Headline of the game: Recent additions in the secondary should give the Titans a boost defensively
The Titans’ defense heads into Week 10 ranked just 25th in the NFL in expected points added per play allowed. The unit has underperformed, but there is reason to believe it will improve down the stretch with two welcome additions to the secondary.
The first is Desmond King — the NFL’s highest-graded slot cornerback since 2017 (91.1) and a player who delivered a defensive touchdown for Tennessee in his first game with the team last week. The Titans also figure to get back Adoree’ Jackson in the near future. He hasn’t suited up yet in 2020, but his 82.5 PFF coverage grade a season ago was one of the best at the position. Tennessee will look for those two players to spark improved defensive play to complement one of the better offenses in the NFL.
The spread continues to push toward Tennessee, making a pick ‘em opening look like it could move all the way to -3. In the meantime, the market has paused at -2, with 73% of the cash and 61% of the tickets on the Titans.
These teams sit back-to-back in our overall Elo rankings, with the Titans just losing their top spot in our opponent-adjusted offensive rankings. The Colts defense has also dropped off from the top of our defensive rankings and is now down to eighth overall. No real value is opening up on the spread or moneyline, but as highlighted in the early-week betting writeup, the Colts make for an intriguing teaser leg to lock in on Thursday.
The total has dropped two full points since the open, with 56% of the cash falling on the under. The Colts are coming off a performance in which they generated a season-low expected points added (EPA) per pass attempt figure, with Rivers having more negatively graded throws than positively graded throws for the third time this season. The question becomes if the Colts offense can get back on track Thursday night — our predictive model's (PFF Greenline) lean toward the over seems to indicate so.
The Tennessee Titans don’t present a good enough matchup to warrant starting Jonathan Taylor as anything more than an RB3 on Thursday Night Football. That’s because we can’t trust that Taylor will even be the lead dog in the Indianapolis Colts’ backfield.
Over the past two weeks, Jordan Wilkins has out-touched Taylor (34 vs. 21) and out-snapped him (62 vs. 47). Just last week, Taylor saw fewer snaps (21) than both Wilkins (23) and scatback Nyheim Hines (23).
A Taylor fumble turned the tides in the wrong direction for the team in Week 9, which begs the question of whether the coaching staff will lean on the rookie at all in a huge divisional matchup in Week 10. He played just 11 snaps after his costly turnover.
Ryan Tannehill has fallen off in recent weeks, failing to post more than 22 fantasy points in any of his last three games. Part of this has to do with volume — he hasn’t completed more than 18 passes since Week 6.
The Colts have allowed the fewest fantasy points to QBs thus far, so he is nothing more than a high-end QB2 for Week 10.
Tannehill’s drop-off in play has created a trickle-down effect on some of his receivers like Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis. Smith can’t be trusted on his low target volume versus a team that is allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to TEs.
Davis won’t goose egg for two straight weeks, as he still leads the team in target share (27%) over the past three games. Before last week, Davis hadn’t had a game with fewer than 11 fantasy points, so he should bounce back in a decent matchup for WRs.
Indy ranks 10 in fantasy points allowed to all positions except to WRs (18th).
Headline of the game: Which quarterback will make fewer head-scratching mistakes?
The story for both Carson Wentz and Daniel Jones of late has been that neither knows when to give up on a play. That will lead to some truly impressive throws outside of the pocket and in the face of pressure, but it also leads all too often to the interceptions and fumbles that bring into question what the quarterback was thinking.
Wentz has been in a class of his own in 2020 in the turnover-worthy play department, racking up a league-high 23. Jones comes in at 12, but that is still enough to rank tied for sixth-most in the NFL. Both defenses will likely get several turnover opportunities in this game, which will likely come down to which quarterback does a better job of protecting the football.
Our latest simulation gives the Eagles a 72% chance of winning the NFC East, which is still lower than their implied probability of winning at -350 odds. The Giants have the lowest chance in both the current betting market and our simulation, despite squeezing out a win over the Football Team last week.
The Giants have suffered the sixth-biggest decrease in our Elo numbers since Week 1, with questions starting to swirl about Daniel Jones‘ capability as a franchise quarterback. This is a matchup the Giants absolutely have to win if they want to lay to rest those questions. Our predictive models don’t offer much hope, putting their win probability at 36.1%. The Eagles look like they could be the worst team to win a division in quite some time.
For starters, any fantasy football team that needs a DST this week should look no further than this game. Both DSTs are readily available on the waiver wire and are facing extremely turnover-prone quarterbacks.
That being said, Carson Wentz is still a legitimate QB1 option. He has scored over 30 fantasy points in two of his last three games — including once against the New York Giants — and will benefit from the return of Miles Sanders, Alshon Jeffery and potentially guard Isaac Seumalo.
Sterling Shepard is the preferred option among Giants wide receivers. He is a target hog, averaging over nine targets per game since his return in Week 7. That volume is coming at the expense of Darius Slayton, who saw just one target in Week 9. The Giants' No. 1 outside WR has seen just four targets per game since Shepard has been inserted back into the lineup.
Slayton will be tough to trust with Darius Slay covering him on Sunday, and that matchup produced less than stellar results the last time these teams played. He scored just 4.3 fantasy points.
Jalen Reagor saw three end-zone targets and a solid chunk of air yards in his most recent game action, so I would expect him to continue to build off that performance in a matchup that favors him as the team’s No. 2 wideout.
Travis Fulgham will most likely draw the tougher matchup against James Bradberry, which means Reagor would see more of Giants backup cornerback Issac Yiadom. Yiadom has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per route run and the sixth-most yards per route covered.
Headline of the game: The Jaguars’ secondary has little hope of slowing down Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams
We’ve talked week in and week out about the Jaguars’ inability to stop the pass, and they still hold a comfortable margin for worst pass defense in the NFL by expected points added per play. That’s not a good title to hold with Rodgers and Adams coming into town off several dominant performances.
In the past two weeks alone, that duo has combined for 17 completions on 23 targets for 226 yards and four touchdowns. That’s good for a 144.2 passer rating. It would have been nice if the Packers were able to add a talent like Will Fuller V to complement Adams, but it seems unlikely the lack of depth behind him is going to matter in this contest. Expect Green Bay to deliver another impressive offensive performance as Rodgers improves his MVP odds in the process.
The widest spread in Week 10 has actually crossed below the two-touchdown threshold from the open with the Packers now -13.5 at home. Aaron Rodgers is now our top-graded passer and has a league-low four turnover-worthy plays through nine weeks of action.
The market has been pounding the Packers' side, with 88% of the cash and 85% of the tickets going the way of Green Bay. The moneyline percentages are slightly more in favor of the Jaguars but still skew heavily toward the Packers.
No real value is opening up at this wide margin, but our predictive models have a strong lean on the total. This number has also dropped since opening as the second-highest number in Week 10 — it dropped three full points down to 51.5. Greenline sees this as an overcorrection, falling in line with the same thinking that has seen 72% of cash hit the under.
We know that the Green Bay Packers are going to put up points in this game, but it’s just a matter of who will be the main beneficiaries for fantasy.
If Allen Lazard is active in this matchup, he should be started over Marquez Valdes-Scantling despite the latter’s big game in Week 9. MVS has just been too inconsistent all season and only saw four targets.
Meanwhile, Lazard was averaging 17.4 fantasy points per game (14th) and 2.62 yards per route run (12th) during the first three weeks of the season. He should produce against the Jags, who own PFF’s 28th-graded coverage unit.
This would also be a spot to go back to Robert Tonyan, who has a high probability of coming down with TD in this matchup. The Jaguars have allowed the second-most receiving touchdowns to tight ends this season.
James Robinson should be set for a solid rushing day against Green Bay — they’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to RBs this season, though Robinson could be a game-script victim, making him a potential fade in DFS.
The rookie has been spitting pass-game work with Chris Thompson and has been losing out on third-down snaps to the veteran (32 versus 13) in their last three games played together.
D.J. Chark Jr. enjoyed a renaissance with rookie Jake Luton under center, but banking on another 146-yard performance seems like a pipe dream with Jaire Alexander presenting a much tougher challenge than the Houston Texans’ hodge-podge defensive backs.
Per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart, Chark has the most difficult matchup on the week. That tough matchup could open things up for Chris Conley, who saw eight targets filling in for rookie Laviska Sheanult Jr.
Conley is just 3K on DraftKings.
Headline of the game: Can Alex Smith outduel Matthew Stafford in the dome?
A gruesome injury to Kyle Allen at quarterback in Week 9 brought Smith back onto an NFL field. His first taste of action in Week 5 against the Rams wasn’t pretty. He averaged just 2.2 yards per pass attempt, but that number jumped to 10.2 last week against the Giants. Even with Smith’s three interceptions in the game, it was a decidedly better performance for the 36-year old quarterback.
At first glance, it seems highly unlikely that Smith outplays Stafford, but the Lions’ signal-caller has quietly been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season from a PFF grade standpoint. Through nine weeks, his 68.4 PFF grade ranks 26th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks. Against a Washington defense that has played tough this season, Stafford will need to step up his game if Detroit is to come out of this contest with a win.
PFF Greenline will offer guidance on the spread, moneyline and over/under once the betting lines have been posted. Check back with Greenline later in the week!
As PFF’s Ian Hartitz pointed out on Twitter, Antonio Gibson played just 44% of the snaps in Week 9 versus J.D. McKissic’s 84% snap share. This was related to game flow, as the Washington Football Team was playing catch up all afternoon.
It’s no guarantee that Washington jumps out to a big lead against the Lions, but as just 3.5-point road dogs, that hardly screams blowout. Keep it simple and go back to AG this week because Detroit has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs over the past four weeks.
Gibson has had just one touch on third down all year, per Rich Hribar, but lucky for fantasy managers the Lions have been extremely inefficient at stopping running backs on early downs.
In those situations, they have allowed 5.0 yards per attempt (30th), 3.5 yards after contact (32nd) and a 14.5% explosive run rate (27th). They have also faced the second-highest rate of run plays on early downs (51.6%), trailing only Washington’s defense in that regard.
Gibson owns PFF’s fifth-highest rushing grade (84.5) on early downs this season.
Marvin Jones Jr. got lucky with a touchdown reception last week, but all the peripheral numbers project Marvin Hall to have a big game coming. Both Marvins saw five targets, but Hall saw more downfield looks and led the team in air yards.
Jones hasn’t been great in three games without Kenny Golladay aside from the TDs, so he’s someone to consider benching this week against Washington, who has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to WRs.
T.J. Hockenson has seen the biggest uptick in usage without Golladay — 18 targets the last two weeks — and that should prove favorable against a Washington defense that ranks 31st against tight ends in 2020.
Headline of the game: Deshaun Watson deserves some recognition despite the Texans’ 2-6 record
Just because the only team that Houston has beaten this season is the Jaguars shouldn’t diminish how well Watson has played. Heading into Week 10, he ranks second in the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.8), seventh in passer rating (108.7) and sixth in PFF passing grade (82.5).
Watson continues to look like one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL despite a surrounding roster and coaching staff that has let him down repeatedly this season. In many ways, it’s the inverse of the situation we’ve seen in Cleveland, where Baker Mayfield has often been protected by the pieces around him. That sets up an interesting quarterback matchup here in Cleveland in Week 10.
Houston has had to face the third-hardest schedule in the NFL through the first nine weeks of the season while Cleveland has the fourth-easiest remaining schedule, which factors into their 58% implied probability to make the playoffs. Our simulation is closer to 50%, which indicates how important this matchup is for their chances.
The betting market has bought into the Browns to start the week, pushing the near pick ‘em spread out to a field-goal difference. The cash percentage on the Browns’ spread is one of the highest we have for Week 10, with most Houston bettors gravitating towards the moneyline. PFF's predictive model sees some value on this market, but further movement is needed for both the spread and total to open up value.
The Houston Texans have struggled to stop offenses all season long, so firing up Cleveland Browns offensive players is an easy call to make. The Texans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks, so both Kareem Hunt and a presumably healthy Nick Chubb should be started.
Each member of the tandem was a top-15 RB option during the first three weeks of the season and should be viewed as such in this spot.
Jarvis Landry also finds himself in a great situation operating as the team’s pseudo WR1
without Odell Beckham Jr. The Texans have allowed a league-high 144.5 passer rating to slot WRs and Landry has seen a 29% target share over the past three weeks — the fourth-highest mark in the league.
Austin Hooper should also return to fantasy starting lineups against the Texans, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to TEs over the past four weeks.
The Browns also rank 31st in a YAC per reception (9.8) and 30th in yards per target to running backs this season.
In addition to struggling versus RBs, the Browns have also struggled mightily on the back-end to limit wide receiver production. Will Fuller V is a WR1 across most formats, but on DraftKings the better value might be with Brandin Cooks and/or Randall Cobb.
Cooks leads the team in target share (25%) by a fair margin over the past three weeks and Cobb gets a plus-matchup out of the slot. Cleveland has allowed the second-most yards to slot WRs this season.
Headline of the game: The Buccaneers won’t represent the NFC in the Super Bowl if Tom Brady gets hit like he was in Week 9
The dud that Tampa Bay put forth in front of a national audience in Week 9 was the single most surprising outcome of the week. The Buccaneers struggled to get anything going on offense despite having their full cast of offensive weapons, and the Saints’ ability to get to Brady with pressure was a big reason for that. Brady was pressured on 22 of his 41 dropbacks in the game, with 10 of those coming as quarterback hits or sacks.
Tampa Bay clearly missed Ali Marpet — PFF’s highest-graded left guard in the NFL this season. Joe Haeg, his replacement, gave up seven pressures alone in the game against the Saints. That’s as many as Marpet has given up all season. It’s safe to say Tampa Bay is hoping Marpet can clear concussion protocol for this Week 10 game against Carolina.
The market has quickly soured on the Bucs, with this line moving from a 7-point opening down to 4.5. The cash percentage is evenly split, but the tickets are heavily on the Panthers, which indicates a public preference for the home dog. A total of 20 places separate these two teams in our overall Elo rankings, which would set this line closer to the opening than the current spread.
The Buccaneers defense is the third-best unit league-wide, according to our opponent-adjusted grades, but the market is relying heavily on their most recent performance to push this total out three points. The best number could be gone, but PFF Greenline still leans with the market direction, as the over has a higher percentage of the cash than tickets.
It was a Week 9 offensive performance to forget for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who failed to protect their 43-year old quarterback from pressure. Tom Brady was pressured on 53.7% of his dropbacks — the highest among all quarterbacks in Week 9.
It was the first time Brady was pressured on more than 39% of his dropbacks this year, and it was light years ahead of his league-low average heading into Sunday night (21.2%).
Expect Brady and the offense to bounce back big against the Carolina Panthers, who rank 25th in pressure rate (28.1%) this season and were able to pressure Brady on just 14.3% of his dropbacks when these two teams met back in Week 2.
Mike Evans is likely going to be shadowed by Rasul Douglas — like he was in Week 2 — so we could see much bigger games from Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Godwin ruined the Panthers’ defense in 2019 — 21 targets, 18 catches, 272 receiving yards — and Brown led the team in air yards in Week 9 (97).
Mike Davis is only $4,000 on DraftKings this week. If Christian McCaffrey can’t play (not likely) he becomes the free square RB option despite the tough matchup. He sees too much work as a receiver — second in the league in receptions among RBs — and that is where Tampa has been vulnerable.
Their defense has allowed the third-most receptions, fourth-most targets and sixth-most receiving yards to running backs this season. When these teams first squared off, Davis caught eight balls for 74 yards.
Curtis Samuel should also fill-in as a viable WR3 waiver wire option in fantasy lineups based on his recent production, uptick in usage and matchup from the slot. Tampa Bay slot CB Sean Murphy-Bunting has allowed the third-most receiving yards from the slot this season.
Headline of the game: The 2020 quarterback class takes center stage in Miami
The future appears bright for the 2020 quarterback class. Justin Herbert has been outstanding at creating explosive plays for the Chargers’ offense. His nine passing touchdowns on passes 20 or more yards downfield are fewer than only Russell Wilson, and he currently leads the NFL in passer rating under pressure.
Tua Tagovailoa, meanwhile, is now 2-0 as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback after putting together an impressive performance where he averaged 8.9 yards per pass attempt and picked up three first downs with his legs. It should be a treat to watch these two go head-to-head in a matchup that we hopefully see a few more times in the AFC throughout their respective careers.
This rookie quarterback showdown highlights how trendy the Dolphins are becoming in the betting market. The preseason line of a pick ‘em has pushed out to -2.5 for the Dolphins, who are six spots better than the Chargers in our overall Elo rankings. The offensive units are separated by a mere two places in our opponent-adjusted grades, which makes the 26-team separation on the defensive side the lopsided difference in this matchup. However, our defensive rankings haven’t fully caught up to the recent performances from the Miami defense, which is 10th in EPA allowed over the past three weeks.
The total market has dropped a half-point since the open, with 68% of the cash hitting the under. The ticket percentage leans heavily toward the over, which is what we expect to see from the totals market in most matchups. There is little betting value according to PFF Greenline, but any line movement in one of the three markets will open up value.
Tua Tagovailoa saw his first NFL start against a top-three team in preventing fantasy points to quarterbacks and it didn’t go well. His second start was against an average team, and his performance was much better.
Tagovailoa’s 0.63 fantasy points per dropback ranked highest among quarterbacks for Week 9. This week he goes against a Chargers defense that is top four in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game. Los Angeles hasn’t allowed as many passing yards in recent weeks, but they have still allowed two or three passing touchdowns in each of their last three games.
Mike Gesicki might be Tua’s favorite target this week, as he has the best matchup. Gesicki has the third-most targets on the team, but Miami will be without two or three of the other players among the top five in targets. Los Angeles has allowed six different tight ends to score a touchdown.
The Dolphins have some big-name cornerbacks, but they haven’t lived up to their expectations to this point. Miami has given up 1,551 yards to wide receivers this season — sixth-most in the league. This is music to Keenan Allen’s ears, but he won’t be the only one with big-game potential. Mike Williams’ production has elevated in recent weeks — he has caught five passes in three of the last four games for at least 81 yards in each, with three touchdowns in that time.
All of the top wide receiver games against the Dolphins have seen most if not all of the damage come from the outside. That is where Williams almost always lines up. Both wide receivers should play well, but Williams has a chance to be the better of the two wide receivers this week.
Headline of the game: Does the Raiders’ offense make them a legitimate playoff contender?
The question with the Raiders is always whether their defense can step things up, but their offense has been solid for a while now. Las Vegas does a good job of using bunch formations (seventh-highest rate in NFL) and pre-snap motion (third-highest rate in NFL) to create congestion and confusion for opposing defenses, and Derek Carr is one of the best in the NFL at getting the football out accurately to his receivers. His 66% accurate pass rate this season ranks tied for second in the NFL, behind only Drew Brees.
Denver will hope cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan are back for this game, but even with those two playing, it projects as a difficult matchup for the defense. The Raiders will look to ride their offense to a win and a 6-3 record — putting them firmly in the AFC playoff picture.
The Broncos have struggled through the fifth-hardest schedule so far in 2020, but things don’t get any easier, as they have the third-most-difficult remaining schedule. It wasn’t the season most expected for the Broncos, with their playoff chances plummeting to a 6% implied probability. Their EPA per pass attempt mark is the second-worst in the NFL, behind only the Jets. Things have been more positive recently, which is why the current market direction towards the Raiders looks like an overcorrection.
These teams are separated by nine spots in our overall Elo rankings, with both offensive units in the bottom half of the NFL, according to our opponent-adjusted grades. Greenline does see some value on both the spread and total, as fading the market and line movement looks like the correct play in this situation.
Drew Lock has been the king of garbage time over the past two weeks. Of the 49 fantasy points he has scored in those two games, 40 points (82%) have come in the fourth quarter alone. That type of production stinks like Blake Bortles and isn’t bankable on a weekly basis.
The Broncos’ quarterback remains on the streaming radar because he has a great matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, but he is hardly a player worth going all-in on this week. Consider this a slight change of heart on Lock’s outlook after I proclaimed him to be a low-end QB1 target off waivers.
But that doesn’t mean his top pass-catcher should be faded, especially after Jerry Jeudy broke out all over the place in Week 9. The team has moved him to the outside after playing him in the slot to start the year and that has influenced his production.
The Raiders have allowed big plays to outside receivers, ranking third-highest in explosive pass percentage (27.6%) given up to perimeter WRs.
The Raiders have been gashed by RBs this season (fourth-most fantasy points allowed), so MGIII will need to be started because of his usage as pass-catcher. They have faced the third-most targets to running backs this season.
Derek Carr would be my quarterback of choice in this matchup because he’s been much more consistent and also has a great matchup. Denver has faced the fifth-most passing attempts (79) and has allowed an average of 28.3 fantasy points to QBs over the past two weeks.
Carr also averaged 325 passing yards in two games against Denver last year while also posting his highest career PFF passing grade (92.6) against his AFC West rival in 2019.
Headline of the game: Josh Allen and Kyler Murray look to keep their teams in position to win their respective divisions
Through nine weeks, the Bills’ and Cardinals’ offenses rank ninth and fifth, respectively, in expected points added per play. A big reason for those impressive offensive showings has been the improvement from both Allen and Murray at quarterback.
Allen has looked like a different passer this season with an 86.8 PFF grade and much-improved passing numbers across the board. He has done a much better job of consistently giving his receivers a chance at the football. On the other side, Murray’s rushing ability is one of the biggest cheat codes in the NFL right now. He is averaging 4.4 rushing yards before contact this season — easily the best mark in the NFL. He has also been more consistent as a passer, improving his passing grade from 61.1 a season ago to 74.0 in 2020.
This should be a fun matchup between the two as each team jockeys for playoff position in their respective conferences.
Bettors are diving into the Bills as dogs in a matchup where they actually have a better overall Elo ranking. The Bills finally won a showcase game, with the key takeaway being their run-to-pass ratio. This has caused the total market to rocket out from a 48.5 open to the current 56.5, with 92% of the cash and 83% of the tickets on the over.
Allen has a slightly better passing grade in this matchup, with Murray continuing to thrive in the ground attack in 2020. The Cardinals lead the NFL in EPA per rush attempt and rank 14th in EPA per pass attempt. The edge has to go to the Bills in the latter category, however, as they sit fourth overall in EPA per pass attempt, on the back of Allen earning the fifth-best PFF passing grade in the league. Our predictive models have a slight lean on the total but don’t find any value on either the spread or moneyline at the current prices.
DeAndre Hopkins against Tre’Davious White is the matchup to watch when the Cardinals are on offense. White frequently covers the opposition's top wide receiver when they line up on the outside. Hopkins lines up on the outside over 92% of the time, so they will face off nearly every snap. Most signs point to Hopkins getting the best of the matchup.
They last faced off in the Wild Card round last year when Hopkins was still with the Texans. Hopkins caught all four passes thrown to him in White’s coverage for 70 yards and three first downs. White is coming off a game where he allowed 120 receiving yards mostly to D.K. Metcalf and David Moore. Hopkins is coming off his worst game as a Cardinal with three catches for 30 yards. He will certainly see more targets, so I would trust him despite the shadow coverage.
The Bills offense also features a wide receiver/cornerback who looks scary for the offense on paper, but the wide receiver has the advantage. Stefon Diggs should see Patrick Peterson lined up across from him for most of the day. Diggs has remained reliable even when the Bills offense has not been. He leads the league in targets, receptions and yards. The only thing holding him back is his three touchdowns.
While Diggs is having one of the best seasons of his career, Peterson is having his worst since his rookie year. His 383 yards allowed ranks 16th among all cornerbacks. He’s consistently allowing between 38 and 70 receiving yards. The one bright spot on Peterson’s stat line is that he’s only allowed just one touchdown. Diggs will get his targets, catches and yards against Peterson, but a touchdown doesn’t seem likely.
Headline of the game: Can the Saints defense carry over their strong performance against Tampa Bay in Week 9?
The Saints’ talent on defense did not match up with the unit’s results through the early portions of the season. Their troubles largely came down to the fact that they were consistently getting gouged for big plays through the air. No team has allowed more pass plays of 40-plus yards than the Saints this season (nine), and their seven pass interference penalties of 20 or more yards are four more than any other team in the NFL.
Their defense was extremely impressive against the Buccaneers in Week 9, though. Tom Brady was under fire all night from the Saints’ pass rush, and their secondary did a good job of locking up a daunting lineup of receiving options. It will be interesting to see if they are able to continue that kind of play against an undermanned 49ers’ offense with Kyle Shanahan at the helm.
The Saints are currently the trendiest team in the NFL, coming off their Week 9 performance to all but lock in the NFC South division. Betting markets have their division win as a 70.6% implied probability, with our simulation even higher on their chances.
This spread opened as a touchdown but had heavy juice siding with the 49ers before the market was overrun by Saints backers. So far, 82% of the cash and 83% of the tickets have been on the Saints, with similar percentages backing them on the moneyline.
The 49ers should have some semblance of a wide receiver unit in Week 10, which makes monitoring Greenline for potential value in this matchup a worthwhile option.
Saints players that are typically in starting lineups should remain in starting lineups despite the matchup with the 49ers. Alvin Kamara is facing one of the best defenses against running backs, but a bad game for Kamara is still a good game for plenty of other backs.
The 49ers pass defense has been average, making Drew Brees and Michael Thomas safe starts. Jared Cook is the one player to avoid. In five of seven games he has been limited to four or fewer targets. The Saints use a rotation of players at tight end, leading him to be outside the top 20 in pass routes run by a tight end this season and outside the top 40 in total snaps. What’s made him a TE1 in some weeks is his four touchdowns. The only tight ends to score touchdowns against the 49ers have been run-blocking tight ends at the goal line.
The Saints defense is similar to the 49ers in a few ways. Both have been elite at stopping running backs. San Francisco’s running back situation has been ever-changing and will depend a lot on who is healthy this week. Regardless of who can play, this is a situation that should be avoided.
The one difference in the two defenses is that the Saints have given up a lot of fantasy points to tight ends. Not many tight ends have gained a lot of yards against New Orleans, but six different tight ends have scored touchdowns. Jordan Reed returned from injury this past week and played more as the game went on. His 1.91 yards per route run are ninth-best among tight ends. He is an interesting option for an under-the-radar tight end.
Headline of the game: Jalen Ramsey against D.K. Metcalf is about as good as it gets
We’ve seen many teams this season attempt (and fail) to cover Metcalf. The second-year receiver out of Ole Miss hung 106 receiving yards on Xavien Howard, 85 on Stephon Gilmore and 65 on Tre’Davious White this season. Next in line to try to slow him is Ramsey, who has allowed just 79 receiving yards into his coverage since Week 2.
He’s a bigger, physical cornerback who matches up just about as well with Metcalf as any cornerback in the NFL would. Still, Metcalf’s combination of size, speed and general athletic freakiness has made him seem near unguardable this season. We’ll see if the story is any different against Ramsey.
The pick ‘em spread quickly pushed toward the Rams, despite a significant percentage of both the cash and tickets on the Seahawks. The initial line movement could be a reflection of the Seahawks' Week 9 performance, but the appetite to back them still exists from the betting market.
Three places separate these two teams in our overall Elo rankings; the Seahawks sit seventh overall and field the top-ranked offense, while the Rams sit at league average in our offensive rankings but have the second overall defense.
The total market still predicts points, as it pushed out two points from a 53.5 open. This movement is heavily market-driven, as 64% of the cash and 91% of the tickets are on the over.
Several Rams need to be in starting lineups, including Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Seattle has allowed a league-leading 2,236 receiving yards to wide receivers. No other defense is within 300 yards.
Seattle has allowed two players to achieve at least 80 receiving yards in each of the last three games. Both Kupp and Woods rank among the top 24 in fantasy points for receivers this season — they should both move up the list after this game, and there should be enough fantasy points for Goff to put up QB1 numbers, too. Josh Reynolds also has more upside in this game than any other game this season. This doesn’t necessarily mean either of the Rams tight ends will have big games, though. Nineteen different players have racked up 65 or more receiving yards against Seattle this season, but none were tight ends.
The Seahawks’ strengths on offense match up with the Rams’ strengths on defense. Los Angeles has been the second-best team at preventing points to both quarterbacks and wide receivers. This is because the Rams have two of the 16 best cornerbacks by PFF grade in Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey.
The Rams haven’t allowed a wide receiver to hit over 70 yards in the last six weeks. Los Angeles certainly hasn’t faced a wide receiver duo like Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf yet this season, but both wide receivers should be slowed down compared to recent weeks. The one area of weakness Los Angeles has is stopping tight ends. I wouldn’t recommend trusting any of the Seahawks there, but if you want to gamble on someone choose Jacob Hollister.
Hollister led the Seahawks tight ends in routes run for the first-time last week. That resulted in five catches for 60 yards and the highest receiving grade for a Seahawks tight end this season.
Headline of the game: The Bengals’ offensive line will receive its toughest test of the season
The Steelers came out surprisingly flat against Garrett Gilbert and the Cowboys in Week 9. They were still able to generate pressure on 43% of their pass-rushing snaps, though. This has been the NFL’s best pass rush throughout the 2020 NFL season, and that’s not something the Bengals are keen on seeing given how their offensive line has performed this year.
Collectively, Cincinnati has a 59.6 pass-blocking grade from its offensive line — 27th in the NFL. The Bengals had the bye week for some of those injuries up front to heal up, but it’s still a group with a lot of questions. Joe Burrow’s 60 combined sacks and hits this season are proof of that. Expect that total to spike again here in Week 10.
No team has gained more Elo points in 2020 than the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are the last remaining undefeated team, despite a less-than-impressive performance against the Cowboys' fourth-string quarterback. This doesn't inspire much confidence from the betting market, with the opening 11.5-point spread crashing down to settle at -7.5 or -7 with juice.
Joe Burrow could be slightly overvalued by the betting market, with 76% of the cash and 82% of the tickets on the Bengals. The movement could be related to Ben Roethlisberger going on the Covid-19 list, but he could still play in Week 10 if he tests negative for five straight days. PFF Greenline currently has Mason Rudolph as the projected starter, but with no line available at most books, this is a wait-and-see situation until we get closer to kickoff.
The Steelers have been elite at stopping quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends all season. Even if Joe Mixon is ready to go, it might be good to sit him. The weak point of the Steelers' great defense facing wide receivers. Over the last five weeks in the NFL, only nine different receivers have gained 150 or more yards in a game — two were against the Steelers. Eleven different wide receivers have scored at least one touchdown against them.
All three of the Pittsburgh starting cornerbacks have allowed 245 receiving yards or more, so there isn’t a particular matchup to take advantage of. Each of the Bengals three starting wide receivers has over 50 targets on the season, while no one else on the roster has more than 30. Any one of them could have a big game, potentially more than one.
The Bengals defense has been below average and shouldn’t stop anyone from starting their usual Steelers. That assumes Ben Roethlisberger is cleared to play after hitting the Covid-19 list after a “close contact.”
Eric Ebron is the one player most likely to far exceed his usual production. Teammate Vance McDonald has tested positive for Covid, so he is unlikely to play. The Steelers have not given a snap to any other tight end, so Ebron could play 100% of offensive snaps. The Bengals have given up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. They’ve allowed 545 receiving yards to tight ends (third-most), and their six touchdowns allowed to tight ends is tied for sixth-most.
Ebron is the TE8 over the last five weeks. His 20 receptions are fifth-most in that time. Ebron has top-five tight end potential with more playing time against a favorable defense.
Headline of the game: The Ravens need to get their offense back on track to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender
The Ravens had the most efficient offense in the NFL in 2019 by expected points added per play. Through nine weeks this season, they’ve fallen all the way to the 25th-most efficient offense in the NFL, with teams such as the Patriots and injury-riddled Cowboys as company.
The passing offense has been the big culprit in that decline. Lamar Jackson has seen his passing grade fall from 82.5 in 2019 to 72.7 in 2020, already producing more turnover-worthy plays than he did all of last year. He’s also inviting more pressure on himself. Jackson has been responsible for a league-high 12 sacks thus far in 2020. The Ravens need both him and the rest of this offense to return to the form we saw in 2019 for them to seriously contend against the top teams in the AFC.
The Patriots' rally to win on Monday Night Football paused the market movement toward the Ravens. There are some rogue hooks added to the touchdown spread but significant juice has been applied to the Patriots in these situations.
The Ravens have moved back into the No. 2 overall spot in our Elo rankings, with the Patriots slightly below league average. None of the offensive or defensive units have been all that impressive so far, but the Patriots' defense is the only unit to fall outside of the top 10 in either category.
The 43.5-point total is the lowest number offered in Week 10, but it actually opened 2.5 points lower. There is value on all three betting markets, which makes it the perfect island game for Sunday Night Football.
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has underperformed compared to expectations. He was the consensus TE3 heading into the season but has been TE8 to this point. He had 70 or more receiving yards in five games last season but has yet to hit 60 yards in a game this year — most of his fantasy value comes from the five touchdowns he scored early in the season. He’s been especially bad over the past three weeks, averaging 25 yards on 2.7 catches with no touchdowns.
The Patriots allowed OK games out of Travis Kelce and George Kittle. New England’s defense averaged 27.3 yards and 2.3 catches out of tight ends in the other six games. Andrews is unlikely to score a touchdown, so the trends of recent games out of both Andrews and the Patriots defense should continue.
The Patriots running backs should also be avoided. Half of the teams to face Baltimore couldn’t produce more than 70 rushing yards as a team. Five backs have individually hit over 50 yards, but none of them scored a touchdown.
That would be a problem if we knew exactly what to expect out of the Patriots backfield. Unfortunately, we do not. Damien Harris left the Patriots Monday night game late with a chest injury, and his status is in question. Sony Michel could be coming back from injury. We have yet to see both of them active in the same game, and either one could see a reduced role if they do play, since neither is 100% healthy. Instead of trying to figure it out, it is better to just avoid this situation altogether.
Headline of the game: Can the Vikings continue to be efficient offensively against a good Chicago defense?
It was a slow start to the season for Minnesota, but the team’s offense is starting to come together. Kirk Cousins ranks 10th in PFF grade at quarterback, and Dalvin Cook has more rushing yards after contact (602) than every other running back not named Derrick Henry has overall.
If you look at the Vikings’ recent schedule, it’s not necessarily filled with defensive juggernauts, though. Teams such as Tennessee, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta and Green Bay aren’t offering a whole lot of resistance. For all the team’s faults offensively, the Bears’ defense is still one of the better groups in the NFL, ranking fifth overall in expected points added per play allowed. It will be a good test under the lights on Monday Night Football to see just where this Minnesota offense is at.
The spread quickly reversed off of the -1 opening number to make the Vikings 2.5-point road favorites. Only three places separate these two teams in our overall Elo rankings, but the Vikings have a far superior offense at sixth overall. The Bears are one of only seven teams to have a negative EPA on both pass and rush attempts, which explains why this total is the third-lowest of Week 10.
The Vikings are not listed in the make playoffs bet on FanDuel, but our simulation has them with a 20% chance. They have to win this matchup, which could explain some of the betting sentiment for them this week. Greenline does offer a play on the ever-changing spread, which could be a bet to lock-in early in the week.
The Bears should be passing early and often against the Vikings secondary. David Montgomery has been their every-down running back, but he suffered a concussion this past week and could miss this game. At the very least, he will miss practice time. Minnesota is tied for the league lead in touchdowns allowed to wide receivers at 16. Allen Robinson II has the second most targets on the season and should see plenty of opportunities for big plays.
Rookie Darnell Mooney could also finally break out — he’s been the clear second receiving option for the Bears since Week 4. His 40 targets in that time rank 16th among all wide receivers and second-most on the team. He will again see plenty of targets and could connect with Nick Foles on a big play or two.
The Vikings receivers have an interesting matchup against the Bears secondary. Chicago has allowed the third-fewest points to wide receivers this season. Their secondary has one area of weakness in the slot with Buster Skrine — he has allowed the second-most receiving yards from the slot this season. The Vikings primary slot receiver is Chad Beebe, but Justin Jefferson has also played significantly in the slot and experienced success.
Jefferson has the most yards per route run from the slot at 3.53 among players with at least 75 slot routes run. Minnesota could use Jefferson more in the slot this week to avoid that matchup. Chicago has not used shadow coverage at all this season, so the Vikings will be able to form whatever matchups they want.