The NFL Game Breakdown this week comes on the heels of one of the best football days of the year, Thanksgiving. Despite the trio of Thursday games in Week 12, there’s still 13 more on Sunday and Monday – let’s analyze them all in this week’s NFL Game Breakdown.
Raiders @ Titans
Point Total: 44
Spread: Raiders -1.5
The Titans defense has been strong against the pass all season allowing only one QB to throw for more than 300 yards and 3 TDs versus in game against them. Part of the reason for the low QB totals has been that the Titans have been one of the slowest paced teams on offense all year while also ranking in the top half of the league in time of possession. Teams have had limited chances to score versus TENN making big games harder to come by. Derek Carr hasn’t been great in his last couple for games and really struggled with an average Lions secondary last week. While there’s some talent on the Raiders this game isn’t one I’m particularly fond of for fantasy and would leave Carr and most of the Raiders players to tournaments only this weekend.
Here’s how Carr’s passing targets have been distributed over the last couple of weeks to his top WRs:
Amari Cooper was awful for fantasy last weekend as he got completely shut down by emerging shutdown CB Darius Slay. The Titans have been solid versus WRs for most of the season but it does appear as if Michael Crabtree will again have an exploitable matchup versus CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson who’s been up and down all season and has given up some big games to bigger name WRs. I love the way Crabtree’s played in 2015 and the fact he’s turned into the Raiders most reliable passing weapon is great for fantasy. He’d be my choice to target from this passing game at WR as he’s still $400 cheaper than Cooper who will also have a tougher matchup versus Perrish Cox. Consider Crabtree for tournaments this weekend.
Given the Raiders recent struggles on offense and the fact the Titans have one of the most underrated run defenses and front 7’s in the league I’d just avoid using Latavius Murray this week. Murray’s suffered lately as the Oakland offense has struggled and I don’t see this game as being a particularly good spot for him to get going. There’s simply cheaper RBs in much better spots week 12.
The Raiders defense has struggled at times this year, and they’ve allowed a lot of points to QBs and receivers. The Titans have started using Marcus Mariota as a runner more lately as he’s now up to 5 carries in each of his last two games and scored on a brilliant 20 yard run last week versus the Jags. The talent is there with Mariota to be a duel threat and I personally like the way the new coaching staff has been letting him open up more with his legs. I think price wise you could consider him in this matchup ($5500) as the Raiders have allowed multiple big days to QBs so far this year. He’d be more of a tournament option but has some big game upside in this matchup.
The other player’s I’d definitely give some consideration to this week from TENN are Delanie Walker and Kendall Wright. Wright is returning form a multi-week absence but has a great matchup this week against DJ Hayden who’s really been one of worst corners, coverage-wise, all season. While I don’t trust Wright enough to throw him in 50/50’s I would target him as a value play in tournaments. Starting in preseason Mariota and Wright had a nice connection and this game could easily see the duo get back on track… The other play I’d consider from TENN’s offense would of course be Delanie Walker. Walker’s really been the Titans main receiver all season and leads them pretty much every category at the moment receiving wise. While I hate the price increase ($5400) I do think you’re getting one of safer options at this position as Walker is more than capable of taking advantage of this weaker coverage group. I like other options like Jordan Reed better but would still consider Walker as a play this week.
Gameflow: This game isn’t super appealing to me personally for fantasy but there’s potential for a couple players to have decent to big games. TENN’s defense has been solid but there’s still potential for Carr/Crabtree to get back on track here. I think ultimately the Raiders are still the better overall team, and while I’m tempted to take the Titans, I’ll say the Raiders get their act together and take a close game. This might be an ugly one between two teams who have trouble closing.
Raiders 23 Titans 20
- Michael Crabtree $6400
- Delanie Walker $5400
- Kendall Wright $4400
- Marcus Mariota $5500
Chargers @ Jaguars
Point Total: 46.5
Spread: Jaguars -3.5
The Chargers have been decimated on both sides of the ball due to injury but their defense particularly has struggled of late and been brutal against the run all season. The Jags TJ Yeldon isn’t an explosive back but he’s actually been pretty consistent in his rookie season and most importantly is playing a ton of snaps (over 85% most weeks). At $4800 this week he has a dream matchup and will probably see a lot of snaps once again after a longer than usual week of rest. While I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend Jacksonville players there’s not much not to like about Yeldon this week and he represents a great value option at RB if you’re plan is to fit in as many high priced WRs as possible… As for QB Blake Bortles he’s now had a couple quiet fantasy games in a row but should be in a good bounce back spot here. My issue with Bortles is that the Chargers are so easy to run against he may have a semi-quiet game again. Still he’s definitely still someone to consider this week and a good tournament target at only $5900… a shootout here is possible.
Here’s the targets for the Jags receivers from their last two games:
Allen Robinson has seen a big price increase this week to $7300. He’ll see the Chargers best CB Jason Verrett in coverage in all likelihood and but the matchup doesn’t necessarily scare me much. Robinson has produced against tough corners all season and even though he’s now being priced like an elite receiver I think he’s got the same or better upside as many of the WRs in his price range. Robinson has been alarming consistent all season and actually has five games of 20 fantasy points or more on DK for the year. For me he’s easily the most talented receiver of this group and in a game against a team who gives up a ton of points he could easily pay off his enlarged salary, he’d be my main target for fantasy from this group of Jags receivers.
San Diego’s offense has been slowed the past couple of games and it is possible that injuries have finally slowed down the Phillip Rivers pass happy mystery tour that was occurring in the first half of the season. However the Jaguars secondary still leaves a lot to be desired in coverage and has allowed 6 games of at least 270 yards and at least 2 TDs to QBs this season. With the fact that San Diego has no running game and the Jags are actually quite stout against the run expect to see Phillip Rivers air the ball out 40+ again and return to his pre week 9 form which saw him post multiple games of 25+ fantasy points. I like Rivers as a target at QB this weekend and would consider him as a play in all formats.
As for the Chargers receiving options there’s a ton of options to consider. Before last week the Jags had been terrible at covering WR’s allowing 7 TDs in four games to the position. Stevie Johnson, who led the Chargers in targets over the past two games, is in a nice spot to post a decent game and at $4500 is a great value play… As for Dontrelle Inman and Javontree Herndon, the other two San Diego receivers who both played a ton of snaps last week, I would not be shocked if one or both had big games in this spot too. Herndon had a better game last week, but the athletic Inman has a better matchup against Jags CB Dwayne Gratz and a better chance at a big game as he’s been playing more in two and three WR sets than Herndon. If I was looking for a min-priced play at WR this week Inman at $3000 would probably be my pick… As for TE Antonio Gates he’s still dealing with multiple injuries (hip, knee) and isn’t even sure if he’s going to play in week 12. If he misses Ladarius Green could be a big play too at only $3000 as the Jags have allowed 2 TDs and 23 receptions to TE’s over their last two games.
Finally, as far as RBs go the Chargers continue to give Melvin Gordon snaps, regardless of how poorly he produces. Gordon has averaged 15 carries over his last three games but well under 3 ypc. That unfortunately means Danny Woodhead still isn’t seeing a ton of snaps. Woodhead could be a useful fantasy play as I expect the Chargers to eventually have to throw more at some point in this game but you’d be risking him giving you a dud if he doesn’t get in the end zone at least once. Woodhead’s got upside but would be a risky tournament option only week 12, the volume and snaps just aren’t there.
Gameflow: This game has a lot to consider for fantasy. These are two teams with big holes on defense and the personnel to take advantage on offense. The fact the Jaguars barely beat the Titans last week doesn’t impress me one bit and I think Phillip Rivers can succeed where TENN failed and pull a win out on the road versus a still weak Jags team. I’m taking the upset here and the better QB to prevail in a probably fun fantasy game.
Chargers 27 Jaguars 24
- Philip Rivers $6700
- Stevie Johnson $4500
- TJ Yeldon $4800
- Allen Robinson $7300
- Dontrelle Inman $3000
- Blake Bortles $5900
Rams @ Bengals
Point Total: 42
Spread: Bengals -9
Andy Dalton had a nice bounce back game last weekend in a loss to the Cardinals but gets a tough test versus the Rams who, even in two straight losses, have been pretty stout versus the pass. Through 10 games the Rams as a D have only allowed 9 passing TDs and are still 5th in the league in sacks making this not the best matchup for Dalton from a fantasy perspective. With the point total being so low I’d just as soon look elsewhere for better matchups and will likely be avoiding Dalton in week 12.
Here’s how the Bengal’s receiving targets have borne out the past two weeks:
I love the fact that Gio Bernard is getting more involved in the passing game of late. Bernard’s now averaged 9 targets and over 18 fantasy points in his last two games and could easily be in for another big performance this week. The Rams have given up the 4th most receiving yards to RBs in the entire league so far in 2015 and with Gio’s price ($4500) still hovering well below 5k after his big game versus ARZ he’s one of the best values at the RB position week 12. He’s in play for me in all formats… At TE Tyler Eifert now has 5 TDs in his last three games but is averaging under 6 targets in that same span. The Rams haven’t been great against the TE of late but the small usage means he’s likely due for a bit of regression in the TD scoring area and at a pricy $5800 he’s someone I’ll avoid week 12.
At WR for the Bengals AJ Green has been pretty disappointing in his last 3 games, averaging right around 10 fantasy points in that span. While the matchups for Green have been tougher of late it’s been interesting to note that he’s also been sharing targets with Marvin Jones who has 20 targets of his own over his last two games. With the Rams only allowing 1 TD to WRs over the last 5 weeks of play there honestly doesn’t appear to be much upside for either man this week. At $4200 Jones is at least a consideration as his targeting has been very solid and his price continues to be extremely cheap.
As for the Rams they continue to be a complete avoid for me outside of their star RB Todd Gurley. With the Rams O-line issues and complete lack of a passing attack Gurley has been somewhat shutdown in his last 3 games and unfortunately with Case Keenum likely to be back starting for the Rams in week 12 I’m not hugely optimistic on anything changing on that front against a pretty solid Bengals defense. Keenum got knocked cold last week after getting hit in a passing play, and with the Bengals inside the top ten in the league in sacks Geno Atkins and crew could have a massive day here. I’m personally avoiding the entire Rams offense this week and will be heavily considering the Bengals as one of my main D’s for fantasy. At home this is a great spot for them to post a big game.
Gameflow: The Rams have essentially blown their season the past couple weeks with some weak efforts. Starting Case Keenum at QB is not the answer (we found that out last week) and against an angry Bengals squad who needs a win to get back on track, I don’t see much hope here for the Rams. I see the Bengals winning and possibly in a big way.
Bengals 27 Rams 10
- Bengals D $3000
- Gio Bernard $4500
- Marvin Jones $4200
Buccaneers @ Colts
Point Total: 47
Spread: Colts -3
The Colts haven’t had a 100 yard receiver in any of Matt Hasselbeck’s three games he’s started at QB. However even with Matt Hasselbeck at QB there’s some upside for the Colt’s WRs this week as the Bucs as a team have given up at least one TD to a WR in every game but one this season. Hasselbeck’s targets from last week’s game looked like this: Moncrief 7, Fleener 4, Hilton 4. While I do think both TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief make for interesting tournament targets this weekend the player I might be most interested in from this group is TE Coby Fleener. The Eagles TEs combined for 9 rec. and 91 yards last week versus Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense which has traditionally been poor in defending the TE. Fleener has seen a bump in usage with Matt Hasselbeck and had a game with 10 rec. earlier in the year with him at QB. I love Fleener as a cheap TE play this week and would consider him a great target for tournaments if you need a cheap flex too.
The Buccaneers have been great at stopping the run of late allowing zero rushing TDs in their last 7 games while also allowing no RB to gain more than 88 yards on the ground against them since week 3. Frank Gore looked to pull up lame at the end of last week’s game and is questionable as of writing for this contest. If he were to miss I’d definitely be interested in Ahmad Bradshaw this week who’s looked like his normal explosive self since rejoining the Colts a couple weeks ago. Indy RBs caught 9 passes last week as the Colts went conservative in the pass game without Luck playing. At $3600 Bradshaw would be a potentially massive play if Gore sat but might even be a consideration if he doesn’t. Either way he’s squarely on my list of RBs under 4k in salary this week, and a great option if you need a cheap RB.
The Buccaneers Jameis Winston had himself a day versus the Philadelphia Eagles last week but it’s probably not a great idea to chase the points here. On top of having numerous INTs flat out dropped last weekend Winston and the Bucs just aren’t passing it much and have run the fourth highest percentage of run plays in the entire league through 11 weeks. While the Colts have been much improved versus the run the past couple of games I’d still expect the Bucs to go run heavy again and would expect to see a ton of Doug Martin in this game. Martin only played on 64% of the snaps last week but still compiled 235 yards on 27 carries. Martin was incredibly unlucky not to score last week but could easily remedy that in another nice matchup in week 12. Martin’s a tournament target for me in this game as I think the improved play of the Bucs in general will set him up for another big performance.
Here’s the distribution of passing targets from the Bucs team over the past two weeks of play:
As predicted, the return of Vincent Jackson severely cut into the production of Mike Evans as he failed to hit double targets for the first time in 4 weeks. With Vontae Davis (who admittedly hasn’t great this year) set to cover Mike Evans I might consider Vincent Jackson as a target in this spot. Jackson’s had a couple big games with Winston as his QB already and is $2700 cheaper than Evans at only $4700. Jackson may be getting up there in age but he’s still got a ton of ability and has already put up a 30+ point game this season. Of all the Bucs receiving core he’d definitely be the one I’d be most interested in come Sunday and his price alone would allow me to consider him in all formats.
Gameflow: This is a pretty interesting game between two suddenly competitive teams. The Bucs have been on a nice run lately and while I’m still skeptical long term, Jameis Winston looked better than he has all season last week. Still, the Colts have also raised their level of play and have now taken down a couple playoff teams in their last two games. This week, at home, I just think it’s asking too much to for the Bucs to overcome a suddenly solid Colts team. I see a close game but ultimately a Colts win.
Colts 24 Bucs 23
- Coby Fleener $3000
- Vincent Jackson $4700
- Ahmad Bradshaw $3600 (downgrade if Gore plays)
- Doug Martin $5800