evans is set for his yearly duel with Marshon Lattimore.
- Chris Olave has plenty of upside if the Saints coaching staff lets Jameis cook.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
The 2-1 Bucs got their first taste of reality on Monday night coming off wins against the defenseless Bears and Vikings. They “kept it close” against the Eagles, only losing by two scores, but anyone watching the game knew it was never in doubt. The Bucs are good enough to beat weaker competition but they are clearly below the NFL’s upper echelon teams. They felt like pretenders at 2-0, and still feel that way at 2-1. Fortunately for them, weak matchups are a regular occurrence when you play in the NFC South. This week, they catch a Saints team who is likely without their starting QB, in a game that could have surprisingly important implications in the standings at the end of the season. If Baker Mayfield wants to prove he is an above average NFL QB, this is the type of game he must win. Without Tom Brady, the Bucs have dialed back their situational neutral pass rate to just over 50% (27th). When they tried to open things up against the Eagles, it didn’t go well. Todd Bowles seems to be trying to win games by being remarkably average. In fact, the Bucs are remarkingly middle of the road. They’re 21st in DVOA at running the ball, 16th at throwing, 15th at defending the pass, and 13th at defending the run. Their offensive line ranks 14th (per PFF). They had run/pass splits in their two close games of 33/34 and 34/34. They opened it up a little more against the Eagles (17/25) but that’s because they were chasing points and ran a pitiful 42 plays. The Saints have been more attackable on the ground (16th in DVOA) than through the air (3rd in DVOA) and that fits into how the Bucs want to attack. They’ve shown that in competitive games, they’re going to play a run-balanced offense hoping to keep things close and win by making more plays in the fourth quarter.
How new orleans Will Try To Win ::
Commanders Run D12th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O5th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D32nd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O8th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Eagles Run D4th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O18th DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D21st DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O23rd DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By HILOW >>
- The Eagles D/ST is one of the top on-paper defenses for Week 4’s main slate.
- Sam Howell has targeted his tight ends (Logan Thomas, John Bates, and Cole Turner) on 32 percent of his pass attempts this season.
- The Philadelphia defense has one soft spot in coverage – opposing tight ends over the middle of the field.
- The Eagles started the season playing almost exclusively from nickel defensive alignments but had to adjust following the loss of Avonte Maddox – still, Josh Jobe stepped into the starting lineup in Week 3 and played 57 percent of the defensive snaps.
- The Commanders could struggle to sustain drives with little ability shown to attack downfield in their present state, meaning the Eagles defense is likely to have numerous opportunities to rack up the sacks and disrupt drives in this spot.
How WASHINGTON Will Try To Win ::
The Commanders currently hold the league’s fifth-highest pass rate over expectation (PROE) but are still averaging just 33 pass attempts per game through three weeks of play. A lot of that is likely skewed by opening games against the Cardinals and Broncos, two teams that should end the season near the bottom of the league in record. Furthermore, Washington ran just 54 offensive plays in its Week 3 dismantling at the hands of the Bills, which managed a ridiculous nine sacks and five turnovers against the spotty offensive line of the Commanders. In truth, we don’t have a very clear picture of how this offense is likely to run throughout the remainder of the season, considering the new offensive coordinator in Eric Bieniemy and what we have seen to this point in the season. I loosely expect them to continue in a pass-heavy offense mostly looking to attack the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, as quarterback Howell currently sports a modest 6.7 IAY/PA (Intended Air Yards/Pass Attempt) (29th in the league). The bulk of the offense has run through the running backs, tight ends, and slot wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel has led the team in receiving in two of the Commanders’ three games so far, but that doesn’t say much considering his modest 54-yard outputs in those two contests. Either way, it appears as if the schemed-usage, gadget-type role from Bieniemy’s time in Kansas City has translated to Samuel in the change of scenery.
Lead back Brian Robinson saw a massive hit in usage against the Bills in Week 2 after seeing 42 combined opportunities through two weeks, each of which were played in competitive game environments. Considering the opponent, the matchup, and the expected game environment, we have to think Robinson might see another reduced role in this one. His snap rate fell all the way to 37 percent against the Bills and he managed just 10 running back opportunities. That argument strengthens when we consider the fact the Eagles have forced the fifth-highest PROE against this season. Teams simply cannot run effectively against them, which forces a shift to a more pass-heavy approach to move the ball. While change-of-pace back Antonio Gibson saw his highest snap rate of the season against the Bills at 61 percent, that only translated to two carries and five targets, meaning this backfield is more of a stay-away unit than anything in this spot. Touchdowns can obviously still flow somewhere should the Commanders find some level of offensive success, but it’s a pretty thin bet in this spot.
As mentioned above, Commanders tight ends have accounted for 32 percent of quarterback Howell’s targets this season. Thomas started the season with a massive 80 percent snap rate share before leaving Week 2 early with a concussion and missing Week 3 entirely. Expect him back in the lineup this week coming off his concussion, which shouldn’t dent his expected snap rate like some other injuries would. Thomas saw 11 targets in just under six quarters of play as the starter before being injured. Unfortunately for Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, Howell holds a tiny IAY/PA value of 6.7 in an offense that has been forced to largely string together drives as opposed to hunting for splash plays. It just so happens that the matchup against the Eagles primarily aligns with that plan of attack, as their linebacking corps is much more ferocious in the pass rush as compared to how they perform in coverage. The Eagles have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, getting shredded in Week 1 by Hunter Henry and in Week 2 by T.J. Hockenson. Expect Curtis Samuel to once again see the schemed short-area usage in a spot that is more difficult than in previous weeks, considering the heavy nickel utilization from the Eagles defense.
How PHILADELPHIA Will Try To Win ::
Bengals Run D29th DVOA/31st Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O16th DVOA/15th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D19th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O21st DVOA/12th Yards per pass
Titans Run D2nd DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O19th DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D30th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O17th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
By HILOW >>
- Ja’Marr Chase saw a career-high six targets when aligned in the slot and also saw the most slot snaps of his career in Week 3 against the Rams.
- It appears as if the Bengals are finally attempting to design something in their offense to optimize against 2-high defensive alignments.
- Joe Burrow currently sports the lowest IAY/PA (Intended Air Yards/Pass Attempt) of his career at 6.5, which ranks 32nd in the league.
- Tennessee forces the sixth-highest opponent pass rate over expectation (PROE) value on the season, behind just the 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, Buccaneers, and Eagles.
- Derrick Henry currently sports the lowest yards-before-contact and yards-after-contact numbers of his career, and he’s seeing an average of 6.9 men in the box on his carries.
- DeAndre Hopkins has exactly nine (NINE) yards after the catch through three games.
How cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
We’ve spoken of the general shift to a 2-high base defense around the league in multiple places so far this season. We’ve also spoken to the Bengals’ general struggles in adapting to being shown 2-high defensive alignments over the previous two seasons. Nothing explains this more than by taking a look at Burrow’s IAY/PA shift during his career. His 8.5 and 8.1 IAY/PA values during his first two professional seasons would place him in the top 10 at the position this year. But during the 2022 and 2023 seasons, those values dropped to 6.8 and 6.5, respectively. His 6.5 IAY/PA value this season ranks 32nd, ahead of just Dak Prescott (more on him at a different time) and Anthony Richardson, in terms of qualified passers. And up until last week, we hadn’t seen much in the way of a specific game plan to maximize potential against 2-high looks. But in the Bengals’ Week 3 win Monday night against the Rams, an opponent that plays heavy rates of 2-high defensive alignments, we finally saw Zac Taylor do something (anything) to optimize his offense versus that alignment, and it revolved almost exclusively around his utilization of Chase.
Joe Mixon maintains his status as the unquestioned lead back in this offense, commanding an elite 81.8 percent opportunity share and averaging a solid 5.1 yards per touch on his opportunities (17th in the league). And his efficiency metrics have actually improved this season, ranking sixth in total yards created and 10th in yards created per touch. One of the benefits of playing in an offense helmed by Burrow and containing elite pieces such as Chase and Tee Higgins is what it forces opponents to show Mixon as far as defensive fronts go. Mixon has averaged just 6.3 defenders in the box on his carries this season, which ranks 47th in the league (the lower that number the better). The touchdown woes largely continue into 2023 for Mixon, who managed just four total touchdowns outside of his five-touchdown eruption in Week 9 against the Panthers a season ago. A lot of that thus far this year has to do with an offense averaging just 1.7 red-zone scoring opportunities per game through three weeks (31st in the league). The matchup is also about as difficult as it could be against a Titans defense that places extreme emphasis on stopping opposing run games and forcing their opposition to beat them through the air. Expect Trayveon Williams to operate as the primary change-of-pace back until further notice.
Alrighty then (yes, said in our best Ace Ventura voice), back to the fun stuff. For the first time in forever (yes, said in our best Anna of Arendale voice), the Bengals showed us something to take advantage of 2-high defensive alignments in Week 3. Chase saw the highest slot snap rate of his entire career against the Rams and commanded a robust 15 targets (tied for the second most in a game of his career). The offense also attempted to introduce pre-snap motion, which is one of the ways offensive coordinators are manipulating opposing safeties against 2-high shells. It is highly unlikely that we see this team utilize a downfield burner in the form of a classic Z-type wide receiver, as they simply don’t have a player on the roster capable of that role outside of Chase, and they would be wise not to limit his route tree that much. This basically leaves them reliant on pre-snap motion, schemed usage, and Burrow’s body positioning and eyes in the pocket to manipulate opposing safeties – but they are finally making strides in that area. Let’s hope that Chase’s new-look role in this offense continues beyond Burrow’s injured calf.
Higgins is kind of just the same player we’ve always known him to be – a 4.59 40, plus-size wide receiver that can win in a moderate-to-deep, X-type wide receiver role. Higgins had no less than three drops a week ago, which does not instill confidence moving forward. But he’s also always capable of putting up a multi-touchdown game considering his role in this offense. Tyler Boyd is also the same player we’ve always known him to be – a low aDOT slot receiver that largely struggles to provide upside with the ball in his hands. Tight end Irv Smith missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury and is now on a short week with the Bengals having played Monday. Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox, and Tanner Hudson split snaps evenly in his absence, all seeing between 32 and 36 offensive snaps against the Rams. The final aspect to note here is the continued propensity for teams to simply lean on the pass against the Titans, which are currently forcing the sixth-highest opponent PROE (behind the 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, Buccaneers, and Eagles).
How TENNESSEE Will Try To Win ::
Raiders Run D21st DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O23rd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Raiders Pass D14th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O6th DVOA/18th Yards per pass
Chargers Run D26th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Raiders Run O29th DVOA/31st Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Raiders Pass O29th DVOA/19th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Raiders have one of the most concentrated offenses you will ever see in the modern NFL.
- The Chargers have played three high-scoring games that went down to the wire, narrowly escaping in Minnesota for their first win of the season in Week 3.
- Justin Herbert is playing the best football of his career, but Los Angeles will now have to deal with the loss of star wide receiver Mike Williams.
- Las Vegas will likely be without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a concussion in the Raiders’ Week 3 loss to the Steelers.
- Both of these teams rank within the top 10 teams in the NFL regarding Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE), and the Chargers play at one of the fastest tempos in the league.
How las vegas Will Try To Win ::
The Raiders offense is wildly concentrated, with three players accounting for almost all of their production. Jakobi Meyers, Davante Adams, and Josh Jacobs combined for 54 of the Raiders 61 opportunities (carries plus targets) in their Week 3 loss to the Steelers. That is 88.5%, the highest rate you will ever see from a group of three players in the modern NFL where teams usually mix up personnel groupings and spread out their usage. The one x-factor for this offense is the status of Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a concussion on Sunday night football that was not diagnosed until after the game. This puts his status in serious jeopardy for Sunday, and it is unclear at this point whether Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell will start in Jimmy G’s absence. Hoyer seems like the “favorite” because he has been active while O’Connell has not been for the last two weeks. However, the Raiders enter this game with a 1-2 record, and with time to prepare, they may want to see what the rookie has to offer.
Assuming Jimmy G. misses this game, the decision between Hoyer and O’Connell will likely drive much of the Raiders’ approach. Hoyer is a savvy veteran with a great deal of history with head coach Josh McDaniels from their time in New England. He would be able to step in and run the offense similarly to what Garoppolo did, albeit he is likely to be less efficient. O’Connell led the NFL in average intended air yards in the preseason and looked very good on the field – he was playing against backups, but he played very well. A young QB would likely need more focus on schemed looks and easy reads instead of being given multiple progressions. This would likely result in a heavier emphasis on the running game, with the passing game being split into two segments: play-action passing for deep shots and quick passes that have straightforward and easy reads. The Raiders play somewhat methodically, but no matter who is under center, we should expect a heavy focus on their three core skill players – Adams, Meyers, and Jacobs.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
Patriots Run D5th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D25th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O7th DVOA/9th Yards per pass
Cowboys Run D9th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O14th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D6th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O28th DVOA/27th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Maybe this will be the week the Patriots score more than 20 points.
- Shockingly, New England leads the league in offensive tempo through three weeks as they search for an answer to move the ball consistently.
- Dallas looked like a team on a mission the first two weeks of the season before pulling off a classic “Cowboys letdown,” losing by two scores to an Arizona team whom they were favored by 11 against.
- The Dallas defense is built for flash, big plays, and creating havoc. They struggle against teams who are able to take care of the ball and use their aggressiveness against them.
- The last time these teams met, Ceedee Lamb had a monster game that Bill Belichick will surely not forget.
How new england Will Try To Win ::
The Patriots enter Week 4 coming off their first win of the season over a reeling Jets team after opening the year against arguably the two best teams in the NFL right now – the Eagles and Dolphins. Dallas represents a team that lies somewhere in the middle, as a team who dominated their first two weeks but was exposed in Week 3 by a well-coached and disciplined Arizona team. New England’s roster isn’t going to overwhelm you with their individual talent on paper, but they certainly fit the mold of “well-coached and disciplined” that gave Dallas fits.
In last week’s victory over the Jets, the Patriots had a conservative game plan that featured 40 opportunities for their running backs, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas struggled with the Cardinals running game in Week 3, and a similar approach seems in order for New England this week as they will look to make this game about ball control and field position. The strength of the Dallas defense is their pass rush, so wearing out Micah Parsons and the rest of the Dallas front with the running game while making the focus of the passing game in the short to intermediate area makes a lot of sense. Dallas leads the league in man coverage rate and is now playing without star cornerback Trevon Diggs, which in theory makes them more susceptible on the perimeter, but it is unclear if the Patriots will want to let Mac Jones stand in the pocket with the pass rush bearing down on him. The Cowboys defense dominated up front in the first two weeks before the rushing threat of Josh Dobbs neutralized them in Week 3. Jones is a relatively stationary quarterback who will allow Dallas to pin their ears back a bit, creating a need for quick passes, and should make the Patriots tight ends and running backs a focal point this week, which isn’t really a huge change from their approach last week.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
Cardinals Run D30th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O3rd DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D31st DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O1st DVOA/1st Yards per pass
49ers Run D20th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O15th DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
49ers Pass D5th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O27th DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- These teams rank 26th and 31st in the NFL in tempo while also ranking 24th and 31st in the league in pass rate over expectation (PROE).
- San Francisco has scored 30+ points in eight of their nine regular season games since Brock Purdy stepped in for Jimmy Garoppolo last season.
- The 49ers defense has been dominant once again this season, making life exceedingly difficult on their opponents.
- Arizona has been surprisingly competitive to start the season as they play a controlled and conservative style on both sides of the ball that relies on their opponents making mistakes.
- The Cardinals have outscored their opponents by 28 points during the first three quarters of their games so far this year.
How arizona Will Try To Win ::
The Cardinals were written off by many people, myself included, entering this season after several offseason moves appeared to signal a focus on 2024. New coach Jonathan Gannon, however, has had other plans as he has his squad playing motivated and disciplined football. The Cardinals have been 7-point road underdogs, 6-point home underdogs, and 11-point home underdogs through the first three weeks of the season but have managed to outscore their opponents 65-37 prior to the fourth quarter in those outings. While they have only managed a 1-2 record, this performance during the early portions of the games highlights how well prepared they have been and that their scheme is one that takes some time for opponents to crack.
As we enter Week 4, it is the same story but a different week for the Cardinals. Heavy underdogs (14 points) on the road and everyone expecting them to be run over. This week’s task, however, does seem like a different animal completely as they face a 49ers team that is almost certainly the best offense they have faced so far this season in terms of both personnel and scheme, while also boasting one of the league’s top defensive units. Said another way, the Cardinals have had some success against middling and/or injury riddled teams but are now facing another class of opponent. The Cardinals don’t really have another trick in their bag, however, so we should expect their approach and game plan for this game to look the same as their past games. They will use Josh Dobbs to create yards on the ground and the threat of his legs to hold linebackers for running lanes for James Conner. Rondale Moore had a long rushing touchdown in Week 3 and his speed and burst is a perfect changeup from Conner’s bruising style, so we should expect more use of him on the ground and other creative ways to create confusion in the defense and try to sustain drives. Arizona will take some calculated downfield shots as well, but those will be reserved for down and distance situations (think second and short) where the defense is selling out to stop the run and Dobbs is able to take a predetermined shot targeting a specific matchup. Ultimately, the Cardinals need to rely on their defense keeping San Francisco’s scoring in check so that they can maintain their offensive style that takes such good care of the ball and limits what it asks of Dobbs.
How san Francisco Will Try To Win ::
Chiefs Run D27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O32nd DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D3rd DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O31st DVOA/30th Yards per pass
Jets Run D17th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O17th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Jets Pass D4th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O5th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football sees the Chiefs visit the Jets for a 41.5 total game with Kansas City favored by a whopping 8.5 points. I bet whoever made the schedule was really excited about this game, and then Aaron Rodgers got hurt and the Jets seem to just stubbornly use Zach Wilson even though he’s atrocious. The Jets implied team total here is just 16.5 points, a number that might actually be somewhat aggressive as they’ve scored just 42 points in three games so far this season. Yikes.
The Chiefs run game is an awkward three-way timeshare with Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all seeing time. Pacheco is the clear lead back, playing the most snaps (roughly 50% of offensive snaps so far) and handling 35 carries with nine targets. McKinnon is the receiving back with just three carries but eight targets, while CEH has taken 22 carries and four targets. First, CEH’s role is somewhat inflated by last week’s game (16 of his 22 opportunities came in Week 3), and that was a game in which Pacheco was a game-time decision, thus we can extrapolate that CEH’s role increase was likely a combination of Pacheco’s injury and the Chiefs absolutely blowing out the Bears and running the ball a lot more (just 33 pass attempts for Mahomes with 30 combined carries for the two lead backs is a very non-Chiefs kind of line). Pacheco’s the lead back here with CEH in a relatively modest role, but CEH will be on the field and will be a threat to steal goal line work. McKinnon appears to be in the role we saw him in last year after Mecole Hardman got injured, which includes a lot of schemed red zone usage. That created a lot of value for McKinnon last year on limited touches but lots of touchdown equity (a massive nine receiving touchdowns last year, and two already this year). In a road matchup against a really tough Jets defense, it’s tough to see a path to a lot of fantasy goodness for the Chiefs running backs. McKinnon would almost certainly need a trip to the end zone given his limited workload but his touchdown equity is awesome. Pacheco and CEH are similarly unlikely to rack up enough volume to get there without a TD. I’d rank McKinnon as my favorite here, then Pacheco, then CEH.
Ownership updates automatically
The Chiefs passing game, as always, is “Travis Kelce and then a merry-go-round of wide receivers.” Six different wide receivers have played offensive snaps for the Chiefs in every game so far, while only one WR has ever played more than 70% of the snaps in a game (Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 2). The trickiest one to evaluate here is Kadarius Toney, who is one of the most talented receivers on the roster but struggles with both health and consistency. Toney has played 25%, 29%, and 3% of the snaps in games so far this year. The 3% was likely due to being on the injury report that week, and without any sort of injury designation, the most likely outcome is he returns to that 25-35% range but with significant usage when on the field (despite the low snap counts, Toney saw five targets in each of Weeks 1 and 2). MVS is the guy who’s on the field the most but struggles to consistently earn targets with just seven on the year. Watson is a bit similar to MVS, a perimeter receiver with a deep aDOT but limited volume. But right now Watson is kind of like a better MVS with 12 targets on the year and less than half the salary. Skyy Moore is the slot guy who was widely expected to have a breakout season (he was the first-drafted Chiefs WR in Best Ball), while Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross are talented rookies whose roles are both likely to grow as the season progresses. At tight end, it’s Travis Kelce and he’s an awesome play every Showdown. Backup Noah Gray has continued to keep a real role after Kelce returned in Week 2, with three and two targets on exactly 61% of the snaps in each game, while TE3 Blake Bell will be on the field and occasionally see a look. All in all 13, different Chiefs have seen targets on the year so far if you include Richie James, who is now hurt.
If we look at the target distribution across the Chiefs passing game it looks like this: Kelce leads with 17 (in just two games!), then Rice with 14, Moore with 13, Watson with 12, Toney with 11, Gray with 10, Pacheco at 9, McKinnon 8, MVS 7, CEH 4, Bell 3, Ross 2. That’s a LOT of guys soaking up volume. From a “player takes” perspective the guys I like most here are Rice, Toney, and Watson. Rice looks like an ascending rookie who has quickly earned Mahomes’ trust with the most targets of the WR group; Toney won’t be on the field a ton but should see plenty of schemed work when he’s there (and now that he’s “back” to his normal role he could steal at least some of the schemed red zone usage back from McKinnon); while Watson is cheap and his role seems to be bigger than expected. From a strategy perspective, it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these guys hit (well, beyond Bell and Ross) so I want to take advantage of where the field is going to express more or less certainty via ownership (be overweight the lower owned Chiefs pass catchers and underweight the higher owned ones, except for Kelce who is of course in a class of his own).
Seahawks Run D18th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O32nd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D23rd DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O32nd DVOA/31st Yards per pass
Giants Run D28th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O22nd DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Giants Pass D23rd DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O15th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 4 closes out with the Seahawks visiting the Giants for a healthy 47 total game with Seattle favored by 1.5 points. So, reasonably high total, close spread, and two defenses that have struggled to stop anything so far. The Giants have given up an insane 98 points so far, though some of that was to opposing defenses, while the Hawks have given up 88. After what feels like a plethora of gross island games, this looks like a fun one.
On the Giants side, Saquon Barkley is doubtful with some limited practices this week. I’m going to guess he does NOT play and write this up as such, as generally players require more than one week to heal from a high ankle sprain. If we get news indicating otherwise early enough, I’ll update the article, but if he’s a game-time decision, best to hop in Discord to talk about the situation. Matt Breida stepped into the lead back role last week, playing 82% of the snaps (!) but only seeing seven opportunities (four carries and three targets) as the Giants got absolutely dusted by the 49ers. In a game with a closer spread, we can safely project Breida for a much more robust role, and because of last week’s obliteration, Breida’s price is just $6,400. He will share some work with Gary Brightwell, who saw the same number of opportunities on just 18% of the snaps. In a closer game, I have a very strong lean to Breida as the better on-paper play. Of course, Daniel Jones will take carries himself. The Giants don’t run things like the “butt scoot” or whatever it’s called that Philly does, but last year Giants running backs combined for 29 carries inside the 10 against 15 for Jones. So, still a threat to vulture, but not to the extent of, say, Lamar Jackson or Jalen Hurts. At $6,400, Breida is clearly underpriced for his role, while Brightwell fills the “RB2s with actual roles are always viable in Showdown” slot.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Giants have a whole lot of dudes. Darius Slayton leads all pass catchers in offensive snaps played, and though it has not translated to fantasy production yet, he has at least five targets in every game. At $5,200 and in a strong matchup, that’s a great value. Preseason favorite for the WR1 role Isaiah Hodgins is next in snaps but has just nine targets to show for it, and he’s more expensive than Slayton. Parris Campbell is next in snaps and routes and has a healthy 16 targets, though just for 47 yards (averaging 4.3 yards per catch, jeez) in a possession receiver role. At $2,800, he’s a reasonable value option. Jalin Hyatt is an interesting rookie who will fill some perimeter snaps running mostly deep routes, giving him a volatile profile; he only has three targets on the season and has put up 0 points in Weeks 1 and 3, but put up 10.9 DK points in Week 2 on a 2/89/0 line. That’s about what we should expect from Hyatt – he’s a good tourney option (at just $2,000) and he’s already shown ceiling for his salary, and his role should be expected to increase as the season goes along. Finally, we have Wan’dale Robinson. Robinson is a very, very solid talent who has spent much of his young career injured; he returned last week to play just 22% of the snaps but earned five targets. When he’s on the field, he’s going to be a primary option, and I expect his snap count to increase as his injury falls further into the rear-view mirror. Robinson’s snaps came at the expense of Sterling Shepard, who barely played last week, and I expect as his role continues to grow that it will be Campbell who gives up snaps in return. Wan’dale won’t project well based on his snap count, but he’s one of my favorite options in this game, though just recognize it’s a pretty risky profile. At tight end, we have the Giants real leading pass catcher in Darren Waller. Waller leads the team in targets and is second only to Slayton in offensive snaps amongst the pass catchers. We know he’s elite when healthy, and he seems healthy, and he’s only $7k . . . he’s an awesome play. Finally, we have TE2 Daniel Bellinger, who is on the field plenty but is mostly a blocker with just two targets on the year. With price considered, my ranking of Giants pass catching options are Waller, Robinson, Slayton, Hodgins, Hyatt, Campbell, and Shepard.