AFC North PreviewJosh Brickner  @DFF_JoshB

What We Learned from Last Week:

Tensions Boil Over

In last week’s preview, I warned everyone A.J. Green could be in for a tough day against the stellar Jacksonville secondary. However, I never could have expected this. It’s still unknown what Jalen Ramsey said to Green to incite such a reaction, but nobody will disagree that A.J. took the violence to a dangerous level in his retaliation. Green somehow avoided a suspension for his actions, but it was a forgettable day for A.J. That incident before halftime overshadowed a mediocre performance from Joe Mixon (10 carries/31 yards, 3 catches/15 yards) that was saved by a TD run. Tyler Kroft only had 2 receptions, thankfully one went for 59 yards to inflate his overall yardage (79).

The Ravens RB Shuffle

Just when everyone (hand raised) was ready to anoint Alex Collins as the Ravens lead back, he is both out-snapped (35-28) and out-produced (Collins: 13 car/43 yds, 1 rec/3 yds; Allen: 7 car/21 yds, 7 rec/44 yds/1 TD) by Buck Allen. Both Collins and Allen seem to be prisoners to the game flow for production; if the Ravens are trailing, as they were in Week 9, look for Allen to get the work at RB. Should Baltimore be ahead in the contest (as was the case when Collins carried 18 times for 113 yards in a 40-0 Week 8 win), look for Collins to command the backfield. I’m selling high on Buck Allen while I can, as Danny Woodhead returned to practice and is eligible to play in Week 11. Woodhead would cut into, if not completely take over, the passing-down work from Buck Allen while Collins’ value as the early-down back should remain unchanged.

What to Watch For:

More than a One-Week Wonder?

Last week, we chronicled JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s  eventful Week 8 that ended with him producing an impressive stat line (7/193/1) on SNF against the Lions. I’ll save everyone the suspense… JSS is not going to have almost 200 yards receiving in Week 10 against the Colts. However, Smith-Schuster is no one-game, wonder as the rookie from Southern Cal had been steadily producing every week for a 17/231/3 stat line before his Week 8 explosion. JuJu is clearly the WR2 on the Steelers given the trust he’s earned from his veteran QB and the selfish actions of Martavis Bryant the last month. Bryant should be nowhere near your fantasy roster while JSS is a solid WR2 against the Colts leaky secondary (6th most fantasy points allowed to opposing WRs).

Josh Gordon Watch: Week 1

The NFL and fantasy community were abuzz last week when the news came out that troubled WR Josh Gordon was conditionally reinstated to the league. Gordon will report to the Browns facility on Tuesday for conditioning drills, meetings, etc. He can begin to practice on November 20th and is eligible to play in his first game in Week 13 against the Chargers. This is definitely a static situation to monitor as Gordon is one puff, I mean slip up, away from permanent league banishment. Gordon is worth a speculative add only if you are sitting in first place and/or have the total points lead and are a lock for the playoffs. Gordon could be the ultimate fantasy weapon for the stretch run as he will be the most talented player on a Browns team potentially still searching for their first win in Week 13.

Who Drops the Boom:

A.J. Green.   Green’s season-best performance against Buffalo in Week 5 (7/189/1) seems like a lifetime ago for both Green’s fantasy owners and the Bengal fan base. Over his last three games, the former Georgia Bulldog has only managed to convert his 16 targets into seven receptions, 74 yards, and a single TD. In his most recent game, Green almost threw as many punches as he had receiving yards (6) before he was promptly ejected before halftime. The six-time Pro-Bowler somehow avoided a suspension and while that’s great news for his teammates and fantasy owners, it’s bad news for the Titans. Give me a motivated, angry A.J. Green in a game where his team is going to force-feed him the ball. Expect a Top 5 performance from Green against a Titans D that is just outside the Top 10 (11th) in fantasy points allowed to opposing WRs.  

Who Drops the Ball

The Entire Browns Offense. You are playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette every time you start a member of the Cleveland Browns 27th ranked offense on your fantasy team. If you’re desperate, the Lions are in the Top 12 of points allowed to fantasy backs and Duke Johnson Jr. and Isaiah Crowell are always low-end flex options. That is, if you can predict who will get the majority of the garbage time work for the week. Personally, I’m looking to sell high on Crowell after his 118 total yards from scrimmage and touchdown in London.

Game Predictions:

Detroit Lions 31 Cleveland Browns 13

Pittsburgh Steelers 34 Indianapolis Colts 17

Tennessee Titans 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20

Baltimore Ravens: Bye

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AFC South Preview  –  Josh Brickner  @DFF_JoshB

What We Learned from Last Week:

No Watson, Big Problem

When DeShaun Watson tore his ACL in practice on Thursday, there were concerns that Tom Savage starting behind center would negatively affect the fantasy value of the Texans’ skill players. Those fears were more than warranted. Savage completed just 19 of 44 passes for 219 yards, a touchdown, and a 15.3 QBR. Will Fuller, and his reliance on the deep ball saw his four-game TD streak come to an end, as he was only able to catch two balls for 32 yards. Lamar Miller put up a respectable line both on the ground (10/57) and through the air (3/34) while DeAndre Hopkins (6/86/1) had the best game of all. With Savage’s mediocrity at the QB position, the explosiveness and upside each one of these three men had with Watson at the helm are gone. Downgrade each of them (Hopkins: Top 5 WR to fringe WR1; Miller RB1 to RB2; Fuller: high-end WR2 to boom/bust Flex option) for the remainder of the season unless Savage makes giant strides at the position (not likely).

Chris Ivory is the Handcuff for Leonard Fournette

Owners of Leonard Fournette had their brunch rudely interrupted on Sunday when it was reported Fournette would be unexpectedly inactive for the game against Cincinnati due to a violation of a team rule (he missed the team picture). LF owners had to be confused as to which RB between Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon they should add from the waiver wire. Prior to Fournette’s absence in Week 7, it was presumed Chris Ivory would lead the backfield as he was listed as LF’s backup and T.J. Yeldon hadn’t been active for a game all season. While Ivory both led the backfield in snaps (38) in Week 7 and had a productive game (17/47/1); it was T.J. Yeldon who stuffed the stat sheet (9/122/1) on fewer snaps (23).

Week 9 was a flip flop situation from Week 7 where the snaps were almost evenly distributed (Ivory: 39 Yeldon: 35), but Chris Ivory (20 carries/69 yards; 3 receptions/34 yards) out produced T.J. Yeldon (11 car/41 yds; 2 rec/11 yds). The situation seems muddied; however, if I own Leonard Fournette I’m doing everything in my power to acquire Chris Ivory, not T.J. Yeldon. Ivory out touched Yeldon 40-24 in the last two games where Leonard Fournette did not play and that should not change moving forward. Yeldon would still have a role as the 3rd down/change of pace back were Fournette to miss any extended time.

What to Watch For:

The Titans’ Pass Catchers

There was a question as to whether Delanie Walker would even play on Sunday after suffering a bone bruise in his ankle in a Week 7 win at Cleveland. While the snaps between Walker (32) and backup Jonnu Smith (30) were evenly distributed, it was Walker who came up big for both the Titans and his fantasy owners catching five receptions for 71 yards in the Week 9 win. Delanie Walker was the Titans’ leading receiver for the game and needs to be in your lineup whenever he’s active.

Top 5 pick Corey Davis was underwhelming (2/28/0) in his first game action after re-aggravating a hamstring injury in Week 2. The Central Michigan product was outshined in Week 9 by fellow wideouts Rishard Matthews (4/70/1) and Eric Decker (3/21/1) in a trend I don’t expect to continue. Davis played a season-high 75% (39) of the offensive snaps against the Ravens which was more than Decker (23) and just behind Matthews (42). The Titans drafted Davis 5th overall in the 2017 draft to be their unquestioned WR1 with Matthews and Decker serving in complementary roles. Davis playing on ¾ of the offensive snaps, especially after not practicing in almost two months, tells me that division of labor is coming soon, if not by this Sunday. I’m acquiring Davis everywhere he is available. If I own Matthews or Decker, I’m reaching out to Mike Evans owner and using these performances to sell high on both before Davis has a breakout game.

Titans RBs

The Titans’ backfield further confused the fantasy community in Week 9 as DeMarco Murray out-snapped (37-19) and out-touched (11-10) Derrick Henry, but it was Henry who had the more productive fantasy day after finding paydirt right before halftime. There’s neither rhyme nor reason to the weekly workload distribution for the Tennessee backfield as both Henry and Murray have virtually no fantasy upside as long as the other is around. Both remain a low-end RB2/Flex option unless one of them is forced to miss time. Early reports this week have DeMarco Murray dealing with a knee injury and if he were to miss Sunday’s game, Derrick Henry would be a must-start option against the Bengals.

Who Drops the Boom:

Leonard Fournette. Why will Leonard Fournette drop the boom this week? Is it because he hasn’t played for three weeks and has had time to rest his bum ankle? Is it because he’s going to come back angry and motivated after watching Week 9 from the sidelines due to a violation of team rules? Is it because the Bengals have given up the 11th most fantasy points to opposing RBs the last four weeks? Yes, yes, and yes. Whatever narrative or analytical reason you want to use to explain it, Leonard Fournette is going to eat this week! The former LSU Tiger is averaging almost 22 fantasy points and, as long as he’s on time to all team functions, is a Top 5 option this week at RB.

Who Drops the Ball:

T.Y. Hilton. There’s a disturbing trend with T.Y. Hilton this season (I’m sure the erratic play of Jacoby Brissett doesn’t help) where he will follow up a monster performance, like his Week 9 leading 5/175/2 stat line, with a dud. In Week 3 Hilton dropped  7/153/1 line on the Browns only to follow that up with a pedestrian 3/30 in Week 4 against the Legion of Boom in Seattle. Hilton teased his fantasy owners in Week 5 against SF catching seven receptions for 177 yards only to leave them unsatisfied in Week 6 with a 1/19 stinker against Tennessee. Hilton is a high ceiling/low floor WR2 play this week against a Steelers’ secondary who is allowing the 2nd least points to opposing fantasy WRs this season.

Game Predictions:

Jacksonville Jaguars 23 L.A. Chargers 17

Tennessee Titans 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20

Pittsburgh Steelers 34 Indianapolis Colts 17

L.A. Rams 31 Houston Texans 17

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AFC East Preview  –  Jay Santos

What We Learned From Last Week:

Looking beyond the box scores, here’s what I learned from last week’s games:

Jets This year’s Jets are like last year’s Titans. Let me explain. Last year no one was expecting the Titans to be a competitive team. They had a lame-duck head coach,  there wasn’t much in place for an offense outside of Marcus Mariota, and on paper, their defense wasn’t anything that teams had to worry about.  Then they showed how they can run the ball, not turn it over while also playing average to above average defense, and they ended the year at .500.  Minus the franchise quarterback, that’s exactly how the Jets are playing this year and so far are 4-5.  Against a good Bills team, the Jets pounded the ball on the ground and asked Josh McCown to take care of the ball and not do too much. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell combined for 151 yards rushing on just 23 carries. Forte again was the one who was given the most touches out of the two, but they both showed great burst when given the opportunity. Robbie Anderson is showcasing to the rest of the league that he isn’t a JAG, and after beating Desmond Trufant in week 9, he was able to beat up-and-coming cornerback Tre’Davious White on the exact same play for nice 25 yard TD.  Josh McCown only threw the ball 20, times but that’s just in his wheelhouse.  Have him throw 30-40 times a game and you’re asking for a multi-pick game.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins looked like he didn’t have a great day based on the box score, but he got unlucky that a potential touchdown was taken away from him on a touchy-feely push-off call.  Better days are coming, and when McCown is asked to throw more, ASJ can be relied on as a consistent, if unspectacular TE1.

Dolphins This offense can be functional without Jay Ajayi.  Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams both did a good job replacing the production that Ajayi had hoped to produce in Miami.  The duo combined for 83 yards rushing and 82 yards receiving with Drake producing more rushing yards (69) thanks to a long run midway through the 3rd quarter.  Although you could’ve driven a truck through that hole, Drake did show the burst that made him an appealing prospect coming out of Alabama.  Meanwhile, Williams showed to be the more trusted passing option, especially in the red zone as he pinballed his way to a score.  Now, Oakland’s defense is nothing to write home about, but both Drake and Williams showed they can produce above average results as a committee.  On the other hand, trusting either on weekly basis to be beyond a FLEX play is a gamble that’ll be best avoided in tougher matchups.  Jay Cutler played well in this one, but continued to show that Jarvis Landry is his check-down receiver with a safe floor but limited upside (6 for 32 yards, 1 TD), and DeVante Parker is his low floor/high upside big receiver he loves to throw 50/50 balls to (5 for 76 yards).  With Cutler at QB and games he’s finished, Parker has produced 76 or 85 yards in 3 out of 4 games (The other game he fell just short with 69 yards).  Although he hasn’t exploded yet, it’s only a matter of time until he does.  Lastly, there was a Julius Thomas sighting Sunday.  The big man finished tied for the team lead with 6 receptions and lead the team with 84 yards receiving and a late TD.  I wouldn’t get too excited though, as he still looks sluggish, and his burst has been sapped with lower leg injuries over the past few years. He’s basically a poor man’s version of Jason Witten.

BillsThe Bills are mortal after all.  Although playing on a short week is never an ideal way to assess a team, the Bills came out flat on Thursday night and didn’t look like the playoff-caliber team we were getting used to seeing.  The defense couldn’t stop the run game and the offense couldn’t move the ball on the ground.  LeSean McCoy had his worse game in probably a couple seasons as the Jets’ front seven consistently penetrated any available gaps.  Combine that with the fact that the same front seven also combined to sack Tyrod Taylor 7 times, and you’ve got yourself a game to forget.  If it wasn’t for a couple garbage time touchdowns, one thanks to an onside kick recovery, this game wouldn’t have looked as close as it did.  Tyrod helped pad his stats towards the end of the game (285, 2 pass TDs and 35 rushing yards, 1 TD) along with Deonte Thompson (7 for 81, 1 TD) producing a game that looked good on paper.  However, these stats need to be looked at with a grain of salt as the Bills will not normally be in this predicament, meaning you shouldn’t be rushing to your waiver wire to pick up Thompson.

Patriots – Bye

What to Watch For:

Can Josh McCown produce like a QB1 this week? The Jets take on the reeling Tampa Bay Bucs on the road at a good time.  Their offense looked efficient this past Thursday night. Jameis Winston is out and, the Amish Rifle, aka Ryan Fitzpatrick, will be under center, while the Bucs’ secondary allows the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.  This all sets ups a good matchup for McCown to exploit.  However, there is one thing that might stop him from having a productive game . . . and that’s because Tampa’s defense gives up the 29th most points to opposing running backs.  On top of that, the Bucs D ranks dead last in total sacks with 8 in 8 games!  The Jets D just had 7 this past weekend.  Whoah, this just turned into a bashing of the Bucs defense, but you get my point.  Either way you slice it, this looks like a good matchup for pretty much everyone. The only thing stopping McCown from producing a back-end QB1 day will be the game flow.  Whether you know it or not, McCown is already ranked as a borderline QB1/2 depending on your league settings this season, as he’s averaging 238.7 yards per game and 1.7 TDs.  Those average out to a better points-per-game status than Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, and Matt Ryan, all of whom are started on a more consistent basis than Josh. With Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, and Carr on bye this week, McCown will produce as a QB1 for you this weekend.

Who Brings the Boom:

Robbie Anderson – One week after saying that Anderson will “Drop the Ball,” I’m back on board with him “Bringing the Boom.”  As mentioned earlier, he’s now producing against some of the better corners in the league, not only between the 20’s or on deep shots, but also getting into the end zone from just outside the red zone.  He’s scored in three straight games, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes four straight after this weekend, especially if the Bucs’ top corner, Brent Grimes, misses his third consecutive game.  Since Week 7, Anderson has finished as a WR1 once and WR2 twice based on PPR scoring.  The touchdowns definitely help, but he’s showing the capabilities that he can be counted on to be his team’s number 1 perimeter option.  Now don’t get him confused with being a borderline WR1/2 option every week, but based on this week’s matchup, I’m considering him a mid-range WR2 option with upside for more.  

Who Drops the Ball:

Brandin Cooks – Wait, Alshon Jeffery just carved up the Broncos D this past weekend, so why can’t Brandin Cooks?  Easy answer, because that was an anomaly.  Yes, Belichick after a bye week always finds ways to feed his playmakers, and yes, Cooks is one of the most talented receivers in the game.  However, Denver’s secondary is still the second most talented unit in the league behind only the Jaguars.  No matter where Cooks lines up, he’ll find himself against the talented trio of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby, which makes for a long day, even for some of the best receivers. Add in the fact that Cooks hasn’t topped 100 yards in a game since week 3, and I’m not sure there can be much optimism with this matchup.   

Game Predictions:

NYJ 27, Tampa Bay 20

New Orleans 26, Buffalo 24

New England 23, Denver 16

Carolina 20, Miami 13

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AFC West Preview  –  Anthony Zaragoza   @ZaragozaAnthony

What We Learned From Last Week:

Oakland Raiders – Well that was an ugly win. But at this point, the Oakland Raiders will take it. In a game that both teams were both flagged for 10 penalties each, the Raiders edged the Miami Dolphins 27-24 on Sunday Night Football. The win moved the team to 4-5 and keeps them in the hunt for the playoffs. For the third consecutive game, Derek Carr threw for 300 yards. It seems like Carr is finally in rhythm this season and it comes at the best time for the Raiders. Surprisingly, the two heroes of the game were Jared Cook and Marshawn Lynch. Beast Mode returned from his one-game suspension and rushed for two touchdowns, his first multi-scoring game since December of 2014. Cook, who’s on pace for career highs in receptions and yards, came through catching eight passes for 126 yards and multiple third down conversion as well. The Raiders head into their bye on a good note.

Kansas City Chiefs – How the mighty have fallen. After looking like the team to beat in the AFC earlier this season, the Kansas City Chiefs have dropped three out of their last four games, including this past weekends showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, 28-17. Alex Smith threw his first interception of the season but still had a solid day with 263 yards passing and two TD passes. After starting the season with seven straight games of 100 yards of total offense, Kareem Hunt now has two straight under that mark. Hunt rushed for 37 yards (nine carries) and had 24 yards receiving. The Dallas Cowboys were able to corral the rookie and never allowed him to get going. That was his lowest total so far in his young career. Not everyone had a rough game like Hunt, as Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill both caught TDs from Smith and continued to display a strong passing attack. The Chiefs are still in full control of the AFC West and their own destiny.

Denver Broncos – Ever since their bye in Week 5, the Denver Broncos have done nothing but lose each week. Last weekend was no different. The Broncos were blasted by the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles, 51-23. This game marked the season debut for former starting quarterback Brock Osweiler. He had himself an “Osweiler” type game, for a lack of better words, with a low completion percentage (50%) and multiple interceptions (2). Demaryius Thomas had himself a day, though. The five-time pro bowler caught eight passes for 70 yards and the Broncos only touchdown. If there’s one constant for this offense, it’s Thomas. I can’t say the same for the rushing attack for the Broncos. CJ Anderson was once again a victim of a lopsided score and a tough defense. Anderson was limited to only nine carries and could not get anything going against the front seven of the Eagles, led by Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. It doesn’t get any easier for Denver, with New England coming into town for Sunday Night Football this weekend.

Los Angeles Chargers – Bye

What to Watch For:

Can Philip Rivers navigate through the Jaguars pass defense? With only two teams playing in the AFC West this week, and the Broncos playing pitifully on offense lately, the Chargers passing attack wins this section by default. Philip Rivers will go against the league’s best pass defense in terms of passing yards allowed, and the unit who has the fourth most interceptions this season. The Jaguars pass defense, led by Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye, have pestered opposing quarterbacks all year. Only Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for over 300 yards against this defense this season, but it also took him 55 attempts, and he had five INTs too. So, Rivers and company will need to do their best to get things going early against Todd Wash’s defense to have any chance of winning this ball game. If Rivers can, the Chargers have a good chance of beating the Jaguars on the road this weekend.

Who Brings the Boom:

Melvin Gordon: The Jaguars are stout against the pass, as mentioned above, but are vulnerable on the run. Melvin Gordon gets to feast against the NFL’s #26 ranked rush defense (total rushing yards allowed). On top of that, Jacksonville is allowing nearly five yards a carry and has allowed four teams to rush for over 100 total yards. Gordon, the ninth leading rusher in the league, is coming off a 132-yard performance against the Patriots two weeks ago and will be fresh coming off the bye this past weekend. In a potentially low scoring game, Gordon’s number will be called early and often in this one. Start him with confidence.

Who Drops the Ball:

Keenan Allen: On pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2013, Keenan Allen gets a rough matchup against either Ramsey or Bouye in Jacksonville this weekend. Word came out Monday that Ramsey would not be suspended for his part in the fight between himself and AJ Green last week, so the sure-fire pro bowl corner will follow Allen around and make his life tough on Sunday. In a game where the Chargers could elect to run the ball more often, chances are, when Rivers takes his shots down the field, they will be on the opposite side of Ramsey. According to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey is the #3 rated defensive back this season. On top of that, Allen hasn’t caught a touchdown since week 1 and has been held under 75 yards receiving the last four weeks. If you have other options on your roster with better matchups, consider those instead of Allen this week.

Game Predictions:

Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Los Angeles Chargers 17

New England 27, Denver Broncos 13

 

azaragoza

Married to my best friend | Father of 2 great kids | @Fresno_State Alum | Writer for @DFF_Redraft, @FPC_Raiders and @InTrustWeSports #DFFArmy

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