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.
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Buffalo at Kansas City
Number to Remember (NTR) –26
Two teams that excel at the ground and pound style, Kansas City (14) and Buffalo (12) are the top two teams in rushing touchdowns scored in 2015. Both are in the bottom half defensively as they have allowed just a combined 12 and neither team has given up over 20 points in their last three games.
After two weeks of zero targets, Chris Hogan exploded last week with six catches on seven targets while playing nearly two-thirds of the snaps. He is entrenched as the third receiver and has multiple catches in all but three games this year. Hogan could be a nice hold to see his fate this offseason.
After Charcandrick West was hurt last week, Spencer Ware stepped up and nearly had 100 yards (96) on just 11 carries. The former LSU Tiger was a favorite of some in the draft community and showed some nice all-around skills despite never having the role full time. Ware may never be a long-term starter but has the ability to complement West or another running back.
New Orleans at Houston
NTR –4.9 and 3.3
Ineptitude is the name of these stats with New Orleans last in yards per carry allowed (4.9) while Houston is first offensively (3.3). Also, consider this; the Saints have held just two opponents under 100 yards rushing and Houston has managed the feat just twice.
Remember C.J. Spiller? The free agent acquisition tied his season high with 10 touches before the bye week but remains little more than a role player (just one third of the snaps in week ten). Unfortunately, it took a Mark Ingram injury to make it happen. Little need to react here but if you own, there may be little optimism remaining for 2015, even without Ingram.
While Alfred Blue can handle the workload, he does little with it. Jonathan Grimes has done more with his 12 carries in the last two games (70 yards, 5.8 ypc) and has proven to be a more explosive option. Expect this to become more of a timeshare if Blue continues to run in slow motion.
San Diego at Jacksonville
This is the anti-Buffalo vs Kansas City game as these teams have managed just three rushing touchdowns combined for the season (San Diego has two). Considering they have allowed 21 and these two pass defenses are above average in preventing pass touchdowns, maybe we see this total rise.
Looks like the beneficiary of all the receiver injuries is Javontee Herndon. He managed two-thirds of the offensive snaps last week and played underneath, turning seven targets into five catches for 37 yards. Herndon was more of a deep threat in college, averaging 15 yards per catch but never exceeding 31 receptions. Herndon only caught 51% of his targets in 2013, a concerning figure if he remains a target in this offense.
The roles are pretty defined in this offense but Denard Robinson is trying to carve out a role after being supplanted by T.J. Yeldon. He had seven carries for 27 yards last week, not overly impressive but his second most touches this year. Robinson remains on the short side of the running back equation (under 20% of snaps), but it is clear that he would be next in line if Yeldon is hurt.
Minnesota at Atlanta
NTR –4.9 and 3.6
Another juxtaposition, this time to the New Orleans-Houston matchup, sees the top yards per carry offense of Minnesota (4.9) face the third-stingiest run defense in Atlanta (3.6). The Falcons have not allowed a 100 yard rusher this season, Adrian Peterson has five such games already.
Hard to be unbiased, but when Jarius Wright gets a spike in targets, I pay attention. Historically a highly efficient receiver, Wright caught four of five targets for 50 yards, reminding fantasy owners how ineffective Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson have been. Wright continues to play third receiver but is showing to be a better option than either of his peers opposite Stefon Diggs.
With Devonta Freeman likely out this week, Tevin Coleman gets another shot, albeit against a tough run defense. Coleman struggled against the Colts (17 carries for 48 yards), but I consider that more of a buy low on a small sample than an indictment on his abilities. Freeman has the job here, but Coleman is still a quality talent.
Oakland at Tennessee
NTR – 418 and 294
I love when stats can help predict game script. Oakland sees the most pass attempts against them (418) while Tennessee the fewest (294). Much of this has occurred with the Raiders jumping out to early leads while the Titans have been down frequently, leading to conservative opponents later on. Let’s see if the numbers play out.
Clive Walford has been mentioned here before, but his 59 percent snap share from last week is significant as it is the first time he led the tight ends this year. Some of this could have been from trailing the Lions throughout the first half, but I suspect the team is feeling more comfortable with the rookie.
I have been critical of Antonio Andrews, but he is looking more like a solution for the Titans, who are starving for running back help. He has surpassed four yards per carry in five of eight games played and has double digit touches in every game this year. Andrews will never be a star but should provide the team with a reliable option to take pressure off Marcus Mariota.
Saint Louis at Cincinnati
NTR – 221
Another product of game script, the Bengals lead the league in seeing just 221 rushing attempts on the season (22.1 per game). Todd Gurley has surpassed that mark on his own in three of his seven starts and has only been below 19 attempts just once.
The wheels are beginning to fall off Tavon Austin, who has had just five yards receiving in each of the last two weeks. His value was propped up by an unsustainable touchdown rate, which is showing as he has failed to score in the last three games. Austin will always be capable of a big game, but he should be sold, not held.
Lost in the sea of offensive weapons, Marvin Jones has had at least four catches in five of the last six games. Jones has been playing at a 62 catch pace, which is a career high for the 25 year old. The touchdown rate from 2013 is gone, but Jones is the type of buy low find who has no name but plenty of upside.
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis
NTR – 200
The Colts have established a minimum threshold, having thrown for 200 yards in every game this season despite Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck taking their turns at quarterback. The problem is predicting who receives those passes as five different players have 25 catches on the year.
A rookie, Kwon Alexander has played like a veteran with four double digit total tackle games. On pace for 116 tackles, he already has the looks of a fourth round steal. He also turned 21 just before the season started.
As if the Colts offense could not confound us more, Ahmad Bradshaw took 50 percent of the running back snaps last week and managed two touchdowns among his 13 touches. Frank Gore is hindered by a minor knee injury, making his status uncertain for the game and Bradshaw’s upside for the remainder of the year much more intriguing.
Miami at New York Jets
NTR – 23.8
Fantasy owners are being driven crazy as the Dolphins are fourth in yards per carry (4.8) but last in rushing attempts (208). The saving grace is the improvement between before the coaching change (16.3 attempts per game) to afterward (23.8). Considering only two of the six games since the change have had under 20 attempts, the Dolphins are finally playing to their strengths.
After seeing four or more targets just twice in the first six games of the year, Kenny Stills has accomplished the feat in three of the last four weeks. The other, last week, which featured a 29 yard receiving touchdown. On pace for less than 30 catches, this season is a disappointment. The talent is there and with 75 percent of the offensive snaps last week, he could move ahead of Rishard Matthews, who is still seeing the plays but is struggling to capitalize after a hot start.
Quincy Enunwa came back from injury last week, reclaiming the third receiver role and saw 84 percent of the offensive snaps. He had two catches on four targets and could continue to see moderate target share given the Jets issues at tight end.
New York Giants at Washington
NTR – 19.5 and 17.6
In the game of turnovers, the Giants are exceptional at ending an opponent’s drive with them (19.5%, second best) and Washington fails to avoid them (17.6%, worst) on offense. The Giants are bottom three in yards, plays, and time allowed per drive; but that turnover statistic should help them against turnover prone Kirk Cousins.
In another case of “hey, remember him?” finds Rueben Randle scorned and forgotten but not worthless. He is pacing for a 60+ catch season but is seeing his fourth straight year with declining yards per reception. Randle does have multiple catches in all but one game and is catching 71 percent of his targets. Either he is evolving as a receiver or being pushed out of his past role as a downfield threat.
DeSean Jackson is looking better by the game, culminating in last week’s five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. With the other receivers operating underneath, Jackson opens up the field for Cousins and maybe even the running game, but let’s not be too hasty.
Pittsburgh at Seattle
The volatility of the Steelers pass offense has frustrated fantasy owners, but they are streaking lately, averaging 400.5 yards in the last two games. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have been scorched to the tune of 290 yards in the last two weeks, including 247 yards to Blaine Gabbert in the most recent game.
The offense in Pittsburgh is largely set, whereas the defense is still seeing some transition. Ryan Shazier, the second-year linebacker, has looked great in six games this year, tallying a sack or 5+ solo tackles in every game. Considering he was unable to get to the quarterback in 2014, his prowess creating pressure in 2015 is worth monitoring.
Hard not to highlight Thomas Rawls, who became the first undrafted rookie to have a 200 yard rushing game in his first year. He also added three receptions for 46 yards, the former matching his total for the rest of the season. Rawls should have this job for the rest of 2015 and he may be one of those buy now before he goes even higher type of player.
Arizona at San Francisco
This is the difference between the 49ers offensive points per possession (1.26) and the Cardinals (2.55). Considering the Cardinals average a full possession more per game, this should get out of hand very quickly.
Rookie J.J. Nelson has been highlighted here before but he has to be called out again. Nelson set career highs across the board and now has over 10% offensive snap share in each of the last two games. Michael Floyd and John Brown are still hurting, so Nelson should get more work downfield in this one.
With Vernon Davis gone, Vance McDonald has seen over 80 percent of the snaps at tight end. In the last two games, McDonald has six catches on nine targets including a receiving touchdown. While he remains more of a blocking tight end, Gabbert should continue to use him as a safety valve.
Sunday Night Game
New England at Denver
New England is second best at moving the football (35.3 yards per possession) and Denver is the best at preventing it (23.7); making the 11.6 yards the difference. Denver is also second best at points per possession allowed (1.38), guess who is first on offense with 2.74?
Struggling to keep receiving options healthy, the team turned to James White, who responded with a pair of catches last week with one ending in a touchdown (he had another rushing). While White only had 28 percent of the offensive snaps, he should continue to inch that upwards while becoming a bigger part of the NFL’s best offense.
Cody Latimer! Year two for the receiver has not been much more fruitful, but he does have five catches on eight targets in the last two weeks. He is operating underneath, counter to his college career, but Latimer should maintain this role as long as Emmanuel Sanders is hurt.
Monday Night Game
Baltimore at Cleveland
With the injuries to Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett, the team has lost players who have accounted for 90.4 percent of their offensive touchdowns (19 of 21). The other two touchdowns were scored by players on injured reserve, meaning this team will be looking for new playmakers.
We get one more chance to see Matt Schaub behind center for a poor offense, this time in Baltimore. He failed in Oakland last year and has struggled with turnovers for the last few years. With such little firepower here, the Ravens will be conservative in an effort to protect the veteran. Welcome to the worst offense in football.
Back behind the helm thanks to stupidity, Josh McCown has multiple touchdowns in all but one game he has started and finished. Expect Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge to both see improvements in their performance along with Duke Johnson. In short, everyone wins in Cleveland, a rare feat.
*All numbers courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference