Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders this week.
Andre Ellington, a gazillion times the player Rashard Mendenblah currently is netting 7.74 yards per touch on the year, total yards against the always open-armed Jaguars 89.5
Brandon – I think Ellington has top 10 RB upside this week. Jacksonville allows an average of 160 yards from scrimmage to the RB position, and you know that Rashard Mendenhall is only good for about 50-60 of those yards at the most. The rest go to Ellington … OVER.
Brad – OVER. We all have to accept Arians' shortsightedness. Ellington's supposed 20-touch workload simply isn't going to happen. However, against a defense that's allowed 164.4 total yards per game and 4.55 yards per carry to opposing backs, the spark plug will only need 13 touches to exceed the proposed number.
Andy – OVER, but only because I think the player is great and the number is low. I doubt very much we'll see Ellington's workload reach appropriate levels. Arians has given us no real indication that he intends to dial down his use of Mendy.
Riley Cooper, who's finished inside the wide receiver top-five in consecutive weeks, receiving yards versus Washington 99.5
Brad – OVER. The buddy movie starring Nick Foles and Cooper will film another sequel this week. When on the field together (over seven games, four starts) they've connected 15 times for 393 yards and six touchdowns. Washington CB2 Josh Wilson, who's surrendered a 69.6 catch rate, is no match. Cooper sprints past 100 yards for the fourth time in six games.
Andy – UNDER. As nice as the results have been, the target totals have actually been relatively low. We're not talking about a high-volume receiver.
Scott – OVER. Even if Cooper doesn't get you to the yardage, he'll probably score and make it all better. It's another case of second-stringers graduating together, taking their chemistry to the first string.
Josh McCown, filling in for injury-plagued Jay Cutler, passing yards versus visiting Baltimore 259.5
Andy – OVER, slightly. I don't think McCown is a surgeon, exactly, but Chicago won't hold anything back with Josh at the controls. It would really help if Alshon could hold onto the ball this week.
Scott – OVER, because I would follow Marc Trestman into a burning building. I love Chicago's receiving group as well.
Dalton – OVER. McCown has gotten 7.7 YPA (not to mention a 4:0 TD:INT ratio) this year, and Baltimore's defense has been middling. I say the replacement QB throws for 275+ yards during a Bears win.
Ben Tate, presumably the Texans rest-of-season starter with Arian Foster on I.R., rushing yards against Oakland 84.5
Scott – UNDER. The Raiders parcel out a mere 3.7 a carry, and we know Tate isn't really healthy right now. The Texans will still go places, but it will be Case Keenum chucking it to his wideouts. Thank the roto gods we've moved on from Matt Schaub.
Dalton – OVER. He's only averaged 3.2 YPC over the past four games but is supposedly feeling better and has a plus matchup at home in a game in which the Texans should be playing mostly with the lead. Tate is still averaging 4.4 YPC on the year and now projects as a rare workhorse in today's NFL.
Brandon – UNDER. Let's give the Raiders some credit here, as they've allowed just 3.7 YPC to the RB position and Andre Brown (on 30 carries) is the only RB to top this number against them. Not to mention Tate is dealing with four broken ribs – I actually think Dennis Johnson could have a flex-worthy game with 10-12 touches in relief of Tate.
Human Pogo stick, Eric Decker, who's been wildly inconsistent this season, total standard-league fantasy points in a huge divisional showdown against Kansas City 9.5
Dalton – OVER. He's recorded three touchdowns this year after scoring 12 last year, despite averaging more yards-per-game (80.1 vs. 66.5) and targets-per-game (8.3 vs. 7.7). I fully expect the Broncos to win handily against the NFL's last remaining undefeated team Sunday night.
Brandon – UNDER. It's a crapshoot trying to pick which Denver receiving targets will go off in a particular week, so I'm just going to play it by the numbers. Which is to say that KC is a fairly stingy pass defense and Decker has been under 10 fantasy points in six of nine games.
Brad – UNDER. Decker is a spin on the Wheel of Fortune. Sometimes you land on the trip to Tahiti, other times you stop on bankrupt. He's failed to reach the 10-point mark in standard leagues six times in nine games. Against a superb KC secondary, his odds of bucking the trend are long.
Down James, Leonard is hoping to break through in Week 11. (USAT)
Brian Leonard, expected to split the workload with Bobby Rainey down the homestretch, total yards against Atlanta 74.5
Brandon – OVER. Leonard has averaged more than 70 YFS in his past two games, and he's facing an Atlanta defense that allows 4.6 yards per carry (fifth-most) and 147.8 yards from scrimmage to the RB position (sixth-most). With an expected 20 touches, Leonard should go beyond 80 YFS.
Brad – OVER. For many, Rainey is the talk of the town, but the change-of-pace option only saw 11 snaps last week. Leonard, the better pass-blocker/receiver and more experienced back, will dominate touches much like he did last week after Mike James was felled by an ankle injury. On roughly 15-20 carries, he finishes in the 77-83 total yardage range. Keep in mind Atlanta is giving up 4.66 yards per carry to RBs this year.
Andy – Reflexively, when I see "Bucs," I type "UNDER." Leonard is the backup to the backup, and he's in a job-share. Nothing to get too excited about here.
Percy Harvin total receptions against his former employer and in his season debut with the Seahawks 3.5
Brad – OVER. When coaches say a star player will be 'limited' in his return, pay little attention. Remember what happened last week with Andre Brown? That's right, 31 touches. Highly motivated, A) Because it's his first game and B) Because his former employer is in town, Harvin will net at least 30 snaps, 6-8 targets and 4-6 receptions.
Andy – OVER. Four or five sounds about right to me. I'm assuming his snaps will be limited in his return.
Scott – UNDER, mostly because I don't want to get frisky with any first-time starter off a major layoff. The Seahawks have no incentive to throw a heavy workload Harvin's way, especially against a weak opponent.
Shane Vereen, activated off short-term I.R. earlier this week, total touches in a Monday night clash at Carolina 13.5
Andy – UNDER, maybe by five or six. Eventually, Vereen will reestablish himself in a double-digit touch role. But in his first week back, against an excellent defense? Nope, can't see it.
Scott – UNDER. I'm the killjoy, again. The Pats have running backs coming out of their ears, and I'm not pushing a Vereen play after a two-month holiday. I do think it's a good time to go after Stevan Ridley, however - his role is different than Vereen's, and he's still a dynamic goal-line back.
Dalton – UNDER. He's been inactive since Week 1 and faces a very tough defense right away. Having said that, I fully expect Vereen to be a major fantasy difference maker down the stretch, especially with such a thin RB situation across the league right now.
Andre Brown, positively brilliant in his return last week, total yards versus Green Bay in the encore 94.5
Scott – OVER. Go back to the salt mines, Peyton Hillis. Brown might see another 30 touches this week, as the Giants try to keep Eli Manning under wraps.
Dalton – OVER. He's a rare workhorse who's projected to see 25+ touches at home on a team that's a big favorite. Brown is injury prone but is healthy now. I see no reason why not to rank him as a top-sevenish type fantasy back this week.
Brandon – OVER. Tom Coughlin loves Brown like a pet. Getting 30 carries fresh off the IR was crazy, but Brown proved more than capable. As long as he's healthy, Coughlin will continue to overload him. With a likely 25-plus touches once again, I like Brown's odds of topping this mark.
QB Conundrum. Pick one: Matt Ryan (at TB), Colin Kaepernick (at NO) or Eli Manning (vs. GB).
Dalton – KAEPERNICK. Kap has disappointed this year without question, but he's still posted a 7.6 YPA and will have to throw a lot Sunday in an attempt to catch up to a Saints offense that's dominant, especially at home.
Brandon – RYAN. Yuck, I'd be much happier with a Case Keenum, Carson Palmer or even Ryan Tannehill. But if forced to choose among this crowd, I'll take Matty Ice. In their past five games, the Bucs have been the worst in fantasy against opposing quarterbacks, allowing 15 QB TDs (12 passing, three rushing).
Brad – YOUNGER MANNING. Yes, he's been victimized by intense pressure, leading to poor decisions, but with the ground game back in order and facing an already vulnerable Green Bay secondary down its best cover man (Casey Hayward), Eli doesn't stink up the joint, for once. Pencil me in for 260-280 yards and two scores.
Andy – RYAN, easy. Comfortably. No contest. He's facing a Tampa Bay defense that's allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the past five weeks. Nothing to fear.
Scott – HUMPTY KAEPERNICK, because he might do something on the ground. I don't trust any of these guys actually throwing the ball.
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