One Big Thing – AFC – Week 10

Updated: November 21st 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

Miami

Each year there is a late-season running back that comes along and provides weekly flex appeal. This season it might be Salvon Ahmed. The “Add of the Week” in our Street FA report, the Dolphins staff decided to lean on rookie Salvon Ahmed in week 10 and he delivered a strong performance (21/85/1) in his second career NFL game. There is a chance that Matt Brieda returns this week after logging a couple of healthy practices but why not try out the rookie Ahmed as the starter again.

 Buffalo

As someone nervous about Stefon Diggs going from Minnesota, where he enjoyed a steady 14.5PPR points per game average, to the previously run-focused Bills I wish I had more shares now. Diggs this season is fourth (4th) in PPR points per game (18.8), third (3rd) in targets per game (10.2), and second (2nd) in team target percentage (27.6%). As a player that was likely signed to a mid-level, multi-year deal in RSO leagues, Diggs’ contract is my guess for the most valuable contract heading into the 2021 offseason. At just 26 years old, Diggs is the ideal buy for a rebuild or contending team next year.

 New England

The curious case of what to do with Cam Newton long term? The ten-year veteran had a great start to his Patriots career, missed time due to COVID and took a couple of extra games to return to form and after three straight losses has now rattled off two straight wins. The passing yards have not been there outside of the one Seattle game and passing touchdowns are the lowest we have seen since the forward pass was invented. Still, his rushing ability around the goal line has resulted in nine (9) rushing touchdowns, second to only Kyler Murray, so his weekly fantasy points remain middle of the pack. Whether the Patriots are interested in Cam Newton long term will likely go a long way to determining his fantasy value in 2021 and beyond as I think Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels present a better chance of getting the most out of Newton than if he was to move on to his third team in three years.

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

It was another weather-impacted game in Cleveland but at least this time they had Nick Chubb back healthy to dominate a terrible Texans run defense. The internet was buzzing after Chubb decided to go out of bounds rather than scoring a second touchdown on the day but after totaling 126 yards fantasy managers just need to be happy for his return. Other than their week 14 rematch against Baltimore, the Browns’ schedule shapes up to be rather beneficial to the offense, especially in the fantasy semis and finals weeks against both New York squads. Expect both Chubb and Hunt to have a strong finish to the 2020 season.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow did everything he could to avoid making it easy on the Steelers but this Bengals squad is still developing and is not on the same level as the upper class of the AFC quite yet. This season started with debating whether Chase Claypool or Justin Jefferson was the better rookie receiver but as of recently, it could be argued that Tee Higgins who has led his team in targets the last two games could be the best. Higgins is the PPR rookie WR3 as of week 10 and second (2nd) among all rookies in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He and Joe Burrow have developed quick chemistry with one another, not unlike another recent Cincinnati QB-RB draft class. Joe Burrow is better than Andy Dalton and we would sign up for an A.J. Green career arc for Tee Higgins if that is where things are heading.

 Pittsburgh

Injured and missing most of practice with COVID precautions seemed to have no effect on Ben Roethlisberger who threw 333 yards and four (4) touchdowns last week. He was also nice enough to give all three of his top receivers a touchdown so nobody’s fantasy team was left without an acceptable performance. Roethlisberger has returned well from missing most of last season and is currently the QB12 despite not being propped up by the rushing stats that almost every other quarterback benefits from at the position in the new NFL. There should be a full expectation of his return to the Steelers in 2021 but with his contract expiring after that all bets are off if he wants to work out another extension or not. Another year with Big Ben would give an added boost to the value of his returning wide receivers, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, as well as JuJu Smith-Schuster (if they can work out a re-sign).

 Baltimore

We have to assume the weather had an influence on the performance of the Ravens against what many thought was an overmatched Patriots team but as a team known for their run-first offense, we would have expected more running in a monsoon, right? This is not a knock on Lamar Jackson’s performance who looked good outside of the one bad interception but why not lean on what you are best at. Yes, they were playing from behind for most of the game but it was not enough to warrant 34 pass attempts. Their next matchup against the Titans will need to be a rebound performance if they want their game in two weeks against the Steelers to still feel like the division could be there’s.

AFC SOUTH

 Indianapolis

It was a nice coming out party for Michael Pittman. After missing a month due to injury he played on over 80 percent of snaps for his second consecutive game and had his first career 100-yard receiving game. His performance was muted a bit because of the narrative of Nyheim Hines and his two touchdowns but that keeps Pittman underrated heading into the second half of the season. A second-round pick, both in the real draft and in most dynasty leagues, Pittman showed all the skills to succeed in the NFL while at USC. Colts OC Nick Sirianni even compared Pittman to Larry Fitzgerald in terms of both having the ability to be YAC monsters. Sign me up if that is the case!

 Tennessee

Tennessee went right down the field and scored and I, like many, thought that this could be another big game for the offense. Even after A.J. Brown missed that open catch it still seemed like it was going to be another routine day at the office. Unfortunately, they just seemed to stop after that drive and while they did have another touchdown drive in the second quarter, the Titans seemed to never have the ball in the second half. Five (5) plays then a punt, three (3) plays and a blocked punt, then a missed field goal, turnover on downs and the final drive of the game with none of the starters on the field and it was over. The Colts defense is great and they should be given credit but if Ryan Tannehill wants to go from good to great, he needs to be able to beat good defenses when Derrick Henry is being limited. We will see if they can rebound against the Ravens who need a bounce-back win themselves.

 Jacksonville

It was the second consecutive week that a heavy underdog team almost came away with the upset of the year as Jacksonville went wire-to-wire with Green Bay. The team knew what they needed to do to have a shot at winning which was to take advantage of Green Bay’s poor run defense and to try and keep that ball away from Aaron Rodgers. They even had a special team’s touchdown to try and tip the game in their favor, but it just boiled down to not having the talent to get to that next gear with Rodgers. The team has the inside track to draft either of the two top quarterbacks that the Jets do not take and if the Jets manage to sneak in a win, the tiebreakers could allow them to have their choice of either. The offense does have good pieces around whoever they take so the Jags could be the 2021 version of the Joe Borrow Bengals this year.

 Houston

While the weather played right into Cleveland’s strength of running the ball, Houston and their passing game were fairly ineffective on offense last Sunday. DeShaun Watson only passed for 163 yards on 20 completions and no receiver had more than 41 yards individually with the lone touchdown coming from third-string tight end Pharoh Brown. While not as windy, the Texans do travel to New England for what is supposed to be another cold day which could once again affect the passing game. With David Johnson going on injured reserve it will be on Duke Johnson to carry to load at running back although he did not look too great last week, 54 yards on 14 carries.

AFC WEST

 LA Chargers

For the second straight week, Kalen Ballage came off the practice squad and dominated the touches out of the backfield. He also was the team’s receptions leader so he is not just a one-dimensional option. Both he and Salvon Ahmed are championing the zero-RB strategy right now. While I do not see the Chargers sticking with Ballage past this year he is a great option to have down the stretch even if Austin Ekeler makes a return. The Chargers featured both Ekeler and Joshua Kelley in the first two games of the season and past seasons under Anthony Lynn have shown with consistency that they want to get multiple backs involved each week. With Ekeler out Ballage can be an RB2 and if he returns he could be a deeper RB3/4.

 Denver

Is Drew Lock worth waiting another season to evaluate or should John Elway, if presented the chance, draft a first-round rookie quarterback and start over again? After having four (4) turnovers against the Raiders last week there could be a case made that he should. A lot needs to be done on the defensive side of the ball, which could be Lock’s saving grace to having the front office looking at other options with their top 10 selection. With the sporadic play Lock has had this season, as well as the recent trends of teams souring on young quarterbacks earlier than before, he might not be as safe an option as some would think for keeping his starting job. A couple of weeks ago I compared Lock to Jay Cutler but since then I think Cutler is looking more like a ceiling rather than an expectation.

 Las Vegas

The Raiders dismantled the Broncos on defense which did not leave a lot for Derek Carr and the offense to need to do on Sunday. Josh Jacobs just ran his 21 carries for 5.3 yards a touch and two (2) touchdowns and when he was done Devontae Booker came in and mopped up his old team with 5.1 yards per carry himself and another two (2) touchdowns. The offense will likely need to hit another gear to have a season sweep of the Kansas City Chiefs in week 11 but this game along with their week 5 win at Arrowhead should go a long way to giving them the confidence that it can be done.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews