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Last Updated: November 2nd at 12:00am ET. 

 

 

Texans vs Jaguars (London)
Team Totals: Texans 25, Jaguars 22

The Texans head to London as three-point favorites to encounter a Jaguars defense that held Deshaun Watson to Week 2’s QB22 result and is capable of exploiting Houston’s pass-protection deficiency with the NFL’s third-most sacks (29) and a league-high 58 QB hits. Including Watson himself, just two of the last seven quarterbacks to face Jacksonville have logged top-18 fantasy results. While Watson has more than earned every-week QB1 treatment in season-long leagues – he’s fantasy’s No. 1 overall signal caller in points per game – there are Week 9 reasons that suggest Watson could fall short of his usual box-score results. … Still missing NT Marcell Dareus (sports hernia), Jacksonville has generously permitted 154/721/5 (4.68 YPC) rushing to enemy backs and gives Carlos Hyde a soft enough matchup for RB2/flex deployment, albeit with continued touchdown dependency. Hyde is catch-less in 5-of-8 games with one target or fewer in 7-of-8, and his miserable PPR point totals are 8.3 > 3.5 > 10.4 > 9.0 > 9.5 in the five games where Hyde has failed to pay dirt. … Duke Johnson still hasn’t topped ten touches since Week 1. He’s a lightly-used role player in Houston’s offense and always a low-floor, PPR-specific flex option.

Update: Each of the Texans’ starting tackles — LT Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) and RT Tytus Howard (knee) — will be game-time decisions, worrisome for Houston’s offense against Jaguars pass-rush mavens Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Josh Allen.

Watson’s Week 8 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 13; Darren Fells 6; Johnson, Kenny Stills, and Jordan Akins 5; DeAndre Carter 3; Hyde 1. … Hopkins visits London with five-plus catches in 12 straight games and has resumed seeing extreme volume with the NFL’s second-most targets (37) and 11th-most Air Yards (320) over the last three weeks. There won’t be three better WR1 plays in any week the rest of the way. … With Keke Coutee benched for dropping a pass that caused Week 7’s game-ending pick, the Texans resorted to two-tight end sets as their near-base offense in Week 8. Fells was the top beneficiary with season highs in snaps (90%) and routes run (36) and a year-best 6/58/2 receiving line against the Raiders. His plus blocking required to assist Houston’s leaky line, Fells has separated from mistake-prone Akins, who dropped two balls last week. Assuming his every-down usage keeps up, Fells will be a legit TE1 in Houston’s high-powered attack. When targeting tight ends against the Jags, teams are 29-of-45 passing for an efficient 368 yards (8.2 YPA) and four TDs, including Jets TE Ryan Griffin’s surprise Week 8 eruption (4/66/2). … Stills’ dud versus Oakland seemed fluky; his snaps (96%) and routes (49) were both year highs, yet Watson stopped looking at Stills in the second half while under duress, instead peppering Hopkins and Fells in shorter areas. While Watson’s protection is an ongoing concern, Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey-less secondary has yielded the NFL’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard completions (31). I’m sticking with Stills as a bounce-back WR2 in this unimposing draw. … Carter played ahead of Coutee as Houston’s Week 8 slot receiver but ran routes on only 25-of-49 Watson dropbacks and drew just three targets.

Fresh off his season-best game in last week’s win over the Jets, Gardner Minshew catches an injury-decimated Texans defense that traded Jadeveon Clowney, lost J.J. Watt (torn pec) for the year, and is dealing with injuries to FS Tashaun Gipson (back/hamstring/wrist) and each of its top-three corners in Johnathan Joseph (hamstring/neck), Bradley Roby (hamstring), and Lonnie Johnson (concussion). With top-15 fantasy finishes in 5-of-7 starts and top-13 results in three of his last four, Minshew is among Week 9’s top QB1 streamers facing a Houston defense that’s given up top-12 quarterback scores in 7-of-8 games. From a sports-betting angle, there are enough positive data points for both offenses to like the over on this game’s 47-point total. From a real-life football angle, first-year OC John DeFilippo deserves respect restored to his name after being unfairly run out of town by the Vikings late last year. I like the Jags’ chances of pulling an upset here; it can’t hurt that Jacksonville has a significant experience edge having played six games in London, whereas Houston has never played a game overseas. … With extreme-volume touch counts of 31 > 27 > 26 > 31 > 26 in his last six games, Leonard Fournette’s fantasy floor is as high as any elite RB1 despite his well-below-expectation touchdown production. Watt’s absence will be felt on the ground – he was PFF’s No. 8 run-stopping defensive end among 57 qualifiers – while Fournette’s spiked passing-game usage will come in especially handy versus a Texans defense that has allowed a league-high 59 running back receptions.

Update: The Texans ruled out FS Tashaun Gipson (back/wrist), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring), and CB Lonnie Johnson, meaning they’ll be missing their top pass rusher, starting free safety, and two of their top-three corners against Gardner Minshew & Co.

Minshew’s 2019 target distribution: D.J. Chark 57; Dede Westbrook 55; Fournette 43; Chris Conley 38; Keelan Cole and Seth DeValve 5; Marqise Lee 4; RyQuell Armstead 3; Josh Oliver 2. … Chark busted his two-game slump on a career-high 12 targets in last week’s win over the Jets and is now on pace for a 16-game pace of 78/1,320/12 (16.9 YPR) in a scintillating year-two breakout. Particularly with Weeks 1-7 target leader Westbrook’s (shoulder/neck) health in continual question, Chark should dominate passing-game volume as a legit WR1 against the injury-ruined Texans. Seeing ample scoring-position usage, Chark ranks fifth in the NFL in end-zone targets (8). … Conley also stands to benefit from Westbrook’s uncertainty after topping 80 yards in consecutive games. The Texans have given up at- or above-expectation wide receiver lines to Keenan Allen (13/183/2), Michael Thomas (10/123/0), Zach Pascal (6/106/2), Ted Ginn (7/101/0), Tyrell Williams (3/91/1), Calvin Ridley (5/88/1), Hunter Renfrow (4/88/1), Tyreek Hill (5/80/2), and T.Y. Hilton (6/74/1), as well as Conley (4/73/0) and Chark (7/55/1) in these clubs’ Week 2 date. On tape review, it stood out how often Raiders pass catchers ran wide open throughout Houston’s backend last week. … Should Westbrook sit, Cole will be a deep Week 9 sleeper after coming off the bench to run a season-high 19 routes and catch a six-yard touchdown in last week’s first quarter. Lee (shoulder/ankle) was sent to I.R. on Tuesday.

Score Prediction: Jaguars 27, Texans 24

 

Bears at Eagles
Team Totals: Eagles 24.5, Bears 19.5

The toilet-circling Bears will stick with Mitchell Trubisky after his latest abominable game; he committed two turnovers, took four sacks, and led one touchdown drive against the Chargers’ struggling defense in last week’s loss. Still yet to bank a single top-12 fantasy score through six 2019 starts, Trubisky is almost impossible to trust outside of two-quarterback leagues, even in favorable draws like this. Trubisky did rip off an 11-yard scramble to help set up K Eddy Pineiro’s final-drive field-goal miss but finished below 12 rushing yards for the seventh straight game. Once among the NFL’s best running quarterbacks, Trubisky hasn’t cleared 25 rushing yards since last November 18, an 11-game span. … Coach Matt Nagy at least showed he understands Trubisky’s assortment of limitations by recommitting to the run versus L.A.; David Montgomery’s 27 carries, 31 touches, 21 pass routes, and 74% playing-time clip all set or equaled season highs. But trampling a Chargers team missing both its starting defensive tackles at home is likely to prove far easier than doing so against run-tough Philly on the road. The Eagles have stymied enemy backs for 157/535/4 (3.41 YPC) rushing, while Montgomery has failed to compensate for low-efficiency run-game efforts with fewer than 15 receiving yards in six straight games. He’s a fringe RB2/flex option in a decidedly unfavorable spot. … Although Sunday’s game theoretically sets up better for receiving specialist Tarik Cohen since Philadelphia has surrendered the NFL’s seventh-most running back catches (46), Cohen’s sustained lack of effectiveness keeps him at the very back end of PPR-specific flex-play discussion. Including the playoffs, Cohen has gone ten straight games without clearing 50 total yards.

Trubisky’s 2019 target distribution: Allen Robinson 50; Cohen 34; Taylor Gabriel 22; Anthony Miller 18; Montgomery and Trey Burton 15; Adam Shaheen and Cordarrelle Patterson 10; Mike Davis 8; Javon Wims 4. … Robinson is the one Bear worth starting confidently in season-long leagues with ample DFS-tournament appeal. A-Rob ethered a similar-looking Eagles secondary (10/143/1) last January, while this year’s version has coughed up seven 100-plus-yard wideout performances through eight games. Even with Trubisky under center, I’d be willing to play Robinson in DFS cash games where reasonably priced. Davante Adams (10/180/0), Stefon Diggs (7/167/3), Terry McLaurin (5/125/1), Julio Jones (5/106/2), Amari Cooper (5/106/0), Calvin Ridley (8/105/1), Marvin Jones (6/101/1), Adam Thielen (6/57/1), and Cole Beasley (3/41/1) have smashed Philly’s backend. … Gabriel has gone 17 straight games without topping 75 yards. … Miller has topped 50 yards in three straight weeks but remains scoreless on the season, suggesting he’s due for positive-TD regression after a seven-score rookie year. Miller last hit pay dirt in December of 2018. … Burton hasn’t scored a touchdown or topped 20 yards in a game this year.

Back home after a much-needed victory at Buffalo, the Eagles host an NFC North cellar-dwelling Bears team that has dropped three straight while allowing 25 points per game in that span. Badly missing ex-DC Vic Fangio and interior disruptor Akiem Hicks (elbow, I.R.), Chicago was ethered by enemy backs for 62/307/6 (4.95 YPC) rushing in its last three games. This is a revenge spot for ex-Bear Jordan Howard, who continues to establish himself as the unlikely focal point of Philadelphia’s offense after logging Week 8 season highs in touches (24), snaps (73%), and routes run (21). Even with obvious touchdown dependency, Howard has emerged as a respectable RB2 play in season-long leagues without enough ceiling for DFS usage. … Even as Miles Sanders totaled 118 yards and a touchdown in last week’s upset of Buffalo – he’s crushing the passing game with six catches of 20-plus yards – Sanders handled fewer than ten touches for the third straight week and remains dependent on big plays to make fantasy noise. With 40-plus receiving yards in four of his last six games, however, Sanders has earned every-week RB3/flex discussion in an Eagles offense struggling for passing-game contributions. The Bears have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most receiving yards per game to enemy backs (52.9). One big threat to Sanders’ usage would be Darren Sproles’ (quad) return from his three-game absence. … Even as Chicago’s 2019 defense has taken a step back downgrading from Fangio to DC Chuck Pagano, not a single opposing signal caller has finished above QB15 versus the Bears to this point. Carson Wentz’s all-around toolbox gives him matchup-proof upside, but he’s a fringe QB1 consideration in a probable low-scoring affair.

Even if DeSean Jackson (abdomen) can only play a limited role against the Bears, his dangerous long-ball presence can provide relief for the rest of Philly’s offense. As for Jackson’s individual fantasy utility, I’d want to see him play at least one near-full game before deploying him as a boom-bust WR3. … This is a revenge game for ex-Bear Alshon Jeffery, whose 2019 box-score results have been heavily touchdown dependent without a single week above 76 yards. Jeffery does lead the Eagles in targets inside the ten-yard line (4) but remains a TD-or-bust WR3 option in an increasingly crowded Philly pass-catcher corps. Jeffery has reached 80 yards just twice in his last 16 games. … Nelson Agholor has topped 50 yards in 1-of-8 games. … Catch-less since Week 4, Mack Hollins will return to the bench as soon as D-Jax is back. … The Eagles went all in on two-tight end 12 personnel during Jackson’s absence, primarily benefiting Dallas Goedert, who’s logged top-ten PPR TE1 production over the last five weeks. Zach Ertz was victimized by reduced usage, passing-down double teams, and even Tre’Davious White’s sporadic shadow coverage last week. In theory, Jackson’s return should help Ertz by freeing up the middle of the field, and hurt Goedert by raising Philly’s three-receiver usage at the expense of two-tight end sets. Either way, this is a transitioning passing game lacking high-confidence fantasy plays against Chicago.

Score Prediction: Eagles 24, Bears 17

 

Vikings at Chiefs
Team Totals: N/A

Although Kirk Cousins failed to throw a touchdown pass last Thursday night – thereby turning in a fantasy dud (QB24) – his high level of play continued in Minnesota’s field goal-heavy 19-9 domination of Washington. Over his last four starts, Cousins is 91-of-116 (78.4%) passing for 1,261 yards (10.9 YPA), and a 10:1 TD-to-INT ratio, while Week 9’s matchup looks unimposing against a Chiefs defense that’s permitted top-12 fantasy results to 5-of-8 quarterbacks faced, including three top-five scores. Cousins is a respectable, if low-end QB1 play at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the NFL’s toughest places to play. … His legs likelier fresher than usual coming off Minnesota’s post-Thursday night mini-bye, Dalvin Cook remains the Vikings’ offensive engine with 18-plus touches in 8-of-8 games and 120-plus total yards in 6-of-8 starts. Cook also draws a friendlier matchup than Minnesota’s passing game; enemy backs have carved DC Steve Spagnuolo’s Chiefs for 198/978/6 (4.94 YPC) rushing and the second-most receiving yards in the league (470). Cook is nipping at Christian McCaffrey’s heels to be Week 9’s overall RB1 play. … Impressive rookie Alexander Mattison maintains long-shot flex viability with seven-plus touches in 6-of-8 weeks and remains one of fantasy’s most must-have bench stashes in the event of a Cook injury.

Cousins’ 2019 target distribution: Stefon Diggs 49; Adam Thielen 40; Cook 34; Kyle Rudolph 20; Bisi Johnson 19; Irv Smith 17; C.J. Ham 9; Mattison 3. … Diggs visits Kansas City with 100-plus yards in four of his last five games, a franchise-record 452 receiving yards over his last three, and a 16-game pace of 74/1,410/8, averaging a career-high 14.4 yards per target. (Diggs’ previous career-best YPT was 8.9). Finally turning in the peak year we always knew he was capable of, Diggs’ big-play opportunities are way up with a monster aDOT spike from 8.6 last year to 15.8 this season. Even with Thielen (hamstring) back to siphon targets, Diggs should be teed up as a fringe WR1 at Arrowhead. … Thielen should have few or no limitations at Kansas City after reportedly being close to playing last Thursday night. The Vikings simply didn’t need him to take care of the lowly Skins. With 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-7 games, Thielen is a high-floor WR2 against a Chiefs defense that’s been exposed by D.J. Chark (4/146/1), Chris Conley (6/97/1), Courtland Sutton (6/87/0), Marvin Jones (3/77/0), Kenny Golladay (5/67/2), Emmanuel Sanders (5/60/0), DeAndre Hopkins (9/55/0), Tyrell Williams (5/46/1), and Dede Westbrook (5/30/1). … Thielen’s return removes Johnson, Rudolph, and Smith from the fantasy dart-throw scene.

Most late-week signs pointed to the Chiefs giving Matt Moore one more start over Patrick Mahomes (knee) after Moore handled himself adequately for last week’s QB12 finish against the Packers. Mike Zimmer’s Vikings present a tougher challenge, having yielded top-12 results to just 2-of-8 quarterbacks faced while ranking No. 8 in sacks (23) and No. 7 in QB hits (49) and thwarting deep passing games with the league’s ninth-fewest 20-plus-yard completions allowed (23). Matchup-proof Mahomes should be immediately restored as a season-long QB1 if he gets the nod, but this is only a two-quarterback-league spot for Moore. … Although LeSean McCoy paced Kansas City’s backfield in touches (13) versus Green Bay, McCoy lost his second fumble in four games and played his fewest snaps (39%) since Week 5, while Damien Williams led the way in playing time (42%) and routes run (16) and hit fourth-quarter pay dirt from three yards out to tie the contest at 24, before Aaron Jones’ game-winning 67-yard touchdown catch. Albeit sparingly, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson’s 11 combined snaps played were just enough to damage McCoy and Damien’s bottom lines. McCoy remains this position group’s top flex option with double-digit touches in 7-of-8 games, but there isn’t a desirable Week 9 play here. The Vikings have held enemy backs to 160/639/1 (3.99 YPC) rushing and just 37.3 receiving yards per game.

Update: The Chiefs ruled out starting LT Eric Fisher (groin) and RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) on Friday.

Moore’s target distribution: Tyreek Hill 14; Travis Kelce 13; Sammy Watkins 8; McCoy and Demarcus Robinson 5; Mecole Hardman 3; Damien and Blake Bell 2. … Hill and Kelce showed they should be safe enough with Moore under center after drawing 9 and 8 targets, respectively, versus the Pack. Schematic maven Andy Reid would be savvy to align Hill in man coverage against past-his-prime Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes, who has permitted 34 completions on 40 targets (85%) for 317 yards (7.9 YPA) and three TDs. Rhodes just doesn’t move the same anymore. … Kelce is a fade-matchup Week 9 play; the Vikings have yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end this year, notably containing Zach Ertz (4/54/0), Dallas Goedert (5/48/0), and T.J. Hockenson (3/32/0) over the last three weeks. … This was Kansas City’s wide receiver route distribution in Watkins’ Week 8 return: Hill 37; Watkins 36; Robinson 23; Hardman 4. Hill led the unit in slot-route rate (51%) with Watkins and Robinson outside. Hardman made the absolute most of his two targets (2/55/1) but will be extremely hard pressed to maintain fantasy-viable production on such minimal usage. Robinson has cleared 45 yards in 1-of-8 games. … Watkins is a mildly-justifiable Week 9 play after tying Hill in Week 8 targets (8), although Watkins finished a distant third on the team in Air Yards (42) behind Tyreek (121) and Kelce (62). A low-floor WR3/flex candidate, Watkins’ matchup is better than it may seem against a Vikings secondary that has allowed a league-high 114 receptions to wide receivers. Watkins is also popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 9 Air Yards Buy Low Model.

Score Prediction: N/A

 

Colts at Steelers
Team Totals: Steelers 22, Colts 21

Update: The Colts’ loss of T.Y. Hilton to a 3-4 week calf injury is as draining as it gets for a passing offense; Jacoby Brissett has completed passes at a 2.4% higher rate, averaged 0.76 more yards per attempt, and thrown touchdowns at a 5.7% better clip to Hilton than the rest of Indy’s pass catchers. Brissett should be downgraded to a two-quarterback-league play only. The Steelers’ D/ST playability also warrants a tangible boost.

The Colts visit Heinz Field for a projected low-scoring affair facing a red-hot Pittsburgh defense that has carried the team to wins in three of its last four games with an overtime loss to Baltimore mixed in. The Steelers rank top five in sack rate (8.9%) and lead the league in QB Hit Rate (19.6%) while holding each of their last five quarterbacks faced to fantasy outcomes of QB14 or worse, including by-far Lamar Jackson’s lowest score (QB17) of the year. While Indianapolis’ studly offensive line gives Jacoby Brissett a puncher’s chance at beating expectations – Establish The Run Trenches specialist Brandon Thorn noted this week that the Colts are the only NFL team whose front-five starters have yet to miss a single 2019 snap – ultimately this matchup is too daunting to consider Brissett more than a confident two-QB-league play. … Marlon Mack is a fade-matchup, trust-volume RB1/2 at Pittsburgh with 20-plus touches in 5-of-7 games. Having held enemy backs to an anemic 158/593/4 (3.75 YPC) rushing line and only 44.7 receiving yards per game, the Steelers generate tackles for loss on over a quarter of opponent run plays.

Update: T.Y. Hilton‘s multi-game injury should elevate Zach Pascal into nominal No. 1 wideout duties with Chester Rogers as Indy’s full-time slot receiver, and second-round pick Parris Campbell, UDFA rookie Ashton Dulin, and disappointing sophomore Deon Cain duking it out for No. 3 responsibilities. When Hilton missed Week 4 with a quad injury, Rogers was the biggest beneficiary with season highs in routes run (42), snaps (70%), targets (6), and receiving production (3/48/1). The Steelers are far more vulnerable to slot than perimeter receivers, giving Rogers Week 9 sleeper life with enhanced opportunity in a plus draw. Forward-thinkers should note Devin Funchess (collarbone) can be activated from I.R./return in Week 10.

Brissett’s post-bye week target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 17; Jack Doyle 10; Eric Ebron and Zach Pascal 9; Nyheim Hines 5; Mack and Chester Rogers 4; Parris Campbell and Jordan Wilkins 1. … Playing on grass at Heinz Field places Hilton in a suboptimal setting; in his career, T.Y. loses over two yards per target and his touchdown probability dips from 46% to 30% when playing indoors versus outdoors. It doesn’t help that Steelers outside CBs Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are playing at high levels, having combined to allow completions on 33-of-56 attempts (58.9%) for 385 yards (6.88 YPA) and only two touchdowns. Hilton is a volume- and talent-driven WR2 play with a questionable ceiling. Pittsburgh is one of just two remaining teams yet to allow a single 100-yard game to an enemy wideout. … Doyle and Ebron continue to cancel each other out as fantasy options; each has cleared 50 yards in just 1-of-7 games, while their 2019 target totals are nearly identical with Doyle at 30 and Ebron 29. … The Colts rewarded Pascal for his Week 7 100-plus-yard game by elevating his snaps to a season-high 92% in last Sunday’s win over Denver, yet he drew only two targets and has commanded more than three targets in just 2-of-7 games this year. Every skill player in Indy’s offense remains a low-floor crapshoot behind Mack and Hilton.

Update: The Steelers listed James Conner (shoulder) as doubtful and ruled out Benny Snell (knee) on Friday, making Jaylen Samuels the pound-for-pound top DFS play of Week 9 in an unimposing matchup where Samuels projects for no fewer than 15 touches and upwards of 25 as a home-favorite bellcow with minimal usage competition. In three starts replacing Conner last year, Samuels’ touches/yardage/TD counts were 18/92/0 > 21/172/0 > 15/64/1, and Samuels’ PPR ceiling is immense with three career games of seven-plus catches already under his limited-usage belt.

Although playing on a short week following Monday night’s win over Miami makes it much less of a guarantee, James Conner appears poised to gut out the AC joint sprain in his shoulder against the Colts, who’ve provided enemy backs with unimposing matchups by yielding a 138/606/3 (4.39 YPC) rushing line to Conner’s position. The centerpiece of Pittsburgh’s post-Ben Roethlisberger offense, Conner enters Week 9 with six touchdowns over his last six games and 17-plus touches in four of his last five. Back from his in-season knee scope, Jaylen Samuels should still be rostered in all season-long leagues with Benny Snell (knee) sidelined and bruising-back Conner constantly picking up minor nicks. Samuels would be a legit RB1 on the off chance Conner misses this game. … Lacking any modicum of rushing value and yet to exceed 251 passing yards on the year, game-manager Mason Rudolph is just a two-QB-league option versus Indy, whose disciplined zone defense caps quarterback ceilings by stamping out big passing plays. Despite facing a to-date schedule consisting of Patrick MahomesDeshaun WatsonMatt Ryan, and Philip Rivers, Colts DC Matt Eberflus’ unit has conceded the league’s ninth-fewest 20-plus-yard completions (23) and has yet to allow a weekly fantasy result above QB8 while holding five of its last six quarterbacks faced to QB12 finishes or worse. Rudolph is a low-floor, low-ceiling Week 9 bet.

Rudolph’s 2019 target distribution: JuJu Smith-Schuster 29; Diontae Johnson 27; James Washington 17; Conner 15; Vance McDonald 12; Samuels 11; Nick Vannett 5; Donte Moncrief 3. … Falsifying the pre-season narrative that he would “struggle without A.B.,” JuJu is averaging 2.0 more yards per catch and a full yard more per target than he did with Antonio Brown last year. JuJu’s problem has been seeing nearly four fewer targets per game post-Big Ben, but his floor has held steady with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of Pittsburgh’s six non-Devlin Hodges games. Smith-Schuster runs most of his pass routes inside, where the zone-based Colts have permitted completions on 41-of-55 slot targets (75%) this year. The nature of the Steelers’ Rudolph-quarterbacked offense has pushed Smith-Schuster into WR2/3-play territory, but he’s a good one here. … This game sets up better for JuJu than Johnson, who has thrived on splash plays the Colts’ defense is specifically designed to halt. Johnson has scored TDs of 39, 43, and 45 yards in length, and otherwise has 169 yards in seven games (24.1-yard average). This is a week where Johnson’s odds of hitting another deep completion are reduced. … College shower narrative and all, Washington has been a complete and fairly predictable dud this season. Washington played a season-low 47% of last week’s offensive snaps. … McDonald’s matchup sets up nicely – Indy allows the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points per game to tight ends – but McDonald has yet to top 40 yards in a 2019 game and has exceeded four targets in 1-of-6 tries. He’s a Hail Mary streamer against the Colts.

Update: The Colts listed top CB Pierre Desir (hamstring) as doubtful, slightly upgrading Diontae Johnson‘s Week 9 matchup.

Score Prediction: Colts 21, Steelers 20

 

Jets at Dolphins
Team Totals: Jets 22, Dolphins 19

Following back-to-back turnover-plagued games against New England and Jacksonville’s dominant pass rushes, Sam Darnold catches on-paper Week 9 relief at Miami, where Brian Flores’ team ranks bottom six in sack rate (4.2%) and QB Hit Rate (12.2%) and has surrendered top-16 fantasy quarterback scores in 7-of-7 games, including five top-12 finishes. The Dolphins sent top CB Xavien Howard (knee) to I.R., while Gang Green thankfully held onto reported trade-block RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Robby Anderson. Darnold’s Week 9 floor is concerning based on his recent play, but his ceiling is immense in such a plus spot. Darnold is QB1 stream-able with DFS-tournament appeal and stack-able with both Le’Veon and Anderson. Miami has hemorrhaged an AFC-high 8.9 yards per pass attempt and 18:2 TD-to-INT ratio through seven games. … Le’Veon is a legit squeaky wheel after being the subject of pre-deadline trade rumors, then expressing late-week dissatisfaction with his recent touch counts. He should also be hungry after witnessing his ex-Steelers teammate backs eat up the Dolphins’ front for 167 yards and a touchdown last Monday night. Even as Bell has disappointed severely with 16 or fewer touches in three straight games, this is a get-right spot for Gang Green’s spurned bellcow.

Darnold’s 2019 target distribution: Jamison Crowder 36; Anderson 29; Bell 19; Demaryius Thomas 18; Ryan Griffin 13; Vyncint Smith 6; Ty Montgomery 4. … Even after consecutive clunkers, this is a high-key smash spot for Crowder; teams targeting the slot against Miami are 33-of-49 passing for 490 yards (10.0 YPA) and seven TDs. Crowder runs 73% of his routes inside. … Kept on the Jets’ 53 amid trade rumors, Anderson is another squeaky-wheel candidate that checks additional boxes as Week 9’s No. 3 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model facing a Dolphins secondary missing top CB Xavien Howard. Even while acknowledging Anderson’s low floor, this is a picture-perfect week to fire him hard in season long and DFS. If you isolate Darnold’s Weeks 1 and 6-8 starts, Anderson ranks No. 9 in the NFL in Air Yards (424). … Demaryius also popped in Week 9’s Buy Low Air Yards Model and is playable as a WR4/flex based on opportunity in a favorable matchup. … Griffin scored two Week 8 touchdowns against the Jaguars but remained a minimal part of Gang Green’s passing offense with four targets or fewer for the seventh straight game. Chris Herndon’s (hamstring) Week 9 availability remains unclear.

Update: Chris Herndon (hamstring) is listed as questionable, but coach Adam Gase indicated Friday he didn’t expect Herndon to play.

Even if streaming the Jets’ defense feels uncomfortable, they check obvious flow-chart boxes after 7-of-7 DSTs to face the Dolphins banked top-12 fantasy results to begin the year. Miami quarterbacks have combined for 13 turnovers in seven games while absorbing sacks at the NFL’s third-highest rate (10.1%) and QB hits at a league-high 24.3% clip. … The possibility of in-game quarterback change pushes Ryan Fitzpatrick into boom-bust two-QB-league territory coming off a Monday night performance where Fitz played well enough to engineer an early 14-0 lead but wound up turning the ball over three times in Miami’s 27-14 road defeat. It’s simply only a matter of time before coach Brian Flores returns the keys to Josh Rosen. … Mark Walton hogged an appetizing 88% snap rate in Miami’s post-Kenyan Drake Week 8 backfield, only to lose an ugly late-game fumble and wind up with 54 scoreless yards on 14 touches against the Steelers. As Kalen Ballage has done nothing of 2019 note beyond vulture goal-line TDs, Walton’s lead-back role still seems secure against a Jets defense missing DT Leonard Williams (trade) and ILB C.J. Mosley (groin). Even in an abysmal offensive environment, Walton is flex viable in fantasy.

Fitzpatrick’s 2019 target distribution: DeVante Parker 30; Preston Williams 28; Mike Gesicki 15; Albert Wilson 10; Allen Hurns 9; Walton and Jakeem Grant 8; Ballage 7. … Destroyed by Jaguars outside WRs Chris Conley (4/103/1) and D.J. Chark (6/79/1) last week, Gang Green’s secondary is ripe for the Week 9 picking by Parker and Williams. Consistently ignored in season-long leagues and DFS, Parker has cleared 55 yards and/or scored a touchdown in 6-of-7 games and ranks top 15 in Air Yards (715) despite an early bye. Parker is an easy WR3 in this plum spot. … Williams also checks numerous boxes as a member of Week 9’s Buy Low Air Yards Model in a gorgeous matchup. Williams has scored a touchdown and/or exceeded 40 yards in 6-of-7 games. … Here’s how Week 8 routes run worked out for Dolphins receivers: Williams 36; Parker 35; Wilson 17; Hurns 15; Grant 10. … And tight ends: Gesicki 29; Nick O’Leary and Durham Smythe 6. … Even if his box-score production doesn’t fully reflect it, Gesicki’s receiving usage is strong enough for ownership in tight end-premium leagues. Gesicki will probably have a big game soon.

Score Prediction: Jets 24, Dolphins 23

 

Redskins at Bills
Team Totals: Bills 23, Redskins 13.5

Update: The Redskins announced Friday they will start Dwayne Haskins at Buffalo, an impossible spot for a rookie quarterback seemingly everyone within and around the organization agrees isn’t ready to play. The Bills’ D/ST has week-winning upside.

Regardless of which quarterback Washington trots out at Buffalo, this is an obvious stay-away game as the 2019 season’s lowest-totaled contest so far. Buffalo’s D/ST is an elite play, of course; Washington has scored 17 points or fewer in seven straight games and nine or fewer in four of its last five. … Interim Redskins coach Bill Callahan remains obsessed with the run, forcing touch counts of 25 > 20 > 16 onto Adrian Peterson’s plate since replacing Jay Gruden. Yet Peterson’s Week 9 matchup is imposing as a two-score road dog whose receiving role remains negligible with four targets in the last three games. Callahan also expressed confidence Chris Thompson (toe) will return to cap A.P.’s playing-time ceiling, while Peterson (ankle) missed most of the practice week. … Derrius Guice (knee) is eligible for Week 11 I.R. return but will probably prove fool’s gold as a committee back in one of the league’s worst offenses.

Update: The Redskins ruled out Chris Thompson (turf toe) on Friday, meaning Wendell Smallwood will back up Adrian Peterson and function on passing downs at Buffalo. This is an offense to avoid wherever possible in fantasy-lineup decisions.

Case Keenum’s 2019 target distribution: Terry McLaurin 38; Trey Quinn 32; Paul Richardson 29; Thompson 28; Vernon Davis 17; Jeremy Sprinkle 12; Peterson 7; Wendell Smallwood and Steven Sims 6; Kelvin Harmon 4. … Playing McLaurin in fantasy with any non-Keenum Redskins quarterback is a terrifying proposition; McLaurin has caught 25-of-38 Keenum targets (66%) for 407 yards (10.7 YPA) and five touchdowns, versus 3-of-8 for 51 yards (6.4 YPA) and no scores from everyone else. Tre’Davious White’s potential shadow coverage is another Week 9 McLaurin concern; White has yielded a paltry 114 yards and zero touchdowns on 35 targets (3.3 YPA) this season. … Quinn belongs on season-long waiver wires with downward-trending playing time and fewer than 50 yards in 11-of-11 NFL appearances. … Richardson has 50 yards or fewer in 13-of-15 games with the Redskins while totaling 34 scoreless yards since Week 5. … Not a single tight end has cleared 50 yards against the Bills’ stingy zone this season.

Even as Josh Allen has lacked the weekly fantasy ceiling he often hit as a rookie, his floor has stayed high with top-16 results in 6-of-6 games played start to finish and at least 20 rushing yards in all seven starts. The Skins happen to have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most QB rushing yards and bring well-below-average pass rush, ranking 19th in sack rate (6.7%) and 25th in QB Hit Rate (13.8%). Only six teams have allowed more touchdown passes this year (14). Despite a mildly disappointing fantasy campaign to date, Allen is a confident season-long QB1 play here. … Although Frank Gore out-touched Devin Singletary 9 to 7 in last week’s loss to Philadelphia, Singletary seemed to pull away as OC Brian Daboll’s favored option by out-snapping Gore 68% to 29% and running 31 pass routes, Singletary’s most since Week 1. (Gore’s five routes were his fewest since the opener.) Singletary hit second-half pay dirt on a third-and-13 screen pass from 28 yards out. His passing-game superiority is notable against the Skins, who’ve allowed the NFL’s second-most running back receptions (52). As backs facing Washington have combined to average a whopping 33.6 touches per game, this should finally give Singletary an opportunity to approach the 15-20 touch range as an upside RB2/flex. Gore is still a viable flex, albeit with an obviously-lower ceiling.

Allen’s 2019 target distribution: John Brown and Cole Beasley 48; Dawson Knox 22; Singletary 12; T.J. Yeldon 9; Gore, Isaiah McKenzie, and Tommy Sweeney 8; Duke Williams 7; Tyler Kroft and Robert Foster 4. … Turning in his highest-floor season to date, Brown has 50-plus yards and five-plus targets in 7-of-7 games and is on pace for career highs in yards per target (9.9), catch rate (72%), and yards per game (75.3). DeSean Jackson (8/154/2), Stefon Diggs (7/143/0), Julian Edelman (8/110/1), Sterling Shepard (7/76/0), Taylor Gabriel (6/75/3), Devin Smith (3/74/1), Kendrick Bourne (3/69/0), Michael Gallup (6/68/0), Allen Robinson (6/60/0), Alshon Jeffery (5/49/2), Amari Cooper (4/44/1), and DeVante Parker (3/28/1) have all met or beaten expectations against Washington, which unsuccessfully shopped weekly burn victim Josh Norman ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline and is allowing the NFL’s 11th-most fantasy points per game to receivers despite facing the league’s ninth-fewest pass attempts per game (33.0). Brown is a confident WR2 play. … Beasley runs 76% of his routes inside, where the Redskins have permitted 49 completions on 57 slot targets (86%) for 503 yards (8.8 YPA) and four touchdowns. With 40-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-7 games, Beasley warrants PPR-oriented WR3 treatment in this plus draw. Beasley has double-digit PPR points in five of his last six. … Williams operated as Buffalo’s clear-cut No. 3 wideout ahead of Foster in last week’s defeat, but this passing game won’t support more than two week-to-week producers. … Knox and Kroft appear set to cancel each other out for fantasy purposes after splitting routes run almost right down the middle (Knox 21; Kroft 20) against the Eagles.

Score Prediction: Bills 23, Redskins 10

 

Titans at Panthers
Team Totals: Panthers 22.5, Titans 18.5

Skewered in run defense ever since losing DT Kawann Short (shoulder) to I.R., Carolina was trampled by San Francisco’s ground game in last week’s blowout loss and has been pounded by enemy backs for 155/761/10 (4.91 YPC) rushing while all told yielding 12 all-purpose TDs to the position through seven games. This plays into Tennessee’s run-first hands featuring Derrick Henry, who has 16-plus touches in 8-of-8 games while ranking fourth in the NFL in carries (151). Dion Lewis has reached five touches just once since Week 1. Henry’s lack of receiving involvement keeps his floor low – he’s averaging exactly one catch per game – but he remains a solid RB2 play in season-long leagues with bankable volume in this plus draw. … A top-12 fantasy passer in each of his first two starts, Ryan Tannehill’s luck is likely to run out at Carolina; just 1-of-7 quarterbacks to face the Panthers has topped QB15 results, while Ron Rivera’s defense ranks No. 2 in sacks (30) and No. 4 in QB hits (54) despite an early bye. Tannehill is 47-of-61 (77%) for 579 yards (9.5 YPA) and a 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio when kept clean but 10-of-17 for 70 yards (4.1 YPA), no touchdowns, and two picks under duress. He’s a low-end two-QB-league play this week.

Tannehill’s 2019 target distribution: Corey Davis 17; Adam Humphries 14; A.J. Brown 13; Jonnu Smith 11; Anthony Firkser 7; Tajae Sharpe 6; Henry, Lewis, and Delanie Walker 2. … Davis and Brown each proved Week 8 fool’s gold after productive Week 7s in a win over Tampa Bay that was dominated by Tennessee’s tight ends. Set to face underrated perimeter CBs James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, Davis and Brown are poor bets to rebound in a game where Tannehill projects to struggle. Combined, teams targeting Bradberry and Jackson are 36-of-64 passing (56.3%) for 447 yards (6.98 YPA), two touchdowns, and five picks. … Humphries remains scoreless on the season with one game above 50 yards. … While a repeat of last week’s 6/78/1 breakout versus Tampa Bay’s poor tight end coverage is unlikely – Smith ran the exact same number of routes as Firkser (18) and significantly outkicked his usage expectations – it’s also true that Smith draws the best matchup in Tennessee’s Week 9 passing offense assuming Walker (ankle) sits again. The Panthers’ zone defense is vulnerable in the middle of the field, yielding 229 yards and a touchdown on 20 tight end targets (11.5 YPA) over its last three games. Smith remains in Week 9 streamer play but isn’t the lock his Week 8 box score makes it seem.

Update: Delanie Walker (knee) was indeed ruled out against the Panthers.

Even after Kyle Allen threw three picks and took seven sacks in last week’s massacre at San Francisco, the Panthers will stick with Allen against the Titans with Cam Newton (foot) still on the mend. Beginning with most recent, Allen’s last four fantasy outcomes are QB31 > QB15 > QB20 > QB27, while just 1-of-8 quarterbacks to face Tennessee has top-ten results. Allen is a mid-range to low-end two-QB-league play. … In a seemingly impossible spot on the road facing the shutdown 49ers, Christian McCaffrey reproved his matchup-proof ability with 155 yards and a touchdown on 18 touches and is up to ten TDs in seven games. In PPR leagues, McCaffrey is outscoring No. 2 fantasy back Dalvin Cook by a commanding 5.6 points per game. CMC’s spot is better this week as a home-favorite workhorse facing the Titans, who have defended the run stoutly (3.60 YPC allowed to enemy backs) but yielded the NFL’s second-most catches (52) to McCaffrey’s position. As usual, McCaffrey is this week’s No. 1 overall running back play.

Update: The Titans ruled out difference-maker DT Jurrell Casey (shoulder) on Friday, giving Christian McCaffrey‘s matchup a big lift.

Allen’s 2019 target distribution: Curtis Samuel 37; D.J. Moore 34; McCaffrey 33; Greg Olsen 22; Jarius Wright 16. … Carolina’s pass catchers do match up relatively well with Tennessee; the Titans’ secondary is weakest on the perimeter, where RCB Malcolm Butler is beatable and LCB Adoree Jackson (foot) is hurt. Samuel (71%) and Moore (84%) both run most of their routes outside and are WR3/flex playable. Fellow outside WRs Mike Evans (11/198/2), D.J. Chark (4/76/1), Courtland Sutton (4/76/0), John Brown (5/75/0), Odell Beckham (7/71/0), T.Y. Hilton (4/43/1), and Duke Williams (4/29/1) have registered usable fantasy results against Titans DC Dean Pees’ defense. It helps that Moore popped as Week 9’s No. 1 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Olsen has slowed down considerably since his hot start with fewer than 15 yards in three of Carolina’s last four games, but he is still averaging 32.7 routes run, not far off Travis Kelce (33.6) and more than Zach Ertz (32.2). Olsen is a bounce-back candidate against a Tennessee defense permitting the NFL’s ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Score Prediction: Panthers 23, Titans 17

 

Lions at Raiders
Team Totals: Raiders 26.5, Lions 24.5

The Lions visit Oakland for a pristine pass-funnel draw; Detroit lacks anything remotely resembling a featured running back, while the Raiders’ defensive strength is on the ground, holding enemy backs to 153/551/7 (3.89 YPC) rushing. Only three NFL defenses have allowed more yards per pass attempt than Oakland (8.6), and four of the last six quarterbacks to face DC Paul Guenther’s unit have tallied top-six fantasy results. Arguably playing his best-ever football, Matthew Stafford is working on career highs in yards per attempt (8.4), touchdown rate (6.4%), passer rating (105.3), and QBR (70.0) under first-year OC Darrell Bevell. With three top-six fantasy games in his last four starts, Stafford is a high-ceiling QB1 in this plum setting worth DFS-stack consideration along with Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones. Stafford is attempting 20-plus-yard passes at a league-high 19.6% rate, while Oakland has coughed up the NFL’s second-most 20-plus-yard completions (35). From a sports-betting angle, Lions-Raiders is one of my favorite over bets of Week 9. … This is how running back touches were distributed in the Lions’ first post-Kerryon Johnson game: Tre Carson 12; Ty Johnson 8; J.D. McKissic 4; Paul Perkins 3. And snaps: Johnson 39%; Carson 31%; McKissic 26%; Perkins 10%. You couldn’t draw up more fantasy-unfriendly usage allocation. Johnson is still the best dart throw in the group; he had two quality first-half runs called back in last week’s win over the Giants and led the backfield in pass routes run (15). Perkins’ early-week release and Carson’s mid-week addition to the injury report (hamstring) did give Johnson renewed late-week life as a flex option.

Stafford’s 2019 target distribution: Golladay 55; Jones 47; Danny Amendola 39; T.J. Hockenson 31; Ty Johnson and McKissic 13; Jesse James 12; Marvin Hall 7. … The Raiders’ penchant for allowing big pass completions suits Golladay, who leads the NFL in 20-plus-yard targets (19). With 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last seven games, Golladay is a legitimate WR1 play. … The Raiders have been pulverized for wideout lines of 6/172/2 (Demarcus Robinson), 2/133/1 (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), 7/120/0 (Courtland Sutton), 11/109/0 (DeAndre Hopkins), 7/97/2 (Allen Robinson), 5/86/1 (Emmanuel Sanders), 4/72/0 (Zach Pascal), 4/61/1 (Mecole Hardman), 3/55/1 (Adam Thielen), and 2/54/1 (Jake Kumerow). You’ll notice many of those receivers were non-“number ones” like Jones, who has obviously lacked consistency but maintained a high week-to-week ceiling. This sets up as an upside game for him. … With 20 targets over the last two weeks and 95-plus yards in three games this year, Amendola can’t be overlooked as a PPR-specific WR3 play against the pass-funnel Raiders. Highly vulnerable on interior routes, Oakland has hemorrhaged completions on 53-of-70 (76%) slot targets for 685 yards (9.8 YPA) and five touchdowns. … Simply not a big part of Detroit’s passing game at this point, Hockenson hasn’t topped 32 receiving yards since Week 1 and has run more than 21 pass routes just once since Week 2.

Back from his season-best fantasy finish (QB7) in last week’s narrow road loss to the Texans, Derek Carr catches an even friendlier opponent at home in the Lions, who’ve allowed top-12 fantasy outcomes to 6-of-7 quarterbacks faced, including back-to-back four-TD games to Kirk Cousins and Daniel Jones. Bottom six in sack rate (4.4%) and bottom three in QB Hit Rate (10.8%), Matt Patricia’s defense is giving enemy passers clean pockets on a weekly basis. When kept clean this year, Carr is averaging 7.99 yards per attempt with an 8:4 TD-to-INT ratio. In a potentially high-scoring affair, Carr is a rock-solid streamer in season-long leagues. … This is a blowup spot for Josh Jacobs as a home-favorite bellcow facing a Lions defense that’s been gutted for 166/762/7 (4.59 YPC) rushing and 11 all-purpose touchdowns by enemy backs in seven games. Detroit is also permitting a league-high 62.1 receiving yards per game to Jacobs’ position. While Jacobs’ receiving usage would be greater in a perfect world, he does have at least two targets in five straight games. The Raiders’ offensive line has been outstanding this season, permitting tackles for loss at the NFL’s third-lowest rate (13.5%). This should be a 20-plus-touch spot for Jacobs.

Carr’s Week 8 target distribution: Darren Waller 8; Tyrell Williams 6; Hunter Renfrow 4; Jalen Richard 3; Jacobs, Zay JonesFoster Moreau, and Trevor Davis 2. … After last week’s two-catch clunker, this is an obvious bounce-back spot for Waller; tight ends have caught 28-of-38 targets (74%) for 352 yards (9.3 YPA) and two touchdowns against the Lions in their last four games. Waller ranked second among NFL tight ends in both targets and Air Yards (68) in Week 8, but the Texans’ smothering coverage didn’t let him get free. The fact that Williams (3/91/1) and Renfrow (4/88/1) made them pay bodes well for Waller going forward. … Williams returned from plantar fasciitis for his first above-50-yard game since Week 1 against the Texans, making highlight-reel contested grabs down the sideline. Particularly with Lions top CB Darius Slay (hamstring) still on the mend, this is a fine matchup. Detroit’s inability to create pressure enhances Williams’ odds of getting loose for a big play deep. … Renfrow cleared 30 yards for the first time all year against the Texans, while fellow interior-oriented WRs Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), Golden Tate (8/85/0), Nelson Agholor (8/50/2), and Bisi Johnson (4/40/1) have paid dividends versus Detroit’s slot coverage. Still, Renfrow was fortunate to catch all four of his targets and remains a PPR-specific WR4. Here is how Raiders pass-catcher routes were distributed in Williams’ Week 8 return: Waller 28; Williams 26; Renfrow 19; Davis 16; Jones 11; Moreau 7; Derek Carrier 4.

Score Prediction: Lions 28, Raiders 27

 

Bucs at Seahawks
Team Totals: Seahawks 29, Bucs 23

Seattle’s D/ST is among Week 9’s top streamers favored at home by nearly a touchdown against Jameis Winston, who’s committed 15 turnovers in seven starts and took 16 sacks over his last three. Although the Seahawks’ pass rush has lacked all year, it could easily spike at deafening CenturyLink Field versus a Tampa Bay pass “protection” unit that ranks bottom four in sack rate (9.6%) and QB Hit Rate (19.6%). … Winston remains DFS-tournament and season-long playable in this potential shootout; five straight quarterbacks to face Seattle have top-12 results, including otherwise-struggling Baker Mayfield (QB9) and the petrified remains of Matt Schaub (QB10). Despite his penchant for giving the ball to the other team, Jameis is the QB9 in fantasy points per game. … The Bucs kept their three-way RBBC coming out of Week 7’s bye; Peyton Barber led the backfield in Week 8 snaps (35%) against the Titans, Ronald Jones barely edged him in touches (12 to 11), and Dare Ogunbowale stayed active as Tampa Bay’s designated passing-down back, out-snapping Jones 33% to 26%. Even as Bucs’ best running back talent, Jones has totaled 56 yards or fewer in four of Tampa’s last six games. Jones is the best flex option at Seattle if forced to choose, but he isn’t a very good one with a low floor as an underdog on the road.

Jameis’ 2019 target distribution: Mike Evans 67; Chris Godwin 63; Ogunbowale 24; Cameron Brate 20; O.J. Howard 18; Breshad Perriman 16; Barber 12; Jones, Scotty Miller, and Bobo Wilson 10. … Fresh off his second 190-plus-yard game of the year, Evans should stay hot against a Seahawks defense that has allowed the NFL’s eighth-most catches (104) and tenth-most yards (1,322) to wideouts. The ball goes to only two players in Tampa Bay’s passing attack, which should more often than not stabilize Evans’ ceiling and floor, especially in plum matchups like this. Evans also ranks No. 2 in the NFL in end-zone targets (11) despite an early bye. … At- or above-expectation stat lines by fellow slot WRs Cooper Kupp (9/117/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (5/84/0), Tyler Boyd (8/60/0), and Russell Gage (7/58/0) against Seattle provide optimism for Godwin to rebound from last week’s 4/43/0 clunker against the Titans. Evans and Godwin are both DFS game-stack components in this projected high-scoring affair. … Gerald Everett (7/136/0), C.J. Uzomah (4/66/0), Austin Hooper (6/65/1), Ricky Seals Jones (4/37/1), Tyler Higbee (3/47/0), and Vance McDonald (7/38/2) have all beaten box-score expectations against Seattle, which is allowing the NFL’s fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. With Howard (hamstring) injured and reportedly on the trade block, Brate should get another start after establishing Week 8 season highs in playing time (67%), routes run (40), and targets (6) against the Titans. The projected nature of this game combined with Brate’s usage and matchup keep him squarely in TE1 contention.

Update: O.J. Howard (hamstring) was indeed ruled out on Friday. Cameron Brate (ribs) is listed as questionable, but seems likely to play. A super-deep sleeper is preseason star Tanner Hudson, who quietly ran 20 pass routes in last week’s loss to Tennessee and could see enhanced opportunity if Brate is in any way limited in this probable track-meet game.

Seattle’s Week 8 build of a comfortable 24-0 first-half lead always boded poorly for Russell Wilson’s box-score outlook in Atlanta; Pete Carroll’s staff prefers to add hair to its back with close rather than convincing wins. Regardless of deficits, we can confidently expect Rick Vaughn QB Jameis Winston and no-risk-it, no-biscuit coach Bruce Arians to keep the pedal to the Week 9 metal, while Tampa Bay’s pass-funnel defense has coughed up top-15 quarterback results in five straight games, including top-four outcomes to Daniel Jones (QB2), Jared Goff (QB4), and Teddy Bridgewater (QB4). This is a fade-recency spot for Wilson, who leads the NFL in passer rating when blitzed. Bucs DC Todd Bowles‘ defense blitzes at the highest rate in the league. … Although Seattle’s loss of C Justin Britt (ACL) hurts ahead of a matchup with space eaters Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, Tampa’s run-defense stoutness shouldn’t discourage anyone from teeing up Chris Carson as a six-point home-favorite bellcow with 20-plus touches in five straight games. Running back is a volume-over-efficiency fantasy position, and no coaching staff has ensured its lead runner’s usage is more secure amid game-costing fumbles, the front office’s over-draft of Rashaad Penny, and outwardly spoken sentiments than Carroll and his staffs with regard to Carson.

Wilson’s 2019 target distribution: Tyler Lockett 54; D.K. Metcalf 45; Carson 27; Jaron Brown 24; David Moore 17; C.J. Prosise 11; Malik Turner 9; Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson 8; Penny 3. … Running 70% of his routes inside, Lockett is an easy WR1 play against the Bucs, who’ve permitted 83.7 yards per game and five TDs on slot targets this year. Very few receivers have as high a floor as Lockett, who always makes for a worthwhile Russ-to-Lockett DFS stack. Lockett’s receiving line over his last 16 games is 74/1,217/7, and he is on pace for career-best 92/1,230/8 numbers this year. … Positive-TD regression finally hit Metcalf with multiple Week 8 scores, even as he managed fewer than 40 yards for just the second time this year. His 92% snap rate was also Metcalf’s largest of 2019. In what should be a back-and-forth Week 9 game with aggressiveness on both sides, Metcalf hitting his ceiling is very plausible. Allowing the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, Tampa has been clocked by Michael Thomas (11/182/2), Robert Woods (13/164/0), Cooper Kupp (9/121/1), Sterling Shepard (7/100/1), Darius Slayton (3/82/0), D.J. Moore (7/73/0, 9/89/0), Brandin Cooks (6/71/0), and Curtis Samuel (4/70/1, 5/91/0). Metcalf leads the entire league in end-zone targets (13). … Moore and Brown continued to share third-receiver duties in Week 8 with the former out-snapping the latter 48% to 28%. Also drawing four targets to Brown’s zero, Moore is the best off-the-board wideout bet. … Neither Hollister nor Willson has emerged as a worthwhile streamer.

Update: Beat writers expect the Seahawks to activate TE Ed Dickson (knee) from I.R./return, which may result in Jacob Hollister‘s Week 9 inactivity.

Score Prediction: Seahawks 31, Bucs 24

 

Packers at Chargers
Team Totals: Packers 25.5, Chargers 22.5

On absolute fire as fantasy’s No. 2 quarterback behind only Deshaun Watson over the last five weeks, Aaron Rodgers’ trajectory continues to point upward with Davante Adams (toe) due back against the Chargers. Green Bay’s offense looks better every week under first-year OC Matt LaFleur, with Rodgers on pace for a five-year high in yards per attempt (8.2) and his most passing yards per game since 2011 (290.5). Even facing a respectable L.A. pass defense that has held 6-of-8 enemy quarterbacks below top-12 fantasy results, Rodgers has earned matchup-proof treatment, especially with his top wideout back. … While we must acknowledge Jamaal Williams isn’t going away from Green Bay’s RBBC barring injury at this point, NFL touchdown leader Aaron Jones (11) has finally emerged as the Packers’ clear lead back after out-snapping Williams 63% to 48% and out-touching him 20 to 10 in last Sunday night’s road win over Kansas City. Deployed quite similarly to 2017-2018 Todd Gurley under LaFleur pal Sean McVay, Jones is dominating on swing passes and outside-zone runs designed to get him on the edges. Jones has at least four catches in five straight games and gained the vast majority of his Week 8 receiving line (7/159/2) after aligning at wideout. Generously yielded 4.49 yards per carry to enemy backs, the Bolts resurrected David Montgomery’s season (27/135/1) on the ground last week. Jones has earned elite RB1 treatment, while Williams projects for 8-12 touches as a low-end to mid-range flex play at L.A.

Adams’ return will create a muddled situation behind him after the Packers used a four-man WRBC in Week 8 with Allen Lazard running the most routes (32), Geronimo Allison second (29), Marquez Valdes-Scantling third (28), and Jake Kumerow fourth (19). None of them cleared 50 yards against the Chiefs, and LaFleur’s increased commitment to featuring his running backs in the passing game bodes poorly for Green Bay’s ancillary receivers. … I’m treating Adams as a risky WR2 in his first game back from a month-long absence. I’m not certain about his health and role, and Adams will very likely draw Chargers top CB Casey Hayward, who has allowed just 211 yards and one touchdown on 30 targets through eight games. L.A. is yielding the NFL’s eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. … Once Adams gets fully up to speed, my best guess is we’ll see him starting outside with Allison in the slot and a rotation of Lazard and MVS on the opposite side. With minimal usage clarity and five wideouts capable of playing extensively, this is a wait-and-see fantasy week for the entire corps. … Jimmy Graham’s wild ups and downs in an offense where targets are spread thinly render him a touchdown-or-bust TE2 each week. Graham has finished with 30 yards or fewer in 5-of-8 games and topped five targets in just 1-of-8.

Back home after ending their three-game losing skid at Soldier Field, the Chargers host a Packers pass rush that has faded considerably since its hot start, dropping to 18th in both sack rate (6.8%) and QB Hit Rate (14.9%) while yielding top-16 fantasy results to four of its last five quarterbacks faced, including top-12 finishes to Matt MooreDak Prescott, and Carson Wentz. Chargers LT Russell Okung’s Week 8 return paid instant dividends; Philip Rivers was sacked just once among six hits by Chicago’s vaunted pass rush. Albeit never an upside play, Rivers is a viable fringe QB1 with top-14 fantasy results in 5-of-8 starts. … If there ever was one, this is a get-right spot for Melvin Gordon against a leaky Green Bay front that’s yielded 178/879/8 (4.94 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. While it’s certainly possible the Chargers’ running game is simply so broken they’re incapable of executing against anyone, this is as favorable a matchup as they come for an offensive line that all too often yields penetration; Miami, Cincinnati, and Washington are the NFL’s only three teams generating tackles for loss at a lower rate than the Packers. I’m considering Gordon a low-end RB2/flex play and Austin Ekeler a PPR-specific RB2/flex in promoted QBs coach Shane Steichen’s first game calling plays. At age 34, Steichen will hopefully bring some creativity to an offense and ground game specifically that grew mundane under ex-OC Ken Whisenhunt.

Rivers’ Weeks 6-8 target distribution: Keenan Allen 27; Hunter Henry 23; Mike Williams 22; Ekeler 15; Gordon 10; Virgil Green 4; Jason Moore 2. … Allen gutted out his Week 8 hamstring scare to play 69% of Los Angeles’ snaps and absurdly draw 10 targets on just 25 routes run. He appears to be in no danger of missing Week 9 and is popping as this week’s No. 4 buy-low wideout in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. Allen runs 53% of his routes inside, where Green Bay has coughed up 8.07 yards per attempt and five touchdowns on 57 slot targets. … Williams is also popping in Week 9’s Buy Low Model while running 40% of his routes inside. Based on body type, Williams seems likelier to draw plus-sized Packers CB Kevin King than smaller Jaire Alexander when he aligns outside. King has been burned for 567 yards on 49 targets (11.6 YPA) compared to Alexander’s 7.5 YPA permitted. Williams remains a boom-bust WR3 each week. … Henry also catches a plus Week 9 draw; Packers opponents are 42-of-59 passing (71%) for 446 yards (7.6 YPA) and five touchdowns when targeting tight ends. In PPR points per game, only Austin Hooper (17.9) and Darren Waller (16.3) are averaging more than Henry (16.1) among NFL tight ends.

Score Prediction: Packers 30, Chargers 24

 

Browns at Broncos
Team Totals: Browns 21, Broncos 18

The Browns hit the road to face a Broncos offense suddenly quarterbacked by Brandon Allen, who has never played an NFL snap and has diminutive hands (8 7/8”) that suggest lots of ball-security woes are in his future. It’s an opportunity to stream Cleveland’s D/ST, which already had an advantage on Denver’s lackluster pass protection. The Broncos have allowed sacks on 9.3% of dropbacks, fifth most in the NFL. … Even after losing two first-quarter fumbles in last week’s loss to New England, Nick Chubb remains the Browns’ top Week 9 fantasy play as a road-favorite feature back facing a team starting a practice squad-caliber quarterback. Chubb has at least 17 touches in 7-of-7 games, while running backs facing Denver have averaged 29.8 touches. One week before Kareem Hunt is eligible for activation from suspension, this may be Chubb’s final shot at a 30-plus-touch game during the 2019 season. … With just one top-12 fantasy result in seven starts, Baker Mayfield is an easy Week 9 fade on the road against a Broncos pass defense that’s yielded zero top-12 QB1 outcomes and didn’t trade top CB Chris Harris at the deadline.

Mayfield’s 2019 target distribution: Odell Beckham 61; Jarvis Landry 54; Chubb 27; Damion Ratley 15; Dontrell Hilliard and Ricky Seals-Jones 12; Antonio Callaway 10; Demetrius Harris 9; Rashard Higgins 5. … This is another tough draw for Beckham; only two wideouts have cleared 75 yards against Denver’s secondary in eight games, while OBJ himself has frustrated within Cleveland’s discombobulated offense and is now likely to see shadow coverage from Harris. Still due for major positive-touchdown regression with just one pay-dirt trip in seven games, Beckham is a contrarian DFS-tournament play at sub-5% ownership. … Popping in Week 9’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, Landry has been Cleveland’s most-stable receiver with 60-plus yards in 5-of-7 games, and he too is due for positive-touchdown regression with zero scores all year. As Harris projects to chase OBJ, there is little to fear about Landry facing Denver’s slot coverage. … Even as Harris logged 2/33/1 receiving on three targets in Cleveland’s Week 8 post-bye loss to New England, he played a season-low 21% of the Browns’ offensive snaps, and Seals-Jones ran 16 more routes than Harris. Continue to avoid ancillary pass catchers in the Browns’ dysfunctional offense.

Denver’s Brandon Allen installation renders its passing-game analysis near moot but brings the Browns’ defense into focus as mentioned above. Reports have Joe Flacco (neck) missing at least 4-6 weeks, and his heated post-Week 8 callout of Vic Fangio and OC Rich Scangarello suggests Flacco may never play a down for the Broncos again. … Scangarello’s run-first philosophy won’t change, of course; Denver ranks bottom ten in pass attempts per game (32.8) and will maintain a run-heavy approach featuring Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Unimpressive in run defense, Cleveland has yielded a robust 170/800/4 (4.71 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. As usual, Lindsay is an explosive if capped-ceiling RB2, and Freeman an oft-underrated RB2/flex play with pay-dirt trips in consecutive games. … A fourth-year journeyman on his third NFL team, Allen’s box-score impact on Denver’s pass catchers is entirely unidentifiable considering his total lack of big-league experience. In the Broncos’ first post-Emmanuel Sanders game, pass-catcher routes were distributed as follows: Courtland Sutton 34; Noah Fant 27; DaeSean Hamilton 25; Fred Brown 23; Jeff Heuerman 8; Diontae Spencer 6; Andrew Beck 4; Juwann Winfree 1. You’re on your own with all of these guys. Sutton does check in as Week 9’s No. 2 player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, giving him uncomfortable long-shot DFS-tournament life.

Score Prediction: Browns 21, Broncos 20

 

Patriots at Ravens
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

 

Cowboys at Giants
Team Totals: Cowboys 27.5, Giants 20.5

Having last played on October 20th, the rested Cowboys visit The Meadowlands for a smash spot against the Giants with LT Tyron Smith (ankle), RT La’El Collins (knee), WR Amari Cooper (quad), Michael Gallup (knee), and Randall Cobb (back) all back near 100% following pre-bye injuries. Especially with both of his star offensive tackles in the lineup, Dak Prescott’s Monday night pocket should be squeaky clean against a New York defense that has permitted top-ten fantasy quarterback results in 6-of-8 weeks. In Dak’s last two meetings with Giants DC James Bettcher, Prescott’s fantasy finishes are QB2 and QB1 on 52-of-76 passing (68.4%) for 792 yards (10.4 YPA), eight touchdowns, and no picks. … Fresh legged off extended rest, Ezekiel Elliott should also truck the G-Men; Bettcher’s front yielded an unimposing 176/791/6 (4.49 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs over its last seven games while giving up the NFL’s 12th-most receiving per game (48.5) to Zeke’s position. Especially promisingly, his receiving usage rose before last week’s bye with 5.8 targets per game in Weeks 4-7 after Elliott drew just five combined targets in Weeks 1-3.

Dak’s 2019 target distribution: Cooper 50; Gallup 40; Jason Witten 31; Zeke and Cobb 30; Blake Jarwin 15; Tavon Austin 10; Devin Smith 9; Cedrick Wilson 7; Tony Pollard 4. … Amari’s stat line is 91/1,346/11 through 16 regular season games with Dallas. (His final 16-game stat line with the Raiders was 58/850/7. Let’s call it the Derek Carr effect.) Rinsed by fellow outside WRs Mike Evans (8/190/3), Gallup (7/158/0), Adam Thielen (7/130/2), Kenny Golladay (6/123/2), Amari himself (6/106/1), and John Brown (7/72/0), the Giants offer an ideal opponent for Cooper to stay hot. … Gallup has uncharacteristically dropped seven of 40 targets (17.5%) after dropping just 3-of-83 including playoffs last year (3.6%) and showing consistently reliable hands at Colorado State. Expect positive regression for Gallup’s efficiency starting Monday night against struggling Giants rookie CB DeAndre Baker. Bettcher’s secondary has coughed up a league-high 36 completions of 20-plus yards. Whereas Cooper is an obvious every-week WR1, Gallup is a high-ceiling WR2 play in this plum draw. … Witten has exceeded four targets in just one game all season but has played at least 75% of Dallas’ offensive snaps in four straight and can be streamed as a touchdown-or-bust TE1. Witten and Jarwin combined for 6/54/2 receiving against this same New York defense in Week 1, and the Giants haven’t faced a noteworthy tight end since. … Held under 70 yards in 14 straight games dating back to last year in Green Bay, Cobb is a one-game DFS-slate consideration only, albeit in a juicy spot. Fellow slot WRs Julian Edelman (9/113/0), Danny Amendola (8/95/0), Cole Beasley (4/83/0), and Cobb himself (4/69/1) have all had their way with the G-Men’s interior coverage.

Daniel Jones busted his four-game funk with a four-touchdown eruption in last Sunday’s road loss to Detroit, capitalizing on the Lions’ pass-rush deficiency for Jones’ best game of the year. In a six-start sample, Jones did commit his 12th turnover and is up to 21 sacks absorbed, keeping Dallas’ D/ST quite playable after supplementing an already-talented defensive front of DeMarcus LawrenceRobert QuinnMaliek CollinsDorance Armstrong, and Kerry Hyder with trade acquisition Michael Bennett. After the bye, top CB Byron Jones should also be close to 100% after a hamstring-hobbled start to the year. Much as Danny Dimes has been a volatile producer with a low floor but high ceiling, quarterback results against the Cowboys are similarly uneven; Dallas shut down Teddy Bridgewater/Taysom Hill (QB24) and Aaron Rodgers (QB23) in Weeks 4-5, only to give up consecutive top-12 finishes to Sam Darnold (QB11) and Carson Wentz (QB8) ahead of last week’s bye. Jones is a locked-in two-QB-league starter and boom-bust QB1 streamer. … Finally looking fully over his high ankle sprain, Saquon Barkley ripped up the Lions for his first 100-total-yard game since Week 2, tied for the team lead in targets (10), and now draws a Dallas defense yielding the NFL’s fourth-most running back catches per game (6.7). With 22 receptions in three career Cowboys meetings, Barkley should have a big PPR night. Dallas is also beatable on the ground, having given up a combined 133/589/7 (4.43 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. … The more time I put into analyzing this game, the more I liked the over on this game’s total from a sports-betting angle, especially with Sterling Shepard (concussion) looking likely to be back.

Jones’ Weeks 7-8 target distribution: Golden Tate 21; Barkley 15; Evan Engram 12; Cody Latimer 8; Darius Slayton and Bennie Fowler 7; Rhett Ellison 4; Wayne Gallman 1. … On stat lines of 6/102/1 > 6/80/0 > 8/85/0, Tate has led New York in receiving in three straight games on corresponding target counts of 9 > 11 > 10. Tate runs 88% of his routes inside, where Dallas has yielded a 74% completion rate on slot targets. Tate has earned every-week WR3 treatment with WR2 upside in PPR. … Tight ends facing the Cowboys have caught 37-of-50 targets (74%) for 418 yards (8.4 YPA) and three TDs, while Engram’s last three receiving lines against Dallas are 11/116/1 > 5/81/1 > 7/67/1. … Just three individual wideouts have cleared 75 yards against the Cowboys’ big-play-preventing zone; Sterling Shepard (6/42/0) was among those stifled. If Shepard (concussions) isn’t cleared for Monday night, Slayton will be a boom-bust one-game DFS-tournament play in this difficult draw. While Slayton got loose for two scores in last week’s loss to Detroit, he has topped five targets in just 1-of-6 appearances and hasn’t exceeded 50 yards since Week 1. He’s too unreliable for season-long usage outside of deep-league punt scenarios. … For one-game DFS-tournament purposes, this is how routes run were distributed amongst Giants wide receivers sans Shepard in last Sunday’s loss to the Lions: Tate 43; Slayton 39; Latimer 26; Fowler 13. … If Shepard is cleared — and early-week practice reports suggested he’s on track — he’ll be a low-end WR3/flex option whose return will cut into Tate, Engram, and Slayton’s usage expectations a bit.

Score Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 24