As anyone who has played fantasy football knows, it’s good to know which way the wind blows. The ocean of fantasy assets stretches out before us and expands from horizon to horizon, making any thought of mapping it all out a daunting task. The AFC (or AF-Sea?) holds plenty of dark corners and treacherous pitfalls. It takes a true fantasy explorer to know how to navigate.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Only the strong can survive, and dead men tell no tales.

Each week, we brave souls enter the depths of the North, the East, the South, and the West, and send word as to what we find there. Is there treasure? Are there traps? Could it be glory and victory?

We break it all down for you right now.

AFC North Preview

Andrew Mendoza (@DFF_LeGrand)

What to Watch For:

Cleveland stuns us yet again, but this time maybe for the right reasons.

11-44-1. An impressive PPR stat line? No, actually it is former Browns coach Hue Jackson’s record as an NFL head coach. Last week the Browns made a move that many anticipated when they released the embattled Jackson, only to follow up with a stunner that not many saw coming, also moving on from OC Todd Haley. Despite not getting the job done in Cleveland, both Haley and Jackson are talented coordinators who should have no issue landing a job elsewhere, yet it begs the question: Who will be the next Browns head coach? Some names circulating include Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma, Titans OC Matt LaFleur, and Vikings OC John DeFilippo just to name a few.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Nick Chubb/RB/Browns

In his first two starts following the trade of Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb has continued in his predecessor’s footsteps, getting the ball often and grinding out tough yards in the trenches. With 18 touches in each start going for a total of 145 yards and 1 TD collectively, Chubb seeks to continue his consistency this week against a Chiefs defense giving up an average of 127.6 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. While victory for the Browns might be a long shot, expect Chubb to see a heavy dose of runs with a few receptions if the game script means a more aerial attack.

Projections: Rushing – 15/88/1 Receiving – 3/25

Ben Roethlisberger/QB/Steelers

In a Week 4 matchup against the division rivals they meet again this week, Big Ben went 27/47 for 274 yards, a TD. and a pick in a losing effort at home to the Ravens. This week the Steelers have another crack at Baltimore and look to stay atop the division with a key win on the road. With a fractured left index finger sustained in last week’s victory against the Browns, Big Ben is expected to play and will look to be at his best against one of the league’s top defenses. In order for Pittsburgh to avoid the season sweep, Big Ben will have to be sharp.

Projections: 23/36, 324 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Sleeper Alert:

Mark Andrews/TE/Ravens

Although Baltimore’s middling stable of tight ends doesn’t evoke fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators, Pittsburgh’s defense against tight ends this year has been near the bottom of the barrel. Mark Andrews caught 4 of 5 targets for 31 yards last week against Carolina, and he appears to be the most consistent of the players Baltimore has to offer at the position. Against a weak defense surrendering an average of 8.7 points a game to opposing tight ends, there is a chance that Andrews can expand on last week’s performance and help fantasy owners put points on the board as bye weeks take their toll.

Projection: 3/28/1

Game Predictions:

Chiefs – 34 @ Browns – 24

Steelers – 28 @ Ravens – 17

Cincinnati – BYE


AFC South Preview

Mitch Lawson (@DFF_MitchLawson)

What to Watch For:

How will Demaryius Thomas fit in Houston’s Offense?

In one of the more impactful trade deadline deals, DT was dealt to Houston. Obviously, with the injury to Will Fuller, the Texans wanted to try and fortify their passing game as they look to continue their fantastic trajectory. They’ve won five straight games after starting 0-3 and look like the favorites to win the division.

But will DT have an impact? Will the Texans give the veteran more targets than rookie Keke Coutee?

Often, the first game for a WR is a dull affair since he’s joining a new offense. But with Denver on the docket for Week 9, it seems like a position where Houston may want to let him try and earn a little revenge.

Keep your eye on this matchup to see what Thomas offers both the Texans and fantasy owners.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Deandre Hopkins/WR/Texans

Hopkins has a fantastic shot to put up big numbers, as he no longer has to contend with Will Fuller for targets. Both Thomas and Coutee will be eased into their roles, but his week should be all about Nuk.

Projections: 10/135/2 TDs

Lamar Miller/RB/Texans

Whoa, where did Lamar Miller come from? Through the first 5-starts in 2018, he was averaging 70 total yards per game. In that timeframe, he had one receiving touchdown and zero rushing TDs. But now, over his last two starts, he has put up 232 yards (116 yards per game average) and a TD. His needle is pointing up and he gets a decent matchup against Denver in a game where Houston could lead the whole way.

Projections: Rushing – 16/85/1    Receiving 2/29/0

DeShaun Watson/QB/Texans

Watson and the Texans desperately need to face an opponent who can hang with them offensively. But they won’t likely get that in Week 9. Watson hasn’t had to dominate opponents and has therefore really struggled to put up big fantasy numbers outside of last week’s 5 TD performance. It would be really nice to see Watson put up over 300 yards, but I don’t think that happens this week.

Projection: 21-for-31, 265 Yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Sleeper Alert:

Derrick Henry/RB/Titans

It’s hard to pick a sleeper when only two teams in the division actually play this week. And Henry barely qualifies. He is still splitting carries evenly with Dion Lewis, making it hard to peg him for anything but touchdown-dependency. However, against a Dallas team that is trying to re-invent its offense, I’ll see Henry finds a way to put up a TD

Projection: 13/50/1 TD

Game Predictions:

Tennessee – 20   @ Dallas – 23 (OT)

Houston – 22   @ Denver – 9


AFC East Preview

Chris Smith (@Chrisheatcanes)

What to Watch For:

Tom Brady Versus Aaron Rodgers Who is the better quarterback?

That is the story and the game of the week. This matchup reminds me of the Joe Montana, Dan Marino comparisons. The only difference is Rodgers has at least one ring in this comparison while poor Marino never made that happen. This debate is great to have, but there are no winners or losers in this conversation. It’s “Who do you like to watch more?” Who gives you chills down your spine with great play after great play? I am on Aaron Rodgers’ side. What he can do with his feet sets him apart. Let’s dive in this week and see what other matchups will make you fear the Halloween week of games.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Isaiah Crowell/RB/Jets

It’s hard to pick anyone from this team to have an effect on your fantasy team but at least you can start Crowell if you find yourself in a bye week conundrum. Lamar Miller had a really good game versus this terrible run defense in Miami.

Projections: 5/76/1

DeVante Parker/WR/Dolphins

With the injuries on the back end for the Jets and Parker emerging as Miami’s WR1, expect another big game from Parker this week.

Projections: 6/125/1

LeSean McCoy/RB/Bills

Well, the Bills are at least trying a lot harder to get the ball to McCoy. Finally some good news for McCoy owners.!You can start him at your flex position with confidence.

James White/RB/Patriots

Being the number one option on the Patriots, you must start him every week unless injured. James gets at least 10 runs and 10 passes a game which makes him the highest targets player on the team.

Projections: Rushing 10/45 Receiving 9/78/1

Julian Edelman/WR/Patriots

As the second option on the team, expect Edelman to get a lot of targets this week against the Green Bay Packers.

Projections: 9/123/1

Sleeper Alert:

Cordarrelle Patterson/WR/Patriots

Oh, the tricky patriots… Cordarrelle was the third highest use option on the Patriots against the Bills on Monday. Expect this sleeper to have a bigger impact at home. Remember role players play bigger roles at home.  

Projections: Rushing 12/76/1 Receiving4/45

Deontay Burnett/WR/Jets

As the highest targeted wide receiver on the team the last two games, try him at the flex spot if you are in need of wide receiver help. Deontay might surprise you on a team playing catch-up.

Projections: 5/76/1

Kenyan Drake/RB/Dolphins

More involved in the offense, you can expect Drake to be productive against the Jets this week. The Jets gave up over 175 rushing yard to the Bears last week. I expect Drake to have a productive fantasy game.   

Projections: Rushing 13/67/1 Receiving 5/45/1

Game Predictions:

Jets 17 Miami 24

Bears 17 Bills 9

Packers 38 Patriots 41


AFC West Preview

Anthony Zaragoza (@ZaragozaAnthony)

What to Watch For:

How will the Chargers respond after their bye week?

The Los Angeles Chargers fought off a late rally in London two weeks ago versus the Titans, to stay within one victory of the division leading Kansas City Chiefs. This week, they have another tough game against the Seahawks in CenturyLink Field. Philip Rivers will have to throw against a stingy pass defense. We are now in November, so the Chargers cannot afford to fall behind the Chiefs any further than they are now. This feels like a trap game for Philip Rivers and company.

Fantasy Impact Players:

Kareem Hunt/RB/Chiefs

At this point, selecting any Chiefs player as an impact player for a given week is a no-brainer. Week 9 is no exception. Kareem Hunt is the fourth leading rusher in the NFL and goes against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league this weekend. The Cleveland Browns have given up the second most rushing touchdowns this season and the fifth most rushing yards as well. Hunt will go off on Sunday.

Projections: Rushing – 20/105/1 Receiving – 5/50/1

Emmanuel Sanders/WR/Broncos

Emmanuel Sanders has been a delight for fantasy owners this season. Sanders has quietly produced a top 10 PPR WR season for the Broncos through 8 weeks. Now with Demaryius Thomas in Houston, Sanders should continue to see a consistent amount of volume moving forward. It continues this weekend against the Texans.

Projections: 8/90/1

Sleeper Alert:

Courtland Sutton/WR/Broncos

Now that Demaryius Thomas is in Houston, the trade opens it up for the former SMU Mustangs receiver to step in as a flex option for the rest of the season. Courtland Sutton has a similar build as former teammate Thomas, so quarterback Case Keenum should have no problem adapting to Sutton as his new #2 WR. The Broncos opponent this weekend, the Texans, have given up 15 passing touchdowns this season. This bodes well for Sutton.

Projections: 5/80/1

Austin Ekeler/RB/Chargers

As we have seen so far this season, hamstring issues can be a headache for fantasy owners (e.g. Leonard Fournette). Melvin Gordon is battling one now too, but it looks like he will play this weekend. However, the Chargers could choose to ease Gordon into the game and limit his touches. Austin Ekeler has the chance to be more involved in the offense. We’ve seen Ekeler be a flex option with limited touches, so if given more opportunities he can really succeed.

Projections: Rushing – 5/20 Receiving – 6/60/1

Game Predictions:

Oakland Raiders 31, San Francisco 49ers

Houston Texans 28, Denver Broncos 27

Kansas City Chiefs 31, Arizona Cardinals 13

Seattle Seahawks 24, Los Angeles Chargers 21


@DFF_MitchLawson / Writer, Editor & Analyst for @DFF_Redraft & @DFF_Dynasty. #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball. Canadian. Occasionally witty, stay tuned

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