Game Flowbotics A-to-Z – Week 14
We’ve got a lot to cover for Week 14, so let’s cut to the chase for the second week in a row. Here’s my go-to resource for fantasy matchup data, the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet:
Now let’s dive in, A to Z, for Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season.
A is for Alex Collins.
He’s scored a touchdown in three straight games, leading Ravens rushers in fantasy points each of those weeks. This week he faces a Steelers team ranked 11th in run defense DVOA, but they just lost Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shazier’s injury is a drag in real life, but in fantasy, it should afford Collins extra space in the trenches to build on his recent resume of top-15 running back production.
B is for Bengals Blocking.
After a brutal start to the season, Cincinnati’s pass protection has really shaped up. The Bengals allowed three or more sacks in all but one of their first seven games and through the first 11 weeks of the season, the Bengals’ offensive line ranked 28th or worst in Adjusted Sack Rate in every game. But since Week 8, they’ve held opposing pass rushers to only one or two sacks in each game, resulting in a steady improvement up to their current rank of 22nd in Adjusted Sack Rate.
Thanks at least in part to better blocking, Andy Dalton has started to thrive again. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 7, and aside from his Week 9 tilt against Jacksonville, Dalton has thrown for two or more touchdowns with a QB rating above 95 and 14 or more fantasy points in every game since Week 8. Chicago rates better against the pass than all Dalton’s non-Jacksonville opponents in that span (Denver included, surprisingly), but I expect him to maintain QB2 production or better at home against the Bears on Sunday.
C is for Correlation.
Raiders versus Chiefs has the highest over/under on the post-Thursday slate, and those two teams rank last and second-to-last in DVOA against number one wide receivers. With Amari Cooper’s ankle injury eliminating any doubt of who Oakland’s WR1 is, this game could generate positive correlation between Michael Crabtree and Tyreek Hill. There are plenty of other affordable options in DFS this week if you want to fit both Crabtree and Hill into some lineups.
D is for DeDe Westbrook.
The Seahawks rank 27th in DVOA against number two wide receivers, and Westbrook will look to repeat the big performance Nelson Agholor posted from the slot against Seattle in Week 13.
E is for Equals.
Philadelphia ranks second in total DVOA and first in weighted DVOA. Los Angeles ranks first in total DVOA and second in weighted DVOA. The statistical similarities between these two teams trickle down from there, so which matchups should we try to exploit? Protecting Carson Wentz could be a problem against the Rams’ fifth-ranked pass rush by Adjusted Sack Rate, but he’s a fairly mobile quarterback who seems to thrive when throwing on the run. And as good as the Rams’ defensive line is at getting after passers, they struggle against the run, ranking 20th in Adjusted Line Yards while their defense as a whole ranks 21st in run defense DVOA. If Philly’s backfield wasn’t so crowded, this would be a good spot to recommend their rushers. One of them may prove valuable this week, but good luck determining whether it will be Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, or Corey Clement.
On the other side of the ball, Jared Goff should have time to throw against the Eagles’ 16th-ranked pass rush. He’ll need all the time he can get against a secondary ranked top-9 in DVOA against all three wide receiver types. In terms of yards per pass, only number three wide receivers have performed above league average against Philadelphia, and just barely. Josh Reynolds is intriguing relative to his cost for that reason. He’s played 77% of the team’s snaps since Robert Woods went down, with six targets in each of those two games. I don’t trust Reynolds, though, so I’m looking to pay up for Todd Gurley if I want a piece of the Rams’ offense in DFS. Gurley averages 24.1 opportunities per game, 5.5 of which are targets per game. His contributions in the passing game keep him playable, even in tough matchups like this.
F is for Frank the Tank.
Against Buffalo, whose defense allows the most fantasy points to rushers and ranks 29th in rush defense DVOA, I’ll bet you a late-night KFC dinner that Frank Gore eclipses 70 yards, scores a touchdown or two, and goes streaking through the quad to the gymnasium.
G is for G-Rated.
If you’re anti-Gore, but still want to attack the Bills’ defense in DFS, consider T.Y. Hilton and perhaps in stacks with Jacoby Brissett. Nathan Peterman might start for the Bills, and he threw five interceptions in a half of football on 14 attempts three weeks ago. If more turnovers are in gifted to the Colts this week, that means extra opportunities for Hilton to get loose on deep shots. And the Bills have been susceptible to top wideouts, despite a deceptive #10 ranking in pass defense DVOA. Buffalo allows the eighth-most yards per game to number one receivers, having already allowed big fantasy games to A.J. Green, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and Keenan Allen this season. Hilton could be next in line.
H is for H-I is for Henry’s Insurrection.
Derrick Henry has dispelled any doubt he’s the best running back in Tennessee, but the team won’t let DeMarco Murray go away. Henry has generated more yards per carry than Murray in each of the Titans’ past five games. In that span since Tennessee’s bye, Henry has scored 0.83 fantasy points per touch, compared to only 0.74 for Murray. The best rushing performances against Arizona this season all belong to young talented backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and D’Onta Foreman. DeMarco Murray doesn’t fit the bill, but Derrick Henry does. Do the Titans see it yet?
J is for Jordy Nelson.
In his NFC Stealing Signals article for Week 14, Ben Gretch makes the case for Nelson bouncing back based on unsustainable inefficiency since Brett Hundley became the Packers’ starting quarterback. While he can’t possibly be as bad going forward as he’s been over the past few weeks, a complete bounce-back seems unlikely to me at this point. I’ve had concerns about Jordy’s increasing mileage each of the past two seasons. Without Aaron Rodgers working his precision passing magic, Nelson’s limitations are becoming more apparent. I hope he gets back to form at some point this season, but I’m not convinced we’ll see it unless Rodgers returns.
K-L is for Kinda Long.
The blurbs in this series seem to get longer each week. I’m trying to work on that, but until I can break my long-winded habits, I need to mail in a few letters like these two. “Kinda” isn’t even a real word. That’s how out of hand this situation has become. Please send help (or donations via the link at the top of the Game Flowbotics page).
M is for Murphy Bed.
While Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to a victory in his first game as starter, Louis Murphy was hiding in the wall. Murphy was always there, with the second-highest snap share among San Francisco’s wideouts (56%), but you would never know it because he only caught one of six targets for 16 yards. The previous week, Murphy played a 46% of the snaps and caught Garoppolo’s first touchdown pass of the season. All Niners receivers are in play against Houston’s leaky secondary, but Murphy’s 18% target share could undermine Trent Taylor’s or Marquise Goodwin’s value.
N is for No-Fly Zone.
That’s what the Jaguars have been for opposing quarterbacks most of the season. But what should we expect with the amazing Russell Wilson coming to town? Check out this week’s episode of the 2QB Experience podcast to hear what I and Scott Pianowski of Yahoo are doing with our Wilson shares in Week 14. If you like what you hear, please subscribe and leave a rating/review.
O is for Only Mostly Dead.
Josh Gordon drained the life force from Corey Coleman’s fantasy value in the pit of despair on Sunday, but it’s only mostly dead. A matchup with the Green Bay defense could be the miracle pill to to revive Coleman in Week 14. The Packers rank 26th in DVOA against number two wideouts, allowing the third-most yards per pass to the position (10.1). Even with Gordon taking away target volume, Coleman should still find flex value through efficiency.
P-Q is for Party Quietly.
It’s okay to get excited if you win your Week 14 matchup and advance to the next round of your league’s playoffs, but I recommend celebrating modestly (if at all). The real prize is a fantasy championship, and you don’t want to provide your remaining opponents extra motivation to beat you by running your mouth.
R-S is for Really Scared.
Peyton Barber owners should be terrified of Doug Martin retaking a significant portion of Tampa Bay’s rushing workload, but I don’t think the Bucs wills screw this up for Barber. His 23 carries and 102 yards in Week 13 were both single-game highs for any Tampa rusher this season. Martin should see some work on Sunday, but Barber deserves more.
UPDATE: The Bucs screwed it up. I will now trim my toenails with a chainsaw.
T is for Targets To Tight Ends.
If Stephen Anderson’s 12 targets in Week 13 felt like deja vu, it’s because the Houston offense funneled passes toward tight ends down the stretch a year ago. In Weeks 13 through 17 last season, the Texans aimed 11.2 targets per game at tight ends (a 31.8% share). If Will Fuller can return against San Francisco and bolster Houston’s receiver depth, Anderson should have plenty of room to operate and continue to soak up targets for strong PPR value.
U is for Ultimate Underdog.
The Dolphins are getting the most points from Vegas in Week 14, and while it’s often foolish to chase garbage time production from quarterbacks, it’s okay to seek it from receivers sometimes, particularly in PPR formats. Last week, I predicted the Patriots would worry more about stopping big plays than LeSean McCoy, and we should see a similar approach this week. Enter Jarvis Landry and/or Kenyan Drake. Both should stay very active around the line of scrimmage in Miami’s futile attempt to keep pace with New England’s offense.
V is for Vanishing Vernon.
The Houdini act from Vernon Davis over the past two weeks is one of fantasy football’s greatest recent enigmas. He was out-targeted by Niles Paul in both games, despite playing a combined 91% of Washington’s snaps (while Paul played only 37%). That sort of discrepancy shouldn’t keep up for long. Look for Davis to get back on track against a Chargers team ranked 23rd in DVOA against tight ends.
W is for Witten.
Jason Witten faces a Giants team allowing the second-most yards per game to tight ends, as well as above average pass volume and yards per pass to the position. Way back in Week 1, Witten caught seven of nine targets for 59 yards and score against New York. Start him with confidence in this week’s rematch.
X is for Dez Bryant.
The precedent for this workaround on a limiting letter was set back in A-to-Z’s Week 4 debut, so deal with it. Meanwhile, Dez Bryant is dealing with a Giants defense ranked 18th in DVOA against number one wideouts and allowing 10 yards per game to the position above the NFL average. He was outperformed by Terrance Williams in Dallas’ Week 1 matchup with New York, but I’m optimistic Bryant will throw up the X this time around. The Giants have allowed the third-most receiving touchdowns this season (23), tied with Dallas, Houston, and Cleveland.
Y is for Yards Per Pass.
Despite limiting opposing running backs to the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game, the Panthers allow the fourth-most yards per pass to rushers as receivers. With that in mind, I’m slightly optimistic for Jerick McKinnon in his seemingly tough matchup against Carolina. Splitting carries with Latavius Murray hurts McKinnon’s floor, but the satellite back still has plenty of upside thanks to his role in the passing game.
Z is for Zoinks!
Like let’s get out of here, Scoobs. Good luck foiling the bad guys this weekend, you meddling kids.
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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