Washington Football Team (2-5, 1-6 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-4, 3-4), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Washington Stats and Trends
The Football Team, Jets, and 49ers are the only teams with just ATS cover this season.
Washington didn’t punt last week and they scored just 10 points against the Packers.
After posting 21+ FP in his first three starts for Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip, IR), Taylor Heinicke came crashing back to earth in Weeks 5-6 with a combined 22.2 FP. He bounced back with 22.2 FP in Week 7 thanks to 10/95 rushing, and he added 268/1 passing with one INT in a two-score loss to the Packers. Denver has allowed just two QBs to reach 20+ FP against them in seven games this season.
Terry McLaurin has been an all-or-nothing option through seven games, topping 25+ FP three times and falling below 11 FP in his other four contests. Even with a dropped touchdown, he hung 7/122/1 receiving on 12 targets last week. He did show up on the injury report this week with an ankle injury, which is notable since he battled through ankle injuries throughout 2020.
Ricky Seals-Jones has posted 40+ yards, 4+ catches, and 6+ targets in three straight games as the Logan Thomas (hamstring, IR) fill-in. He’s also played all but one snap in the last three weeks. The Broncos have allowed just Darren Waller (5/59 receiving) and Mark Andrews (5/67) to reach double-digit FP against them this season.
Antonio Gibson has played just 39% and 42% of the snaps the last two weeks after playing 55% or more in the first five weeks of the season. He’s battling through a shin injury and it hasn’t helped that they’ve played in extremely negative gamescripts the last two weeks too. It might be time to bench him going forward if he doesn’t come through this week in a game that should be tight throughout — Washington enters as three-point road underdogs. The Broncos have been ripped for 21+ FP in each of the last three weeks by D’Ernest Johnson, Kenyan Drake, and Najee Harris.
J.D. McKissic has seen season-highs in snap shares in each of the last two weeks (61%<64%) with Gibson limited and because of negative gamescripts — he posted a combined 12/99 receiving in those contests. The Broncos are giving up the second-fewest receiving yards per game (25.7) and the second-fewest catches per game (3.1) to RBs so far.
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
The Broncos are on a four-game outright and ATS losing streak after opening the season 3-0 outright and ATS.
The Broncos are 5-2 toward unders
Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t come up with fantasy production in Week 7 without some garbage-time help. He completed 23/33 passes for just 187 yards (5.7 YPA), two TDs, and one INT in an ugly loss to the injury-riddled Browns. Teddy has reached 20+ FP just once in his last five games after reaching that mark twice in his first two games. Washington has allowed 24+ FP to QBs in six straight games, with multiple TD passes in five straight contests.
Jerry Jeudy is on track to return to the lineup in Week 8 in a juicy matchup against the Football Team. Bridgewater showed Jeudy plenty of love in the season opener, with Jeudy posting 6/72 receiving on seven targets and 24 routes (19 from the slot) in just 37 minutes of action. Washington is giving up the second-most catches per game (16.0) to WRs.
Courtland Sutton saw just three targets in his only game with Jeudy at the beginning of the season, which was also his first game back from ACL surgery. He topped 23+ FP in three of his six games without Jeudy, and he’s coming off a 5/68 receiving performance against the Browns in Week 7. Washington is allowing the second-most receiving yards per game (203.1) to WRs so far.
Tim Patrick will slide into the #3 WR role moving forward with Jeudy returning to the lineup, and he’s coming off a season-low 2/16 receiving on five targets last week. Allen Lazard posted 5/60/1 receiving in this matchup in Week 7.
Noah Fant has 5+ catches and 7+ targets in three of his last four games, but he disappointed last week with 5/39 receiving on seven targets. Packers’ TEs Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis combined for 7/94/1 receiving last week, and Washington has allowed 20+ FP to the position in consecutive games.
It’s time for the weekly Broncos’ backfield split update. Melvin Gordon held the edge in snap share (58% to 42%) and routes (17 to 15) while Javonte Williams held the edge in rushing production (4/20 to 8/18) and receiving production (6/32/1 to 2/14/1). Washington suffocated Aaron Jones (11/39 scrimmage) last week, and they’re giving up just 3.4 YPC and the 13th-fewest receiving yards per game (35.1) to RBs.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.3 (5th)
Plays per game: 65.0 (21st)
Pass: 59.4% (19th) | Run: 40.6% (14th)
Pace: 31.1 (30th)
Plays per game: 67.1 (16th)
Pass: 64.2% (9th) | Run: 35.8% (24th)
Even though this season hasn’t gone to plan for The Team, Washington’s games have at least been fun for fantasy. They played over the total in four-straight from Weeks 2-5, gave up 31 to the Chiefs in Week 6, and last week’s game vs. the Packers should have been a shootout if it weren’t for a comedy of errors in the red-zone. Washington plays fast on offense (fifth in pace), their defense gives up a ton of points (2.85 per drive, second-most), and gets thrown on a ton (+7.6% above expectation, second-most). It’s the perfect storm.
Denver’s offense has sputtered over the last month, scoring a TD on just 8-of-42 drives while turning the ball over on 7-of-42. That’s not the ratio you’re looking for. Teddy Bridgewater was battling hard through a foot injury last week, though, and now has had extra rest to get right. Hopefully that’s exactly what this Broncos offense does here – get right – in a cake matchup. Especially with Jerry Jeudy back, I hope Denver comes out and takes advantage of this Washington secondary that is facing the fourth-most attempts per game (39.6) and giving up the most passing FPG (22.2).
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
I follow a singular approach to Teddy Bridgewater exposure consideration. If the defense features Cover 1, INVEST! In all other scenarios, easy fade. Dramatic drum-tapping intro: survey says… Washington is still featuring Cover 1 at the 10th-highest rate. That’s all we need to know. If you want more details… read Advanced Matchups.
D’Ernest Johnson definitely didn’t have any issues shredding the Denver run defense last week. Do we feel strongly enough in Antonio Gibson’s health to expect the same?
Dolan’s Vantage Points
It was good to see Terry McLaurin get in a full practice on Thursday, the first time he’s done so in a few weeks, as he battles his hamstring (and now an ankle) injury. He dropped a TD pass last week but still had a big game against the Packers, so he’s obviously someone to keep rolling with as long as he plays.
Here’s Graham from Start/Sit:
“After clearly being limited by a hamstring injury last week, McLaurin proved he is back against the Packers after dropping a 7/122/1 hammer. McLaurin’s day could have been even better had he not dropped a TD as Washington was cursed from scoring in the second-half of the game. McLaurin’s production has been a roller coaster ride because Taylor Heinicke has been so up-and-down, but we have to keep taking the bad with the good because the huge weeks drastically outweigh his 8-12 FP outings. This should be a spot where McLaurin hits the peak of his coaster, too. Denver has gotten beat deep by Marquise Brown, Diontae Johnson, and Henry Ruggs in three of their past four games and McLaurin is the only deep ball threat in town for Washington as he is tied for the league-lead in targets of 15 or more air yards with Marquise Brown (24). In fact, McLaurin has seen 48.6% of the team’s air yards, which is the second-highest percentage right behind Brandin Cooks (48.8%). McLaurin is an easy WR1 this week.”
It’s not a great matchup for Taylor Heinicke, as Brolley outlined above, and with the Team’s WR depth (Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown) hurting, I’d probably be looking elsewhere for my TE streamer.
And I agree with Wes… if Antonio Gibson doesn’t get it done this week, it’ll be hard to fully trust him at any point. He’s clearly hurting with his shin injury, and they keep trotting him out there. This is a Broncos defense that has been torched by big-name (Najee Harris) and no-name (D’Ernest Johnson) RBs alike. I like Gibson as an RB2 this week because of the matchup, but the injury and JD McKissic limit his upside.
“Another week, another RSJ write-up. Since taking over as the starter in Week 4, RSJ ranks 7th among TEs in targets (23), tied for 7th in red zone targets (6), 1st in end zone targets (5) and 2nd in routes run (152). He’s become Logan Thomas, which means he should be considered a mid- to low-end TE1 depending on his matchup until Thomas returns from IR. He hasn’t been very efficient, but he doesn’t need to be with that level of volume to maintain fantasy relevancy, or even be worthy of starting. Week 8 ushers in a tougher matchup against a Denver defense that’s only allowed 5.1 FPG to opposing TEs (5th-toughest), but the 7.3 targets per game that RSJ has averaged over the last three weeks provides him with an easily trustable floor, even if the difficult matchup does limit his upside this week. And to be honest, I’m not so sure we can put a ton of stock in his upside being limited, as RSJ has more end zone targets this season than any other TE (in just 4 games), giving him quite impressive TD equity, and thus increasing the probability of a ceiling performance. It’s just really tough to argue against RSJ as anything other than a top-12 TE this week.”
Wes outlined above why he likes the matchup for Teddy Bridgewater, but beyond the stylistic advantage, Teddy possibly gets Jerry Jeudy back from a high ankle sprain this week after Jeudy missed six games.
Jeudy practiced all week before feeling “sore” on Friday, but coach Vic Fangio remains optimistic. (Jeudy is still on IR, so he doesn’t need a gameday injury designation.)
Broncos coach Vic Fangio on WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle) after Friday's practice: "He experienced some soreness after working the last few days so we took the conservative route and gave him a rest day and a full rehab day rather than be out here, but still optimistic.''— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) October 29, 2021
Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit on one of our favorite off-season targets:
“Jeudy’s injury came early in the third quarter, capping him at just 47% of the team’s total snaps. But he still walked away with a team-high 72 yards, catching 6 of 7 targets. (So, on pace for 171 receiving yards.) And he ran 78% of his routes from the slot, up from 30% a season ago. That’s equally encouraging, as that’s his natural position.
Saban makes it clear at the end, that - though Jeudy is also capable on the outside - he prefers him in the slot. Though, that will most certainly be KJ Hamler's role in Denver. https://t.co/14p9N99NZk— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 28, 2020
This week Jeudy gets a Washington defense that ranks worst in total FPG allowed to opposing WRs (51.0), giving up the most FPG (27.4) to opposing outside WRs and the 2nd-most (18.1) to opposing slot WRs. Start him with confidence this week as a fringe-WR2.”