Last updated: November 1st at 7:30am ET
Team Totals: Patriots 24, Ravens 21
Patriots-Ravens sets up as a better real-life than fantasy game with a fairly low total (45) and Baltimore off its bye with a secondary bolstered by difference-maker CB Jimmy Smith (knee) to flank Marcus Peters and shutdown-capable Marlon Humphrey likely taking over in the slot. Tom Brady has top-14 fantasy results in 6-of-8 starts – including four top-seven finishes – but none of his pass catchers have plus Week 9 draws, and this is an opportunity for Baltimore’s pass rush to expose New England’s pass-protection vulnerabilities. Brady ranks 27th among 34 qualified quarterbacks in passer rating when pressured (52.1), while the Ravens generate QB hits at the league’s seventh-highest clip (17.1%). … Even if it isn’t the strength of their team, the Patriots’ best offensive approach may be to jam Sony Michel down the Ravens’ throats; Baltimore has coughed up 98/469/6 (4.79 YPC) rushing to enemy backs in its last five games. But Michel has drawn exactly one target in the five 2019 games where Rex Burkhead has appeared and remains a distinctly touchdown-or-bust RB2/flex play. Michel’s PPR point totals with Burkhead active are 1.4 > 12.3 > 7.1 > 6.3 > 7.4. They’re 21.3 > 13.3 > 22.4 with Burkhead out. … James White also has negative with-Burkhead splits, but White has a real chance to be a featured part of Sunday night’s game plan. When targeted in coverage, Ravens inside linebackers have coughed up 28 completions on 33 attempts (85%) for 363 yards (11.0 YPA). OC Josh McDaniels should specifically attack Ravens ILB Patrick Onwuasor on passes to White; all 18 throws into Onwuasor’s coverage have been complete this year. … Burkhead is a dart throw on one-game DFS-tournament slates after handling four touches on 19% of the Patriots’ offensive snaps in his Week 8 return from a three-week foot sprain.
With Marlon Humphrey likely taking over as Baltimore’s slot corner, this is Julian Edelman’s toughest to-date challenge; Humphrey has allowed a paltry 73.4 passer rating when targeted. Edelman’s short-area quicks and everlasting rapport with Brady should still keep him matchup proof. It’s notable that fellow slot WRs Jarvis Landry (8/167/0), Christian Kirk (6/114/0), Larry Fitzgerald (5/104/0), JuJu Smith-Schuster (7/75/1), and Tyler Lockett (5/61/1) scored big against Baltimore over the last six weeks. … This is how Week 8 routes were distributed among Patriots receivers: Phillip Dorsett 39; Edelman 38; Mohamed Sanu 26; Jakobi Meyers 21. … Dorsett’s matchup obviously isn’t ideal considering the talented nature of Baltimore’s secondary, but Dorsett’s role is secure on a well-run team with seven TDs in his last ten full games with Brady. Dorsett is best treated as a touchdown-or-bust WR3/flex option against the Ravens’ full-strength cornerback corps. … Sanu and Meyers are strictly one-game DFS-slate plays with low floors still capable of swinging individual-game results with random TDs. … Same goes for Ben Watson, who ran 23 routes in Week 8 but has yet to reach 30 yards in two games with the Pats.
The Ravens spent their Week 8 bye crafting ways to threaten New England’s league-best defense, whose dominance can’t be dismissed despite a cakewalk schedule in its first eight games. Against dual-threat quarterbacks, Bill Belichick’s game plans typically involve amoeba or “mush-rush” methods designed to confine signal callers to the pocket while maintaining a delayed, circular pass rush. With two weeks to prepare, I’m still willing to trust underrated Ravens OC Greg Roman to devise a successfully combative plan and buoy Lamar Jackson’s QB1 viability. Through seven 2019 starts, Jackson has six top-ten scores, including five top-six results. As defenders turn their backs to the offense in man coverage – enhancing quarterbacks’ running opportunities – it’s notable for dual-threat Jackson that New England plays man at the NFL’s highest rate. … With two targets or fewer in 6-of-7 games and 15 touches or fewer in 5-of-7, Mark Ingram remains one of fantasy’s most touchdown-dependent commodities. The Patriots have sprung run-defense efficiency leaks over their last five games, permitting an 87/442/0 (5.08 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs during that span. Especially with No. 2 back Gus Edwards siphoning seven touches per game and Justice Hill sporadically involved to cap his ceiling, however, Ingram remains a largely touchdown-or-bust RB2 option versus New England.
Jackson’s 2019 target distribution: Mark Andrews 54; Marquise Brown 39; Willie Snead 21; Hayden Hurst 18; Nick Boyle 17; Seth Roberts 15; Miles Boykin 13; Ingram 12; Justice Hill 7; Chris Moore 5; Edwards 4. … One of Jackson’s biggest Sunday night concerns involves Baltimore’s limited pass-catcher depth and worrisome matchups for the top two. Week 8’s bye came in handy for Andrews (foot) and Brown’s (ankle) injuries, but the former can expect shadow treatment from SS Pat Chung and Brown from Stephon Gilmore. While none is remotely as talented as Andrews, the tight ends to face New England so far are Dawson Knox (3/58/0), Vance McDonald (2/40/0), Rhett Ellison (3/30/0), Jeremy Sprinkle (2/17/0), Mike Gesicki (1/11/0), and Ryan Griffin twice (1/5/0), 1/1/0). Andrews remains a locked-in TE1 play in season-long leagues with the sixth-most targets (55) and third-most Air Yards (528) among tight ends, but his floor is lower than usual. Helpfully, Andrews is popping as Week 9’s No. 2 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Struggling even before his injury, Brown managed 93 yards on 21 targets in Weeks 3-5 (4.43 YPT) and hasn’t played since. Brown’s game is built on big plays, yet new England has yielded an AFC-low 16 completions of 20-plus yards. Gilmore has allowed completions on just 24-of-52 targets (46%) for 315 yards (6.0 YPA) and zero touchdowns. Brown looks like a coverage breakdown-or-bust Week 9 play. … No other Ravens pass catcher is season-long viable, but Hurst is a long-shot sleeper on one-game DFS slates. Roman proactively calls scoring-position plays for Hurst with five red-zone targets and three inside the ten, while Hurst has at least one catch in every Ravens game, not a feat Snead, Boykin, Boyle, or Roberts has accomplished.
Score Prediction: Ravens 23, Patriots 21