Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, regardless if you're playing season-long fantasy, DFS, or are grinding player props. If you're just looking for fantasy football rankings and only have 10 minutes to skim through for your sit/start decisions, then head over to the "Forecast" sections below where I project each player's PPR finish based on a 12-team league. But if you want to get your research on, then I have full player breakdowns. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions. ... Expect an update on Saturday.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: CLE, NO, ATL, NE, PHI, BAL, OAK, SF, TB
Page 2: CHI, SEA, DET, PIT, TEN, LAR, NYJ, GB, BUF
Page 3: DAL, CAR, JAX, WAS, NYG, MIA, DEN, CIN
TNF: HOU, IND
Byes: ARI, KC, LAC, MIN
Browns (27.75 projected points, -11 point spread) vs. MIA
The nerds’ stats have Baker Mayfield as the worst QB through 11 weeks, but Mayfield is a rebound candidate this week with Miami coming to town. Vegas projects the Browns for 27.75 points, and the Dolphins are in the bottom 12th percentile against fantasy quarterbacks and just placed two defensive backs on injured reserve this week. Mayfield is on the QB1/2 borderline despite being fantasy’s QB22 thus far. … The Dolphins are one of three defenses to allow more rush attempts (31.7) than pass attempts (31.5) per game this season. Nick Chubb obviously has a ton of touchdown equity this week. He’s second in inside-the-five carries (12) and Miami has allowed the most touchdowns per game (3.5) this season. Chubb is an upside low-end RB1. … Kareem Hunt ran the third-most routes (23) on the team last week and has operated more as a receiver (6.5 receptions per game) than a runner (5.0 carries per game). David Njoku’s potential return would slightly lower his target share, but Hunt is a candidate for 4-8 receptions this week as an RB2/3 option. Hunt has league-winning upside if Chubb were to miss games.
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Odell Beckham is a positive regression candidate. His usage (see above) has been elite over the last two weeks, and he’s obviously capable of monster games. There might not be a better matchup than hosting Miami, who sent S Reshad Jones to IR this week. It’s a week to bet on Odell breaking out of this funk, especially since he has a big speed advantage on CB Nick Needham. OBJ is on the WR1/2 borderline despite being PPR’s WR27 through 11 weeks. … Jarvis Landry will also have no issues getting open against Miami and has a nice 6-10 target projection as the 1B in the passing offense. The WR19 on the season, Landry is a strong WR2/3 with the Dolphins checking in as DVOA’s worst pass defense. … David Njoku was lifted off injured reserve and has been able to practice this week. It’s very possible that he is active, but I’d project him for 40-60% snaps if active. In his lone healthy game this season (a Week 1 blowout loss to TEN), Njoku ran a route 70% of Browns’ dropbacks and was targeted six times. Njoku would be on the TE1/2 borderline if he’s active despite a 3-6 target projection given the tight end landscape and matchup.
Saints (27.75, -8.5) vs. CAR
Drew Brees has the lowest average depth of pass attempt (5.9), largely because Brees has completely gone away from throwing deep passes. That doesn’t mean Brees can’t hit a ceiling in fantasy, but it does make it a whole lot harder. This week, the Saints may shift more of the offense to the running game given the Panthers pass/run efficiency splits and they obviously have the personnel to do so. Even if that’s the case, Brees has plenty of touchdown equity with the Saints’ 27.75-point team total, making him a mid-range QB1. … Alvin Kamara is averaging a career-high 6.4 receptions per game with Brees checking down more often, but he’s also a candidate to beat his 12.9 carry average this week. The Panthers are dead last in run defense DVOA and the Saints are 8.5-point home favorites. Kamara is an upside RB1 and deserves plenty of DFS attention. … For the same reasons as above, Latavius Murray is a flex option despite back-to-back stinky stat lines. Murray, who only averaged 5.3 carries in Weeks 1-6 with a healthy Kamara, should see 8-14 carries in positive game scripts moving forward after running the ball 10 times last week. Murray earned more looks with his performances while Kamara was sidelined.
Michael Thomas is on pace to break the receptions record. The Panthers are in the bottom 22nd percentile against fantasy receivers. The Saints are projected for 27.75 points. You know what to do. … Ted Ginn (27 routes on 37 dropbacks last week) and Tre’Quan Smith (25) are low-volume dart throws, who needs Brees to take more downfield shots to be more than WR4/5s in fantasy. The good news for them is the Panthers’ soft spot in their defense at the 10-25 yard range (Ginn’s aDOT is 14.8 yards). … Jared Cook has a 4-45-0.5 receiving line in the two games since his return. I’m expecting Cook to have many usable TE1 games down the stretch, but he will likely be up-and-down as a distant third receiving option. This week, Cook will likely need to save his day with a touchdown as the Panthers are in the top 7th percentile against fantasy tight ends. Cook is a low-end TE1.
Falcons (27.5, -4) vs. TB
The Bucs are the biggest pass funnel right now. They have allowed the most pass attempts per game (41) and are only being run on 23 times on average. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. Matt Ryan should feast at home against Tampa Bay’s 31st-ranked defense against fantasy quarterbacks. Ryan, who is averaging 313 yards in healthy games this season, is a top-five QB1. … Brian Hill had 15 carries and three targets as the Falcons’ primary back last week. That was the good news. The bad news is he only averaged 2.1 yards per opportunity and was vultured at the goal-line by rookie Qadree Ollison, who outweighs Hill 232 to 219. Hill projects for 10+ touches again, but the matchup is brutal (see chart above) and I can’t rule out Hill getting benched. Hill is a low-floor flex option with RB2 upside. Consider him a DFS tournament option.
Julio Jones statistically has the most consistent week-to-week usage and has by far the highest air yards floor at the position -- Julio is at 98 and Chris Godwin is all the way down at 57. This week, Jones has a great shot at reaching an elite ceiling. The Bucs are dead last against fantasy receivers and 30th in pass defense DVOA. In his 14 games against Tampa Bay, Julio has averaged 24.2 PPR points. Make sure to have Matty Ice to Julio stacks in DFS folks. … Fresh off an 8-143-1 game, Calvin Ridley is set for another ceiling week for the same reasons as I listed above. Ridley is an upside WR2 with a 6-10 target projection. … Russell Gage’s involvement has decreased since his nine-target game in Week 8. Gage has gone from 38 routes in his first post-Sanu game to 36 to just 24 last week. Gage is a low-volume WR5 in a perfect home matchup. … Austin Hooper (knee) fill-in Jaeden Graham saw two targets while running a route on 55% of dropbacks last week. He’s a desperation TE2 option given the Falcons’ 27.5-point team total, but he has no floor.
Patriots (26.25, -6.5) vs. DAL
With new receivers, PFF’s 14th-ranked pass blocking line, and no Gronk, we’ve seen a decline in Tom Brady’s performance in 2019. His 3.5 TD% rate is a career-low and his 6.8 YPA is the worst since 2006. That’s made him a QB2 in fantasy in most matchups despite attempting the third-most passes (402) and that’s how he should be viewed against the Cowboys, who are in the top 30th percentile against fantasy quarterbacks. With that said, Brady has more upside than your standard QB2 because he should get better with OT Isaiah Wynn off IR and with Sanu (questionable) and Harry improving the WR group. … Here are Sony Michel’s ranks amongst the 49 running backs with at least 50 carries: PFF run grade (45th), PFF elusive rating (47th), yards after contact per attempt (47th), yards per carry (47th), catch rate (46th), and yards per target (40th). I won’t be surprised if we see Rex Burkhead -- who is better than Sony -- more down the stretch, but Michel is still the top goal-line back for now and thus remains somewhat relevant in fantasy. Michel is a touchdown-dependent, zero floor RB3 against a middling defense against the run. … James White only has averaged 3.3 receptions, 45 receiving yards, and 20 rushing yards in the three games since Rex Burkhead returned to the lineup. White still has some upside in this high-scoring offense, especially if Sanu can’t play, but his historical on/off splits with Burkhead are concerning. White is an RB3 in PPR leagues.
Targets and air yards in the three games since the Sanu trade: Julian Edelman (21, 203), Mohamed Sanu (18, 165), James White (10, 16), Phillip Dorsett (9, 84), and Benjamin Watson (9,101). … Julian Edelman is obviously the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, and he should handle a slightly bigger share of the work with Sanu (ankle) likely out. The Cowboys are in the top 10th percentile against fantasy receivers, but that’s primarily because they take away intermediate and deep passes. Fortunately for Edelman, Dallas is much softer in the short area of the field, so I'm perfectly fine with Edelman as a no-brainer WR1. … Phillip Dorsett was limited Thursday (concussion) but needs to clear the protocol to play. Dorsett is more approachable with Sanu likely sidelined, but he's still only projected for 4-7 targets with rookie N'Keal Harry now involved. Schematically, Dorsett is used in ways that play into the best parts of the Cowboys Defense (deep passes), so he'll be a boom-or-bust flex this week. ... First-round rookie N'Keal Harry (21 snaps last week) will inherit most of Sanu's leftover 27 routes this week as the team's most-talented outside receiver. Harry should see 4-7 targets in his first game as a Patriots starter and does have red zone equity as a physical receiver. Harry is on the flex radar as long as Sanu is out. Dorsett also missing would be the cherry on top. ... Jakobi Meyers (2 snaps last week) is next in line. … Ben Watson is averaging 2.8 receptions and 31 yards in his four games as a touchdown-dependent TE2. Watson has a better than normal chance of a score with all the injuries and with a matchup against a bottom 12th percentile defense against fantasy tight ends.
Eagles (25, -2) vs. SEA
Carson Wentz is just the QB14 despite playing every game. He has been hurt by his receivers, but Wentz also has the second-biggest decrease from 2018 to 2019 in Next Gen Stat’s CPOE metric that measures accuracy. It’s tough to envision a total turnaround for the offense, but this is a good spot for a rebound game. Defensively, the Seahawks are the second biggest pass funnel right now, ranking second in pass attempts allowed per game (39) and 27th in rush attempts allowed (22), which gives Wentz all the volume he needs to cash in a low-end QB1 finish. Getting Alshon back would help his ceiling and floor. … Jordan Howard remains limited in practice but hasn’t been cleared for contact yet. When healthy and starting, Howard is averaging 16 carries per game as a volume-based RB2. With the Hawks checking in as a pass funnel and with Howard playing with an injury, he would be projected for 10-16 carries as a flex option. … Miles Sanders handled just 11 carries and only caught two passes with Howard out last week. If Howard returns, Sanders is not a recommended flex play since he was seeing less than a dozen touches per week as the No. 2 back. If Sanders is the top dog, he’ll be back on the flex radar with Boston Scott sprinkling in. I’m expecting Wentz to put the team on his back this week.
Alshon Jeffery (ankle) was limited early in the week and will likely be questionable for Week 12. If healthy, Jeffery will slide back into his 6-10 target role as a big body over the middle. Jeffery hasn’t been reaching many ceilings in 2019 with a lowered average depth of target, but the Seahawks’ bottom 38th percentile defense against fantasy receivers gives him a chance at doing so, especially with DeSean Jackson (IR) and Agholor (questionable) banged up. Jeffery is a WR3. … Nelson Agholor (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday and would be canceled as a desperate flex play if Jeffery returns. … Zach Ertz has posted back-to-back nine-catch games after a worrisome streak of 2-5 receptions. The Eagles are absolutely desperate for pass-catchers to step up and Ertz has long been Wentz’ go-to receiver. With Seattle as a bottom 19th percentile defense against fantasy tight ends, Ertz is the TE1 overall this week. … Dallas Goedert is the TE10 overall since Week 10 and should continue seeing 4-7 targets with the Eagles’ receivers producing at league-low levels. Goedert is on the TE1/2 borderline and has handcuff value in the event of an Ertz injury.
Ravens (24.75, -3) @ LAR
Lamar Jackson is on pace to break the single-season quarterback rushing record and is the clear-cut QB1 overall in fantasy, finishing with at least 20 fantasy points in all but one game (PIT). Essentially matchup proof with his rushing floor, there’s not a lot to worry about with the Rams, who gave up 32 rushing yards to Russ Wilson in the only game against a rushing quarterback. … The Rams are the No. 3 run defense DVOA, but I’m not overly concerned with that in this particular matchup. A lot of those high marks stem from DT Aaron Donald, but 58% of Mark Ingram’s carries are off tackle or off the edge according to PFF. Ingram, who is averaging 13.6 carries per game, remains a touchdown-dependent RB2, however, because he is only catching 1.7 receptions per game.
Marquise Brown’s usage is statistically among the most inconsistent at the position, and he will be even more boom-or-bust this week while battling through not only an injury but against CB Jalen Ramsey. Since returning from injury, Brown has not played full-time snaps, practiced in full for an entire week, or reached 50 air yards in a game, all signs that he’s not fully back health-wise. … Seth Roberts (24 of 35 routes last week), Willie Snead (22), and Miles Boykin are Brown’s backups. … Mark Andrews has at least seven targets in all but two games (the blowout wins against NE and HOU were the exception) and is currently the TE3 overall. With Ramsey on Brown, it’s certainly possible Andrews sees 7-12 targets on Monday Night Football as a no-brainer top-three TE1.
Raiders (24.75, -3) @ NYJ
Derek Carr has not hit a ceiling this season. Even against the Bengals last week Carr managed 292 yards and one touchdown. It’s because Carr doesn’t create by himself and because the Raiders will run the ball when they can. The Jets are a pass-funneling defense on paper, but this Jets team doesn’t have Leonard Williams (trade) and C.J. Mosley (injury) right now and may not be as daunting as the DVOA indicates. That, of course, makes Josh Jacobs an RB1/2 play with obvious touchdown equity. Jacobs has a 15-25 touch projection.
Air yards in this offense are low. Nobody is reaching my “10 PPR Expected” threshold, including Tyrell Williams who has been reliant on touchdowns. Williams does have a good matchup this week. The Jets are the 30th team against fantasy receivers this season and Williams has a big speed advantage on CB Blessuan Austin. Williams is in the WR3 conversation. … Hunter Renfrow doesn’t have a ceiling in him based on his athletic profile and usage, but he has settled in as a WR4 for deeper leagues while catching 4.8 passes for 63 yards in his last four games. … Darren Waller has the toughest matchup of the group with Jamaal Adams and company defending fantasy tight ends as a top 13th percentile unit in the league. Waller should still see 4-7 targets as a mid-range TE1, but I don't think we'll see elite TE1 numbers down the stretch.
49ers (25.25, -3) vs. GB
Forecast: Jimmy Garoppolo QB2, Tevin Coleman RB2, Matt Breida (questionable) RB3, Raheem Mostert RB4, Deebo Samuel WR3, Emmanuel Sanders (questionable) WR3, George Kittle (questionable) TE1, Ross Dwelley TE1/2
Jimmy Garoppolo has beat up on the Cardinals in two of the last three games, but he only has 10 touchdown passes in the other eight contests. Ideally, the 49ers want to run the ball and keep Jimmy G’s pass attempts low, which makes even more sense given the Packers’ pass/run splits (see above). With the Packers also playing slow on offense, I have doubts Garoppolo will see enough volume to be more than a mid-range QB2 despite a 25.25-point team total. … Matt Breida was unable to practice on Wednesday and will likely be questionable for Week 12. That means more Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson. Last week, Coleman only picked up 14 yards on his 12 carries but did tie his season-high in targets (4). Coleman should be more effective this time around against the Packers’ bottom 12th percentile run defense, and he should see another 15+ touches with nice touchdown equity as an RB2. … Raheem Mostert’s six carries and three targets from last week should slightly go up if Breida is out again, but he’s barely on the flex radar as Coleman’s clear-cut backup.
Emmanuel Sanders did not practice on Wednesday and is likely going to be questionable for Week 12. Assuming he plays, Sanders will be projected for 5-9 targets in what could turn into a run-first affair. Hurting his projection is Deebo Samuel’s recent ascendance and Sanders’ chance of slowing down in the second half as a 32-year-old coming off a major injury. Sanders is a WR3. … Deebo Samuel is 14th in yards per route run among WRs with at least 50 targets and is finally running near full-time routes (50 and 45 the last two weeks). The rookie is impressing with an 8.9 YPT average, but there’s room for improvement. Samuel is a positive touchdown regression candidate with 11 red-zone targets to just one red zone touchdown. If Emmanuel Sanders is out, Samuel will be a WR2/3 and would still be a nice WR3 option if Sanders is available. It’s not crazy to think Samuel can outscore Sanders from this point forward. … George Kittle is also still sidelined and looks to be at best questionable for Week 12. When healthy, Kittle is a locked-in top-three TE1, especially against a Green Bay defense that is in the bottom 12th percentile against the position. If Kittle is out, Ross Dwelley will continue being a viable TE1/2 streamer after seeing seven and five targets in the two games without Kittle.
Bucs (23.5, +4) @ ATL
Jameis Winston has averaged 335 passing yards and 2.1 touchdowns over his last eight games. The Bucs are willing to let him rip it, and that’s the exact formula against the Falcons, who are a pass funnel if we look at DVOA metrics (see the efficiency percentiles above). One decision point for Winston is figuring out this red-hot Atlanta defense. I believe there is truth to the notion that the secondary is communicating better after coach Raheem Morris moved to the defensive side again but that probably makes them the 23rd-ish ranked defense instead of one of the very worst. It’s not enough to scare me off Winston as an upside QB1/2 with a high game over/under (51). … The Bucs left the run game in the dust last week while chasing multiple scores early, which completely busted Ronald Jones, who only had four carries and four receptions. Despite being named the starter, RoJo (20 snaps last week) lost plenty of playing time to Dare Ogunbowale (29) and Peyton Barber (12), as this continues to be a three-back committee. RoJo could bounce back in what should be a closer game, but he’s merely a low-level flex play who needs a reasonable game script on his side.
Mike Evans has the widest range of outcomes in fantasy because he has the most variance in his usage and has Jameis as his quarterback. This is a week to believe in Evans, as he’s averaged 19.0 PPR points against Atlanta in 10 career games. Evans offers slate-breaking upside as a WR1. … Chris Godwin is more of a low-end WR1 with far fewer air yards than Evans. That makes him slightly less volatile every week but doesn’t mean Godwin can’t also hit a huge ceiling -- he had 6-114-2 last time he faced Atlanta. With a 7-12 target projection, Godwin is a candidate for early-season-level production this week with the Falcons struggling against slot receivers. … O.J. Howard was essentially benched for Cameron Brate after a laughable drop last week. Howard can be dropped if you were holding onto him. Brate now enters the upside TE2 conversation after setting season-highs in routes run (47) and snaps in the slot (25) last week.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: CLE, NO, ATL, NE, PHI, BAL, OAK, SF, TB
Page 2: CHI, SEA, DET, PIT, TEN, LAR, NYJ, GB, BUF
Page 3: DAL, CAR, JAX, WAS, NYG, MIA, DEN, CIN
TNF: HOU, IND
Byes: ARI, KC, LAC, MIN
Bears (23.25, -6) vs. NYG
The Giants are a bottom 12th percentile defense against the pass, but Mitchell Trubisky is Mitchell Trubisky. Not only is he terrible, but he’s also playing with an “injury” that got him benched last week. … David Montgomery is averaging 18 carries over his last four contests with the Bears doing all they can to hide the passing offense. Montgomery just hasn’t done anything with his touches, only averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per target. It’s safe to project 15-25 touches for Montgomery, and we could even project slightly better touchdown equity with the Bears (somehow) projected for 23 points. I’m fine with Montgomery as an RB2. … Tarik Cohen averages 5.5 receptions in losses and just 2.5 receptions in wins. The Bears are 6-point favorites.
Allen Robinson has had WR2/3-level usage in all non-Jalen Ramsey games this season. A-Rob is a bounceback candidate against the 31st ranked defense against fantasy receivers. Robinson still has a low floor with Trubisky, but he belongs in the WR2/3 discussion and could even reach a mini-ceiling. … Taylor Gabriel saw increased usage last week with A-Rob getting shadowed, but he’ll likely slide back into his 3-6 target role this week as a distant second pass-game option. Gabriel is merely a WR5 in a bad offense. … I can copy/paste the last two sentences for Anthony Miller.
Seahawks (23, +2) @ PHI
I like the SEA/PHI over this week because both teams are true pass funnels on defense. Philly has allowed 36 pass attempts and 23 rush attempts per game, which is the seventh-largest discrepancy in the NFL. Russell Wilson doesn’t need a great situation to go off, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The only thing giving me pause is Seattle’s 23-point team total, which seems low to me, but does account for the early east coast kickoff. That’s not enough to move Wilson out of the upside QB1 category. In fact, I’ll try to be overweight on Wilson in DFS tournaments. … Chris Carson is averaging 20.0 carries and 2.7 receptions per game as a locked-in RB1. The matchup is admittingly tough with travel, time of game, and personnel (Philly is top 20th percentile in run defense DVOA) working against Carson but betting on volume makes him a sneaky DFS tournament option with touchdown equity.
Tyler Lockett has had the most inconsistent target volume week to week this season and will be playing through a bone bruise this week, assuming he’s cleared. The matchup, of course, is sweet with the Eagles checking in as a bottom 12th percentile defense against fantasy receivers. Lockett offers WR1/2 upside in a game that could turn into a passing shootout with both teams having pass-funneling defenses. … DK Metcalf has had WR2/3 usage in three of the last four games and remains a positive touchdown regression candidate given his red-zone usage. Metcalf, like always, has a massive size advantage on the Eagles’ corners, who have played better recently but are still very beatable. Metcalf is an upside WR3 and deserves to be in Wilson-led DFS tournament stacks. … Josh Gordon played 27 snaps last week, a number that is likely to increase with more time in the building. Gordon is still a wait-and-see for me, although I can’t rule out a long touchdown this week. … Jacob Hollister has run 37 and 34 routes over the last two weeks, but the Seahawks will be getting Ed Dickson back soon and Gordon’s presence should also dip into Hollister’s target share. With that said, Hollister is still a viable TE2 streamer with touchdown equity attached to Wilson.
Lions (22.5, -3.5) @ WAS
I liked Josh Norris calling Jeff Driskel “82% Josh Allen”. Driskel is inaccurate at times but makes it up with his 37 and 51 rushing yards in his two starts. The Redskins are obviously a cupcake draw through the air and even allowed 51 rushing yards to Dak Prescott, the only rushing quarterback they’ve faced. Driskel is an underrated QB2. … Bo Scarbrough was promoted from the practice squad last Saturday and ended up leading the backfield in carries (14) and offensive snaps (31). He still split reps with Ty Johnson (18 snaps) and J.D. McKissic (14), but Scarbrough should be viewed as the 1A in this three-back committee after picking up 55 yards and one score in Week 11. Helping his outlook this week is the matchup -- the Redskins are one of three defenses who have allowed more rush attempts (32.3) than pass attempts (31.5) per game this season. Scarbrough is a flex play. The other Lions backs can be ignored in fantasy.
Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones have taken sizable hits in their usage with Driskel (see air yards chart above), but they are still talented enough to make plays, especially with Driskel playing at a serviceable level. Both have good matchups as well, particularly Jones who has a big speed advantage over CB Josh Norman, who has allowed the most touchdowns (7) in coverage this season. Golladay is a lower-ceiling WR2/3 with Jones operating as a nice flex play. … Danny Amendola is also in the mix, seeing 5-8 targets in his last four games. As noted by Ian Hartitz, Amendola faces PFF’s No. 122 corner (Fabian Moreau). He is a viable WR5 for deep leagues. … T.J. Hockenson is on pace for a top-50 receiving season by a rookie tight end, but that’s only equated to 2.6 receptions per game as a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Steelers (23, -7) @ CIN
Forecast: Mason Rudolph QB2/3, James Conner (very questionable) RB1/2, Jaylen Samuels RB2/3, Trey Edmunds RB3, JuJu Smith-Schuster (very questionable) WR3/4, Diontae Johnson (questionable) WR4, James Washington WR4, Vance McDonald TE1/2
The Bengals Defense is the biggest run funnel, partly because they are always losing and partly because they suck stopping the run (bottom 25th percentile in rush defense DVOA). Mason Rudolph is also awful, so the Steelers would be smart to get the rushing attack going. Rudolph has a chance to return low-end QB2 value with Pittsburgh projected for __ points, but we are obviously not touching Rudolph, especially with all of the offensive injuries, as more than a two-quarterback league streamer. … Cincy has allowed the most rush attempts per game (34) this season, so there should be 25-30 carries up for grabs in the Steelers backfield. The tricky part is projecting who will get them with James Conner (shoulder) hurt and Jaylen Samuels ineffective (2.6 YPC) on the ground this season. It’s possible Trey Edmunds operates as the primary runner with Samuels stepping into his more natural pass-catching role. If Conner is out, then Samuels is on the RB2/3 borderline in PPR leagues while Edmunds checks in as a touchdown-dependent RB3.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee) is not expected to play, but Diontae Johnson was able to practice in full despite being concussed on TNF. JuJu leaves behind 17% targets and 24% air yards, so Johnson and James Washington belong in WR3/4 discussions, even with Rudolph at quarterback. The Bengals are 31st in both pass defense DVOA and at preventing 20+ yard pass plays this season. … Vance McDonald will also get a slight bump in usage projections and is firmly on the TE1/2 borderline this week. McDonald has compiled 25 targets in his last five games as a low aDOT (6.6) check-down option. His upside is limited but he arguably has a slightly higher floor than other streaming-level tight ends.
Titans (22.25, -3) vs. JAX
In terms of Next Gen Stat’s completion percentage over expected metric, no quarterback has improved as a passer more than Ryan Tannehill. His accuracy has been great, but passing volume (30 attempts per game) is a major problem for his fantasy outlook, especially against a slow-paced Jaguars team. The Titans should also focus on their rushing attack to take advantage of Jacksonville’s run-funneling defense (see efficiency above). Tannehill is a low-end QB2. … Derrick Henry is averaging 18.7 carries and 83 rushing yards per game, but he has a good chance to beat those averages this week. The Jaguars are 30th in run defense DVOA and in the bottom 25th percentile against fantasy running backs. As 3-point favorites, Henry offers upside as an RB1/2.
Corey Davis (hip) returned to practice and will slide back into his 4-7 target role as a low-upside WR5. The Jaguars aren’t a defense to fear on a per play defense, but volume is concerning with both teams operating run-heavy offenses. … Davis’ return should bring A.J. Brown’s air yards back to Week 1-8 levels, especially given the matchup. Brown is one of my favorite receiver prospects and is averaging 9.9 yards per target, but he can’t be trusted in season-long leagues with volume working against him. … Delanie Walker returned to practice, which will put an end to the Jonnu Smith streaming experiment. Prior to his injury, Walker was seeing inconsistent usage as a TE1/2, but it’s likely that Smith will continue seeing reps after showing promise in recent weeks. Walker is a risky TE2 play in his return.
Rams (21.75, +3) vs. BAL
Jared Goff is the worst starting quarterback in Next Gen Stats’ completion percentage over expected metric this season. It’s been two weeks since his last passing touchdown, which has brought his season average down to 1.1 touchdowns per game. Goff now welcomes an ascending Baltimore secondary that has recently held the Seahawks, Patriots, and Texans to 14.3 points per game. The Rams do get Brandin Cooks back, which will help his nonexistent deep passing, but it’s impossible to trust Goff, even at home, as more than a boom-or-bust QB2/3. … Todd Gurley broke a previous season-high (18) with 25 carries in Week 11. The usage increase lines up with offseason reports that hinted at a late-season resurgence for Gurley, so I think 15-25 touches per game down the stretch is certainly in range. Gurley’s Week 12 matchup is difficult, however, with the Baltimore defense 29th in rush attempts allowed per game (21). The overpaid back will need to find the end zone (just seven inside-the-five carries so far) or beat his 2.0 reception average to reach a ceiling. Gurley is a mid-range RB2. … Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown are low-level handcuffs.
Robert Woods’ (personal) status is still up in the air, but it looks like Brandin Cooks (concussion) will be returning for Monday Night Football. When healthy, Cooks was extremely up and down with his usage, as are the other Rams’ pass-catchers. With Goff struggling to throw deep, Cooks is a low-floor WR3/4 against a surging defense. … If Robert Woods plays, he’ll be in the boom-or-bust WR3 mix after seeing 11 targets in Week 10 but is eternally at risk of being Goff’d. … Cooper Kupp was thought of as a high-floor receiver at the beginning of the season, but that’s obviously no longer the case, especially if Cooks and Woods are in the lineup. The good news for Kupp is the Rams sitting as 3-point dogs. The slot receiver has been one of the most game-script dependent receivers this season, which makes sense with the Rams looking to hand the ball off with leads. Kupp is a boom-or-bust WR2. … Gerald Everett has had massive workloads but will lose target share with Cooks back. Everett also has a wrist injury and tough matchup -- the Ravens are in the top 13th percentile against fantasy tight ends -- to play through this week. Everett will be a TE1/2 if he shows he is healthy.
Jets (21.75, +3) vs. OAK
Sam Darnold was able to hit wide-open receivers against the Redskins last week (4 TDs), but I’m not putting too much weight into that game. Darnold has been wildly inconsistent and has been a low-ceiling quarterback outside of last week. The Raiders’ bottom 30th percentile pass defense gives him a shot as a serviceable QB2 streamer, but I’m not going to get carried away with the Jets, especially with the Raiders pass-rush improving. … Le’Veon Bell has 25, 22, and 20 touches in his last three games and is a candidate for another 18-25 touches against a bottom 32nd percentile run defense. Bell has underrated upside as a touch hog in a good matchup. I like Bell as an RB1/2.
Jamison Crowder fits better with Darnold than Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas, and we’ve seen that play out with Crowder’s team-high targets in most weeks. If the Raiders pass rush puts some pressure on the Jets’ league-worst offensive line, Crowder could see 6-10 underneath targets as a WR3/4. … Robby Anderson is no longer playable unless you are absolutely desperate for a big play. Anderson has less than 50 yards in four-straight games with WR5-level air yards. … Demaryius Thomas is somewhere in between Crowder and Anderson. The veteran has been between 5-9 targets this season but has struggled to find any sort of ceiling coming off his injury. Thomas is a usable WR5. … Ryan Griffin’s recent production has been quite lucky and against bad defenses, but he’s at least involved in the offense (3-6 target projection) and gets another bad defense this week. The Raiders are 30th against fantasy tight ends, making Griffin a TE2 with some upside.
Packers (22.25, +3) @ SF
Aaron Rodgers is the QB9 despite playing all games this season. Removing Rodgers’ outlier 5-touchdown game against a terrible Raiders secondary makes his season look a lot worse, too. Traveling into San Francisco to play against the No. 2 defense against fantasy quarterbacks isn’t a time to bet on Rodgers as a low-end QB1. There are streamers I like more than Rodgers. … I expect Green Bay to rely on their running backs this week to take advantage of the Niners’ run-funneling defense (see efficiency above). That’s good news for rushing touchdown leader Aaron Jones, who is averaging 13.5 carries and 3.5 receptions per game. The Packers’ 22.25-point team total does make this a tough matchup to reach a ceiling, but Jones will be an RB1/2 based on his 15+ touch projection. … Jamaal Williams has had an unsustainable touchdown pace and is only averaging 7.2 carries and 2.8 receptions per game. This isn’t the game to get cute with.
Davante Adams has managed to play through his toe injury, seeing 11 and 10 targets to go along with elite air yards in his last two games. Adams is due for positive touchdown regression (537 yards and 0 touchdowns), which keeps him in the WR1/2 mix despite facing a top 20th percentile defense against fantasy receivers. Adams has also historically been heavily targeted whenever the Packers trail and Green Bay is 3-point dogs this week. … Allen Lazard is averaging five targets and flex-level air yards in his two games with Adams back. Lazard will need a lucky touchdown to pay off a flex start with volume concerns (20 and 21 routes run in the last two weeks). … I’m fading Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. … Jimmy Graham remains a low-aDOT, touchdown-dependent TE2, who will now have to deal with the No. 2 defense against fantasy tight ends.
Bills (20.75, -4) vs. DEN
Josh Allen has been running well in recent weeks, which gives Allen a reasonable QB2 floor. This week, Allen will have a tough time hitting a ceiling with a top 7th percentile defense against fantasy quarterbacks in town. Not only is the defense talented and well-coached, but it also matches up well against the Bills with an elite corner covering a largely one-receiver offense. Allen is mid-range QB2 with an average 20.75-point team total. ... Last week, Devin Singletary set a new season-high in snaps (52) and had more touches than Frank Gore, especially before Gore saw three garbage-time carries to close out the game. Singletary isn't headed for a bellcow role but 12-17 touches is definitely in range. As four-point home favorites, Singletary has low-end RB2 in an ascending role. ... Frank Gore can be dropped after playing just 19 snaps last week.
John Brown has established a high floor with high-end usage and finally showed his ceiling last week. Unfortunately, Brown's floor will be tested this week against elite CB Chris Harris. The Broncos also limit opposing teams in passing volume with a run-heavy offense, so Brown is a lot more boom-or-bust this week than he has been all season. I've downgraded Brown to the WR3 mix despite a great Week 11. ... Cole Beasley gets the easier matchup but his low aDOT and 4-7 targets don't get me fired up. Beasley's best yardage game of the year has been 83. He's a low-ceiling WR4. ... Rookie Dawson Knox is an unreliable TE2 in an offense that still is using Tyler Kroft and pass-blocker Lee Smith. Last week, Knox only ran 24 routes and was targeted three times.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: CLE, NO, ATL, NE, PHI, BAL, OAK, SF, TB
Page 2: CHI, SEA, DET, PIT, TEN, LAR, NYJ, GB, BUF
Page 3: DAL, CAR, JAX, WAS, NYG, MIA, DEN, CIN
TNF: HOU, IND
Byes: ARI, KC, LAC, MIN
Cowboys (19.75, +6.5) @ NE
I can’t remember a matchup with this many high bars. It’s easily the most entertaining matchup of the week. Dak Prescott continues to make his MVP case with top-three ranks in every advanced metric out there, but he’ll be tested against the league’s best defense and secondary. It’s necessary to adjust Prescott down to the QB1/2 borderline with the low 19.75-point team total, but I wouldn’t fully rush to bench Prescott. He can save his fantasy day with his legs -- remember what Lamar Jackson did a few weeks -- or by giving his elite playmakers the ball underneath. … Teams have had some success running on the Patriots, but game script usually gets in the way with that. New England has allowed the second-fewest rush attempts per game (21) this season, which has led to being the best defense against fantasy running backs. It will be hard for Ezekiel Elliott to reach a ceiling, but his 15-25 touch projection keeps him in the mid-to-low-end RB1 mix.
Amari Cooper was limited to 41 snaps last week due to injury, but he was a full participant in practice. There’s some injury risk, but the real issue is a matchup with the NFL’s best CB Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots have completely taken away deep passes, so Cooper (13.3 aDOT) will likely have to change his gameplan to find success this week. Cooper sees too much volume to be lower than a WR2/3, but there are obvious concerns this week. … A similar story can be told with Michael Gallup, who will see safety help over the top. Gallup is coming off two-straight WR1-level usage games, but he’s a candidate to crash given the matchup. Gallup is a volume-based WR3 with a much lower floor than normal. … Slot receiver Randall Cobb probably has the best matchup and is the best bet to take advantage of the Patriots’ softer underneath coverage. Cobb also has at least seven targets in three-straight, making him a decent WR3/4 option. ... Jason Witten also fits into the underneath pass-catcher mold and should continue seeing 4-8 targets depending on game script as a TE1/2. I'm guessing Belichick isn't putting too much coverage on Witten with the other playmakers on the offense.
Panthers (19.25, +8.5) @ NO
This will be an interesting matchup for the Panthers because the Saints Defense is the third-biggest pass funnel, allowing 37 pass attempts and just 21 rush attempts per game. Kyle Allen, who is a total disaster in just about every metric out there, is a candidate for 40+ pass attempts this week as 8.5-point dogs. I still wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole in fantasy. … Christian McCaffrey is now on pace for the single-season total yards record. He’s as close to matchup-proof as you’ll ever see since he wins in all game scripts, but he will be tested this weekend. The Saints are allowing the fewest rush attempts per game (21) and are inside the top 10th percentile against fantasy running backs. That’s not enough to move him off the RB1 overall this week because I’m projecting him for 7-12 catches, but it’s enough to second guess him in DFS.
D.J. Moore, who is leading in targets since his Week 7 bye, should continue feasting as an upside WR1/2 with the Panthers projected to pass a ton as big underdogs. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) is likely headed for a game-time decision this week. If he’s out, it’s lift-off time for Moore. Even if Lattimore is out, Moore’s volume should carry him to a WR2 finish. … Curtis Samuel hurts my heart. The air yards are there, but he’s not producing whether that’s on him or not. Last week, Samuels’ usage took a step back and so did my expectations moving forward. Samuel is a boom-or-bust flex option. … Greg Olsen should have one of the highest target totals of the week and is one of the few non-touchdown dependent TE1/2 options. Olsen is averaging 5.3 receptions and 65 yards in his last three games.
Jaguars (19.25, +3) @ TEN
Nick Foles was forced into attempted 47 passes last week but looked bad, only averaging 6.3 yards per attempt. It’s unlikely, but I can’t completely rule out Foles getting benched this week. Vegas only projects the Jaguars for 19.25 points this week, which makes sense with the Titans slow-paced, run-heavy offense. Foles is merely a low-end QB2. … Leonard Fournette has been limited on the ground in back-to-back games with the Jaguars trailing multiple scores, but there’s no reason to believe that happening again this week (3-point dogs). Fournette should return to his 15+ carry norm as a mid-to-low-end RB1 who is beyond due for positive touchdown regression. Helping his floor are his 4.7 receptions per game.
D.J. Chark joined the 200-air yard club last week and has reached the “10 PPR Expected” threshold in all but one game. The Titans’ middle-of-the-road defense doesn’t move the needle, keeping Chark locked in as an upside WR2. … Dede Westbrook has been a 5-9 target receiver all season and immediately played 50-of-52 snaps in his return from a shoulder injury. Westbrook remains a low-ceiling flex option. … Chris Conley’s air yards are very quietly the second-most consistent at the position. This week, Conley, who has cleared my “10 PPR Expected” threshold in four-straight weeks, has a big speed advantage on CB LeShaun Sims, making Conley a viable WR4 dart throw in DFS tournaments. Remember, Foles is more willing to throw it deep (Conley 14.1 aDOT) than Minshew.
Redskins (19, +3.5) vs. DET
If there’s any reason to stream Haskins in two-quarterback leagues, it’s because the Lions have allowed the third-most pass attempts per game (38). Outside of that, I don’t get anything for you. … Adrian Peterson started and played the first two drives in Week 10, but Derrius Guice played 20 snaps and managed to break off a 45-yard touchdown on a screen play in the second half. Guice isn’t likely to fully establish himself as a workhorse in 2019 with the Redskins presumably taking a long-view approach with his worrisome injury history, although I do expect the touch split to begin favoring Guice over Peterson. This, of course, assumes Peterson plays through his toe injury. There will be an update on Saturday if not.
Terry McLaurin’s box score last week doesn’t paint the whole picture. He had a huge play taken away from him due to penalty, and he made an insane grab down the sideline to close out the game. The floor is obviously low in the offense, but McLaurin has a slightly underrated ceiling this week. The Lions are 31st at preventing 20+ yard plays (that’s where McLaurin has won this season) and have been a bottom-third unit against fantasy receivers. McLaurin is a WR3/4 and potentially low-owned DFS tournament option.
Giants (17.25, +6) @ CHI
Daniel Jones has been good enough to go off against bad defenses and has enough juice to make up for bad games with his rushing ability. This week, he’ll have to beat the Bears with his legs. Obviously under different circumstances, but Wentz only was able to scramble for 15 rushing yards in the only game the Bears faced a mobile quarterback. Jones is a low-end QB2. … Saquon Barkley is not Saquon Barkley right now, as he continues to show signs that his ankle is nowhere near 100%. Last week’s one-yard game was a major red flag. Barkley is still seeing RB1-level volume, especially as a receiver. The Bears have been a below-average unit against fantasy runners but that’s also because they’ve been run on late in games while losing. That’s not expected to happen this week with the Giants listed as 6-point dogs. Barkley is a low end RB1. … Saquon handcuff Wayne Gallman is one of the best adds ahead of this game if he’s available.
Sterling Shepard (concussion) practice in full earlier this week and is expected to return after missing five games. Since his injury, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton have built chemistry with Danny Dimes, so it’s easy to project Shepard for under his season-average 8.5 targets. Shepard will also be kicked outside instead of the slot, making him a more boom-or-bust fantasy asset. Against the Bears No. 2 defense against fantasy receivers, Shepard is more of a WR4 than a playable flex. … Golden Tate’s 5.5 reception and 70 yard averages will likely take a hit with Shepard returning, as he’ll likely be targeted even shallower than he was before. With the Giants heading into Chicago to face their top-shelf defense, Tate needs to be downgraded to the flex range after providing WR2 value with Shepard sidelined. … Darius Slayton can likely be canceled for now, but he is an interesting dynasty hold. He’s shown flashes. … Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison have been on the practice report this week, which could mean slow-footed rookie Kaden Smith starting for New York.
Dolphins (16.75, +11) @ CLE
Ryan Fitzpatrick is serviceable but hasn’t hit a fantasy ceiling this season behind one of the worst lines I’ve ever seen. Fitzpatrick luckily doesn’t have to deal with Myles Garrett this week and should be in catch-up mode as 11-point dogs. He’s a QB2/3. … Kalen Ballage is so bad that he has now been memed on Twitter. He’s seriously averaging 1.9 yards per carry. You hate to see it. Ballage is also losing snaps to pass-catching sleeper Patrick Laird, who caught 45 and 51 passes as a redshirt junior and redshirt senior at Cal. Laird had six late-game grabs last week and is on the RB4 radar in PPR leagues.
DeVante Parker has predictably seen WR2-level usage without Preston Williams, just as he did in the beginning of the season. Parker is projected for 7-12 targets and doesn’t need to be downgraded too much with Fitzpatrick at quarterback. This week, Parker has the size advantage on CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, who have had their ups-and-downs this season. Parker is, at worst, a WR3. … Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant are distant secondary targets to Parker. … Since the Week 5 bye, Mike Gesicki is the TE14 while seeing the fourth-most targets and air yards. Gesicki is a positive regression candidate in both yards and touchdowns, making Gesicki an underrated TE1/2 against a bottom 35th percentile defense versus fantasy tight ends.
Broncos (16.75, +4) @ BUF
A very limited passer with limited rushing ability, Brandon Allen isn’t on the fantasy radar, particularly in Buffalo. The Bills are in the top 10th percentile against fantasy quarterbacks. … Phillip Lindsay separated himself from Royce Freeman in Week 11. Lindsay played a season-high 51 snaps, while Freeman was limited to a season-low 23. Lindsay also out-carried Freeman 18-8 and should be viewed as the starter with Freeman operating as more of a handcuff. The Bills are very tough against the pass but have been vulnerable on the ground, as highlighted by their bottom 16th percentile run defense DVOA. Lindsay is firmly in the RB2 conversation.
Courtland Sutton has 7-9 targets in every single game this season. That’s by far the most consistent target workload this season. Unfortunately, Sutton is set up for trouble against Bills CB Tre’Davious White, but it’s not enough to drop him out of the WR3 mix this week. Among receivers with 40 targets, Sutton is 7th in PFF grade, 10th in PFF receiving grade, 10th in yards per route run, 5th in passer rating when targeted, 5th in yards per target, and 9th in receiving yards. … Tim Patrick will likely play through his shoulder injury and should remain a 5-8 target receiver as the clear-cut No. 2. Patrick has size and will dodge White’s shadow coverage as a WR5. … Noah Fant is starting to put things together after a bad start to the season (drops, penalties). Fant set a new career high in targets (11) in last week’s shootout and is a candidate for 5-9 targets per game down the stretch as an intriguing TE1/2 with upside. His athleticism and college production made him the best tight end prospect ever in my NFL Draft models. This week, however, Fant faces the No. 2 defense against tight ends, so expectations need to be held in check.
Bengals (16, +7) vs. PIT
Ryan Finley against the Steelers? Nope. … Joe Mixon against the Steelers? Maybe. He has 17, 30, and 15 carries in his last three games and can add 1-4 receptions and the rare touchdown to keep him in the low-end RB2 mix. Pittsburgh is in the top 23rd percentile in both run defense DVOA and against fantasy backs, so his upside is obviously quite limited.
Auden Tate (concussion) is iffy to play, but he would be a low-level flex option if healthy against an improving Steelers secondary with Minkah Fitzpatrick. … If he’s out, Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson would get bumps up, although Erickson would still be a 5-8 target WR5 with his surrounding talent dragging him down. Boyd, who complained about not getting enough looks after last week’s three-target game, is a flex option regardless if Tate plays, but he carries a low floor with Finley at quarterback. … Tyler Eifert has less than 30 yards in 9-of-10 games.
Expect an update on Saturday.