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 – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.
OAKLAND AT BALTIMORE
Entering the Ravens game a week ago, the story was all about rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was making his first career start. As expected, Jackson ran all over, breaking 100 yards in his first real shot at extended playing time. The surprise of that game was undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards, who seemingly passed Alex Collins on the depth chart during the game, becoming the first Ravens back to rush for over 100 yards this season. Edwards has a great matchup against the Raiders and both his dynasty value as well as that of Collins could rest on this game.
The Raiders are expected to get veteran receiver Jordy Nelson back in the lineup after dealing with a knee injury. They did lose veteran Brandon LaFell last week and relied heavily on rookie Marcell Ateman, who led the team with 50 yards on four receptions. Nelson will surely see his share of targets but this team that is headed for an early draft pick should stick with the youth and find out what they have. Ateman makes for a nice stash if he’s still available in dynasty leagues.
JACKSONVILLE AT BUFFALO
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In what has been a lost season for the Bills, they are set to welcome rookie quarterback Josh Allen back to the lineup after missing multiple games. Allen hasn’t played since Week Six due to an elbow injury that was initially feared to be season-ending. The Bills offense has actually averaged slightly more points since the Allen injury than they did with him and running back LeSean McCoy has enjoyed his best games of the season with Allen on the sidelines. Outside of a fluky QB4 rank, Allen’s best weekly fantasy finish this season is only QB28.
The Jaguars will be without rookie receiver DJ Chark, who is dealing with a quad injury. After a slow start to his season, Chark has been playing as the team’s third receiver and even led the Jags in targets last week. His loss will allow receiver Keelan Cole to get back on the field. After a solid start to the year, including a WR7 finish in Week Two, Cole has struggled with drops and fumbles. Cole hasn’t even been targeted in the past two games and hasn’t finished any higher than WR40 since that big game in the team’s second week.
SEATTLE AT CAROLINA
The Panthers have called wide receiver Devin Funchess doubtful for this game with a back injury. After the past few weeks, I’m wondering if Cam Newton and the offense will even notice he’s gone. Rookie DJ Moore has emerged as the team’s WR1 while second-year man Curtis Samuel has bounced back from an early-season health scare to become a flashy playmaker. The Panthers do expect veteran Torrey Smith to make his return to the field but this team should really focus on the trio of youngsters in Moore, Samuel and running back Christian McCaffrey.
Many were viewing this as a breakout game for veteran receiver Doug Baldwin, who has had a disappointing season with a high weekly finish of WR18. Now, Baldwin is a game-time decision with a groin injury. Baldwin’s potential absence creates another huge opportunity for Tyler Lockett, who has easily been the team’s top receiver for the majority of the season. Lockett leads the Seahawks with 38 receptions for 554 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s set to enter free agency following this season.
CLEVELAND AT CINCINNATI
For much of the week, there was some hope and even expectation that the Bengals would have veteran wide receiver AJ Green back on the field but that won’t be the case. Green will sit with a toe injury for the third straight game. This might appear to be good news for receiver Tyler Boyd but in the past two games, the breakout receiver has totaled only seven receptions for 136 scoreless yards. This team misses Green and that’s not likely to change, even against the Browns iffy pass defense.
The entire Browns offense has been up and down this season, with each key component going through hot and cold stretches. We’re currently in the middle of a rough patch for tight end David Njoku, who has weekly fantasy finishes if TE46, TE15 and TE33 over his past three games, totaling five receptions for 71 yards on no scores in those three contests. The Bengals have allowed five TE1 games this season, which could mean good news for Njoku to break his streak.
NEW ENGLAND AT NEW YORK JETS
The Patriots listed tight end Rob Gronkowski as questionable for this game but earlier in the week Gronk declared himself “good to go” so we can expect him back on the field for the first time since Week Eight. It feels like a bit of a lost season for the longtime dynasty TE1 but with his nagging injuries and disappointing performance, Gronk’s value has taken a major hit. Although our latest ADP disagrees, most dynasty players probably don’t even consider Gronkowski to be a top-five dynasty tight end at this point. A strong finish to the season could help change that.
With rookie quarterback Sam Darnold still on the shelf, we’ll see veteran Josh McCown under center once again. McCown is expected to have both receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson on the field, though Anderson’s role could be limited due to an ankle injury. Both wideouts have dealt with injuries this season and both are also set to hit free agency following the year. With needs all over, the Jets have some tough decisions in how to handle the duo. They’ve recently opened contract talks with Enunwa, a sign they could be willing to let Anderson move on to a new team.
NEW YORK GIANTS AT PHILADELPHIA
The Giants have endured a dreadful season, winning just three of their first ten games and on their way to earning another top-five draft pick. Thanks to a disappointing and injury-ridden Eagles defense, this is a get right spot for veteran quarterback Eli Manning and the entire Giants offense. Superstars Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley have endured the poor play to rack up huge fantasy numbers but this game is a good opportunity for the Giants secondary pieces, including receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram.
The Eagles are still trying to make their newest acquisition, veteran receiver Golden Tate, fit into their offense. Offensive coordinator surprisingly admitted it has been difficult to incorporate Tate into the team’s plan following the deadline deal. Tate did lead the team in receiving last week with a 5/48 line but can’t be trusted as a fantasy asset, even in this promising matchup. This looks like a wasted move as Tate will enter free agency following the season.
SAN FRANCISCO AT TAMPA BAY
They did it again. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made an in-game change at the quarterback position for the third time this season, benching veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Jameis Winston. As we’ve seen the backup do already, Winston played well and nearly led the Bucs to a comeback victory and was subsequently named the team’s starter for this week. At some point, this game of musical chairs has to end. For a team all but eliminated from playoff contention already, let’s hope we continue to see Winston and second-year receiver Chris Godwin build chemistry.
The 49ers have an excellent matchup for their passing game, as the Buccaneers continue to struggle to defend the pass. The bad news is the Niners will be without veterans Pierre Garcon (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (personal). That leaves third-string quarterback Nick Mullens to target some combination of Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and rookies Richie James and Dante Pettis. It is a challenge to pick a favorite from this group but Bourne has stepped up when given an opportunity this year.
ARIZONA AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
In position for a monster game, the Chargers are now calling running back Melvin Gordon a game-time decision as he deals with knee and hamstring injuries. Earlier in the season, we saw the team play it safe with Gordon, sitting him out due to that bad hammy. Facing the Cardinals in what is viewed as a very winnable game, Gordon could sit again. That would put backup runner Austin Ekeler in prime position to carry the load. When Gordon missed a game earlier this year, Ekeler struggled, carrying 12 times for 42 yards and adding five receptions for 26 yards. This matchup is much juicier though as Arizona has allowed ten top 24 fantasy performances this season. Ekeler should be the next to sting them for a big fantasy box score.
The focus of the Cardinals coaching staff over the past few games has been to reinvent this offense on the fly and get past the ugly Mike McCoy era. That has been accomplished and should be furthered in the season’s final several weeks. For fantasy players, that simply means more good news for running back David Johnson and wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. The rookie Kirk should be the player dynasty owners are most interested in and he’s delivered with four WR3 range games over his past six contests, including last week’s WR20 game. Kirk will be one of my most-targeted players in off-season trade talks.
MIAMI AT INDIANAPOLIS
The Dolphins will have their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back on the field for the first time since Week Five. He’s missed the past five games with a shoulder injury as backup Brock Osweiler led Miami to a 2-3 record during that time. Tannehill was simply average when on the field to start the season, posting just one QB1 game and failing to exceed 300 passing yards in any game. It could be another ugly game for Tannehill as receivers DeVante Parker and Danny Amendola are both questionable to play against the Colts.
Shockingly, tight end Eric Ebron was not even targeted in the Colts’ Week Eleven game. His usage has been largely dependent on the status of fellow tight end Jack Doyle this season and last week’s goose egg really stung. The matchup against the Dolphins is a very good one for Ebron and Doyle, especially when factoring in the absence of third tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who has played a surprisingly large role in recent weeks.
PITTSBURGH AT DENVER
An interesting storyline emerged this week regarding Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown as his team prepared for the game in Denver. There had been some off-season scuttlebutt that Brown might have sickle cell trait, which would make the Colorado elevation a major challenge. Regardless of that, Brown will play this week and will reportedly see his normal amount of snaps. Brown has only played one game in Denver in his career, catching four passes for 74 scoreless yards back in 2012.
Denver got rookie running back Royce Freeman back in the lineup last week but that didn’t slow down the production of fellow rookie back Phillip Lindsay, who has emerged from a strong rookie class as the second-leading rusher in the class behind only Saquon Barkley. Lindsay remains undervalued in dynasty leagues as fantasy players can’t seem to decide if he’s the real deal or a one-year wonder. Freeman has only outscored Lindsay in one game this season.
GREEN BAY AT MINNESOTA
The Green Bay Packers continue to deal with injuries to their pass-catchers as they try to stay in the playoff hunt. The latest victim is veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, who left last week’s game after just one reception. It was later revealed that Graham broke his thumb but will attempt to play through the injury. Most practice reports have been positive but Graham still drew a questionable tag, making him risky considering the Sunday night game time. The Vikings are also not an especially good matchup, allowing only 11.7 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season.
After beginning the season on a record-setting pace, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has slowed down to a more pedestrian pace over the past two games, still posting very respectable weekly ranks of WR21 and WR23. When Thielen faced the Packers earlier in the season, he was the centerpiece of the offense, catching 12 balls for 131 yards and a touchdown and finishing as the WR2 for the week. Despite being slowed by back and leg injuries over the past week, Thielen is set to play in this huge divisional game.
TENNESSEE AT HOUSTON
This game marks the third of the Texans career for veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. It has not been the smooth transition that any party expected. In two games, Thomas has totaled three receptions for 61 yards and didn’t even catch a pass in the team’s most recent game against the Redskins. Rookie receiver Keke Coutee has been the team’s second option when healthy and that likely won’t change against the Titans on Monday night.
Last week, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was forced to leave the game early and there was concern Mariota would miss significant time just as he was getting his year on track. Fortunately, that won’t be the case as Mariota is expected to start against the Texans on Monday night. Prior to the injury, Mariota had a pair of top-seven fantasy performances including multiple touchdowns in both games. Houston has only allowed two QB1 games all season, which could spell bad news for Mariota in his return.
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