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 – AFC – 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.

AFC EAST

 New England

How an NFL team wins a game where they pass for less than 90 yards and have two interceptions in the modern NFL still confuses me days after the fact. Cam Newton has shown small samples of what he was during his time with Carolina but it has not been enough to likely keep him in New England for a second season. The Patriots’ offensive game plan has always been centered on timing routes with precision accuracy and Newton has not shown much improvement in his accuracy, missing open receivers on both short and deep routes. There was a chance that Newton could springboard this opportunity with New England into a long-term contract with a new team but he likely will need to be a backup who competes for a starting job if he wants to stay much longer in the NFL. With the NFL salary cap likely to be squeezed this offseason if Newton is still on a contract from past years, he is a likely starting point for off-season cut candidates in RSO.

 Miami

DeAndre Washington was a trade deadline addition for the Dolphins that flew under the radar due to rookie Salvon Ahmed coming off two strong performances. With Ahmed missing week 12 and Myles Gaskin still out Washington led the Miami backfield in touches and snaps against the Jets. If the Dolphins are trading for players they must have seen a need at the position and therefore Washington could have a role down the stretch. Not enough to put him on the fantasy radar but enough to be worried about Gaskin’s role when he returns. Depending on who the quarterback is could also influence how much the pass-run ratio works in their favor.

 NY Jets

Five (5) more games till Trevor Lawrence is all that Jets’ fans can be thinking at this point. After almost accidentally winning on Monday night three weeks ago, the Jets have turned back into the pumpkin that they were the first eight weeks of the season. Frank Gore dominated the snaps (60 percent) and backfield touches (21 of 25) with La’mical Perine out so if the Jets were more likely to be in scoring situations he would be a great pickup as an RB3. Unfortunately, he does not contribute enough without scoring a touchdown each week to be useful for all but the most desperate of leagues. Five more games Gang Green, five more games.

 Buffalo

The Bills got their win on Sunday but it did not look easy as the offense frequently tried to let the Chargers back in the game during the fourth quarter with two fumbles and an interception. Stefon Diggs also had his worst performance since week 7’s dud against the Jets. The Bills do not have much of a cushion between them and the Dolphins in the standings so if they want a home playoff game they can ill afford to play down to the level of their opponent in games as they have against the Chargers last week and the Jets in week 7. Leaning on the combination of Zach Moss and Devin Singletary down the stretch may not be a bad idea.

AFC NORTH

 Cincinnati

The score can be deceiving as despite having a respectable 17 points the Bengals scored a kick return touchdown on special teams and their field goal came off a fumble that started the drive at their 45 yards line. In total, the offense only had 155 yards and turned the ball over three (3) times. Tee Higgins’ touchdown late saved what would have otherwise been a terrible fantasy performance for all Bengals’ players and it would be risky to start any player over the final four games of the fantasy season. This really shows how one good quarterback can elevate a bad team to at least a mediocre one. This team is back to where it was ending last season without Joe Burrow.

 Cleveland

Jarvis Landry came off the milk carton with over 140 yards receiving and a touchdown after playing three miserable games in bad weather. For what it was worth Baker Mayfield did well enough to be considered at least a game manager with two (2) touchdowns, no turnovers, and 250 passing yards. Most will still point to the wide-open touchdown that he missed Jarvis Landry on in the red zone and there is no excuse for what that was. The Browns do not have to be spectacular to win games because of their defence and running game but they do need to avoid turnovers and long stretches during games with inefficient quarterback play. Giving the ball around the goal line to Nick Chubb seemed to work too so they should continue to do that.

 Baltimore

Hard to pull any conclusions from that game as much of the offensive group was unavailable to play due to COVID protocols and this was more like a week 4 pre-season game than a do or die week 12 divisional game. Marquise Brown finally did something with third-string quarterback Trace McSorley in the game late, breaking past a sleeping defender to score a long 70-yard touchdown. It was a little disappointing that Dez Bryant was not more involved because of the situation the Ravens were in but with how little the passing game was able to accomplish outside of the one big play maybe he can fit in better over the next four games with Lamar Jackson back…. hopefully.

 Pittsburgh

The Steelers had to run 51 pass plays in a game that they won and the opponent did not score their second touchdown until the final minutes of the game. It shows the lack of running game that the Steelers have had this season and poses a real problem for them once they start playing better opponents in the playoffs. The Chiefs used to have the same problem with being unable to put teams away without an efficient rushing game to keep good opponent’s offenses off the field. It is not necessarily a problem for fantasy as more passing equals more points but for overall team success, the Steelers have to spend the next five games figuring out how to run the ball better.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

Will Fuller likely played his final game in a Texans uniform after being suspended after Thanksgiving’s game for PEDs but it was a great way to go out. As a team already committed to $192 million and expectation that the NFL salary cap could be, at best, flat to this year the Texans likely do not have the space to bring Fuller back even if they wanted to. There were rumors that they have interest but I am not buying it. In his place, Brandin Cooks stands alone atop the depth chart of reliable options for DeShaun Watson. Keke Coutee will step in to play most of his snaps from the slot position and his fantasy value goes from roster fringe to WR3/4. The Texans do not have any other receivers who have played a snap this season so it will be interesting if guys like Steven Mitchell or Isaiah Coulter are used much as third options or Romeo Crennel and the staff just use more two tight end sets.

 Jacksonville

Collin Johnson took advantage of injuries above him on the depth chart in week 12 to post his first career 100-yard game while playing on 80 percent of the snaps. Chris Conley and D.J. Chark’s injuries are not expected to be long-term and one or both could be back after just one game. Still, the 6’6” rookie made an impression and with much of the wide receiver core being free agents in the offseason there could be a large number of snaps and targets opening up heading into 2021. The final month of the season will act as an audition for Johnson and other receivers to see how much capital the current (or potentially new) coaching staff uses during the upcoming draft.

 Tennessee

Scoring 45 points in a game while only having 13 pass completions often lends to the running game having a big day and at halftime, it sure looked like Derrick Henry was on his way to setting records. The King had 140 rushing yards and three (3) touchdowns before the Titans took their foot off the gas with a comfortable 38-14 lead in the third quarter. I could write superlatives each week about how great Henry is but then this would become the Derrick Henry column and I try to give the spotlight to other players once in a while. But if you score three (3) touchdowns in a half I will keep going back to that well.

  Indianapolis

Jonathan Taylor was a late-week scratch as a high-contact COVID concern so Nyheim Hines got a majority of the snaps (65 percent) for the third time this season, finishing with both the most carries (10) and catches (8) for the Colts. With the Colts seemingly comfortable with all three of the running backs they have and spending the draft capital on Taylor this past offseason, it is highly unlikely the team will target adding another running back in 2021 which is good news for Hines’ future value. He is more likely to be a 1B than a true backup in Frank Reich’s offensive game plan at worst so his fantasy value should continue to hold. Hines is a strong zero-RB auction option next season for those who like to keep their running back contracts shorter and cheaper.

AFC WEST

 LA Chargers

Austin Ekeler returned from his week 4 injury and dominated the touches for the Chargers in week 12 with 14 carries and 11 (!) receptions. It is unfortunate that he missed so much of this season as based on what we have seen from his four (4) full games he likely would have finished as an RB1 on the season. Anthony Lynn likely will not be returning as the Head Coach though after how egregious some of the decision-making was, not only at the end of this game but throughout the season. If a new staff does come in it will be worth monitoring how they feel about Ekeler as a Christian McCaffrey do it all-type of running back or if they want to bring in better options to spread the workload around.

 Las Vegas

What was that? The whole Raiders team collapsed against an up and down Falcons team in a 43-6 thumping but the spotlight focused right in on Derek Carr’s play. I gave all the praise to Carr last week for being a consistent but under-the-radar quarterback in fantasy and he returns the compliment by having four (4) turnovers and negative fantasy points in week 12. Josh Jacobs also got nicked up and is likely to sit out week 13 so my suggestion of adding Devontae Booker in the Street FA Report two weeks ago should pay off for some lucky readers. Luckily for the Raiders, they have the Jets upcoming so hopefully, they can try and regain some of the confidence they had.

 Denver

It was a tough weekend for the Broncos who had to try and play a game after the whole position group was put on lockdown late Saturday. We knew that it was not going to be a good choice to start the skill positions because of this but I think even the biggest critics of the situation did not think there would only be one (1) completed pass the whole game. The team did not have a real shot at the playoffs anyway so in the grand scheme it may help them with securing draft position but it was still a tough situation to be in. We can just scratch all records of that game from the players’ weekly averages and move on to week 13.

Kansas City

The early set of games saw the opportunity for Derrick Henry to maybe have a record-setting day on the ground and after the first quarter people started to have a real conversation about Flipper Anderson’s receiving yards record for Tyreek Hill in the late afternoon window. The Bucs kept putting Hill in man-to-man coverage to start the game and he repeatedly burned them for seven (7) receptions, 203 yards and two (2) touchdowns before the first quarter was finished. They eventually put all the coverage Hill’s way in the second half but after he scored his third touchdown of the first half during the second quarter the damage was already done. As long as the Chiefs keep doing what they do and they do not outsmart themselves as they sometimes are prone to do we likely will see our first repeat Super Bowl Champions since the 2003-04 Patriots.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 11

Updated: November 28th 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

Cam Newton finally put together a strong passing performance, going over the 300 marker for the first time since week 2, but he did not bring his rushing stats with him in week 11. To be fair none of the Patriots’ rushers were able to have any success running against what had been a terrible Houston rush defense but rushing was what had kept Newton’s fantasy value afloat. The whole Patriots team has been more inconsistent than most are used to as they seemed to be turning things around after beating Baltimore but then lost to two-win Houston. Rex Burkhead is likely lost for the season and Sony Michel will return to lineup in week 12. What his role would be is anyone’s guess as Damien Harris has primarily acted as the “thumper” running back. Hard to start any Patriots’ player with confidence right now.

 NY Jets

I thought the Jets might be able to turn things around with how they looked on Monday night before their bye. They even started week 11 with a blocked punt and an immediate touchdown but unfortunately, after the first half against the Chargers, it was clear they were the same old Jets still. L’Michal Perine went down with an injury that should side him for a couple of games so the ever-present Frank Gore could become a bell-cow running back for the final six games of the season. Gore easily had his best game of the season with 15 carries 61 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

 Miami

It was confusing to everyone that Brian Flores decided to bench Tua Tagovailoa in the second half to go back to a quarterback they had seemingly moved on from in Ryan Fitzpatrick to try and pull out a win. The Dolphins’ offense was struggling to move the ball consistently but he did not have any turnovers so it is a little unjustified to pull him at his first sign of adversity in only his fourth game as a starter. His injury during practice this week muddies an already murky situation for a team that still has a chance at their division and is in the wildcard hunt as well. Luckily, they play a Jets team that could give the rookie a confidence boost, if he plays.

AFC NORTH

 Cincinnati

This was a heartbreaking injury to Joe Burrow and the whole football community hopes that the first overall selection can return to full strength at some point next season. It has been speculated that due to the severity and the expected length of recovery time that not only his rookie season is over but potential what would have been most of Burrow’s sophomore season could be in jeopardy too. In the meantime, the Bengals will look to guys like Brandon Allen and Ryan Findley to keep the team going for the final weeks but there is not much to expect from either in terms of fantasy. It will be interesting to see what the downgrade at quarterback will do to guys like Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins in terms of their fantasy production. Once Burrow left the game the offense only produced 17 yards on five (5) drives.

 Pittsburgh

When healthy and on the field, it is now undeniable that Diontae Johnson is the WR1 in Pittsburgh. In the games that he has played start to finish (7) Johnson has seen at least ten (10) targets in all but one game. Johnson had twice as many targets (16) as the next receiver on the team, eight (8) for Chase Claypool, and caught triple the number of passes. The Steelers cannot seem to get their running game going so there will continue to be plenty of passing opportunities each game. If Ben Roethlisberger sticks around for another year I want to have any piece of this passing offense that becomes available in the offseason.

 Cleveland

Another bad weather game in Cleveland meant another heavy ground performance for Nick Chubb. The third-year back averaged 5.7 yards per carry and went over 100 yards rushing for his second consecutive game. It was concerning though that the coaching staff kept bringing in Kareem Hunt on goal-to-go carries with how successful Chubb had been on the ground. They could say it was to keep the defense from crowding the line for an expected run but Chubb is no slouch as a receiver so the threat of him catching a pass is still a real threat. The staff may just have been trying to be cute with their play calling and against an inferior Eagles team it probably would not have mattered anyway. But if they are going to get past teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City, they are going to need to give their best offensive weapon as many opportunities as he can get, and their best weapon is Nick Chubb.

 Baltimore

As I said in this week’s NFC One Big Thing it seemed unfair to fantasy fans to show them what D’Andre Swift could do when given the workload only to have him have to sit out the next couple of games and likewise it will be unfortunate if J.K. Dobbins has to miss any games for the Ravens. They finally gave him a real workload playing on 64 percent of the snaps and had 17 of the 22 backfield touches and he rewarded them with 85 total yards and a touchdown. The Ravens situation with COVID cases seeming to go up daily so who knows when their next game will be and if Dobbins will be allowed to play when they take the field next. We can only hope that the staff keeps giving him the ball so we can talk about him as a buy in the offseason.

AFC SOUTH

 Jacksonville

It was a great story that Jake Luton almost beat the Packers two weeks ago but against a much better Steelers defense we knew there was not going to be a lot to expect in terms of production. Luton completed less than half his pass attempts and threw four (4) interceptions while the offense only managed to put up three (3) points. Doug Marrone made the switch this week to journeyman Mike Glennon to take over while Gardner Minshew still recovers from his hand injury. Glennon will be without two of the Jaguars’ top targets however as both D.J. Chark and Chris Conley have already been ruled out. The Jags probably do not win another game this season but unless the Jets pull off an upset between now and New Years’ the best they can hope for is the second quarterback taken off the board in 2021.

 Houston

The Texans may be done when it comes to the playoffs in 2020 but DeShaun Watson is still a baller who will play till the final whistle. Watson passed for almost 350 yards and two (2) touchdowns while also making some key plays with his legs and having another touchdown on the ground. I talk a lot about receivers that could be on the move this offseason and I think if the Texans could land one they could become a team just like the LA Rams under the right coaching staff. A receiver like Allen Robinson, Josh Reynolds, or Corey Davis I think it would be a perfect fit with the receivers they already have and the skillset that Watson brings to the table. While the defense needs a lot of work to shore up everything that is not J.J. Watt, the offense seems too good to be less than a seven-win team in any given season.

 Tennessee

Losers in three (3) of their last four (4) games, the Titans needed a win against a quality opponent to have at least one tiebreaker down the stretch. It started as a slow day for Derrick Henry but Mike Vrabel kept feeding him the ball and eventually Henry wore down the defense to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a nice cutback run. Henry’s 29 touches were the second-most he has had this season and the Titans needed every last one of them. Corey Davis also went over the century mark for the third time this season as he continues to play for a second contract. As I mentioned in the Houston section, it would be great to see him and DeShaun Watson together but if he was to re-sign in Tennessee we have already seen his growth this season so why not keep a good thing going. He will be an interesting player to watch in RSO auctions this year.

 Indianapolis

Philip Rivers did a great job of spreading the ball around and bringing the Colts back after a two-touchdown deficit at halftime. I would like the see Michael Pittman Jr. become more of the featured receiver however, as the last two weeks he has shown tremendous growth in his production and has had back-to-back games with a touchdown. What the Colts do this offseason at the quarterback position will have a major impact on the value of Pittman heading into the 2021 season and the chances of him being a potential breakout receiver. DLF trade analyzer has him rate as being about the same value as a mid-second round pick or a straight swap for guys like Brandin Cooks, Evan Engram, or Kenyan Drake. I would take Pittman over all four of those right now.

AFC WEST

 LA Chargers

16 receptions, 145 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen is a stud. Justin Herbert knows who his best weapon is on the field and gets the ball in his hands every chance he gets. Allen now has 11 more targets than the next receiver as of week 11 and could be on his way to finishing the season as the WR1. Speaking of Justin Herbert, the rookie had his fifth career game of 300+ passing yards, and also his fifth game with 3+ passing touchdowns. The Chargers may have been okay with whichever of the two quarterbacks fell to them at their sixth pick this year but I bet they would have moved up to get Herbert if they knew what they were getting. He is a lock for rookie of the year with Joe Burrow’s season officially over now.

 Denver

Tim Patrick is a restricted free agent after this season and I wonder what the Broncos’ strategy is with him after having his third 100-yard receiving game. Their number one option, Courtland Sutton, is set to return next year and the team invested two high draft picks in receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in this past draft. While they could give him a small tag to see if another team is interested in Patrick first, but he was an undrafted free agent so they would receive nothing if they gave him a “same round tender”. Patrick is yet another receiver to watch this offseason to see if he moves on to another receiver-friendly offense.

 Kansas City

Patrick Mahomes has reached the same stratosphere that Bill Belichick was in for twenty years where every year they should be receiving the “Most Valuable” Award for what they do but because they do it with such nonchalant greatness that it seems they are sometimes overlooked for the flashy narrative of each year’s new underdog. In one of my Superflex leagues, I offered the Mahomes owner Ezekiel Elliot, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan at the deadline but he denied and I cannot blame him. I was not playing dynasty during the mid-2000s Peyton Manning era but I imagine it must have felt the same as it does for Mahomes fantasy owners right now. A set it and forget it position for a decade and a half.

 Las Vegas

That Sunday night game was probably one of the best “wins” for a team that lost the game I have seen in all my years of watching football. The Raiders, and more specifically Derek Carr, went toe-to-toe with the juggernaut Chiefs and nearly came away with the season sweep if not for some “Mahomes magic” at the end. Carr is an underrated quarterback, both in real life and in fantasy, and while he may be just a QB2 he provides a lot more stability week-to-week than guys around him like Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, or Daniel Jones. If the team can develop rookie Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs heading into their second season and Darren Waller continues his dominance as dynasty’s TE3 right now, this Raiders team will look fairly similar to their mid-western division rivals heading into next season.

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 – AFC – Week 10

Updated: November 21st 2020

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

AFC EAST

Miami

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

 Buffalo

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

 New England

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

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

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

 Cincinnati

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

 Pittsburgh

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

 Baltimore

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

AFC SOUTH

 Indianapolis

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

 Tennessee

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

 Jacksonville

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

 Houston

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

AFC WEST

 LA Chargers

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

 Denver

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

 Las Vegas

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

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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