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Nick Mensio

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Week 10 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, November 8, 2018




RUNNING BACK

Start of the Week: Aaron Jones vs. Dolphins: Even before Ty Montgomery’s game-ending lost fumble on a kickoff return against the Rams, the Packers had shown they were moving away from him and more toward Jones. Montgomery played just 11.5% of the snaps in L.A. in Week 8 and was then traded to Baltimore two days later. Over the last two games, Jones has been in on 61.5% and 58.1% of the plays. Both were Green Bay losses, but it’s a monumental leap after playing less than 30% of the downs his first four games. Jones has set season-highs in carries two-straight weeks with rushing lines of 12-86-1 against the Rams and 14-76-0 versus New England. He’s also run 40 routes in the pass game in that period, securing four of his five targets. Jamaal Williams is still a thorn in the side of Jones, but this being a two-man backfield is much more palatable than the three-man committee it was with Montgomery in the picture. The Packers are now coming back home as heavy 9.5-point favorites against a Dolphins unit that is 29th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 32nd in total rush yards allowed to the position while surrendering over 4.6 YPC. Lamar Miller flamed this defense in Week 8 for 133 yards and a score on 18 carries as the overall RB11. The previous week, Kerryon Johnson turned 19 carries into 158 yards. And the game before that, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 100 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. As long as coach Mike McCarthy stays committed to Jones’ talent, he should have no problem returning top-30 numbers this week with a good shot at again setting a season-high in carries. Upside is obviously there for a much bigger afternoon. Green Bay’s implied team total of 28.5 points is fifth-highest on the week. 

Starts

Kenyan Drake at Packers: After recording double-digit touches in four-straight games Weeks 4-7, Drake was out-touched 21-7 by Frank Gore against the Jets. That’s ludicrous, but it was a knock-down, drag-out fight between AFC East rivals that ended in a 13-6 final score. Drake’s week-to-week usage is a concern, but with the Dolphins heading to Lambeau Field as 9.5-point underdogs, they’re going to need Drake’s big-play ability and pass-game prowess in catchup mode. The Packers are 15th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 26th in run-defense DVOA. Green Bay also had top ILB Blake Martinez suffer an ankle injury last week against the Patriots. He’s far less than 100% after getting carted off that night despite his return. The Packers struggled to contain James White last week, as he racked up 103 yards and two touchdowns on 18 touches. Cordarrelle Patterson also had a big game on the ground with 61 yards and a score on 11 carries. The previous week, Todd Gurley led the Rams in rushing (25-114) and receiving (6-81-1) against Green Bay. Raheem Mostert had his breakout game the week before that with 12 carries for 87 yards. Running backs with speed and in space give this defense fits. Playing Gore would just be asking to lose. Drake should have no problem getting back to double-digit touches and is a solid RB2/3 play.

Isaiah Crowell vs. Bills: Crowell’s first season with the Jets has been swings of extreme highs and extreme lows. He has a 200-yard rushing game to his name along with a 100-yard, two-touchdown effort in Week 1. Crowell has been held to fewer than 50 rushing yards in the other seven games and offers nothing as a pass-catcher. This is a volume-drive play, however. The Jets play at the league’s slowest pace and want to let the defense and running game control the game. Against the league-worst Bills, that will be an option Sunday. There’s zero way this game gets away from the Jets, even with Josh McCown stepping in under center for an injured Sam Darnold. (One could argue that’s even an upgrade at this point in time.) The Bills are No. 10 in run-defense DVOA, but 23rd in fantasy points allowed to running backs because teams gather huge leads and run the ball down their throats in the second half. Crowell might not be totally healthy, but he has a good chance to surpass 15 carries and maybe even flirt with 18-20, which would be a new season-high for him. Elijah McGuire will certainly be involved as well, but this may be Crowell’s most predictable usage week of the year at home against one of the only inferior opponents the Jets will face.

Duke Johnson vs. Falcons: Fantasy managers who roster Johnson will certainly be throwing him into the starting lineup after his Week 9 explosion against the Chiefs. Johnson set season-highs across the board with 10 touches for 86 yards and two touchdowns while playing 46.7% of the snaps. That snap rate falls in line with Johnson’s season average, but new OC Freddie Kitchens made it a point to get the duke in Johnson’s hands in space. It’s something old OC Todd Haley could never seem to understand. The matchup against the Falcons is just as ripe. Atlanta is 29th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and dead last in catches surrendered to the position. Coach Dan Quinn’s defense simply doesn’t put a premium on stopping running backs as pass catchers. Saquon Barkley caught nine balls against them in Week 7. Peyton Barber of all people caught a touchdown in Week 6. James Conner had 75 receiving yards in Week 5. Alvin Kamara reeled in 15 passes in Week 3. MLB Deion Jones (I.R.) isn’t eligible to return until later this month. The Browns are five-point home dogs in a game with a 51-point total. Fire Johnson back up as an RB2/FLEX in PPR leagues. 

Sits

Tarik Cohen vs. Lions: Cohen played over 50% of the snaps last week for the third-consecutive game after not doing that at all the first six weeks, but with the Bears throttling the Bills, Cohen touched the ball just seven times. He managed 13 scoreless yards on those, showing us his scary-low floor. Cohen’s ceiling is sky-high, but the floor is just as low. He typically gets more run when the Bears are involved in a competitive game and/or chasing points. The Lions are not a tough draw, but Detroit plays at the second-slowest pace, and Chicago is touchdown favorites at home. The Bears aren’t as good as their record, and the Lions aren’t as bad as they played last week, but the home team should have little trouble winning this one. It has the feel of a Jordan Howard day in the Bears backfield. Running the ball and playing defense should be enough for a win. And with Allen Robinson (groin) back out wide, that’s just another body Cohen will have to compete with for targets in an already-low volume pass attack. The Lions are bad against running backs, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the position, but as mentioned, this sets up better for Howard. The 45-point total for Lions-Bears is the fourth-lowest of Week 10.

Mark Ingram at Bengals: Ingram made his season debut in Week 5 against the Redskins and finished as the RB9 that week/ Since then, Ingram hasn’t scored a touchdown and is the overall RB50 in fantasy points per game. Ingram played 54.5% of the snaps against Washington, but has been out-snapped by Alvin Kamara by a wide margin in all three games since. Kamara is also dominating the red-zone work in that span, out-targeting Ingram 4-0 and out-carrying him 8-4. This has the feel of maybe a day where the Saints could get Ingram back on the horse, but the numbers haven’t been there the last month, so it’s really tough to blindly go against those with a leap of good faith. The Bengals don’t field an imposing run defense, checking in at 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 27th in DVOA, so could take a stab at a touchdown with Ingram. He may just have to break one, something ingram hasn’t been able to do in recent games despite facing similarly-bad run defenses. Ingram is more of a low-floor RB3/FLEX with most teams having better options.

Matt Breida vs. Giants: Breida has been on the injury report every week since Week 3, first hurting his knee that week against the Chiefs, and then suffering an ankle sprain in Week 5. The ankle has been the real problem, but he’s somehow yet to miss a game despite being called “doubtful” numerous times during the week leading up to Sundays. He’s aggravated the injury a number of times and hasn’t been nearly as effective. Over the last four games since the sprain, Breida is averaging just 3.4 YPC with a combined 47-162-1 rushing line. He has just one catch on one target in that span as well after catching 11 balls the first five weeks. The good news for Breida is he’ll have had 11 days to rest on a mini bye after playing Thursday night in Week 8 and then not again until this coming Monday. Also, the 49ers just lost Raheem Mostert to a season-ending broken arm. The concern is that Breida just has not had the requisite amount of time off altogether with his ankle and may never be 100% again this season. The Giants also play incredibly slow offensively, and their defense faces the fourth-fewest plays per game when on the road. Alfred Morris figures to reenter the picture in the Niners’ backfield with Kyle Juszczyk seeing pass-game work. Jeff Wilson and Matt Dayes are on the practice squad, and one figures to get a promotion this week. Breida is going to need a touchdown to return value. Morris is eighth in the league in carries inside the 10-yard line with 12; coach Kyle Shanahan refuses to quit him. Breida’s ankle injury likely severely diminishes his chances of breaking a long run for a score. This game’s 44-point total is the third-lowest of Week 10.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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