WEEK 14 PREPARATION
7 THOUGHTS WORTH THINKING
Some people may disagree with these thoughts and that's fine. I like to follow stats, trends and matchups. These thoughts are based on those observations.
1. Highly consider Alex Smith this week- Alex Smith finished as the #1 ranked fantasy quarterback last week against the Jets with 366 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and 4 touchdown passes. The previous four weeks Smith's production finished with a ranking of 20, 22, 10 and 14. Aside from last week, Smit has been average or below average. This week the Chiefs will host the Raiders and have lost six of their last seven games. The Chiefs find themselves in a must win game as they battle for the top spot in the AFC West and the only chance at a playoff berth. Oakland has allowed three touchdown passes and 300+ passing yards in three of the last six games. The three times they did not were against Buffalo, Denver and the New York Giants (Geno Smith). All teams with struggling quarterback play. In the first meeting against Oakland, Smith completed 69% of his passes for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns. That was on the road in Oakland. This week is at home. Oakland also is allowing the highest quarterback rating against in the league at 108.2. Smith may have been an iffy start as of late, but last week's resurgence and Oakland's season long struggle with pass defense, make Smith one of the better quarterback starts this week based on stats and trends.;
2. Pass attacks vs NO, DAL and CAR look good on paper, but beware - The last three weeks have been less than stellar for the pass defenses of the Saints, Cowboys and Panthers. In that time, Dallas and New Orleans have averaged 2.3 touchdown passes allowed per game and Carolina 2.0 per game. Dallas has struggled without their defensive captain Sean Lee (hamstring), but he is expected to return this week. The Cowboys struggles defensively have a direct correlation with Lee's absence. His return should help their cause and this week's opponent at NY Giants may not have an advantage like other teams had in the weeks prior. New Orleans has a similar situation with the expected return of cornerback Marshon Lattimore (ankle). The Saints have the unfortunate circumstance of a short week where they will travel to Atlanta on Thursday night. The early week and the return of Lattimore point to a scenario where both teams could struggle to find consistency on offense. I would not be surprised to see this game fail to lead up to lofty high scoring expectations. As for Carolina, they struggled against the Jets and Saints in the last two games, both were on the road where they struggled to establish their defense. The Panthers return home for three straight home games after a two-game road trip. This change of scenery and potential momentum switch may be what the defense needs to return to form when they defeated Atlanta 20-17 and Miami 45-21 in their last two home games.
3. Should you trust Russell Wilson on the road at Jacksonville? - In six road games Wilson finished the week ranked 23, 2, 19, 5, 9 and 5. The toughest opponent on the road was the Rams where Wilson finished 19th, passing for 198 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The below table shows his results on the road. Aside from Los Angeles, Seattle has not faced an opponent with the caliber of Jacksonville's defense. In fact, their road strength of schedule up to this point is among the easiest in the league. The Jaguars average 14.8 points allowed per game, they have the lowest quarterback rating against (65.6), the fewest touchdowns allowed (18), the fewest passing touchdowns allowed (10), the most sacks (45) and fewest yards allowed (2,005). The deck is stacked against Wilson and the Seahawks this week and before you say - it was stacked against them last week too against Philadelphia, but that was a home game.
Russell Wilson on the road
This week's matchup at Jacksonville is a tough road game that could give Wilson and the Seattle offensive line fits. In seven home games, Jacksonville has allowed only one quarterback to throw for two touchdown passes in a game (Philip Rivers in Week 10). In their two home losses against the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee, Jacksonville allowed 1 touchdown pass each to Jared Goff and Marcus Mariota, while allowing 215 and 124 passing yards. No road quarterback against Jacksonville has finished with a weekly ranking higher than 18. Those numbers are stellar and should not be ignored.
road quarterbacks vs jacksonville
4. Trey Burton should be on your radar - If you're in dire need of a tight end this week, consider Trey Burton. Zach Ertz suffered a head injury at the end of the third quarter last Sunday night against Seattle. Trey Burton replaced him and had 4 catches for 42 yards on 7 targets, all in the fourth quarter. Ertz entered the concussion protocol and may not be available for this week's game at Los Angeles. If Ertz is out, Burton could have sneaky value. The Rams average 3.8 receptions per game to opposing tight ends, giving this possible fantasy start a gut check. Philadelphia's offense can strike on anyone, but those defensive numbers against tight ends for the Rams is noteworthy. Aside from Jimmy Graham, the NFC West doesn't have a strong tight end group. Graham had 6 catches for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Rams and Evan Engram also had a good game with 4 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. It's not a stretch to think the Eagles offense will involve Burton this week if Ertz is out of the picture.
5. Stephen Anderson and Andre Ellington will be a big part of the Texans offense - The Texans will turn to Stephen Anderson to be their starting tight end this week. C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion) and Bruce Ellington (hamstring) were both placed on injured reserve which should mean more involvement for Anderson who had 5 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown last week on 12 targets. Andre Ellington also could be a big part of the game plan for Houston. After DeAndre Hopkins and Anderson, Ellington may be the third receiving option. San Francisco has allowed six touchdowns to tight ends in the last six games, making Anderson a highly sought-after waiver claim. Tight end in general is going to be a big waiver claim this week with teams scurrying to find a replacement for Rob Gronkowski and potentially Zach Ertz. Plus, those who have struggled with Jordan Reed and/or Vernon Davis, may also be in the hunt. You may want to up the ante for your waiver claim considering there will be stiff competition at tight end.
6. Look for New England to target their running backs more with Gronkowski out - The one game suspension for Rob Gronkowski is an issue for Gronkowski owners, but not New England. This week's matchup at Miami could feature more involvement from Dwayne Allen, however it likely will mean more targets to their stable of receiving backs, namely Rex Burkhead and James White. Danny Amendola could also become a fixture in the short passing game, especially if Chris Hogan (hamstring) is out once again. Gronkowski was also out in Week 5 at Tampa Bay and the Patriots funneled their passing game through Danny Amendola (8-77), Chris Hogan (8-74-1), James White (7-57) and Brandin Cooks (5-85). Rex Burkhead (ribs) was inactive that week. Dion Lewis has performed well over the last few weeks, but mainly as a rusher, not receiver. He has only 8 receptions in the last 7 games. Since Week 10, Burkhead has 12 receptions on 15 targets, while White has 8 receptions on 12 targets. Both Lewis and Burkhead are excellent starts this week, but don't sweep James White under the rug. All three Patriots backs have receiving touchdowns over the last four games. Total touchdowns in the last four games include Burkhead (5), Lewis (2) and White (1).
7. Jimmy Garoppolo is 3-0 in three career starts - Two of those starts were with New England, but in his only start for San Francisco, he got the victory and appears to be the quarterback the 49ers will turn to for the foreseeable future. Garoppolo threw for 293 yards completing 70% of his passes on the road at Chicago. His primary targets were Marquise Goodwin (8 targets, 8 receptions for 99 yards) and Trent Taylor (6 targets, 6 receptions 92 yards). This week's opponent is at Houston who has struggled against the pass this season and could yield positive results for Garoppolo and the Goodwin/Taylor combination.
Good luck this week. Hoping you all Survive and Advance.
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