Week #7: The Inside Slant
John Holler - 10/15/2019
Perhaps no week this season will feature teams looking to make their stand that they have what it takes to be playoff teams.
The week starts with Kansas City (4-2 coming off consecutive losses) travel to Denver to get the week started on Thursday. In the Sunday early games, The Rams (3-3) look to put the final dagger in the 1-5 Falcons, Buffalo looks to improve to 5-1 when the Bills host Miami, Minnesota looks to improve to 5-2 with a third straight win when the Vikings travel to Detroit, the Packers look for their sixth win when they host the Raiders and the AFC South has a battle for first place when the 4-2 Texans travel to face a rested Colts team (3-2).
The late games are highlighted by the 3-2 Bears looking to derail the 5-1 Saints at Soldier Field and a pair of playoff contenders square off in the Northwest when Baltimore (4-2) travels across the country to play the 5-1 Seahawks.
The week ends with a pair of divisional matchups as the 3-3 Eagles head into Dallas to face the 3-3 Cowboys on Sunday night and the Patriots look to remain unbeaten when they travel to play the Jets, who are fresh off a win over Dallas last week.
There will be a lot at stake this week that will have playoff implications, but won’t include four teams that will be getting a much-need bye week – Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME
KANSAS CITY AT DENVER
Kansas City RB LeSean McCoy – The Broncos did a solid job of shutting down the Tennessee run game last week because they built an early lead and forced them to pass (and bench Marcus Mariota), but Denver has been hit hard by running backs this season, including Josh Jacobs (23-85-1), David Montgomery (18-62-1), the combination of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams (22-78-2) and Leonard Fournette (29-225). The Chiefs have lost two straight and whether they come out throwing early and often is up to debate, but they can be had on the ground if the Chiefs commit to the run.
Denver WRs Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders – One of the problems the Chiefs have had over the last couple of years is getting lit up by receivers – either in receptions or yardage – most of the season, including D.J. Chark (4-146-1), Chris Conley (6-97-1), Tyrell Williams (5-46-1), Kenny Golladay (5-67-2), Marvin Jones (3-77) and DeAndre Hopkins (9-55). The Broncos don’t have a great passing game, but there is the potential for big things coming from Joe Flacco and the passing game for the struggling Chiefs defense.
SUNDAY EARLY GAMES
ARIZONA AT NEW YORK GIANTS
Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald – The Giants secondary has been consistently lit up by receivers all season, including Michael Gallup (7-158), Amari Cooper (6-106-1), Randall Cobb (4-69-1), John Brown (7-72), Cole Beasley (4-83), Mike Evans (8-190-3), O.J. Howard (3-66), Adam Thielen (7-130-2) and Julian Edelman (9-113). The Cardinals have seen more firepower in their passing game and Fitzgerald is due for a big game and this could be the week it comes.
New York TE Evan Engram – The Cardinals have been brutalized by tight ends all season, including T.J. Hockenson (6-131-1), Mark Andrews (8-112-1), Greg Olsen (8-75-2), Will Dissly (7-57-1) and Austin Hooper (8-117-1). There are always reasons to like Engram, but this week could be a blowout week since talented tight ends have scorched the Cardinals all season long.
HOUSTON AT INDIANAPOLIS
Houston RB Carlos Hyde – The Colts had the formula to beat Kansas City, which isn’t a run-happy team to begin with, but running backs have decent, but not great, days against the Indy defense, including Austin Ekeler (12-58-1 rushing, 6-96-2 receiving), Derrick Henry (15-81-1), Devonta Freeman (16-88) and Josh Jacobs (17-79). Hyde is the man in Houston’s backfield, but expecting big numbers may be asking a little too much.
Indianapolis WR T.Y. Hilton – The byproduct of having a big-time offense is that the defense has been stressed when games turn into shootouts. The result has been that receivers have consistently had huge games, including Michael Thomas (10-123), D.J. Chark (7-55-1), Keenan Allen (13-183-2), Christian McCaffrey (10-86), Calvin Ridley (5-88-1) and Tyreek Hill (5-80-2). The Colts are coming off their bye week and Hilton is going to be healthier than he has been in a month and is capable of putting up big numbers and adding his name to this list.
JACKSONVILLE AT CINCINNATI
Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette – The Bengals are 0-6 due in large part their inability to stop the run. Teams have lit them up all season, including Chris Carson (15-46-1 rushing, 6-34-1 receiving), Raheem Mostert (13-83 rushing, 3-68-1 receiving), Matt Breida (12-121), Frank Gore (14-76-1), James Conner (10-42 rushing, 8-83-1 receiving), David Johnson (17-91 rushing, 3-65 receiving) and the multi-faceted Ravens rushing attack (43-267-2). Fournette is capable of being a 30-carry back and this could be a week where he posts some huge numbers.
Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon – The Jaguars have had some difficulty controlling opposing run games this season, including LeSean McCoy (10-81), Carlos Hyde (20-90), Derrick Henry (17-44-1) and the combination of Phillip Lindsay Royce Freeman (15-69), Christian McCaffrey (19-176-2 rushing, 6-61-1 receiving) and the Saints mixed rushing attack (26-101). Mixon has struggled badly much of the season and is due for a big game and the Jags might be an unlikely source to provide it.
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT ATLANTA
Los Angeles WRs Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks – The Falcons pass defense has been hideous all season and someone steps up for a big week every week and sometimes more than one, including Adam Thielen (4-43-1), Nelson Agholor (8-107-1), T.Y. Hilton (8-65-1), A.J. Brown (3-94-2), Chris Davis (5-91-1), Will Fuller (14-217-3), DeAndre Hopkins (7-88), Keke Coutee (3-72) and David Johnson (6-68-1). The Rams are coming off one of their worst offensive performances in recent history and nothing says bounce-back like playing the hapless Falcons pass defense.
Atlanta WR Julio Jones – The Rams have a good defense, but have been touched up by players that would be expected to have big days against them, including Christian McCaffrey (10-81), D.J. Moore (7-76), Michael Thomas (10-89), Chris Godwin (12-172-2), Mike Evans (4-89-1) and George Kittle (8-103). The Falcons defense has forced them to get into shootouts and Julio is expected to be front and center along with Austin Hooper and Calvin Ridley to have potentially big days.
MIAMI AT BUFFALO
Miami QB Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Bills have smothered every QB they have faced this season, including Sam Darnold (175-1), Eli Manning (250-1), Andy Dalton (249-1), Tom Brady (150-0) and Marcus Mariota (183-0). Nobody in their right mind is playing 2019 Dolphins, much less against a smothering defense like the Bills are going to bring.
Buffalo RB Frank Gore – The Dolphins can’t stop anybody in the run game and have been routinely shredded on the ground, including Mark Ingram (14-107-2), Sony Michel (21-85-1), Ezekiel Elliott (19-125), Tony Pollard (13-103-1), Austin Ekeler (18-60-1 rushing, 5-62-1 receiving) and Adrian Peterson (23-118). Gore isn’t a fantasy mainstay, but against a brutal run defense like Miami has trotted out, Gore could be in line for some impressive numbers.
MINNESOTA AT DETROIT
Minnesota WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs – The Lions have been hit hard by receivers all season for big plays, including Larry Fitzgerald (8-113-1), Keenan Allen (8-98-1), Mike Williams (3-83), Nelson Agholor (8-50-2), Travis Kelce (7-85) and Allen Lazard (4-65-1). In the last couple of weeks, Minnesota’s pass offense has returned and Thielen and Diggs could both be in for productive days.
Detroit QB Matthew Stafford – The Vikings allowed Carson Wentz to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but that was a misnomer because Minnesota scored on its first four possessions and built a 24-3 lead to force the Eagles to abandon the run game and throw 40 times. Minnesota has limited just about every QB they’ve faced, including Aaron Rodgers (209-2), Derek Carr (242-2), the combination of Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel (204-1) and Daniel Jones (182-1). Stafford is a strong QB, but Minnesota will look to shorten the game and limit his chances of being a difference maker on Sunday.
OAKLAND AT GREEN BAY
Oakland RB Josh Jacobs – The Packers limited Kerryon Johnson to just 34 yards on 13 carries, but he scored a touchdown. Much of the season, Green Bay’s defense has struggled to stop running backs, including Dalvin Cook (20-154-1), the two-headed Broncos backfield (36-144-2), Philly combo of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders (26-159-2) and Ezekiel Elliott (12-62-1). Jacobs is an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and the Raiders are using him a lot. Coming off their bye week, the potential for a big game is there for the taking with a Packers defense coming off a short prep week.
Green Bay RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams – The Raiders haven’t been killed by running backs, but have allowed those who commit to the run to do some damage, including Austin Ekeler (12-58-1 rushing, 6-96-2 receiving), Derrick Henry (15-81-1), Devonta Freeman (16-88) and Josh Jacobs (17-79). The held the Bears to just 42 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, but the Packers have made more of a commitment to the run, which should bode well for them.
SAN FRANCISCO AT WASHINGTON
San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo – The Redskins shut down Miami’s pass offense last week, but who hasn’t? When they face quality quarterbacks, they’ve been burned ever time, including Carson Wentz (313-3), Dak Prescott (269-3), Mitchell Trubisky (231-3) and Tom Brady (348-3). When you’ve allowed three TD passes in five of six games, there’s reason to jump on the Jimmy G bandwagon this week.
Washington RB Adrian Peterson – A.P. is coming off a huge week, but the 49ers are unbeaten (5-0) due in large part to a strong run defense that has consistently shut down opposing run games, including Joe Mixon (11-17), Giovani Bernard (6-6), Peyton Barber (8-33), James Conner (13-43), Nick Chubb (16-81) and the Rams without Todd Gurley (17-79). The Redskins are going to have their set of problems trying to establish the run and Peterson will find things a lot more difficult than he did last Sunday.
SUNDAY LATE GAMES
BALTIMORE AT SEATTLE
Baltimore RB Mark Ingram – Seattle’s run defense has allowed opposing back to consistently score touchdowns, whether they post big rushing numbers or not, including James Conner (11-33-1), Alvin Kamara (16-69-1), Todd Gurley (15-51-2) and Nick Chubb (20-122-2). They’ve shut down guys like Joe Mixon and David Johnson and limited some stars like Kamara and Gurley from posting big yardage games, but there are touchdowns to be had deep in the red zone.
Seattle WR Tyler Lockett – The Ravens have a good defense, but have allowed big receiving games all season, including DeVante Parker (3-75), Christian Kirk (6-114), Larry Fitzgerald (5-104-1) Travis Kelce (7-89), Mecole Hardman (2-97-1), Jarvis Landry (8-167), Ricky Seals-Jones (3-82-1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (7-75-1) and Auden Tate (5-91). The Seahawks have an elite passing game and, whether it’s Lockett or D.K. Metcalf, someone is likely to have a strong showing.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT TENNESSEE
Los Angeles TE Hunter Henry – The Titans have allowed tight ends to put up some strong numbers against them, including David Njoku (4-37-1), Eric Ebron (3-25-1), James O’Schaughnessy (2-18-1) and Austin Hooper (9-130). Hunter came back last week and put up 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers. While that may be ambitious to replicate, he should be in line for some strong numbers again.
Tennessee TE Delanie Walker – The Chargers have a good defense, but have been hit hard by individual receivers almost every week, including Kenny Golladay (8-117-1), DeAndre Hopkins (6-67), DeVante Parker (4-70-1), Courtland Sutton (4-92-1) and James Conner (7-78-1). Walker has been the primary receiver in the Titans offense for some time and, with Marcus Mariota at a career crossroad, he may have to depend on his main target to get the job done.
NEW ORLEANS AT CHICAGO
New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara – Prior to their bye week, Josh Jacobs had a big game against the Bears, but, prior to that, the Bears defense had shut down running backs throughout the season, including the group backs from Green Bay (22-47) and Denver (24-90), Adrian Peterson (12-37) and Dalvin Cook (14-35-1). Was Jacobs the outlier to an otherwise strong run defense? Kamara will be the true test.
Chicago RBs David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen – The Saints have had a great run defense all year and have consistently limited opposing running backs, including Todd Gurley (16-63-1), Chris Carson (15-52), Ezekiel Elliott (18-35-1), the combination of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones (17-67-1) and Leonard Fournette (20-72). The Bears will look to establish the run game against the Rams, but nothing will come easy.
SUNDAY NIGHT GAME
PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS
Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz – Sam Darnold had a big week against Dallas last Sunday, but the other quarterbacks they have faced have struggled to post strong fantasy numbers, including Eli Manning (306-1), Case Keenum (221-2), Josh Rosen (200-0), Teddy Bridgewater (193-0) and Aaron Rodgers (238-0). With both teams at 3-3, this will be a critical game for both and you can bet the Cowboys are ready to dial up the pressure to keep Wentz from controlling the game.
Dallas QB Dak Prescott – The Eagles have had injuries in their secondary and the results have been that too many quarterbacks have posted huge statistical days against them, including Case Keenum (380-3), Matt Ryan (320-3), Aaron Rodgers (422-2) and Kirk Cousins (333-4). Prescott has lost three straight games and will need to come up big if the Cowboys are going to end their current losing streak and the Eagles are vulnerable to the deep pass.
MONDAY NIGHT GAME
NEW ENGLAND AT NEW YORK JETS
New England QB Tom Brady – No team has limited opposing touchdown passes than the Jets, who have consistently limited opposing quarterbacks, including Josh Allen (254-1), Baker Mayfield (325-1), Carson Wentz (189-1) and Dak Prescott (277-0). In their first meeting of the season, Brady was the only QB to throw two touchdowns against the Jets and had 306 passing yards, but the Jets won’t be giving anything up easily on their home turf.
New York RB Le’Veon Bell – The Patriots have been oppressive in the run game, including James Conner (10-21), the Miami running backs (14-36), Adrian Peterson (7-18) and the Giants running backs (13-46). In their first meeting, Bell rushed 18 times for just 35 yards and expecting a big game may be asking too much from Bell.
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