One Big Thing – AFC – Week 6

Updated: October 24th 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

 New England

If everyone was confused about how Zach Ertz’s usage rates compare to his fantasy output, Julian Edelman has to be the AFC’s version of Ertz. Edelman is the most targeted receiver on the Patriots but only has 54 PPR points for the season, half of which came in a single game back in week 2. He has been nursing a knee injury for much of the season so that may be why he is only playing 70 percent of the snaps right now but he still should be more successfully involved in the offense than he currently has been. Hopefully, as Cam Newton gets back into the groove he was in pre-COVID so too can Edelman become more involved.

 Miami

Another big win against the hapless Jets puts Miami just a game out of the division lead. Heading into their bye it sounded like the team had reached the agreed-upon time with Ryan Fitzpatrick to rescind his starting role to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. That was not the plan that Fitzpatrick believed was unfolding though and now the coaching staff may be put into a bind for the rest of the season. To bench a locker room presence like Fitzpatrick unrelated to his performance may not work with a lot of the players and if Tua was to struggle, it would be pretty awkward to ask Fitzpatrick to bail them out. This team looked like they were heading in the right direction with two straight wins, but this is the kind of decision that could sour a season real fast.

 NY Jets

If the Jets are not going to put in an effort to show anything meaningful on the field I am not going to waste my time with giving summaries on their performances. Start Crowder while he is healthy.

 Buffalo

It was another struggling performance for Josh Allen after he started the first four (4) weeks of the season so strong. The running game gave him no help in the tough weather conditions either so it cannot all be blamed on Allen. Still, to be considered a contender in the AFC you have to beat the contenders and thus far the Bills are 0-2 against the Titans and Chiefs. They have a tune-up game against the Jets this week so hopefully, the coaches can try some new things to restart this offense that averaged over 30 points per game in their four wins.

AFC NORTH

 Cincinnati

The start of week 6 was great for the Bengals as they looked like they were going upset a good Colts team after being up 21-0 early. The problem was they did not score a touchdown after the first quarter and the defense allowed three (3) touchdowns themselves in the second quarter. There will be some growing pains like this but it is encouraging to see the team at least competing with playoff contenders right now. It will be tough without Joe Mixon, who has been ruled out for week 7, but if Joe Burrow wants to show he can carry the team these are the moments playing an up-and-down Browns team.

 Pittsburgh

As they say in the Simpsons, “Everything is coming up Milhouse” for the Steelers right now. Their Hall of Fame quarterback has returned to his pre-elbow injury form and the defense is looking the best it has been since Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and the Bearded-one Brett Keisel was roaming the field. The only thing that is killing fantasy players right now is that the abundance of talent surrounding Ben Roethlisberger at receiver has forced Juju Smith-Schuster to near obscurity. I talked a few weeks ago about if they really should sign him to a contract extension when they could afford to move him and play three (3) other really solid options instead. I think now fantasy fans want to see him moved too, just to hope that he can rebound his production. Sorry to those who resigned him two weeks ago when he was costing over $70M.

 Cleveland

There is no way that this team should be picking up Baker Mayfield’s fifth-year option with the way he played against Pittsburgh last week. He is not the worst starting quarterback in the league but when the cost to retain him is going to likely be a long-term commitment over $100M you cannot pay the fourth-best quarterback in your division that kind of money. Mayfield himself could probably continue to be a starter for teams that need a stop-gap option until ultimately drafting another rookie quarterback but his long-term future in the league may be that of a backup past 2021. Superflex leagues you should be moving on from him as soon as he shows another rebound performance against a mediocre team.

 Baltimore

Lamar Jackson finally had one of his trademark long touchdown runs and went over 100 yards for the first time this season. He continues to struggle as a passer though as he had his fourth straight sub 200 passing yard game. It has caused the players around him to be hard-pressed to produce in fantasy over the last month. Either this team has been so dominant that it looks mundanely routine in the stat sheet or their efficiency is so high that they do not need to do much on offense to continue winning. Whatever the reason is, as long as it is working we should not expect the game plan to be changing until necessary.

AFC SOUTH

 Indianapolis

The disappearing act of T.Y. Hilton has been surprising to many this season. Philip Rivers made former PPR machine Keenan Allen a fantasy star so it is strange to see Hilton struggle to produce at the same levels. Hilton has played 95 percent of the snaps the last two weeks and in a game where his team was trailing big right away, he only managed once reception in week 6. A free agent at the end of the season, Hilton is looking like so many receivers before him that just fade out of fantasy relevance.

 Jacksonville

Keelan Cole has been a breath of fresh air in what has otherwise been another wasted year for the Jaguars. With D.J. Chark bouncing in and out of the lineup the last couple of weeks, Keelan Cole has been the primary receiver for Gardner Minshew and has had at least 8 PPR points in every game so far. He currently is the WR20 which is great for a fantasy player that was free for the first couple of weeks and he should continue to produce for the rest of 2020.

 Tennessee

All hail the King! Two (2) touchdowns and 264 total yards, DeShaun Watson knew as soon as they lost the coin toss in overtime that the game was over because the Texans could not stop Derrick Henry on Sunday. While many of the other top dynasty running backs have been sitting on the sideline with injuries in 2020, Henry has planted the seeds to be in the conversation for the dynasty RB1 heading into 2021. Many will point to his age and his running style as a deterrent for his chances of providing long-term value but even two or three more years of production at this level would be hard for another running back to compete with.

 Houston

DeShaun Watson had his best performance of the season by far and it still was not enough to give his team a victory. A team that used to be one of the league’s best defenses has allowed 28 or more points in five (5) of six (6) games this season and is getting destroyed by the opposing rushing attack week after week. I guess good for fantasy though as the defensive woes have allowed three (3) wide receivers to become fantasy relevant each week to try and keep up. At least this team likely will have a top 10 pick to fix some of their problems… oh wait.

AFC WEST

 Denver

Drew Lock returned after missing several weeks with his shoulder injured and helped get the Broncos their second consecutive victory, although without many offensive stats to show it. Like Travis Fulgham in Philadelphia, it has been great to see Tim Patrick continue to have sustained success week after week as an alumnus of the Street FA report. Patrick has had three (3) consecutive weeks scoring at least 14 PPR points and is the current WR36. Even with players returning from injuries around him it would be great to have him continue as a primary option for this offense the rest of the season.

 Kansas City

So what role is Le’Veon Bell going to play in this offense when Clyde Edwards-Helaire is rushing for over six (6) yards per carry and 161 yards in week 6? The rookie’s first career 20 PPR point performance reminded everyone why he was the 1.01 pick after two “meh” performances against New England and Las Vegas. When this offense gets rolling downhill it seems like there are not many teams that will stop them from cruising to the AFC Championship.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 6

Updated: October 22nd 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.

NFC EAST

  Philadelphia

It appears that the Eagles have taken the crown from the Chargers for the most injury-prone team. Another two starters (Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz) will be out until at least after their week 9 bye, leaving Carson Wentz without many reliable options till then. It was encouraging to see that Travis Fulgham was more than just a one week fling, recording six (6) catches for 75 yards and another touchdown. He will continue to be a big part of this offense for the remainder of the season hopefully.

 NY Giants

The Giants’ defense had another big performance with their second straight week with a touchdown and the team recorded their first win of the season. The offensive woes continue though as the team only had 112 yards passing yards. Darius Slayton scored his first touchdown since week 1 but only recorded two catches. In any other division, a 1-5 record would be a reason to pack it in but anything is possible in the NFC East so who knows whether the Giants have a shot or not.

 Washington

It was a better showing in his second start for Kyle Allen but it was not enough for Washington to keep their division rival from getting their first win. J.D. McKissic has been a breath of fresh air for those working the waivers each week scoring an average of 11.6 PPR points over the last three (3) games. His use in the passing game on a team that often has to be in passing situations has worked greatly in his favor. Washington does not play a strong defense until Pittsburgh in week 13 so he should continue to have RB3/Flex appeal for the rest of the fantasy regular season.

 Cowboys

The expectation was that there would be a slight drop-off in the fantasy production between Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton but I do not think that many thought it would be as bad as it was Monday night. It does not help when Ezekiel Elliot fumbles twice on consecutive drives to give the opposition two easy touchdowns but not many expected the Cowboys first touchdown to come with under three (3) minutes left in the game. The team should rebound with two (2) division matchups coming up before playing the Steelers in week 9 but that nice scoring floor seems to be much lower with Dalton under center now.

 NFC NORTH

 Chicago

Carolina had a slight comeback against the Bears but this win was Chicago’s first convincing victory during their impressive start to the season. Much of their success last week should be given to their defense that had three (3) turnovers and four (4) sacks to give Carolina fits. For fantasy though it is frustrating to see David Montgomery be on the field for 85 percent of the snaps and have 100 percent of the week 6 running back touches to only average 3.1 yards per carry. He missed his chances at scoring when he had a touchdown overturned on replay but he has not proven to be a bell-cow back thus far. He is the ideal sell candidate before the bottom falls out when the team drafts another rookie runner this offseason.

 Minnesota

I was happy, and probably the Minnesota Vikings were to, that the take away from their game in the week 6 beat down that Dalvin Cook is worth the money they paid him and Alexander Mattison is not just a plug and play replacement. Kirk Cousins looked dreadful throughout the game and only bailed out his fantasy owners by having over 300 yards passing and three (3) touchdowns after he dug his team into a huge hole. At least Justin Jefferson looks every bit as awesome as he did at LSU as he recorded his third 100-yard receiving game already and currently is the PPR WR7. Hopefully, everyone who drafted him got him before the end of the first round so they can start planning for that fifth-year option already.

 Detroit

D’Andre Swift finally had his breakout game! The rookie runner had his first 100-yard rushing performance and led the backfield in touches for the first time this season. Knowing the Lions they will now give Adrian Peterson 20 carries this week to drive everyone crazy. For now, though, it appears they are letting the rookie slowly take control of the backfield and could be a late-season bloomer for RB2 purposes.

 Green Bay

It was a tough way to end a game for Aaron Rodgers after racing out to a 10-0 lead last Sunday. His third career pick-six and his first multi-interception game since week 15 of 2017 looked to rattle the veteran quarterback and greatly reduced his trust to throw downfield like he usually does. He is a pro, and a future Hall of Famer so we should not expect this to be more than a blip on his otherwise strong start to the season. Their matchup against a struggling Texans team seems like a classic bounce-back game. Expect 300 yards passing and at least three (3) touchdowns from Rodgers to silence his critics.

NFC SOUTH

 Atlanta

Julio is back, we think? After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury and having only six (6) catches between weeks 2 and 5, Jones exploded for eight (8) catches and two touchdowns to finish as the PPR WR2. Whether it was inspiration after letting go of their head coach, a change in the offensive game plan, or just a bad Minnesota defense it appeared more evident that Julio was the primary option once again for Matt Ryan. The Falcons should continue to be in shootout games with their below-average defense so hopefully, Julio’s injury is behind him and he can continue to perform at the level that most expect out of him.

 Carolina

Mike Davis suffered his first sub 20 PPR point game last week and also lost his first fumble of the season. Davis has been the bell-cow since week 2, averaging 80 percent of the snaps and backfield touches while replacing Christian McCaffrey. There is talk that McCaffrey could make his return for the Panthers’ Thursday night game against the Falcons in week 8. If that is the case, it has been a great run for those who scooped Davis off the street in week 3. Hopefully, he can have one more solid performance this week before fading into the backdrop.

 Tampa Bay

Last week I criticized Tom Brady for being out of sync with his partner in crime, Rob Gronkowski, and they immediately turned back the clock to have a vintage performance, connecting on five (5) catches for 78 yards and a left-handed “Gronk spike” touchdown. Ronald Jones also showed that he probably is the primary ball carrier regardless of Leonard Fournette making his return to the lineup in week 7. His three (3) consecutive games with 100 yards rushing have likely cemented his role even further and with cupcake defenses on the horizon for the fantasy playoffs he is poised to be a fantasy playoff MVP candidate.

 NFC WEST

 LA Rams

Sean McVay, before last week’s game, had this to say regarding rookie running back Cam Akers, “He had some good tough runs and it’s a good way to get Cam going. So, with that, I think you can expect his workload to increase next week against the 49ers.” Someone should let McVay know that playing a single snap on offense is in no way an increased workload. Whether McVay’s post-game excuse about not being able to get him in the game due to the negative game script is true or Akers’ rib injury is more serious than the team is letting on he has been a huge disappointment through the first half of the season. It would likely take an injury to Darrell Henderson or Malcolm Brown before Akers sees any meaningful touches.

 San Francisco

The 49ers got back to what got them to the Super Bowl last year with running the ball and letting their pass catchers make plays in space with yards after the catch. Over 84 percent of Jimmy Garoppolo’s passing yards came after the catch which shows that his ankle may still not be fully healed to stretch the field just yet. It was also concerning that Raheem Mostert went down with yet another injury that appears will keep him out of the lineup for now. It will be interesting to see what Bill Belichick does to shut down this offense as he probably knows Garoppolo as well as an opposing coach can.

 Arizona

Looking directly at the stats for DeAndre Hopkins over the last two weeks would not give the full story of how his fantasy owners must have felt heading into the fourth quarter of both games. Coming into the fourth quarter Hopkins stat lines against terrible defenses has been 4-49-0 and 1-13-0, with 70 percent of his total production coming after the game has already been decided late. I do not expect it to be an issue as Hopkins continues to be the most targeted receiver on the team but it just stood out over the last two weeks as something to keep an eye on. His floor may not be as safe as his value would perceive.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 5

Updated: October 17th 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.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia

What has happened to Zach Ertz? He has averaged 92 percent of the Eagles’ snaps and earned at least five (5) targets in each game this season but is the current TE15 on the season. It hit a low point last week when he was targeted six (6) times but only caught one (1) pass for six (6) yards and finished as the TE41. This all comes while the receiving core of the Eagles is out with injuries to which makes even less sense. The only explanation is that the opposing defense is hyper-focusing on covering Ertz as the only real threat. Fantasy owners can only hope that with other players returning around him, Ertz can provide close to where his RSO contracts likely are valued.

 Washington

It was a nice story to have Alex Smith back in an NFL game for the first time in two years but it did not provide any kind of spark to the offense as the team only recorded 108 total yards against the Rams. This team is likely going to the well for a quarterback again in the 2021 draft as it appears that Dwayne Haskins is all but an afterthought to this coaching staff. We will see whether he is traded or released and can find a backup role to continue his development. For those who drafted him in the mid-first round of Superflex leagues with all the receiver talent that has started to blossom, this has to sting.

 NY Giants

The Giants offense was able to take advantage of a bad Dallas Cowboys defense to the delight of those who started Darius Slayton and Devonta Freeman. Specifically, with Freeman, he seems to slowly be taking over the backfield (not that surprising) as he becomes more familiar with the play calling and pass protections. He played on 54 percent of the team’s snaps and accounted for 17 of the 25 rushing attempts. Another below-average matchup against Washington in week 6 could provide a second opportunity for both Slayton and Freeman to provide adequate fantasy numbers.

 Dallas

Can Andy Dalton save the Cowboys’ season? That is the question that everyone has been talking about this past week. Dalton was unceremoniously ushered out of Cincinnati for first overall pick Joe Burrow as his production had significantly dropped off in recent years. To be fair to Dalton he did not have the strongest support around him in his final years as he does now in Dallas. The last time Cincinnati had three strong receivers and a steady backfield (2015) Dalton threw for 25 touchdowns to only seven (7) interceptions and a 106QBR. In the weak NFC East, even 80 percent of that production should be enough to win this division.

NFC NORTH

 Chicago

Regardless of whether it is Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles at quarterback, it is the one-man-band show in Chicago for Allen Robinson. The wide receiver was tied for the most targets in week 5 with 16 and leads all receivers this season with 57. The question is will anyone step up and be the second option consistently enough? After week 1 it looked like Anthony Miller might have his breakout season but he has been quiet over the last month since. Jimmy Graham has looked much better in Chicago than he did in Green Bay, with four (4) touchdowns in five (5) games so maybe he can be the second option. The team is surprisingly 4-1, so what they are doing already maybe will be enough to make the playoffs.

 Minnesota

Kirk Cousins looked pretty good in the first half against the Seahawks and then came out in the second half so flat that the Seahawks scored three (3) touchdowns in 2 minutes and 27 seconds. He rallied to give the team a late lead but Russell Wilson had a spectacular final drive to win it. Dalvin Cook has already been ruled out for week 6’s game against the Falcons so it may be on Kirk Cousins to win this game for the Vikings. This team is not as bad as their 1-4 record shows but the losses all count the same when looking ahead to draft positioning. It would be interesting to see this team with a top 5 pick and what decision they would make with Kirk Cousins with guys like Justin Fields and Trey Lance potential available to draft.

NFC SOUTH

 Tampa Bay

Tom Brady has yet to have his full arsenal of weapons through the first five (5) games of the season but he seems to be out of sync with everyone, including Rob Gronkowski. Whether it is conflicting ideologies on the play calling with Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich or timing with receivers, the team looks too inconsistent to be a serious Super Bowl contender at this point in the season. Ronald Jones has been great for fantasy owners the last two weeks with Leonard Fournette sidelined with an injury and Mike Evans has been a touchdown machine with at least one in each game this season. If the Bucs get inside the five-yard line, expect at least one end zone fade pass from Brady to Evans.

 Carolina

The Panthers have suggested that they may hold out Christian McCaffrey through week 8 and possibly till after their week 9 bye. You cannot blame them for wanting to get their All-Pro running back healthy with how well Mike Davis has played in his absence. The team has rattled off three straight wins and find themselves in a three-way tie for first in the division. Robbie Anderson has to be this year’s biggest surprise thus far as he has been a fantasy gold mine as the PPR WR7. He likely is on a single-year contract so he is an ideal buy candidate for any contender.

 Atlanta

The game started so well for the Falcons, going down the field for a touchdown on a long Todd Gurley touchdown. Then, as it seems to every game this season, the flood gates on their defense opened up and they could not do enough to keep up with their opponents. Matt Ryan has not been his usual backend QB1 and has failed to score a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time in his career. Julio Jones has once again been hampered with injuries and forced him to miss weeks 3, 5 and half of week 4’s game. Other than his week 1 performance with 157 receiving yards it has been difficult for fantasy owners to start him with any confidence. After five consecutive losses to start the season it has finally forced owner Arthur Blank to fire both his head coach and general manager. It also opens the door to questions about how much of a rebuild this team may be in for.

 New Orleans

There is a certain ratio of talent to diva that teams are willing to deal with before it just becomes not worth it. Antonio Brown’s talent slipped slightly and it became necessary for three (3) teams to tell him to go away in ten months. Hopefully, we are not seeing the same thing with Saints receiver Michael Thomas but he is making a pretty easy case to dislike him. The Saints suspended him this past week for throwing a punch at a teammate during practice and then mouthing off to Head Coach Sean Payton afterwards after he was set to return from the ankle injury that has kept him out since week 1. He will play this week and will continue to be an elite WR1 when on the field, but it will be interesting once Drew Brees retires to see whether Payton and Thomas can continue to co-exist if he continues to act out.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

It must have been nerve-racking for DeAndre Hopkins fans heading into the fourth quarter of last week’s matchup. The elite wide receiver, against one of the worst teams since the 0-16 Browns, had only four (4) catches for 49 yards. Then he and Kyler Murray connected on two deep passes for 82 yards total and scored a touchdown to turn what could have been a let-down game into the PPR WR8 of the week. Through their first five games, it appears that the Cardinals can bully the bad teams (San Francisco, Washington, NY Jets) but have struggled with teams that show even a little bit of resistance (Detroit and Carolina). Murray is having a stellar start to fantasy season and should continue to put up great numbers playing against two of the worst pass defenses over the next two weeks.

 LA Rams

The Rams have started the season off great, with a 4-1 record that could easily be 5-0 if not for a questionable pass interference call against the Bills. Looking deeper though, all four (4) of their wins have come against the NFC East, a division that currently has a 4-15-1 record. Not that we should devalue them since you can only play the teams that you are scheduled against but the second half of their season should be much closer games than their first half. Jared Goff has also had a nice bounce-back start to the season scoring three (3) total touchdowns in three (3) games thus far compared to only two (2) such games all of last season.

 San Francisco

Who knows whether it was the injured ankle or just an off day for Jimmy Garoppolo but he was bad, scoring negative fantasy points in week 5. The whole team was dominated by the Dolphins in a 43-17 beat down but Jimmy G’s performance was so bad that he was benched at halftime for it. The good news is that offense is getting healthier and so they should have a full complement of weapons available to them soon. The problem is that if they do not get better quarterback play it will be difficult for this team to make a comeback in a tough NFC West. This may be a make or break season for Garoppolo as his guaranteed money runs out in 2021. Much like Atlanta and Minnesota, if the 49ers find themselves in a spot to draft one of the two other great quarterbacks of this rookie class would they move off of Garoppolo a year removed from making the Super Bowl?

 Seattle

It does not matter who their opponent is the Seahawks are going to put on a show of theatrics with Russell Wilson. The offense looked flat for the first half of Sunday Night Football against the Vikings only to come back, lose the lead again, and then regain it on the final drive of the night. D.K. Metcalf is looking like the reincarnation of Calvin Johnson with his freaky size and speed dominating defenders. He has at least 90 yards receiving in each game this year and five (5) touchdowns. If he is not the dynasty WR1 by the start of the 2021 season it would be a shock.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 4

Updated: October 7th 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.

NFC EAST

Cowboys

It is a great year to be a fantasy owner of a Dallas Cowboys offensive player. Too bad it is at the cost of actual wins for the team but unless you are a fan of the team you will take all the shootouts you can get. Dak Prescott is on pace to destroy Peyton Manning’s 2013 passing yards record which helps keep him in fantasy MVP contention for 2020. The question of whether the addition of CeeDee Lamb was going to create too many mouths to feed seems to be irrelevant for now. The amount of offense this team needs to generate to cover for its defense will make all Cowboys players fantasy relevant. Still do not understand how the Raiders picked Henry Ruggs over Lamb.

 Washington

I was going to write about how Antonio Gibson was starting to be more involved in this offense but Dwayne Haskins’ benching came up halfway through. It is unclear what this change at quarterback will do for those around new starter Kyle Allen. One would assume that Antonio Gibson will become even more involved much like how Kyle Allen used Christian McCaffrey in the passing game last year. It also should not harm Terry McLaurin as D.J. Moore was able to receive 135 targets and 87 receptions in this offense last year. As for Haskins himself, whatever fantasy value he had is likely gone and with Alex Smith taking over the backup role too, who knows if Haskins will ever take another snap for Washington.

 NY Giants

I still cannot believe how much Daniel Jones and this offense have regressed from last year. As it was stated in past articles it is unclear who is to blame for this regression but it has made every fantasy option disappointing. They currently have only 47 points scored in their first four (4) games, which is 18 less than the next team, the Jets. No team should be statistically behind the Jets in anything the way their season is going. If the Giants cannot score at least half of their season total against the Cowboys swiss cheese defense this week, it is likely to be the last chance for the fantasy community to trust starting any Giants players.

 Philadelphia

Carson Wentz did enough to hold back the Philly mob for another week but I think this game showed more about how much the 49ers team has been devastated by injuries to their all-star players than the superb play of the Eagles. As I mentioned in my Street Free Agent article, the Eagles continue to use their two tight end sets more than any other team even with Dallas Goedert going down. Richard Rodgers is not as talented as Goedert but for tight end premium and two-tight end leagues, his snap count alone should present opportunities for him to see targets.

NFC NORTH

 Detroit

The good news is that the Lions are trying to keep a balanced offense and getting D’Andre Swift involved more.  The bad news is that it is not translating to wins. The passing down role seems to be firmly in Swift’s control now as he nearly triples that of Peterson in targets (16:6) but he has yet to be featured in the red zone which limits his scoring upside. With only two touches total, both coming back in week 2, as opposed to Peterson who has averaged three (3) red zone touches per game it will be difficult for Swift to have a breakout game unless he breaks a large touchdown. He is trending in the right direction but he is just not there yet. Stay patient my friends, his time is coming.

 Minnesota

The Vikings finally pulled together as a complete team and got their first win of 2020. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have set themselves apart as the two primary options for Kirk Cousins combining for 68 percent of the targets and both going over 100 yards receiving last Sunday. It might be too little, too late for this team to win the division with the way Green Bay is playing but if the Vikings can return to form they should be able to make a strong push to be one of the three wild card teams.

Chicago

When the opponent does not shoot themselves in the foot it turns out that the Bears are not as good as their 3-0 record suggested. With new starting quarterback Nick Foles, the Bears’ offense did not seem to have anything working against a tough Colts defense. David Montgomery finally saw a full workload with Tarik Cohen lost for the season but his paltry 2.7 yards per carry did not inspire a lot of confidence that he can be the answer at running back. Volume might be able to save him in better matchups but for now, Montgomery is an RB3/4 at best.

 Green Bay

Sometimes a bye week can be inopportune as the Packers have started their season red hot through the first month. Having a week off will allow guys like Davante Adams and Allen Lazard time to get healthy at least. Robert Tonyan had three (3) touchdowns on Monday night and shot up to the TE1 position because of it. What we should expect from him on a game-to-game basis is still up for debate when the previously mentioned receivers return to the lineup but he has caught everyone’s attention through the first four weeks of the season, including Rodgers.

NFC SOUTH

 New Orleans

It took four games but it appears that Drew Brees and Emmanuel Sanders have finally found a connection. The receiver caught six (6) passes for 93 yards and although he did not score the passing attacked looked the best it had been since week 1. With Michael Thomas poised to return this week Drew Brees may finally have a tertiary passing option to go along with Thomas and Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. The Saints are once again back on track to contend for not only the NFC South division but also the NFC championship.

 Tampa Bay

Slowly but surely Tom Brady is finding his groove with each of his receivers. Nine (9) different receivers caught passes against the Chargers last week and Brady threw a touchdown to five different players. While not on the same level as the 2007 Patriots team the roles seem to be filling in quite nicely with Mike Evans doing his best Randy Moss impression and Scotty Miller/Justin Watson filling in as Wes Welker. It is too bad that O.J. Howard was announced that he was going to be out for the season as he too was building a strong rapport with Brady over six (6) targets last week. We shall see if Cameron Brate can fill that role or whether the eventual return of Chris Godwin will fill those targets.

 Carolina

It was another gritty performance by the Carolina Panthers to beat the suddenly slumping Arizona Cardinals. Mike Davis had another strong fantasy performance with his second consecutive 20+ PPR game. The way things are going the team may not rush Christian McCaffrey back as they have had both their win comes in his absence. Davis’ role will be interesting once McCaffrey does return as to whether he will be relegated to a minimal amount of snaps and touches or whether he will still have a part-time role in the offense. For now, those who picked him up off the street can just ride the wave.

 Atlanta

The Falcons appear to have as bad of a defense as the Cowboys but do not have the same offensive firepower to keep up with opposing teams. The entire receiving core was dealing with injuries last week and when Olamide Zaccheaus and Christian Blake lead in the statistical department it likely was not a good game. Todd Gurley had 16 of the teams 22 carries along with two (2) touchdowns but he only played 55 percent of the snaps. It is hard to argue with his fantasy output as the RB19 right now but he has been non-existent in the passing game with only four (4) catches on eight (8) targets. Because the offense needs to stay aggressive due to their lack of defense he will have plenty of opportunities to score but if Matt Ryan becomes more efficient in the red zone Gurley, who currently leads the league in red zone rushing attempts, could see his production dry up.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

The Cardinals offense had a second letdown after they looked like they were playing on rookie-mode in Madden there first two weeks. This week may not have been as much their fault as the time of position was dominated almost 2:1 by the Panthers. Kyler Murray had a down game in terms of passing yards being held to under 140 passing yards but he still scored three (3) passing touchdowns and continued to shine with his legs totalling 78 yards rushing. Much like Lamar Jackson, Murray’s floor will continue to be higher than most as he presents RB2 production with his rushing stats alone. The bigger concern has to be Kenyan Drake who many thought might be a fringe RB1 this season but has been RB17, RB31, RB32, and RB58 in their first four games.

 Seattle

The Seahawks looked sluggish against Miami last week leading to a closer game than maybe some would have thought. Whether it was the cross country game time or playing down to the opponent it took them till late in the fourth quarter before finally putting away the Dolphins. Russell Wilson broke his 30 point-scoring streak finally with a more human two (2) touchdown performance along with his second interception of the season. He did still have 360 passing yards but finished just outside of QB1 territory for the first time this season. No concern should be had though as they go against a Vikings team this week that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards.

 LA Rams

The Rams also looked sluggish in their cross country game where outside of a long 55-yard touchdown by Cooper Kupp the offense only managed another 185 total yards. The running back situation once again has everyone pulling their hair out as Darrell Henderson, after his breakout performance in week 3, was out-snapped by Malcolm Brown 35:22 and had no value to the teams who started him. Once Akers comes back healthy who knows how this backfield will be shared and if there will be enough touches to go around. Only Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods can be auto-plays each week right now.

 San Francisco

The 49ers finally had to play a semi-competitive team after two matchups against the winless New York franchises and their injury woes finally started to show. George Kittle’s return gave a monster boost to the offense to keep them in the game and slowly Deebo Samuel will get back to full strength but until then this team is just missing that extra gear. The emergence of Brandon Aiyuk over the last two games should hopefully give Jimmy Garoppolo another weapon when he returns to the lineup as well. They are not out of it yet but with the way the Seahawks are playing a wild card spot is about as high as these 49ers can aim right now.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 3

Updated: October 2nd 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.

NFC EAST

 Washington

It feels like a long time ago that Washington looked like a good team that had eight (8) sacks against Philadelphia on opening weekend. Two convincing losses against an up and coming Cardinals team and an average Browns team have shined a light on many flaws this team still has. Dwayne Haskins still has not shown much to prove he is a franchise quarterback yet. His decision making last week led to sacks and his four (4) turnovers kept giving the Browns a short field to convert on. It will not get any easier as they face a Baltimore team that will be looking to take out some frustration after their own embarrassing loss last week.

 Philadelphia

How much of this team’s ineptitude on offense is the cause of not having any healthy receivers available for Carson Wentz and how much is just his regression. We probably cannot separate the two to distribute blame accordingly but either way, it will continue to be the focus for the Eagles while they are on this downward spiral. The one thing that stood out to me was how their week 3 game ended. For all the praise that Doug Pederson and his staff received during their Super Bowl run for being creative and trusting the analytics when going for it on fourth downs and two-points conversions, they decided to punt with 19 seconds left in overtime from Cincinnati’s side of the field. They told everyone that they are okay with a tie. When you are a struggling team looking for their first win and playing against the worst team from last year you need to create some momentum for your team by showing faith in your offense. This was not it.

 NY Giants

As someone who was buying into Daniel Jones as being a strong second-year breakout quarterback along with Kyler Murray, it does not appear to be happening. Whether it is the new play calling with Jason Garrett, the lack of a running threat with Saquon Barkley out, or teams figuring out Jones with a full offseason of tape there appears to have been no momentum built from last seasons successes to this year. Against a lineup that featured more backup than starters for the 49ers, the Giants could only manage 231 yards of offense and failed to score a single touchdown. It is also affecting second-year receiver Darius Slayton who looked great in week 1 but has been rather quiet the past two weeks due to the offense’s struggles.

 Dallas

The Cowboys went toe-to-toe with the best the NFC has to offer, unfortunately, their defensive struggles showed once again that it will be difficult for them to win in anything but a shootout. Cedrick Wilson was a big surprise as he had over 100 yards receiving and two (2) touchdowns on two 40+ yards passes. His fantasy value is still hovering close to zero though as he played on just 29 percent of the snaps and likely was able to take advantage of a poor Seahawks secondary. Dak Prescott must be enjoying what his defense is doing for his stats though. Through the first three games, he has averaged over 47 pass attempts and almost 400 yards trying to keep up with the opposing team’s offense. If Jerry Jones is not going to pay him someone will.

NFC NORTH

 Minnesota

Please welcome to the stage, Justin Jefferson! His performance last week was one that Vikings fans were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round this offseason. While the team could not hold on for their first victory of the season Jefferson did his part with 175 receiving yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. His snap percentage has been there all season so it is good to see his stats finally reflecting his usage. Hopefully, he can build on this performance to make a case for the best rookie receiver from this stacked class.

 Chicago

The Legend of Nick Foles continues. Foles threw three (3) touchdowns in relief of Mitch Trubisky to get the Bears to a 3-0 start to the season. He immediately elevated the stats of the receivers around him as Allen Robinson and Jimmy Graham had their best fantasy weeks thus far. How much of this was because the offense was trailing and therefore needed to be passing is debatable. Regardless, the Bears (and fantasy fans) should get their answer during Foles’ first two starts as a Bear while playing the Colts and Buccaneers who feature two of the better pass defenses thus far.

 Detroit

This was somewhat of a revenge game as the Cardinals stole a win from the Lions opening week last year. With Kenny Golladay back the offense seemed to have more fluidity and also avoided committing any turnovers. Golladay’s return had a direct correlation with Quintez Cephus seeing only 15 percent of the offensive snaps after averaging 73 percent the first two games. It would take another injury for him to see meaningful playing time at this point. The same goes for D’Andre Swift who only saw six (6) snaps last week. This is Adrian Peterson’s backfield at least for 2020 now.

 Green Bay

The Packers have made it to 3-0 but their receiving room is going to make Aaron Rodgers earn his MVP if he wants it. Allen Lazard had his best performance in replace of Davante Adams but is now sidelined with his own injury until further notice. This leaves guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darrius Shepard and Davante Adams (if healthy) along with Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger at tight end to step up. It is unfortunate too because they face the Falcons this week who have been shredded by opposing passing games this season. Any of these receivers could be a sleeper this week so if the Tennessee/Pittsburgh game has you scrambling see if MVS or Shepard are free agents.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

Despite missing superstar Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers were able to plug and play backup Mike Davis for their first win of the season. Starting a backup running back in fantasy is always a risky play since it is not always clear how much the team trusts them to carry a heavy workload but Carolina showed no caution with Davis. He had 13 of the team’s 19 designed carries and also added eight (8) receptions, showing that his usage against the Buccaneers in relief of McCaffrey was not circumstantial. He may not have much of a role once McCaffrey returns but for at least the next month he should be an RB2/Flex option every week.

 Atlanta

The Falcons’ offense is not the reason they have blown two massive fourth-quarter leads but they have not helped their defense out either. After scoring their 26th point with 10 minutes left in the third quarter their final six (6) drives went Punt, Missed Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Punt, Interception. Five of those six drives also lasted only five plays or less with three consecutive three and outs. Whether that is poor play calling or poor execution you have to be able to sustain drives to put teams away. It does not help that their top three receivers are all dealing with injuries heading into their Monday night game against Green Bay.

 Tampa Bay

Unlike Pittsburgh who had to fight to close out backup turned starter Jeff Driskel the Buccaneers made it look easy in a 28-10 victory. It was a little disappointing that Mike Evans only had two (2) catches for two (2) yards but they were both touchdowns so that helps cover it up. The running back usage continues to bamboozle fantasy players as it started to look like Leonard Fournette was building towards being the primary ball carrier only to have Ronald Jones have 10 more snaps and six (6) more carries. It will be easier to predict this week as Fournette will be out with an injury so Jones should be a strong RB2 candidate.

 New Orleans

For a second consecutive week, it was the Alvin Kamara show for New Orleans as he accounted for 50 percent of the team’s offensive yards. Unfortunately for the Saints, they need Michael Thomas to be able to win games regardless of how stellar Kamara is playing. Drew Brees refuses to push the ball downfield allowing the defense to play tighter coverage. With Thomas now ruled out for at least one more week Kamara could have another massive game against a so-so Lions team.

NFC WEST
San Francisco

It was another convincing win against a New York-based football team but once again the injury bug depleted an otherwise already thin roster even thinner. Both Jerick McKinnon and Jordan Reed were nicked up in the victory and while McKinnon should be able to suit up in week 4, Reed may be heading to the IR. Luckily, Brandon Aiyuk showed why he was a first-round selection making plays in both the passing and running game. With reinforcements coming this week with George Kittle and potentially Deebo Samuel making his season debut this team the 49ers should be able to handle the slumping Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

 LA Rams

The Rams did not look strong in the first half on Sunday but they were able to stick with their game plan and turned it around in the second half, even completing the comeback before giving the lead back to the Bills in the final two minutes. Everyone who did not sell short on Darrell Henderson’s disappointing rookie season was finally rewarded with what hopefully is his breakout game. He rushed for his first career 100+ yard game. Rookie Cam Akers is out for another week so it will continue to be Henderson and Malcolm Brown splitting snaps in the backfield. Their next opponent, the New York Giants, should give Henderson owners another solid week of RB2 production.

 Arizona

Kyler Murray had his first sub-par performance of the season as he threw three (3) interceptions and while it did not necessarily have as big an impact on his fantasy points thanks to his superior rushing production it likely cost his team a win. Andy Isabella was a bright spot for the offense as he had two (2) touchdowns and over 20 PPR points. He only saw 40 percent of the snaps which was fourth among the Cardinals receivers but maybe he has earned more opportunities with how efficient he was. With Christian Kirk still nursing his injury and DeAndre Hopkins missing all practices this week he has a chance to have a follow-up performance.

Seattle

It was another week of mastery by Russell Wilson as he threw five touchdowns against the Cowboys. He would have had a sixth if not for D.K. Metcalf fumbling at the goal line off a perfectly placed deep pass. The Seahawks secondary has not looked good these first three weeks either which means that Russell Wilson is likely to continue passing the ball out of necessity. Both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have a real shot at finishing in the top 5 of fantasy receivers, currently being WR2 and WR6 respectively. This offense is what many though Chris Godwin and Mike Evans were going to be with Tom Brady coming to town.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 2

Updated: September 25th 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.

NFC EAST

 NY Giants

Daniel Jones thus far through the Giants’ first two games has not taken the second-year leap that many thought he would have. It does not help that his receivers cannot seem to stay healthy as he only briefly had all of his offensive starters available before Sterling Shepard went down with a toe injury and of course Saquon Barkley is now out for the remainder of the season. Devonta Freeman was signed this week to provide a better all-around back compared to Dion Lewis who finished off the game last week but it is still a significant downgrade. Expect teams to focus more on putting pressure on Jones via their pass rushers. With how mediocre their offensive line has looked the team’s first two games it could be a long season for Daniel Jones’ fantasy owners.

Dallas

On a positive note, Dallas was able to come back and win a game in which they were down by twenty points but it should never have come to that. The offense made some bad turnovers in the first half and special team failures allowed the Falcons to have several series start deep in Dallas’ territory. Once they stopped causing self-inflicting damage Dallas was able to start working the ball down the field with ease, scoring points on seven (7) of their final (8) drives. Their severe deficit was the reason that Dak Prescott threw nearly 50 attempts. He was also the benefit of three (3) short-yardage rushing touchdowns which likely left Ezekiel Elliot owners wanting more.  Dallas is a better team than Atlanta but they are probably closer to each other than Dallas is to the elite NFC teams. Shootouts are going to be their only shot of winning games until they can have a better showing on the defensive side of the ball.

Philadelphia

Through two games it is pretty obvious that this team cannot stop opponents’ tight ends. They allowed Logan Thomas to score in week 1 and then were torched by Tyler Higbee for three (3) touchdowns last week. That will be an interesting counter-stream to target with guys like Drew Sample (CIN), George Kittle/Jordan Reed (SF), and Eric Ebron (PIT) upcoming the next three (3) weeks. Their offense will be without Jalen Reagor for at least a month, maybe more, which means that Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are going to be heavily targeted until some of their wide receivers start to return from injury. It is a tough blow for Reagor and depending on how long he is out for, may limit his use to fantasy players.

Washington

It took a week but fantasy owners who believed in Antonio Gibson were rewarded with a better performance in week 2 against Arizona. It may have been due to the game getting out of hand early and the skillset of Gibson fitting better during passing situations compared to week 1 which featured more traditional runs from Peyton Barber at the goal line. The emergence of J.D. McKissic is also one to monitor as his skillset mirrors a lot of what Gibson is and might be limiting how much his usage expands in the offense. Either way, Gibson improved his snap count from 18 to 43 from week-to-week which shows he is becoming more involved as the coaching staff trusts him more. Until we see more consistency from him in both positive and negative game script, Gibson will be treated as a low-end RB3/Flex play most weeks.

NFC NORTH

Detroit

Slowly, De’Andre Swift is becoming more involved in the offense but his usage seems to be primarily limited to the passing game at this point. He has out-snapped the other two running backs in both games this season but he has been third in the pecking order for carries. The big drop at the end of week 1 probably caused bigger trust issues with fans than with his actual teammates but it may take a while before Swift can take full control of this backfield. This situation seems similar to the 2017 Bengals that featured rookie Joe Mixon, along with veterans Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. It took Mixon almost half the season before he was consistently receiving a 50 percent or better snap rate and even then it was not until Hill left that offseason before Mixon became what he is now. Fantasy owners should be hopeful that Swift can keep up his 12PPG total right now while also realizing that it may take a season before his true breakout can be had.

 Green Bay

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” said Mark Twain… and probably Aaron Jones. Many fantasy managers were panicking about Aaron Jones’ value when A.J. Dillion was drafted in the second round this year and it may have benefited some savvy owners. Jones has seen a total of 77 snaps this season to Dillon’s seven (7) and has outscored Dillon 63:3 in just two games. It is safe to say that this is still Aaron Jones’ backfield and should be for a long time. Anybody who was able to acquire Jones at a reduced cost may be looking at a championship this season.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s offense last Sunday can be summed up in two letters, P-U. Kirk Cousins finishing with negative fantasy points tells you everything you need to know about how efficiently their offense operated and his three (3) interceptions sunk the value of every other player around him. Dalvin Cook was the only player to not leave a bad taste in fantasy owners’ mouth and that was only because of a late-game 8-point touchdown and two-point conversion to boost his stats. They move on to play the Titans in week 3 but other than Cook and maybe Adam Thielen there is going to be no fantasy value to this roster until further notice.

Chicago

The early surprise of the season is that the Chicago Bears are 2-0 and Mitch Trubisky has not looked awful yet. He played well in the fourth quarter of week 1 with three (3) touchdowns to come from behind and while he did not necessarily have a great game last Sunday he did enough to keep the Bears undefeated. It has not helped his receivers though as only Allen Robinson has caught more than six (6) passes and no receiver has over 20PPR points yet. The Bears have another favorable matchup against an Atlanta defense that has been skewered by the pass the first two weeks of the season.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

Like the Giants, the Panthers are going to need to find a different offensive game plan as their all-pro running back Christian McCaffrey went down with an ankle injury and will be out at least the next three (3) weeks. Teddy Bridgewater has surprisingly been passing more often and with greater depth-per-attempt than he had been in either Minnesota or New Orleans. This hopefully means that he, along with D.J. Moore, who had a nice bounce-back game, and Robby Anderson can keep this team afloat while they await McCaffrey’s return. Their performances may not be translating to actual wins right now but for their fantasy owners, it seems to be working.

Tampa Bay

After having only nine (9) snaps on offense in week 1, Leonard Fournette led the Tampa Bay backfield with 26 in his second week with the team. His increase was likely due to Ronald Jones’ fumble that put him on relief duty for much of the second half. Still, it is clear that Fournette is the better running back for the Bucs right now and will only increase that gap as he becomes more familiar with the offense. Even discounting his 46-yard touchdown to close the game out, Fournette still rushed for 5.2 yards/carry compared to Jones’ 3.3 yards. He will never receive the volume that he had in Jacksonville but Fournette should be the primary ball carrier from this point on.

 Atlanta

All passing, all the time. That looks like it will be the Falcons mantra for the 2020 season with Matt Ryan already throwing 90 passing in the first two games. Taking from our Street FA Report this should bode well for Russell Gage who played as the team’s WR3 but is one behind Calvin Ridley for targets (21) thus far. Julio Jones is also nursing an injury that may make him unavailable for week 3 against the Bears. This should be another opportunity for Matt Ryan to move the ball around the field making Gage, and may tight end Hayden Hurst, a must start this week if Jones is unable to play.

New Orleans

Maybe it was just one game but it was clear on Monday night that Drew Brees really needed Michael Thomas to be able to make plays to try and keep this offense going. The Saints were unable to move the ball down the field and were only able to generate yardage via the short dump-offs to Alvin Kamara and underneath crossing routes to Tre’Quan Smith. Once the Raiders realized this they clamped down on the offense and were able to keep them out of the endzone for all but a last-second score in the second half. It does not get much easier against Green Bay who has looked offensively dominant in the first two games. It is not often that we worry about Drew Brees in a shootout but he and Sean Payton will need to come up with a better game plan if they want to keep up with Aaron Rodgers.

NFC WEST

San Francisco

No team was hit harder by the injury bug in week 2 that the 49ers as they lost key players on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball. For fantasy purposes, the biggest one has to be Raheem Mostert who ran 80-yards on the opening play and then was done for the start of the second half. For a team that wants to run the ball and use play-action, it is going to be very difficult these next few weeks without their starting quarterback, two starting running backs, and their star tight end for at least one more week. They should be able to win against the Giants this week but any more injuries and it will be an even more uphill battle to make the playoffs in a division that currently has three (3) 2-0 teams to compete with.

 LA Rams

Like I said last week the Rams have gone back to what made them so good when they went to the Super Bowl two years ago. I see a lot of similarities between this team and the Cleveland Browns just with varying results. The difference between them right now is a) the Rams have the better head coach and b) they know what their strengths are and find the best way to use those to their advantage better. Sean McVay wants to keep Jared Goff moving the pocket and focusing on a strong running game with complimentary passing. This week against the Bills and their top ten defense will be a better test for how much they can stay with their game plan and just how “for real” this team is.

Arizona

Another strong performance from Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins has this looking like it might be the best QB-WR combo in the league. Murray’s ability to extend plays and avoid negative yardage has allowed the Cardinals to take down the defending NFC Champs and thoroughly dominate a team that looked pretty solid on defense in their own first game. If it was not for Russell Wilson tearing it up right now Kyler Murray might be the front-runner in the MVP race. Still a whole season to go though.

 Seattle

As mentioned previously, Russell Wilson has dominated his first two games this season and if not for a pick-six that bounced right off of Greg Olsen’s hands he would be near perfect. He is completing a ridiculous 83 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 140. Obviously, this is sustainable through an entire season but if Pete Carroll keeps letting him be the focus of the offense he is going to run away with the MVP votes this season.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews