Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 13
For most fantasy footballers, the playoffs start next week. It’s go time. Whether you’re faced with a win-and-in or already eliminated and grinding DFS, the Week 13 Game Flowbotics matchups spreadsheet is here to guide your start/sit decisions:
Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 13 of the 2018 NFL season.
A is for Ateman Ascending.
I imagine I’m not the first person to go here, but Marcell Ateman’s been eatin’, man. Oakland’s rookie wideout only has a two-game sample under his belt, but in that span, Ateman leads Raiders receivers in snaps, targets, receptions, and air yards. This week, Kansas City should score early and often against Oakland, which should keep Ateman busy. Top targets have posted 10.1 adjusted targets and 74.7 adjusted yards per game against the Chiefs, so don’t be scared off by their fifth-ranked defense against No. 1 receivers according to DVOA.
B-C-D is for Broncos Corralling Driskel?
According to DVOA, Denver ranks third in both overall defense and pass defense, so it’s easy to imagine them keeping Cincinnati’s backup quarterback, Jeff Driskel, in check. But for fantasy purposes, the Broncos are middle-of-the-road in scoring allowed to passers (17th). And while recent 400-yard games from Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have inflated their average, the Broncos allow the seventh-most passing yards per game.
There are other reasons to like Driskel beyond his defensive matchup, as well. Back when the 49ers brought him in as a rookie, he was Anthony Amico’s favorite 2QB dynasty sleeper. That same offseason, Sal Stefanile noted Driskel’s appeal as a rusher, and we’ve already seen that ability in 2018. Driskel rushed twice for 35 yards and a touchdown in Week 10, then three times last week for nine yards and another score.
Thanks to the Konami Code’s effect, I’m more okay with being forced to start Driskel in the Scott Fish Bowl than I thought I’d be. The rushing-friendly scoring settings in #SFB8 help, though, so he’s less intriguing in more traditional two-quarterback leagues. But if A.J. Green returns as expected, you could do a lot worse, and Driskel would be a relatively interesting punt play in daily fantasy.
E-F-G is for Eagles Featuring Golden.
I’ve tried to remain optimistic in my weekly rankings, but it’s been a rough season, and I’m starting to fucking hate the Eagles, man. They’ve been tough to figure out, and earlier this week, Evan Silva did a nice job laying out Philadelphia’s struggles since acquiring Golden Tate:
Weeks 10-12 fallout from #Eagles trade for Golden Tate:
* 97 scorelesss yards on 20 targets from Tate
* Less usage of Dallas Goedert (5 targets in 3 games)
* Less usage of Alshon Jeffery (targets way down)
* -45 point differential since Tate was acquired
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 26, 2018
Their issues on offense have also coincided with a rash of injuries, so it’s tough to project improvement as Tate gets more comfortable in his new home. Still, Monday night’s matchup against Washington projects as a good opportunity for Alshon Jeffery and Tate can get on track. The team with the most distasteful name in pro sports allows above-average adjusted yardage per game to both No. 1 and No. 3 wideouts, so I’m excited to see if the Eagles can get their proverbial rug back.
H-I is for Hotel Interlude.
I took last week off from this column to visit family for Thanksgiving, then parlayed that vacation into a business trip for my day job. And if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve already seen some of my thoughts about life on the road:
When the hotel bathroom has good water pressure and the shower head is taller than you are pic.twitter.com/F8BX5KouhS
— Greg Smith (@gregsauce) November 29, 2018
At an even six feet, I’m not particularly tall, but I’m amazed at how many foreign showers can’t accommodate my height. Even still, there are a few other amenities I’d rather have at hotels than a shower spout above my shoulders. Here’s a fast and loose power rankings:
5. A tall enough shower head
4. Complimentary parking
3. A fitness room with varied and (more importantly) functional equipment
2. Complimentary breakfast served until at least 10 AM
1. Complimentary WiFi
Okay, okay, back to fantasy…
J is for Jared to Josh.
Time and again this season, we’ve seen how the best offenses spread the ball around. I wish I had been more hip to that trend when Cooper Kupp went down for the year. Instead of leaning heavily into Josh Reynolds bids on waivers, I assumed most of Kupp’s vacated targets would land of the plates of Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, while the scraps would be torn between Reynolds and the Rams’ tight ends. I was wrong, and now I’m missing a great opportunity to deploy Kupp’s true replacement against Detroit’s last-ranked defense against No. 3 receivers. Thank goodness for DFS, where I can not only play Reynolds at an affordable price, but also pair him with Jared Goff (who I was too low on in drafts) for the full mea culpa stack.
K-L is for Kessler’s Limitations.
With Blake Bortles benched, we need to reevaluate the Jaguars’ offensive weapons in the context of Cody Kessler. We know Kessler has a noodle arm, evidenced by a career Net Yards per Attempt of 5.18 (Bortles’ NY/A 5.87), so Jacksonville’s receivers with higher average depths of target must be downgraded. Donte Moncrief (11.7 aDOT) leads the charge, and Keelan Cole (9.4 aDOT) isn’t far behind. The biggest winner from the move to Kessler is T.J. Yeldon, who should feature prominently this week while Leonard Fournette is suspended. The Colts rank 30th in DVOA against running backs as receivers, allowing above-average adjusted targets and adjusted yards per game to the position.
M is for Marquez, Minimized.
After a promising start to his season, Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s market share of Green Bay’s air yards has been steadily siphoned away by Equanimeous St. Brown. It’s strange, though, because MVS is still out-snapping St. Brown (92 percent to 70 percent over the past three weeks). Against Arizona, Patrick Peterson should follow Davante Adams in coverage, giving softer matchups to Green Bay’s secondary receivers. This would seem to put Valdes-Scantling in a prime spot to start turning his snaps back into production, but St. Brown could just as easily remain the preferred secondary target for Aaron Rodgers.
N is for Njoku.
Don’t hesitate to keep rolling with David Njoku as he nurses knee soreness and you chase a playoff berth. The Texans allow the fourth-most adjusted receiving yards per target to tight ends (9.6), and Njoku leads the Browns in RACR by a wide margin since Hue Jackson was fired.
O-P is for Opportunistic Porpoises.
In one of my deeper PPR leagues, I’ve been rolling with Danny Amendola for the majority of the season. Miami’s diminutive slot guy is dinged up, though, and might not play this week against the Bills. The waiver wire didn’t present great options for replacement, which made me desperate enough to consider a direct fill-in from deeper down the Dolphins depth chart. Leonte Carroo? DeVante Parker? Either could back into volume by default. But before you buy into Carroo’s 13.4 points from Week 12, note that they all came on a single 74-yard score. He only saw 2 target in the game.
What’s with all the Dolphins’ big production this season on tiny workloads? Maybe it’s something in the water, but we can’t count on perfect salinity levels continuing to generate hyper-efficient bombs to Miami’s bottlenose wideouts. As fantasy owners, we have to chase target volume, so I’m begrudgingly drawn to Parker as a desperation play this week. The manatee in the pool is Kenny Stills, who hasn’t done anything since Week 3, but is always a threat for a big play or two of his own. On a full slate of games, we can probably do better than all these options against Buffalo’s defense (especially in DFS), but seasonal fantasy owners can consider diving in and trying to ride a Dolphin into the playoffs.
Q is for Quinn, Quickening.
Don’t be shocked, but I didn’t watch Washington at all in the preseason. As a result, I was glad to learn that Trey Quinn was Colt McCoy’s favorite target in exhibitions when I tuned in to this week’s On The Couch podcast with Sigmund Bloom and Scott Barrett. They had a good conversation about the benefits of continuity between teammates and how we forecast backup players’ tendencies by their preseason performances. In the case of Quinn and McCoy, the chemistry has quickened. Over Washington’s past two games, Quinn shares the wide receiver lead in receptions with Josh Doctson (9) on seven fewer targets (10 to 17).
Jordan Reed is their true No. 1 at this point, so don’t expect exceptional volume for Quinn going forward. But the rookie is catching pretty much everything he sees out of the slot, which makes him a potential bargain on DraftKings’ primetime slate ($4,100) and in other PPR formats. The Eagles allow above-average adjusted target volume to all wide receivers types, as well as the second-most fantasy points to the position.
R is for Ravens Rushing Ryan.
Derek Carty was the first person I saw touting Matt Ryan this week, in spite of the quarterback’s imposing matchup against Baltimore’s fifth-ranked pass defense by DVOA.
I get that the Ravens have a good pass defense, but Matt Ryan leads the league in yards per game, is at home, in a dome, and is just the 16th most expensive QB on DK this week. Why isn't he being talked up more as a punt?
— Derek Carty (@DerekCarty) November 28, 2018
The Ravens’ pass rush ranks ninth in Adjusted Sack Rate, and Atlanta has allowed the most quarterback hits this month. But even while Ryan has been getting blasted behind a patchwork offensive line, he’s put up numbers. Over the past four weeks, he ranks fourth in passing yards per game and ninth among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game.
Matching up against a run-happy team with a good defense makes Ryan a higher variance play than in most other weeks. Sacks, turnovers, and the resulting game script could limit his volume. On the other side of that variance, though, is another home-cooked high-level offensive performance. Football Outsiders ranks them 10th in overall offense and sixth in passing offense. With that in mind, I’m cautiously optimistic about Ryan, and he ranks a couple spots ahead of consensus in my rankings this week.
S is for Sell Sterling Shepard
I have Sterling Shepard listed as a New Yorks No. 2 wideout, and that matchup looks good this week against Chicago. The Bears allow 70.9 adjusted yards per game to second options, 17.6 above the NFL average. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Shepard profiles more as a No. 3 by FO’s standards because he mostly works out of the slot, where he’ll face cornerback Bryce Callahan. I’m sorry, but I just can’t make myself list Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, or the returning Cody Latimer as the team’s No. 2 wideout. I like Sterling Shepard too much. Well, not this week. In fact, with Evan Engram on the shelf yet again, I don’t want any of the Giants’ pieces in fantasy except for their no-brainer starters, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.
T-U-V is for Touchdowns’ Ultimate Value.
In case you missed it, check out this article from Chase Stuart at Football Perspective on why field goals are less valuable than ever. He calculates the true value of a touchdown is more than three times that of a field goal and that possession with first down on your 25-yard line is worth more than +1.0 points. But teams exist along a continuum of talent and scheme. Based on personnel and philosophy, the relative values of touchdown and field goals will drive different teams to make different decisions. We see this on the field in how coaches try to manipulate the clock and make kick-or-go decisions. That’s why game script and pace matter in fantasy analysis.
W is for Where’s Watkins?
Sammy Watkins hasn’t been on the practice field this week, we know that much. Now Chris Conley is calling fantasy owners back after what could have been a one-week stand. And just in time for a juicy matchup against Oakland’s 30th-ranked pass defense. The biggest risk with Conley is he could take a back seat to Kansas City’s elite receivers, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. But I wrote above about how the best offenses tend to spread the ball around, and the Chiefs certainly qualify. There should be some meat left on the bone for Conley against the Raiders. He’s an easy way to get extra exposure to Patrick Mahomes.
X is for Xavier Rhodes.
Minnesota ranks first in DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, but Xavier Rhodes returned to practice on Friday after missing it on Wednesday and Thursday. His hamstring injury was reported as mild, but threat of aggravation or compensation injury has to improve the outlook for Josh Gordon against the Vikings. If their game turns into a shootout, Gordon could provide leverage over DFS players who overrate receiver-cornerback matchups.
Y is for Yo-Yo.
Chargers-Steelers is another game that could go back and forth. But considering how good their defenses are, it could just as easily become a blowout. Turnovers creating short fields for good offenses are one of the easiest ways to turn a game flow faucet all the way on. I give the edge to Pittsburgh. Their offensive line, profiled this week by Justin Edwards, is playing well enough to subdue even Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. On the other side of the matchup, the Chargers offense is missing Melvin Gordon. Throw in home field advantage with a team traveling east, and I’m laying 3.5 points with the Steelers. Plus, with shootout and blowout potential on the table, I like the over on 51.5 total points.
Z is for Zero.
That’s how much exposure I want to the 49ers’ passing game this week (okay, except for maybe Matt Breida). Nick Mullens has not inspired confidence over his last two games. He’s an easy stay-away on the road in Seattle, even in two-quarterback formats. The Seahawks allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to passers, and that doesn’t bode well for Mullens’ receiving options either, whoever they happen to be this week.
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. Air Yards and snap data from airyards.com.