Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game. Also, a “Number to Remember” will be provided that will center on a key statistic that will influence the game and your dynasty team.
New York Jets at Miami (London)
Number to Remember (NTR) – 41
Quite simply, the Jets lead the NFL in points allowed with just 41 through three weeks. Given the fact that two of these games were against Indianapolis and Philadelphia with an ailing secondary, that is a mighty impressive feat. There have only been four offensive touchdowns against the team so far, so Miami is going to have to be opportunistic.
Second in pass targets this year, Bilal Powell has 17 of them as he fills the void for the walking wounded Chris Ivory and Eric Decker. The Dolphins are 31st in rush yards allowed and have given up three or more catches to running backs in each week this season. I expect a combined 15 touches with a chance for a touchdown in this cheeky matchup.
Joe Philbin hates two things – fun and using his running backs. The team has the second fewest attempts in the league and are just one of three teams who have failed to score a rushing touchdown so far. If the Dolphins want a chance against the Jets, they need to unleash Lamar Miller. Normally a strong run defense, the Jets struggled against Ryan Mathews in week three and have given up six receptions to running backs in each of the last two weeks.
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Carolina at Tampa Bay
NTR – 50%
No Tampa Bay receiver has better than a 50% catch rate for the year – this is reflective of an erratic Jameis Winston, who has struggled in high pressure situations (see his 28% completion rate in the red zone). Given the talent at wide receiver, Winston should improve and will likely see volume against the team seeing the third most attempts in 2015.
Normally, I highlight players who will score fantasy points, but Josh Norman is a player who prevents them quite effectively. While the two interceptions are nice, Norman is allowing just 48% of targets to be completed. He did shadow DeAndre Hopkins last week, but otherwise has played his side. Expect Winston to avoid Norman, making his matchup pivotal to fantasy owners.
A desperation play, Charles Sims could be the back who ends up leading the team. The Panthers allow just 3.3 yards per carry (third lowest) but have been burned in the pass game by Mark Ingram and Jonathan Grimes recently. He could see 10+ touches for the third time in four weeks, especially if they are down early.
Kansas City at Cincinnati
NTR – 10 and 8
The former is the number of pass touchdowns the Chiefs have allowed (most in the NFL) and the latter is the number Andy Dalton has thrown (fourth). Phillip Gaines is now out for the season, dealing an already leaky Chiefs secondary another blow. This could get messy.
With Adam Jones likely locked on Jeremy Maclin, Alex Smith will need to find other options to attack an otherwise suspect Bengals secondary. Rookie Chris Conley saw 34 snaps last week after just five total in the first two games. Smith would be wise to lob a few jump balls to the youngster when his five yard dump passes are not available.
With Dalton clicking so well, Marvin Jones has to be loving the increased attention. Jones has seen his targets jump from just three in week one to eight last week. He now has control over the second receiver spot and with his prowess in the red zone (11 touchdowns on just 23 targets), so he could see a touchdown catch for the third straight game.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
NTR – 11.0
Remember last year when Blake Bortles was content to check down on every pass play? He has been replaced by a deep ball passer as his average depth of target has risen from 7.4 to 11.0 – the latter among the league leaders. In a game where the Jaguars could be trailing early, knowing Bortles’ willingness to test a defense the entire length of the field could lead to a high scoring game.
An intriguing receiver, Bryan Walters is seeing a few extra snaps with injuries befalling other options. The undrafted player out of Cornell, Walters managed two catches on three targets last week in the blowout loss to New England. With Rashad Greene out for the year, he is the underneath option when the deep ball is not there – this could be a buy early opportunity as his work continues to increase.
There continues to be hope for an Andrew Luck revival. This has to be it as the Jaguars are bottom ten in most pass defense statistics and the third worst in points allowed (largely due to the New England loss). If he struggles once again, I see a lot of owners looking to cash out.
New York Giants at Buffalo
NTR – 74 and 72
The Giants have had trouble keeping opposing offenses off the field, as evidenced by their league worst 74 first downs allowed. Buffalo is not fairing much better as they are 30th with 72 first downs allowed. Which team can avoid sustained drives against them will control the tempo of this game.
After a zero catch week, the team announced Shane Vereen will be used more outside the backfield. The Bills have struggled against the pass as they are in the bottom three in attempts, yards, and pass touchdowns allowed. This shapes up to be a nice usage game for a player who will be volatile most of the season.
With Sammy Watkins inactive, Chris Hogan could see another increase in attention. The undrafted receiver has largely been an underneath target but did have a 38-yard touchdown against the Dolphins last week. With the Giants defense worst in the league in pass yards allowed (1,007), Hogan could produce another big play.
Oakland at Chicago
NTR – 105
Chicago has already allowed 105 points in just three weeks, never keeping an opposing offense from scoring less than 26 points. Now they face a surprising Oakland offense who is tenth in the league in scoring. There will be some useful Raiders in this game.
A porous secondary in this matchup, Derek Carr could feast. His yards per attempt have leaped from 5.5 to 8.1 with the majority of his targets going to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. The Bears are generous against the pass, ranking bottom ten in touchdowns and yards per attempt with just one interception on the year. All the standard plays will do well.
There is little to like here besides an active defense who will be on the field frequently. Shea McClellin, the former first round pick, has been somewhat consistent with at least six total tackles in each game thus far. With the Bears seeing a 53% run rate, McClellin could be busy once again.
Houston at Atlanta
NTR – 5.1
Via Pro Football Reference, the Texans are last in the NFL in net yards gained per pass attempt (accounts for sacks) with just 5.1. Now they face an Atlanta team who will put the Texans in a hole quickly, so that number will have to improve if they expect to keep up.
Shifts at running back will have Jonathan Grimes sitting and could have Arian Foster back in the fold. With his status still up in the air, Alfred Blue may be the only sure thing at the position. Considering the Falcons have allowed the most rushing touchdowns and are bottom five in yards per attempt allowed, someone will do well here. Who will it be?
After an eight target week one, Roddy White has just one target in the last two games. His contribution has been felt more in the run game but with the number of snaps (186), White is more than just a role player. There should be a turnaround for him, especially as defenses become more aggressive in stopping Julio Jones.
Philadelphia at Washington
NTR – 2
This is an important number for both teams. Washington is second in total yards allowed while Philadelphia is second worst in generating offensive yardage. This is one of those instances where the puzzle pieces fit. The Eagles may struggle in this one.
The running game will have little success, so the Eagles will need to attack through the air. Zach Ertz was largely forgotten in week three, generating just two targets after seeing at least seven in each of the first two weeks. He actually leads the team in yards per catch (11.6), so there is a chance he is relied upon to make a big play.
Washington is a run first team, as they’re currently in the top five in nearly every rushing statistic. The Eagles are the best in yards per attempt allowed (just 3.1). This will be a game where Alfred Morris and Matt Jones will have their effectiveness tested.
Cleveland at San Diego
NTR – 15
Cleveland likes to spread the wealth as four players have 15 or more targets already this season. While that philosophy has only led to a 20th ranked passing attack, it has made guesswork out of an already unappealing offense. It may be their best strategy though against a top five pass defense.
Of those pass options, Gary Barnidge may be the most surprising on that list. He saw nine targets last week, catching six for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Two tight ends have found success against the Chargers (Eric Ebron and Tyler Eifert), so this could be another nice game for the unheralded starter.
Melvin Gordon gets to face the worst run defense this week, which could give him the first big week of his young career. While he has failed to get a carry inside the ten yard line, Gordon is running well and has 15 or more touches in every game. I suspect he gets a few chances to score this week.
Green Bay at San Francisco
NTR – 67%
The 49ers may not be scoring (last in the NFL with just 45 points), but the wide receivers are catching everything thrown their way. No receiver has less than a 67% catch rate, which will be important as they face an efficient Green Bay offense. They need to take advantage of every possession.
With Davante Adams likely out, Ty Montgomery could see additional work this week. He managed to score a touchdown last week on two catches and now faces a team second worst in yards per pass attempt allowed. Montgomery could have a few big play opportunities in this game.
The Packers are the only team allowing more than five yards per carry. Now, Carlos Hyde and Mike Davis get their chance to face them after an embarrassing week three (58 rush yards on 22 carries). Hyde will get the majority share but Davis could see another seven or more carries, just like the last two weeks.
Minnesota at Denver
NTR – 20
The Minnesota defense has not allowed a team to score more than 20 points this season. Denver has scored 55 points the last two weeks (31 and 24). They also have a pretty good defense, allowing more than 13 points just once. Have fun guessing this final score.
Jarius Wright and Charles Johnson are out this week, so 2014 hype man Cordarrelle Patterson gets one last chance. 14 of Patterson’s 16 snaps occurred in week three, but Adam Thielen also had 28 of his 30 snaps in that game. Both should see an influx of opportunity against a stifling pass defense, but Patterson is the more talented player. Does Norv Turner agree?
Bennie Fowler may be their fifth receiver, but he managed four catches for fifty yards last week in his first chance at playing time. The former Spartan fought for yards after the catch and provided a big play element that has been missing so far this season. I want to see if they continue to use him going forward.
St. Louis at Arizona
NTR – 7
All the talk is around the Cardinals offense, but the defense has done well too, evident by their seven turnovers forced, all interceptions. Against Nick Foles, they face a cautious quarterback (just one interception) and an offense that avoids turning over the ball (four, 11th best in the NFL).
With Kenny Britt banged up this week, Brian Quick will finally be activated for game day. Quick went from four straight games of 60+ receiving yards to open 2014 to being inactive to start 2015 for no apparent reason. His usage is one to monitor as the season progresses.
All indications suggest Andre Ellington will have a role in this week’s game. With Chris Johnson having seen 20+ carries for two straight weeks, the extent of Ellington’s role is unclear. The Rams are giving up the fifth most rush attempts so volume will be there, but for whom?
Sunday Night Game
Dallas at New Orleans
NTR – 0
The Saints are fourth in passing yards, but somehow have zero 100-yard receiving games by a player. This shows how difficult it is to account for the receiving options on this team. Against Dallas (an average pass defense), it will be tough to guess who leads this team in receiving yards.
Two players lead the Cowboys in receptions – Jason Witten and Lance Dunbar. Dunbar was the more unlikely candidate but in a game against the most generous team in net pass yards per attempt (9.2), he could see another heavy workload with a chance to reach the end zone.
Since I did not talk about Willie Snead last week, it’s time to do it after he posted another good game. He followed up a four catch contest (featuring a touchdown) with a five catch performance, again for 44 yards. Now, with C.J. Spiller getting into the offense, does Snead lose that underneath work to a better talent?
Monday Night Game
Detroit at Seattle
NTR – 2.6
With all the talent at running back, it is surprising to see the Lions averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, second worst in the league. Now, they get the 10th best run defense in yards per carry allowed (3.7), so the Lions will need to get creative for their rushing attack to be effective.
Good news: Ameer Abdullah had his largest number of carries in week three. Bad news: that number was eight. He is averaging just under four yards per carry, so there is no reason the team should continue to use a runner averaging just 1.1 (Joique Bell).
If you paid attention to the UDFA chatter this off-season, you were onto Thomas Rawls. Now, Rawls could be the lead back in what could be a slow-paced game. While Fred Jackson should see some increased work as well if Marshawn Lynch is out, this is Rawls’ spot to thrive.