Our first set of team byes are on the horizon. An extra week of rest could not have come at a better time for those teams. As with each passing week, we find ourselves one step closer toward learning the matchup strengths of rookies and those receiving their first dose of extended action. Whether you’re a tournament (GPP) junkie or fighting tooth-and-nail to stay above that Cash/Single-Entry (SE) line, you’ve set your GPS to the precise location toward fulfilling those goals. Rest assured that I am fighting that fight right alongside you in both regards, and everything uncovered from my weekly analysis can be found below.
The entirety of my Monday’s are devoted to watching/re-watching every game from the previous week. I also use that time filling in the defensive coverage scheme blanks in my databases. From the time I wake up, until the time my head hits the bed, Tuesday is devoted entirely to refreshing everything in my databases to account for everything from the previous week. Whether or not the previous week returned profits for the efforts, every single step is followed to the letter at the dawn of a new week.
NEW FEATURE ALERT: I am unveiling something new in this week’s edition that I am anticipating will maximize our profits: a coverage scheme algorithm that has taken weeks of my time. The projections provided by this algorithm factors coverage scheme success, anticipated coverage scheme rates, and current opportunity rates, i.e., route percentages, target shares, carry shares, etc. for each QB, RB, and WR. Unfortunately, projections for TEs will not be ready until Week 7. But the TE position easily affords the lowest reliability due to multiple factors that I feel requires more time to develop. While I am excited for the impact I feel the algorithm will immediately provide, it will only play a secondary role in Advanced Matchups until I am able to increase my sample collection.
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells mentioned throughout this series and other relevant schematic details, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
Fantasy Shells: Cover 4
We may have four less teams to analyze this week, that only means every second normally devoted to those franchises will be shifted toward deciphering matchups from each of the other 14 games. Without further delay, let’s get to the action.
*14-17 (45%); 5-4 in Week 5
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+1.0) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+3.0) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills (-6.0) at Tennessee Titans
*11-10 (52%); 5-3 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (Over 52.5)
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 47.5)
Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (Under 47.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team (Over 55.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (Over 52.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (Over 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (Under 51.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Under 42.5)
*15-4 (79%); 7-1 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-275) at Philadelphia Eagles
Los Angeles Rams (-575) at New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs (-305) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+135) at Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts (-400) vs. Houston Texans
Cincinnati Bengals (-180) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+105) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+140) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-170) at New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers (-225) vs. Seattle Seahawks
Buffalo Bills (-265) at Tennessee Titans
Matchups to Target
DeVonta Smith, PHI ($6.0K DK | $6.1K FD) vs. Jamel Dean, TB
At first glance, so many factors point directly toward DeVonta Smith heading into a matchup of nuclear opportunities. Tampa Bay devotes nearly three-fourths of defensive snaps to zone coverage. They are utilizing the highest rate of split-safety (two-high) shells. Breaking that down further, the Buccaneers feature a top-five rate of Cover 2, and top-10 rate of Cover 4. That tells us that, while Smith will align across from Jamel Dean on nearly half of his routes, DeVonta will need to find holes, and “sit” for his food. Especially when in Cover 2, Dean will not be keying in on Smith. My coverage algorithm is projecting Smith for 19.7 FPs on DraftKings (DK) and 16.7 on FanDuel (FD). That would provide 1.7 FPs of DK profit, 1.5 FPs on FD over his pricing.
If you find that projection a bit low, consider that, while the Bucs are surrendering the second-most FPG to WR groups overall (46.7), that number drops to 13th-most over the last four games (39.6), and fifth-fewest over the last two (28.4). The addition of Richard Sherman has been a godsend to a previously reeling secondary. But TB will field a Cover 2 and Cover 3 at a combined 50% of all snaps. Those two schemes have accounted for nearly all of Smith’s rookie-season production. Smith will also see a slight boost with Antoine Winfield Jr. unable to clear the concussion protocol for a second straight week. That said, the Eagles are passing at the third-highest rate this season, and Tampa Bay is the top run defense in the NFL — it’s not even close. Philly will need to feed their receivers with volume to compete. Smith leads the team with a 23% target share.
#Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs), LB Lavonte David (ankle) and S Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion) are ruled out for tomorrow's game against the Eagles.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) October 13, 2021
Zach Ertz, TB ($3.4K DK | $4.9K FD) vs. Kevin Minter, TB
It’s very likely that Dallas Goedert will miss Week 6 with the positive test that landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Eagles have devoted at least a 24% target share to their TEs in three-of-five games, 31% in another. Now that Arizona plucked Richard Rodgers from their practice squad to take Maxx Williams’ spot on the roster, Jack Stoll is likely the only reinforcement for Philadelphia behind Zach Ertz. It’s highly likely that Ertz will absorb nearly all of the TE targets on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers have given up 17.2 FPG to TEs (sixth-most), 17.9 over the last four weeks (seventh), and 19.9 over the last two (eighth). Plainly stated, they’ve been consistently lenient to the position. Further improving the spot for Ertz, Lavonte David is doubtful for Week 6. Assuming that Kevin Minter will take his spot in the starting lineup as he did last week, Minter has allowed all three targets into his coverage to be completed and missed 60% of his tackle attempts.
Leonard Fournette, TB ($5.9K DK | $6.6K FD) vs. Alex Singleton, PHI
Ronald Jones II is no longer a threat to Leonard Fournette in the Tampa Bay backfield. Over the last two weeks, the carry share has been distributed as follows: 32 of 55 carries (58%) for Fournette, 11 for Jones, and four for Giovani Bernard. In fact, Bernard is no longer a significant threat to Fournette’s role in the passing game. He was on the field for 28 passing plays (58%) compared to eight (17%) for Bernard, 48 of 65 passing plays (70%) over the last two weeks. Fournette is clearly the superior back to Jones as a runner, receiver, and in pass protection. Bernard will still fill the up-tempo role, but Fournette has still been gifted with at least a 12% target share in four-of-five games.
The Eagles “only” conceded 109 rushing yards to Carolina last week. But Chuba Hubbard still managed to go for 101 yards on 24 carries. Still, that’s far better than the 360 yards and three TDs on 67 carries they surrendered on the ground over the previous two games. And Philly may even manage to keep Fournette from reaching his rushing bonus. But don’t let that put you off from Fournette. Since taking over as No. 1 back in Week 4, Leonard’s passing game involvement has resulted in a combined 7/90/0 receiving line. He currently ranks 13th among all RBs with an average of 7.2 pure receiving FPG. The algorithm is projecting 18.9/17.4 FPs for Fournette that would clear a 1.2/1.0 profit. Not the sexiest RB projection of Week 6, but I see him as having one of the highest floors — Cash/SE gamers take notice.
Chris Godwin, TB ($6.2K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Eagles’ Cover 2 | 4 | 6
Some may view the season for Chris Godwin thus far as a slight disappointment. His 17.2 FPG is currently behind both Mike Evans (19.7) and Antonio Brown (19.3). His 72.6 air yards/game ranks 44th, while Evans (second-most) and Brown (15th) are both found in the top-15. However, those first five games offer plenty of clues suggesting his better games are ahead. First, he currently leads all WRs in average number of routes/game (44.8). Despite still scoring 19.6 FPs in Week 3 with Jalen Ramsey roaming the slot, Godwin just finished a difficult stretch opposite the Rams, and against the two-highest Cover 1 (Man) rates in the NFL from the Patriots and Dolphins. Historically, Godwin has done his best work facing zone schemes.
The one zone against which Godwin has done his absolute best work is Cover 2. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Godwin has fabricated 0.55 FPs/route that is the best among all qualified WRs. On only 13% of routes over that time, he has collected 20% of his receptions (fourth-highest), 21% of his total yardage (the highest), and 16% of his TDs (third-highest). Depending on which side of the field the Eagles’ defense aligns the Cover 2 side of its Cover 6, Godwin could see a Cover 2 on upwards of 40% of his routes on Thursday Night Football. Philadelphia is obliging the 14th-most FPG to receivers out of the slot this season. The algorithm is projecting a WR12/WR15 finish, doing much of his work against Philly’s LB unit that has given up a 53/504/4 line that is the second-most in every category.
Matchups to Avoid
Miles Sanders, PHI ($5.2K DK | $5.6K FD) vs. Buccaneers’ Cover 2 | 4
On the bright side, Tampa Bay will be without Antoine Winfield Jr. and Lavonte David, and have approved the most pure receiving FPG to RBs (18.0). And Miles Sanders has been provided with 17 targets this season (18th-highest target share at 10.4%). That said, he’s only managed 0.96 yards/route run (YPRR) which ranks him 55th among RBs. He’s providing the Eagles in return for his average of 13 touches/game (37th) with 0.75 FPs/touch (57th). And he’ll face a run defense that could set NFL team records by the end of the season. The Bucs are only tolerating 45.8 rushing YPG at a 2.9 YPC clip. Both marks the league by a wide margin. Nobody has managed a 20-yard run. Only the Broncos (15.8%) are giving a green light to a lower rate of rushing first downs than the Buccaneers’ 17.7%.
Final notes on Tampa Bay
No opponent can stand in the way of Tom Brady ($7.8K/$8.7K). Over the last year-plus, the GOAT has consistently punished the Cover 4 and Cover 6 shells that have plagued him during his career. Between Mike Evans ($6.9K/$7.6K) and Antonio Brown ($5.9K/$7.0K), Evans will see the boost in attacking Philadelphia due to running more routes out of the slot (38% vs. 18%). Brown has easily been the best of the two against Cover 2, with Evans only a hair better against Cover 4 and Cover 6. Truly a neck-and-neck finish if the goal is to pivot off Godwin for another Buccaneers’ WR. The DK pricing seems to indicate Cameron Brate ($3.5K/$4.8K) is the clear replacement for Rob Gronkowski, yet O.J. Howard ($2.9K/$4.9K) saw two targets to one for Brate last week, and they nearly split passing routes — 20 and 18 for Brate and Howard, respectively.
Final notes on Philadelphia
Another big day on the ground for Jalen Hurts ($7.0K/$8.3K) allowed him to keep his streak of profit above value in every game this season. The key to keeping that impressive streak alive this week will be in handling the Bucs’ top-five pass rush. The coverage algorithm indicates he will, projecting him with the fourth-highest QB output for Week 6. Hurts is a considerable bargain on DK with QB9 pricing. Even though Tampa Bay has been better the last two weeks, they still lead the NFL in sanctioning 314.4 passing YPG. I’d be more excited about the prospects for Jalen Reagor ($4.0K/$5.4K) and/or Quez Watkins ($3.5K/$5.0K) missing a significant sample size if they at least provided a couple examples of breakout games. We really don’t have one from either. Between the two, Watkins has the better pricing, and has 1.88 YPRR with 15.0 yards/target when facing Cover 2.