This season continues to chug along as the most prolific offensive season in NFL history. Here’s another fun stat showing just how ridiculous it’s been; last week was the first time since week 3 that only one team surpassed 40 points. Taking it a step further, there has not been a single week this season where every team has scored under 40. That’s a whole lot of points for your fantasy team…assuming you’re starting the right players. That’s where we come in. Before we jump into this week’s picks though, let’s take a look at how we did last week.
Last Week’s Starts: Theo Riddick, Gus Edwards, Chris Carson, Josh Adams
Riddick did pretty much exactly what we projected. He only managed 60 total yards and did not score a touchdown, but his 7 catches were mighty fine for those in PPR leagues. The Gus bus racked up another 100+ yards at over 5 yards per carry. He didn’t log a catch or touchdown, but it’s tough to complain when your RB is gaining yards like that. Carson may not have racked up too many yards, but his 55 yards and a touchdown produced respectable fantasy numbers. His 2 catches for 8 yards wasn’t much either, although PPR owners shouldn’t complain. Adams’s efficiency disappointed as he posted a mere 3.8 YPC against a struggling Giants run defense, but 84 yards and a touchdown is nothing to sneeze at.
Last Week’s Fades: Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones
Yeah…can we not talk about this? We have to? Alright, fine. Our fade projections were awful last week. Jones churned out 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground (at a respectable 4.2 YPC at that) while adding 3 catches for 21 yards receiving, and he had the worst day of the group. Fournette racked up 95 yards at 5.3 yards a pop while tallying 2 touchdowns and 3 catches, and his day could have been even better had he not gotten himself ejected. Rubbing salt in the wound, CMC was the top fantasy back of the week posting over 100 yards and a touchdown both by land and air.
Overall, our start projections were solid while our fade projections…were not, to put it lightly. We’ll look to right the ship this week.
The Gus bus is getting good enough that he won’t be shown here much longer. However, at least for this week there are a couple of key points worth mentioning. Most notably, Alex Collins (Gus’s biggest competition for touches) was just put on IR. Ken Dixon was activated in his place, but while Dixon is talented, he’ll likely only be a change-of-pace back for at least a couple weeks. The other backs the Ravens have are Buck Allen and Ty Montgomery, neither of whom are particularly effective between the tackles. What I’m trying to say is that this backfield is less cluttered than it initially appears; Gus is far and away the lead back. There are concerns that his two breakout weeks came against the two worst run defenses in the NFL, but then the Falcons aren’t exactly stout against the run either; they are currently allowing the 8th most rushing yards per game and the 3rd highest YPC. Gus should continue to put up solid numbers this week.
There’s no question that Phillip Lindsay is the lead back in Denver and is in line for a terrific week this week as well. That’s no secret and is hardly news-worthy. However, Lindsay has not topped 15 carries in any game that Freeman has played this season which means that Freeman definitely still has a role. Namely, Freeman has a nose for the end zone, consistently notching touchdowns even on fewer than 10 carries a game. If you know he’s getting at least a few carries per game, you can’t ask for a much better opponent than Cincinnati. The Bengals have allowed the second most rushing yards and third most rushing touchdowns this year, and with their offense unable to piece together more than 2 healthy skill players at a time they aren’t likely to push the Broncos into playing from behind. Freeman may not see loads of touches, but expect efficient yardage and likely a touchdown.
With O. J. Howard on injured reserve, Brate is now the every-down TE for the pass-happy Buccaneers. It didn’t translate to too much last week outside of a touchdown, but this should be Brate’s breakout week. Carolina has been awful against tight ends this season, something the Bucs were able to take advantage of 4 weeks ago (Howard and Brate combined for a 7/68/2 receiving line). The QB situation has been a bit erratic, which is a concern against an otherwise decent Panther defense, but Brate should easily have his best day of the year this week.
I think at this point most everyone is aware of how bad the Tampa Bay defense is. Obviously CMC should have himself a good game, as should D. J. Moore now that he seems to be taking over as the top receiving option. However, don’t sleep on Samuel this week. He’s been little more than a gadget player for Carolina so far and is at risk of losing snaps as both Torrey Smith and Devin Funchess are healthy now, but he’s racked up 6 touchdowns on just 24 touches this season so it’s not like the low volume is a death sentence. Against such a weak defense as the Bucs, the likelihood that Samuel finds the end zone seems pretty high. His volume and yardage likely won’t amount to much, but if you’re desperate for a flex play he has the touchdown upside to make him a good option.
There’s no question that Julio has been amazing this year, posting over 100 yards 8 times in 11 games including the last 6 weeks in a row. Unfortunately, he may have some trouble extending that streak this week. The Ravens have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver this year against a slate that includes A. J. Green, Michael Thomas, and the Antonio Brown/Juju Smith-Schuster duo twice. On top of the solid secondary play, the Baltimore offense has morphed with Lamar Jackson at the helm into a run-heavy operation. If they are able to consistently move the chains on the ground (not exactly a difficult feat against a poor Falcons run D), Atlanta will find itself running fewer plays than normal, which means fewer opportunities for Julio. His recent spate of touchdowns is encouraging and could provide some relief, but Julio is more likely to have a tough week.
Chubb is really starting to look like a true feature back, and the Cleveland brass even said that they would start giving him more opportunities in the passing game. He’s going to need those chances this week against a tough Texans defense. Houston clocks in as a top 10 run defense, and is 5th in YPC allowed at 3.8. Houston also has the ability to put up points in a hurry, which could force the game script away from Chubb’s legs. It’s entirely possible that Chubb could simply see enough volume to make for a decent fantasy week (e.g., 28 carries last week), but I wouldn’t count on that volume in a game that figures to be pretty competitive. This has the makings of a down week for Chubb.
Do you know the most yards the Vikings have given up to any running back this year? 83 yards to Todd Gurley. Michel is definitely talented, but is he at Gurley’s level? I think not. Michel is going to have a rough time finding holes to run through against this vicious Minnesota run D. Making matters worse is the return of Rex Burkhead. The Patriots like to use Burkhead as their goal-line hammer and are already using James White as their receiving back. That leaves Michel with the most touches, but operating purely as a between-the-20s runner. Low catch totals, low touchdown upside, and going up against a very good defense? No thanks.