With Hurricane Zeta hardly in the rearview mirror, the resulting weather will come into play for the majority of matchups this weekend. It’ll be nearly impossible for us to determine which teams will either have strong winds at their backs, in their faces, lateral to the field of play, or in all directions. All we can do is evaluate the most current information that we do have, and make our best possible informed decisions. Here is a roundup of game time forecasts as of Friday from AccuWeather:
LA Rams at Miami (Miami Gardens, Florida, 1:00 PM ET):
51 Percent Chance of Rain (0.02 inches)
9 MPH Winds
12 mph Wind Gusts
New England at Buffalo (Orchard Park, New York, 1:00 PM ET):
- 58 Percent Chance of Rain (0.06 inches)
22 mph Winds
- 28 mph Wind Gusts
Las Vegas at Cleveland (Cleveland, Ohio, 1:00 PM ET)
27 MPH Winds
33 mph Wind Gusts
- 51 Percent Chance of Rain (0.04 inches) [3:00 PM ET]
Tennessee at Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1:00 PM ET)
23 MPH Winds
29 mph Wind Gusts
Minnesota at Green Bay (Green Bay, Wisconsin, 1:00 PM ET)
21 MPH Winds
27 mph Wind Gusts
New Orleans at Chicago (Chicago, Illinois, 1:00 PM ET)
20 MPH Winds
27 mph Wind Gusts
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (Baltimore, Maryland, 1:00 PM ET)
- 14 MPH Winds
- 17 mph Wind Gusts
- 51 Percent Chance of Rain (0.05 inches) [3:00 PM ET]
As we saw during the second half on Thursday Night Football in Charlotte, heavy rain and 20 mph lateral winds had a significant impact on the Atlanta and Carolina passing offenses. Both Matt Ryan and Teddy Bridgewater combined to generate 64 percent of their total passing offenses during the first half alone. During the second half, Ryan’s air yards/attempt dropped by 22 percent, and Bridgewater’s dropped by 32 percent.
I’ve already provided you with four QBs, six WRs, and four TEs to target, and the same number of each to avoid in my Week 8 Advanced Matchups. Actually, the WRs to target is now down to five since D.J. Moore was unable to take advantage of the Falcons’ secondary thanks to the poor weather. Thus, I’ll be taking a different approach here this week.
We only have four-of-11 games on the main slate forecasted to be blessed with calm weather. Therefore, I will alter how I pull my recommendations. I’ll provide individual analysis for top plays from the four games with advantageous weather, and then positional group listings of the players I feel will excel within the matchups enormously impacted by the poor weather conditions. Let’s dive in.
Russell Wilson, SEA vs. SF ($7,800 DK, $9,000 FD, O/U 54.0)
A recommendation to play Russell Wilson will not come as a shock considering the season he’s having. Wilson is currently 0.0047 FPs/dropback (FPDb) behind Aaron Rodgers for the top mark in the NFL this season. The Seahawks will host the 49ers at CenturyLink Field as three-point favorites in an NFC West showdown with playoff implications. San Francisco can always be relied upon for crisp tackling and elite masking of reads within their combination of Cover 1 (23 percent), Cover 3 (37 percent), Cover 4 (26 percent), and Cover 6 (11 percent) shells. Since Robert Saleh took over as defensive coordinator in 2017, Wilson has averaged 219 passing yards with a 12-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio, and 20.3 FPG against the ‘9ers. In those six games, Seattle has come out on top on four occasions.
At $7.8K on DK and $9K on FD, we will need Wilson to reach a floor of 23 and 27 FPs, respectively, to provide a full return of our investment. I get it, those numbers don’t add up to his history. In addition, Jason Verrett could end up shadowing Wilson’s most dangerous deep threat, DK Metcalf. Verrett has limited his coverage responsibilities to 0.42 yards per coverage snap (YPCS) and 0.08 FPs/coverage snap (FPCS). For comparison, Jalen Ramsey has allowed 0.70 YPCS and 0.17 FPCS this season. However, multiple factors will allow Wilson to overcome the loss of his freaky athletic man-child, and produce in the face of a defense only allowing opposing QBs to score 16.1 FPG.
Most importantly, this version of the Seattle offense is far different from those of the last three years. The Seahawks are passing on over two-thirds of all plays, abandoning the run-first approach of the past. Second, the loss of Joey Bosa to injury and DeForest Buckner via trade have resulted in the pass rush falling outside of the top-15 teams in the league. Next, the SF secondary is far from full strength with Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams on injured reserve, and both starting safeties, Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward, both highly questionable after missing Week 7. Finally, no QB in the NFL is as dominant as Wilson when facing either Cover 3 or Cover 4 secondary schemes.
The Bottom Line: San Francisco will roll out a Cover 3 and 4 on two-thirds of all snaps Sunday. Even if Metcalf is ghosted by Verrett, Wilson will have his dynamic slot Tyler Lockett pinpointing the zone holes at every level of the field. In addition, David Moore’s lid lifting role has come into play in weeks in which opposing secondaries have eliminated either Metcalf or Lockett. If Chris Carson is eventually ruled out, Wilson will need a big outing in this spot to prevent Seattle from falling in back-to-back games.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF at CAR ($5,400 DK, $6,600 FD, O/U 54.0)
The recommendation for Jimmy Garoppolo exposure extends down a few layers beyond simply drawing conclusions from the above stat. The Seattle defense, for all of its faults this season, has absolutely been one of the top-five run defenses in the league. If the 49ers find success on Sunday, they will do so without the ability to grind out the entire game on the ground. In their four victories this season, San Francisco has converted 53 percent of their third-down conversions and held opponents to an average of 54.3 offensive plays. In their three defeats, they only converted 28 percent of third-down conversions and opponents are averaging 66.7 offensive plays.
Now let’s take a look at how Garoppolo has fared when facing secondaries similar to Seattle’s. Over his last 24 games when facing a Cover 3, “Jimmy G” ranks seventh among all QBs with 0.44 FPDb. He’s earned that rank on 32 percent of dropbacks that have netted 41 percent of his yardage, and a 16 percent boost to his YPA. Garoppolo missed out on his only opportunity to face a defense featuring a Cover 3 from the Giants in Week 3. Against Cover 4, Garoppolo ranks sixth with 0.39 FPDb with a seven percent increase in air yards/attempt. Seattle will play a Cover 3 and 4 on 58 percent of snaps.
The Bottom Line: Let’s get it out there, exposure to Garoppolo is mainly driven toward squeezing as much cap space as possible in order to roster the chalk at other positions (i.e., Derrick Henry, Davante Adams, etc). As I’ll go into later, he’ll have a pair of weapons to consider in a straight stack or as standalone plays. The absence of Deebo Samuel is unfortunate, but his steady O-line should have no issues averting a pitiful Hawks’ pass rush. It’s a dream matchup against coverages he’s proven to punish with a forecast for clear skies. At $5.4K/$6.6K, we only need for him to generate 16.2/19.8 FPs for an ROI floor. He has the potential for so much more.
Justin Herbert, LAC at DEN ($6,900 DK, $7,700 FD, O/U 44.5)
The Bottom Line: The poor weather on the central and eastern locations of the U.S. only elevates the upside of Herbert in Week 9. It’s always possible that he finally struggles against a top-10 NFL defense. However, everything we have on film, and all of the analytics suggest that he will provide us with yet another strong DFS output.
Extreme Weather Play: Joe Burrow, CIN vs. TEN ($6,200 DK, $7,600 FD, O/U 52.0)
The Bottom Line: With LT Jonah Williams ruled out and C Bobby Hart, and RT Trey Hopkins on the wrong side of questionable, we have a very unique situation to consider. The Bengals traded for B.J. Swinney this week, but he will not play in Week 8. With Joe Mixon likely out again with a foot injury, Giovani Bernard will likely handle the bulk of RB snaps. However, only the Jets and Cowboys have asked their RBs to block more than Cincinnati this season. Considering the state of the O-line, it may be extremely tough for Bernard to get anything going on the ground. Even more detrimental to his upside, Bernard may be forced to stay in to block at the expense of his passing game involvement.
The Titans will have the huge advantage of Derrick Henry moving the pile in the inclement weather. If all of these factors do come to fruition, Cincinnati will have no choice but to let Burrow dropback in spite of the strong winds. While it would be extremely difficult to connect with his WRs on deep passes, we’ve already seen Burrow settle on a volume underneath throws toward generating strong DFS performances. Since he’ll have the benefit of facing the Cover 1 and 2 secondary of Tennessee, I feel Burrow will end up as his team’s leading rusher this week, resulting in a top-five QB score this weekend. Josh Allen is another QB who could do enough with his legs to supplement a strong performance in what is expected to be the most severe weather on the slate.
Le’Veon Bell, KC vs. NYJ ($4,600 DK, $6,000 FD, O/U 49.0)
I’m not going to waste your time here digging into the analytics on the matchup or on Le’Veon Bell’s previous success. This is all about Bell and his former HC Adam Gase. A revenge game for the ages with one of the top-five offensive lines splitting open lanes in front of him. As is the case with each of the touts I am presenting you, this game is forecasted to have clear skies and mild winds.
The Bottom Line: What I will say about Bell is that, when I graded his games last season while on staff at PFF, he displayed zero signs of deterioration to his play after sitting out the 2018 season. One of the biggest complaints from Bell when playing for New York was in how he was utilized. Bell considers himself as much of a receiver as a ground threat. Perhaps partly due to Sam Darnold’s limitations, Bell will not have a problem in that regard from Patrick Mahomes. At only $4.6K/$6K, I will have Bell in every single LU this weekend where he will want to put an emphatic stamp on the Jets’ franchise with a slate-busting performance on the ground and through the air.
Melvin Gordon III, LAC vs. DEN ($5,600 DK, $6,700 FD, O/U 44.5)
Phillip Lindsay put in a limited practice on Friday after being concussed last week. He is currently listed as questionable. Even if he plays, Melvin Gordon III will receive more than enough touches to provide quality ROI against a Chargers’ defense that’s allowed the fifth-most FPG to opposing RBs over the last four weeks.
In addition, Los Angeles has permitted the fifth-most receptions, sixth-most red-zone targets, and fifth-most receiving TDs to RBs this season. Gordon has generated 54 percent of his rushing FPs when facing Cover 3 and 4 zones this season on only 37 percent of his carries. The Chargers will be expected to field Cover 3 and 4 shells on over 70 percent of all snaps on Sunday.
The Bottom Line: The loss of RG Graham Glasgow will certainly hurt. However, Gordon is clearly the preferred option in goal-to-go situations with 60 percent of carries, and all three TDs from Broncos’ RBs. While I prefer each of the RBs listed below in stadiums that’ll be hit by bad weather, the added vulnerability of the Chargers from dynamic RBs definitely presents Gordon with a golden opportunity at more reasonable salaries.
Extreme Weather Plays:
Derrick Henry, TEN at CIN ($8,000 DK, $9,500 FD, O/U 52.0)
Dalvin Cook, MIN at GB ($7,500 DK, $9,200 FD, O/U 50.5)
Kareem Hunt, CLE vs. LV ($6,900 DK, $8,200 FD, O/U 50.5)
Jamaal Williams, GB vs. MIN ($6,100 DK, $7,000 FD, O/U 50.5)
Darrell Henderson, LAR at MIA ($5,900 DK, $6,100 FD, O/U 46.0)
Tyler Lockett, SEA vs. SF ($7,100 DK, $7,200 FD, O/U 54.0)
What I found extremely interesting from Tyler Lockett’s 56-FP, 15/200/3 line from Week 7 at Arizona is how he produced that monster game. Lockett split his total snaps right down the middle with 39 from the slot and 39 on the outside. However, his line in the slot (3/35/0) pales in comparison to what he manufactured outside (11/157/3). Mentioned in the Wilson analysis above, the 49ers’ defense is extremely banged up this week. It’s entirely possible they could attempt to defend the Seattle offense without Kwon Alexander, Tartt, and Ward in addition to having Bosa, Sherman, and K. Williams on IR.
Also mentioned above, the 49ers will likely shadow DK Metcalf with Jason Verrett on a good amount of snaps this week. It’ll be Jamar Taylor that will be tasked in coverage of Lockett when he’s in the slot, and Emmanuel Moseley when he’s on the outside. Taylor is allowing 1.63 YPCS (75 percent higher than Verrett) and 0.26 FPCS (69 percent higher than Verrett) within his coverage this season. As for Moseley, he’s allowing 1.04 YPCS and 0.24 FPCS (60 percent and 65 percent more than Verrett, respectively) to his responsibilities.
The Bottom Line: The continued loss of Alexander, one of the top coverage LBs in the game, will especially be felt this week. Within a zone defense, LBs play a vital role during the early stems of routes before either closing or switching the receiver responsibility off to a teammate. No QB in the game is better at recognizing holes in zone coverages than Wilson. Since Alexander has been out, 49ers’ LBs have allowed the fifth-highest completion percentage in the NFL at 88 percent. Finally, for all of their overachieving success without key defenders this season, the San Francisco secondary has allowed the sixth-most receptions, seventh-most resulting yardage, and the most TD receptions on targets of at least 20 yards this season.
Keenan Allen, LAC at DEN ($6,200 DK, $7,400 FD, O/U 44.5)
For much of the league’s WRs in Week 8, strong winds and heavy rain will wreak havoc on their efforts at receiving production. That will not be the case in Denver on Sunday where the thin Colorado air actually benefits passing offenses. Over his career, Keenan Allen has generally split his time down the middle between the slot and out wide. However, new OC Shane Steichen has made a significant change to his alignment. Allen is actually playing 33 percent more snaps this season on the outside than in the slot. Considering the opponent in Week 8, that’ll be huge for Allen’s upside.
When Allen plays in the slot this week, he’ll be covered by Bryce Callahan. Callahan is in the midst of a Comeback Player of the Year campaign after missing the entire 2019 season due to complications from a displaced screw in his surgically-repaired left foot. Callahan is limiting his coverage responsibilities to 0.68 YPCS and 0.15 FPCS in 2020. However, with Allen on the outside more, he has been alternating sides with Mike Williams. That’ll place Allen and Williams across from either Michael Ojemudia when outside left or A.J. Bouye when outside right.
The Bottom Line: Those snaps on the outside will be huge for Allen this week. Ojemudia has allowed a generous 1.40 YPCS and 0.29 FPCS this season. While Bouye is certainly no slouch in coverage, he just returned from missing four games due to a dislocated shoulder. In his first game back against Kansas City in Week 7, he wasn’t fully tested due to a combination of poor weather, and the Chiefs scoring on a Pick 6 and kickoff return in the second quarter to run up the score. This will be his litmus test. Herbert is playing out of his mind and he has peppered Allen with at least 10 targets in all but one game along the way. Expect nothing less this week.
Brandon Aiyuk, SF at SEA ($5,800 DK, $5,900 FD), O/U 54.0)
As alluded to, even without Samuel, Garoppolo will have a pair of dangerous receiving weapons in tow. One of those weapons is Brandon Aiyuk. Over his last five games, Aiyuk is averaging 14.4 FPG with two results exceeding 20 FPs. Over the last three games, no San Francisco WR has run more than his 97 routes. And he’s found his success, precisely why the 49ers took him in the first round, on 15.4 air yards/attempt.
We don’t have enough of a sample size from Aiyuk on snaps when facing the various coverage shells to draw any reasonable conclusions. However, Garoppolo’s own success against the Cover 3 and 4 zones they’ll face from the historically poor Seattle secondary is more than enough for me to consider him an excellent play in Week 8.
The Bottom Line: The 49ers’ coaching staff is no doubt already aware that they’ll need the passing offense to have a big game in order to prevent the Seahawks from loading the box to shut down the run. With Samuel out, the majority of those responsibilities will fall on George Kittle, and Aiyuk. Seattle will defend the two without assistance from Jamal Adams or Shaquill Griffin. Expect increased opportunities for the San Francisco passing attack this week.
Extreme Weather Plays:
Davante Adams, GB vs. MIN ($8,800 DK, $9,100 FD, O/U 50.5)
A.J. Brown, TEN at CIN ($6,900 DK, $7,500 FD, O/U 52.0)
Tyler Boyd, CIN vs. TEN ($6,600 DK, $6,400 FD, O/U 52.0)
Marquise Brown, BAL vs. PIT ($6,100 DK, $5,900 FD, O/U 46.5)
George Kittle, SF at SEA ($7,000 DK, $7,700 FD, O/U 54.0)
The Bottom Line: Kittle is leading all TEs this season with 9.4 targets/game this season. Due to injuries at WR, Kittle has played nearly 40 percent of snaps from the slot despite being the most dominant blocking TE in the game. Without Adams, Seattle will have nobody with the quickness or explosion to contain him within the zone shells he has devastated throughout his career.
Noah Fant, DEN vs. LAC ($4,700 DK, $5,700 FD, O/U 44.5)
The Bottom Line: It now appears that Denver may be without Tim Patrick on Sunday after missing practice all week with a hamstring injury. Patrick has been huge for the offense since Courtland Sutton suffered his devastating knee injury. OC Pat Shurmur will need to squeeze every bit of offense out of Jerry Jeudy and Font this week. If Patrick is ruled out, Font could see double-digit targets on in Week 8.
Extreme Weather Plays:
Darren Waller, LV at CLE ($5,600 DK, $6,800 FD, O/U 50.5)
Jimmy Graham, NO at CHI ($4,600 DK, $5,400 FD, O/U 43.5)
Harrison Bryant, CLE vs. LV ($3,200 DK, $5,000 FD, O/U 50.5)