We were witness to no less than six upsets last week. Four of those victories were claimed on the road; five of those losing teams still have extremely good odds for earning playoff seeds. Pass rushing ruled Week 9. Outside cornerbacks continued to thrive, cutting coverage metrics across the board — headlined by another 10% drop in AY/CS. And safety coverage quality has been phenomenal this season.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen a 15.7% decline in throws of 20-or-more yards compared to the first seven weeks. And that drop-off on 20+ attempts has been accompanied by a decline in efficiency. For instance, an 11.7% drop in YPA, 10.4% in completion rate, 25.9% decline in TDs thrown per INT, 32% decrease in TD rate, and 14.7% dip in passer rating. I’ll provide further insight into how each of those six teams mentioned pulled off their upsets, as well as what went wrong for the losing teams as I work through the Week 10 matchups.
You’ll see a number of coverage metrics throughout this series. The following chart provides the full names for the acronyms and the average numbers for each position group:
To magnify their importance toward processing the matchup data, familiarity with these abbreviations is key. The full names of the data points in the headers of the data table above will not be written out in full within the specific matchups. You’ll find the following acronyms frequently used whenever referencing defensive coverage statistics:
Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = YPCS
Fantasy Points Allowed Per Coverage Snap = FP/CS
Air Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = AY/CS
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., Passer Rating on Targets into Coverage) = TPR
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells and other relevant schematic details mentioned throughout this series, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
Fantasy Shells: Cover 4
*34-35 (49%); 6-7 in Week 9
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts (-10.0) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5) at Washington Football Team
Buffalo Bills (-11.5) at New York Jets
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) vs. New Orleans Saints
Atlanta Falcons (+8.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.0) vs. Detroit Lions
Cleveland Browns (+1.5) at New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.0) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Denver Broncos (-3.0) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) at Green Bay Packers
Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers
*23-31 (43%); 4-6 in Week 9
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (Under 46.5)
New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans (Over 44.5)
Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers (Over 42.5)
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots (Over 45.0)
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers (Over 53.0)
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (Under 44.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (Over 44.0)
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (Under 49.0)
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (Over 51.5)
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (Under 48.5)
*46-22 (68%); 7-7 in Week 9
Baltimore Ravens (-335) at Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts (-490) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-400) at Washington Football Team
Buffalo Bills (-590) at New York Jets
Tennessee Titans (-145) vs. New Orleans Saints
Dallas Cowboys (-400) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers (-335) vs. Detroit Lions
Cleveland Browns (+110) at New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers (-155) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (-475) vs. Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos (-160) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Seattle Seahawks (+145) at Green Bay Packers
Las Vegas Raiders (+120) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams (-180) at San Francisco 49ers
Check out the results of the last three matchups between Baltimore and Miami:
Ravens won 38-6 at M&T Bank Stadium in 2016
Ravens won 40-0 at M&T Bank Stadium in 2017
Ravens won 59-10 at Hard Rock Stadium in 2019
Outscored 137-to-16, the Dolphins scored one point for every 8.6 for Baltimore. During that ‘19 beatdown, the Ravens ran for 265 yards, and Lamar Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs.
Matchups to Target
Marquise Brown, BAL ($6.7K DK | $8.0K FD) vs. Xavien Howard, MIA
Marquise Brown shredded Miami for a 4/147/2 receiving line on five targets in that ‘19 game, his NFL debut. He broke a Cover 1 Eric Rowe tackle attempt for a 47-yard TD on a shallow slant. And burned a Cover 2 Minkah Fitzpatrick on a skinny post for an 83-yard TD three plays later. Jumping forward to the present, Brown will enter Week 10 on quite a heater. Looking past his Week 6 dud when the Chargers held him to 4/35/0, Brown is averaging a 6.8/103/1 line, and 23.1 FPG over his last four games.
With the ‘Phins using the league’s highest rate of Cover 1, do we need to be concerned about a Xavien Howard shadow? In Week 9, Howard, Byron Jones, Nik Needham, and Justin Coleman split coverage responsibility for Brandin Cooks. During his last three games, Howard has been planted on the left perimeter on nearly 90% of his reps. Second-year DC Josh Boyer is not asking the X-Factor to tail opposing No. 1’s this season. But that doesn’t mean Hollywood will sidestep Howard’s coverage. With Brown running nearly two-thirds of his routes from the right side, the two clash quite a bit on Thursday Night Football. That said, there’s a reason Howard isn’t shadowing this season. Among outside corners, Xavien ranks 60th-best in YPCS, 76th in FP/CS, 41st in AY/CS, and 57th in TPR.
Brown has been right around average against Cover 1 during his career. But Miami will mix in Cover 2 and Cover 3 on just under 40% of snaps. Those are the money coverages for Marquise. Just take particular note of Brown’s WR4 pricing on FD. Hollywood is far more appealing on DK as the WR15. But the ownership numbers will agree with that statement. I will be targeting Brown on DK in Cash/Single-Entry (SE), on FD in GPPs.
Mark Andrews, BAL ($5.7K DK | $6.9K FD) vs. Eric Rowe, MIA
Also in that last matchup with Miami in ‘19, Mark Andrews posted an 8/108/1 line on eight targets. He scored on a fourth down goal-to-go when Raekwon McMillan inadvertently set a pick on Fitzpatrick on a MANdrews crosser. For the Baltimore passing offense, the last thing we want to see would be for the Ravens’ running game to continuously gash the Miami defense. With that in mind, it’s important to note that, after being eaten alive by RBs early in the season, the Dolphins have limited opposing backs to the second-fewest FPG over the last four weeks (15.7). They are permitting the 14th-most FPG to TEs overall (13.7), 12th-most over the last four (13.8).
Strong safety Eric Rowe will not shadow Andrews, but they will work against one another on enough snaps to matter. Among 42 qualified at his position, Rowe ranks 34th-from-best with 1.17 YPCS, 37th with 0.31 FP/CS, 33rd with 0.12 AY/CS, and 26th with a 113.7 TPR. When Andrews is facing Miami’s Cover 2 and Cover 3 on just under 40% of snaps on average, he’s generated 0.37 FPs/route (FP/Rt, 17th-best) and 0.52 FP/Rt (second-best), respectively, over the last three seasons. And he’ll bring the 13th-best mark (0.38 FP/Rt) against their league leading rate of Cover 1.
Final notes on Baltimore
With additional time to develop my coverage algorithm, my resulting trust in the projections has never been higher. And it’s projecting Lamar Jackson ($7.8K/$8.6K) for the highest QB output of Week 10. With QB3/QB2 (DraftKings/FanDuel) pricing, QB1 output isn’t going to shock the world. But it’s possible his GPP ownership could be low enough to create an opportunity. As mentioned above, Miami has been excellent against RBs in recent weeks. Devonta Freeman ($5.0K/$5.9K) and Le’Veon Bell ($4.7K/$5.5K) are not in consideration this week.
It looks like Sammy Watkins ($4.3K/$5.5K) will return this week, possibly muddying the Rashod Bateman ($4.2K/$5.5K) waters if OC Greg Roman keeps Devin Duvernay ($3.4K/$5.2K) in the rotation. We can say so long to the 24%, 13%, and 21% target shares from the last three weeks. Watkins has been more efficient than Bateman this season, constructing 23% more yards gained/route run (YPRR), and a 38% higher targeted passer rating. And Watkins has been considerably better across from Cover 1. Without knowing the type of workload Watkins will receive, it will be difficult to invest much into any Baltimore WR other than Hollywood.
Final notes on Miami
It appears Tua Tagovailoa ($5.6K/$6.8K) will sit a second consecutive game, with Jacoby Brissett ($5.1K/$6.5K) in line to make another start. The Ravens have surrendered the eighth-most FPG to QBs over the last four games (19.7). However, they use Cover 3 at the ninth-lowest rate. If Baltimore used Cover 3 more, this would be a great spot for Brissett. We’ll have to settle for it being a pretty good spot. Miami’s O-line continues to be the worst pass blocking unit in the game, authorizing the most QB pressures/game — over 20% more than any other team. And the Ravens are blitzing at the league’s highest rate. But Brissett will be a challenge for Baltimore’s seventh-highest rate of Cover 1. On 32% of dropbacks over his last 22 starts, Brissett has thrown for 33% of his yardage, and 50% of his TDs against Cover 1.
The Ravens recently held Austin Ekeler to 9.5 FPs (Week 6), Joe Mixon to 11.9 (Week 7), and Dalvin Cook to 15.2 (Week 9). My confidence in Myles Gaskin ($6.0K/$6.0K) bucking that trend is low. But my algorithm is projecting him with RB11 output. That would provide profit over value with RB18/RB28 pricing. He’ll need to maintain the 5-to-1 carry distribution over Salvon Ahmed ($4.0K/$5.1K) from last week, rather than the 2.7-to-1 from Week 8 to make it happen.
Even with DeVante Parker landing on IR, Preston Williams has been a healthy scratch the last two weeks. He’s expected to be active Thursday night, but he’s not going to enter the starting lineup ahead of Mack Hollins ($3.1K/$5.2K). Williams will likely take over the ~5-10% route percentage of Isaiah Ford ($3.0K/$4.8K).
Williams may keep Jaylen Waddle ($5.5K/$6.6K) and Albert Wilson ($3.0K/$4.7K) in the slot more for a few additional percentage points. Waddle’s rookie season has been a very welcomed sight. It would’ve been nice to see his target numbers up above 30% with Parker out, but he’s going strong with 25+% over the last four weeks. Waddle is obviously the prime WR target, collecting 34% of his rookie yardage on 26% of routes across from Cover 1. But Hollins has collected two of his three TDs the last three seasons against single coverage. If you have the cap dollars to spare, Mike Gesicki ($4.9K/$6.2K) is entering a great spot. Baltimore is bleeding the second-most FPG to TEs this season (18.4).