Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 7
Please, O Gods of the Gridiron, let Sunday and Monday provide better pigskin than this trash matchup I’m watching between Denver and Arizona. While we wait for the good games to kick off, here’s this week’s Game Flowbotics matchups spreadsheet to help you sort through the slate:
Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 7 of the 2018 NFL season.
A-B is for Automatic? Beathard?!
Take it from Phillip Caldwell, C.J. Beathard has been as consistent as they come over a small sample. But can he really sustain his QB2-level output? He’s scored between 17.8 and 20.7 fantasy points in each of his three starts, but not against amazing defenses (LAC, ARI, GB). But despite their imposing reputation, the Rams’ defense hasn’t been amazing either. In pass defense DVOA, they rank right between the Chargers and Packers.
Beathard has become relatively trustable because his turnover problems are balanced by his rushing ability (3.6 fantasy points per game from rushing stats) and supporting cast (a good o-line, solid playmakers, and a great offensive coach). The occasional volume boost from San Francisco’s swiss-cheese defense also helps.
L.A.’s own problems on defense in recent weeks still feel like they can be solved, though, especially against a replacement quarterback. If Marcus Peters is truly healthy, we can’t count on Beathard generating the same level of touchdown efficiency that Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, and Russell Wilson did previously this season against the Rams.
C is for Candy Comps.
Anthony Spangler’s trick to compare quarterbacks to candies earlier this week is quite a treat. I’d like to tack on the comparison of Ben Roethlisberger to the Charleston Chew. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think that candy bar’s packaging has ever changed, so buyer beware as you go on the road in search of chewy goodness at gas stations and corner stores across America. You might end up with a stale and expired clunker.
D is for Double-Down.
All the Browns’ wideouts are in play against the Buccaneers (more on this later), but trusting process over results should steer us back toward Antonio Callaway, despite his seemingly calcified hands.
Antonio Callaway had 10 targets and 130 air yards yesterday. He was the right play at $4,000.
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) October 15, 2018
His price on DraftKings is up to $4300 this week, but that’s still cheap for Callaway’s double-digit target potential.
E-F is for Early Football.
London’s game between the Titans and Chargers starts at the ungodly hour of 9:30 AM Eastern. That’s technically still night time here on the best coast. Set your alarms.
G-H is for Ghosting Hogan.
Fantasy owners are fed up with Chris Hogan.
Who would your rather own rest-of-season in redraft?
— Greg Smith (@gregsauce) October 18, 2018
I get it, five targets is his game-high this season and he hasn’t done that since Week 2. This week, you might look at Chicago’s top-ranked DVOA against running backs as receivers and think it might push more targets toward Hogan. But he should face a lot of Kyle Fuller in coverage. Thanks to Tom Brady, we can’t completely squash Hogan’s touchdown potential, but don’t count on increased volume for the maligned receiver.
I is for Impaling the Implied.
On Wednesday, TJ Hernandez dropped the following chart showing the performance of defenses relative to their opponents’ implied totals:
Here's how many points each defense has allowed relative to their opponent's implied point totals pic.twitter.com/5LRipq3LWi
— TJ Hernandez (@TJHernandez) October 17, 2018
And while it’s natural to peer first at the top of the list for the most favorable matchups, I was most fascinated by Baltimore at the bottom of the list. They’ve skewered the offensive expectations of their opposition, limiting teams to an average of 8.3 points less than their implied totals. But Drew Brees is coming to town, he who’s thrown three touchdown passes in three of his five games. And while the Lord Breesus tends to struggle away from the cathedral that is the Superdome, the Saints’ bye week provided extra prep time for this contest. I’m cooler than usual on Brees in my Week 7 rankings, but not so much that I’d bench him in two-quarterback formats.
My bigger concern is for the breadth of New Orleans’ offense. A slightly suppressed Drew Brees is still start-worthy, but he may not be able to support all his weapons in the manner we’re used to. The Ravens have done very well in limiting receiving work to running backs, and they’ve held No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers each to approximately 20 adjusted yards less per game than the NFL averages. I’m hesitant to fully fade Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas, but because I respect their abilities to transcend tough matchups, I should probably fade some other part(s) of the offense by proxy. Tre’Quan Smith could hit value for the second week in a row if he connects on more big plays, but he feels riskier than Cameron Meredith in this particular matchup. Baltimore hasn’t defended the slot as well as other receiver positions (17th in DVOA against No. 3 wideouts), and that’s primarily where Meredith lines up.
J-K-L is for Jermaine Kearse Liftoff.
With Quincy Enunwa out, Jermaine Kearse will slide into the slot for the Jets against the Vikings. The Vikes allow above-average adjusted yardage to No. 3 receivers on below-average adjusted targets. That’s efficiency. The value of Sam Darnold’s targets may not be off the charts at this early stage of his career, but Kearse should still return value on volume alone while Darnold tries to keep pace with Kirk Cousins and Co.
M-N is for Marlon & Nyheim.
The usage of Nyheim Hines took a big hit in Marlon Mack’s recent return to action. And while Buffalo’s run defense has tightened up after a slow start to the season, through the air, they’re allowing top-12 volume to running backs. Meanwhile, T.Y. Hilton can seem to get healthy, which means the Colts must continue to manufacture offense in unconventional ways. Don’t be too quick to write of Hines after one bad game. Both he and Mack can still do damage in the receiving game.
O is for Olsen Optimism.
In last week’s A-to-Z, I recommended trying to trade Greg Olsen if he showed well against Washington. We got there, the selling window is now open. Threat of reinjury looms, and Olsen faces Philadelphia’s second-ranked defense against tight ends in Week 7.
P-Q-R is for Pensively Questioning Ratley.
Who is Damion Ratley? Wikipedia tells me he played at Blinn College before transferring to Texas A&M. More importantly, last week’s box score tells me he was targeted eight times as he filled in for the injured Derek Willies and Rod Streater. Ratley will face Tampa Bay this week, who rank last in pass defense DVOA and 28th against No. 2 wide receivers. Factor in Antonio Callaway’s aforementioned issues with holding onto passes, and Ratley looks pretty tantalizing as an out of nowhere plug-in off the wire. I’m using him in one of my deepest industry leagues.
S is for Stripes.
Don’t blink while watching the Bengals’ offense this weekend, you might miss the running back in orange and black stripes tearing through painted stripes on the field faster than Bill Murray can scarf down a piece of cake.
Okay, that scene isn’t from Stripes, but Joe Mixon is going to eat against Kansas City’s league-worst run defense.
T-U-V is for Tarik’s Unique Value.
Tarik Cohen has come alive over Chicago’s last two games, out-touching Jordan Howard and topping 120 yards from scrimmage in both. Cohen’s breakout coincides with the Bears dropping totals of 28 and 48 point on offense. It would be silly of them to shift the running back workload back toward Howard, especially this week against New England. The Patriots rank 16th in DVOA and allow above-average adjusted production against rushers as receivers, so Cohen should continue to pile onto the 17 targets he’s amassed over his past two games.
W is for Watson.
In his abbreviated 2017 season, Deshaun Watson never played a full game against Jacksonville. The Jaguars’ defense hasn’t lived up to the hype this year, but neither has Watson. He’s not running as much—not too surprising as he returns from a torn ACL—and he’s nowhere near the touchdown pace he set through the same number of starts last season. You’d might like to think that Watson could mimic the mobility that Dak Prescott used to torch the Jags last week, but Houston’s offensive line and running back play might not be strong enough to keep Jacksonville honest. The #KonamiCode keeps Watson startable, but I still prefer streamers like Mitchell Trubisky and Baker Mayfield.
X-Y-Z is for XYZ.
It’s getting breezy, let’s zip up this article. Good luck in Week 7.
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.