Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 11
The fantasy playoffs are right around the corner. Depending on your team’s standing, you may need to steer into more risk to maximize your upside. To help you identify exploitable matchups, here’s this week’s Game Flowbotics spreadsheet:
Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season.
A is for Adams’ Averted Ascent.
Josh Adams has been Philadelphia’s only effective rusher over their past two games. He’s averaged 6.75 yards per carry compared to 2.47 for all other Eagles running backs. Doug Pederson has noticed.
Josh Adams will get more carries going forward, Doug Pederson said.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) November 12, 2018
But the coach’s plan to increase Adams’ usage may not be viable this Sunday. The Saints’ defense ranks third in DVOA against the run, and their defensive line allows the second-fewest Adjusted Line Yards. The easiest avenue to fantasy points for running backs in the Big Easy is through the air, but Adams isn’t a pass-catcher. That’s been Wendell Smallwood’s department in recent weeks, with three targets in each of Philadelphia’s last two games. On the other side of the matchup, if the Saints’ prolific offense doesn’t afford Philly a handoff-heavy game plan, Smallwood could find himself scripted into decent PPR value, but those types of targets could also find their way toward Golden Tate. Either way, Adams may need to wait a week before he can truly break out.
B is for Bosa Back?
Case Keenum and the Broncos’ pass-catchers are already in store for a tough game against the Chargers’ eighth-ranked pass defense. But L.A.’s pass rush is below average according to Adjusted Sack Rate, where they rank 26th. That weakness should immediately be remedied when Joey Bosa returns. Monitor his status leading up to game time. If he makes his 2018 debut against Denver, Keenum becomes less appealing as a potential QB2 streamer.
C is for Carefully Chosen.
Despite playing behind a ragged offensive line—profiled earlier this week by Justin Edwards—I’m selectively buying into Josh Rosen as streaming candidate. Watching Rosen last Sunday, he looked good on the few occasions when he had time in the pocket. And this week, Oakland simply doesn’t have the defensive firepower to exploit Arizona’s troubles in the trenches. The Raiders’ defense only has eight sacks through nine games, fewest in the league. This is Rosen’s best opportunity for a breakout, and if he delivers, look for Ricky Seals-Jones to make some noise on the receiving end. Oakland ranks last in DVOA against tight ends, allowing by far the most adjusted yards per target to the position.
D is for Dion Dominating Derrick.
Dion Lewis is the feature back in Tennessee, not Derrick Henry. Lewis is seeing nearly 75 percent of the team’s snaps since Week 7, due in large part to his abilities as a receiver, which Henry can’t match. Lewis should continue to show off those skills in Week 11. The Colts rank 28th in DVOA against running backs as receivers, allowing 9.2 adjusted targets for 67.6 adjusted yards per game to rushers. Henry still has seasonal fantasy value as a touchdown-maker, but that sort of usage is hard to predict. Based purely on volume, Lewis is the only member of the Titans’ backfield you should consider in DFS.
E-F is for Emerging, Finally.
Dalvin Cook finally returned to the field last week, rushing 10 times for 89 yards and catching all four of his targets for 20 yards. The Vikings needed the boost. Even after Cook’s nice game, Minnesota still ranks third-worst in rushing offense DVOA. On the other side of the Vikings’ Week 11 matchup, the Bears rank second in run defense DVOA. It looks like a severe mismatch, but Cook is the type of talent to beat the odds. At RB18 in my weekly rankings, I’m slightly higher on Cook than the consensus.
G-H-I-J is for Griffin Hampering Installation of Jackson?
Two-quarterback aficionados are naturally excited for Lamar Jackson and the excitement he brings to football with his rushing ability. But Joe Flacco being hurt this week doesn’t guarantee we’ll see Jackson’s first start as a pro. Instead, we might get Robert Griffin III’s first start since Week 16 of 2016.
Ravens have continually mentioned Griffin as an option to start even if it seems unlikely.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) November 14, 2018
It stinks for all of us who speculated on Jackson and held him through Baltimore’s bye, but don’t lose sight of RGIII’s bargain basement appeal. The Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Yes, those numbers are propped up by a difficult schedule, but even the lowly Flacco hung 376 yards and a pair of scores on Cinci earlier this season.
K-L is for Keke & Lamar.
DeAndre Hopkins is a no-brainer start each and every week, but Houston’s trade for Demaryius Thomas and the impending return of D’Onta Foreman puts the rest of their offense into flux. Lamar Miller would figure to take the biggest hit in value, and it’s especially tough to trust him this week against Washington. The Capital’s team seems like a good matchup based on their 28th-ranked run defense by DVOA, but they only allow 16.64 points per game to rushers, 11th-fewest in the NFL. I’m more cautiously optimistic about Keke Coutee. Assuming he can get on the field, Coutee will face the NFL’s fifth-worst defense against No. 3 wide receivers. Washington allows 66.6 adjusted yards per game to third bananas, 16.9 adjusted yards per game above the league average. And unlike Thomas, we’ve seen Coutee’s on-field chemistry with Deshaun Watson. If the rookie receiver’s hamstring keeps him sidelined, Miller’s receiving workload gets a bit safer, as the Texans don’t have noteworthy wideouts deeper on the depth chart.
M is for Manning vs. ‘Magic.
Eli Manning is a fine play this week, as is any quarterback against Tampa’s terrible defense. But I’d rather use his opponent Ryan Fitzpatrick in DFS. The Buccaneers have a more explosive offense than the Giants. Over their past four games, the Bucs have posted 2150 passing yards (969 for Fitzmagic and 1181 for Jameis Winston). Manning only has 1184 yards over the same sample of recent games.
Another reason to prefer Fitzpatrick over Manning is the difference between their opposing pass rushes. Tampa Bay has struggled against the pass, but they get after quarterbacks reasonably well, boasting the league’s 11th-best mark in Adjusted Sack Rate, and O-line play is the Giants’ achilles heel. And as bad as New York’s offensive line has been at stopping oncoming linemen, their defensive line has been even worse at pressuring opposing signal callers. The Giants’ pass rush ranks last in Adjusted Sack Rate, and only the aforementioned Raiders have managed fewer sacks.
If you do deploy Fitzpatrick in daily, consider stacking with Mike Evans. Tampa’s beefy receiver is coming off two dud performances, but don’t let recency bias sway you. No other wideout comes close to Evans’ 622 air yards since Week 7.
N-O-P is for Narrative Or Performance?
Which do you care about more: Ben Roethlisberger’s habit of struggling in early road games, or his recent pair of top-5 performances? His matchup against Jacksonville may seem imposing, but the Jaguars are riding on reputation at this point. They rank all the way down at 27th in pass defense DVOA and they’ve allowed three total touchdowns (passing plus rushing) to quarterbacks in three of their past four games. Narratives be damned, I’m starting Big Ben with confidence this week.
Q is for Quenton Quashing.
In case you missed it, Quenton Nelson had what might have been the play of Week 10 against the Jaguars’ Barry Church:
😱😱😱… Quenton Nelson … That man has a family dude… pic.twitter.com/QLvh23qJGJ
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 11, 2018
It’s no wonder the Colts drafted him sixth overall, or that their offensive line has gone from being a huge problem to a legitimate strength. They rank fifth in Adjusted Sack Rate and third in Adjusted Line Yards, making Andrew Luck and Marlon Mack weekly plug-and-plays going forward.
R-S-T-U-V is for RB2 Status To Unique, Versatile Wideouts.
Hot take: Now that C.J. Anderson is no longer on Carolina’s roster, their No. 2 running back behind Christian McCaffrey is effectively a committee of wide receivers. Yes, Cam Newton is still their best goal line threat, but while he’s been quarterbacking over the past few weeks, Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore have been the Panthers’ secondary RB-esque playmakers. Samuel sports only a 6.7 average depth of target since Week 7 and has two rushing touchdowns in that span. Meanwhile, across those same four games, Moore is the team’s third-leading rusher behind McCaffrey and Newton. It’s not a traditional approach to offense, but this shell game the Panthers are running around the line of scrimmage is a ton of fun to watch. They should tear up the Lions this week, who allow the most adjusted yardage per target to slot receivers and rank relatively poorly against the run.
W-X is for Weapon X.
Identifying the secret weapon in Sean McVay’s offense could be the key to your DFS success this week. The Chiefs cover No. 1 and No. 2 wideouts well, limiting them to average or below-average adjusted yardage on above-average adjusted targets per game. In other words, primary and secondary receivers are doing less with more against Kansas City. With that in mind, someone from the Rams besides Brandin Cooks will need to step up against the Chiefs.
Tight ends have found success against L.A., and both Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett found the end zone last week, but buying into a tight end timeshare is risky. While Higbee and Everett were eating into each other’s value, Josh Reynolds didn’t see a target, but Cooper Kupp played most of that game as the Rams No. 3 receiver. Now that’s Kupp is lost for the season, Reynolds could come back to the forefront and exploit Kansas City’s 27th-ranked defense against tertiary wideouts.
Or maybe, just maybe, there’s no secret to the Rams offense, and we should simply jam Todd Gurley into all our lineups yet again. The Chiefs rank dead-last in run defense DVOA and allow 74.0 adjusted yards per game to rushers as receivers, which is 27.5 adjusted yards per game above the league average. Fantasy football can be simple sometimes.
Y-Z is for “Yum.” –Zeke.
I don’t know about you, but I could do without Ezekiel Elliott’s “feed me” spooning motion after every first down. He shovels air toward his face in celebration, regardless of game situation. Maybe I shouldn’t complain, though, because I’ve recently made myself a public advocate for point-per-first-down scoring in fantasy football.
Revisiting a hot league design topic from the preseason, I love point per first down scoring. Adds the excitement of a two-point conversion to every play of the game. Good for fantasy.
— Greg Smith (@gregsauce) November 11, 2018
And considering how much as I dislike Zeke’s constant pantomiming, I probably shouldn’t tune in for this week’s matchup in Atlanta. The Falcons have DVOA’s second-worst run defense, their defensive line ranks fifth-worst in Adjusted Line Yards, and they allow nearly 10 adjusted targets per game to rushers. One way or another, Zeke should find a way to feast. I hope you can do the same. Good luck in Week 11.
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.