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USATSI

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.

It's also important to have a keen eye for matchups dictated by the remaining schedule. I am now updating my projected Strength of Schedule rankings our broken down by position available on SportsLine. My objective is to break down how the schedule affects every Fantasy relevant player for the upcoming four weeks, the playoff stretch and the entire season. You'll also be able to find my key takeaways on which players you should buy low, sell high and more trade advice.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Thu, Oct 19 at 8:15 pm ET •
NO -2, O/U 40
Bust Candidate (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #16
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NO NO -2 O/U 40
OPP VS QB
8th
PROJ PTS
11.1
QB RNK
12th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1439
RUYDS
147
TD
7
INT
3
FPTS/G
17
It feels likely that Lawrence will keep up his string of sub-20-point Fantasy games against a defense that hasn't allowed many 20-point weeks. How he'll respond to pressure, especially considering his tender knee, could further make him off-target in a short-week matchup. He's on the fringe of a low-end QB1 for this week but I'd rather take a shot on the upside of Sam Howell and Jordan Love.

LAST WEEK: The Jaguars offense racked up 31 points through three quarters with two touchdowns from Lawrence, who completed 20 of 30 throws for just 181 yards with an interception that looked like a miscommunication with Christian Kirk. And then he twisted his knee late in a blowout win that limited his practice time this week. 

LAWRENCE: Has over 300 yards in one game and has two passing touchdowns in two games. He has 21 Fantasy points as a season high and it came in Week 1. He's had between 17 and 18 points in each of his past four. 

SAINTS: Have given up 20-plus Fantasy points twice in six games (Jordan Love with a rush TD, Baker Mayfield with three TDs). Lawrence might be the toughest quarterback they've faced so far this year. 

SAINTS: Now rank third-lowest in zone-coverage snaps after going with plenty of man coverage last week against the Texans. And it's worth bringing up that they seem to love playing man coverage, ignoring tendencies of the opposing quarterback that could suggest playing more zone coverage. Stud cornerback Marshon Lattimore has not followed receivers much this season, playing 87% of his snaps at right cornerback (to the left of the quarterback). Their other primary outside corner, Paulson Adebo, has allowed a 56.3% catch rate on the season with less YAC allowed than Lattimore. 

LAWRENCE: The stats say he hasn't thrown a touchdown against man coverage yet this year but a short-yardage throw to Zay Jones in Week 5 looked like he beat his man. That's part of the story -- Lawrence actually has a higher yards per attempt and ADOT against man than zone, but he also has a high 20.7% off-target rate against man-to-man. That, the lack of touchdowns and Lawrence's own shortcomings when pressured should be enough to empower the Saints to keep playing it against him. 

Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NO New Orleans • #4
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC NO -2 O/U 40
OPP VS QB
25th
PROJ PTS
15.4
QB RNK
16th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1299
RUYDS
7
TD
5
INT
3
FPTS/G
12.5
There would be more to like here if Carr's offensive line wasn't a mess and if his deep-passing stats weren't so bad. Fantasy managers should count on volume for Carr with some good yardage. The bet is whether or not he can score twice. His matchup suggests there's a chance, but there's a whole lot that can go wrong. I see him as a top-15-ish quarterback who is a better option than Josh Dobbs or Russell Wilson, but I think there's more upside with Matthew Stafford and Jordan Love.

LAST WEEK: Threw 50 passes for 353 yards in a failed comeback attempt against the Texans' zone-heavy pass defense. Completed just 53% of his 17 fourth-quarter passes, six of which were on throws of 20-plus Air Yards. Five targets in the game went into the end zone (three on the final four plays), all five were overthrown, and no end-zone throws were made on plays that started 10 yards or closer to the end zone.

THIS SEASON: Even with a game where Carr's arm was clearly not right, the veteran is fourth in passing Average Depth of Target (ADOT) at 9.4 yards and third in pass rate of throws 15-plus Air Yards downfield. He's also eighth in off-target rate at 13.5% (slightly worse than Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield and Zach Wilson). 

DEEP THROWS: Leads the NFL in passes of 15-plus Air Yards with 51 but has the 11th-lowest completion rate on those throws at 37.3% with the fifth-highest off-target rate on them 35.3% (worse than Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield and Zach Wilson). 

JAGUARS: See the second-most pass attempts per game at 39.3 (it was 36.2 before last week's win over Gardner Minshew and the Colts) but are solid overall defensively (64.4% completion rate allowed is just below league average, 11.1 yards per attempt allowed is just above league average). On deep throws, they're a little worse (40% completion rate allowed is slightly better than league average but 31.6 yards per catch is bottom-six). Three of the nine passing touchdowns allowed have come on throws of 15-plus Air Yards. 

JAGUARS: Will likely be without outside cornerback Tyson Campbell, who has had a pretty good year. Montaric Brown figures to be the guy replacing him. He will have a target on his back -- through 87 career coverage snaps he's allowed a 75% catch rate and 14.0 yards per catch with two touchdowns. 

O-LINE: Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (concussion) and newly installed left tackle James Hurst (ankle) are both out. Veteran Andrus Peat, who's coming back from a groin injury, will move to left tackle, Max Garcia at left guard and veteran Cam Erving will man the right tackle spot. Yikes. Erving barely played last year with Carolina but graded out just fine as a pass blocker, but over the span of his career has been more of a liability than a success factor. Second-year tackle Trevor Penning isn't expected to play unless someone gets hurt. The Jaguars pass rush isn't overfly fearsome (fourth-lowest pass rush pressure rate in the NFL) but even they should be able to find lanes to get after Carr. 

ZONE COVERAGE: The Jaguars reliably play umbrella coverage at the seventh-highest rate including almost always going full zone coverage after halftime every week. They might play in it exclusively given the injury to Campbell. Carr is considerably better versus zone coverage (71.2% completion rate, 90.3 QB rating) but less aggressive (8.1 ADOT). 

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET •
BAL -3, O/U 43
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #16
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ BAL BAL -3 O/U 43
OPP VS QB
3rd
PROJ PTS
16
QB RNK
10th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1618
RUYDS
15
TD
13
INT
3
FPTS/G
23
This is a step-up in competition both for the Ravens and for Goff. It's hard to imagine the Lions run game clicking at Baltimore, so expect volume for Goff, which doesn't guarantee great stats but it certainly doesn't hurt. It does feel like the Lions are due for a let-down game and this spot feels like it. I'll cautiously start Goff over Derek Carr and Brock Purdy but I would chance it with Jordan Love over him.

LAST WEEK: After David Montgomery left with an injury in the middle of the second quarter, the Lions threw the ball 70% of their snaps, giving Goff season-highs in pass attempts (44) and passing yards (353). He essentially carried the offense in a tricky road matchup.

WEEK 3: Without Montgomery but with rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, Goff attempted 33 passes (third-lowest of the year) for 243 yards (third-lowest) and one touchdown. The Lions passed on 52% of their snaps in a home matchup against a decent-enough Falcons defense. 

RAVENS: Have yet to allow 20-plus Fantasy points to a quarterback this year, but they haven't faced a passer tougher than then-hobbled Joe Burrow. They have played the sixth-most snaps in man-to-man coverage this year, though that number has changed a little bit since Marlon Humphrey has come back to the secondary. They're not always blitz-heavy because they've pressured quarterbacks with four rushers, but this is the toughest offensive line they'll have faced since the Browns in Week 4. In that game, they barely blitzed and still got pressure. 

GOFF: His stats against both man and zone coverages are just fine (his QB rating against both is over 103.0 each). He has a better TD rate and attacks 10-plus Air Yards downfield a little more when he sees zone coverage. He did struggle against the Bucs' blitzes last week (50% completion rate, 4.9 ADOT) but didn't turn the ball over and was helped by plenty of yards after the catch. Goff does have a tendency to struggle under pressure (53.4% completion rate, 6.4 yards per attempt, two touchdowns) but doesn't get pressured often because of his O-line (pressured on 29% of his snaps).  

ROAD WOES: I'm legally obligated to tell you that since arriving in Detroit, Goff has topped 20 Fantasy points (six points per passing touchdown) three times in 17 road games. Additionally, this is Goff's second straight road game. Only once since joining Detroit out of four tries has Goff posted 20 Fantasy points in a second consecutive road game (Week 16 at Carolina last year).

Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #26
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ BAL BAL -3 O/U 43
OPP VS RB
16th
PROJ PTS
12.3
RB RNK
12th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
179
REC
14
REYDS
70
TD
0
FPTS/G
9.7
Gibbs' volume should be pretty strong -- I'd expect somewhere around 15 touches at least. That alone puts him in the start conversation, but it's a little risky to expect good numbers against a defense that seems to play into his strengths. Have RB2 expectations, making him worthy of a nod over either Colts RB, any Broncos or Bears RB, and James Cook.

WEEK 3: Started in place of Montgomery and had 17 carries for 80 yards with one two-yard catch against the Falcons. He played 60% of the snaps and dominated RB touches (18 for him, seven combined for Craig Reynolds and Zonovan Knight).

FILM: Gibbs' speed was a selling point even before the NFL draft, but it's noteworthy that he flashed plenty of balance and physicality on most of those explosive runs. It's a sign that he might be able to deliver some extra yards once he's wrapped up -- if not outright escape a wrap-up and add chunk yardage after. 

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Gibbs' explosive play rate (runs of 12-plus yards) is just 12.8% on the season, but it's kinda exciting that three of his five nice runs came in his Week 3 start. If we dial it down to just runs of five-plus yards, he's getting those on 38.5% of his carries, a number that ranks 12th among all running backs with at least 30 carries. 

NEGATIVE PLAYS: Unfortunately, Gibbs also ranks 45th out of 48 qualifiers in rate of zero or negative-yard carries (25.6%), almost the exact same rate as Najee Harris. Those account for 10 of his 39 carries, and six of those 10 carries came in his Week 3 start. 

POWER-GAP: Gibbs has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over 27 carries in power-gap schemes with significant edges in both five-plus yard run rate and explosive run rate compared to inside/outside zone (he's at 3.3 yards per carry over 12 carries). 

RAVENS: Have been outstanding against power-gap scheme runs this season, giving up 3.3 yards per carry with just 8.8% of those runs gaining 12 or more yards. They've been much more susceptible to zone scheme runs (4.6 yards per carry). Derrick Henry's 63-yard run last week definitely tilted this stat -- Baltimore allowed 4.1 yards per carry against zone before last week. 

RAVENS: Overall have been pretty great against the run save for the occasional hiccup, like Henry's 63-yard run last week. The only running back who you could say gashed the Ravens has been Zack Moss, who had four explosive runs over 30 carries in Week 3.  

PASS DEFENSE: Baltimore's pass defense stats against RBs took a turn south after Tyjae Spears' late-game 48-yard catch and run last week. Technically they're now bottom-five in yards per catch allowed at 8.4 yards and Yards After Catch per reception (YAC/reception) allowed at 9.08 yards. But before last week the Ravens were better than league average in yards per catch allowed at 6.7 yards and YAC/reception allowed at 6.91. 

GIBBS: Has seen 4.5 targets per game on the year (he saw a lot Week 2) and has averaged a modest 5.0 yards per grab with 3.64 YAC/reception with zero plays gaining more than 10 yards. 

CAMPBELL: Admitted this week he basically has no choice but to give Gibbs a lot of touches because of the Lions' injuries at RB.

Flex Starter in PPR (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #4
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DET BAL -3 O/U 43
OPP VS WR
23rd
PROJ PTS
12.9
WR RNK
17th
YTD Stats
REC
35
TAR
48
REYDS
367
TD
1
FPTS/G
13.3
Flowers has well over 10.0 yards per catch in half of his games, but he's never had 13-plus PPR points in any of them. He's better to rely on in hopes of quality target volume, which should happen this week. He is once again an easy flex play in PPR over Romeo Doubs, Josh Downs and George Pickens, but the upside dripping from Gabe Davis, Christian Watson and DeVonta Smith makes them more alluring.

TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS: Flowers has blossomed at least eight targets in each game; the theory is that when the Ravens' running backs aren't efficient the team turns to Flowers as an extension of the run game. But that theory has kind of changed because Flowers is running routes a little further downfield rather than trying to stretch defenses horizontally on screens. That's a good thing because it's not like he was dominating on screens. Hitches tend to be Flowers' most run route lately. 

AIR YARDS: Week 4 and 5's high ADOTs appear to be outliers as Flowers' Week 6 ADOT came back to earth at 7.25, which honestly was disappointing given the matchup against the Titans. 

LIONS: Currently lead the NFL in YAC/reception allowed to wide receivers (2.48 yards) and remain solid in perimeter pass defense with below league averages in catch rate (62.2%) and yards per catch (12.7) allowed. They are equally strong against slot receivers as well. If there's a sliver of hope, it's that the Lions have given up the most missed tackles on hitch routes (five) this season and allow nearly the same YAC/reception on hitch routes as on all routes. 

LIONS RUN DEFENSE: An important part to review when considering Flowers, Detroit allows the second-fewest yards per carry (3.1) and is top-five in yards before and after contact allowed. Expect an inefficient day for the Ravens running backs, opening the door for Flowers to see eight-plus targets again. 

Flowers has well over 10.0 yards per catch in half of his games, but he's never had 13-plus PPR points in any of them. He's better to rely on in hopes of quality target volume, which should happen this week. He is once again an easy flex play in PPR over Romeo Doubs, Josh Downs and George Pickens, but the upside dripping from Gabe Davis, Christian Watson and DeVonta Smith makes them more alluring.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET •
CHI +3, O/U 37.5
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHI Chicago • #85
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs LV LV -3 O/U 37.5
OPP VS TE
19th
PROJ PTS
8.5
TE RNK
10th
YTD Stats
REC
25
TAR
32
REYDS
240
TD
3
FPTS/G
11.2
The Bears are likely to scheme up a few plays for Kmet, but with Bagent making his first NFL start and their offensive line under siege, it seems likely that Kmet's primary job on Sunday will be to block first, catch second. That stacks the deck against Kmet being a decent Fantasy starter -- 10 PPR points might be asking too much. Jonnu Smith, Logan Thomas and Luke Musgrave each have more upside than Kmet.

LAST WEEK: Was on his way to having another strong target share last week when Justin Fields hurt his thumb and was replaced early in the third quarter by undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent. Before the injury Kmet had a 30% target share and two catches, but only for 9 yards. Kmet did not see a target from Bagent despite playing 30 snaps with him

BLOCKING: Officially, Kmet ran 13 routes last week with Bagent on the field. Of the 13, just four did not involve him blocking. Most of his routes involved blocking a pass rusher for a second before going out for a very short pass. He was ignored by Bagent throwing long every time. 

BAGENT: Threw to his tight ends on just 7.1% of his throws last week and 13.8% of his throws in the preseason. Shepherd University didn't keep track of targets for Bagent's senior year but his best tight end caught 15.5% of his receptions. That's not terrible. 

RAIDERS: Have given up just 8.3 yards per catch to tight ends, ninth-best in football. Teams are basically throwing short to their tight ends against Vegas' mostly-zone coverage. 

TEENY TINY ROUTES: Specifically against tight end pass routes that involve blocking before the target, Las Vegas has allowed a 93.3% catch rate but obviously on a 0.33 ADOT for just 6.6 yards per catch. These might be the kinds of targets Kmet has to scrape for; his season-long ADOT is a shriveled 6.13 anyway. 

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET •
IND +2.5, O/U 40
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CLE CLE -2.5 O/U 40
OPP VS RB
2nd
PROJ PTS
9.3
RB RNK
19th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
466
REC
14
REYDS
110
TD
5
FPTS/G
20.7
I would expect these two to split snaps and touches close to 50-50 again, including both to do decently in the passing game. Moss has an ever-so-slight edge because he seems to still have a grip on short-yardage touchdown opportunities. Only in full PPR should you consider Moss as a decent RB2 who I'd start over Taylor, Alexander Mattison, Roschon Johnson and the Broncos RBs.
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
IND Indianapolis • #28
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CLE CLE -2.5 O/U 40
OPP VS RB
2nd
PROJ PTS
12.4
RB RNK
22nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
37
REC
6
REYDS
62
TD
0
FPTS/G
8
Until there's more evidence that Taylor is back to his old self and/or the Colts give him goal line chances, he's got to be used as a borderline flex in PPR and as a desperation start in non-PPR. I'd sit Taylor for the guys I'd start Moss over, but I'd give Taylor a chance over Rachaad White, Justice Hill and any Cardinals RB.

LAST WEEK: Moss played 50% of the Colts' snaps, his lowest share of the season. Taylor played 42%. Taylor played 9 of 17 third-down snaps, Moss played 6 of 10 snaps inside the 10-yard line and all three of their snaps from the 3 or closer. But the real snap story is that Moss and Taylor were about dead even in snaps played and touches (Taylor had one more than Moss) through the first three quarters. The game was a blowout by the fourth quarter, so Taylor played just 6 of 23 snaps (no touches) while Moss played 10 of 23 snaps (one touch). 

FILM: Neither back was efficient running the ball against a stout Jaguars run defense that stacked the box through most of the first half. Neither back could elude defenders often and both were below average at getting yards after contact. Taylor was the only one with an explosive play thanks to an impressive 40-yard catch-and-run on a shallow crosser. Taylor's processing seemed to take a small step forward this week as he evaded tacklers on a couple of plays but I still felt like his vision wasn't where we're used to seeing it.

BROWNS: Held Christian McCaffrey to 3.9 yards per carry last week. Jordan Mason had 5.4 yards per run but 15 of his 27 yards came on two downs of 20-plus yards to go where the Browns weren't prioritizing its run defense. On the season they've given up 3.8 yards per carry to running backs and lead the NFL with minus-0.07 yards before contact per rush allowed. That's bad news for a Colts duo that had a hard time finding room to run before contact or breaking tackles after contact last week. 

BROWNS: Aren't as dominant versus running backs in the passing game but they're still giving up slightly below-average numbers in catch rate (75%), yards per catch (6.7) and YAC/reception (7.24). The only running back to really clean up against Cleveland was Jaylen Warren, who was boosted by a well-schemed 30-yard catch-and-run.  

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET •
NE +8.5, O/U 41
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NE New England • #84
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs BUF BUF -8.5 O/U 41
OPP VS WR
11th
PROJ PTS
9.6
WR RNK
43rd
YTD Stats
REC
28
TAR
44
REYDS
307
TD
2
FPTS/G
11.9
Understand that if you start Bourne, you're taking a pretty serious risk because he's never consistently earned targets with the Patriots. But there are so many wide receivers hurt and on bye, so anyone who can deliver 10 PPR points has to be worth a shot. There's nothing safe about starting him, but there's also nothing safe about starting Tutu Atwell, Jahan Dotson, Jameson Williams or Kadarius Toney, so you might as well hope to land a team's top target-earner in Bourne.

LAST WEEK: After Bill Belichick said the team would "start over," Bourne dominated targets and worked as a short-area threat with some explosiveness -- 64 of his 89 yards came after the catch. The one target he didn't catch was batted down at the line of scrimmage.  

FILM: Bourne ran his routes with excellent pace and flashed plenty of speed after the catch. He didn't power through tackles and really didn't take good angles on a couple of targets inside the 10-yard line. But compared to many of the other Patriots receivers we've seen, Bourne might be the best all-around option for Mac Jones ... which is kinda saying something. 

WE'VE SEEN THIS BEFORE: Bourne led the Patriots in targets in Week 1 and tied for the team lead in catches and yards and even scored twice, then turned nine targets in Week 2 into a 4-29-0 stat line. He saw 13 total targets in the three games after. 

WE HAVEN'T SEEN THIS BEFORE: Bourne lined up in the slot on 58% of his snaps last week, not only a season-high by a wide margin but also his highest rate since joining the Patriots. He has been used before as a slot guy as recently as last year, but never to this extent and certainly never on this many snaps or routes. In Week 1 he was used mainly on the perimeter. 

MAC'S GUY? Since joining the Patriots, Bourne's 18.2% target per route run rate from Mac Jones among qualifying wideouts (at least 25 targets from Jones) was only bested by Jakobi Meyers, who was usually the team's most likely slot receiver before this year. And Bourne's catch rate from Jones (73.3%) and yards per target from Jones (9.2) are better than any other qualifying wide receiver.

BILLS: There's an exploitable matchup here -- the Bills are bottom-five in catch rate (82%) and yards per catch (12.6) allowed to receivers who line up in the slot. Part of that is helped by slot receivers running downfield more against them than other teams, part of that is hurt by Buffalo's 2.67 YAC/reception. It's unlikely Bourne will break many plays, but if he keeps seeing short-area targets then the numbers will add up.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 1:00 pm ET •
NYG +2.5, O/U 39
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
WAS Washington • #14
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYG WAS -2.5 O/U 39
OPP VS QB
21st
PROJ PTS
17.8
QB RNK
7th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1500
RUYDS
104
TD
10
INT
6
FPTS/G
19.7
You'll start Howell with mild expectations -- New York's rough secondary should open up some opportunities for Washington's receivers to make some plays. And New York's offense might pull some of what Atlanta's did last week and give the ball to Howell in prime field position. That stuff will help, and it's almost essential. If the Giants slow the pace of the game down and if the Commanders have success running the ball, both of which are possible, then Howell might not have to do much to help his team earn a win. That's the biggest worry. I'd start him over Brock Purdy, Desmond Ridder and Russell Wilson.

LAST WEEK: Scored three times on just 23 pass attempts thanks to some stellar field position. A punt return gave Washington the ball on the Falcons 11, a turnover on downs at midfield gave Howell the ball at midfield and a Desmond Ridder interception near the red zone created a third scoring chance. Washington combined for five first downs on all of their other drives. 

FILM: Howell doesn't often throw with anticipation, meaning he won't fire until he thinks he sees an open target. I'm not sure he keeps his eyes downfield enough when he's on the move either. There were also times Howell went through his reads and seemingly passed up open receivers only to find himself pressured and sometimes sacked. These could be contributing reasons for the streaky numbers for Washington's pass-catchers. 

HOWELL: Has found a way to at least 21 Fantasy points in each of his past three and four of his past five. Week 6 was the only time he scored that many Fantasy points without having to attempt at least 39 throws. 

GIANTS: On average see the fourth fewest pass attempts per game (29.8) and allow the fourth-lowest yard per attempt average (5.8). This doesn't make them a tough matchup -- opposing teams are getting a ridiculous 6.72 YAC/reception against the Giants this year, and most of it came in Weeks 3 through 5 against the Niners, Seahawks and Dolphins. Only the 49ers threw the ball more than 31 times against the Giants this season. 

GIANTS: Play zone coverage at the second-lowest rate this season, though they've begun to sprinkle in more zone looks over their past two games. They're also known for blitzing a ton, though they've dialed that back over their past two games. Last week against the Bills they blitzed on just 22% of their snaps and still got pressure on Josh Allen on 40.6% of his snaps. 

HOWELL: Doesn't complete as many passes against man coverage than zone but has higher marks in yards per attempt, TD rate, ADOT, deep pass attempts and even a 106.1 QB rating against that kind of coverage. Howell also doesn't complete nearly as many passes when pressured compared to not pressured but all of the aforementioned stats are uglier when he's facing heat, including a brutally low 57.5 QB rating. Assume the Giants bring loads of pressure, just as they did in both games against Washington last season.  

Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
ATL Atlanta • #9
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TB TB -2.5 O/U 37
OPP VS QB
7th
PROJ PTS
11.8
QB RNK
19th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1380
RUYDS
75
TD
8
INT
6
FPTS/G
16.3
I would expect Atlanta to pass a bunch this week, though it'll be tough navigating for Ridder because the Bucs will blitz him a lot. It would not surprise me if he had another high-yardage, high-turnover game -- the touchdown production is what makes me nervous. I would err on the side of caution with Ridder and sit him for Matthew Stafford, Jordan Love and Sam Howell.

LAST WEEK: Had to chase points and wound up throwing 47 times at Washington, a crazy amount that led to 307 yards and two touchdowns, but three second-half interceptions that were all self-inflicted. Two came on blitzes. It was Ridder's second straight game with over 300 yards. 

BUCCANEERS: Came out last week playing more man coverage than usual but pivoted to zone coverage in the second quarter, especially after David Montgomery got hurt. That's what the Bucs usually play until they're playing from behind. The Bucs also blitz at the third-highest rate in football (40.7%) but even so they don't get a ton of pass rush pressure on the quarterback and are league average in sacks with 15. I would guess they'll try a tad more man coverage than normal early on in hopes of stopping the Falcons' run game but blitz like crazy in obvious passing situations. 

RIDDER: Has been pressured on about a quarter of his pass attempts and has struggled on them, completing 48.1% of his throws for 5.9 yards per attempt and an ugly 57.0 QB rating. He's also more adept against zone coverage (67.3% completion rate, 7.5 yards per attempt), but without many explosive attempts much less plays. And because all of his scores have come from 11 yards or closer (where there's a lot of man-to-man coverage), he actually hasn't scored against zone coverage this year.

RED ZONE: Tampa Bay has allowed catches on just 35.3% of red-zone throws against them this year, best in football. Only one red-zone passing touchdown allowed too -- and it came in Week 1. They balance all-out blitzes with heavy zone coverage to keep offenses guessing, though they've had some close calls (A.J. Brown dropped two would-be red-zone touchdowns in Week 3). 

PASS ATTEMPTS: The Bucs do tend to see a lot of pass attempts (38.6 per game) because their run defense is good. It should mean Ridder throws a lot, something he's done in five straight games (at least 31 pass attempts). 

BUCCANEERS: Only two quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts and Jared Goff last week, have posted over 20 Fantasy points on the Bucs. And only two quarterbacks, Goff (44 attempts) and Kirk Cousins (on 44 attempts) threw two touchdowns against them.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 4:05 pm ET •
LAR -3, O/U 44
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAR LAR -3 O/U 44
OPP VS RB
9th
PROJ PTS
10.1
RB RNK
29th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
247
REC
5
REYDS
37
TD
0
FPTS/G
6.7
Still touchdownless through five games, Harris' passing game role has shriveled and his rushing average has been above 3.5 yards per carry once in his past three. The Rams run defense is trending in a tough direction and the lack of scoring chances keeps Harris' upside lean. I'd rather start Jaleel McLaughlin and Javonte Williams and Jaylen Warren in PPR.

THIS SEASON: There have been 48 NFL running backs with at least 30 carries this season. The only stats that Harris ranks in the top 12 of that group in are yards after contact per rush (3.24) and, surprisingly, explosive run rate (9.5%). That's it. He has yet to score, he has averaged 3.9 yards per carry, he's third-worst in zero/negative run rate (25.4% of his carries!) and 13th in avoided tackle rate. He's also seen his touches dip to exactly 15 in each of his past two games. 

TOMLIN: When asked about how he weighs the work Harris and Jaylen Warren have done and will do, coach Mike Tomlin referred to both Harris and Warren as "significant components" of the run game but that their roles are "continually evolving." At minimum, it sounds safe to expect their roles to remain as-is, which means Warren will play in passing situations much more often as Harris. 

INSIDE THE 5: The Steelers have run three plays inside the five-yard line this season. Three. One was a carry in the fourth quarter of a low-scoring game. Harris didn't even get the carry -- Jaylen Warren did (and he didn't score). Meanwhile, the Rams have played defense inside the 5 on 11 snaps this season. They've allowed four touchdowns -- three on QB runs, and one on a pass. None of this is particularly good for Harris. 

RAMS: Have given up just two rushing touchdowns to running backs this year and have improved over their past four games against the Bengals, Eagles, Colts and Cardinals. In that span, they've held backs to 3.8 yards per rush and have given up 15-plus PPR points to just one back (D'Andre Swift, who totaled 108 yards with six catches). And here's a fun fact: of this group, Arizona's RBs had the highest yards per carry against them (4.3).

POST-BYE: The Steelers are close to getting linemen Dan Moore and James Daniels back, which may or may not help their run game since neither guy had quality run-blocking grades from Pro Football Focus. But Diontae Johnson's return could at minimum keep the team's pass rate high (they're at 60.3%, eighth-most).

Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAR L.A. Rams • #21
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Any Rams RB is a massive gamble this week given the uncertainty of who will play when and the matchup itself. And I would expect Henderson to eventually be the main RB once the coaches are comfortable with his conditioning. And ... it all won't matter in, hopefully, four weeks when Williams comes back and resumes his role. I would also guess Stafford attempts about 50 passes. I would not start Evans, Freeman, Henderson or Gaskin unless totally desperate, but that would be the order I would use them in unless we get word before the game of a different scenario.

WHAT HAPPENED: After injuries to both Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers, the Rams elevated Royce Freeman from the practice squad, signed Myles Gaskin from the Vikings' practice squad, and signed ex-Ram Darrell Henderson to their practice squad to go with rookie Zach Evans, who was third on their depth chart last week and had previously been working scout team for them in practice.

MCVAY: Said on Friday that Henderson would be active for the game and that he did "a great job of being able to quickly re-acclimate himself back to a lot of the things that we've done." McVay spoke less about his other backs adding he's been "pleased" with Freeman and that he's "ready for this opportunity," has "liked what I've seen" from Gaskin and Evans was "a guy that's continuing to learn."

SOUNDS LIKE HENDERSON??? I thought that for sure until I saw that Henderson told The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue "Whenever those guys need a breather and it's my turn to roll, I'm gonna be ready to go."

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: Freeman led the RBs in individual drills ahead of Evans then Henderson then Gaskin, per Rodrigue, but no one knows who led the way in team drills. Freeman's drill lead "could mean something, could mean nothing," per Rodrigue.

A REMINDER ON LAST YEAR: McVay never settled on one guy as THE guy until Week 13, constantly changing how he used his RBs based on who was playing decently and who he could trust. He did have a running-downs back and a passing-downs back, which muddied the Fantasy production: Only twice through the first 12 games of the season did one running back have more than 15 touches in a game. No RB had more than 13.2 PPR points and any RB had 10 or more PPR points just five times through their 12 weeks.

THIS IS JUST A GUESS: The best and most-ready runner the Rams have right now seems to be Evans. He's been in the offense all offseason, has some familiarity with their blocking schemes, has some power and a little explosiveness, but he's the least experienced of the group and I would guess there's no way they'd put too much on his plate. I'd guess that the best and most-ready passing-downs player, at least for this week, is Freeman, who has been with the Rams since July and would make up for his lack of explosiveness with reliable hands. I'd guess that Henderson (fresh off being at his house and not with a team) is the backup for Evans and would get thrown into action if Evans can't get going. Henderson might also have a nudge at working near the goal line. Gaskin (who's on his third team since July) is who I would guess as the backup for Freeman if he's made active.

PLEASE NOTE: I used the word GUESS five times in the above blurb.

OH BY THE WAY: The Steelers run defense has been lights out in their past three games, holding the Raiders, Texans and Ravens RBs to 3.7 yards per carry and one touchdown. No back has scored more than 11 PPR points in those games, including Josh Jacobs. And they're coming off a bye.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 4:05 pm ET •
SEA -7.5, O/U 44.5
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
SEA Seattle • #7
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI SEA -7.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS QB
29th
PROJ PTS
22
QB RNK
14th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1172
RUYDS
42
TD
5
INT
3
FPTS/G
15.7
There is potential for Smith to register 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns as part of an easy day at the office. That might be really close to his ceiling, however, since the Cardinals, who have scored 20 or fewer points in three straight games, don't figure to compete on the scoreboard. Frankly, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if Smith had a game like what we saw in Week 4 against the Giants, but the offense should want to start working at becoming a little more explosive. I'm nervously starting Smith over Desmond Ridder, Russell Wilson and both Thursday night quarterbacks.

THIS SEASON: Has one game above 18 Fantasy points (Week 2 against the Lions). It's happened because he's played against a handful of pressure-heavy defenses that have forced him into some errant passes and because he's run into some defenses that his team could run on, alleviating him of any extra work in the passing game. 

CARDINALS: Have steadily been one of the league's zone-heavy pass defenses, and they don't tend to blitz much nor get a lot of pressure on the quarterback (though they did accomplish the latter last week at the Rams). 

SMITH: Has not only been considerably better against zone coverage than man this year (74% completion rate and 8.2 yards per attempt totally overshadow his numbers versus man-to-man coverage), but he's also been similarly productive when he's not pressured. This combination should open the door for Smith to have an efficient game passing.

CARDINALS: Are giving up 4.5 yards per carry and are bottom-five in a bunch of other rushing metrics including defensive rush success, runs of five-plus yards allowed and yards before contact per rush allowed. This could kick down the door for the Seahawks to run the ball as much as they want to, especially if the Cardinals offense can't score many points. 

LAST YEAR: Smith had some modest numbers in two midseason blowout wins over the Chargers and Giants, never throwing over 225 yards once in either game with just two scores. The Seahawks run game was good in one game, great in the other. 

SMITH: All of his games with 24 or more Fantasy points last year and this year were either high-scoring games (over 50 total points) and/or close Seattle losses. This week's over/under is 46 points, but the Seahawks are favored by more than a touchdown. 

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 4:25 pm ET •
DEN +1, O/U 45
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
GB Green Bay • #10
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DEN GB -1 O/U 45
OPP VS QB
32nd
PROJ PTS
19
QB RNK
8th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1083
RUYDS
109
TD
10
INT
6
FPTS/G
21.2
This feels like a make-or-break game for Love -- if he's more in rhythm and not forcing throws deep downfield then he should connect a bunch with his receivers (perhaps Romeo Doubs more than anyone else) and work his way to some good numbers. But if he's done nothing to try and refine his game over the bye week then he'll throw a couple of interceptions and struggle to overcome them for Fantasy points. I think the matchup is too good to ignore and I'll give the quarterback a shot, especially if Aaron Jones is back. I'll roll the dice on Love ahead of Matthew Stafford, Sam Howell, Jared Goff and Russell Wilson.

PAST TWO GAMES: Failed to score 20 Fantasy points in either, but did hit 19.6 points against the Lions ... and 5.0 at the Raiders. In those two games Love completed 59% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt with five interceptions and a 15.2% off-target rate. He fluctuated between keeping his throws short and trying to bomb his way to a win, especially reining himself in against Las Vegas, leading to his worst game of the season. 

LAST YEAR: Obviously you can't compare the quarterbacks, but Aaron Rodgers' season went from bad to good once he started airing out passes to Christian Watson and the Packers run game ignited. Watson's been back for a couple of games already (three of Love's interceptions were targeted to him); Aaron Jones is trending in the right direction for this week. 

LOVE: Spoke this week about focusing on completions, spreading the ball around and letting his receivers make plays in space instead of forcing it downfield. He added that the Packers have done well in red-zone offense, so getting drives down there over a series of plays instead of via a long pass is a goal. 

BRONCOS: Have allowed 40.6% of opponents' drives to get into the red zone this season, third-highest rate in the NFL. And they aldo have the lowest three-and-out rate at 15.6%. The Packers should have some success achieving the goal Love spoke about. 

PASS DEFENSE: The Broncos have stuck to zone coverage for much of the year, especially at the start of games before turning to man-to-man in the fourth quarter when they're trying to collect a turnover. The unit has not been particularly blitz-heavy over their past four games and only achieved a lot of pressure against the Bears in Week 4, though it didn't do them much good until the very end of the game. 

LOVE: Has a 37.1% completion rate against man coverage with 5.1 yards per attempt, but with no interceptions and four touchdowns. Has a 60.5% completion rate against zone coverage with 7.1 yards per attempt, but with six interceptions and two touchdowns. Technically his QB rating is much higher against man coverage, but that's because of his lack of interceptions. Either way he's struggled regardless of coverage, but less so against zone when he's not throwing into the teeth of umbrella coverage. Love has also been incredibly bad when pressured (34.2% completion rate), but it's rarely happened. 

BRONCOS: Every starting quarterback to face Denver has scored at least 19 Fantasy points except for Zach Wilson. The two who hit 19 and not significantly more -- Jimmy Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes -- threw one interception each. Denver has an interception in three straight games. 

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 4:25 pm ET •
KC -5.5, O/U 48
Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAC L.A. Chargers • #5
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ KC KC -5.5 O/U 48
OPP VS WR
9th
PROJ PTS
10.2
WR RNK
33rd
YTD Stats
REC
15
TAR
28
REYDS
220
TD
1
FPTS/G
8.2
The Chiefs defense is stronger this year and has the outside cornerbacks to challenge Palmer quite a bit, but he'll never see double coverage and it's clear he can pick up targets both by design and by improvisational means. With two straight games with 10 PPR points, Palmer is a decent-floor WR3 with upside in what figures to be a moderate-to-high-scoring game. I'd start him over any Broncos WR, Josh Downs and Josh Reynolds.

PAST TWO GAMES: Has a 24.6% target share with at least seven targets per game, more than double what it was when Mike Williams was healthy. His role hasn't changed since the Williams injury as he has worked mostly as an outside receiver, but his ADOT has ticked up to 14.4 (it was 11.9 through the first three games of the season). The more recent ADOT is higher than Keenan Allen's 12.0 but behind Quentin Johnston's 18.8. 

FILM: Palmer continues to display good agility and footwork both off the snap and in his routes to buy him a step against slow-to-react defensive backs. He flashed a little more speed than I thought he had, which was good, but I especially liked his awareness to get himself open when Justin Herbert fled from pressure and needed someone to throw to. That's savvy and it buys him an extra target or two per game; it helped him land an end-zone target last week against the Cowboys and should eventually manifest itself in a touchdown sometime down the line. 

WITHOUT WILLIAMS: In eight games Williams either missed or barely played in since 2021, Palmer has delivered at least 10 PPR points six times including both games this season. He's hit 15-plus PPR points three times but not yet in 2023.

CHIEFS: Have hung tough against outside receivers over the course of the season, allowing a 53.5% catch rate and 3.18 YAC/reception (both top-six in the league) along with a near-league-average 13.2 yards per catch. They're similarly good against perimeter threats on throws of 15-plus Air Yards. In fact, the Chiefs have not allowed a touchdown on a pass play of 15-plus Air Yards to anyone this year; all of the Chiefs passing touchdowns allowed have come from 11 yards or closer, and five have gone to receivers. 

RED ZONE: Palmer is tied with Donald Parham for red-zone targets in the two games since the Williams injury with two. Both came last week against Dallas. Allen and Austin Ekeler have three each. 

HISTORY: Palmer crushed the Chiefs for 13 and 30 PPR points in two high-scoring games last year, and in the 30-point game he ultimately replaced Williams after six snaps. 

Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #4
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs LAC KC -5.5 O/U 48
OPP VS WR
25th
PROJ PTS
9.3
WR RNK
42nd
YTD Stats
REC
21
TAR
28
REYDS
245
TD
2
FPTS/G
9.6
It's reasonable to expect a modest floor from Rice in what should be a moderately high-scoring game. He may be able to exceed 10 PPR points, though 15 might be too much to ask. In a pinch he works as a WR3 worth taking a chance on over Josh Palmer, Michael Thomas and Tutu Atwell.

LAST WEEK: Rice's snap count was back over 30 but his target share decreased to 10.3%, his lowest mark since Week 2. However, Rice turned four targets into a 4-72-0 stat line, which was enough to get him over 10 PPR points for the third time in four games. Rice continued to line up almost evenly between the slot and out wide. Rice played all but two snaps (excluding kneel-downs) after Justin Watson left with an injury in the fourth quarter. 

FILM: Rice is still a work-in-progress in his route-running as he's not exploding in and out of his breaks. It'll come -- you can see an occasional quick-twitch from him that could become more and more routine once it starts feeling natural for him. Where Rice has won is after the catch with good speed, proper vision and a violent nature that the Chiefs have openly spoke about leaning into. His last catch went for 28 yards and could have been a 67-yard house call if he had either juked or powered through a leg tackle by the only Broncos defender between him and the end zone. 

MECOLE HARDMAN: The return of Hardman to Kansas City figures to have a ripple effect among all of the Chiefs receivers. Like Rice this season, Hardman spent 2022 working all over the formation and was very much used as a short-area target who could pick up yards after the catch and get touches near the goal line. Of Hardman's 34 targets, 23 were on throws of nine or fewer Air Yards designed for him to pick up yards after the catch (or touchdowns when near the end zone). But only one of the 19 short-range receptions he had last year went at least 15 yards; Rice already has six receptions on short throws that have gone 15 or more yards through six games. There's no doubt that Hardman will take high-value targets away from Rice and everyone else when the Chiefs get near the end zone, but I wonder if his role impacts Skyy Moore more than it does Rice, especially for however long Watson is sidelined. 

CHARGERS: Give up 15.1 yards per catch to wide receivers, the second-most this season (shoutout to Washington at 16.5). Their numbers against receivers who line up in the slot are even worse -- 19.9 yards per catch there with 8.21 YAC/reception -- but a lot of that is weighted by big games from Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb. Rice isn't on that level quite yet, but it doesn't mean Kansas City doesn't try attacking the middle of the field, where Rice has succeeded.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Oct 22 at 8:20 pm ET •
PHI -2.5, O/U 51.5
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #23
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PHI PHI -2.5 O/U 51.5
OPP VS RB
6th
PROJ PTS
6.3
RB RNK
NR
YTD Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
First, you need to make sure Wilson plays this week; if he doesn't then Salvon Ahmed will take his place. But then you need to understand that the matchup will be tough for Wilson, then figure he will play around 20 snaps and maybe see 10 touches. There are a lot of must-start players in this game, but Wilson isn't one of them.

LAST WEEK: Wilson practiced on a limited basis but wasn't activated as the Fins swam with Raheem Mostert, Chris Brooks and Salvon Ahmed against the Panthers. Brooks got hurt in the second half, so there's a spot on the depth chart that needs to be filled. Wilson practiced in full on Wednesday of this week and appears on track to play. 

DOLPHINS: A heavy dose of the run game in Week 6 put Miami in the top eight in run rate on the season at 44.4% and above league average in RB runs per game at 23.7. All of these numbers are weighted heavily by their 50-point win over Denver in Week 3 when they ran the ball 42 times with their running backs. Their 7.3 yard per carry average is due to Achane's breakout start more than anything else. 

McDANIEL: Prefers to use two running backs from game to game, and in Miami's games with Achane there was a relatively close split in carries between two backs (18 and 13 in Week 3, 8 and 7 in Week 4, 11 and 10 in Week 5). Last week Mostert handled a heavy workload (17 carries) and left 12 rushes for Brooks and Ahmed. 

LAST YEAR: Wilson was efficient in his eight games in Miami, averaging 4.7 yards per carry with three touchdowns and just over 60 total yards per matchup. That includes two games he barely played in (under 20 snaps) -- take those out and he averaged 78.2 total yards per game. 

SALVON AHMED? Was a healthy scratch last week and figures to be no better than a special-teams player this week. In fact, in the seven games Raheem Mostert, Wilson and Ahmed were all active for with the Dolphins last year, Ahmed played 18 offensive snaps and 25 special-teams snaps. Wilson played 213 offensive snaps and 10 special-teams snaps. 

EAGLES: Have given up 3.1 yards per carry this season and just five runs of 10-plus yards. They're number one in yards after contact per rush allowed at 1.82 and their 13 missed tackles on runs ranks best. Not a soul has even 60 rushing yards against them this year, and the only reason why Breece Hall had a touchdown last week was because the Eagles needed him to score in order to have a chance at getting back in the game late against the Jets. Rookie stud D-tackle Jalen Carter missed last week's game but practiced on a limited basis this week. 

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Mon, Oct 23 at 8:15 pm ET •
MIN +6.5, O/U 44
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #13
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIN SF -6.5 O/U 44
OPP VS QB
24th
PROJ PTS
18.8
QB RNK
11th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
1396
RUYDS
31
TD
12
INT
1
FPTS/G
21.2
Purdy's upside is pretty limited if there's no McCaffrey and no Samuel. But the 49ers came into the year with an embarrassment of riches in the passing game and should still have enough to help Purdy with Aiyuk and George Kittle (remember him?!). This might be a big game for Kittle, who was previously a massive red-zone target for Purdy when Samuel was hurt late last season. I would expect a rebound game for Purdy, who has scored at least 20 Fantasy points in 9 of 11 regular-season games. I'd use him over both Thursday night QBs, Russell Wilson and Geno Smith.

LAST WEEK: Finally looked mortal with the Browns succeeding on a combination of heavy man coverage and a lot of blitzing. Windy weather may have played a small role, too. Purdy's second half was much worse (33.3% off-target rate) than his first half (8.3% off-target) in part because both Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey weren't playing in full. Some drops by Brandon Aiyuk also did not help. 

VIKINGS: Figure to try and replicate Cleveland's success against Purdy, and they have experience playing heavy man coverage with a big dose of blitzing (they did that against the Chargers and Chiefs). Thing is, Justin Herbert walked away with 405 yards and three touchdowns against them and Patrick Mahomes put up 281 yards and two scores.

PASS RUSH: The Vikings' penchant for blitzing hasn't always paid off as they rank below league average in pass rush pressure rate for the season and were actually third-worst before heating up the Bears offensive line last week. Minnesota will also be without pass rusher Marcus Davenport for the next four games, leaving them with Danielle Hunter and not much else (D.J. Wonnum is sort of an IDP sleeper). 

O-LINE: Last week was the first time this year the Niners allowed a 50% pass rush pressure rate (a very high number); they have two other games where they allowed between 40 and 49% against the Steelers and Giants -- Purdy had 20.8 and 24.3 Fantasy points in those games. 

PURDY: Before last week was sensational against both man and zone coverages. His completion rate and yards per attempt were noticeably higher against zone, but he can now say six of his eight passing touchdowns came in man-to-man. 

FANTASY: The only QBs to not score at least 19 points against Minnesota this season are Bryce Young and the Bears passers last week (Fields may have very well been on his way to a dud game before he got hurt).