Evan Silva

Matchups

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Silva's Week 2 Matchups

Sunday, September 16, 2018


1:00 PM ET Games

Carolina @ Atlanta
Team Totals: Falcons 25, Panthers 19

Matt Ryan exhibited a distinct lack of velocity and ball placement in the Falcons’ Opening Day defeat, balloonballing floaters ala late-career Peyton Manning and converting just 48.8% of his attempts, Ryan’s lowest single-game completion rate since December of 2011. As a 2018 Ryan optimist, I’m chalking up his struggles to an especially humid night in Philadelphia. (Nick Foles’ balls didn’t come out hot, either.) Beginning with most recent, Ryan’s last five yardage/touchdown/interception totals against Ron Rivera’s Panthers are 317/1/0 > 313/2/1 > 277/2/0 > 503/4/1 > 306/1/0, productive enough to put Ryan on the right side of the QB1/2 fringe. Ryan’s box scores can benefit from the Falcons’ crippling defensive losses of MLB Deion Jones (foot) and SS Keanu Neal (ACL), enhancing shootout-game probability. … Devonta Freeman exited Week 1 with a third-quarter aggravation of the right MCL/PCL injury he played through down last year’s stretch. He's been ruled out, setting up Tevin Coleman for a near-full workload against Thomas Davis-less Carolina. Normally stout in run defense, the Panthers surrendered an efficient 16/74/4.63/1 rushing line to Cowboys backs in Week 1. Coleman should have a 17-touch floor as a six-point home favorite. Over Coleman's last four games where he met or exceeded that 17-touch threshold, Tevin logged touch/yardage/touchdown results of 19/97/2 > 21/58/1 > 21/88/1 > 18/110/0. He’s a high-end RB2.

Ryan’s Week 1 targets: Julio Jones 19; Mohamed Sanu 6; Freeman 5; Austin Hooper 4; Coleman, Calvin Ridley 2. … Julio ran 48 routes in Week 1 – more than he did in any 2017 game – and drew a team-high three red-zone targets, including two inside the ten. He narrowly missed two TDs, but it was elite WR1 usage with a league-high 282 Air Yards. Jones’ last five receiving lines against Rivera’s secondary are 5/80/0 > 6/118/0 > 4/60/0 > 12/300/1 > 9/178/1. He’s a top-three WR1 play. … Sanu’s 45 routes were also more than he ran in any 2017 game, confirming he remains far ahead of Ridley as Atlanta’s No. 2 wideout. Sanu has faced Rivera’s defense four times since joining the Falcons, logging 7/71/0 > 3/23/1 > 3/56/0 > 2/22/0 results. As usual, he’s a touchdown-or-bust WR4. … Ridley played 64% of Atlanta’s Week 1 snaps to assert himself as the No. 3 receiver, but he drew just two targets and failed to reel in either, finishing with the fourth-most Air Yards (20) on the team. He’ll need a Julio or Sanu injury to become relevant. … Hooper’s 41 routes were also more than he ran in any 2017 contest, but he failed to exceed 50 yards for the 18th straight game. Only the Saints (577) gave up fewer yards to tight ends than the Panthers (585) last year. They limited Hooper to 3/36/0 and 3/35/0 in two meetings. Carolina held Cowboys TEs to 3/18/0 last week.

Cam Newton has struggled as a passer in five straight meetings with Dan Quinn’s Falcons, managing yards/TD/INT totals of 180/1/3 > 137/0/0 > 198/1/2 > 165/1/0 > 142/0/0. He's salvaged fantasy value with rushing lines of 11/59/0 > 9/86/1 > 8/36/0 > 5/30/0 > 7/46/1. Promisingly, first-year OC Norv Turner used Cam aggressively on the ground in Week 1 (13/58/1) after vowing in the offseason to continue to feature his greatest strength. Minus RT Daryl Williams (knee), TE Greg Olsen (foot), and RG Trai Turner (concussion), Newton’s rushing prowess figures to remain his primary means of Week 2 production. It helps that Atlanta’s defense is extremely shorthanded without difference-makers MLB Deion Jones (foot) and SS Keanu Neal (ACL). … Christian McCaffrey’s every-down preseason usage carried over into Week 1, where he matched a career high by playing 85% of Carolina’s snaps, led the team in targets (9), and out-touched C.J. Anderson 16 to 7. “CMC” was vultured twice at the goal line – once by Cam and later by FB Alex Armah – but did handle two carries inside the ten. Quinn’s defense has yielded the NFL’s most running back catches in three straight years, including 5/40/0 and 5/28/0 receiving lines to McCaffrey in 2017. McCaffrey’s matchup is upgraded by Atlanta’s loss of Jones, who is Quinn’s version of Bobby Wagner. PFF’s Scott Barrett noted that Jones had coverage responsibility on 39 running back targets last year, third most among NFL defenders. McCaffrey even popped as this week's No. 1 buy-low running back in Josh Hermsmeyer's predictive Air Yards model.

Newton’s Week 1 target distribution: McCaffrey 9; Devin Funchess and Jarius Wright 5; Olsen, Torrey Smith, and Ian Thomas 2; D.J. Moore 0. … Funchess stands out as the top beneficiary of Olsen’s loss after averaging 7.8 targets for 81.0 yards with four TDs in Olsen’s last five missed games. Funchess’ two stat lines against the Falcons last season were 5/86/0 and 2/48/1. Last week, Funchess would have tied McCaffrey for the team lead in targets if not for penalties that negated four of his looks. An underrated WR2/3 play, big-bodied Funchess (6’4/232) should quickly reemerge as Cam’s go-to guy in the red zone. … Smith was Carolina’s No. 2 receiver in Week 1, logging 76% of the offensive snaps to slot man Wright’s 46% and No. 4 wideout Moore’s 25% clip. None of them cleared 25 yards in the opener, and nor is any of them worth rostering in season-long leagues. The Falcons’ defensive bread and butter is limiting big plays after allowing the NFL’s eighth-fewest completions of 20-plus yards in 2017, then yielding zero 20-plus-yard pass plays to Nick Foles in Week 1. … Fourth-round TE Thomas will replace Olsen after a strong training camp to face a Falcons defense that will badly miss SS Neal. Thomas averaged 15.0 yards per catch as a senior at Indiana and posted the No. 2 SPARQ score in this year’s tight end class, behind only Mike Gesicki. Albeit not quite a trustworthy Week 2 streamer, Thomas is a deep-league and Dynasty hold.

Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Panthers 24

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LA Chargers @ Buffalo
Team Totals: Chargers 25, Bills 18

The Bills will turn to raw rookie Josh Allen after Nathan Peterman bombed Week 1, throwing two picks and failing to generate a single first down in the first half before getting benched for Allen in garbage time. Buffalo did Allen a major disservice by surrounding him with the league’s worst supporting cast, including a bottom-three offensive line and receivers that don’t get open. Even after it was carved up by Patrick Mahomes, the Chargers’ D/ST is one of this week’s top opponent-based streamers. … Due to his sad-sack teammates, LeSean McCoy’s opener couldn’t have gone much worse. He managed 21 yards on eight touches before taking a seat in the second half of Buffalo’s blowout loss. Optimists can point to Chargers RE Joey Bosa (foot) and DT Corey Liuget’s (suspension) continued absences after Los Angeles surrendered a middling 20/81/4.05/0 rushing line to Chiefs running backs last week. Until the Bills’ offense demonstrates any semblance of functionality, however, McCoy will remain a high-risk RB2. … Not a single Bills pass catcher cleared 30 receiving yards in Week 1, and Allen’s longstanding accuracy woes are unlikely to provide a quick fix. Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay are bench material at best.

Philip Rivers emerged from Week 1 with top-three QB1 production, but his day could have been far bigger if not for several big-play drops. The glass-half-full takeaway is those opportunities were there in the first place. Buffalo fielded one of the league’s best pass defenses in 2017, but it didn’t carry over to Week 1. RCB Phillip Gaines got fried by Michael Crabtree and John Brown, and rookie slot CB Taron Johnson left with a shoulder injury. Pass-rush specialist Shaq Lawson pulled his hamstring. Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes for the first time since 2016. Rivers is a solid QB1 bet. … Melvin Gordon “lost” 10 touches on 27% of the snaps to change-up back Austin Ekeler, but Gordon turned 24 touches of his own into 166 yards. Coach Anthony Lynn spoke in the offseason of increasing Gordon’s receiving usage and made good on that promise; Gordon ran 36 pass routes, his most since last Week 5. The Bills allowed the NFL’s most fantasy points to running backs last season, then served up rushing scores to three different Ravens backs in Week 1. Gordon remains an elite RB1 play. Ekeler is a PPR flex option.

Rivers’ Week 1 target distribution: Gordon 13; Keenan Allen 11; Mike Williams 6; Ekeler, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin 5; Antonio Gates 3; Virgil Green 2. … Allen ran 60% of his Week 1 routes in the slot, where he will draw Bills fill-in slot CB Rafael Bush, a third safety/special teamer who allowed Willie Snead’s 13-yard score off the bench last week. It's a lopsided mismatch in Allen’s favor. … Mike’s final Week 1 box score (5/81/0) was decent on paper, but Rivers barely even looked at him until what amounted to garbage time against the Chiefs. He also got out-snapped (54%) by Tyrell (76%) and Benjamin (57%). Tyrell added to Los Angeles’ misery by dropping a 40-yard touchdown bomb, and Benjamin dropped a 29-yard score. Benjamin's (foot, questionable) absence would elevate the outlook for both Williamses as WR3/flex plays. Based on where they lined up in Week 1, Mike is the likeliest Charger to draw stingy Bills LCB Tre'Davious White. … Gates was eased in after rejoining the team late in camp, logging a 40% playing-time clip with targets on just three of Rivers’ 52 dropbacks. He has a friendly Week 2 matchup against a Bills defense that yielded 9/103/0 to Ravens tight ends last week, but Gates will remain a touchdown-or-bust streamer until his snaps and targets pick up. 


Score Prediction: Chargers 20, Bills 14


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Minnesota @ Green Bay
Team Totals: N/A

Aaron Rodgers played much of the 2016 season with a hamstring injury that confined him to the pocket, yet he still led the league in touchdown passes (40) and threw for 4,428 yards, third most of his career. Rodgers became a more-structured, less-random player, meaning fewer of his trademark rollout bombs but improved down-to-down consistency as a pure pocket passer. This is relevant because Rodgers’ knee injury may limit his mobility for multiple weeks. More worrisome is his Week 2 matchup. Since Mike Zimmer took over as Vikings head coach in 2014, Rodgers has managed yardage/touchdown/interception totals of 347/4/0 > 213/1/1 > 291/1/1 > 212/2/0 > 209/2/0 > 156/3/0 in six meetings. Rodgers remains an every-week QB1 in season-long leagues, but expectations should be lowered considering his substandard health and difficult opponent. If the Packers start raw sophomore DeShone Kizer, the passing game would take a crippling hit. … Jamaal Williams led Green Bay’s backfield in Week 1 touches (15) against the Bears, but he lost more playing time than expected to Ty Montgomery (38%) because the Packers were forced to play from behind. Williams now draws a stingy Vikings defense that limited 49ers running backs to 23/84/3.65/0 rushing last Sunday. Williams’ lack of a full-time role and matchup push him to the bottom of the RB2 bin. More-explosive teammate Aaron Jones returns from suspension in Week 3.

Rodgers’ Week 1 targets: Randall Cobb 10; Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison 8; Jimmy Graham 4; Montgomery 3; Williams 2. … Coming off a monster opener (9/142/1), Cobb may again be Green Bay’s best means of moving the chains against the Vikings, who are using rookie Mike Hughes at slot corner. Hughes picked off Jimmy Garoppolo in the opener, but also gave up a 39-yard gain to 49ers rookie Dante Pettis. Cobb ran the fifth-most slot routes in the league (32) in Week 1 and gained 133 yards inside. He’s a solid WR2. … Adams is sure to get Xavier Rhodes treatment after the Vikings’ top corner put an Opening Day blanket on Pierre Garcon (2/21/0). Rodgers is willing to throw to Adams even when he’s “covered,” however, and Adams did eke out a 5/54/1 stat line last Week 6 with Rhodes following him. Still, there is no getting around the fact that this sets up as one of Adams’ toughest matchups all year. Adams also emerged from last week’s win with a shoulder injury, but it won't keep him out. … Allison confirmed his stranglehold on third receiver duties versus Chicago, playing 70% of the snaps, tying Adams for second in targets, producing a 5/68/1 stat line, and drawing the Packers’ lone target inside the ten. With Rhodes chasing Adams, Allison is a sleeper for another big game. … Graham flopped (2/7/0) against a Chicago defense that excels in tight end coverage. The Vikings sprung leaks there last week, giving up 90 yards to George Kittle. And Kittle could’ve had a much bigger game if not for a dropped would-be 80-yard score and Jimmy Garoppolo’s end-zone miss from four yards out. It may be time to worry if Graham doesn’t pick it up this week.

Although Latavius Murray wound up with 11 carries, Dalvin Cook operated as the Vikings’ Week 1 lead back while the game was in doubt, logged 80% of Minnesota’s offensive snaps, parlayed 22 touches into 95 yards, and drew seven targets to Murray’s none. Murray remains a threat to Cook’s short-yardage and goal-line work, but not Cook’s workhorse role. Green Bay’s defense struggled to contain Bears backs last Sunday night, surrendering a 20/107/5.35/0 rushing line to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, who also combined for eight receptions. Cook is a fringe RB1 play at Lambeau Field. … Kirk Cousins was sharp in his Vikings debut, chipping away at the 49ers’ defense with passes to Cook before completing the Throw of the Week on a gorgeously-placed 22-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs and later connecting with Kyle Rudolph from 11 yards out. Cousins’ Week 2 matchup is not quite as friendly, however, facing a Packers defense that sacked Mitchell Trubisky four times in the opener and held him below five yards per pass attempt, although Trubisky’s struggles were much of his own doing. This game does offer high-scoring potential, and Cousins’ weapons give him big upside each week. He’s a confident QB1 play.

Cousins’ Week 1 target distribution: Adam Thielen 12; Cook 7; Stefon Diggs 6; Laquon Treadwell 4; Kyle Rudolph 2. … Thielen took a commanding Opening Day lead to reassert himself as Minnesota’s No. 1 receiver, leading the team in targets by a wide margin and drawing 157 Air Yards, seventh most in the league. Thielen is Josh Hermsmeyer's No. 1 Air Yards buy-low target after underperforming his Week 1 opportunity share. Thielen did run 67% of his routes in the slot and will mainly face rookie slot CB Jaire Alexander, whom PFF charged with the highest Week 1 passer rating allowed (102.1) among Packers cornerbacks. Thielen is a legitimate WR1. … Diggs is also a good bet to win his matchups against LCB Kevin King and RCB Tramon Williams. Williams is 35 years old, while King (6’3/200) is a plus-sized, Seahawks-style cornerback sure to struggle with Diggs’ quicks. … Rudolph’s two Week 1 targets were at least mildly concerning, although the 49ers’ tight end coverage is vastly underrated with Jaquiski Tartt healthy, and Rudolph was the recipient of one of Cousins’ two red-zone targets, which he turned into an 11-yard TD. Rudolph ran 33 routes, 12th most among NFL tight ends. Ultimately, Rudolph is unlikely to produce high-volume catch and yardage totals. He’ll make his money in the red zone, where Rudolph has always been at his best.

Score Prediction: Vikings 27, Packers 23


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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