This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
Gurley Regression Coming?
St. Louis has scored just seven offensive touchdowns in four games since their Week 6 bye, and five have been scored by Todd Gurley (hat tip to Mike Clay). Also, since Gurley took over as starter in Week 5, St. Louis has only scored on 25.8% of their possessions (31st in the NFL) and only have a touchdown on 12.1% of those possessions (hat tip Rich Hribar).
In a tough rushing matchup like Baltimore, is it best advised to look elsewhere at running back?
Phil Alexander: I'm off Gurley in cash games for sure. The 61 rushing yards Baltimore allowed to T.J. Yeldon last week were the most by any visiting running back against the Ravens this season. When you factor in Gurley's $6,250 price tag (RB3) and the very real possibility Case Keenum burns the Rams offense all the way to the ground, there are plenty of safer running back options. If you're looking to spend up, Devonta Freeman ($6,300) is in a great spot this week. Lamar Miller ($5,400), Marshawn Lynch ($5,100) DeMarco Murray ($5,000), and Charcandrick West ($4,950) are solid upper-mid priced plays. Then there's Jonathan Stewart ($4,700) who has a plus matchup and might be the best dollar per touch value at the position.
Jeff Pasquino: I happen to like Gurley in general but not at this price point. At $6,250, you need him to get 19 points for the 3x cash value mark. That sounds pretty rough at this price point. Only Chris Johnson in Week 7 broke that barrier (18-122-1 rushing, 21.2 points) against Baltimore. So we have nine games of data here that says that Baltimore is not going to give up 19 points to pretty much any back, even a stud like Gurley. His price is just too darn high. I'm going to be looking at backs in the $4,000-$5,000 range.
Dan Hindery: I’m with Jeff in passing on Gurley this week. Baltimore is tough against the run against everyone and will be especially difficult to run against this week with so little threat from the passing game. They are likely to stack the box to try to take Gurley away and force Keenum to beat them. With a team total of approximately 19, it makes sense to fade the entire Rams offense this week.
Unless you really love Freeman, there’s no need to pay more than $5,100 at running back this week. There is so much value at running back this week, I’d be looking to roster four of them. Darren McFadden ($4,850), Stewart ($4,700), West ($4,950), Lynch ($5,100), and Murray ($5,000) look like especially strong plays. Each projects for at least 20 touches and bring a nice combination of high floor and real upside.
John Mamula: I agree with Phil, Jeff, and Dan. I would not advise playing Gurley in cash games at his current FantasyAces salary of $6,250. The Rams offense has struggled all season with Nick Foles at quarterback. They are by far the worst team in the league on third down percentage at 24.3% this season. To put that into perspective, the second-lowest team is the 49ers at 35%. I don't see the quarterback change to Keenum helping anyone on the offense. They are ranked second-worst in the league with 18.4 points per game and 309.6 total yards per game. Much of Gurley's production came via long runs. Gurley has seven rushes for 20 or more yards this season. Without some of those long runs, Gurley's rushing totals come a bit down to earth.
Dan gave some good RB alternatives with McFadden, Stewart, and West. I like McFadden best of the bunch, but I would target any of those RBs over Gurley this week on FantasyAces.
BJ VanderWoude: It is tough for me to pay up for Gurley when he is nearly identical in price to Freeman ($6,250 to Freeman's $6,300 ). If I am spend on one of them, it is certainly going to be the one with an advantageous match up and whose offense is projected to score 28 points (Falcons), as opposed to the Rams who are projected at nearly ten points fewer. Throw in the fact that Gurley is going to have to depend on Keenum's arm to prevent Baltimore from stacking their defensive front, and it is the perfect week to fade Gurley and find yourself some much better points-per-dollar options.
As others have mentioned, McFadden and West face off against two of the worst rush defenses in the NFL and come at a much cheaper salary.
Tony Romo is slated to return in Week 11 against a very poor Miami defense. Are you interested in rostering him? If not him, how much does it make you open to the Dallas offensive weapons such as Darren McFadden, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten?
Phil Alexander: I'm a little leery of the rust factor, but the matchup warrants building a few GPP lineups around Romo. I expect Romo to boost the fantasy production of all Dallas skill position players the same way Ben Roethlisberger's return did for the Steelers. With Romo on the field, there will be more first downs and more trips to the red zone, resulting in more opportunities to score fantasy points for the team's running backs and wide receivers. Bryant is the primary beneficiary for me, especially this week. Miami entered last week's game against the Eagles ranked dead last at defending opposing WR1s according to Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA metrics.
Jeff Pasquino: Here's how I think this game goes: Dallas will win but not because of Romo. The Cowboys have a good offensive line, and Miami is 31st against the run. That tells me all I need to know, and how Dallas should attack the Miami defense. Run. The. Ball. McFadden and company will run 25+ times and take the pressure off of Romo, who will take a few shots with play action but he should not be asked to win them the game. Witten ($4,350) will have decent value as well, as Miami is in the bottom 10 against tight ends this year. Bryant has GPP appeal at $5,300, but he would need to find the end zone for a cash game value, and that is a bit much to count on in Romo's return.
Dan Hindery: I’m with Jeff completely on this one. Romo’s return makes McFadden arguably the top value overall on FantasyAces this weekend. Miami is going to have to respect Romo and the deep threat that Bryant provides on the outside. That should allow McFadden to have a big game without having to worry about running into a stacked box. Romo also does a great job of keeping plays alive and then finding his check-down options, which also bodes well for McFadden’s fantasy prospects.
Weather could also be a major factor with storms expected in Florida this weekend. So that will be worth keeping an eye on for anyone considering playing Romo.
Phil Alexander: The more I've thought about it, I have to agree with you guys on McFadden. The Cowboys have a way they want to win, and it involves running the ball and keeping the opposing offense off the field. I have McFadden projected for more touches than any other running back this week (actually I have him tied with Devonta Freeman), which makes him the best dollar per touch value at the position. As Dan alluded to, defenses will no longer be able to stack the box on McFadden, which will increase his efficiency. He'll also benefit from more scoring opportunities. He'll be a mainstay in my lineups on all DFS sites this week.
BJ VanderWoude: Very well said guys. I think Romo will have some rust in the first half of Sunday's game, but I don't expect it to last too long. The offense has been flat, so the Dallas coaching staff cannot afford to hold him back with respect to opening up the playbook. Romo also has the benefit of playing against a generous Miami secondary that is tied for the sixth-most passing touchdowns allowed (17) while only generating seven interceptions. Romo should have a reasonable margin for error in the event there is some prolonged rust.
Cash game wise, McFadden is excellent value. He's averaging (26.5) touches over the last four games, but the value of those touches increases with Romo's return. He won't have to worry about stacked defensive fronts, and his red zone opportunities should increase as well. He had a down game last week, which has kept his price in check, so he makes for an interesting GPP option. Given last week's performance and the multitude of options at running back this week, McFadden should be fairly low owned in comparison to other running backs in his price range (Charcandrick West, Latavius Murray, DeMarco Murray).
Bryant looks to be the biggest beneficiary, but I think Witten is the guy who will have a monster game. Romo is a rhythm passer, and there is no easier way to get into sync than short, high percentage passes, which should mean a high volume of targets for Witten. This is not a knock on Bryant as he should also see his fair share of passes, but for the price, Witten will be my preferred option.
John Mamula: I would not have believed it at the beginning of the season, but at this point I agree 100% on McFadden. I would temper my expectations with Romo with his first game back. The Dolphins passing defense has been middle of the pack this season allowing 254.7 passing yards per game. The Dolphins rushing defense has regressed over the past month, and they now rank as the second-worst rush defense in the league allowing 135.6 rushing yards per game. This sets up to be a McFadden game more than a Romo breakout. McFadden is a great play in cash games or GPP tournaments on FantasyAces this week. He is the only Cowboys player that I am targeting this week.
Denver Minus Manning
Phil Alexander: Thomas is easily the Denver player I'm most interested in. Osweiler didn't look like a world beater, but he was better than an injured Manning. We've seen inexperienced quarterbacks funnel targets to their top wide receiver plenty of times in the past, and 30% of Osweiler's attempts were aimed at Thomas last week. It shouldn't surprise anyone if Thomas has a big game against the Bears lousy cornerbacks.
I'll have a hard time trusting Sanders' health even if he suits up this week. He was the definition of a game-time decision last week with an ankle injury and had to leave the game in the third quarter after taking a big hit. While Sanders reportedly didn't suffer a concussion, there's still definite cause for concern. Between the injury and uncertainty surrounding Osweiler I'm fading him in all formats.
Jeff Pasquino: Generally speaking, FantasyAces has tight pricing, so you do need to find value wherever possible. This week, lots of second string quarterbacks will be starting, so this is the area to look for some value. I think that Osweiler has enough talent and enough intelligence to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. For that reason alone I like both Thomas and Sanders to have solid games. Osweiler has a strong arm but all he really needs to do is get Thomas the ball either in stride or in space, and Detroit can be beaten through the air.
John Mamula: I envision Thomas having a strong Week 11. Thomas has been consistently targeted all season with a minimum of seven targets since Week 5. He is the focal point of the Broncos offense even though he has only one touchdown on the season. He is severely due for some positive regression with touchdowns. I am not as bullish on Sanders due to the injuries that are starting to build up for him. He is working through ankle and finger injuries and took a big hit last week and had to be evaluated for a concussion.
Alexander: I'm done trying to figure out the Denver backfield. Anderson looks like the better running back to me by a pretty wide margin at this juncture, but Gary Kubiak doesn't seem to agree. Anderson only saw two carries last week, while Hillman ran for just 3.8 yards per attempt on 11 carries and salvaged his day with a garbage time touchdown. We're looking at an even timeshare in what's been a low-yield running game, which caps the fantasy floors and ceilings of both backs. If fading the Denver backfield is the reason I don't win money this week, so be it.
Pasquino: On the ground, I trust neither Hillman nor Anderson, who are both about the same price ($4,600 vs. $4,450). You need 14 points from one of these guys, but given how little Todd Gurley could do last week after his first drive against the Bears, I will also be looking elsewhere for running back value. I foresee Chicago stacking the box and begging Osweiler to throw deep.
Mamula: As for as the Broncos running backs, I do not trust Hillman or Anderson. The Broncos offense has struggled this season mainly due to poor play from their offensive line. The Broncos have shifted players throughout their offensive line all season. That's not exactly a recipe for continuity and success. Unless something drastic changes, I don't think I will have any interest in the Broncos running game the rest of this season.
Lastly, is Osweiler himself worth a start as a "punt play" type?
Alexander: On a two quarterback site like Fantasy Aces, I do think Osweiler is a worthy punt play. He's the second-lowest priced starting quarterback on the slate, and I'm pretty confident he won't be the second-lowest scorer at the position. There's profit built into his price, and he's matched up with a Chicago team that can be beaten through the air.
Pasquino: Osweiler is a good value, as the Chicago cornerbacks are not among the league's best. I could see an Osweiler-Thomas stack paying off nicely.
Mamula: Osweiler has value in GPP tournaments this week as the second-least expensive quarterback this week. However, I recommend taking a "wait and see" approach with everyone on the Broncos offense, other than Thomas, this week.
Avoid Defenses After Byes?
In Week 10, some defenses performed well against opponents that looked to have a significant matchup advantage. This included Baltimore holding Jacksonville's passing game relatively in check, Detroit keeping Green Bay to a modest performance, and Kansas City shutting down Denver. Is using a D/ST coming off a bye week a viable strategy?
Jeff Pasquino: Byes are nearly over, but this is an interesting observation. With four teams coming off the bye this week (SF, IND, ATL, and SD), two of them (Colts and Falcons) play each other. I see the Falcons tearing into the Colts in a "get right" game, so scratch Indianapolis off the list. The Falcons, however, are a decent option with no Andrew Luck for Indianapolis. San Francisco returns to action against Seattle, but they are still terrible no matter how much rest they get. San Diego has been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball, and the Chiefs are ripe to build off of their win in Denver to get another "W" in the AFC West. I don't trust any of these defenses, but if you pick one, Atlanta is the right one to choose.
Looking forwards, I'm not taking any of the defenses off this week (PIT, NO, CLE, NYG) in Week 12 either. All of these defenses have been suspect all year long, especially against the pass, and if anything I'll be targeting the offensive players against them next week.
John Mamula: This is an interesting question. We have enough of a sample size to determine which defenses are strong vs. the run or the pass at this point. In certain situations, teams could game plan to help cover up their weaknesses. But by this point of the season, these weaknesses exist whether from poor play or from injury. In Week 9, Washington held New England under their projected team total due mainly to the lack of a fight. New England didn't have the urgency to have to keep up their scoring. Washington had three total points until the fourth quarter.
BJ VanderWoude: As Phil mentioned, there is always going to be an advantage when you have an extra week to rest players, heal injures and most importantly, game plan against a specific opponent. With that said, the only real surprising matchup from last week was Detroit beating Green Bay, and Aaron Rodgers still threw for 333 yards (80 more yards than his yearly average) and two touchdowns. Kansas City played Denver tough the first time around, and Peyton Manning would have thrown three interceptions against a college defense. Blake Bortles and company are a talented group, but they are young and still prone to bad games (week 7 against Buffalo).
This week is not one where bye weeks will influence my decision making, but I would certainly consider it as a tie-breaker moving forward. Defense might be the most difficult position to project, so if you are able to move the needle even a little in your favor by using bye weeks as an indication of above-average performance, it is worth consideration.
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