Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
- LAST WEEK: Rodgers finally surpassed 20 Fantasy points for the first time in 2022 thanks to a breakout performance by Christian Watson.
- TITANS: Blitz at the lowest rate in the league (15%) but have unlocked the unicorn badge thanks to their huge 36.7% pass rush pressure rate, which is fifth-highest. Last week they bothered Russell Wilson on 49% of his dropbacks -- and that was without massive D-tackle Jeffrey Simmons crashing the pocket.
- RODGERS WHEN PRESSURED: Has completed 47.3% of his passes for an EPA/dropback of -0.34, a 74.7 QB Rating and three touchdowns. All four stats rank outside of the top-15 among qualifying QBs with the completion rate a gross 29th. And, in case you were wondering, Rodgers was not pressured on any of his touchdowns to Watson last week.
- TITANS: On the season and in the past three weeks the Titans rank in the bottom-three in completion rate, pass yards and pass attempts allowed against them. They've allowed 7.3 yards per pass attempt on the season, but 6.6 yards per attempt in their past three games against Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Davis Mills.
- RODGERS: Is 3-0 this year (including last week) when his completion rate is north of 70% and his yards per attempt is north of 7.0. He has one win in seven other games when he's been below these numbers.
- The Packers' slow-paced style, along with the equally slow Titans offense, suggests a low-scoring game without a ton of pass attempts for Rodgers. He'll need another deep bomb fiesta from Watson to deliver a good Fantasy stat line. Given the Titans' improvements of late against the pass and their fierce pass rush, it's tough to count on happening. He is at best a low-end starting option who might be safer than Marcus Mariota, Daniel Jones and Russell Wilson, but Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo have a higher ceiling.
- LAST WEEK: Watson overcame two drops on his first two routes run to post the kind of breakout game that makes Fantasy managers swoon. His 4-107-3 stat line came through on eight targets (a 42% target share!) with a 20.5 ADOT (average depth of target). He lined up in the slot on just over a third of his snaps, too.
- WATSON: His tall/fast skill-set combo paid off quite nicely. There were at least three other plays where Watson stacked his defender and was open deep downfield -- two of them Rodgers didn't see him and threw to someone else, and the other Rodgers DID see him and DID target him but Watson inexplicably slowed down before the ball arrived and didn't make the grab.
- WATSON: Also separated from defenders on in-breaking routes without tipping his hand on where he was going too much. His third touchdown was on a crosser inside of 10 yards where he made his turn and simply ran away from his defender.
- TITANS: Are technically improving as a defense against receivers, no longer in the bottom-five in catch rate allowed. However, they're still giving up a completion on 64.9% of enemy quarterback pass attempts, which is still worse than league average, and they've missed 22 tackles against receivers this season (second-most), a costly factor against Watson who can make a house call after a missed tackle.
- TITANS: Though they've improved over their past four games, they rank bottom-four in completions, yards per catch, YAC/reception and touchdowns allowed to wide receivers on passes that travel 16-plus Air Yards. They gave up an accidental 66-yard touchdown to someone named Jalen Virgil last week along with pass plays of 27, 31 and 33 yards the week before to the Chiefs.
- It's all on the rookie to put it all together, which is what he started to do in Week 10. Having a not-so-washed-after-all quarterback fired up to get him going helps. So does a nice matchup on a short week at home. Expect at least one or two bonehead plays from Watson, but also expect at least one spectacular play to deliver good, if not great, numbers. He's worth risking as a low-end No. 2 wide receiver with upside.
CHI Chicago • #11
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
This game features two depleted defenses, so it's not hard to make the argument to start almost anyone in the game. The worry for Mooney is that the Bears try to run on Atlanta to take pressure off of Justin Fields and leave him in the six-target lurch. There's also the Falcons run game, which should be effective in controlling the clock and putting points on Chicago. Mooney is a flex at best who should be benched for Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell and George Pickens.
- LAST WEEK: Mooney followed up his best game of 2022 with one of his worst since September -- a 4-57-0 stat line on four targets.
- TARGETS: Mooney has seven or more targets in two games this season. Those represent his two best games in PPR (13.8 and 17.3 PPR points). Cole Kmet has one more target than Mooney over the past two weeks; Chase Claypool has only four fewer.
- MOONEY: As far as efficiency goes, Mooney's disappointed. He ranks outside of the top-50 among qualifying WRs in catch rate (64.3%), yards per catch (12.9) and YAC/reception (3.97). He also ranks outside of the top-30 in red-zone targets (five), tackles avoided (three) and explosive play rate (26.3%). Mooney's top-10 ranking in target share (28%) is dampened not only by the Bears' low-volume pass attack but also by his 20.4% target per route run rate (also outside of the top-50 among receivers).
- FALCONS: Atlanta's been generous to wide receivers all year (second-most Fantasy points allowed). A wideout has clinched at least 14 PPR/10 non-PPR points in five straight games, really since starting cornerbacks Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell went down with injuries. They've missed 12 tackles on receivers in their past four games, most in the league.
Kyle Pitts TE
ATL Atlanta • #8
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I'm banking on the Falcons coming off the bus running against Chicago's defense, taking valuable targets away from Pitts. If the Falcons continue to insist on throwing to him deep, his volatility will remain problematic. If you can, start Greg Dulcich and Dawson Knox ahead of Pitts.
- PAST THREE WEEKS: Falcons have tried to establish Pitts as their go-to receiver with at least seven targets per game including three end-zone targets. The results on those throws? A 9-135-1 stat line with multiple drops.
- PAST TWO WEEKS: Falcons have tried to establish Pitts as a deep threat with Mariota chucking 10 targets of 16-plus Air Yards downfield. The results on those throws? One reception, 18 yards for Pitts. Most of the problems stem from Mariota's accuracy.
- BEARS: Pitts isn't a typical tight end. So, combining targets for WRs and TEs over their past three games (since Robert Quinn was traded), the Bears have allowed a 78.8 catch rate, 13.7 yards per catch, 5.35 YAC/reception and five scores. The catch rate is the worst in football, the other stats rank bottom-10.
- FALCONS: Are at least competitive, if not win outright, when they run the ball at least 51% of the time. When they've run the ball at least 60% of the time they're 2-1. The Bears stink against the run, so the Falcons might try to take pressure off the pass game by running. Pitts has five or fewer PPR points in three of five games this year when Mariota has 25 or fewer pass attempts (and over 10 PPR points once - Week 3).
CAR Carolina • #33
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Foreman always has touchdown potential, and all six of the Ravens TDs allowed to running backs have been from two yards or closer. The larger worry is that this will be another blowout Panthers loss that leaves Foreman with minimal touches. He's startable as a No. 2 running back, especially in non-PPR, but the uncertainty of workload pushes his value down. I'd start Cordarrelle Patterson and James Conner over him, but I'd start Foreman over Brian Robinson and D'Andre Swift.
- FOREMAN: Has been outstanding as the Panthers main rusher over the past four weeks with 4.9 yards per rush, 1.59 yards before contact per rush, 3.33 yards after contact per rush and four rushing touchdowns. All three of those stats place him inside the top-15 among qualified RBs in those games. Foreman has at least 15 PPR points in three of his past four.
- 15-PLUS CARRIES: Foreman has hit the 15-carry mark in three of his past four. The only game he didn't? A Panthers blowout loss at Cincy. Foreman ran into a tough defense and a tougher game script and wound up with only nine touches and four PPR points.
- RAVENS: Have only seen two running backs achieve at least 15 carries against them in 2022 -- Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb (Joe Mixon had 14 carries).
- RAVENS: Thanks to keeping running backs out of the end zone (only six rushing scores allowed), they rank sixth-best in fewest Fantasy points allowed to RBs. They've been getting better at letting up yardage, too -- only one running back (Chubb) has averaged north of 4.0 yards per carry against them in the past four games. That includes Saquon Barkley, both Buccaneers running backs, and Alvin Kamara, who had 3.3 yards per rush in Roquan Smith's first game in the middle of the Ravens run defense.
- ODDS: Ravens are 12.5-point favorites.
D.J. Moore WR
CAR Carolina • #2
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Panthers would be wise to go with a slow-paced offensive plan with quick-game passing, but things would unravel on long third downs ... not that that would matter much for Moore since he'd probably draw more attention on those plays anyway (just 11 third-down receptions this year). With not much hope for 15 PPR points, you should feel much better going with Darius Slayton, Diontae Johnson or even Nico Collins over Moore. Too bad P.J. Walker is on the shelf.
- WITH BAKER MAYFIELD: It's been ugly -- 43 targets to Moore were turned into a 19-215-1 stat line. That's a 44% catch rate. Moore has had two games with 10-plus PPR points out of six with Mayfield -- and none with more than 13.
- RAVENS: Aren't perfect when covering receivers, allowing a 63.1% catch rate, 13.4 yards per catch and 4.76 YAC/reception. It is worth noting that just one wideout (Julio Jones) has caught a TD against Baltimore in its past three games.
- HISTORY: Mayfield is 3-5 in eight career games against the Ravens (all with John Harbaugh as head coach). Wide receivers have caught 7 of his 13 career touchdowns against Baltimore.
Kenyan Drake RB
BAL Baltimore • #17
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Obviously, if the Ravens fall in love all over again with Edwards, Drake is going to be a drag on Fantasy lineups. But it's likely the Ravens will not let Edwards play a lot of snaps in his Week 11 return, and if Drake is still running hot, he'll be the one picking up good numbers. He's the preferred Ravens running back this week to start, but understand there's a boom/bust scenario in play because of Edwards' return. At a minimum, expect 12 touches for Drake, which should mean another game with around 10 PPR points. I'd start him over Melvin Gordon, Devin Singletary and Gus Edwards.
- PANTHERS: The same defensive unit that gave up five total touchdowns to Joe Mixon in Week 9 also shut down the Falcons' tough run game in Week 10 (80 total yards, no touchdowns). They particularly struggled with the Bengals' power-run blocking schemes two weeks ago, something the Falcons didn't try much of in Week 10.
- RAVENS: Have run over three times as many power-run plays as zone-run plays.
- RAVENS: There have been three instances when a running back returned from injury. In two of them, the back played less than half of the snaps and was kept under 10 touches. Those were J.K. Dobbins in Week 3 and Kenyan Drake in Week 5. In one more, the back played less than 40% of the snaps but rumbled for 66 yards and two scores. Gus Edwards was that back in Week 7.
- DRAKE: Has gained at least 60 yards and scored at least once in three of his past four. He played at least 55% of the snaps in each of them. The game he didn't get moving was Week 7 when Edwards came back and left Drake with minimal numbers.
Kareem Hunt RB
CLE Cleveland • #27
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Browns have given us enough evidence to no longer trust Hunt, even in a favorable matchup. Maybe that changes if the weather turns out to really cause some havoc (heavy winds and snow), but short of that his workload makes him tough to trust in any lineup.
- FUN FACT: This is the ninth time in 10 editions of Lineup Decisions that I've written about Hunt. I've been incorrect on him twice (Weeks 2 and 10) and on-target otherwise. This might be the last time, though.
- LAST GAME: Hunt had single-digit touches and under 20 total yards for the third time in four games. It certainly makes his Week 8 matchup look like a trade-deadline feature spot ... and an outlier from what to expect the rest of the way. Making things more glaring, Hunt played just 36% of the snaps (a season low) in the Browns' first game after the bye.
- HUNT: Hasn't averaged more than 3.8 yards per game in his past four and has only one touchdown in his past four.
- BILLS: Have yielded 6.3 yards per carry and have let up four scores to running backs over their past three games post-bye week. Buffalo has evolved into a favorable matchup.
WAS Washington • #8
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Robinson would be beyond a must-start had he shown a sliver of efficiency in his first five games. He should still register as a low-end No. 2 running back in all formats. Antonio Gibson is preferred to Robinson in PPR, the opposite in half- and non-PPR. This week is a rare instance where starting either Commanders running back over Najee Harris, the Chiefs running backs and the Broncos running backs makes sense.
WAS Washington • #24
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Gibson is much more appealing in half- and full-PPR leagues because of his passing-downs role. He won't see as much work if the Commanders play with a lead against the Texans, but if it happens to become a competitive game (or even, hear me out, a Texans blowout), then he'll have some very nice numbers. Gibson is preferred to Brian Robinson in PPR, the opposite in half- and non-PPR. This week is a rare instance where starting either Commanders running back over Najee Harris, the Chiefs running backs and the Broncos running backs makes sense.
- TEXANS: Rank poorly in pretty much every single run defense stat imaginable. Yards per carry? 5.5 per game (and under 4.2 yards per carry allowed in one matchup all season). Rushing touchdowns? 13 given up, most in the NFL (and at least one iWk11 sssbn all but two games). Missed tackles? 65, most in the NFL. Defensive total rush EPA? They're third-worst.
- TEXANS: Have seen 11 running backs get at least 10 carries against them. Of those 11, eight have posted at least 14 PPR points.
- LAST WEEK: Robinson started and handled a firm majority of carries for the Commanders, but the snaps were pretty close to even (52%-48% in Robinson's favor). Gibson did play more snaps on third down (15 of 22) and inside the 10-yard line (5 of 8). But Robinson had six carries with one yard to go versus two for Gibson (one was at the goal line).
- SINCE WEEK 6: Gibson leads Robinson in terms of nearly every single rushing efficiency metric known to man. This includes yards per carry, rush EPA, yards before and after contact and the beloved avoided tackle rate. Robinson just happens to have handled 37 more carries in those games.
- ROBINSON: Has 17 or more carries in three of the four Commanders wins he's been a part of, scoring at least eight non-PPR/10 PPR points in each of those three.
- ODDS: Commanders are 3.5-point road favorites at Houston with an implied team total of 22 points.
DET Detroit • #30
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The primary appeal for Williams is his touchdown scoring, which is above average considering his role and the offense he's in. He also seems automatic for 15 touches per week even though he's splitting with two other teammates. But the Giants run defense has been pretty good, and Williams has some pretty dangerous downside if he doesn't score. You'll start him as a No. 2 running back, but expectations should be lowered. I would start James Conner and Cordarrelle Patterson over him, but not D'Onta Foreman or Kenyan Drake.
- WILLIAMS: Scored from short yardage last week and had 16 carries for an inefficient 59 yards. Also went catchless for the second straight week. Williams played 40% of the snaps to lead Lions running backs but split the workload with D'Andre Swift AND Justin Jackson.
- GIANTS' PAST FOUR: 5.87 yards per carry allowed to running backs with 3.3 yards before contact per carry allowed. Both are bottom-two in the league in that span.
- GIANTS: Have been really good at keeping running backs out of the end zone, especially in short-yardage situations. Of the 12 carries a RB has had from 10 yards or closer, only twice has a back scored. That's the best rate of any team that's seen at least that many carries.
- GIANTS: Have given up just four rushing touchdowns all season.
- WILLIAMS: Has two games all season with more than 90 total yards and four with 60 or fewer. If he doesn't score, he has some pretty serious downside.
Daniel Jones QB
NYG N.Y. Giants • #8
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
It's always a roller-coaster ride trusting Jones in Fantasy lineups, but the matchup is right for him to have a modest day passing and two touchdowns. If he can run for a decent amount of yards on top of that, he's a cinch for at least 20 Fantasy points. I'm ready to start Jones over Russell Wilson, Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr.
- LIONS: Have allowed 22-plus Fantasy points to every quarterback they've seen except for three: Aaron Rodgers (three interceptions), Dak Prescott (first game back from injury) and Bailey Zappe (Patriots' third-string QB).
- LIONS: Are among the leaders in blitz rate (sixth in football) but have produced a pass rush pressure rate above 32% once in their past six games (last week against Chicago's poor O-line). Their 15 sacks are tied for fourth-fewest in football.
- JONES: Has a 71.3% completion rate, a 0.24 EPA per dropback (that's good!) and a 95.7 QB rating when he has not been pressured, all of which are much better than how he's fared when under duress. Jones actually has more total yards rushing and three rushing TDs when he isn't pressured compared to when he is (he still averages a full yard more per run when he is pressured though).
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 30 • Experience: 7 yrs.
If you're starting Higbee, you're counting on the Rams using him in the receiving game and not as much in the blocking game. Given the Rams' struggles up front, that's not quite a guarantee. If Matthew Stafford gets things going with his wideouts, Higbee's gonna block a lot. That being said, when's the last time Stafford got "things going" with any receiver not named Cooper Kupp? Higbee is worth starting, especially in PPR leagues, over Kyle Pitts and Foster Moreau.
- LAST WEEK: In the first three quarters with Cooper Kupp on the field, Higbee ran 16 routes and caught four targets for 46 yards. In effectively one quarter of play after Kupp's injury, Higbee ran 10 routes in catch-up time and caught 4 of 4 targets for 27 yards. You should also know Higbee had just two first-half targets for 10 total yards. It's all a signal that the Rams are running out of reliable targets and may ask Higbee to return to his receiving role.
- SAINTS: Are the toughest matchup for tight ends, holding the collective position to one touchdown, 9.0 yards per catch and a league-best 53.6% catch rate. Here's the scary part: tight ends have been targeted against the Saints 69 times, a not-so-nice 10th-most on the year ... and the Saints have stopped them all except for Isaiah Likely, who they kind of stopped after he caught a 24-yard touchdown against them in Week 9. Last week they held Pat Freiermuth to seven PPR points.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #17
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
I'm not benching Wilson because it's some kind of impossible matchup. Instead, I'm starting him because it would be a stunner if he didn't lead the Jets in targets in a matchup they'll have to chase points in. He's got that going for him, and his speed and flashy footwork create an avenue where he can pick up chunks of yardage after the catch. Expect seven catches and 80 yards as a floor, making him a pretty good No. 2 WR in PPR and a low-end starter in non-PPR.
- WEEK 8: Forced into a high-volume passing attack, Wilson turned seven targets into a 6-115-0 stat line. His first two catches -- a deep ball off a Zach Wilson scramble and a pop pass that turned into a long catch and run -- accounted for 77 of the yards. The Patriots did a good job limiting Wilson the rest of the game while pressuring Zach Wilson.
- WEEK 9: Against another tough pass defense in the Bills, Garrett Wilson locked up eight catches on nine targets for 92 yards without an unscheduled 54-yard bomb. He had many receptions on lasers from Zach Wilson in tight coverage. That game provided more optimism than the Patriots game.
- PATRIOTS: Wilson was only the second wideout to catch for over 100 yards against them, and also one of only five with 15 or more PPR points. Bill Belichick's crew has held rival WRs to a 59.9% catch rate (sixth-best) with just four touchdowns scored (second-fewest).
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #32
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If the game gets away from the Jets, Carter will cling to whatever targets he gets to salvage his stat line. If the game is competitive (or if the Jets surprise us again), Carter would obviously have a chance at a better Fantasy outing but still wouldn't have a guarantee for 15 touches or anything like that. I'd rather start Isiah Pacheco, Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and Melvin Gordon.
- WEEK 8: Carter had seven carries for 26 yards and seven targets for four grabs and 35 yards. That was a nine-point game in PPR, and the seven targets tied for the most ever for a running back from Zach Wilson. Playing from behind was a factor.
- CARTER: Had himself a huge game in what wound up being a competitive game against the Bills before the bye (86 total yards and a touchdown). That was Carter's second game this year with a touchdown, and his second with Wilson under center with 13-plus touches.
- PATRIOTS: Rank top 10 in pretty much every single run defense metric except, strangely, yards before contact per rush (1.5 ranks 10th-worst). The only running back to get 15 PPR points against the Patriots through their first nine games was Khalil Herbert, who caught a 25-yard touchdown. Six running backs have found 10-to-14 PPR points against the Pats.
NE New England • #16
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
With the thought being the Jets will keep this game fairly competitive, Meyers is a safe start as a No. 2 wideout. Think about him as someone who can bring home eight non-PPR or 14 PPR points. I'd start him over Tyler Boyd, Michael Pittman and Adam Thielen.
- WEEK 8: Meyers had 13 targets from Mac Jones and turned it into a 9-60-1 start line against the Jets.
- MEYERS: 10-plus PPR in five of his past six (nine PPR in each of the six) and 15-plus PPR in half of the six.
- MEYERS: Typically plays in the slot (60% of snaps) more than out wide but does line up everywhere. He's seen his ADOT shrink just a tad this year (9.07) compared to prior seasons, but his catch rate (75%) is currently a career-best. His target per route run this year, 23.7%, is nearly on-pace with his 2021 number (24%). It's even higher when he's shared the field with Mac Jones (26.6%).
- JETS: Are right around league-average in their defense of slot receivers, save for one stat: YAC/reception, where they're ninth-worst on the year with 5.39 yards.
IND Indianapolis • #1
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Colts haven't blown anybody out this year and figure to throw a good amount against Philadelphia, whether it because it's a competitive game or they're chasing points. Campbell's recent track record with Matt Ryan is great, and Indianapolis simply does not have another reliable target beyond Campbell and Michael Pittman for Ryan to latch on to. It puts Campbell in the starting mix in PPR over Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton and Darnell Mooney, but behind those first two in non-PPR.
- LAST WEEK: A 35-yard catch-and-run touchdown turned a pretty boring game for Campbell into a strong one. It's his third time in as many games with Matt Ryan that he's had at least nine targets and at least 11 non-PPR/18 PPR Fantasy points.
- CAMPBELL: Primarily a slot receiver, he's most likely the fastest receiver the Colts have. He's had good footwork in his routes going back to his college days but does tend to struggle separating from physical defensive backs. But when he's in the open field, he's tough to catch. His agility is pretty good for a guy his size (6-foot, 208 pounds).
- EAGLES: Have given up two touchdowns to slot receivers in one game this year and have shut out the position otherwise. However, that doesn't mean they don't give up other stats. In their past five games, the Eagles have let receivers who lined up in the slot turn 36 targets into 26 receptions (72.2% catch rate), 10.4 yards per catch and a fourth-worst 6.92 YAC/reception. The Commanders targeted Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin a bunch from the slot last week to take advantage of the matchup.
DEN Denver • #3
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
The good news for Wilson is that the matchup is terrific as the Raiders don't typically make quarterbacks skittish. The bad news for Wilson is that he's not likely to have Jerry Jeudy on the field with him, nor is his O-line particularly reliable, nor has he been a reliable passer this year. It'll take some guts to start Wilson as a bye-week quarterback, but the matchup qualifies him to be exactly that. He's worth the one-week risk over Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr and Jared Goff.
- WEEK 4: Wilson had his best game of the season -- 29 Fantasy points thanks to two passing touchdowns and a rushing score -- in a loss at Las Vegas.
- WILSON: Struggled with his accuracy last week, completing just half of his 42 pass attempts against a Titans pass defense that ranked poorly coming into the game. Mostly Wilson was off-target by just a little bit, but he also rushed his passes whenever there was a hint of pressure coming at him. If he didn't take advantage of a defensive breakdown (like the 66-yard touchdown he had last week) or if his receivers didn't pick up yards after the catch (130 of his 286 passing yards came after the catch) then his numbers would be bottom-10 quarterback bad.
- RAIDERS: Have pressured quarterbacks at the lowest rate in the league this season (28%) despite blitzing above the league-average rate (28.3% of the time for the Raiders). They'll have a chance to improve on that this week given the Broncos' offensive line issues (only two starters from the beginning of the season remain).
- RAIDERS: Thanks to giving up the highest completion rate allowed in the league (73%) along with 17 touchdowns (fifth-most), the Raiders have afforded at least 20 Fantasy points to every quarterback they've faced except Trevor Lawrence. That includes Wilson in Week 4, obviously.
Joe Burrow QB
CIN Cincinnati • #9
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The combination of a tough defensive matchup and the prospect of a low-scoring game could keep Burrow from having to throw a ton. Expect an efficient stat line, kind of like the one we saw against the Browns minus the fumble. I'd start Burrow over Jimmy Garoppolo and Aaron Rodgers, but not over Justin Herbert and Kirk Cousins.
- WEEK 1: The Steelers picked off Burrow four times and sacked him seven times en route to a narrow 23-20 victory. Pittsburgh barely blitzed in that game and played a pretty heavy dose of zone coverage.
- STEELERS: Did essentially the same thing last week against the Saints -- didn't blitz much, did create a tough environment for Andy Dalton to throw into. What's particularly interesting is that last week was T.J. Watt's first game back, perhaps a signal of what's to come this week and beyond.
- PAST TWO GAMES: Playing without Ja'Marr Chase, Burrow has averaged 219 pass yards per with three total touchdowns and an interception. One of the games was a run-fueled dominant win over the Panthers (Burrow attempted 28 passes); the other was a drubbing by the Browns who -- surprise! -- played a lot of zone and didn't blitz Burrow much.
Najee Harris RB
PIT Pittsburgh • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If you're starting Harris, it's on the hope he sees more than 15 touches and discovers the end zone for what would be only the fourth time this season. If you've used that logic to start him all season you've been disappointed more often than not. His lack of explosiveness after getting hurt last week was, frankly, not surprising, nor would it be surprising if he lost even more work to Jaylen Warren this week. The Bengals run defense should be much better with D.J. Reader back, too. I'd rather start either Commanders running back, Kenyan Drake or Devin Singletary.
- WEEK 1: Harris caught a touchdown against the Bengals but rushed only 10 times for 23 yards, a surprisingly low total of work considering the Steelers played with a lead for much of that game.
- LAST WEEK: The combination of some good blocking and Harris' relatively fresh legs pushed him into 56 yards on five carries in the first quarter against the Saints. He had a 36-yard run where he ran to contact, bounced off the defender and rumbled for 20 extra yards. At the end of that run, Harris was slow to get up but came back to the game. He had 43 yards on 15 carries after that run and is reportedly dealing with a knee issue that could limit his snaps.
- JAYLEN WARREN: Played 25 snaps to Harris' 33 in the final three quarters and tallied 33 yards on seven carries along with two receptions for 33 more yards. He's proven to be the quicker running back in Pittsburgh, albeit one who isn't particularly effective between the tackles.
- BENGALS: Had a hard time stopping the run until they realized they could just build a massive lead and force offenses to get one dimensional. That worked against the Panthers in their last game (even though Raheem Blackshear did keep up the string of running backs with at least 11 non-PPR points against Cincy).
- BENGALS: On the year, Cincy is allowing 4.07 yards per rush and five rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. That includes the first three weeks when it allowed 3.6 yards per rush and one touchdown. The Bengals had beefy D-tackle D.J. Reader on the field then, and he'll return to the field this week against the Steelers.
Kirk Cousins QB
MIN Minnesota • #8
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
Cousins has been too productive to sit. The rise of Justin Jefferson to elite gamebreaker and addition of T.J. Hockenson at tight end has pushed the Vikings passing game into one of the better units in football. I might not expect a big bounce-back game from Cousins, but he should be solid with a shot to be good. I'm prepared to start him over Joe Burrow, Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo.
- COUSINS: The Fantasy production might not quite match, but he's eighth in the NFL in pass attempts per game (39.3) and seventh in total yards (2,356). The disconnect? Touchdowns -- he has just 16 through nine games (two rushing). If he had just two more touchdowns he'd average 21.0 Fantasy points per game.
- LAST WEEK: Was literally inches away from two touchdowns and his sixth-straight 20-point game. That was Cousins' first in his past five without 20 Fantasy points (17 at Buffalo).
- COWBOYS: After a hot start, the Cowboys have let up 20-plus Fantasy points to three of the last four QBs they've played, including a season-high for Aaron Rodgers and an at-the-time season-high for Justin Fields in their past two.
- COWBOYS: Have the top pass rush pressure rate in the league through 10 weeks (41.3%). It's been even higher in their past two games (44.4%), but that hasn't impacted their opponents as much as one might think.
- COUSINS: Has been most vulnerable when pressured this season, completing a mere 42.9% of his passes with an EPA/dropback of minus-0.37 and a 66.1 QB Rating. However, in his 20-point Fantasy games from Weeks 5 through 9, he was pressured over 40% of his snaps in three matchups (not against Chicago).
Adam Thielen WR
MIN Minnesota • #19
Age: 32 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Effectively, Thielen has become the third option in the Vikings passing game, miscast as a downfield wideout who is an easier assignment for most of the league's cornerbacks. His touchdown potential isn't even that great -- he has one end-zone target in his past two games (same as Hockenson and five fewer than Justin Jefferson). Not only are hot waiver-wire adds like Kadarius Toney and Christian Watson better bets, but so too are Parris Campbell, Darius Slayton and Darnell Mooney.
- PAST TWO GAMES: It's true Thielen is on an eight-week streak of seeing seven or more targets, but new tight end T.J. Hockenson has taken a bite out of the overall share of throws Thielen got from Cousins. Specifically, Thielen has a 15.7% target share and an even grosser 14.7% target per route run rate since Week 9. His catch rate in those two games: 57.1%.
- ROLE CHANGE: Thielen's played a ton out wide, and his receiving average and ADOT have shot up since the Hockenson acquisition, going from 10.0 yards per catch and a 9.3 ADOT to 14.5 yards per catch and a 13.6 ADOT. He's running routes further downfield, which would mean more yards if he could catch them -- his speed isn't what it used to be and as a result he's not quite as open when he runs those types of routes compared to when he was running closer to the line of scrimmage.
- COWBOYS: Have been very good at keeping outside receivers from blowing them up (last week's breakdowns against Christian Watson notwithstanding). On the year, the Cowboys have allowed a 60.2% completion rate to outside receivers, a top-10 mark. They're about league average in yards per catch (13.05) and YAC/reception (4.34). The plus is that the unit has missed just four tackles on wideouts who line up outside, sixth-lowest total in the game.
KC Kansas City • #19
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman not expected to play, Toney should see even more playing time with the statistics to follow. By now he should be acclimated to the general parts of the Kansas City offense and can have wrinkles built in for him to take advantage of. Knowing his potential when he's gotten big doses of targets in the past, Toney shapes up as a high-upside No. 2 Fantasy receiver worth taking the chance on ahead of Christian Watson, Tyler Boyd, Michael Pittman and Diontae Johnson.
- LAST WEEK: Upped his playing time to 44% of the snaps, which felt low considering the injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster. That could be a sign of the Chiefs not wanting to rush him, but they probably won't be able to help themselves after he turned five targets (four catches) and two runs into 90 total yards from scrimmage with a touchdown.
- TONEY: Has been and will be a ridiculous addition to Kansas City's clever and spread-out offense thanks to his speed and ultra-smooth elusiveness. He was wide open for a short touchdown last week that anyone could have scored on, but his 32-yard run on a jet sweep and 23-yard gain on a catch and run involving broken tackles are the kinds of plays we could learn to love seeing from him.
- CHARGERS: On the season ranks top-10 in yards per catch (11.8) and YAC/reception (3.38, best in football) allowed to WRs, but were below league average in catch rate to the position (64.5%). Their marks over their past couple of games remain close to their season-long tallies, but they've started missing more tackles lately just like they have on runs (seven against receivers since Week 7). That could be a dangerous problem when dealing with the slippery Toney.
SF San Francisco • #10
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Garoppolo is never a safe bet unless he's going to be involved in a high-scoring game. This has the makings of it provided that Kyler Murray plays like Kyler Murray and the 49ers pass defense struggles to corral all of Arizona's receivers. But even if it's not a shootout, Garoppolo has shown evidence that he can be a helpful Fantasy quarterback, albeit one without week-winning upside. Tack on how the Cardinals pass defense has fared lately and Jimmy G is worth the nod over Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and any streaming quarterback candidate you can think of.
- MEXICO CITY: Is 7,349 feet above sea level, and that's where this game is going to be played. The thin air there is similar to that of Denver, which can lead to some long passes.
- CARDINALS: Four of the past six quarterbacks to face Arizona have scored at least 24 Fantasy points. The two who didn't: Geno Smith (in Week 5) and John Wolford (last week).
- DEEP THROWS: Remain one of the better pass defenses against passes that travel 16-plus Air Yards. Only 12 completions of such passes have been made against Arizona (that's the fewest in the NFL) and they're 17th in YAC/reception on those throws at 5.08.
- SHORT THROWS: This is where Arizona's weakness is -- on passes of 15 or fewer Air Yards, the Cardinals rank fifth-worst in catch rate allowed (76.1%), fifth-worst in yards per catch (9.72), dead-last in YAC/reception (6.25) and dead-last in touchdowns allowed (16) across all positions. This is where Geno Smith smashed the Cardinals two games ago, and where Garoppolo should deliver this week.
- GAROPPOLO: Was a dropped pass away from a 21-point game last week, which would have been his fifth-straight with at least 20 Fantasy points (and fifth straight with no more than 22, but I digress).
- GAROPPOLO: Isn't asked to throw a ton -- 30 attempts or fewer in every game that hasn't been a blowout loss for the Niners this season. It's part of the reason why he hasn't had any three-score games, or why he has just one game over 250 yards when he's thrown 30 or fewer passes.
- HISTORY: Garoppolo has multiple touchdowns in each of his past four against Arizona.