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.
Buffalo at Jacksonville (London)
Number to Remember (NTR) – 4.3%
The Jaguars have only forced a turnover on 4.3% of their defensive possessions this season. The Bills, meanwhile, have done well protecting the ball as they are in the top ten of avoiding turnovers on a per possession basis. Jacksonville will be tasked with limiting yardage to create more opportunities for their offense in this game.
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To put it simply, the Bills offense is in shambles. With their top two receivers and starting quarterback on the shelf this week, there are multiple players to watch. Robert Woods and Chris Hogan will step into the primary receiver roles after they saw a combined 11 targets last week. While the team will try to run frequently, there is a good chance at least one of these receivers will be a viable flex option.
T.J. Yeldon could be out for another week and the timeshare of Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson is likely to continue.The Bills run defense is stout, making their receiving abilities much more valuable. They did catch six of seven passes last week, but neither were able to distinguish themselves. Even when Yeldon returns, one of them could prove useful in a reserve role.
Minnesota at Detroit
NTR – 15.4
The Vikings pass defense is allowing just 15.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, fourth fewest in the league. After Matthew Stafford‘s big game against Chicago, he is going to have a much tougher hurdle to overcome to keep the little momentum he has going.
Detroit is one of two teams that has seen over 25 rushes against per game. As such, there could be some work behind Adrian Peterson for Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. So far, they have only accounted for 20% of the running back workload, but if the team gets a lead, they could utilize the two in an effort to keep Peterson fresh.
With Zach Zenner out and Joique Bell hurting, Ameer Abdullah has the backfield to himself. With the tough Minnesota pass defense, the Lions will need Abdullah to improve upon his second half woes (2.6 yards per carry vs 3.7 in the first half) and remain effective the entire game.
New Orleans at Indianapolis
NTR – 45.6% and 27.9%
The former is the percent of drives that the Saints allows an offense to score (worst in the NFL) and the latter is the rate the Colts offense ends a drive in a score (third worst). I suspect the Saints will struggle here to contain as the Colts might have finally turned a corner on offense.
The Saints offense is effective but many of the players who have done well were off the radar during the offseason. One of those was Ben Watson, who was overshadowed by Josh Hill. Last week, Watson set season highs in snap percentage (94%), targets (12), catches (10), and yards (127). The Colts allow the 11th most fantasy points to tight ends this year, making this another positive matchup for the veteran.
Speaking of positive tight end matchups, the Colts allow a league leading 81 yards per game to the position. Coby Fleener has taken the primary receiving tight end role, logging three games of six or more targets already. Dwayne Allen remains a threat, but Fleener could be in line for another strong performance.
New York Jets at New England
NTR – 6
The Jets are sixth or better against every position (QB, RB, WR, TE) in terms of fantasy points allowed. The Patriots have a player at each of those positions who is ranked in the top 12 (PPR) in fantasy points scored per game. This will be fun.
Remember Zac Stacy? He has seen increased carries in each of the last three games, from two to 13. With Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley uncertain for Sunday, Stacy should be the primary receiving back and capable of spelling Chris Ivory as needed. He should see 10-15 touches for the second straight week.
This offense is pretty set with their personnel overall but usage could take some interesting shifts against this Jets defense. Buster Skrine looks like he will be healthy and man the slot, so does the team try and use Scott Chandler more in an effort to create mismatches? He is only being used in 25% of offensive snaps, but his red zone ability and creativity underneath could provide a different look for the Patriots.
Atlanta at Tennessee
NTR – 11
The Titans have only allowed 11 receptions to running backs, lowest in the NFL. On the other side, Devonta Freeman has 25 catches in his four starts and has had no fewer than three catches in any game this year. Freeman will have to succeed running the ball as his opportunities in the pass game could be limited.
Tennessee does have a weakness against running backs and that is allowing big runs. They average 4.8 runs of 10+ yards per game and Tevin Coleman has accomplished that once every seven carries this season. I suspect the team will increase Coleman’s snaps from last week (seven, 10% of available) in hopes he breaks a few long plays.
Marcus Mariota is officially out for Sunday and in steps Zach Mettenberger. The second-year quarterback goes against a generous defense (300 passing yards per game) and is capable of stretching the field. Kendall Wright will be happy; he averages over 16 yards per catch with Mettenberger and just over 10 yards per catch otherwise.
Cleveland at St. Louis
NTR – 28
The Browns see 28 rushes per game by opposing running backs, the most by any team this year. The Rams offense is struggling with the exception of running the ball, leading the league with 4.8 yards per carry. Expect a heavy dose of the ground game.
Cleveland employed a three-headed running back committee last week with Robert Turbin getting his first action of the season. He had ten carries in the game on just 18 offensive snaps, revealing his role is limited to running plays. St. Louis has struggled against the run this season, allowing the ninth-most points per game to running backs. Turbin is a threat to Isaiah Crowell and this week should show if that threat is legitimate.
Todd Gurley will dominate the backfield touches, but the team has limited his use on passing downs, preferring Benny Cunningham. This should continue with Gurley seeing the field on two thirds of the team’s plays with Cunningham handling the remainder. With the giving nature of the Browns defense, Gurley should be a top five running back this week with Cunningham flirting with flex level value.
Houston at Miami
NTR – 76
The Texans lead the NFL with 76 plays per game, 5 more than any other team in the league. Miami, meanwhile is tied for seventh worst with 67 plays per game allowed on defense. The volume looks to be there for at least one more week.
The Texans like to pass and the Dolphins have given up six catches per game to the tight end position. Unfortunately, Houston does not use their tight ends in the pass game much. Still, with multiple targets in two of the past three games, perhaps C.J. Fiedorowicz gets a few extra looks in a favorable matchup. With Cecil Shorts out and Nate Washington still injured, he is one of their few healthy options remaining.
With a new coaching staff, the Dolphins prioritized the run, managing 32 carries to 29 pass attempts last week. Lamar Miller had a huge game, but Jonas Gray also had seven carries in relief. Given the pace statistics, the Dolphins will likely try to lean run once again, giving work to both backs in an effort to maintain effectiveness and control possession.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City
NTR – 6
The Steelers have had struggles in pass defense with tight end being their biggest issue, allowing six touchdowns to the position already (tied for worst). Now, Travis Kelce comes to town and has failed to see the end zone since week one. It is time for Zeus to cross the goal line.
The Steelers are down to their third quarterback in Landry Jones. Friend of DLF Rumford Johnny aptly described Jones’ arm as a “T-shirt cannon”, meaning he can sling it downfield but no one knows where it will end up. Lucky for him, the Chiefs have allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks including less than one interception per game this year.
The Chiefs offense is hurting with Kelce the only key skill player not fighting injury. He has at least five targets (and three catches) in every game this season and currently on pace to record his first 1,000 yard season. Even if Alex Smith’s thumb injury limits his effectiveness, Kelce will be heavily featured in this punch-less offense.
Tampa Bay at Washington
NTR – 2.6 and 1
The Buccaneers allow a league worst 2.6 passing touchdowns per game while Washington is averaging just one (second-worst in the NFL). Little has gone right with Kirk Cousins this year and he could be nearing the end of his starting reign barring a big week in this advantageous matchup.
Jameis Winston has been labeled inconsistent due to turnovers, but he is also one of just 12 quarterbacks who has thrown for over 200 yards in at least five games this year. Washington has not forced many turnovers (just three interceptions on the year) so Winston could feel more confident in this game and record his fourth effort of 60% or more accuracy in just six tries.
Highlighting Cousins as a dynasty watch feels dirty, but he has been bad, even with a short deck at receiver. Now Chris Thompson and Matt Jones are injured, the former unlikely to play, so the burden is squarely on the former Spartan. He faces the third worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks, the pressure is on.
Dallas at New York Giants
NTR – 93.5
The Giants are seventh best in the league, allowing just 93.5 rushing yards per game. With the Cowboys playing musical chairs at running back once again, expectations should be tempered here for what has been a league average running game.
Like the Steelers, the Cowboys are on their third quarterback with Matt Cassel seeing the field this week. The Giants give up passing yards (315 per game) but also have eight interceptions on the year. Cassel is a safety-first quarterback but with limited playmakers at receiver, he may be forced to thread the needle and chance turnovers for the sake of big plays.
Dallas is the third worst fantasy defense against running backs…too bad the Giants struggle with consistency at the position. If there is a game to commit to Rashad Jennings, this is it. The veteran has seen between nine and 13 carries every game this year, which is referred to as the “Lamar Miller treatment.” He also has multiple catches in all but one game this year. This may be the only instance where I say Jennings has a nice ceiling all season.
Oakland at San Diego
NTR – 299.2 and 346.3
This is one of those times when the numbers tell a clear story. The Raiders allow a league worst 299.2 passing yards per game and the Chargers average a league high 346.3 passing yards. All that can stop this is the injuries to Charger receivers.
San Diego has given up nine touchdowns to running backs on the season, unfortunately the Raiders have scored just two (compared to ten passing touchdowns). Latavius Murray is 11th in red zone runs this year, scoring both of the team’s rush touchdowns inside that distance. He will need to convert in this game or risk the team settling in a game where points will come at a premium.
The Chargers receivers are fighting injuries, opening the door for Ladarius Green to see more targets. The touchdown last week was nice but he was out-targeted 16 to four by Antonio Gates. If Gates sits or Stevie Johnson is unable to play again, Green could be in line to feast against the suspect Raiders pass defense.
Sunday Night Game
Philadelphia at Carolina
NTR – 7
Much is made of the vaunted Panthers defense, but how do they deal with a Philly offense that has thrown touchdown passes to seven different receivers? The team has found its footing and with so many options, it is becoming difficult to focus defensive attention on one player.
Nelson Agholor has been ruled out and Riley Cooper may not play, so who among Miles Austin and Josh Huff stands to benefit? I suspect Austin maintains his deep threat role (over 19 yards per catch this season) while Huff stands in for Cooper on running plays and sees an extra target or two. Sam Bradford is unlikely to lock onto just one receiver in this game so it may be hard to start either player.
Philadelphia allows nearly 41 fantasy points per game to receivers, eighth most in the NFL. The Panthers decided that Devin Funchess deserved six targets last week, tops among their wide receivers. While he only caught two, perhaps the coaching staff feels he has turned a corner. Let’s see if last week’s milestone repeats itself.
Monday Night Game
Baltimore at Arizona
NTR – 94 and 89
The Ravens have had issues with wide receivers, allowing 94 receptions to them (second highest in the NFL). The Cardinals, meanwhile, have 89 receptions among their top three receivers, 70% of the team’s total. While it may be tough to know who leads the team, there is a good chance all three have their moments.
Jeremy Ross, in just his second week of action for the Ravens, saw five targets last game and caught three, the latter tied for third on the team. Considering Marlon Brown out-snapped him 43 to 30 and failed to see one look from Joe Flacco, Ross may be positioning himself as the third receiver. In a game where the Ravens will need to score frequently, that may be worth something in deep leagues.
The breakout of John Brown has muted the fact Michael Floyd has had five catches in two of the past three games. He has also seen the field on at least 65% of the snaps in each game, a drastic improvement from week one (15%) when his hand injury was an issue. The team has utilized Floyd in a possession role, more suited to his skill set, and he should see some openings this week to continue the momentum.
*All numbers courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference