Enjoy rooting for the underdog? If you took the opportunity to watch some Week 10 action, seven ‘dogs pushed the Vegas money aside to claim a tie or victory last week. You read that correctly, half of the games played last week flipped the moneyline. Over the last two weeks, 46.4% of the games were taken by the longshots. What in the name of Taysom Hill is going on around here? It’s not rushing production. Rushing TD rate and YPC are both up over the last two weeks, compared to the previous eight. If it’s not the ground games, then we know we should be looking at the passing numbers. And that takes us directly to the culprit.
Over the last two weeks, league-wide passing YPA has declined from 7.4 the first eight weeks to 6.9, passer rating from 94.1 to 86.7, and TD rate from 4.74% to 3.74%. The passing TD rate took a cliff dive at a 21% clip. Looking further, the TD-to-INT ratio from the first eight games dropped from 2.14-to-1 down to 1.5-to-1, a 29.8% free fall. A decline in league-wide QB efficiency clearly plays to the benefit of teams without elite signal callers. In fact, the average scoring differential from 2020 to this season (-1.6 PPG) is tied with the decline between the 1969 and 1970 seasons for the most significant decrease in NFL history — since 1922. While significant, keep in mind that the average scoring last season (24.8 PPG) is the highest in league history. And that the average scoring this season (23.2) is the league’s fifth-highest ever. However, we can plainly see that the recent rule alterations toward protecting player’s health are no longer handicapping defenses, as widely believed.
We know rushing efficiency is fine, scoring is down to pre-’20 levels, and that overall passing efficiency has taken a dive. You might be wondering, what exactly is going on with the passing games? In last week’s column, it was reported that a 15.7% decline in throws of 20-or-more yards compared to the first seven weeks had been registered. And that drop in number was accompanied by 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. Those numbers did not improve in Week 10. To the extent that the average passer rating (67.9) and TD-to-INT rate (0.75-to-1) on throws of 20-or-more yards declined to season lows. You can see the results for yourself in the chart below:
The highlight of Week 5 was an explosion on deep passing with the highest attempt rate of the season (13.43%), and resulting in a season-high of 18 TDs. Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston, and Davis Mills each threw for two TDs on 20-plus throws that week. Over the last three weeks combined, 20 TDs have been collected on deep throws. And, as is depressingly depicted by the chart above, the deep passing decline has been on a downward slope for five straight weeks. Assuming the trend continues, in order to take home the top prize in large-field GPPs, there is zero room for error at QB, WR, and TE. Without the ability to count on the most explosive playmakers doing what they do best, we are left with an overreliance on our QBs doing the most damage with their legs, and volume-based results from our receivers. As for the RBs within an assumed air-depression continuance, we should be able to proceed as normal with league averages in our favor.
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 through Week 10:
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
Offensive abbreviations used when referring to QBs/RBs/WRs/TEs:
FPs/Dropback = FP/Db
FPs/Route = FP/Rt
FPs/Touch = FP/Tch
Yards/Route Run = YPRR
Air Yards/Target = AY/Tgt
Yards/Target = YPT
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., QB Passer Rating When Targeting Receiver) = 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
One particular alteration of note: now that we are 10 games into the season, the offensive success vs. coverage data utilized will now only date back to Week 1 of the 2019 season — playoffs included, as always. While that is obviously under three years worth of information, I will still refer to the period of time as “the last three years.”
*36-46 (44%); 2-11 in Week 10 😧>😳>😩>😰>🤮
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Tennessee Titans (-10.0) vs. Houston Texans
Chicago Bears (+6.0) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers (-6.0) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Cleveland Browns (-10.0) vs. Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) vs. Washington Football Team
New York Jets (+3.5) vs. Miami Dolphins
Las Vegas Raiders (+1.0) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11.0) vs. New York Giants
*30-34 (47%); 7-3 in Week 10
New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (Under 47.0)
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (Over 50.5)
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (Under 44.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears (Over 45.5)
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Under 49.0)
San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 45.0)
Washington Football Team at Carolina Panthers (Over 43.0)
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (Over 45.0)
Cincinnati Bengals at Las Vegas Raiders (Over 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (Under 56.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (Over 48.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers (Under 47.0)
*50-31 (62%); 4-9 in Week 10
New England Patriots (-280) at Atlanta Falcons
Tennessee Titans (-450) vs. Houston Texans
Chicago Bears (+205) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Green Bay Packers (-130) at Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers (-250) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Cleveland Browns (-435) vs. Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (-180) vs. Washington Football Team
New York Jets (+155) vs. Miami Dolphins
Las Vegas Raiders (+100) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys (+120) at Kansas City Chiefs
Arizona Cardinals (-125) at Seattle Seahawks
Los Angeles Chargers (-255) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-550) vs. New York Giants
Matchups to Target
Stefon Diggs, BUF ($7.9K DK | $8.1K FD) vs. Rock Ya-Sin, IND
The Colts have played Cover 2, 3, and 6 at top-10 rates all season. But they’ve added a new wrinkle with two top-seven and two top-15 Cover 1 rates over their last five games. We do need to take a cautious approach with that information since three of those games were against the Texans, Jets, and Jaguars. But Stefon Diggs is going to have plenty of opportunities to attack the Cover 3 and however many passing downs that DC Matt Eberflus puts his Cover 1 on the field. Dating back to Week 1 of the 2019 season, Diggs ranks ninth with 0.52 FP/Rt, 11th with 2.73 YPRR, and 14th with a 14% increase in AY/Tgt against Cover 3.
Against Cover 1 during the last three seasons, Diggs ranks seventh-best with 0.71 FP/Rt, fourth with 3.65 YPRR, and garners targets on 33% of his routes (third-best). He’s run 26% of his routes against Cover 1 over that time, collecting 36% of his receptions, 39% of his yardage, and 33% of his total TDs. While doing over half of his work from the right side, Diggs will find Rock Ya-Sin in coverage. Ya-Sin has provided his coverage with 0.79 YPCS (13th-best), 0.21 FP/CS (23rd), 0.22 AY/CS (44th), and a 102.9 TPR (58th). With deep passing stunted over the last several weeks, devoting cap dollars toward volume-based guarantees has never been more important. And Diggs is fresh off seeing a 46% target share in Week 10.
Matchups to Avoid
Michael Pittman Jr., IND ($6.1K DK | $6.9K FD) vs. Levi Wallace, BUF
With Michael Pittman Jr. nearly splitting his time evenly between the right and left sides, he’ll see more of both Levi Wallace and Tre'Davious White than he’ll prefer. No wideout has posted 17-or-more FPs against Buffalo this season. The Bills’ list of WR1 victims includes Diontae Johnson, Jaylen Waddle (twice), Terry McLaurin, Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr., and Corey Davis. Those nine appearances by the opposition’s top wideouts returned an average of 9.8 FPG. With WR21/20 pricing requiring 18.3/17.3 FPs to hit floor value, Pittman is found on the easy end of fade properties.
Final notes on Indianapolis
No team is limiting opposing QBs to fewer FPG than Buffalo (10.7). If Carson Wentz ($5.5K/$6.9K) does decide to utilize his plus mobility, the Bills have surrendered some points on the ground to QBs. But passing success will be difficult to achieve. Consider that safety Jordan Poyer’s top-ranked TPR is 7.1! That essentially means that if any QB even considers targeting a receiver within his coverage, he will be required to spike on the next three dropbacks. Poyer has gifted 39 receiving yards on 307 snaps in coverage.
With Buffalo able to close down shop on passing attempts from 12 personnel with only four defensive backs (White, Wallace, Poyer, and Micah Hyde), the Bills are able to devote the rest toward stopping the run. And the results cannot be argued against. The only RB to post more than 10 pure rushing FPs on Buffalo this season was Derrick Henry’s 36.3 in Week 6. The odds are stacked against Jonathan Taylor ($8.3K/$8.8K) 24.9/22.0 at his pricing. And the Bills are only allowing 8.4 pure receiving FPG to backs, so it will be difficult to trust Nyheim Hines ($4.3K/$5.2K), as well. If Pittman is to be avoided, T.Y. Hilton ($4.3K/$5.7K) vs. Tre'Davious White, Zach Pascal ($4.0K/$5.4K) vs. Taron Johnson, and Mo Alie-Cox ($2.7K/$4.7K) and Jack Doyle ($3.0K/$4.6K) vs. Matt Milano can be confidently added to the fade list.
Final notes on Buffalo
I would not be shocked to see Matt Eberflus mirror what the Jags did to hold Josh Allen ($8.1K/$8.8K) and his offense to six points in Week 9. And Indianapolis features the Cover 2 and 3 zones Jacksonville used… the same schemes that Allen has thrown only eight TDs vs. 14 INTs during the last three seasons. Wagering that Buffalo will be held to under 10 points again is unwise. But we can count on the Colts limiting the Bills’ ground game. They’ve held opposing RBs to 18.3 FPG (second-best). It certainly doesn’t help that Buffalo’s backfield has become a three-headed monster between Zack Moss ($5.0K/$5.8K), Devin Singletary ($4.6K/$5.8K), and Matt Breida ($4.4K/$5.4K).
The NFL takes immediate action if NFL teams take advantage of the injury report. Or do they? Buffalo removed Cole Beasley ($4.8K/$5.7K) from their Week 10 injury report prior to only running eight routes. The following post-game information on Beasley would seem to imply a violation of injury reporting protocols:
Sean McDermott notes that Cole Beasley didn't play as much and that they were "trying to get him through that game."— Alaina Getzenberg (@agetzenberg) November 15, 2021
The protocols are in place for precisely the same reason that we will have a decision to make with Beasley this week. We simply can’t trust that he’ll see his full complement of reps. And he’ll face enough of Kenny Moore II to matter. Among 37 qualified slot CBs, Moore is giving up the ninth-most YPCS, and fourth-most FP/CS. And, if Beasley is unable to play a full game, Gabriel Davis ($3.9K/$5.0K) would come into play as a tremendous value — just as he was last week.
Emmanuel Sanders ($5.3K/$5.8K) hasn’t registered 15 FPs since Week 5 and has only averaged 5.9 FPG over the last three. But Sanders — and Diggs — will see meaningful coverage snaps from vulnerable opponents. If Xavier Rhodes manages to return from his calf injury, he is another on a lengthy list of struggling veteran corners with a history of excellent results. He’s providing 1.70 YPCS (fifth-most among outside CBs), 0.34 FP/CS (ninth-most), and a 111.0 TPR (16th). If not, it’ll be the combination of T.J. Carrie and Isaiah Rodgers. Carrie played more snaps last week and has been a complete liability. Dawson Knox ($4.0K/$5.6K) wasn’t utilized in the Bills’ 45-17 destruction of the Jets. But he did run routes on 74% of the passing plays. The Colts are licencing the sixth-most FPG to TEs (16.3), so he is a value-priced option at TE to consider.
Matchups to Target
Brandin Cooks, HOU ($6.0K DK | $6.6K FD) vs. Kristian Fulton, TEN
The Titans are gift-wrapping the most FPG to opposing WRs this season (46.1). They most recently delivered 40.1 to the talent-barren group of the Saints. If the New Orleans WRs are dearth of talent, the Houston group’s level exists in the vacuum of space. With that in mind, it’s unlikely that Tennessee surrenders anything close to 46.1 FPs to Texans’ WRs on Sunday. In Brandin Cooks’ three games with Tyrod Taylor under center, he’s been provided with 33 total targets. That’s precisely the type of volume guarantee we are looking to populate our lineups. His 11.6 FPs in Week 9 didn’t live up to the 22.0 he averaged with Taylor in Weeks 2 and 3, but he was still the focal point in the offense (32% target share).
The Titans were finally provided with some positive injury news when Kristian Fulton returned to the lineup. He did not allow a single reception inside his coverage on 43 passing snaps. But Cooks splits his time all over the formation, so he’ll see coverage from a number of defenders. Tennessee is using the seventh-highest rate of Cover 4, mixed with top-15 rates of Cover 1 and 2. But a three-game stretch of using Cover 4 on over a fourth of their snaps drew my interest. Over the last three seasons, Cooks ranks third-best with 0.54 FP/Rt and seventh with 2.64 YPRR across from Cover 4. On 12% of total routes, he’s generated 18% of his receptions, 18% of his yardage, and 20% of his TDs against Cover 4.
A.J. Brown, TEN ($7.7K DK | $7.2K FD) vs. Terrance Mitchell, HOU
It’s not without its concerns, but this is a matchup begging for big numbers from A.J. Brown. Let’s begin with the concerns. Through the first eight weeks of the season, Houston utilized the second-highest rate of Cover 2 and 13th-highest of Cover 6. That pair of schemes accounted for one third of their defensive plays. On 185 routes opposed by those shells during his career, Brown has all of 13 receptions, and zero TDs. His 0.17 FP/Rt against Cover 2 and 0.15 across from Cover 6 rank 74th and 81st, respectively. However, the release of Vernon Hargreaves III after Week 8 is notable. A notable liability in man coverage, the very next game following his release coincided with DC Lovie Smith using Cover 1 at his highest rate since Hargreaves gave up a 7/107/0 line in Week 3.
Cover 1 + AJB = DFS gold. On 32% of career routes when opposed by Cover 1, Brown has brought in 43% of his receptions, 43% of his yardage, and 52% of his TDs. He’s manufactured 0.75 FP/Rt (fifth-highest), 3.44 YPRR (seventh), and amassed 31% of the targets when facing single high. Brown does just under 60% of his work on the right side. Terrance Mitchell will take responsibility for a good amount of that work. He’s authorizing 1.07 YPCS (39th-best), 0.27 FP/CS (53rd), 0.19 AY/CS (38th), and a 101.2 TPR (53rd) as the 23rd-most targeted outside corner. It’s an absolute that Smith — one of the men responsible for originating the Tampa 2 — will continue to use a top-three rate of Cover 2. But Smith was also a proponent of mixing his two-high with Cover 1. That’s all we need to know for Brown exposure.
Final notes on Houston
Yeah, the Tyrod Taylor ($5.0K/$6.6K) thing did not work in Week 9 at Miami. Yes, the Dolphins’ defense has played far better recently, but three INTs, 5.6 YPA, a 42.8 passer rating, and nine team points are not enticing on any scale. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s protected by a bottom-five O-line without Laremy Tunsil. If we travel back several seasons, a group consisting of Phillip Lindsay ($4.1K/$5.4K), David Johnson ($4.4K/$5.5K), Royce Freeman ($4.0K/$4.6K), and Rex Burkhead ($4.2K/$5.0K) would be promising. Nothing short of retreads in 2021.
The lone example of young playmaking talent on the offense, Nico Collins ($3.3K/$5.2K), underachieved in college, underdeveloped for his age, and unusable in DFS. Danny Amendola ($3.1K/$5.1K) is long in the tooth, but this might be a spot where we might be able to find some salary relief on DK. Amendola has been about as consistent as they come from a scheme success perspective the last three seasons. And the Titans are providing the most FPG to receivers out of the slot. Exposure would just require 9.3 FPs to be considered a success. Completely disregard Chris Conley ($3.4K/$5.0K), Chris Moore ($3.0K/$4.9K), Jordan Akins ($2.7K/$4.7K), Brevin Jordan ($2.5K/$4.5K), and Anthony Auclair ($2.5K/$4.4K).
Final notes on Tennessee
Such a coincidence that the same schemes where A.J. Brown has struggled — Cover 2 and 6, Ryan Tannehill ($6.7K/$7.8K) has generated his lowest numbers. While Tannehill has nowhere near the extent of AJBs ineptitude, it’s enough that I’m comfortable looking elsewhere for QBs to feature my lineups. I’ve always been enamored with D’Onta Foreman’s ($4.9K/$6.2K) game coming out of Texas. It was devastating to see him rupture his Achilles before ever getting a starting shot in Houston. A big game from Foreman here would be quite ironic against the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2017 draft. The Texans are surrendering the third-most pure rushing FPG to RBs (24.9), Foreman did just lead the Tennessee backfield with a 38% carry share, and Jeremy McNichols ($5.3K/$5.5K) is currently in the concussion protocol. If it’s just Foreman and Adrian Peterson ($4.8K/$5.7K), a dart throw at D’Onta would certainly deserve some consideration.
The first action since Julio Jones was placed on IR resulted in a 5/100/0 line on six targets for Marcus Johnson ($3.5K/$5.6K). It’s a performance that does not come out of nowhere. Johnson was lauded this preseason as one of the stars of training camp. The 2016 UDFA out of Texas loves to work over the middle of the field. And his Week 10 film tells us OC Todd Downing specifically designed four of those receptions with Johnson as the first look. He’ll also see a promising matchup across from Desmond King II on Sunday. King is feeding his coverage with 1.68 YPCS (79th-best among 85 qualified outside corners), 0.35 FP/CS (79th), 0.18 AY/CS (18th), and a 109.9 TPR (68th).
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($3.3K/$5.3K) and Chester Rogers ($3.5K/$5.0K) are not in consideration for me with ‘21 breakout Tavierre Thomas nearby. A group consisting of Geoff Swaim ($2.8K/$4.6K), Anthony Firkser ($2.5K/$4.4K), and MyCole Pruitt ($2.6K/$4.7K) may not draw your attention, but they’ll be facing a Houston defense bleeding 16.8 FPG to opposing TEs (fourth-most). The trio were each on the field for routes on 47% of passing plays in Week 10. However, Swaim led the group for the third straight week with a 19% target share. It’s a far more favorable spot than last week against New Orleans. As far as salary-relieving TE punts are concerned, Swaim tops my list this week.
Matchups to Target
Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7.0K DK | $7.7K FD) vs. Vikings’ Cover 1 | 2 | 6
When Minnesota added Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, and Mackensie Alexander to the roster this offseason, it appearted co-DCs Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson would be foregoing their Cover 2, Cover 6, and 3 Seam-Matchup Zone rotation for a Cover 1-heavy approach. After the first five games, we saw the exact same rotation as the one used last season. However, over the Vikings’ last four games, the ninth-highest rate of Cover 1 indicates that the expected alteration has been implemented. In fact, they pushed the second-highest rate of Cover 1 onto the field last week to upset the Chargers in Los Angeles.
If we were looking for a reason for an Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams stack, a high rate of Cover 1 is about as compelling as it gets. Mr. Rodgers has posted 0.53 FP/Db (fifth-best), a 107.7 passer rating (fourth), and 27 TDs vs. three INTs when facing Cover 1 the last three seasons. The shift toward Cover 1 after five weeks is interesting in that the first five weeks worth of data is clouding the overall rates. And, since the Vikings are still fielding top-10 rates of Cover 2 and 6, opposing teams may not discover a notable shift while watching the film. It certainly seems the late adjustment has — brace yourself — an ingrained competitive component. Those tactics are not going to present a stumbling block for Rodgers.
Davante Adams, GB ($8.4K DK | $8.4K FD) vs. Cameron Dantzler, MIN
Nobody should need to be told that Davante Adams is an outstanding play on a weekly basis. However, a four-game stretch where Adams has only averaged 14.4 FPG might provide us with some shade toward an explosive opportunity. What’s been missing from Adams’ ‘21 season? No defense has utilized a top-10 rate of Cover 1 against Green Bay this season. Not even New Orleans during their Week 1 obliteration of the Packers. It remains to be seen if Minnesota will be the first to put that scheme on the field at that rate. In their two matchups last season, the Vikings used Cover 1 on less than 10% of plays. When they did, Adams generated a 4/42/1 line on only 11 routes.
During the previous three campaigns, Adams leads all WRs with 0.91 FP/Rt. On 23% of routes, he’s corralled 29% of his receptions, 34% of his yardage and 37% of his TDs across from Cover 1. It’s possible that Adams could be working against Patrick Peterson on Sunday. Practicing for the first time since being designated to return from IR due to a hamstring injury, tasking Peterson with guarding Adams in his first game back would be a tall task. Prior to his injury, Peterson was allowing 1.26 YPCS (55th-best among outside corners), 0.26 FP/CS (48th), 0.24 AY/CS (49th), and a 109.1 TPR (67th). If Peterson is unable to take the field, Cameron Dantzler will be tasked with defending Adams’ favorite side of the field. Either way, we want to place a premium on volume, and we get that with Adams’ 35.4% target share the last two weeks.
Final notes on Green Bay
Green Bay dodged a bullet when Aaron Jones’ knee injury proved to be far less serious than it originally appeared. That takes nothing away from what AJ Dillon ($6.2K/$7.0K) is able to do on the field. Jones just makes GB a better team. We should view Dillon as a thicker, faster version of Najee Harris. And Dillon’s receiving upside is not as far off from Harris’ as some might think. As is the case whenever a “new” RB is suddenly thrust under the DFS spotlight with a featured role, expect to see Dillon as one of the highest owned in Week 11. As for the Packers’ RB2, don’t be too quick to assume it’ll be Patrick Taylor Jr. ($4.0K/$4.6K). Ryquell Armstead and Kerrith Whyte are also in play to be signed from the practice squad.
It’s a shame COVID infections interrupted the connection between Rodgers and Allen Lazard ($4.1K/$5.3K). Everything seemed to come together in Weeks 6 and 7. And the rust was on display against Seattle last week. This will be a quality spot for Lazard to get right with Bashaud Breeland in coverage. The issue with Lazard will be the volume. Randall Cobb ($4.4K/$5.4K) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3.7K/$5.2K) surprisingly finished second and third in percentage of possible routes last week. Regardless, neither offer the upside we’re looking to tap into. Marcedes Lewis ($2.6K/$4.3K) and Josiah Deguara ($2.5K/$4.2K) took the majority of TE snaps in Week 10, but only because Dominique Dafney ($2.5K/$4.0K) missed the game with a hamstring injury. As excited as you might be to get one of them into a lineup, coverage from Eric Kendricks should put that idea to rest.
Final notes on Minnesota
One of the most concentrated offenses in football, the vast majority of the Vikings’ attack runs through the hands of six players. Minnesota has lost five games by an average margin of 3.6 points. If a couple of those outcomes had been decided in favor of the Vikings, Kirk Cousins ($6.1K/$7.4K) would be in consideration for NFL MVP with 18 TDs vs. two INTs and a 104.0 passer rating. Like Minnesota — albeit at a much higher rate, Green Bay utilizes an extremely tricky Cover 3 Seam-Matchup Zone scheme. Unlike Aaron Rodgers, Cousins has not manufactured quality results. Whereas Rodgers has produced 0.53 FP/Db, Cousins has provided 0.25. Success against DC Joe Barry’s “3 Seam” scheme is a prerequisite for success from QBs. The Packers are limiting opposing QBs to only 12.0 pure passing FPG this season (fifth-lowest).
This might appear to be a nice spot for production against a defense missing Jaire Alexander. That said, ‘21 first-rounder Eric Stokes has been one of the top defensive rookies, and Rasul Douglas has emerged as a lockdown corner during his five weeks in Green Bay. Undeservedly sent packing by both the Panthers and Raiders, Douglas is limiting his coverage to 0.71 YPCS (eighth-best), 0.19 FP/CS (12th), and a 62.6 TPR (seventh). Stokes hasn’t provided the same elite results, but he’s played well enough to be a problem for opposing wideouts. Justin Jefferson ($8.1K/$7.9K) and Adam Thielen ($6.6K/$7.1K) play on both sides of the field at nearly a 50:50 ratio. And neither of them stand out for consideration on either side of the field. Jefferson is superior against Cover 6, Thielen stands out across from Cover 4. Even with the Packers featuring top-five rates of both schemes, this is one of the league’s top-two exotic scheme mixtures, and is headlined by the feared 3 Seam monster.
Wideouts are just not producing against Green Bay. And those aligned inside have done no better since Alexander hit IR. Not the week for K.J. Osborn ($3.4K/$5.2K) exposure inside the coverage of Chandon Sullivan — another ‘21 breakout corner. The Viking receiver whose matchup stands out this week is Tyler Conklin ($3.9K/$5.5K) vs. Khrys Barnes. Among 77 qualified LBs, Barnes ranks 67th-best with 1.47 YPCS, 69th with 0.35 FP/CS, and 64th with a 119.0 TPR. GB is permitting the fifth-most YPC (4.6) and the highest rate of rushing first downs (30.2%). It’s a spot where Dalvin Cook ($8.2K/$8.4K) will likely do well, but his RB4/RB7 pricing does not represent his average output. He’s only hit above floor value once in seven games this season. Hard fade.
Matchups to Target
Justin Fields, CHI ($5.7K DK | $6.8K FD) vs. Ravens’ Cover 1 | 6
While it took Justin Fields some time to acclimate to the speed of the NFL, things appear to be slowing down for the rookie. Considering Chicago has played the fifth-most difficult schedule to date, it’s not all that surprising it took Fields six games to begin delivering the numbers we expect from the tremendous numbers he put into the Ohio State record books. Over the last two weeks, Fields averaged 24.2 FPG against San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Sample size will be an issue for awhile with statistical evaluation of Fields in a run-first offense. However, it is already clear that he’s entirely comfortable attacking Cover 6. On 9% of dropbacks, Fields has completed 14-of-17 attempts (82%) for 22% of his yardage.
During Fields’ last two games, two relevant factors emerged that should give us confidence in some GPP exposure to Fields. First, he completed eight-of-12 attempts for 94 yards and a TD on dropbacks against Cover 1. Baltimore features the third-highest rate of man coverage and seventh-highest rate of Cover 1. Second, “Soldier Fields” took to the ground to average 8.2 YPC, and a 9/74/0.5 rushing line. If Fields maintains that rushing FPG pace this week, he’ll already be 39% of the way toward profit over value. With the other featured shell for the Ravens being Cover 6, the only schematic challenge for Fields will be the relentless blitz from Baltimore that’s fueled by the third-highest rate of Cover 0 (blitz with a single defender in man coverage on every eligible receiver). If Fields plays the blitz to his advantage, he’ll be able to take advantage of a defense relenting the fifth-most pure rushing FPG to QBs over the last four weeks (4.13).
David Montgomery, CHI ($5.5K DK | $6.8K FD) vs. Ravens’ Cover 1 | 6
No other RB value stands out more than David Montgomery at only $5.5K on DK. In his first game since being activated from IR, Montgomery took 50% of the carry share, and 76% of the RB share. A cool 4.8 YPC against the top-five run defense of Pittsburgh is enough to suggest he’s ready to produce. Baltimore has been far more generous to RBs than the Steelers. The Ravens are supplying the 12th-most FPG to backs (24.5) this season. Monty has scored 10 TDs over his last 11 games. That plays nicely against a defense supporting the sixth-most TDs/game (1.11). This may be the week where Montgomery’s carry share returns to his typical ~60% workload.
Final notes on Baltimore
This is a plus spot for Lamar Jackson ($8.0K/$8.4K). With Jackson utilizing the third-highest rate of play action this season, the Bears will need to do far better than allowing the second-most FP/CS (0.501) in defense of play action. That said, it’s unlikely that the threat created by the duo of Devonta Freeman ($5.1K/$5.7K) and Le’Veon Bell ($4.5K/$5.0K) will fool Chicago into too many play action missteps. But we also have plenty of supporting evidence of LJax succeeding against both Cover 6 and 3 Seam. He’s created 0.35 FP/Db (11th-best) across from Cover 6 the last three seasons. And his 0.50 FP/Db against 3 Seam lands well above the quality line.
This is a matchup for Marquise Brown ($7.1K/$7.3K) that doesn’t particularly play into his profile of success. He’s been solid, not spectacular against Cover 6 during his career. Be that as it may, he’ll do nearly two-thirds of his work on the right side across from Kindle Vildor’s coverage. The ‘21 season has not been kind to Vildor. He’s permitting 1.30 YPCS (58th-best out of 85 qualified outside CBs), 0.28 FP/CS (59th), and a 145.9 TPR (last). Brown is having a statement season. And the ownership numbers have followed.
Sammy Watkins ($4.0K/$5.3K) only ran 32% of team routes in his return from a thigh injury. That’s great news for Rashod Bateman ($4.5K/$5.8K). Even with his salary on the rise, Bateman has hit profit over value in two of his last three, and we’ve yet to get a glimpse at his ceiling. Running over 60% of routes from the left side will pit Bateman across from Jaylon Johnson. His numbers have taken a hit in recent weeks, but Johnson is still a force to be considered. It was also surprising to see Devin Duvernay ($3.8K/$5.1K) maintain his workload with Watkins back in the fold. That something that could always change in an instant. Just not when Watkins plays as poorly as he did in Week 10. Mark Andrews ($6.0K/$7.0K) will have his work cut out for him with Roquan Smith. One of the truly elite coverage LBs, Smith is only furnishing 0.77 YPCS (12th-fewest), 0.18 FP/CS (eighth), and a 75.9 TPR (fourth-lowest).
Final notes on Chicago
It’s unfortunate for Khalil Herbert ($4.8K/$5.3K) that his time as the lead back came to an abrupt end upon Montgomery’s return. Herbert played very well for Chicago. Allen Robinson II ($4.9K/$5.7K) has not played well this season. However, as long as he’s able to shake his hamstring issue, he did appear to finally get on the same page with Fields in Week 9. AR12 ranks eighth-best with 0.46 FP/Rt when opposed by Cover 6. Will it be Tavon Young or Marlon Humphrey in coverage? While Humphrey has spent just under 75% of his time outside, he reversed that trend in Week 10 with a similar rate in the slot. Young has played a little under 80% of his reps from the slot. But he swapped spots with Humphrey last week, playing over 80% of his snaps outside. We’ll need to wait until game time to see if the change holds.
Darnell Mooney ($5.2K/$6.0K) will have the juicy matchup with Anthony Averett. The Alabama product is ceding 1.62 YPCS (seventh-most) and 0.31 FP/CS (17th) as the second-most targeted corner. Whether it’s Humphrey or Young in the slot, they’ll have a far better time defending either Marquise Goodwin ($3.3K/$5.1K) or Damiere Byrd ($3.0K/$4.6K). The slot continues to be a black hole of production for the Bears. Like ARob, Cole Kmet ($3.4K/$5.1K) generated his finest game of the season with a 6/87/0 line on eight targets at Pittsburgh. If Kmet can take advantage of his consistent 20% target shares, he’d be a welcome addition to the desert landscape of TE production. Jimmy Graham ($2.5K/$4.4K) and Jesse James ($2.5K/$4.5K) are not impacting Kmet’s role. Baltimore is still hemorrhaging the third-most FPG to TEs this season (17.5).
Matchups to Target
Deebo Samuel, SF ($7.8K DK | $7.6K FD) vs. Tyson Campbell, JAX
While some other matchups in this game offer promise, they are hampered by either volume or injury concerns.
Outside of their 31-7 defeat to Seattle, the turnaround by the Jacksonville defense since Week 6 has been noteworthy. During that time, they’ve reduced their PPG allowance by 30%. The Jags have also restricted QBs (13.1) and RBs (20.2) to the ninth-fewest FPG, and TEs to the fewest over the last four weeks (4.8). The one position to sidestep these improvements is WR. Jacksonville is providing WRs with 37.3 FPG on the season (ninth-most), and 35.6 over the last four (11th). A search into the heart of their issues defending WRs brings us to Tyson Campbell’s front porch. The ‘21 second-rounder is bleeding 1.89 YPCS (third-most), 0.34 FP/CS (10th), 0.29 AY/CS (21st), and a 117.8 TPR (ninth-highest). If those numbers weren’t enough, he’s also allowed the second-highest rate of receptions of 20-or-more yards. It’s beyond understanding how Campbell has managed to only be the 21st-most targeted outside corner with these metrics.
It shouldn’t take much convincing to favor Deebo Samuel this or any week. His physical, work-after-the-catch style that’s more in the mold of a RB than WR offers the potential to take every touch to the house. While I am confident in his game across from any scheme, he’s been lethal against Cover 1, but his success when facing Cover 3 is eye opening. On 34% of career routes, Samuel has gathered 42% of his receptions, 43% of yardage, and 44% of his TDs against Cover 3. He leads all WRs with 0.61 FP/Rt and 3.30 YPRR when defended by Cover 3 during his career. Defenses have dared to put a Cover 3 on the field on 81 passing plays against Deebo this season. On those routes, Samuel has been targeted on a mind-boggling 46%! He’s turned those 37 targets into 30 receptions, 523 yards, three TDs, and 6.41 YPRR. The Jags are employing the 13th-highest rate of Cover 3, but that number jumps to the sixth-highest the last four weeks. Oh my!
Final notes on San Francisco
As already reiterated multiple times, we need to be precise with our QB selections until we see signs of the deep passing efficiency returning to the baseline. While volume concerns are present, Jimmy Garoppolo ($5.6K/$7.1K) has kicked his play to borderline elite levels the last three weeks. He simply shredded an elite Rams’ secondary toward a 141.7 passer rating last week. Had the 49ers kept their foot on the gas, Jimmy G could have easily doubled his numbers. And he passed for over 300 yards in the two weeks prior toward his first such back-to-back output since his second and third starts with San Francisco. Considering he’s been on the field for the majority of Deebo’s career production, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Garoppolo has a solid Cover 3 history, as well.
During his previous three seasons, Jimmy G has compiled 0.43 FP/Db (11th-best), a 100.1 passer rating (ninth), and a 17% improvement in YPA against Cover 3. For the second consecutive game, Elijah Mitchell ($5.8K/$7.0K) fell well short of value. Those games were played against the Cardinals and Rams. Jacksonville has played RBs better recently. Digging deeper, their three-game revival in defense of RBs from Weeks 6 through 9 came at the expense of Myles Gaskin, Alex Collins, and Zack Moss/Devin Singletary. This is a spot where Mitchell should do very well. If not for his recent finger surgery, Mitchell would’ve been written up as a Target with his volume upside. While HC Kyle Shanahan expects Mitchell to play, if he’s ultimately ruled out, Jeff Wilson Jr. ($5.1K/$5.0K) would also be a quality option.
It would’ve been nice to see some consistency from Brandon Aiyuk ($5.0K/$6.0K) after his big Week 9 game. He flopped. A matchup across from Shaquill Griffin’s capable coverage does not inspire confidence. The breakout corner performance from the Jags this season has been provided by Rudy Ford. He’s holding his coverage to 0.97 YPCS (ninth-best), 0.24 FP/CS (12th), 0.07 AY/CS (fifth), and a 69.4 TPR (third-lowest). Let’s just say Jauan Jennings ($3.0K/$4.6K) will have a challenge on his hands now that he’s filling in for Mohamed Sanu Sr. after being placed on IR. George Kittle ($6.3K/$6.8K) has emerged from his IR stint with volume and production. If Darren Waller isn’t going to challenge for the TE2 mantle, Kittle may pounce on the opportunity.
Final notes on Jacksonville
Even Trevor Lawrence ($5.2K/$6.5K) isn’t immune from the rookie blues. His Week 10 performance was not good. This is no doubt a humbling experience for a kid that had found success at every turn during his football career. But a long list of talented QBs have struggled during their first tastes of NFL reality. The light will eventually turn on for Sunshine. Until then, he is not a DFS target. And T-Law’s recent play has not been able to support Marvin Jones Jr. ($5.2K/$5.7K), Laviska Shenault Jr. ($4.1K/$5.4K), or Jamal Agnew ($4.7K/$5.3K).
The one receiver that’s been able to circumvent Lawrence’s struggles has been Dan Arnold ($4.1K/$5.4K). He’s been on the field as much as any Jag wideout sans Jones. And he’s led the offense in target rate over the last two weeks. He’s still a value at his current pricing, and most of the field is keenly aware. James Robinson ($6.4K/$7.1K) would’ve been written up as a Target if not for his new knee concern. If he plays, he’ll face a ‘9ers defense surrendering 122.8 rushing YPG (ninth-most), 4.4 YPC (11th), 3.19% rate of 20-plus yard runs (third), and 1.33 TDs/game (third).
We have some matchups with promise, but none that stand out as legitimate values to target. The analysis will be limited to the final notes.
Final notes on Detroit
Let’s get the fact that the Lions and Steelers played Week 10 in the rain out of the way. There is no question that the weather played a significant hand in offensive output, as well as in the game ending in a tie. Even with that knowledge, Jared Goff ($5.1K/$6.4K) is still an interstellar distance away from utility. I’m expecting that D’Andre Swift ($7.0K/$7.5K) will see a reduced role this week. Not a reduction from the 39 touches he received in Week 10, a decline from the 18.4 he averaged in the eight games prior. He’s currently listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder is likely dealing with a sore everything. His 33 carries from last week are as many as he’s taken in any two games combined during his NFL career. I completely understand his intentions for putting that punishment on his body. He wanted to give everything to his team to claim their first victory. But he is likely to be so limited in practice this week that missing Week 11 in its entirety is a distinct possibility.
Jamaal Williams ($4.4K/$5.3K) returning to practice will obviously be significant if Swift is unable to play. Jemar Jefferson ($4.2K/$5.1K) looked great on his 28-yard TD until Minkah Fitzpatrick rolled over his ankle. It had the appearance of the high-ankle variety. Not to be outdone, Godwin Igwebuike ($4.0K/Unlisted) also impressed, especially on his 42-yard TD run when he forced no less than four tackles, and snapped Fitzpatrick off at the ankles with his wiggle. The converted safety would be an interesting punt with floor pricing on DK if Swift and Jefferson sit out. Kalif Raymond ($5.0K/$5.3K) may have matched Amon-Ra St. Brown ($4.3K/$5.5K) in volume, but ARSB was the MVP of the passing offense last week. That said, we will be unable to place trust in any of Detroit’s wideouts until the Lions add their QB of the future. Yes, that also includes the inefficient one, Josh Reynolds ($3.0K/$4.8K), whenever he’s able to learn the playbook. The TE production issue is significant enough that we must keep our fingers crossed each week that Goff will remember to include T.J. Hockenson ($5.7K/$5.9K) in the game plan. That’s a tad on the dramatic side, Hock has been provided with at least eight targets in six-of-nine games. But his TE6/TE9 pricing will be easy to fade.
Final notes on Cleveland
Baker Mayfield ($5.4K/$6.8K) also took a beating in Week 10. While he seems determined to play, I’m getting the vibe that this could be a get-the-lead-and-let-the-RBs-grind-out-the-remainder kind of game. It certainly appears as though Nick Chubb ($7.8K/$9.0K) is symptomatic since he’s yet to be activated from the COVID list. If he plays, Chubb will attack a Detroit defense permitting the fourth-most FPG to RBs (28.8). If not, be prepared to insert D’Ernest Johnson ($5.6K/$8.0K) into your Cash/Single-Entry (SE) lineups on DK, or else. Johnson would still be in play on FD with his RB9 pricing in this smash spot.
The high likelihood that Cleveland wins this game by a comfortable margin, as well as the fact that the Lions have actually defended WRs (12th-fewest FPG) and TEs (10th-fewest) quite well are compelling reasons to fade Jarvis Landry ($5.1K/$6.3K), Donovan Peoples-Jones ($4.5K/$5.7K), Rashard Higgins ($3.2K/$5.0K), and Anthony Schwartz ($3.0K/$4.8K), David Njoku ($2.9K/$4.9K), Austin Hooper ($3.2K/$5.3K), and Harrison Bryant ($2.5K/$4.4K). DPJ appears to be on the wrong side of questionable anyway.
Matchups to Target
Cam Newton, CAR ($5.1K DK | $7.5K FD) vs. Washington’s Cover 2 | 3 | 4
Cam Newton is once again leading the Carolina offense. Reasonable expectations:
Checkdowns on top of checkdowns
Checkdowns with celebrations
The potential for literal fireworks following TDs scored on checkdowns
And more checkdowns for good measure
Very high sack rate
Possession of a massive share of Carolina’s rushing attempts
Ownership of goal line attempts
During the five seasons since he took down the MVP award in 2015, Newton’s 6.98 YPA would rank 27th in comparison to qualified ‘21 QBs. But let’s narrow the focus of that lens to his ‘20 season with New England. Newton ranked 34th out of 41 qualified QBs with 7.3 air yards/att, 31st with an 82.9 passer rating, one of only four QBs with more INTs than TD passes (Sam Darnold, Alex Smith, and Dwayne Haskins Jr.), and the sixth-highest sack rate (7.4%).
On the plus side, Newton tied two others (Nick Chubb and Josh Jacobs) for the fourth-most rushing TDs (12). And only Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray assembled more rushing yards than Newson’s 592. Cam managed those numbers by garnering a 29.3% share of team carries, 51.1% of all goal-to-go carries, and resulting in 62.5% of the Patriots’ goal-to-go TDs. How Newton’s addition will impact the production for Christian McCaffrey is yet to be determined.
For Week 11, Washington has approved 3.77 pure rushing FPG to QBs this season (third-highest). However, we need to account for two additional factors. Chase Young tore an ACL last week and Montez Sweat will continue to sit in Week 11 with a broken jaw. In addition, Washington only worked against QBs with anything close to resembling mobility in four-of-nine games. In those four games, the Football Team endorsed 8.4 YPC, an average rushing line of 4.5/38/0.5, and 6.8 pure rushing FPG to QBs. If Newton takes, let’s say, 10 combined carries + scrambles, he could collect double-digit FPs on ground production alone.
Since we know CMC will be the primary focus in the passing game, Newton will also have an elite receiving asset to maximize the potential of his constant checkdowns. For all of these reasons, Aaron Rodgers may offer us with the highest ceiling of Week 11 QBs, but Newton is easily the top value on DK with QB29 pricing.
Final notes on Washington
The Panthers are donating the fewest passing YPG (173.7), second-fewest YPA (5.75), second-fewest total yards (280.7), fourth-lowest third down conversion rate (33.1%), and the fourth-fewest FPG to QBs (14.9). But Taylor Heinicke ($5.3K/$6.7K) only requires 15.9/16.8 FPs (DK/FD) to cover his floor value. If he just posts Carolina’s yearly average, he only falls 6.3%/11.3% under value. He’s obviously not a Cash/SE consideration, but the matchup is actually not all that bad for a large-field GPP stab or two. The Panthers are using a Cover 1, 3, and 4 rotation, with each at top-10 rates. Heinicke has proven to be most effective against Cover 1 — Carolina’s featured scheme. During his career, Heinicke ranks 12th-best with 0.44 FP/Db with 36% of his total TDs on only 21% of dropbacks against Cover 1.
While the Panthers have shut down receiving production from RBs to the lowest output in the league (6.8 FPG), they haven’t been as dominant against ground production. They rank in the high teens to low 20’s across the board, so Antonio Gibson ($5.9K/$6.7K) will at least have a window toward claiming a solid output. The same cannot be said for J.D. McKissic ($5.0K/$5.2K) now that Jaret Patterson ($4.0K/$4.9K) is being favored as the second option on the ground.
On the one hand, as a rare WR1 that prefers the left sideline, Terry McLaurin ($7.0K/$7.0K) is going to face Donte Jackson on enough of those snaps to make a difference. Outside of a fluky one-yard busted coverage TD in Week 3 to Anthony Miller, no less, Jackson hasn’t permitted a single WR to score more than eight FPs, or score against his coverage. On the other hand, F1 McLaurin has played his best ball during his career against Cover 1 and Cover 4. He’s scored 53% of career TDs on only 26% of career routes against Cover 1. And Terry McScorin’ ranks 15th-best with 0.41 FP/Rt when working against Cover 4 during his career. Even considering the challenging coverage from Jackson, McLaurin is almost too-good-to-be-true with WR18 pricing on FD.
Even after scoring in back-to-back games, DeAndre Carter ($3.3K/$5.5K) faces an uphill climb against the left corner rotation on the perimeter consisting of Keith Taylor, Stephon Gilmore, and C.J. Henderson. No wideout has managed more than 12.8 FPs against the Panthers in the last three games. Adam Humphries ($3.2K/$5.0K) is never an option, but even further so with A.J. Bouye in coverage. Green youngsters Dyami Brown ($3.0K/$4.7K) and Dax Milne ($3.0K/$4.9K) are simply running through the motions until Curtis Samuel ($3.8K/$5.3K) finally returns. Heinicke’s upside would be elevated further if Logan Thomas ($3.9K/$5.5K) manages to return this week. It’s possible Washington could be without Ricky Seals-Jones ($3.8K/$5.0K). If WFT is forced to dig deep at TE this week, John Bates ($2.5K/$4.8K) could draw the start.
Final notes on Carolina
The P.J. Walker ($4.9K/$6.2K) era ended before the first start was complete. The last season Christian McCaffrey ($8.9K/$10.0K) played a full season with Newton (2018), CMC averaged 23.95 FPG. And it’s an excellent season for comparison purposes since McCaffrey only scored seven TDs on the ground. That average is still high enough to deploy the former Stanford Cardinal with his RB1/RB1 pricing as long as the opponent points us toward a plus matchup. Unfortunately, nothing in the numbers present Washington as providing a window into the type of production CMC requires to justify the substantial investment. Especially considering Chuba Hubbard ($5.3K/$6.0K) (24%) and Ameer Abdullah ($4.0K/$4.9K) (27%) have garnered a substantial amount of the RB carry share.
At this stage in his career, Newton’s already noodle arm is noodlier than ever. A revitalized William Jackson III returned to the field last week to hold Mike Evans without a single target on 18 snaps in coverage. If the GOAT is unable to find a window of attack against WJ3, relying on Newton to get the ball to DJ Moore ($5.9K/$6.7K) may be asking a bit much. Like Evans, Moore is not going to be shut out of the box score. But better weeks are ahead for DJM after he establishes a connection with his new QB. Sideshow Bob Anderson ($4.6K/$5.6K) came through for us with a TD last week. Even though Kendall Fuller has not played at the quality level of last season, I’m not going to press my luck on Anderson. Anything is possible on an NFL field, but Terrace Marshall Jr. ($3.1K/$4.7K), Brandon Zylstra ($3.0K/$4.8K), Tommy Tremble ($2.5K/$4.4K), and, especially, Ian Thomas ($2.5K/$4.2K) are not in play for Week 11.
Matchups to Target
Jaylen Waddle, MIA ($5.6K DK | $6.7K FD) vs. Michael Carter II, NYJ
The Dolphins are devoting meaningful snaps to four wideouts (Albert Wilson, Isaiah Ford, Mack Hollins, and Preston Williams) with DK pricing between $3-to-$3.1K. Needless to say, the results have not been promising. It speaks to the available opportunities available to Jaylen Waddle, and to the opposing defenses' opportunity to take steps to eliminate him from the game. With an average of 9.4 targets since Week 6, Waddle has flipped his featured role into 19.4 FPG over that stretch. While the Jets actually managed to hold wideout production down for much of the season while the floodgates were open to success elsewhere, the wheels have come off over the last four weeks. Beginning with their humiliating 54-13 loss in Foxboro, no defense has relinquished more FPG to WRs (47.3).
It certainly helps Waddle’s cause that New York has been slightly more lenient toward production out of the slot. But it really doesn’t matter at this point. The Jets are apportioning a 69% completion rate (fourth-highest), 283.2 passing YPG (second), 7.99 YPA (second), 19.9% completion rate of throws traveling 20-plus yards (the highest), and 41.1% passing first down rate (the highest). Waddle played more snaps on the perimeter last week with Hollins and Williams providing next to nothing of value. If that continues, he’ll see more coverage from Bryce Hall. If he roots himself to the slot, Michael Carter II will be tasked with much of the assignment. Either way, Waddle offers the exact level of volume per dollar we need.
Final notes on Miami
Tua Tagovailoa ($5.5K/$7.0K) is going to provide profit over value. It’s nearly as much of a guarantee as death and taxes for QBs facing NYJ. It’s also very likely that we’ll see Tagovailoa as the highest-owned QB on the main slate. To the extent that we can count on seeing Tua, Waddle, and even Myles Gaskin ($5.7K/$6.2K) with ownership percentages among the top-five at their respective positions. Miami really needs to find a solution on early downs. It boggles the mind that they haven’t simply shifted Salvon Ahmed ($4.0K/$5.2K) to the early-down work to see what he can do.
Albert Wilson ($3.1K/$5.1K) is the best-of-the-rest at WR for the ‘Phins. Just do not add him to any lineups. Mack Hollins ($3.0K/$5.2K) does have a tendency to put together an okay game here-and-there. Just not in a way that provides any sort of notice in advance. Preston Williams ($3.0K/$5.0K) and Isaiah Ford ($3.0K/$5.3K) are simply replacement-level fodder, lucky to be inked to NFL contracts. To think that Miami’s three-wide appeared to be well above-average back in the preseason with Waddle, DeVante Parker, and Will Fuller V. Mike Gesicki’s ($5.2K/$6.3K) goose egg in Week 10 was quite the surprise. The Ravens have been donating FPs to TEs all season. It’s a performance that will scare away at least 99% of the field this week. And that only sets him up for massive GPP-upside in a vanilla matchup with the Mean Green.
Final notes on New York
It’s very unfair to Mike White that the coaching staff is benching him for struggling against Buffalo. Taylor Heinicke is the only QB to score above his floor against the Bills. Be that as it may, dare I say that I like Joe Flacco ($4.6K/$6.3K) this week without ridicule? As surprising as it may be to learn, the Dolphins abandoned their massively-heavy Cover 1 rate last week in favor of the second-highest Cover 3 rate of Week 10. Miami had been extremely sneaky with the subtlest of rate exchanges in the two games prior. And they pulled down the curtain for the grand unveiling on Thursday Night Football. HC John Harbaugh must have been beside himself at the sight of seeing a defense that had been registering a top-three rate of Cover 1 dating back to the Nick Saban days. Even if the Dolphins field a Cover 3 at a pre-Week 10 rate, they had still been utilizing a top-15 rate. Flacco takes a lot of flack, pun intended, for his play. But the weathered veteran proved far more aggressive during his run with the Jets last season than in season’s prior.
Over the last three seasons, Flacco has generated 0.47 FP/Db (sixth-highest), a 14% increase in air yards/attempt, and 39% of his total TDs on 27% of his dropbacks against Cover 3. It may also be his only opportunity to start if Zach Wilson is able to return in Week 12. I don’t have the projected numbers, but I’m expecting that we’ll see Michael Carter ($5.8K/$6.6K) owned at a very high number. Even though the current FPG allowances have strongly reflected the improvement, RBs opposing Miami’s defense have continually been owned well above what they deserve. Look no further than the Dolphins’ last four games to see that opposing backs have been held to the lowest FPG (13.1). For my cap dollars, Carter is not going to face a matchup worthy of counting on profit above value for Cash/SE consideration. But Ty Johnson ($4.6K/$5.2K), that’s a play the field will overlook. “Ty Can Fly” has provided New York with 13.2 FPG over his last five games, in spite of Carter leaving nothing but scraps behind from the carry share.
Instead of targeting RBs facing Miami, we should all be targeting the wideouts. Opposing WRs are pulling in the third-most FPG (41.3) on the season, and 10th-most over the last four weeks (37.2). A percentage of the field will be off of Corey Davis ($5.0K/$6.4K) due to the presence of Xavien Howard. It’s been the shift to a higher Cover 3 rate that has coincided with the improvement in the X-Factor’s play. And the requirements of a Cover 3 zone eliminate the possibility of true shadow coverage. Besides, Davis works all across the line of scrimmage. Davis will finally have a QB under center with the ability to get him the ball against his Cover 3 wheelhouse, and Cover 1, his secondary preference. We can also count on seeing Jamison Crowder ($4.7K/$5.7K) and Elijah Moore ($4.9K/$5.9K) being entirely ignored by the field due to their distaste for Flacco. To be clear, I’m basing my assessment of Flacco on his previous numbers. Do I have a database collected on Flacco consisting only of results following nearly a full year without attempting a regular season pass? I do not. But the same database I currently have in my possession called for profitable performances from Flacco in Weeks 9 and 11 last season when he averaged 18.3 FPG.
This is another matchup without a single matchup that the numbers or my personal analysis is favorable enough for a dedicated write-up.
Final notes on New Orleans
Trevor Siemian ($5.3K/$7.0K) has put enough game managing football on tape to ensure he’ll receive at least one more opportunity elsewhere after his days as a Saint come to an end. And he certainly cannot be blamed for the lack of talent at receiver. It’s actually that lack of receiving weapons that should have already pushed Taysom Hill ($4.9K/$7.0K) toward the starting gig. His ability to completely control games with his mobility just makes too much sense for a New Orleans team toying in danger after consecutive defeats. Hill led the Saints to a 3-1 record last season as the starter. With this defense and Alvin Kamara ($8.1K/$8.6K) in the backfield, Hill could make some noise in the playoffs. That said, it was reported that he took some lumps last week, so his health would obviously dictate his involvement.
Mark Ingram II ($5.4K/$6.8K) may have played a decent game against Tennessee, but he offers somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of Kamara’s impact. Philadelphia’s run defense has struggled since the moment Brandon Graham was lost to injury. So, if Kamara misses another game, Ingram would still offer a generous value within the run-heavy New Orleans offense. At this stage in the Saints’ final notes, I typically point toward Deonte Harris ($4.2K/$5.4K) as the top option through the air. And that’s precisely the case again in Week 11. The Eagles feature a Cover 2, 6, and 3 Seam mixture from DC Jonathan Gannon’s days under Matt Eberflus, but with his own top-15 rate of Cover 4.
Short of going crazy with the numbers in support of Harris within each of those scenarios, I’ll leave it with this: if Harris’ FP/Rt results qualified, he’d rank first-overall against Cover 2 and Cover 4. Truly an eye-sore watching the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Tre'Quan Smith ($4.4K/$5.7K) work out of the slot as if he is in some way creating mismatches. Week-after-week, Smith fails to cover his floor. He’s positioned to be ghosted by Avonte Maddox’s elite coverage this week. Marquez Callaway ($5.1K/$5.8K) certainly loves his Cover 3. He’ll get a plateful of Steven Nelson and Darius Slay instead. It seems like it was just yesterday that New Orleans’ TEs tripped over value on a weekly basis. We’re just waiting around for Adam Trautman ($3.3K/$4.8K) to hit value once.
Final notes on Philadelphia
The floor Jalen Hurts ($6.8K/$7.7K) has created for himself with his legs seems to be impenetrable, independent of the opponent. The reliability from Hurts’ growing history of coverage success is still not quite where we want it to be to identify trends beyond the fact that he’s Augustus Gloop with a chocolate bar in his hand against Cover 3. The Saints are utilizing a bottom-five rate of Cover 3, so his Week 11 outlook is all projection. Miles Sanders ($5.0K/$6.0K) was designated to return from IR. It’s of zero interest whatsoever. If he does actually return to a featured role, he was an already irrelevant member of the offense prior to his injury. And Jordan Howard ($4.8K/$5.9K) has since built a considerable fanbase in Philly with support as a locked-in weapon.
That’s without even considering that Boston Scott ($4.9K/$5.7K) appeared to be more competent than Sanders in recent weeks, and assuming Kenneth Gainwell ($4.7K/$5.1K) will continue to be seated on the pine. Most of all, New Orleans’ run defense is second-to-none this season (8.0 FPG). As in previous weeks, Hurts will be searching for DeVonta Smith ($6.4K/$6.6K) to piece together his passing numbers. Smith put a 2/47/1 line on his former Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain II last week. And it’s a follow-up to collecting a 2/55/1 line inside the coverage of Chris Harris Jr. If Smith manages to do the same to Marshon Lattimore this week, it’ll be high time that we start chasing after some FPs. The only Saints’ corners that haven’t been drooling FPs all over their coverage assignments this season are Bradley Roby and P.J. Williams.
Should Smith fail to capitalize on the generosity of Lattimore, it’s going to be a very long day at the office for Hurts. Especially since Quez Watkins ($3.7K/$5.3K) will be working against Williams, Jalen Reagor ($3.3K/$5.0K) will see some of Paulson Adebo, but also plenty of Roby, and Dallas Goedert ($4.4K/$5.7K) appears in danger of being listed as doubtful with a concussion. If Hurts is forced to rely on Jack Stoll ($2.9K/$4.4K) and/or Tyree Jackson ($2.5K/$4.2K) to generate the numbers across from Demario Davis, the scenario casing has been injected into the worst. Or at least something along those lines.
Matchups to Target
Hunter Renfrow, LV ($5.8K DK | $6.1K FD) vs. Mike Hilton, PIT
Just when it seemed as though the Cincinnati defense had a chance to assist its explosive offense toward the playoffs, components of the engine began falling out from locations the mechanics have been unable to identify. The odds for the Bengals to make the playoffs fell below 50% after back-to-back losses to the Jets and Browns. Cincy had already dealt with the reality that they would not offer much in the way of run defense. But the team was not prepared for their NORAD contingencies to be obliterated through the air by QBs and WRs over the last four weeks. The Bengals have supported the second-most FPG to QBs (22.7), 12th-most to wideouts (35.4) toward offenses that previously struggled in that phase of football.
It’s not a welcomed road trip for Cincinnati into hostile Las Vegas territory after suffering their own consecutive defeats. And the WR leading the charge for the Raiders has been Hunter Renfrow since before the season began. The only opponent to limit Renfrow this season stands as Bryce Callahan — may he receive a swift recovery from surgery. With 7.7 targets/game, Renfrow has covered value in six-of-nine, and scored in his last two. The Bengals are featuring Cover 2 and Cover 3 this season. They also mix in the occasional spike of Cover 0 and 1 man-to-man to keep opponents on their toes. As was the case during the previous two weeks, the object of Renfrow’s desire is their Cover 2. During his career against Cover 2, Renfrow’s 0.46 FP/Rt ranks fourth-best, his 2.45 YPRR ranks fifth, and it’s when he’s garnered a 25% share of targets (fifth-highest).
Final notes on Cincinnati
The Raiders have not played around with their coverages this season. Since the opening week they’ve put a top-three rate of Cover 3 onto the field. That’s not a formula Joe Burrow ($6.6K/$7.4K) has enjoyed during his career. When facing Cover 3, Burrow’s FP/Db declines by 13%, and he’s thrown three TDs vs. three INTs. However, we are early enough into his career to see a dramatic shift in those numbers. Especially with Ja’Marr Chase ($7.2K/$7.7K) and C.J. Uzomah ($3.5K/$5.2K) in the fold, opening doors previously unavailable to Burrow.
In fact, Chase ranks ninth-best across from Cover 3 with 0.56 FP/Rt, sixth with 3.16 YPRR, and also sixth with 12.8 YPT. He will be working across from the top-five metrics of Casey Hayward Jr., so keep that in mind before throwing Chase into 100% of your lineups. Between Tee Higgins ($5.4K/$6.5K) and Tyler Boyd ($4.8K/$5.6K), Higgins has been the superior of the two against Cover 3, and he’ll face the overly-generous coverage of Brandon Facyson — how badly Las Vegas must regret cutting Rasul Douglas. Boyd will be dealing with one of the top-three breakouts at nickel this season in Nate Hobbs.
Uzomah has not been particularly useful against Cover 3, but the Raiders are relinquishing the second-most FPG to the position (18.2). Above all on this offense, Las Vegas presents Joe Mixon ($7.6K/$7.6K) with a smash spot. The Raiders are packaging the ninth-most FPG to RBs (26.2), the sixth-most rushing YPG (129.1), eighth-highest YPC (4.5), and fifth-highest rate of 20-plus yard runs (3.11%). After teasing us with spikes in his involvement, Samaje Perine ($4.5K/$5.1K) has taken a clear backseat to Mixon.
Final notes on Las Vegas
It’s guaranteed that we’ll see Derek Carr ($5.9K/$7.2K) owned among the top-five QBs on the main slate on DK with sub-$6.0K pricing. It’s a spot where he’ll find little resistance toward 300 passing yards and multiple TDs. Little of that production is expected out of either Bryan Edwards ($4.1K/$5.5K) vs. Chidobe Awuzie or Zay Jones ($3.0K/$5.0K) vs. Eli Apple. Edwards is allowing a golden opportunity to cement his role in the offense to slip through his fingers.
If DeSean Jackson ($3.4K/$5.3K) has anything remaining in the tank, he could end up establishing himself as the third receiving option in the pecking order. Short of an unknown and underlying factor impacting Darren Waller’s ($6.1K/$6.7K) play, Carr has provided him with all of the same tools that led to becoming one of the most-feared TEs in the game. Until we see some compelling reasons to buy into his considerable pricing, Waller should be relegated to prove-it territory.
The wildcards for Carr’s passing production are Josh Jacobs ($6.0K/$6.9K) and Kenyan Drake ($5.2K/$5.9K). The backfield for the Gray and Black has become a 1A-1B situation, with Jacobs taking the advantage on the ground, and Drake through the air. But both are capable of efficient work on opposite ends of the spectrum. After struggling against Kansas City last week, the Cincinnati defense will provide the pair with an excellent get-right opportunity on their home field.
The pace of play for this matchup is going to run circles around all others in Week 11. It’s a game that could dictate all of the money this weekend, or it could break the backs of a massive percentage of GPP fields if the scoring disappoints. It’s eerily reminiscent of the Cowboys’ Week 2 clash with the Chargers. Both offenses brought in top-five pacing in support of their catalogue of weaponry. Ownership numbers were tossed at every corner of both attacks, yet only Tony Pollard and Mike Williams provided profit over value. I am anticipating that we’ll see all of the major players in this matchup with ownership numbers in double-digits. The singular value potential on both sides are not particularly set up with nuclear matchups, so I’ll be limiting the analysis to final notes.
Final notes on Dallas
Say goodbye to that sub-$7K pricing on DK and sub-$8K on FD for Dak Prescott ($7.2K/$8.4K). Even after considerable defensive improvements, the Chiefs are still postmarking the second-most FPG to QBs this season (21.5). It was disappointing to see CeeDee Lamb ($7.6K/$8.0K) doing so much of his work from the slot upon Michael Gallup’s ($4.2K/$5.4K) return. Perhaps it was his own preference. If not, how it was decided that removing one of the most dynamic wideouts in the NFL from dismantling bigger opponents on the outside is beyond me. At the very least, Lamb should be worked in along the entire formation. You can’t argue with the immediate results, but they’ll need to remain consistent in order to justify the dramatic adjustment.
For Week 11, the massively-press coverage of L'Jarius Sneed is going to be tested unlike anything prior this season. Kansas City is playing a crazy-high rate of Cover 2 in recent weeks, providing Sneed with comforting support over the top. But Lamb’s athleticism allows him to turn every touch into a house call. Sneed’s 1.45 YPCS (sixth-most), 0.33 FP/CS (fifth-most), and 0.31 TPR (fifth-highest) had better hold together at the seams. Both Gallup and Amari Cooper ($6.2K/$7.3K) have failed in their efforts to provide Prescott with efficient Cover 2 options. The only option on Dallas with a significant role that’s also likely to be overlooked is Dalton Schultz ($4.6K/$6.0K). KC has struggled a bit to contain opposing TEs with a 13.6 FPG allowance (14th-most), but Schultz ranks well below average against Cover 2 during his career.
The scoring of this game is going to be dictated by the Dallas O-line and the efficiency of Ezekiel Elliott ($7.7K/$8.5K) and Tony Pollard ($4.7K/$5.6K). If the ground game is rolling from the onset, HC Mike McCarthy has shown he’s perfectly fine allowing his RBs to take over the game. For those with massive skin in this game, that would be the least desirable outcome. After being run through the grinder early in the season, Kansas City has found a way to limit opposing RBs to the seventh-fewest FPG (19.3) over the last four weeks. As long as they can manage a few early stops, the pace is likely to follow status quo standards.
Final notes on Kansas City
Not to be outdone by defenses altering their approaches midway through the season, DC Dan Quinn has recently converted a significant percentage of his Cover 1 and Cover 2 into a top-seven rate of Cover 3, and pushed his rate of Cover 4 into the top-10. It's a massive headache to analyze at the moment. I can only imagine how Patrick Mahomes II ($7.6K/$8.3K) must feel while preparing for this opponent. Mahomes definitely discovered something in his approach to Cover 3 during his dismantling of that featured scheme of the Raiders last week. While he obliterated Las Vegas’ straight Cover 3, he played it safe when the Raiders put their 3-Seam on the field. He’ll work against high rates of both from the ‘Boys. That’s why — to nobody’s surprise — it will be Mahomes that dictates the scoring in this game if Dallas’ elite ground game is unable to take control early. We witnessed uncharacteristic struggles from Mahomes only two weeks ago. If he’s unable to make the proper pre-snap reads, he will not be offered the benefit of his beloved Cover 2 or Cover 6 to keep his offense moving.
With a bye for KC following this matchup, it would not be a surprise to see Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5.2K/$6.3K) held out of this game. And Darrel Williams’ ($5.4K/$6.3K) ownership will blow up in response. Tyreek Hill ($8.2K/$8.5K) may see considerable coverage from Trevon Diggs, but Hill is precisely the type of opponent that has torched Diggs’ overly aggressive coverage. If that proves to be true, nobody is going to be surprised to see that result.
But Byron Pringle ($3.4K/$5.3K) could end up being the top value/low ownership guy on the Chiefs’ side. Yes, Pringle moved ahead of Mecole Hardman ($4.0K/$5.5K) in his involvement in the offense in Week 10. But we’ve seen his role continually grow since Week 1.
Kansas City doesn’t simply allow their alignment percentages to be broadcast to their opponents. All of their wideouts play at a high rate from the slot to eliminate all reliability. However, like Hardman before him, Pringle will be handed the keys to touches behind Travis Kelce ($7.1K/$7.3K) and Hill. Hardman will be left to clean up the scraps with Josh Gordon ($3.0K/$5.0K) and Demarcus Robinson ($3.1K/$5.1K) after turning everyone’s stomachs with countless wasted opportunities to become a household name.
Matchups to Target
Without the ability to trust any of the coverage rate from Arizona, it’s impossible to reliably identify matchups of not for the Seattle offense. Without the knowledge as to whether Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins even take the field, all reliability/ROI of dedicated write-ups on the Cardinals offense is eliminated.
Final notes on Arizona
Arizona is playing with fire. Allowing Kyler Murray ($7.9K/$8.2K) to sit Week 9 out to rest his ankle made sense. When Colt McCoy ($4.9K/$6.3K) managed to steal the victory from the 49ers, HC Kliff Kingsbury should’ve counted his blessings. Endorsing another absence in Week 10 could ultimately be the reason the Cardinals head home early during the playoffs. Prior to this two-week vacation, Murray was a legitimate MVP contender. He can count those chances eliminated. Are we even slightly surprised watching the Cards’ offense stagnate with McCoy and James Conner ($6.1K/$7.2K) leading the way? Arizona is all in on the ride-Conner-or-die bandwagon. Conner’s run directly into the nearest defender directly resulted in the offense nearly being doubled up by Carolina in time of possession. Eno Benjamin ($4.2K/$5.1K) anyone?
The only comment I have on the DeAndre Hopkins ($6.5K/$7.1K) injury is that he is finally playing for a team with playoff aspirations beyond a Cinderella story and he takes what appears to be a season-long vacation while the rest of his teammates do all of the work for him.
Is Christian Kirk ($5.7K/$6.5K) going to replace Hopkins on the outside or remain in the slot? Is Kingsbury going to actually put Rondale Moore ($4.2K/$5.2K) on the field or just insert UDFA nobody Antoine Wesley ($3.0K/$4.6K) into a featured role? The depth and back-loading of these questions read as though this a team that has already taken a title in the past, and are following a we already know how to get there again approach. They haven’t and they don’t.
I assumed A.J. Green ($4.6K/$5.4K) would want to account for his historic blunder from Week 8. But he’s not going to be able to accomplish that task while assistant coaches are playing QB.
It almost seems as though Zach Ertz’s ($4.8K/$5.0K) production has declined since being dealt out of Philadelphia. That’s not a joke, it’s actually a reality.
Final notes on Seattle
Russell Wilson ($6.5K/$7.3K) played the worst game I’ve ever witnessed last week. Granted, the Packers pack an elite defense. Here’s hoping the finger is fully healed. I’ll be fading all components of the Seattle passing game this week. It’s an approach I’ve nearly followed to the letter for opponents of the Cardinals. Nearly was added since I did utilize Deebo Samuel in several GPP lineups in Week 9. For the same reason, DK Metcalf ($6.8K/$7.5K) would still be in play for me if I saw anything from Wilson last week. We know Metcalf is going to continue to terrorize opponents whether is Wilson or a washed-up Uncle Rico off the street. But what has become of Tyler Lockett ($6.0K/$6.8K)? It took pity volume from Geno Smith against an overwhelmed Jacksonville secondary to get him going.
We finally saw D’Wayne Eskridge ($3.0K/$4.6K) take the field for the ‘Hawks. With the season in the can for Seattle, Eskridge will likely overtake Freddie Swain ($3.0K/$4.9K) and Penny Hart ($3.0K/$4.7K) in the rotation as soon as health is confidently assessed. Such an odd sight to see Gerald Everett ($3.1K/$5.0K) essentially featured when Wilson was unable to get the ball to DK or Rocket. Despite permitting everyone within the Carolina organization to rush for a first down last week, Arizona’s defense is still limiting opposing RBs to the seventh-fewest FPG this season (10.8). Since it doesn’t sound as though Chris Carson ($5.6K/$6.5K) will be ready to play, the Alex Collins-led ($5.0K/$5.6K) rotating circus of RBs will take the field for another showing.