Week #7: The Inside Slant
John Holler - 10/16/2018

The heavy lifting of the bye weeks hits full force this week as Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Oakland all have the week off, which will deplete fantasy depth for a lot of teams.

But, there are a lot of great games on the slate of games. The week opens weakly with Denver heading into Arizona – a game that looked much more attractive in April when the schedule came out than it does now. We also get our first Sunday morning game as the Chargers and Titans hook up in London.

In the early games, the highlight is the New England Patriots heading into Chicago against the resurgent Bears. Other games of note include the NFC South battle between the Texans and Jaguars, Detroit looking to prevent Miami from going 5-2 in South Beach, Minnesota looking to win its third straight game when they visit the New York Jets and a game with big implications as Carolina heads into Philadelphia.

The thin slate of late games will be highlighted by the 4-1 Saints traveling to play the 4-2 Ravens and the Cowboys and Redskins fighting for first place in the NFC East. The week ends with the varied spectrum of the NFL. The Sunday night game was flexed to include the 4-2 Bengals heading into play the 5-1 Chiefs. Monday is another story as the 1-5 Giants and meet the 2-4 Falcons.

With the bye weeks kicking in and taking away more talent for the next month, the available players will be more critical and these will be the matchups to try to exploit or avoid.






Denver RBs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman – The Cardinals have been routinely abused on the ground all season by running backs, including Adrian Peterson (26-96-1 rushing, 2-70 receiving), Todd Gurley (19-42-3 and a pair of 2-point conversions), the combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen (29-114-1), Mike Davis (21-101-2), the combo of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida (26-117 rushing, 4-35-1 receiving) and Latavius Murray (24-155-1). The Broncos have struggled for consistency in the run game, but the Cardinals have been the cure for a lot of teams’ ills.


Arizona RB David Johnson – Over the last three weeks, the Broncos defense has been epically bad against the run, giving up gigantic numbers to running backs, including Kareem Hunt (19-121-1), Isaiah Crowell (15-219-1) Bilal Powell (20-99) and Todd Gurley (28-208-2). Johnson has been scoring, but not gaining a ton of yards. Given Denver’s recent struggles, that could change in a big way – even for the worst rush offense in the NFL.






Tennessee WR Corey Davis – The Chargers have had a difficult time handling big time receivers, including Tyreek Hill (7-169-2), Robert Woods (10-104-2), Brandin Cooks (7-90), George Kittle (6-125-1) and Martavis Bryant (3-91). The Titans offense is struggling, but Davis is their big-play threat and the Chargers have an Achilles for allowing big plays over the top.


Los Angeles WR Keenan Allen – The Titans have been skewered by big days for receivers all season, including Kenny Stills (4-106-2), DeAndre Hopkins (6-110-1), Will Fuller (8-113-1), Zach Ertz (10-112), Alshon Jeffery (8-105-1) and Michael Crabtree (6-93-1). You know Philip Rivers is going to throw the ball all over the yard and Allen is due for a big day.






Buffalo PK Stephen Hauschka – The Bills have had problems scoring points, but the Jets have been allowing an incredible amount kicker points, allowing point totals of 10, 9, 8, 13, 8 and 24 points. The Bills are likely going to have a new quarterback in the lineup because of the Josh Allen injury and Nathan Peterman being awful. But, there should be opportunities for kicker points and the Colts give up a ton of them.


Indianapolis running backs – It seems like almost every week the Bills have faced a team that uses multiple running backs instead of one bell cow and most of them have hit them up pretty hard, including the Ravens (34-117-3), the Chargers (26-109-1), the Packers (32-141-1), the Titans (25-100) and the Texans (22-72). The Colts are in flux at RB due to injuries and ineffectiveness, but the Bills have a growing history of being had on the ground.




Carolina WR Devin Funchess – The Eagles have been hit hard by team’s top receivers, including Julio Jones (10-169), Mike Evans (10-83-1), Corey Davis (9-161-1), Adam Thielen (7-116-1) and Stefon Diggs (10-91). They doubled up Odell Beckham last week, but Saquon Barkley caught nine passes for 99 yards. The Panthers don’t have a true elite receiver, but Funchess is the main man in the pass offense among wide receiver, so he qualifies as the top candidate for success.


Philadelphia RBs Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clements – The Panthers have consistently given up solid fantasy numbers to running backs, , including Ezekiel Elliott (15-69-1), Tevin Coleman (16-107), Giovani Bernard (12-61-1), Saquon Barkley (15-48 rushing and 4-81-1 receiving) and Adrian Peterson (17-97). The Eagles have a different look without Jay Ajayi and one or both will have to step up.




Chicago RB Jordan Howard – Running backs have hammered the Patriots all season, including Lamar Miller (20-98), the Jaguars without Leonard Fournette (24-104), Kerryon Johnson (16-101), the combination of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins (21-84) and Kareem Hunt (10-80 rushing, 5-105-1 receiving). The Bears are coming off a tough loss to Miami, while the Patriots are still catching their breath from their wild Sunday night game, which could play well for Howard.


New England QB Tom Brady – The Bears have a great defense, but quarterbacks have consistently put up solid numbers against them, including Aaron Rodgers (286-3), Russell Wilson (226-2), Sam Bradford (157-2), the combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston (271-1) and Brock Osweiler (380-3). Brady will likely be willing to chuck the ball around because the Bears are building a track record of struggling to keep QBs under their thumb.




Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield – The Bucs have been shredded by quarterbacks all season long, including Drew Brees (439-3), Nick Foles (334-1), Ben Roethlisberger (353-3), Mitch Trubisky (354-6) and Matt Ryan (354-3). When you’ve played five games and everyone has topped 330 yards against you, Mayfield should get serious starting consideration this week.


Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans – The Browns keep getting hit hard by receivers who have been posting huge days against them, including Antonio Brown (9-93-1), Mike Thomas (12-89-2), Amari Cooper (8-128-1), Jared Cook (8-110-2) and Tyrell Williams (3-118-2). Seeing as both defenses have struggled, this could be a throwing festival and everyone could be in line for big points.




Detroit QB Matthew Stafford – The Dolphins have been hit up by quarterbacks for big yardage all season, including Sam Darnold (334-1), Derek Carr (345-1), Tom Brady (274-3), Andy Dalton (248-1) and Mitch Trubisky (316-3). Considering that Stafford has always been a yardage fiend, this should play to his strength.


Miami QB Brock Osweiler – Prior to their bye week, Aaron Rodgers lit them up – primarily because they got behind 24-0. But, aside from that scenario, the Lions have done a solid job of keeping quarterbacks in check, including Sam Darnold (198-2), Jimmy Garoppolo (206-2), Tom Brady (133-1) and Dak Prescott (255-2). Osweiler looked good in relief of Ryan Tannehill last week, but the Lions won’t be a pushover in what is expected to be his second start.




Houston QB Deshaun Watson – Even though the Jaguars have given up significant yardage through the air the last couple of games, expecting a lot of TD passes just doesn’t happen and most have been held to low numbers, including Eli Manning (224-0), Tom Brady (234-2), the combination of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert (108-0), Sam Darnold (167-1), Patrick Mahomes (313-0) and Dak Prescott (183-2). Watson has had his share of struggles to win game, but the Jags defense will be looking to bring the heat and they’ve done that well…at least from the fantasy perspective.


Jacksonville PK Josh Lambo – The Texans have given up a lot of kicker points on a weekly basis, posting point totals of 8-8-9-10-10-7. That sort of consistency is rare and something that shouldn’t be ignored.




Minnesota RB Dalvin Cook – Once again, fantasy owners will have to play wait-and-see with Cook, but the Jets have consistently been lit up by running backs, including the combination of Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore (20-78-1), Carlos Hyde (23-98-2), T.J. Yeldon (18-52-1), the tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman (17-91) and Marlon Mack (12-89). If Cook is a no-go again, Minnesota will turn to Latavius Murray, who posted a career-high 155 rushing yards last week.


New York TE Chris Herndon – Even the best defenses have an Achilles heel and Minnesota’s is preventing tight ends from having days against them, including George Kittle (5-90), Jimmy Graham (6-95), Jason Croom (1-26-1), Zach Ertz (10-110-1) and Ricky Seals-Jones (5-69). Nobody is likely going to jump on Herndon, but, if you’re in a bye week or injury pinch, he’s worth considering because, if you’re not a family member, he is available.






Dallas WR Cole Beasley – The Redskins have had more than fair share of problems keeping receivers they expect to get a lot of looks from having big days against them, including T.Y. Hilton (7-83-1), Davante Adams (7-52-1), Geronimo Allison (2-76-1), Tre’quan Smith (3-111-2) and Devin Funchess (5-74-1). The Cowboys are coming off their best game of the season and if they intend to keep that ball rolling, Beasley will have to continue to step up and be Dak Prescott’s go-to guy.


Washington QB Alex Smith – The Cowboys haven’t had a QB light tem up for both yards and touchdowns all season, including Cam Newton (161-0), Eli Manning (279-1), Russell Wilson (192-2), Matthew Stafford (307-2), Deshaun Watson (375-1) and Blake Bortles (149-1). Smith will be making his Redskins debut against the Cowboys and, if things hold up, he will have the potential for yardage, but TDs will be hard to come by.




Los Angeles WRs Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods (and maybe Cooper Kupp) – The 49ers have been burned by team’s primary receiver all year long, including Adam Thielen (6-102), Golden Tate (7-109), Travis Kelce (8-114), Sammy Watkins (5-55-1), Keenan Allen (7-63), Christian Kirk (3-85-1) and Davante Adams (10-132-2). If Kupp returns, the Rams will be at full strength in their receiver corps. If not, both Cooks and Woods could get more attention, which is always a good thing if you have either of them.


San Francisco WR Marquise Goodwin – The Rams defense is a killer, but they have been hit hard by receivers who have posted big days, including Jared Cook (9-180), Mike Williams (4-81-2), Stefon Diggs (11-123), Adam Thielen (8-135-1), Tyler Lockett (3-98-1) and Emmanuel Sanders (7-115-1). Goodwin showed Monday night that speed kills and the aggressive style of defense the Rams play could lead to big play opportunities.




New Orleans RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram – The Ravens have been outstanding at bottling up running backs, including LeSean McCoy (7-22) and Joe Mixon (21-84), the combination of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay (17-73-1), John Conner (9-19), Carlos Hyde (17-63) and the combo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis (12-30). With the Saints back at full strength at running back, big things are expected, but they may have to wait until after the Ravens game.


Baltimore WRs Michael Crabtree and John Brown – The Saints are coming off their bye and, despite being 4-1, they have had some problems keeping down team’s primary receivers, including Mike Evans (7-147-1), DeSean Jackson (5-146-2), Jarvis Landry (5-69), Calvin Ridley (7-146-3), Julio Jones (5-96) and Sterling Shepard (10-77-1). The Ravens have an improved passing game and Crabtree or Brown could be in line for some solid potential fantasy production.






Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton – The Chiefs offense has been epic, but its defense has been epically bad, including Philip Rivers (424-3), Ben Roethlisberger (452-3), Jimmy Garoppolo (251-2), Blake Bortles (430-1) and Tom Brady (340-1 and a rushing TD). The Bengals have a potent offense and, given the problems the Chiefs have had keeping other QBs down, Dalton could be primed for a big game as the Chiefs return to Sunday night for the second straight week.


Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill – The Bengals have allowed primary receivers to run wild against them despite having a solid defense, including T.Y. Hilton (5-46-1), John Brown (4-92-1), Devin Funchess (4-67-1), Julio Jones (9-173), Calvin Ridley (4-54-2), Antonio Brown (5-105-1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (7-111). Hill is coming off a giant week against the Patriots, but another big week isn’t out of the question.






New York RB Saquon Barkley – As if you needed any reason to endorse playing Barkley, the Buccaneers have been shredded by running backs all season, including Jay Ajayi (15-62-2), Christian McCaffrey (8-37 rushing, 14-102 receiving), Alvin Kamara (16-66 rushing, 15-124 receiving), Giovani Bernard (15-69-2), John Conner (21-110-2 rushing, 4-75 receiving) and Peyton Barber (13-82). Barkley is setting a pace to be Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Falcons’ ability to let multi-faceted running backs carve them up can’t be a welcome sign.


Atlanta RBs Tevin Coleman & Ito Smith – The Giants have been pounded on the ground by running backs all season, including the combination of Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon (23-92), Ezekiel Elliott (17-78-1), Alvin Kamara (19-134-3), Christian McCaffrey (17-58 rushing, 5-35-1 receiving) and the combination of Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement (29-94-1). The Falcons only have Coleman & Smith healthy. If both play, as they should, they could both see plenty of action because so many others have abused the Giants on the ground.



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