Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 10
The only game not covered in the alphabetical onslaught below is Monday’s contest between the Giants and 49ers. This doesn’t happen to me very often, but I’m struggling to keep my San Francisco fandom in check with Nick Mullens. My clinical forecast as a fantasy analyst is for some serious regression in his second start (New York is much better on defense than Oakland), but I don’t want to see mediocre Mullens. I’ve got Mullens mania. Give me more Mullens magic. Mercy. To help you set your own personal biases aside, here’s the latest installment of the Game Flowbotics matchups spreadsheet:
Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season.
A is for All About Amari.
Top-target wideouts facing Philadelphia have one of the best looking matchups on the Game Flowbotics page. The Eagles allow the most adjusted targets per game and the second-most adjusted yardage per game to No. 1 receivers. But before you confidently plug Amari Cooper into your lineups, remember this is only his second week in the Cowboys’ offense, and also that Philly is coming out of their bye. The Eagles have had plenty of time to prep for Dak Prescott. If they can keep him in check, Cooper should struggle as a side effect.
B is for Baker Breakout.
We’re still waiting for it. Posting 20 points against the Bucs in Week 7 was a fine mini-breakout, but 2QB and Superflex degenerates still expect a bigger explosion at some point from Baker Mayfield. Facing Atlanta this weekend is his best chance since that matchup with Tampa. The Falcons rank 30th in defensive DVOA and 28th in pass defense DVOA. They also rank 31st in run defense DVOA, but Matt Ryan on the other side of the matchup should keep enough pressure on Cleveland to prevent a game script takeover by the Browns’ running game. There are a lot of viable quarterbacks this week, but Mayfield offers a lot of upside relative to his rankings and DFS salaries.
C-D is for Correlate Duke/David.
Beyond game flow concerns, Mayfield’s playmakers are specially suited to attack Atlanta’s defense. As Matt Giraldi pointed out in his QB2 Streamers article, the Falcons rank 29th in DVOA against passes that travel fewer than 15 air yards. Who better to exploit that weakness at intermediate yardage than Duke Johnson and David Njoku? It makes a lot of sense to stack them up with both Mayfield and Ryan in your tourney lineups.
E-F-G is for Edelman Featured? Gordon?
We want to figure out the answer. Tennessee’s most glaring deficiency in the passing game is against No. 1 wide receivers, to whom the Titans allow 8.3 adjusted targets for 78.6 adjusted yards per game. But who qualifies, Julian Edelman or Josh Gordon? There’s gray area in Football Outsiders’ distinction between receiver types, but I like Gordon to break this matchup open. He better fits the archetype of receiver to give Tennessee problems this season (see DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2, Alshon Jeffery in Week 4, Tyrell Williams in Week 7, and Amari Cooper last week). Still, the Titans rank 23rd in DVOA against No. 2 receivers and 17th against No. 3 receivers, so there should be enough work for Edelman to produce as well.
H is for Halfback Hero.
Mike Davis isn’t the season-saver we might have expected, but this is how it goes every year at the running back position. Chris Carson failed to make it through Week 9’s game against the Chargers, so Davis had to step up. His 15 carries were his most since Week 4, and his eight targets were a career high. More receiving work could be in store for Davis if forced to play from behind against the Rams, but they allow an average number of adjusted targets per game to rushers for below-average adjusted yardage. In the ground game, the Rams allowed Davis and Carson to combine for 5.9 yards per carry in their first matchup. One way or another, Davis is a solid bet for significant usage, and that makes him a fantasy factor in Week 10.
I-J is for Invading Jordan.
No, this isn’t a weird political blurb. It’s about Vernon Davis invading Jordan Reed’s workspace. Davis has 10 targets to Reed’s 18 over the past two weeks, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering Davis’ diplomatic relationship with Alex Smith. A tight end committee typically spells disaster in fantasy football, but this is a rare matchup where both Washington options could be viable. Tampa Bay allows the most adjusted yardage per game and the most adjusted yards per target to the tight end position. Meanwhile, injuries to Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, and Chris Thompson have effectively elevated Davis to second- or third-receiver status. Reed is still the tight end of choice, but Davis is an interesting dart throw for desperate owners in seasonal fantasy and contrarian lineups in daily fantasy.
K is for Keenan.
A simple heading for a simple play. Keenan Allen likes facing the Raiders.
These splits probably say more about the state of Oakland’s defense over the past few years than Allen’s preference of opponent. But guess what? The Raiders still stink. They have the NFL’s worst pass defense according to DVOA, so Allen should have no trouble getting going on Sunday.
L is for Lions’ Line Laments.
Leading up to Week 9, I raised concerns about Kerryon Johnson’s upcoming schedule. Then Detroit’s offensive line folded like a lawn chair, an ugly performance detailed well by Justin Edwards earlier this week. Now, with the Bears on tap, Matthew Stafford figures to remain under siege. I want to find a silver lining for Detroit in the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet, but there aren’t any clear holes in Chicago’s top-ranked defense. The only logical recourse is to fade everyone on the Lions, including Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Targets should condense on them now that Golden Tate is with Philadelphia, but a narrow usage tree might not be enough to justify ranking Stafford’s remaining wideouts inside the top-20.
M-N-O is for McGuire’s Next Opportunity.
Elijah McGuire made a solid impact in his first game off injured reserve, outscoring Isaiah Crowell on three fewer opportunities. I expect him to build on his debut against a Bills team that’s allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs and ranks 19th in DVOA against running backs as receivers.
P-Q is for Packers Questions.
How many carries will Aaron Jones get after an inopportune fumble last week against New England? Will Davante Adams struggle against Xavien Howard? Will Marquez Valdes-Scantling garner more than six targets (and does it even matter)? Can Green Bay’s defense keep Miami in check after suffering so many injuries? That last question is the most interesting to me. If the Dolphins can move the ball and keep pace on the scoreboard, they’ll do so with a deliberately slow pace, and that will drive down the quantity of opportunities for Green Bay’s playmakers. And based on those preexisting questions surrounding Jones, Adams, and M-V-S, a dip in volume could turn any of the three into busts. Then again, the more appropriate answer to all these questions might simply be “Aaron Rodgers.” Betting against the GOAT is usually unwise, and my fear of doing so will probably lead to both Jones and Valdes-Scantling filling my active lineups on Sunday.
R is for Risky Rosen.
Kansas City has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, but they’re a riskier matchup for Josh Rosen than the numbers suggest. Kansas City gives up 8.3 adjusted targets and 72.8 adjusted yards per game to No. 3 receivers, so there is some appeal to Larry Fitzgerald’s individual matchup in the slot, but the Chiefs’ defense has played better of late. Their worst performances have mostly come on the road and against good quarterbacks. Rosen may earn “good” status eventually, but he can’t avoid going to Arrowhead this week. Even in two-quarterback formats, you probably have better Week 10 choices than Rosen.
S-T is for Stash Time.
The Ravens are on bye, but if Lamar Jackson isn’t owned in your two-quarterback league, remedy that mistake and stash the rookie.
U-V-W-X is for Uzomah, Very Weird X-factor.
I have to admit, it’s pretty great when I can chew up a couple letters on adverbs and adjectives like “very” and “weird.” You may call it laziness. I call it ingenuity. Meanwhile, with A.J. Green hurt, the Bengals are in dire need of some ingenuity of their own on offense. Green’s injury is a net negative on the entire offense, but some Cinci players are assured an uptick in usage, even if that usage is less efficient than in previous weeks. Joe Mixon is the primary beneficiary to come to mind (apologies for making it sound like we’re trying to collect life insurance on Green, but here we are). Mixon’s workhorse role is now locked in more than ever, but that shouldn’t surprise fantasy owners, let alone the Bengals’ opponents.
Andy Dalton must find other ways to move the ball through the air, and that’s where C.J. Uzomah comes in. He only has three targets inside the 20 to this point in the season, but he’s converted two into touchdowns. Green is vacating nearly two red zone targets per game, and with Tyler Boyd more likely to draw extra attention from opposing defenses in that area of the field, Uzomah could have sneaky touchdown upside while Green is on the shelf. It all depends on how often Cincinnati reaches the red area while missing their star receiver, though, so don’t set your expectations too high for their tight end (or anyone else in the Bengals’ offense).
Y-Z is for Yeldon Zig-zag.
While folks reckless zig themselves off the T.J. Yeldon bandwagon, I’m zagging. Yeldon came in 10 spots ahead of consensus when I ranked running backs this week. The Colts allow 8.9 adjusted targets per game to running backs, 1.6 above the NFL average, and 60.2 adjusted receiving yards per game to running backs, 14.1 above the NFL average. I don’t care as much as others about Leonard Fournette’s impending return. Even when healthy, Fournette takes a back seat to Yeldon in the passing game. The satellite back’s value takes a hit, but he’s still usable in PPR formats, especially in this week’s matchup.
Editor’s Note: DVOA, Adjusted Line Yards, Adjusted Sack Rate, and Versus-Receiver statistics from FootballOutsiders.com. Fantasy Scoring and Red Zone statistics from FantasyData.com. Snap data from airyards.com.
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