Headline of the game: Russell Wilson needs to take better care of the football for Seattle to come out of the NFC
Part of what has made Wilson one of the NFL’s truly elite quarterbacks over the past several seasons is that he excels at limiting turnover-worthy plays in addition to dropping those high-arcing deep balls into the waiting arms of receivers such as D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. From the start of the 2019 season through Week 5 of this year, Wilson had just 13 turnover-worthy plays during the regular season — an impressive number, to say the least. However, Wilson has eight such plays alone in Seattle’s past two losses to the Bills and Rams.
The defense has been an issue all year, but there was still reason to have plenty of faith in Seattle given the confidence the team’s offense instilled. Wilson’s carelessness with the football of late is starting to change that, and he’ll need to be better in an important NFC West showdown with Arizona on Thursday Night Football.
The Cardinals pulled off the play of the year to steal a victory away from the Bills last week, but they failed to cover after kneeling on the extra-point attempt.
The market wants to back Arizona, as evidenced by the preseason touchdown spread dropping to a field goal to open the week. The Seahawks are seeing a higher percentage of the cash, but the ticket percentages still side with the Cardinals as a field-goal dog.
The -3 has added juice to the Seahawks, who could lose the public backing for the first time this season, though -3.5 is already popping up in some books with the juice flipped in the other direction. The current number provides value, according to PFF Greenline, but this might not hold for long.
The total has dropped a full point from the early-week number but still sits as the highest number for Week 11. The Seahawks have the best opponent-adjusted passing grade in the NFL and sit third in receiving grade. The Cardinals' defense will offer little resistance, but it is tough to take the over on this inflated number. This is a spot to monitor on Greenline, as betting opportunities could open up if the market continues to drop.
It’s been tough cooking for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks’ passing attack over the past two weeks. He has averaged 18.9 fantasy points per game (15th), and that’s heavily weighted by an 11.9 point dud in Week 10.
But last week’s performance stands out like a sore thumb — it’s Wilson’s only game all season where he scored fewer than 28 fantasy points. He saw pressure on 53% of his dropbacks — Wilson’s average pressure rate faced this year is 36%.
The Seahawks’ QB should easily bounce back against the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson dropped a 40-burger on them in Week 7, and they haven’t fared well over the last two weeks stopping QBs, either. The last two quarterbacks they have faced averaged 28 fantasy points per game, so that seems like an appropriate projection for Wilson on Thursday night.
This also means that both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf should also have productive games. Lockett went for over 200 yards against this defense back in Week 7. Metcalf was held to just two catches for 23 yards, but his involvement in the offense is crucial to the Seahawks’ passing game clicking.
Lockett is dealing with a knee injury, which could further the team’s reliance on Metcalf in Week 11. Lockett is listed as day-to-day. If he can’t go, David Moorewould be a great add off the waiver wire.
The Cardinals and Seahawks faced off less than a month ago in an overtime thriller. Kyler Murray of course put up big numbers with 360 passing yards, three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He should be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks again this week.
The star of Week 10, DeAndre Hopkins, posted 103 yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown, and he should be a top-five wide receiver again this week. Christian Kirk is the less obvious player who could star in this game. He caught two touchdowns the first time around on only five receptions for 37 yards. Since then, he has remained heavily involved in the offense with 150 yards and a touchdown over the Cardinals’ last two games. The Seahawks have allowed 57.1 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, putting them over 11 points per game higher than any team. Arizona could put up bigger numbers than in Week 7.
Headline of the game: Does Alex Smith give Washington a better shot at the NFC East crown?
Regardless of the quarterback, Washington’s offense is far from exciting. The unit has intriguing young pieces, such as Terry McLaurin at wide receiver and Antonio Gibson at running back, but the overall picture leaves a lot to be desired.
However, Smith has averaged a respectable 7.8 yards per attempt over the past two weeks as the starter and is coming off a game against Detroit in which his 69.4 PFF grade was lower than only Dwayne Haskins’ Week 4 performance among all Washington starters this season. Perhaps most importantly, Smith’s average depth of target of 6.2 yards in that game was nearly 3 yards higher than the previous week against the Giants. The Football Team will hope he continues to get more comfortable coming off his injury to give them a shot in a wide-open NFC East.
The Football Team has the 10th-best opponent-adjusted pass-rush grade, which could be a disaster for Bengals QB Joe Burrow, who finds himself behind the third-worst pass-blocking unit in the NFL.
This is a clear strength-versus-weakness matchup, which should heavily influence the outcome of this game. The cash percentage sides slightly with Washington, but the majority of tickets are on the Bengals. This indicates a public interest in Cincinnati, but with both the cash and line movement leaning towards Washington, this makes them the preferred play. Our predictive models agree, but the line movement up to -1.5 has sucked the value out of this proposition.
The total provides opportunity, with both offenses in the bottom fourth of the NFL in our rankings. The cash and ticket percentages both fall heavily on the over, with PFF Greenline finding value on a certain side of this total.
J.D. McKissic has seen a league-leading 28 targets over the past two weeks, but that’s not coming at the expense of Antonio Gibson. In Week 10, McKissic lined up in the backfield on just 55% of his snaps, with the other 45% being either out wide or in the slot.
We should be viewing him as a RB/WR hybrid because of his Swiss Army-knife usage — that skillet will benefit him greatly against the Bengals, who rank 24th in yards per target to the running back position since Week 5. He also has some positive regression coming, as no RB has earned more expected fantasy pointsand under performed more than McKissic the past two weeks.
Gibson should also be in starting lineups as the team’s early-down back against an extremely beatable run defense. Cincinnati has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks, but that has been more-or-less because teams have elected to shred them through the air.
But make no mistake — the Bengals have allowed 5.2 yards per carry to the running back position over the last four weeks.
Washington has been one of the best- and well-rounded defenses this season. They rank in the top 10 in overall PFF grade, run-defense, pass-rushing and coverage grades. The Lions were able to find some weaknesses in the Football Team’s secondary — three different players caught touchdowns against them. Tee Higgins is the player most likely to take advantage of Washington this week. Higgins’ numbers keep getting better every week. His floor has been four catches for 60 yards over the last six weeks, and his best stat line came this past week against a strong Steelers defense with seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. He has been WR9 since Week 3, and he leads all rookie wide receivers. At this point, he is a must-start regardless of the opponent.
Nov 15, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) throws against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Headline of the game: What does the Saints’ offense look like with Jameis Winston at quarterback instead of Drew Brees?
Brees is expected to miss multiple weeks with broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung, opening the door for Winston to showcase his talents in a similar way to what we saw with Teddy Bridgewater last season in New Orleans. The intriguing part of this whole situation is that it would be hard to handpick two quarterbacks who are more different stylistically than Brees and Winston.
Winston was the gunslinger to lead all gunslingers in his time with Tampa Bay. From 2017 to now, his average depth of target sits at a league-high 11.0 yards downfield. No other qualifying quarterback even hits 10.0 yards. Brees, on the other hand, sits at 6.9 yards over that same time frame, with no other quarterback below 7.5 yards. Will Winston mold into the quick, timing passing game that we’ve seen from the Saints, or will Sean Payton and company adjust the offense to fit Winston’s strengths? It’s one of the biggest storylines to monitor in Week 11.
Drew Brees’ injury situation has dramatically affected this betting market, with the opening-week spread of -7.5 crashing down to -4.5. This seems to have brought some Saints-backers into the market, but the cash and ticket percentages are skewed toward the Falcons. The spread has moved back to the Saints slightly, so -4.5 should be the lowest we go.
The total has dropped 2.5 points, but Jameis Winston has the uncanny ability to increase the scoring output for both teams. The uncertainty he brings makes this a difficult market to bet on, with our model finding no value on any of the three markets.
It’s time for Jameis Winston. The turnover-prone gunslinger will make his first start for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday filling in for an injured Drew Brees. He should be able to have his way with an Atlanta Falcons defense that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the past four weeks. Since Week 6, three of the four quarterbacks they have faced threw for at least 300 yards.
Winston’s aDOT (10.8) last season ranked No. 1 in the NFL — that’s a complete 180 from Brees’ 32-ranked average depth of target (6.5) since 2019. This change of style under center could unlock Michael Thomas, who has finished as the WR80, WR49 and WR70 in three games this season.
Thomas isn’t thought of as a deep threat, but his target rate in 2019 on vertical routes was 18.3%, which was higher than Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill per PFF’s Sam Monson. His catch rate on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield (87.5%) a season ago ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
Since entering the league, Thomas has surpassed at least 100 receiving yards versus the Falcons at least once per season. He is also projected to see a WR/CB matchup with Kendall Sheffield, who is PFF’s lowest-graded cornerback playing this week (35.3).
Hayden Hurst had a slow start to the season, but since then he has become one of the most reliable fantasy tight ends. His 241 receiving yards over the last five weeks are the second-most for all tight ends behind Travis Kelce despite the Falcons having their bye week during that time. He’s gained at least 50 yards in each of the last four games. Prior to the bye week, he accomplished season highs in targets (8) and catches (7).
The Saints allowed a lot of fantasy points to tight ends early in the season — six different tight ends scored touchdowns against them in the first five weeks, but none have scored against them in the last four weeks. They went three-straight weeks without allowing a tight end to manage more than 13 yards but just allowed 62 to Jordan Reed this past week. Hurst should still be a safe start, but it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of New Orleans like other tight ends did early in the season.
Headline of the game: Pittsburgh’s receiving options should cause problems for Jacksonville
The Steelers’ offense doesn’t scare opposing defenses the same way Kansas City’s does, but the talent they’ve accumulated at the skill positions shouldn’t be overlooked. Chase Claypool (74.6 PFF grade), JuJu Smith-Schuster (73.1) and Diontae Johnson (69.4) all rank among the top half of qualifying receivers in overall grade, and a lot of teams would take James Washington as a WR4. At tight end, Eric Ebron’s numbers have been modest, but he creates matchup problems that they haven’t had for several seasons at the position.
That supporting cast has allowed Ben Roethlisberger to serve more as a distributor in 2020 with a league-low average time to throw of 2.21 seconds and 52% of his passing yards coming after the catch. It’s a strategy that should continue to work against Jacksonville and its league-worst passing defense by expected points added per play allowed.
The Steelers have the highest spread to cover in Week 11, as they are currently 10-point road favorites. The market has held to the opening-week number, which is 1.5 points above the preseason look-ahead line. The cash and ticket percentages are split, with most big bettors backing the Jaguars while 70% of tickets are on the Steelers. This fits in with the historical understanding of sharp plays, as a 10-point home dog is too big of a number in most situations.
Surprisingly, our model leans away from this, as we have the Steelers just missing value on the spread. Their win probability of 82.3% to stay undefeated is slightly higher than the break-even percentage at -450 odds.
The total is surprisingly high for two offensive units that rank in the bottom four among all 32 NFL teams. The Steelers' top-ranked defense also doesn’t help the over, but most tickets are still on this side. The line movement has also been in this direction, with an opening of 46 jumping out to 48. Our predictive models find no value, but a small preference for the over could highlight signals for both fantasy and the player prop markets.
Fantasy managers were likely going to start running back James Robinsonregardless of the matchup, but I am here to present encouragement for any Robinson-managers who may be scared off by Pittsburgh. Over the past four weeks, the Steelers have allowed the third-most rushing yards to running backs (4.9 yards per attempt), and that lines up with the loss of stud linebacker Devin White.
D.J. Chark Jr. ranks sixth in the NFL in air yards since Jake Luton has been under center, which should prove favorable as Pittsburgh has faced the fifth-most air yards per game. Chark leads the team in targets (17) over that span as well, so that should make him a solid play in Week 11.
A sneaky DFS option is Chris Conley, who is just 3K on DraftKings and has seen 16 targets over the last two weeks operating as the team’s No. 2 with Laviska Shenault Jr. sidelined. There is now a three-game sample size of Conley seeing eight targets per game when any other Jaguars starting WR is inactive on gameday.
The Steelers and Jaguars will be one of the biggest mismatches of the season. All six starters on offense should be in starting lineups, and most of them will not disappoint. The only problem is that we do not know which players will be busts. There will only be so many snaps for the Steelers offense until garbage time, and the Steelers can’t give all five skill players significant touches. James Conner andEric Ebron have the biggest mismatches, but Pittsburgh has thrown the fourth-most targets to wide receivers this season.
Pittsburgh should have a big lead, which typically means a big game for the running back. If this game is anything like their 36-10 blowout of the Bengals, Pittsburgh will keep throwing as long as the starters are in and then put in backups when it is time to run out the clock. It’s best to start everyone and hope for a good slice of this expected production.
Nov 1, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs with the ball past Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Matt Milano (right) during the fourth quarter at Bills Stadium. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The headline of the game: The Patriots’ ground-heavy attack can take advantage of Houston
We saw this past Sunday night that the Patriots will lean heavily on their run game if the opposing defense allows it. They ran on a league-high 67% of their offensive plays in Week 10, with Damien Harris picking up 84 of his 121 yards on the ground after contact. A matchup against Houston should once again give rise to New England’s ground game early and often.
Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ran for over 100 yards against the Texans in Week 10, and on a broader scale, Houston’s run defense ranks dead last in yards allowed per run play, at 5.2. The next closest team is Dallas at 4.8 yards per run play allowed. Expect to see a whole lot of the Patriots’ offensive line imposing its will on an outmatched Texans defensive line in this one.
The New England offense has reemerged over the past two weeks, with a get-right game against the Jets leading into a win as a +250 dog.
The Pats are the seventh-best unit in our opponent-adjusted offensive grades but no longer field the lockdown defense of yesteryear. On the other hand, the Texans have never been mistaken for a lockdown defense, which is why the low total is so perplexing. It moved up a full point from the open but is just the sixth-highest of Week 11. The cash percentage indicates a strong preference from the betting market, with our predictive models finding agreement on the total.
No other viable betting play has emerged after this spread reversed off an opening -3 number to make the Patriots slight road favorites. As things stand, 85% of the cash and 89% of the tickets side with the Patriots, with the moneyline percentages offering a similar skew. The Patriots continue to be a public team but sit at just 4-5 against the spread. Houston has the second-worst ATS record in the NFL, so the preference for the Patriots could be more a fade of the Texans' current state.
Duke Johnson Jr. was confidently started among fantasy gamers last week with a full workload on tap. The touches (14) and snaps (94%) were exactly what we wanted, but the fantasy production did not follow. Let’s just say the former Miami Hurricane couldn’t overcome the insane weather in Cleveland that limited the entire Houston Texans’ offense to just 7 points.
The dynamic scatback should find a much easier path to success in Week 11 against the New England Patriots, who have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs (5.0 yards per carry) over the past four weeks.
Since Brandin Cooks put up a goose egg in Week 4, he has been a target vacuum. He has commanded a 28% target share (fifth-highest), hasn’t seen fewer than eight targets in any contest and averaged 18.4 fantasy points per game (eighth-best).
The speedy wideout has also been a man out for vengeance against his former employers. In his last four revenge games, he has averaged eight targets, six catches and 104 receiving yards. New England ranks dead last in yards per target (10.0) allowed to WRs this season.
Damien Harris has become the rare Patriots running back that you can trust. He’s averaged 98 rushing yards over his last three games. His PFF grade of 89.6 is third-highest for backs this season behind Dalvin Cook and Darrell Henderson. There is a little bit of concern that he could lose a little playing time to Sony Michel once he returns, but Harris is likely playing too well to lose his job. It wouldn’t be surprising at all for him to hit 100 yards this week against the Texans.
Houston has given up 1,389 rushing yards to running backs this season — 260 more yards than any other team. The main concern for Harris is that he hasn’t scored enough touchdowns with Cam Newton often taking goal-line work. The Texans have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns to running backs at 11. Harris has higher odds for breaking a run for a touchdown than previous weeks.
Headline of the game: Can the Eagles force Baker Mayfield to win the game?
Heading into Week 11, Mayfield’s 66.6 passing grade ranks 27th in the NFL out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks — one spot ahead of his opponent in this matchup, Carson Wentz. The Browns are out to a 6-3 start to the season in spite of Mayfield’s play, not because of it. Part of that is due to having one of the most efficient ground games in the league and another part is that coach Kevin Stefanski has done well to mitigate some of Mayfield’s deficiencies through scheme.
The Eagles need to change that to get a much-needed win, and they have the ability to do so with the league’s highest-graded pass rush through 10 weeks. If they can limit the run game and get pressure on Mayfield in clear passing situations, it’s hard to see the Browns having a whole lot of success offensively.
These teams are closer than the current betting market sentiment, which has sided heavily with the Browns. The line has also fallen towards the home favorite, though the -3.5 test appears to have found some resistance. Adding the hook should bring some value to the spread market, but the moneyline has already found substantial value.
The Eagles are 12th in our opponent-adjusted run-defense grades, and they could very well offer more resistance than the Browns have experienced on the ground in recent weeks. If the Browns are finally forced to pass, our predictive modelsproject them to struggle with a depleted receiving corps at a time when the Eagles are finally healthy (for the most part). This could be a more valuable betting opportunity than people initially realize, as our models have a potential upset special brewing.
Operation Ground and Pound is a full-go in Cleveland. In Week 10, the Browns returned key pieces in their run game in PFF’s highest-graded run-blocker Wyatt Teller and running back Nick Chubb, who ranks No.1 in the league in yards after contact per attempt (4.41).
Chubb and counterpart Kareem Hunt rushed for over 200 yards, so fire them up with confidence even in a tougher matchup against the Eagles.
Because Philly boasts a strong run defense, Baker Mayfield might have to take to the air more than usual, which bodes well for Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper. The Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Before his injury, Hooper led the team in targets Weeks 4-6 (24% target share).
The Cleveland tight end also leads the team in catches when Mayfield is under pressure, so look for the Browns’ quarterback to target his safety blanket against PFF’s highest-graded pass-rush unit. The Eagles have forced the most catches to TEs this season when pressuring the opposing quarterback.
Hooper led the team in routes run and Landry led in targets for the third-straight game last week.
The Eagles might have a tough time taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Browns defense. Cleveland has been relatively good at stopping running backs but not as good at stopping wide receivers. One problem for Philadelphia is that the Browns have been doing a better job recently. Cleveland has allowed a combined 21 catches for 158 yards and one touchdown to all wide receivers over their last two games.
Their biggest weakness has been allowing touchdowns to wide receivers — particularly wide receivers lined up in the slot. They have allowed seven touchdowns to slot receivers in nine games. The Eagles have only scored one touchdown by a receiver in the slot all season. Greg Ward has been the Eagles’ slot receiver, but his role has been decreasing as other Eagles receivers get healthy. Jalen Reagor has been playing more in the slot, so if there is a surprising play from this offense, it would be him.
Headline of the game: Potentially short-handed Panthers’ offense gets soft matchup against Detroit
The Panthers could be without both Christian McCaffrey and Teddy Bridgewaterin this game following their respective shoulder and knee injuries. We are fully aware of what Mike Davis is capable of in the backfield for the Panthers, but Phillip “P.J.” Walker at quarterback is more of an unknown. The biggest professional sample we have on him is his time in the XFL this past season, where he earned a 72.0 PFF grade on north of 300 snaps and passed for a league-high 15 touchdowns.
If Walker ends up the starter at quarterback, it’s hard to handpick a better matchup than this one against Detroit. The Lions come into the week ranked dead last in expected points added allowed per play, and the Panthers’ wide receiver unit should be able to pick on a cornerback group that has had its fair share of troubles in 2020.
There’s a chance Teddy Bridgewater misses this game, thrusting XFL MVP Phillip Walker into the starting role. Walker was extremely aggressive downfield (10.1 aDOT) in the XFL but also led the league in turnover-worthy plays (12).
His presence would likely make it tough to trust either D.J. Moore or Curtis Samuel, but Robby Anderson would be his sure-fire favorite target. The two played together at Temple and three of his eight passing attempts this season went to Anderson.
The Lions rank 31st in explosive pass percentage (18.9%) and deep pass percentage allowed (15.3%), so believe that Carolina will take some shots.
Mike Davis was disappointing in Week 10, but the matchup in Week 11 is just too good to pass up. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season and over the last four weeks.
D’Andre Swift has been the Detroit running back to start for a few weeks now, but he took a big step closer to being a must-start every week. Swift played nearly 80% of the first- and second-down snaps and 40% of third-down snaps. This resulted in a career-high 16 carries. He was most impressive in the passing game — his 75 yards after the catch beat his previous career-high of 46. Swift avoided four tackles as a receiver compared to three in the rest of his games combined.
If anything, Swift earned more playing time with such an outstanding performance against a good Washington defense. This week, Swift gets a Panthers defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Swift should have the best game of his career this week.
Nov 15, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Headline of the game: Both teams need a win to get back on track in the AFC
Both of these teams are trending in the wrong direction. Tennessee has lost three of its past four games, with the only win coming against a floundering Bears’ team, while Baltimore has lost two of three. Offense has been the problem in both cases. From Week 7 through Week 10, the Titans ranked 20th in expected points added per play and the Ravens ranked 24th. The causes aren’t necessarily the same for both teams, but each is finding out that it’s hard to consistently win football games in the NFL when fielding a below-average offense.
That problem has plagued the Ravens, in particular, all year. With a year of tape at their disposal, teams have begun to adjust to Baltimore’s unique offense. That, combined with a decline in play from 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, has the group looking like a shell of the version we saw last season. Baltimore needs to break out of that funk to become a true challenger to teams such as the Chiefs and Steelers at the top of the AFC.
The betting market remains confident in Baltimore, despite their underwhelming offensive performances. They are now 10th in our opponent-adjusted offensive rankings, with their receiving grade ringing in as the third-worst in the NFL. They rank 22nd in expected points added (EPA) generated per pass play, 17 spots below the Titans.
The opening-week number of -7 was 2.5 points lower than the preseason number but wasn’t low enough, given the latest line movement. As of now, 82% of the cash and 55% of the tickets are on the Titans, with further line movement possible after dropping to -6.5.
This still seems to outweigh the Ravens compared to their recent performances, as our market-implied rankings still have them as the second-best team in the NFL. This is why the betting market viewpoint doesn’t align with our current model view of the Ravens, and that is why the spread still offers some value at the current number.
The Tennessee Titans have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs and wide receivers over the past four weeks. Marquise Brown has been a big disappointment this season, but he ranks so highly in air yards share and end-zone target percentage that I’ll be heading back to Brown.
The Titans have faced the second-most end-zone targets to WRs and have allowed the eighth-most air yards per game. Let’s not forget that the last time Brown faced this defense he lit them up to the tune of seven catches for 126 yards.
The Ravens’ backfield has become a huge mess, making it extremely difficult to trust any of them in starting lineups. Still, I don’t mind using J.K. Dobbins as an RB3 because of the plus-matchup. He played the most snaps on Sunday — should he end up seeing the most touches, he would surely inflict damage. His breakaway percentage (44.3%) is third-best in the NFL.
Derrick Henry has a reputation for getting better as the season goes on, and we are getting to the point of the season where Henry is typically at his best. He ranks second in rushing yards and should hit the 1,000-yard mark for the season this week, but he hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last two games. The Ravens have a reputation for being one of the best teams against the run, but that hasn’t been particularly true recently. Damien Harris produced 121 yards on 22 carries against Baltimore this past Sunday night.
Injuries are a big reason why. L.J. Fort and Calais Campbell are the two highest-graded Ravens against the run, and both missed this past week. It’s unclear if they will be ready this week, but at best they won’t be 100%. Henry has the opportunity to have a big game against a defense that doesn’t typically allow them.
Headline of the game: Will the Jets’ offense continue to look like it did against New England with Joe Flacco at quarterback?
In a Week 9 matchup against the Patriots, a Jets quarterback posted a passing grade above 70.0 for the first time since Sam Darnold in Week 2 against the 49ers. That quarterback was Flacco, as he led a New York passing offense that looked shockingly effective against New England. Their average of 0.51 expected points added per pass play in Week 9 was the second-highest mark of any offense that week, and Flacco went 7-of-13 for 170 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on passes 10 or more yards downfield.
There is reason to believe that the Jets’ offense can look better with Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder all on the field together, but it’s still hard to expect a repeat performance here against Los Angeles. However, the Chargers’ defense does little to disguise its coverage and blitzes at the lowest rate in the NFL, which could work in New York’s favor.
We are back to the weekly question of how wide the market needs to go before the Jets are viable on the spread.
They appear to have gotten some early-week backing after news broke that Joe Flacco would again start for the winless team from New York. The -10.5 opening-week spread cut through the key number down to -8.5. The cash and ticket percentages are split on the spread, but 65% of the moneyline cash has been on the Jets at +325. This is probably their best chance to avoid going 0-16, with our win probability of 24.6% offering some value on the current moneyline.
According to our predictive models, all three game markets offer value, making this matchup one of the best to target from a betting perspective. Thankfully, actually viewing this game is still optional.
Kalen Ballage is no mirage. The often-ridiculed running back has looked nothing like he did with the Miami Dolphins. In the past two weeks, he has rushed for more yards (137) than he did in all of 2019 on 41 fewer carries (1.8 yards per carry).
A week after he led the team across the board in snaps and touches, he repeated the feat with 23 touches for 102 yards on a 73% snap share in Week 10. Austin Ekeler still might be a few weeks away, so Ballage enters starting territory in a second revenge game in as many weeks versus the New York Jets in Week 11.
He is tied with James Robinson for the most rushing first downs (12) the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, No. 2 running back Joshua Kelley saw his fewest rushing attempts (seven) in Week 10, further suggesting that Ballage is the go-to-guy and set up to produce this week.
The Jets offense should be completely avoided this week. Both Frank Gore andLa’Mical Perine have seen weeks where they have led the Jets in carries. Perine has led the team multiple times over the last month, but Gore doubled Perine’s carries in their last game. The uncertainty makes it hard to trust either of them. The Jets wide receivers have been the most impressive part of the offense in recent weeks now that everyone is healthy.
The Chargers have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Los Angeles has prevented any wide receiver from getting to 50 receiving yards in two of their last four games. The Jets haven’t had a tight end score a touchdown this season.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) celebrates his first touchdown pass to Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 1, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)
Headline of the game: Tua Tagovailoa looks to earn his fourth straight win as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback
When stacking up Tagovailoa next to fellow rookie quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, his 59.2 PFF grade this season falls short of the 70.0-plus marks from the other two. Despite that, we’ve seen Miami continue its run that started with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback prior to the team’s bye week.
Tagovailoa’s impressive play is a big part of that. The Dolphins’ defense ranks third in expected points added allowed per pass play this season, and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has done one of the better jobs schematically in the league this season. Stringing together wins without top-shelf play from Tagovailoa is a promising sign for the Dolphins in their playoff push.
The Dolphins have finally caught the betting market's attention, with a 7-2 record against the spread in 2020. However, they have received the majority of the cash percentage on the spread in just one of their nine games and have lost -4 spread points from the open in all previous matchups. This looks like a spot where everyone is trying to buy high on the Dolphins while also selling low on the Broncos.
Drew Lock has earned the second-lowest passing grade among current starting quarterbacks, with the Broncos also second-to-last in our opponent-adjusted offensive rankings. That is enough to make this the lowest total of Week 11, with 74% of the cash on the under. This could be a potential value play if further line movement occurs, but currently, none of the three game markets offer value from a PFF Greenline perspective.
Jerry Jeudy leads all WRs in air yards (530), routes run (133) and is fourth in targets over the past three weeks. He has finished as the WR11 over that time span and needs to be started across all formats regardless of a resurging Miami Dolphins’ defense or Drew Lock’s erratic quarterback play.
The Denver Broncos’ overall struggles on offense have made it nearly impossible for them to run the ball with Melvin Gordon III. He has 64 rushing yards on 18 carries the past two weeks with just one catch. That’s not going to get him into starting lineups with the Dolphins up next and the fact that he’s splitting snaps with Phillip Lindsay.
Miami’s defense has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs over the past four weeks and just 3.6 yards per attempt.
K.J. Hamler saw 10 targets for the second-straight week operating as Denver’s new slot WR. The second-round pick has produced only modest numbers over the past two weeks, but if the targets keep coming he will have a big game sooner than later. The Dolphins’ strengths are between their perimeter cornerbacks in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, so Hamler might have the best chance to produce in the more favorable matchup inside versus Nik Needham.
The Dolphins' offense has largely been one to avoid since Tua Tagovailoa took over as the starting quarterback. In the passing game, no one has more than nine receptions over the last three weeks combined. Jakeem Grant has been roughly the same as DeVante Parker for fantasy purposes, as has Durham Smythecompared to Mike Gesicki.
The Broncos defense is top-three in terms of PFF grade on the season, including being top-five in coverage. Parker can still be in starting lineups thanks to his high target share, but everyone else in the pass game should be avoided. Salvon Ahmed is the most trustable Miami player this week — he has been an RB2 over the last two weeks as the every-down back for Miami. With Myles Gaskin still on injured reserve, Ahmed’s role in the offense should be unchanged.
Headline of the game:The Vikings kick off a stretch of three winnable games to get back into playoff contention
The Vikings have clawed their way out of what appeared to be a lost season to a point where — at 4-5 heading into Week 11 — they still have a chance at the playoffs. Winning these next three games against Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville is a must if that once-pipe dream is to become reality. This matchup against the Cowboys, in particular, is one where the Vikings should be able to take control offensively.
Dallas’ interior defensive line has been pushed around all season, allowing fewer yards per run play than only the Texans in 2020. That doesn’t bode well against Dalvin Cook and Minnesota. Cook’s 664 rushing yards after contact this season would rank sixth among all running backs in total rushing yards. He should feast in this matchup.
The Vikings face a quick turnaround from their Monday Night Football victory, while Andy Dalton is expected to return for the Cowboys. This caused the opening week -10 spread to drop to the perfect teaser number of -7.5. The Cowboys have received 91% of the cash and 62% of the tickets to help drive this initial line movement, with our predictive models finding value at the current number.
The total has dropped two points from the open, despite the Vikings having the sixth-best offense in the NFL. Kirk Cousins sits sixth in our opponent-adjusted passing grades, which indicates that his play is enough to make this unit one of the best in the NFL.
These defenses sit right above and below league average, according to our opponent-adjusted defensive rankings. Our model finds value on the total, with the Cowboys' offense expected to perform better than current market expectation.
The Minnesota Vikings’ passing attack got back on track on Monday Night Football in conjunction with Dalvin Cook also running the ball 30 times for 96 yards. For teams in need of quarterback help, Kirk Cousins’ performance against a strong Chicago defense is an invitation to stream him off the waiver wire this week.
Dallas has allowed the league’s second-highest passer rating (116.6) and the most passing touchdowns on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. Cousins leads the NFL in deep ball rate (17.6%).
Should Irv Smith Jr. miss another game, fantasy managers can have confidence going back to Kyle Rudolph, who gets a plus matchup in Week 11 against the Dallas Cowboys. Big D has allowed the sixth-highest TD percentage to tight ends this season. On Monday night, Rudolph caught four of five passes for a season-high 63 yards, finishing the week as the TE12.
This should be the week the Cowboys pass game can get at least somewhat back on track. Andy Dalton practicing again, which should be good news for all the Cowboys receivers. It is also good news that they face the Vikings secondary.
Minnesota has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. A big reason for that is the 16 touchdowns the Vikings secondary has allowed. That’s tied with the Cowboys defense for the most in the league. All three starting wide receivers for the Cowboys have between 26 and 27 targets since Week 6, so any of the three could have their best game in recent weeks. Amari Cooper is the best bet, as he has been catching the most passes for the most yards regardless of who has been at quarterback.
Headline of the game: Can the much-improved Colts’ defense slow down MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers?
The Colts enter this game ranking second in average yards allowed per play (4.7) and sixth in expected points added per play against (-0.04) among NFL defenses. Additions such as DeForest Buckner and Xavier Rhodes have paid immediate dividends for them on that side of the ball, but they’ll be tested against PFF’s highest-graded quarterback heading into Week 11.
Despite being without Allen Lazard for much of the year and Davante Adams for a stretch, Rodgers has produced 26 big-time throws (third) and just six turnover-worthy plays in 2020. His play looks more like that of the elite quarterback we saw five years ago than the mediocre version of the past several seasons. With the way he’s playing right now, Rodgers is clearly the best quarterback that the Colts have faced all season, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up.
The betting market power rankings have the Packers as the fourth-best team in the NFL, while our Elo model has them at No. 6. This explains the difference in the spread, with our predictive models leaning in the opposite direction to the early-week cash and ticket percentages.
The Colts have experienced more positive line movement than any other NFL team over recent weeks, but the current number has held to the open. The price has slowly moved toward the Colts, indicating a move out to -3 by the end of the week.
The total has dropped a full point from the open, but it is still two points higher than Indy's previous totals. Meanwhile, the Packers have the second-best offense in the NFL, according to our opponent-adjusted grades, so they undoubtedly have the edge if a shootout starts to form.
Our model leans slightly towards the over but doesn’t offer enough value to make it a worthwhile bet. There are viable plays on the spread and moneyline, which may not feel great to lay, but they will be labeled the sharp side by the end of the week.
Nyheim Hines was a big winner on Thursday night, as he led the Indianapolis Colts’ backfield in snaps (39) and touches (17) en route to 28.5 fantasy points. His touches and snaps were both season highs — I would anticipate based on his performance that the team will lean on him against Green Bay.
The Packers have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game and a league-high 7.5 yards per target to running backs this season.
As for Jonathan Taylor, he will ultimately have a chance to make an impact early in the game when the team’s first 15 plays are scripted and then changed based on game flow or hot-hand approach. He and Jordan Wilkins got action on the first drive last week but failed to get anything going.
This week could be a different story, as the Packers have allowed the third-highest yards per attempt (5.7) in the first quarter. They have allowed just 4.2 yards per attempt in the other three quarters.
The Colts defense has been incredible at stopping fantasy players but has been a little more susceptible in recent weeks. No wide receiver was able to hit 64 receiving yards against them in their first three weeks. After that point, five wide receivers made it to at least 88 receiving yards against them. Davante Adams can still be trusted, as most of the receivers to play well against the Colts have been the top receiving option. Adams has been incredible this season with the most fantasy points for a wide receiver on the year. He’s reached the top despite playing in seven games while everyone else in the top 10 has played nine or 10 games.
Headline of the game: Will the Raiders be able to create explosive plays in the passing game like they did in Week 5 against the Chiefs?
The Raiders were able to knock off the Chiefs back in Week 5 because they matched the explosiveness of Kansas City’s offense. Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes that traveled 30 or more yards in the air after throwing only one such touchdown pass in the entire 2019 season. His 9.2-yard average depth of the target was one of the highest marks of the season.
Defensively, the Raiders forced Patrick Mahomes to hold onto the football for nearly four seconds on average and got home with the most pressure we’ve seen from their pass rush all season. It was a perfect storm for the upset, and it’s now a matter of whether the Chiefs have adjusted or if Las Vegas can make things competitive again.
The Raiders have found some early backing at home, with this spread moving off 7 down to 6.5 to start the week. This is counter to the cash and ticket percentages, which have been one-sided toward the Chiefs on both the spread and moneyline markets.
The Chiefs are still the best team in both our Elo and market-implied rankings. They have received a majority of the cash percentage in eight of their nine games this season, but the line movement has rarely sided in their direction.
The total is the second-highest on the main slate, as both defenses rank in the bottom half of the NFL in our opponent-adjusted defensive grades. The Raiders have the 19th-best opponent-adjusted offensive grade, but Derek Carr is up to 10th in our adjusted passing grade. The cash and ticket percentages are flipped on the total, with big bettors favoring the under while the public backs the over. Our predictive model needs a little more line movement to open up value, making this a spot to monitor throughout the week.
Over the past two weeks, Derek Carr leads all quarterbacks in PFF passing grade. That has yet to translate to fantasy success because the Las Vegas Raiders have been able to lean on the ground game, running the ball at the third-highest rate (54.3%) in the NFL.
They will attempt to impose their will on the ground versus the Kansas City Chiefs, but it’s likely that they will have to turn to the air to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes. The last time these teams faced off back in Week 5, Carr threw for 347 yards and three touchdown passes.
An aerial attack from Las Vegas would be beneficial to all the Raiders’ pass-catchers — most notably Henry Ruggs III, who leads the team in air yards the past three weeks and has just missed on a few big plays from Carr.
The Kansas City Chiefs have faced the second-highest deep ball attempt percentage (22.6%) to WRs this season. Ruggs’ only big game this season has come versus KC (2-118-1).
The Raiders and Chiefs faced off in Week 5, and the Chiefs players you would expect to play well did play well. Patrick Mahomes had a 300-yard and two-touchdown performance, while both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce had 90-plus yards and a score. These players are always must-starts, leaving the interesting spot at running back.
Kansas City used a three-person running back rotation in their last game, withDarrel Williams playing third-down snaps and Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell splitting the early-down work. The Raiders have allowed 75 or more yards to a running back in each of the first three weeks of the season but haven’t allowed a back to reach 75 rushing yards since then. The Raiders defense has been playing well enough, and no individual Chiefs back will see enough touches to be worth starting any of them.
Nov 8, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Headline of the game: Tampa Bay needs to prevent Aaron Donald from forcing Tom Brady off his spot
If the Buccaneers’ disastrous offensive showing against the Saints told us anything, it’s that pressure up the middle against Brady can be a death knell for this offense. Brady is averaging just 4.4 passing yards per attempt under pressure this season. The unfortunate news for the veteran quarterback is that he’ll face the unquestioned best player in the NFL at generating pressure from the interior. Donald once again ranks first among interior defenders in pass-rushing grade, pressure rate and pass-rush win rate in 2020 — continuing his stretch of dominance that will end with a gold jacket.
Tampa Bay’s offense is full of talent, but the Rams boast one of the better defenses in the NFL to match that prowess. This Monday Night Football matchup should be one of the best games of the week.
The Monday Night Football matchup appears to have serious playoff implications for two of the NFC's best teams. The preseason number of -4.5 was close to the early-week line of -3.5, which has held to start the week.
Right now, 61% of the cash is on the Rams, though the ticket percentages are evenly split between the two teams. The juice has moved in this direction, with the Rams dropping to +3 with a plus price at some books.
Both defenses rank in the top five of our opponent-adjusted defensive rankings, leading the total to drop a full point from the open. Keep an eye on PFF Greenlinefor any overcorrections to occur, as any further line movement could open up some value on the over.
Tom Brady has put up eye-boggling numbers in plus-matchups this season, but Week 11 presents a much tougher challenge for the 43-year-old passer. The Los Angeles Rams — fresh off shutting down Russell Wilson’s kitchen — have stifled opposing quarterbacks all year long, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.
Ronald Jones II is the RB8 overall through 10 weeks, averaging 14.1 fantasy points per game (20th). Fantasy managers will always be concerned about Leonard Fournette working in, but starting the top running back has almost always returned solid numbers. The average finish by the top TB running back has been RB17 in PPR.
If Arians decides to feed RoJo, he should produce even against a strong Rams front that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs over the past four weeks.
The Buccaneers’ biggest weakness on defense has been stopping tight ends — six different tight ends have scored touchdowns against them. Two of the last four starting tight ends to face them have hit at least 50 yards.
For the Rams, the player to utilize is Gerald Everett — he has been targeted 27 times since Week 3 compared to Tyler Higbee’s 21. This has led to more catches, yards and touchdowns for Everett. The Rams used two- and three-tight-end sets more than any team in their last game, so both players should see significant playing time.
Tampa Bay has given up the fewest rushing yards to running backs this season but the ninth-most receiving yards to backs. That means Malcolm Brown might be the best option among the three Rams running backs. He’s been the third-down back every week and had the most plays close to the goal line last week.