One Big Thing – NFC – Week 12

Updated: December 5th 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

Antonio Gibson looks to be the 2020 answer to why third-round rookie picks can get propped up in terms of value because when you find a guy like Gibson and are paying him less than $1 million over four years it is a sweet feeling. Both he and James Robinson have been the two contenders for the best rookie running back heading into this offseason. This, a year after neither was being talked about as a top 20 pick coming out of the draft. Gibson’s transition to the position is what has made his early success even greater as he was playing a different position for much of his collegiate career and in theory, is still learning how to play running back. He has probably warranted enough production to prevent the team from investing any real capital in the position next offseason so his workload could continue to rise. I am sure my value model chart will show that he is one of the best contracts in RSO heading into 2021.

 Dallas

Do not resign All-Pro running backs to massive second contracts seems to be gaining more and more steam as recent examples of Todd Gurley and now potentially Ezekiel Elliot has shown. The fifth-year running back continues to disappoint both fantasy and Cowboys’ fans as despite still controlling the majority of snaps Elliot has not been able to put up the extraordinary numbers he had been doing in his first four seasons. Along with this Tony Pollard is seemingly doing more with fewer touches which is never a good sign that it is just a factor of the offense not having its star quarterback. The option to trade Elliot could be a talking point this offseason as a post-June trade would only cost the Cowboys $1.2 million in cap space. Knowing Jerry Jones though, it is unlikely he would take that kind of hit to his ego for being that wrong about a player he has stood by through so many off-field situations.

 NY Giants

Wayne Gallman may have won the award for mid-season pickup of the year as he has averaged 16.3 fantasy points since week 7 while scoring a touchdown in each of the last five (5) games. Daniel Jones’ injury will hamper the offense’s productivity so hopefully, Gallman can maintain the success he has had over the last month. The fourth-year runner has started more games this season than he had in his previous three (3) seasons combined thanks to the Saquon Barkley injury and it comes just in time for a new contract. It will be interesting to see if he stays with the Giants to resume what would be backup duties or if he tries to springboard this second-half performance into an opportunity with a more open backfield as a free agent.

 Philadelphia

Fellow RSO writer and draft expert Bob Cowper and I had an open discussion on Twitter as to whether the news that Jalen Hurts was going to be involved more in the offense heading into week 12 was coming from the coaching staff or from management, which is usually never a good sign when the two are not on the same page. The longer this rift continues the more egregious the drafting of Jalen Hurts seems. If you cannot start him over Carson Wentz because you cannot have a backup quarterback account for 17 percent of the cap but you also cannot trade or cut Wentz because it would result in a cap savings of -$24.5 million then why not try and make the best of a bad situation with Wentz and draft to support him instead of drafting his unusable replacement? The reason is that they have tried to but have whiffed so hard at receiver in back-to-back drafts that it is brought up weekly in the football community. None more obvious than watching D.K. Metcalf last week against the Eagles post 10 receptions for 177 yards while the receiver the Eagles took one spot ahead of him, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, has had 12 receptions total over his first two seasons.

NFC NORTH

 Detroit

Coming off the franchise’s first shutout in a decade the Lions needed to have a better performance if the coaching staff and players were likely to make it to 2021. They did not do that instead having three (3) turnovers in an eight (8) play span and allowing 41 points to a three-win team.  As a defensive-minded coach, letting Matt Patricia go this past week seemed like an inevitability. The team seemingly regressed since he took over as head coach after having two winning seasons in Jim Caldwell’s final years. It stands to guess whether the team will move on from long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford and look to fully tear down with a rebuild. If that is the case then who knows whether Kenny Golladay is in their plans for the future as the young wide receiver would likely be priced in the $12-$15 million range as a free agent this offseason. There could be a whole new look to the Lions in the 2021 season.

 Minnesota

We have to give it to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense as having two fumbles returned for touchdowns on consecutive plays would have caused a lot of teams to fold like a poor soufflé but they hung around and scored 18 fourth-quarter points to steal a late victory. Justin Jefferson continues to impress and he stepped up big with Adam Thielen sidelined for COVID protocol. The rookie had his second multi-touchdown game and his fourth game with over 20 PPR points. The Vikings have done enough this season that likely the core of this offense will be running it back in 2021 which should help with the continuity of developing a young superstar like Jefferson seems to be. Look for Jefferson in the top 10 conversation for dynasty wide receivers when the 2021 mock drafts start opening up.

 Chicago

Awful, just an awful showing by the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. It looked like they might be able to hang with the Packers as their second play of scrimmage was a surprising 57-yard run up the middle by David Montgomery which led to a field goal. But two turnovers the next two drives led to the Bears being down 27-3 mid-way through the second quarter and then it was all garbage time points the second half. Allen Robinson continues to be victimized by poor quarterback play and has been the only consistent option for fantasy on the Bears offense. For your sake Allen, please go sign with a contender or at least a competent quarterback so you can spread your wings before it is too late.

 Green Bay

Please just accept the fact that Jamaal Williams is not bad as a 1B in the Green Bay offense and you will find a lot of your Aaron Jones frustration will subside. Williams has now held onto a significant role in the offense under two different coaching regimes so clearly, he has the skills to warrant the touches and snaps he receives. Aaron Rodgers has also talked about how great he is in the locker room so those asking for #FreeAaronJones might get their wish when he leaves in free agency this offseason instead of Williams. Williams’ contract value would surely be less than that of Jones to resign and the team spent significant capital in A.J. Dillion already so why would they spend a significant amount on a position which I have already talked about with the Cowboys that often does not lend itself to benefiting from signing large second contracts. It could be Dillon eating into Jamaal Williams’ workload in 2021. What a twist that would be.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

IDP leagues were probably a buzz with Jeremy Chinn scoring defensive touchdowns on back-to-back plays in the third quarter last week. I do not usually talk about defensive players that much since IDP leagues are in the minority of the fantasy community but Chinn’s performance this season has been outstanding as the number two scoring safety and overall 12th highest scoring defensive player. Not bad for a rookie. Going back to the offense the Panthers have the rare week 13 bye so hopefully, one more full week of rest will give Christian McCaffrey the green light for the fantasy playoffs. Mike Davis has trailed off as of late and the team could use McCaffrey’s jack of all trades skillset to finish this season on a positive one for Matt Rhule’s first year as Head Coach.

 Atlanta

For once the Falcons offense did not have to carry the team as the defense forced five (5) turnovers and was the week 12 DST1 for those who still play with team defenses. On the offensive side, Brian Hill and Ito Smith split time with Todd Gurley out with the latter scoring a touchdown during the start of the fourth quarter. The Falcons return to play New Orleans for the second time in three weeks and hopefully, they saw enough of what Taysom Hill was the first time to have a better performance than the nine points they put in week 11. If both Julio Jones and Todd Gurley can return that would also help.

 New Orleans

Whether it is game planning or just trying to avoid putting mistakes on Taysom Hill the Saints should not feel confident with Hill as their future despite having two wins in Drew Brees’ absence. In his two starts, Hill has failed to score a single passing touchdown and has only completed 27 passes. Yes, his four (4) rushing touchdowns have kept his fantasy performances to a respectable level but against a team that did not have a starting quarterback, one would expect more as a passer if he was truly their solution. His weak passing performances have hampered what was otherwise a weekly RB1 season from Alvin Kamara who has only one (1) reception the last two games and 16 PPR points combined. Please come back, Drew. We won’t make fun of you not passing the ball deep anymore.

 Tampa Bay

This was the second game in a month that the Buccaneers got down big early and immediately seemed to abandon the run. The offensive game plan does not seem to be gelling with what Byron Leftwich and Bruce Arians want to do and how Tom Brady sees the field. It does not help that neither of Ronald Jones or Leonard Fournette appears to fit with Tom Brady’s usual check-down running back style. Both have had repeated drops on dump-down passes causing more long conversion attempts than need be. KeShawn Vaughn drafters are probably wondering how bad he has to be if he cannot be activated for games to at least be the pass-catching option. This is a problem unlikely to be solved mid-season and once again the focus will be on if the Bucs bring in a running back with receiving upside then they could shoot up the draft or auction boards.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury definitely played a factor in his poor performance last Sunday but Bill Belichick just seems to have a way of owning young quarterbacks in their first appearance against the future Hall of Fame coach. Murray has only carried the ball five (5) times in each of the last two games since getting injured and the runs he does have are more breakdown, scramble drills than designed runs. He is still a good passer but he is not Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers so for Murray to keep up for the highest scoring quarterback title he needs to have his running game at full strength. If Larry Fitzgerald misses a second game for COVID protocols and DeAndre Hopkins is locked up with Jalen Ramsey this week, it could be another subpar performance from Murray.

 San Francisco

Deebo Samuel returned from his second stint of injuries to finally put his first WR1 week on the board with a career-high 11 receptions. After being this offseason’s darling for his rookie season performance Samuel has not been much help to fantasy owners in 2020, playing in only five (5) games thus far. The injuries to the rest of the team have also hurt to give support around him but Samuel showed that, when healthy, he can be a yards after the catch machine and a huge PPR stat compiler. His value likely has not waned in his fantasy owner’s eyes but Samuel could be a re-breakout candidate in 2021 once the returning cast on offense is at full strength.

 LA Rams

Statistically, this was the game that many of those who drafted Cam Akers thought would happen when they drafted the running back at the end of the first round. The rookie had 84 yards rushing and scored his first career rushing touchdown to “lead” the backfield in week 12. I say lead but Akers still played only the third-most snaps of the three running backs and 61 of his rushing yards came on a single play leaving 23 yards on his other eight (8) carries. Without an offseason to learn the offense and gain confidence with the coaching staff it made sense that Sean McVay would lean on veteran experience to start the year. But after three months of weekly practices and real game experience, it has to be worrisome that Akers has not been able to take over the backfield yet. Maybe he finds a role in 2021 but heading into the offseason I would be seeing if I could flip him for a second-round pick before the bottom potential falls right out.

 Seattle

D.K. Metcalf wanted to show the Eagles they made a mistake not take him in the 2019 draft and he delivered on Monday night. The sophomore receiver accounted for 77 percent of the Seahawks receiving yards and 45 percent of the team’s receptions while dominating Darius Slay in man-to-man coverage. While the kitchen has cooled for Russell Wilson it remained on fire for D.K. Metcalf who has been the most consistent fantasy receiver in 2020. With only two games scoring less than 13 PPR points, Metcalf is currently the WR3. Tyler Lockett has been no slouch either as the current WR7 but 57 percent of his production has come in just three (3) games so it has been more of a roller coaster ride for his fantasy owners. Games against both New York teams and Washington in the coming weeks will likely only help keep both receivers in the top 10.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 11

Updated: November 26th 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

Alex Smith and Co. did not have to do much to get their third win of the season as the defense kept the Bengals offense in check, especially once Joe Burrow left the game. They relied mostly on their running game with the most rushing attempts since their week 7 victory over Dallas. Antonio Gibson finished as the weekly PPR RB8 totaling over 100 yards also since week 7. This week they face a familiar face in the Cowboys so we can fire up both Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic for a likely RB2/Flex week.

 Philadelphia

Zach Ertz has been designated for return after missing the last five (5) weeks with an ankle injury but I do not think that will be able to solve the Eagles’ problems, which seem to be between Caron Wentz’s ears. The cross-field interception in the first quarter that the Browns’ defense scored on was atrocious and it appears that Carson Wentz is too in his head to be making the split-second decisions. Head Coach Doug Peterson has suggested once Ertz returns that they could try more “13” personnel (3 tight ends). I do not know if that is because their three tight ends have been their most consistent pass-catchers or because they want to take the ball out of Wentz’s hands and run the ball more. Either way, do not expect the Eagles’ offense to bounce back any time soon as they face the Seahawks, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals over the next month.

 Dallas

The old Ezekiel Elliot and Andy Dalton returned after the Cowboys’ bye week and the team showed life for the first time since Dak Prescott’s injury derailed their season. Zeke went over 100 yards for the first time this season and the offense scored as many points (31) as they had in their previous three (3) games combined. Dalton was also able to spread the ball around as Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Dalton Schultz all caught at least four (4) passes. Unfortunately, it appears that Michael Gallup’s fantasy appeal has all but evaporated as despite this being a high scoring game, Gallup only managed two (2) catches on five (5) targets. Other than their week 13 matchup against the Ravens, the Cowboys’ schedule favors their chances of winning quite well which means they may have the inside track to winning the NFC East.

NFC NORTH

 Detroit

Of course the week after D’Andre Swift has his breakout game he then is forced to miss the next week with concussion symptoms. None of that is his fault of course; it is just unfortunate that he was not able to immediately build on his momentum. His availability may not have made a difference anyway as with Matthew Stafford nursing his own injury the offense was woefully unproductive and suffered their first shutout since 2009. The Lions have another plus matchup on Thanksgiving against a poor Texans defense so hopefully, they can turn things around quickly. Swift has already been ruled out for a second straight game so it will be on Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson.

 Minnesota

Just when we thought the Vikings were gaining momentum to maybe be a dark horse wildcard team they suffer a back-breaking loss to a two-win Cowboys team. It was not because of their offense though as Dalvin Cook once again had 160 total yards and Kirk Cousins threw for over 300 yards and three (3) touchdowns. Most importantly Cousins did not have a turnover which is the usual culprit for a tough Vikings loss. Looking ahead in the Vikings’ schedule, Cook will have to put on an all-time performance if he hopes to keep up in the race for fantasy MVP. Matchups against the Buccaneers, Bears, and Saints feature three of the top 10 run defenses in the league.

 Green Bay

For how strong the Colts defense has been all season putting up 31 points is no slouch performance by Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, the best part of the Colts, their run defense, stuffed Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams for much of the day despite the Packers have a big lead after the first half. The team needs Allen Lazard back at full strength because while he suited up and had two (2) receptions, he only played on 59 percent of the snaps and had no impact on the passing game. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a nice deep threat but Aaron Rodgers needs a reliable second option to Davante Adams if the team is going to have a deep playoff run.

NFC SOUTH

 Atlanta

It was always going to be a tough matchup for the Falcons against the Saints but after going up 9-3 it looked like there could be a chance for an upset if they could just finish their drives with touchdowns. Not only did they not finish with touchdowns but after their third field goal with four minutes left in the second quarter, the Falcons had three punts and two interceptions on their final five full drives. Todd Gurley had no running room against a top Saints run defense and Julio Jones was substituted in and out of the game with a hamstring injury. The Falcons finish with a brutal end to the season with another matchup against the Saints in two weeks, two games against the Buccaneers and their strong run defense and games against three tough AFC West teams (Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers). It will be hard to imagine Todd Gurley being much more than a flex at best for the final six weeks of the season.

 New Orleans

The Taysom Hill experiment almost did not work, until it did. No passing touchdowns for the quarterback in his first start but he had two rushing touchdowns to give a boost to those who took a gamble and started him. Most thought that he was going to be a drain on the receivers he was passing to but, and maybe we should have seen this coming, it was actually their running back Alvin Kamara who suffered the most from Hill’s first start. Only scoring 10.5 PPR points, it was by far Kamara’s worst game of the season and his first career game without a reception.  Fantasy players can only hope that this was just a one-time occurrence as not having Kamara at his usually weekly RB1 potential could doom a lot of fantasy managers down the stretch.

 Carolina

P.J. Walker stepped in for Teddy Bridgewater and other than having two killer interceptions in goal-to-go situations that really could have padded his stats, Tucker played well in his first NFL start. The former XFL star is likely going back to the bench this week with Bridgewater set to return but it shows that in deeper Superflex leagues he might be an outside option next year for those who handcuff quarterback. Both Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel as suggested last week had a bounce-back performance with 15.9 and 21.4 PPR points respectively. Davis should have one final showing before the rare week 13 bye when likely Christian McCaffrey will make his second return this season. Do not drop him yet though as we already learned anything can happen and he may be called on a third time to close out the season.

 Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers offense just does not seem to be gelling in a way that is sustainable to win what looks more like four road games in a row to be Super Bowl Champions as a wild card team. Despite having two above-average running backs neither seems to be reliable when both are mixed into the game evenly. Ronald Jones’ best games came when he was given the bulk of the work and was able to build momentum similar to how Derrick Henry out physicals opponents as he figures out the defense. Tom Brady, the play designs, and the execution also do not seem to be on the same page with one another as several of Brady’s mistakes in this game appeared to be either misreading routes or just not placing the ball where it needed to be. After another Brady vs. Mahomes showdown, the offense will have four (4) tune-up games against what should be beatable opponents to try and orient what kind of team they want to be in the playoffs. Hopefully, that can translate to more consistent performances for fantasy purposes.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

After an emotional Hail Mary win on Sunday and then a quick turnaround for a Thursday night game the Cardinals could maybe be forgiven for a letdown performance against the Seahawks. The game was still close and they even had a chance to win it on the final drive but with Kyler Murray injuring his shoulder early in the game their whole offense seemed just a little off. Murray only rushed five (5) times for 15 yards and also failed to score with his legs for the first time since week 4. It is crazy to expect that from a quarterback but that is the type of season Murray has been having. If his shoulder injury does not hold him back there should be no concerns with him, or the offense moving forward. He is the leader heading into the back half of the season to be 2020’s fantasy MVP.

 Seattle

A “must perform better” game for Russell Wilson was needed and he delivered. After having multiple turnovers in three (3) of the previous four (4) games he turned in a near-flawless performance with only five (5) incompletions and no turnovers. Having a running game probably helped with that as having Carlos Hyde return and provide 79 yards on the ground did not allow for the defense to tee-off on Wilson as they had been in recent weeks. Wilson and the Seahawks should feast over the next month against inferior NFC East opponents along with the winless Jets so expect top 12 performance from all his supporting cast. Could Wilson make a late-season push back into the fantasy and NFL MVP conversation?

 LA Rams

I think the poet Stefon Diggs put it best two weeks ago when he said, “That’s why you pay me” and indeed that Monday night performance was why the Rams paid Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. The two combined for 23 receptions and 270 receiving yards! They clearly wanted to remind everyone that they are should be considered the top receiving duo in the NFC West, if not the league. Other than last week’s game against the already well-documented tough Buccaneers run defense, the offense has been well balanced with their running and passing game and although it has not translated to consistent fantasy points for any one running back, they do feature two running backs in the top 35. With the second-ranked defense after 11 weeks, and back-to-back quality wins against playoff teams the Rams are poised to be one of the better teams entering the playoffs.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 10

Updated: November 19th 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 was great to see Miles Sanders back and dominate the backfield (72 percent) snap. Although, it was frustrating to watch Corey Clement come in for his one snap of the game and vulture a goal-line touchdown from him. Slowly, the offense is getting the band back from injuries so there is hope that the scoring efficiency can start to bounce back too. Dallas Goedert caught four (4) passes in his second game back and there is optimism that Zach Ertz could be back in week 12. If Carson Wentz wants to prevent a quarterback controversy heading into 2021, he will need to have his weapons give him a boost in the second half of the season.

 NY Giants

The last two games have probably saved Daniel Jones from being replaced in the draft this season but he needs to prove that he can beat teams other than Washington and Philadelphia before we can consider him a long-term solution. The players, except for Golden Tate, have bought into the philosophy of what Joe Judge is trying to build in New York and while it may not look all that great when you look at the standings, the Giants still have a chance at the playoffs. I think it would benefit the team better long term to have their picks be in the top half rather than accidentally having the 18th selection but playoff experience and winning a division can go a long way to building the confidence of players.

 Washington

I was right last week about J.D. McKissic becoming the next PPR machine for Alex “check-down” Smith. McKissic co-led the team in receptions (7) and had the most targets of any player, not just running backs, in week 10 with fifteen (15)! It helped that Washington was trying to, and successfully, come back from a large deficit but we knew that they were going to be in these types of situations moving forward. The rest of the way McKissic can be a plug-and-play Flex/RB2.

NFC North

 Green Bay

What should fantasy managers do with Marquez Valdes-Scantling? MVS had his second big performance in a row but the problem is that he has not been targeted all that much since Allen Lazard left the lineup, 4.5 targets per game, and he is supposed to be back this week. Valdes-Scantling’s targets could drop even further with Lazard back now. The Packers do have a history of having their receivers breakout later but for those sitting with MVS on his rookie contract, they only have another year and half of value. I would be shopping him for a third-round (or even fourth-round) pick just to get another lottery ticket in the future.

 Detroit

They finally unleashed the beast and it had an immediate payoff for fantasy and Lions’ fans! D’Andre Swift played on 72 percent of the team’s snaps and commanded 21 touches that resulted in 149 total yards. We can only hope that Matt Patricia and the staff do not double back on their promise to feature Swift more. As a mid-to-late round first pick last year, Swift could be the shot in the arm that fringe playoff teams needed heading into the playoffs. The upcoming schedule features four of the top 12 teams in terms of the highest rushing yards per attempt against over the next five weeks.

 Minnesota

After two monster weeks, it was going to be difficult for Dalvin Cook to three-peat against a tough Bears defensive front. He still managed 106 total yards but it took 34 touches to do so and most  of his yards came after Akeem Hicks left the game. His efficiency should rebound heading into the fantasy playoffs as, like the Lions, the Vikings’ next three opponents (Cowboys, Panthers, Jaguars) are all in the top 10 of rushing yards allowed. For Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, hopefully, they can fit into the game plan too.

 Chicago

His teammates may want him back but with the way the quarterback situation has played out this season one would think that Allen Robinson would at least want to test the market. The Bears are not going to be in a position to draft a highly ranked rookie quarterback this season and while they could make a move to go up and get one I think there is a chance that Nick Foles will still be the starter for at least 2021 due to guaranteed money. A top re-sign candidate across many RSO leagues this season I do not know if I would commit the large, long-term deal to Robinson just yet that he likely is asking. He turns 32 next year and contracts I have seen for him range from $80-$120M over the next 3 or 4 years. A more modest price could be had at auction next offseason when his situation is less fluid.

NFC SOUTH

 Tampa Bay

I think that was more what we expected the Buccaneers’ offense to be like with 544 total yards and 46 points against an overreaching Panthers squad. The spinning needle landed on Ronald Jones this week who, despite having his second game this season with an early fumble, out-touched Leonard Fournette 24-10. He also broke off a massive 98-yard touchdown to boost his weekly production. We may have finally cracked the formula for the backfield touches, it just may be hard to predict what scenario the Bucs will be in week-to-week. If they are winning big, expect Ronald Jones. If they are losing or are passing more successfully, use Fournette.

 Carolina

The Cinderella story for Curtis Samuel ended at two games, but it was not just him as the entire Panthers’ offense struggled to get much done against a loaded Bucs defense. The team managed only 187 total yards, less than Ronald Jones had against them by himself (198), and now with Teddy Bridgewater nursing a knee injury it could be even more difficult for the offense to find themselves in scoring opportunities. At least D.J. Moore came off the missing person’s list after having only four (4) catches and 73 yards the last two games. The team could lean on Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel out of the backfield against the Lions in week 11 if Bridgewater was to miss out so there is a chance for those two to have a rebound performance.

 New Orleans

The big topic of the week, how hurt is Drew Brees and how much will Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill be used in his absence? We are pretty sure how this one will go as we had a glimpse of the Saints sans Drew Brees last year and it was Teddy Bridgewater who played the same role as Brees and Hill did his same gadget plays on a handful of downs. We should expect Jameis Winston to be the starting quarterback, play as many snaps as a normal starting quarterback would play, and produce similar to what he was doing in Tampa Bay the previous four seasons. The Saints also play a whole plate of cupcake defenses over the next month (Atlanta twice, Denver, and Philly) so Winston could be stepping into a QB1 floor with weekly top 3 finishes if he has built chemistry with his receivers.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

A second-round pick and David Johnson. That was all it took for the Arizona Cardinals to get DeAndre Hopkins and just on last week’s catch alone it would have already been worth it. The announcers in this game made the critical mistake after Stefon Diggs caught his go-ahead touchdown claiming, “He’s been the best wide receiver this season” and I think DeAndre Hopkins took that personally. Hopkins leads the league in percentage of his team’s targets (28.3 percent) and has been invaluable to the development of Kyler Murray. Only 28 years old, Hopkins and Murray could dominate the league together with both being locked up through 2023 (obvious fifth-year option incoming after 2022 for Murray) and the fantasy points will continue to roll in. Do not try and be smart by cashing out on either guy right now, just ride the wave.

 San Francisco

Brandon Aiyuk appears to be fitting in as the 49ers WR1 with the rash of injuries that surround him. The rookie wide receiver finished second in targets last week with 14 and has been the most targeted 49ers player every week since week 7. No update has been given on how long Deebo Samuel will be out with his hamstring injury or if George Kittle will make an appearance in the final games of the season. My guess is that the latter will be shut down based on how this season has progressed and Aiyuk will continue to be fed his targets. Although the 49ers’ offense has struggled, Aiyuk should be a safe WR3 floor with WR2 upside most weeks.

 Seattle

That slow leak you hear is the chances of Russell Wilson winning his first MVP award after having ten (10) turnovers in three (3) of their last four (4) games, all losses. At least in the previous two games, he was still scoring touchdowns through the air and on the ground to keep his weekly fantasy total a respectable number. That did not happen in week 10 as Wilson failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season and finished with under 10 fantasy points. Should owners be worried that this is a trend, probably not. Will Wilson be returning to the heights that he was achieving earlier in the season though, probably not.

 LA Rams

Are we finally seeing the breakout of Josh Reynolds? The fourth-year receiver has led the Rams in targets in two (2) of the last three (3) games and put up one of the best statistical performances of his career last week. As I have mentioned in past Rams’ recaps, the financial commitment that the team has already made to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp makes Reynolds’ return after the season unlikely. But, a strong close to the 2020 season definitely will have suitors calling him who may need a 1B option to help strengthen their offense. If his re-sign is cheap enough, or he is still sitting on your league’s waiver wire, sign Reynolds up now and watch his stock rise over the next 6 months.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 9

Updated: November 14th 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

Darius Slayton still has consistently played on 85+ percent of the snaps but since Sterling Shepard’s return in week 7 his targets have dropped significantly. Slayton has two (2) or fewer catches in three (3) of the last four (4) games and only 15 targets the last three (3) games. Meanwhile, Sterling Shepard has seen 26 targets. I do not think this is all on Slayton though as it has been clear watching the Giants’ games that quarterback Daniel Jones struggles to make throws consistently and Slayton has been missed on several open routes that could have been big plays and/or touchdowns. I do not know if the Giants will move on from Daniel Jones if they have a chance to draft one of the quarterbacks next offseason but it could be better for Slayton to have a more accurate passer rather than a big arm bomber.

 Washington

Alex Smith has returned to the starting role for Washington and while everyone has pointed to how well Terry McLaurin has played with the quarterback carousel around him this moved could put J.D. McKissic on the fantasy radar for the rest of the season. Smith has always been a quick release, find the running back when nothing is immediately open type of quarterback and it showed last week. McKissic led the team with nine (9) catches. For a team that will likely be playing either keep up or catch up, McKissic could become the new James White; a running back that sees two to five carries a game but has eight to twelve targets.

 Dallas

If you had told me going into last week’s matchup that Dallas would be minus two (2) in turnovers and double the Steelers in penalties I would have thought the game would have been 44-10. The Cowboys surprisingly had a big lead in the fourth quarter that required fifteen unanswered points by the Steelers to remain undefeated. The team finally looked like they were playing for something and left it all out on the field with trick plays and a big-time effort from their fourth starting quarterback in 2020, Garrett Gilbert. Fantasy-wise it was not much different a result for anyone but rookie CeeDee Lamb, who had 71 yards and a touchdown, but this performance is one that the team might be able to use as motivation and rally a few more wins this season. Not drafting in the top 5 could potentially save a lot of jobs heading into 2021.

NFC NORTH

 Green Bay

I mean, with all his running backs on the COVID list except for Aaron Jones who was coming back from an injury, and playing against a banged-up 49ers team we knew it was going to be another Aaron Rodgers game. The veteran quarterback made it look easy and smiled the whole time doing it. He and Davante Adams are destroying secondaries right now with 422 yards and six (6) touchdowns their last three (3) games. Another cupcake matchup against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars could mean another game close to 200 yards for Adams in week 10, especially if Allen Lazard missed another week.

 Chicago

David Montgomery is terrible and the only thing that is making him even rosterable at this point is his volume. He has only surpassed 15 PPR points once in the last seven (7) games despite averaging over 18 touches per game. Every week the meme of him circulates showing the traits of all the great running backs that they projected him to be like and at this point, it is just sad. Who knows what the Bears’ plans are for the draft in 2021 as they have plenty of needs along the offensive line and potentially a quarterback that could cost them a lot of capital to go get. If they take a running back in any round though we have to assume that they will eat more into Montgomery’s workload and relegate him to most fantasy benches.

 Detroit

It was a tough week for Matt Stafford as he had no chance to prepare while in COVID isolation right up to game day and he did not have his top weapon Kenny Golladay to help him out. He then was knocked out of the game in the second half and Chase Daniel had to come in. At least the coaching staff is starting to come around to using D’Andre Swift more as he has seen the most snaps of any Lions running back each week since their week 5 bye. If the team does not improve its win total this season it seems unlikely that the current coaching staff will remain in place. Hopefully replaced by one that will give more opportunities to young players, rather than trying to milk what is left of veterans like Adrian Peterson and Danny Amendola.

 Minnesota

Another week, another dominant performance by Dalvin Cook who once again went over 200 total yards. His success has come at the expense of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson who have only seen 17 targets between the two over the last two games. I do not think the team cares though as they have now won two straight and found their formula for success. It was a tough start to the season, and the playoffs are still a long shot, but if the team can finish strong the rest of the season (7-9, 8-8) it should prevent the front office from doing anything too brash with the roster. Just keep letting Dalvin “Cook”.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

A strong performance against the reigning Champs saw the Panthers take the Chiefs to wire. They also saw the return of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey who picked up where he left off with 37 PPR points. Unfortunately, he picked up a shoulder injury at the end of the game that will force him to miss at least week 10. At this point though either you survived without him coming into week 9 that another week should not make the difference, or you are out of playoff contention and should be looking for him to just get healthy. In the meantime, Curtis Samuel has come onto the scene and put up his second consecutive 20 point performance and the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. The two receivers above him, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson might have bigger clout in the fantasy community but Samuel is the hot receiver right now and could continue to rise as a dynasty asset heading into 2021.

 Atlanta

Is Hayden Hurst a top 5 dynasty tight end? Currently the TE6 in PPR and tied for seventh (7th) in points per game for tights that have played at least three (3) games, Hurst is coming off of four (4) straight double-digit games so one could make the argument. The Atlanta offense has always had a strong fantasy tight end during the Matt Ryan era with the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Austin Hooper and now potentially Hayden Hurst taking on that role. Tight ends tend to be later bloomers than the other skilled positions so although Hurst is 27 there is a potential for at least a half-decade of value as a reliable fantasy option. The big question mark is how much of this offense will still be here moving into the next season. Matt Ryan might be gone, although his contracts along with Julio Jones’ are such albatrosses that it could be unlikely. Either way, if Hurst can closeout 2020 with as strong a performance as his first half he could be right in the thicket of that second tier of tight ends heading into 2021.

 New Orleans

The Saints once again knew exactly what they wanted to do beat the Buccaneers and they executed it to perfection. The offense took advantage of an aggressive defense with quick passes over the Bucs’ blitzes. It also helped to have both Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back on the field together for the first time since week 1. Drew Brees might not put up consistent 300-yard games like he had in his prime years but he showed on Sunday night that he can still be a championship fantasy quarterback. A healthy Saints offense will be tough to beat come playoffs.

 Tampa Bay

If the Saints knew exactly what they wanted to do, the Buccaneers had no idea what their plan was for Sunday night. The team got so scared of being behind in the shootout that they shot themselves in the foot by not staying balance to try and keep the Saints offense off the field. Tom Brady started with four (4) three-and-out drives and the offense had two (2) rush attempts total on those four (4) drives. The team is still one of the best five teams in the league and this game was more of an albatross than anything, but still, the yo-yo performances the Bucs have had this season will make it very difficult to win 3 or 4 games in a row against teams like the Saints in January.

NFC WEST

 San Francisco

It would be hard to blame the 49ers for their poor performance on the short week. They were without their starting quarterback, tight end, two running backs, and basically, their entire receiver core was a last-minute scratch for COVID concerns. Much of the 337 total yards came well into the second half once Green Bay had a comfortable lead. If the team is in fact considering moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo after this season it is obvious after watching this game that Nick Mullens is better served as a career backup rather than a franchise leader and the team would have to look at outside options. With the team still young and a lot of weapons still on rookie deals, the 49ers could bounce back to contention next season once everyone returns healthy. For now, though, it is likely a top 12 draft selection in their future.

 Seattle

It had been a while since Russell Wilson had to avoid as much pressure as he did last week as the Bills gave him fits all afternoon and resulted in four (4) turnovers. He is an elite quarterback so Wilson still managed to put up 34 points but the game was very much about the Bills controlling both sides of the ball. If teams use this blueprint of just consistently attacking Seattle’s secondary more shootouts could be needed from Wilson and Co. to be able to keep pace atop the NFC. That is not necessarily a bad thing from a fantasy outlook.

 Arizona

Kyler Murray is becoming matchup-proof as even going up against the number one ranked defense Murray scored a week 10 best 38 points with another three (3) passing touchdowns along with his first career 100-yard rushing performance and another score on the ground. His breakout this season has been even greater than I think many who were bullish on him to begin the season thought it could be. He has quickly moved into the top 3 of dynasty quarterbacks and if not for the stellar performances of several other quarterbacks this year would like to

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 8

Updated: November 5th 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

 Dallas

Is Ezekiel Elliot’s slump in production just because of the absence of Dak Prescott or is this another example of why playing running backs does not work out after their rookie contracts? With Dak Prescott, Zeke averaged 22.3 PPR points in five (5) games while in the three (3) games since his average has dipped down to 8.8 PPR points. This offense is worse off without their franchise quarterback threatening downfield, and the Cowboys offense was on a record pace for passing numbers but dropping over 14 points is concerning. He is still the overall PPR RB4 so it is not a “get out while you can” type of situation but if you are a rebuilding team or just need a player more reliable for a playoff run, depending on what value a team could get in return for Zeke it might be time to start seriously considering moving him.

 Philadelphia

The Eagles are like the owners in your fantasy leagues that are currently 5-3 but have the third-worst points for and are talking like their team is the team to beat. Stop trying to make fetch a thing, Gretchen! They have a lone bright spot with the emergence of Travis Fulgham who unfortunately is playing out of the possibilities of being a savvy RSO resign candidate but the rest of the offense should not be good enough to be leading a division at the mid-way point. Dallas Goedert’s return also did not do much to help with Carson Wentz’s outlook as he put up a dud in his first game back from injury. Jalen Hurts has to be at least more consistent on a drive-by-drive basis, right?

 NY Giants

If the Eagles are the overachieving 5-3 fantasy owners then the Giants last week are the 1-7 or 2-6 owners who had one of their better games in week 8 but unfortunately were playing the highest-scoring team in the league. Daniel Jones, much like Carson Wentz, has shown that he can make big throws to give confidence that he should be his team’s best option to win. He just lacks the consistency to pull it off and the losses are still piling up. Unlike Wentz however, Jones does not have a big contract to hold over the franchise and if the team continues its losing streak he could be in line for replacing in 2021’s draft.

NFC NORTH

 Minnesota

Dalvin “Cooked” the Packers defense last week and reminded everyone that you cannot just substitute the elite running backs. After being unavailable for the last two and a half weeks, Cook returned with a monstrous 49 fantasy points in week 8. With another great matchup against the Lions in week 9, the Vikings should run back the same game plan to lean on Dalvin Cook. Forcing Kirk Cousins to have to pass for more than 30 times in a game usually has not resulted in many wins this season.

 Green Bay

Davante Adams dominated for a second straight game, scoring 75 PPR points in the last two games, and is now the PPR WR7 despite only playing in five (5) games. There were rumors that Will Fuller may have been joining the green and yellow but the two teams could not work out a trade at the deadline. It could be a blessing for Allen Lazard fantasy owners as he is likely to make his return from his abdominal injury in the coming weeks. Having Fuller in the picture would have likely limited his weekly upside if they both needed to work as the 2A behind Adams. Lazard had his best performance the last we saw him so hopefully, Aaron Rodgers can go right back to having the chemistry they had.

 Detroit

The Lions had to abandon the run for much of the second half after falling behind 20-7 but it was not like they were having much success anyways. Against Indianapolis’ league-best run defense Adrian Peterson and D’Andre Swift combined for 11 carries and seven (7) yards. Their week 9 matchup against the Vikings will be interesting if Matthew Stafford is unable to play. He was placed on the COVID list on Wednesday and his availability is in question at the time of writing. If he is out, Chase Daniels would be the next man up and would make it pretty risky to start many Lions’ players.

 Chicago

Remember my analogy for the Eagles about being an overachieving 5-3 team; well that is exactly what the Bears are looking like. At times in week 8 against the Saints it was painful to watch the predictable play calling and molasses-like read progression of Nick Foles. Anthony Miller had a strong performance, scoring as many points (15.3) as he had accumulated in the previous three (3) games combined (15.6). I still believe that Darnell Mooney is the second option in this offense over Miller but this was a trend in the right direction for giving fantasy owners confidence in him.

NFC SOUTH

 Atlanta

It was another big performance for Julio Jones but somehow it feels like it could have been even bigger. Jones totaled 85 receiving yards in the first quarter and looked like he was going to carve up the Panthers’ defense like he has his whole career. He still finished with 137 yards and 21 PPR fantasy points but I am sure if you asked his fantasy ownership group they would have expected more from what they saw. Since coming back from an injury that forced him to miss week 5, Jones has averaged 24 PPR points thus returning him to his elite WR1 status. With Calvin Ridley also dealing with a foot injury now Jones could be leaned on even more.

 Carolina

I mentioned last week that playing Mike Davis could be a trap as the coaching staff was looking for new ways to get Curtis Samuel involved in the running game. I should have put money on it because that is exactly what they did on their first drive with Samuel stealing a touchdown from Davis via the running game. It remains to be seen how much of a role Samuel will continue to have once Christian McCaffrey comes back though. He appears to have a similar role to Laviska Shenault in Jacksonville where they want to line him up all over the field and to see what kind of matchups the defense gives him.

 New Orleans

I do not understand the Saints’ use of Taysom Hill and their financial commitment to him as it relates to the success of the team. When he lines up as either a running back or a receiver I understand that you want to try and get the ball any way you can to good athletes. To do so however often requires taking out one of the best running backs in the game, Alvin Kamara, who would likely be even more productive with those carries than Hill. Then there is lining him up at quarterback. Not only are you removing one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league, but the defense knows (or should know by now) that he is no threat to pass despite being positioned as a quarterback. Maybe Sean Payton has had to be more gimmicky with his play-calling due to the absence of Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but I would be trusting the ball with Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara more than I would a gadget player.

 Tampa Bay

The roller coast of being a Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette owner continues as Jones was benched for much of the game after his fumble in the first quarter. Neither running back was very efficient with their carries anyways but it must eat away at the RoJo fantasy owners after he averaged 20 PPR points in Fournette’s three (3) game absence. Fournette has seen more snaps since returning from injury two weeks ago and should be hitting his stride for his comprehension of the playbook, as evidenced by him playing more passing downs than Jones. It could be a headache starting either of them each week but both are at least flex options with RB1 upside because of the offense’s efficiency.

NFC WEST

 LA Rams

Let us chalk this one up as an “Oopsie” for Jared Goff and the Rams. Goff had four (4) turnovers in the first half, basically putting the game out of reach for much of the second half. It was a good result for everyone else around him in fantasy as it required 61 pass attempts and both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp being top 10 receivers in Week 8. With the team off on a bye this week, we should expect Head Coach Sean McVay to emphasize ball control and time of possession with key matchups against the Seahawks and Buccaneers on the horizon.

 Seattle

We all knew that after the Tyler Lockett show on Monday Night two weeks ago that D.K. Metcalf was going to get his opportunities to respond last week. After being held to his worst performance of the season (WR74) he dominated the 49ers secondary for 12 catches and two (2) touchdowns and returned to glory as the WR1 in Week 8. There is no slowing down this offense while Russell Wilson is cooking and with the injuries at running back all the more expectation falls on Wilson to carry the load. All eyes watch to see if he can be the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes.

 San Francisco

Nick Mullens looks like he will be the 49ers starting quarterback for the rest of the regular season as the team has decided to shut down Jimmy Garoppolo for a second time. Garoppolo tried to gut out his ankle injury after missing weeks 3 and 4 but his poor performance in his three games since returning likely made that decision easier for them. Mullens will be without George Kittle for the remainder of the season as well as he suffered a broken bone in his foot that will sideline him for two months. The whole offense has been ravished by injuries and it would be a stretch to see this team make the playoffs with the cast left to play. Tough luck for the reigning NFC Champions.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 7

Updated: October 29th 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

I guess the Giants became tired of the Jets having all the negative attention and the iconic quarterback stumble play so Daniel Jones took one for the team by tripping on a walk-in touchdown Thursday night. It was a perfect snapshot of how this season has gone for the Giants and Daniel Jones; a lot of hope and optimism but ultimately coming up short of expectations. If there has been one player even more of a disappointment than Jones thus far it would be Evan Engram. He has shown big gaffs in his pass-catching ability the last couple of games and fantasy owners are becoming impatient with his weekly performances. With the rise of other tight ends around the league his value as a dynasty TE1 has all but faded out.

 Philadelphia

Boston Scott saved the Eagles from what would have been an embarrassing loss to a bad Giants team. Carson Wentz was able to turn it on right at the end of the game to get the victory but against a more competent opponent, the Eagles would have been out of this game long before then. The return and then the immediate exit of DeSean Jackson once again leaves this receiving core with Travis Fulgham and Richard Rodgers as the only two reliable options for Wentz. The good news is that Dallas Goedert should be back from IR and hopefully, Jalen Reagor will be joining him.

 Dallas

The Cowboys looked defeated against Washington and their offensive production was a reflection of that Sunday. The offense only managed 142 yards total and did even less once Andy Dalton was forced to leave with a concussion. This team went from one of the best choices to have a fantasy asset on with Dak Prescott to one of the worst in two weeks. It is really unfortunate. The team moved on from several defensive players this week making an already historically bad defense even worse. They could start to focus on the offense between now and next Tuesday’s trade deadline if someone was to offer them a good pick for one of their wide receivers.

 Washington

Antonio Gibson had the performance that many were expecting to have against a bad Cowboys defense. Gibson has quietly been a consistent RB2 this season with 10 PPR points in five (5) of seven (7) games. For where he was likely taken in rookie drafts this offseason he has already returned a great value of fantasy production to his drafters. I was skeptical of what his role and production level were going to be with him moving from receiver to running back but it is hard to argue with what he has done.

NFC NORTH

 Green Bay

I was 17 yards short on my prediction last week that Aaron Rodgers was going to bounce back and have a 300 yard, 4 touchdown performance against a terrible Houston team. With Aaron Jones out, Rodgers fed Davante Adams who had a career game with 45 PPR points. He dominated that game so much that he had 16 targets and 13 receptions compared to all other Packers’ pass-catchers who combined for 18 targets and 10 receptions. It reminded everyone that the Packers are a real Super Bowl contender but should look to continue adding talent to keep up with teams like Tampa Bay and Kansas City, who added a pair of former All-Pros last week.

 Detroit

The run game was non-existent but luckily D’Andre Swift provided enough in the passing game to prevent a letdown fantasy performance after people started to believe that he was taking over this backfield. Swift is still splitting touches with Adrian Peterson (13:12) but he is dominating the passing game usage, with 25 targets compared to 13 targets for Peterson and Kerryon Johnson combined. He is also being more efficient with 5.3 yards per carry compared to sub 4.0 from the other two. His ceiling is capped with Peterson still in the backfield this season but if he can be bought for either another veteran RB or a first-round pick he is a 2021 breakout candidate right now.

 Chicago

Dennis Green’s infamous 2006 quote, “The Bears are who we thought they were” was the first thing that came to mind while ironically watching Monday Night Football and the Bears’ performance against the Rams. Their offense looked about as good as the Rex Grossman led 2006 Bears team that made the Super Bowl on a lot of defense and special team plays. It is great to see Darnell Mooney taking control of the WR2 position over Anthony Miller but this offense cannot support more than Allen Robinson with its efficiency right now.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

Mike Davis missed scoring a touchdown for the first time in his five (5) games as a starter and averaged a paltry 1.7 yards per carry. Curtis Samuel also scored a goal-line rushing touchdown in a traditional running back style suggesting that Matt Rhule might be looking for different ways to get the ball in his hands. The Panthers’ upcoming game against the Falcons could be Davis’ swan song before Christian McCaffrey’s return but as discussed in the Lions’ section, the Falcons defense limited D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson so it could be a bit of a trap game for fantasy. The Falcons have been better against the run statistically because of how poor they are against the pass so Davis’ fantasy points may need to come through the passing game if he is to avoid back-to-back down performances.

New Orleans

At some point where there is smoke, there must be first with Michael Thomas’ current status with the New Orleans Saints. He cleared the ankle injury that kept him out of the lineup from week 2 to 5 only to be benched for a 1-game suspension in week 6 and now has an apparent hamstring injury that kept him out of week 7 and possibly week 8 also. The conspiracy theorist in me would say that this is all to keep him “healthy” for a potential trade but that may be more of an offseason conspiracy rather than during their quest for a Super Bowl appearance. He may turn it around for the second half of the season but his absence has likely sunk his fantasy teams to the point that they might not make it past week 13 right now.

 Atlanta

As a long-time Todd Gurley fantasy owner who has had a few touchdowns taken away trying to “ice the game” I was a big fan of his Ahmad Bradshaw “give up” touchdown last week. For much of the offseason, Gurley was being dumped on as being washed up with serious knee concerns and fantasy owners should be trying to get out with him no longer in LA. He currently sits as the PPR RB7 and has been available for all seven (7) games this season. The hate will likely continue from those who do not roster him but the circle of us who see his production each week will be glad to have him over many other options either under performing or injured right now.

 Tampa Bay

Will Antonio Brown put the Buccaneers over the top as Super Bowl favorites or will he sink their ship with his shenanigans? That is the question that everyone has as he rejoins Tom Brady after completing his eight-game suspension and signing with Tampa Bay. The pros of the situation are this: he has a rapport with Brady (however short a time it was) and a lot of their receivers are not healthy right now. The con is everything that we have seen off the field the last two years going from Pittsburgh to Oakland and finally New England.  His value is only based on how much someone believes him to be what he was two years ago at this point. How fast people either jump on or off the bandwagon will likely hinge on his first game with fantasy trade deadlines coming up in a couple of weeks.

NFC WEST

 San Francisco

After the draft was over it was being discussed that Brandon Aiyuk might be the biggest faller of the early wide receivers taken because he and second-year receiver Deebo Samuel were likely to play the same role. That has not been the case at all so far and their usages can be explained by a single stat, air yards per target. Samuel is making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage on quick throws for 2.3 air yards while Aiyuk is stretching the field for Jimmy Garoppolo with over 11 air yards. The 49ers scored four (4) rushing touchdowns and showed that they feel comfortable using any of their running backs in a featured role if needed but their success against better opponents may come down to the efficiency of Samuel and Aiyuk on these different passing level concepts along with George Kittle in the middle.

 Seattle

Could I talk about anything else other than Tyler Lockett’s performance last week? The guy had his second three (3) touchdown game of the season already and saw the most targets of any player in a single week (20). Apologies to all the D.K. Metcalf owners who watched that Sunday night game go almost five (5) full quarters and Russell Wilson throwing 50 pass attempts but Metcalf only having two catches. Wilson’s three touchdowns were great but he also had three interceptions which ultimately gave the Cardinals the ball back in overtime and the win. Fantasy owners do not care though as this offense is lethal and they have shown us that they are going to let Russell Wilson decide games, win or lose.

 Arizona

This was the nationally televised game that Kyler Murray needed to show everyone that he can be talked about in the elite tier of quarterbacks with guys like Russell Wilson too. He currently is second only to Wilson in fantasy points per game, has thrown for 270 yards or more in four (4) of seven (7) games and has scored a rushing touchdown in all but one game. He may not beat out Russell Wilson for MVP this season but he will earn some votes, especially if his team can go to Seattle later in the year and earn another victory like the one they had last week over the Seahawks.

 LA Rams

I loved watching Josh Reynolds finally be more involved in Sean McVay’s game plan. He is not an alpha receiver but he complements an offense so well that it frustrates the owners of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. In the last two weeks, he has also scored a touchdown in each game which is a big thing for receivers who do not receive those 10+ targets a game. I do not know if he will be re-signed with the Rams because of their financial commitments now to Kupp and Woods long term but he feels like a player who, much like Woods coming from Buffalo to St. Louis (at the time), becomes a late-career breakout for his second team. A team like Green Bay to compliment Davante Adams would make me so happy.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews