Dig into the players who might be tough start/sit calls in your lineup based on game film notes, stats, more
Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn’t be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you’ve got the right guys in — and the wrong guys out.
It’s too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don’t know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We’ll go through every game and highlight the players who aren’t obvious starts and sits (because you don’t need to be told to start Jonathan Taylor). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
Start Him in non-PPR (Lineup Decisions)
- HILL: Still hasn’t played more than 23 snaps/33% snaps in a game. He’s had 5, 3, 5, 10 and 9 touches (last week) in his five games. Of his 31 rushes, receptions and pass attempts, only three have come from inside of 10 yards — all for touchdowns.
- CARDINALS: Have allowed 4.33 yards per carry to everybody on the season. They seem to particularly struggle with better offensive lines and schemes, and they also rank 20th in yards before contact allowed. New Orleans has a league-median grade for run blocking from PFF.
- CARDINALS: Have given up 23 rushes of 10-plus yards on the year (ninth-most) and were blasted by Kenneth Walker (4.6 yards per carry) and Geno Smith (8.0 yards per carry) in Week 6.
- CARDINALS: Are fresh off a game where they limited DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett while also collapsing on one of the league’s hotter passers, Geno Smith.
- CARDINALS: Haven’t allowed 90 yards to a single receiver this season and gave up at least that many yards in six games in 2021. Drop that number to 75 yards and the Cards have let that up 12 times in their past 23 games. They typically do a very good job of scheming away deep passes with a lot of zone coverage.
- OLAVE: Ranks first among all NFL receivers in ADOT (average depth of target) with 17.7 yards per target. However, he’s 111th in catch rate (59.5%) on all throws and 42nd in red-zone targets (five). His catch rate is nominally better (61.5%) and ADOT just a little shorter (16.0) with Dalton.
- OLAVE: Has four receptions in each of his past two games, both as the Saints’ main outside receiver.
- LAST WEEK: Arizona gave him 87% of the offensive snaps but he turned 15 carries into 37 yards — against the Seahawks — and saw only three targets. Disappointing is an understatement.
- BENJAMIN: On his 15 carries he couldn’t muster up more than six yards on a run — against the Seahawks. He did have an 11-yard run called back by a holding penalty. His longest catch went 12 yards.
- SAINTS: Tied for 12th in Fantasy points allowed to running backs. Also somehow are dead-last in yards before contact per rush allowed but lead the NFL in yards after contact per rush allowed to running backs.
- SAINTS: Rank top-five in catch rate, yards per catch and total yards after catch allowed to running backs.
Flex Starter in PPR (Lineup Decisions)
- MOORE: Has posted at least 10 PPR points in each of his past two games on a good dose of targets (18) and catches (13). A 24.3% target share in those games has been awesome.
- MOORE: Continued playing a heavy slot role in Week 6 (80% of his snaps) with a low ADOT but a high YAC/reception average (7.83). Only one catch for Moore this year has traveled farther than 10 Air Yards.
- SAINTS: Allow the second-most YAC/reception through six weeks (6.9) along with a just-above league-average 70.7% catch rate to slot receivers. Tyler Boyd caught six passes for 66 yards last week while logging heavy slot snaps.
- FUN FACT: This is the sixth time in seven editions of Starts, Sits, Sleepers & Busts that I’ve written about Hunt. I’ve been incorrect on him once (Week 2) and on-target otherwise. I figured I might as well keep track if I keep researching him.
- LAST WEEK: Hunt fell out of the Browns gameplan and saw four touches, a career-low among games he’s played at least 40% of the snaps in. Prior to Week 6 he averaged 14.2 touches and 66.0 total yards per game with three touchdowns.
- RAVENS: Every running back who has had 15 or fewer touches against the Ravens has scored 12 or fewer PPR points. Hunt has yet to get more than 15 touches in a game this year.
- RAVENS: Rank top-10 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs with three touchdowns allowed. They have gotten better against the run over the past three weeks, allowing 4.05 yards per carry (10th-best) and 2.25 yards after contact (third best) with just six missed tackles on rushes (fourth-fewest). The Patriots excelled at these exact stats before their matchup with Cleveland last week and they completely shut down Hunt and Nick Chubb.
- HISTORY: Hunt has topped 100 total yards and scored in one game out of five against the Ravens with the Browns. It all happened in the same game — their fierce Monday night showdown in 2020. He’s had under 12 PPR points in the other four including FIVE combined PPR points in two 2021 games.
- DUVERNAY: Does have a 20.3% target share in his past two games (both without Rashod Bateman). Unfortunately, that’s meant just 12 targets for a combined stat line of 6-68-0 with 24 rush yards.
- DUVERNAY: Has seven end-zone targets this season, fifth-most among wideouts. Three have been converted to touchdowns, but none in his past three games. He had two end-zone targets last week.
- BROWNS: Rank in the top-12 in catch rate and YAC/reception allowed to rival wide receivers, but they’re sixth-worst in yards per catch and fifth-worst in ADOT allowed. That jibes with their seventh-worst ranking in pass attempts of 20-plus Air Yards (22).
- DUVERNAY: Unfortunately has seen only seven targets of 20-plus Air Yards this year, though four came in his past two. He caught one for 21 yards.
- BROWNS: Played an uncharacteristically low amount of zone coverage last week in an attempt to rush Bailey Zappe into some mistakes. It didn’t work. They’ve typically played way more zone coverage against the Ravens, in part because of Lamar Jackson’s rushing prowess.
- DUVERNAY: Has played much better in 2022 against zone coverage (86.7% catch rate, 2.23 yards per route run, 4.62 YAC/reception) than man coverage (50% catch rate, 1.08 yards per route run, 3.0 YAC/reception).
- OTTON: In Week 5 with Cameron Brate sidelined, Otton played a season-high 94% of the snaps and saw seven targets that churned out a 6-43-0 stat line. Two of the targets came in the red zone and a third from two yards shy of the red zone.
- OTTON: Is pretty much a typical tight end: a big target without speed and with solid but simple route-running skills. His Week 5 ADOT of 3.57 yards tells you all you need to know about how far downfield he runs.
- PANTHERS: Are third-worst in catch rate allowed to tight ends (79.3%) but top-7 in yards per catch and YAC/reception allowed to tight ends. They’ve held all but one opposing tight end (Zach Ertz) to 9 or fewer PPR points. That includes Tyler Higbee last week and George Kittle the week before.
- LAST WEEK: The Panthers didn’t even try to throw downfield. They had a collective ADOT of 0.9. That’s not a typo. A lot of their throws were to Christian McCaffrey, but even their throws to just wideouts and tight ends carried an ADOT of 3.17. Moore’s ADOT was 5.0, obviously a season low.
- MOORE: Has averaged 7.3 targets, 3.3 receptions and 34.0 yards per game. His catch rate is a horrifying 45.5%, but that’s more on inaccurate throws than anything else since he’s credited with just one drop.
- BUCCANEERS: Have given up a touchdown to a wide receiver in two straight, but on the year they’re letting up just 11.6 yards per catch (sixth-best) and 148.5 receiving yards per game (just better than league average) to wideouts.
- PITTS: Didn’t seem limited last week and ran with pretty good explosiveness. It’s a little concerning he wasn’t an every-down player (ran a route on 14 of 17 pass plays), but not as concerning as the 5.0 targets per game and 52% catch rate he’s accumulated so far.
- FALCONS: Are unapologetically running the ball at a 53% play rate, second-most in football. They’ve attempted fewer than 27 passes in each of their past five games. They haven’t lost a game this year by more than six points, so what they’re doing is keeping them competitive.
- BENGALS: Have started to struggle defending the run, going from 3.7 yards per carry allowed through their first four games to 5.3 in their past three. They’re missing beefy D-tackle D.J. Reader in a big way. This hurts Pitts because the Falcons, who are averaging 4.9 yards per tote, will try to take advantage with their running backs and gliding quarterback.
- BENGALS: Are statistically worse against tight ends (71% catch rate, 11.1 yards per catch, 5.94 YAC/reception allowed) than wide receivers (57.3% catch rate, 11.97 yards per catch, 2.99 YAC/reception allowed), but Mark Andrews’ 10-target, eight catch game weigh heavily on these numbers. Plus, Pitts is a hybrid of both and lined up as an in-line tight end on just 26.2% of his pass route snaps.
- LONDON: Over the past three weeks he’s turned 18 targets into a 9-92-0 stat line. In those weeks he’s seen one end-zone target, which was his only red-zone target, and seven passes that traveled further than 10 yards downfield.
- FALCONS: In case you missed it, the Falcons are running at a 53% clip (second-highest) and have attempted fewer than 27 passes in each of their past five games.
- BENGALS: In case you missed it, Cincy ranks top-three in catch rate (57.3%), YAC/reception (2.99) and touchdowns (two) allowed to receivers. The 11.97 yards per catch allowed ranks 12th-best.
- GOFF: Was at his worst when pressured in Week 5, completing 54% of his passes for 6.54 yards per attempt and no touchdowns. That’s in line with his season-long numbers when pressured (49.1% completion rate, 7.04 yards per attempt, -0.23 EPA).
- LIONS: Allowed a pressure on 41% of Goff’s dropbacks in Week 5, the most all season. The left side of the line was particularly bad.
- COWBOYS: Lead the NFL in pass rush pressure rate (41.9%) and have pressured opposing quarterbacks on over 40% of their dropbacks in each of their past four games. Considering their blitz rate (26%, 19th-best), that’s impressive.
- COWBOYS: Have yet to allow more than 20 Fantasy points to any quarterback this year, a list that includes Tom Brady, Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts.
- PRESCOTT: Was pressured relentlessly back in Week 1 behind a rough version of the Cowboys offensive line. It led to some ghastly numbers including a 48% completion rate and a -0.39 EPA (that’s awful).
- SINCE WEEK 2: Dallas has allowed a 31.5% pass rush pressure rate, which is a little better than league average. They’ve also prioritized getting the ball out quick, however, leading to a 6.69 yard per attempt rate and a 7.52 ADOT from Cooper Rush.
- LIONS: Rank 19th in pass rush pressure rate (32.3%) but they were at 37.7% going into Week 4 against the Seahawks. In their past two their rate has sunk to 18.5%, easily the worst in the league.
- LIONS: The matchup for Prescott couldn’t be better — every single quarterback to face the Lions except Bailey Zappe have posted at least 22 Fantasy points. Three of the past four (not Zappe) have thrown for over 250 yards and at least two touchdowns.
- GALLUP: Has a target share of 22.6% over his past two games, averaging a strong ADOT of 11.58 yards, but a catch rate of 50%. Some of the targets he’s had were weak or off-target throws from Cooper Rush, contributing to the low catch rate. But he had two end-zone targets last week against Philly and does get some shot plays called his way.
- 2021: With Prescott, Gallup only had a 9.9% target share last year but still saw plenty of deep targets (12.71 ADOT) and had a slightly-better 56.5% catch rate with seven end-zone targets. Keep in mind, the Cowboys also had Amari Cooper last year, cutting into Gallup’s opportunities.
- LIONS: Allow the fourth-highest catch rate (67.3%) and sixth-highest ADOT (11.49) to enemy wide receivers this season. They’re league-average in pass completions of 20-plus yards allowed.
- ODDS: Dallas has an implied team total of 27.75 points, second-highest of the week.
- POLLARD: Never gets a big workload when Ezekiel Elliott is healthy, but he’s floated between 8 and 13 touches in every game this year.
- POLLARD: His best games come down to whether or not he has a big play, not so much about the matchups. In fact, his three best games have come against the Bengals, Giants and Rams, all of whom rank in the top half of fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs.
- LIONS: Do not rank anywhere near the top half of fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs — they actually give up the second-most on a per-game basis. The Lions rank fourth-worst in yards per carry allowed to RBs (5.46), have allowed 16 runs of 10-plus yards, yielded eight rushing touchdowns to backs (second-most) and are dead last in yards after contact per rush at 4.03.
- POLLARD: Not only has he been better of a statistical level than Elliott, but he is fourth among all qualifying NFL running backs in yards after contact per attempt at 4.18.
- ODDS: The Cowboys are touchdown favorites at home with an implied team total of 28 points. That suggests they’re expected to win.
- HOCKENSON: Had that ridiculous 35 PPR point game in Week 4 against Seattle, has 10 or fewer PPR points in every other game.
- GOFF: When pressured, Goff doesn’t throw far downfield — only 17 of his 55 pass attempts when pressured this season traveled farther than 15 Air Yards (47% were caught). This is actually good news for Hockenson, who owns a 7.82 ADOT and has caught 15 of 19 passes inside of 10 Air Yards, but it’s also good news for the Lions’ running backs and slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (23 of his 27 catches have been inside of 10 Air Yards.
- COWBOYS: Not only do they figure to bring the heat to Goff, but they’ve also held all tight ends out of the end zone this season and have kept the position to just 6.34 yards per catch (tops in the NFL).
- LAST WEEK: Ryan leaned on quick throws off the snap to negate the Jaguars pass rush early on, then adjusted with more downfield passes once the Jaguars started dropping more players into coverage.
- RYAN: Don’t expect him to throw 58 times again, particularly against the Titans’ weak run defense. Indy should feel better about their chances to be more balanced.
- PAST FOUR: However, Ryan has attempted at least 37 passes in each of his past four games with multiple passing touchdowns in three of the four and over 250 yards in each of his past three. His numbers have certainly improved with the emergence of rookie Alec Pierce.
- TITANS: Have let up at least 22 Fantasy points to each of the past four quarterbacks they’ve faced, and multiple passing touchdown to every quarterback they’ve faced.
- TITANS: Also rank in the bottom-10 in pass rush pressure rate, so Ryan shouldn’t have major concerns about a pass rush crushing him.
- ROBINSON: Though he only played 14 snaps, Robinson flashed good speed and a fluidity to his routes. He was a willing blocker on runs and did his part to help clear out space with deep routes to get guys open closer to the line of scrimmage. He also had a touchdown or at least 15 yards on each of three catches. There’s no doubt his playing time will rise, likely costing Richie James time in the slot.
- ROBINSON: His touchdown catch was a clearly designed play for him where he got open inside the 10-yard line with other players setting a pick for him. It’s a good thing anytime a player has a designed touchdown play in his first game.
- JAGUARS: Are around league average in terms of catch rate (65.7%), yards per catch (11.3) and YAC/reception (5.13) allowed to slot receivers, but they lead the NFL with the most missed tackles against slots with nine. Last week the Colts, who threw at a high rate and threw short most of the time, targeted slot receiver Parris Campbell 11 times for a 7-57-1 stat line (and three missed tackles).
- GIANTS: Lead the NFL in blitz rate and just blitzed Lamar Jackson on 61.1% of his dropbacks last week. They’re also top-12 in pass rush pressure rate.
- LAWRENCE: Horrifying while under pressure — 40.4% completion rate, 4.63 yards per attempt, -0.62 EPA and a 37.4 QB rating.
- LAWRENCE: Struggled against other pass rush heavy defenses in Washington (40.9% rate) and Philadelphia (34.3%).
- GIANTS: 20 or fewer Fantasy points to QBs in each of their past five games, including Jackson last week and Aaron Rodgers the week before.
- ETIENNE: Playing time dipped last week but rushing efficiency did not — 8.6 yards per carry in Week 6 and an excellent 7.85 yards per carry in his past two. He’s scored 14 and 12 PPR points.
- GIANTS: Even with Leonard Williams back last week the Giants couldn’t stop Kenyan Drake, who had a pair of 30-yard runs and two more runs for 15-plus yards each. On the season they rank third-worst in rush yards per carry allowed (5.48) and second-worst in yards before contact per rush allowed (2.14) with 28 missed tackles.
- GIANTS: Have also let up a league-worst 11.07 yards per catch to running backs with a third-worst 9.57 YAC/reception. Etienne leads all running backs with 11.69 YAC/reception and ranks third in yards per catch with 11.23.
- COINCIDENCE? Since a three-drop game against the Eagles, Kirk has seen just eight targets and converted them into a 5-35-1 stat line. Curiously, his playing time has not dropped at all.
- KIRK: Is as smooth and as speedy of a route runner as ever — he just hasn’t been getting the same kind of target volume as he did in the first four games of the year.
- GIANTS: Give up the second-lowest catch rate (54.2%) to receivers and the eighth-lowest YAC/reception (4.05) too. And while their run defense may miss a lot of tackles, their defenders against receivers do not (five missed tackles all year).
- ENGRAM: Has six-plus targets in each of his past two games. He was helped by one of the Jaguars’ top-three receivers not playing (Zay Jones in Week 5, Marvin Jones in Week 6).
- LAST WEEK: Would have scored on a 26-yard pass had Lawrence not been late on a throw. Otherwise called four designed quick screens for him, a play they may keep using this week to negate the Giants pass rush.
- GIANTS: Gave up more than 8.5 half-PPR points for the first time on the season — to Mark Andrews. A stud. Every other game they’ve held opposing tight ends to seven of fewer PPR points otherwise, though they haven’t played anyone who’s had more than five targets in a game besides Andrews.
- LAST WEEK: Dillon had two targets bounce off his hands and didn’t have good vision on his first run.
- DILLON: Has much weaker efficiency compared to Aaron Jones, averaging nearly 2.0 fewer yards per carry and essentially 1.0 yard worse on yards before and after contact per rush. He’s avoided fewer tackles and had fewer explosive runs. Jones also beats Dillon in catch rate, yards per catch, YAC/reception, explosive play rate on passes and tackles avoided.
- PACKERS: Continue to speak about utilizing the run game more. Aaron Rodgers specifically mentioned Jones after their Week 6 loss. “We gotta get the ball to 33 more,” Rodgers told The Pat McAfee Show this week. ” … When he touches the ball, good things happen. He breaks tackles, he’s probably our most elusive guy with the football in his hands.”
- DILLON: Hasn’t scored since Week 1, hasn’t had more than 10 PPR points since Week 1.
- COMMANDERS: Have held running backs on opposing teams to under 3.5 yards per carry in three of their four games; Chicago scorched them pretty good last week on the strength of a 63-yard run by Khalil Herbert. Washington has allowed just three rushing scores to running backs this season.
- LAST WEEK: Tonyan had his highest route run rate of the season, 76%. He also had his highest target share of the season, 27.3%. It’s no coincidence it came in a game when Randall Cobb got hurt and Romeo Doubs struggled to make an impact.
- RODGERS: Had his timing down with Tonyan on a number of plays, a positive sign that Rodgers will keep leaning on his trusted tight end.
- COMMANDERS: Have been strong against tight ends, allowing only one (Dallas Goedert) to score on them. Goedert is also the only one to register 10-plus PPR points on Washington, but they’ve barely been tested. T.J. Hockenson is the only tight end to see more than five targets against them.
- LAST WEEK: Smith was at his worst — he seemed jittery in the pocket and had a few misfires and some should’ve-thrown balls that would have resulted in a much, much better game. He was terrible on third downs. You could say that of many quarterbacks, but it was uncharacteristic of Smith given how he played in the game prior. Pass rush pressure was a factor.
- SEAHAWKS: Even with Smith struggling, they had five drives go into Arizona’s red zone, all of which involved seven-plus plays. Four resulted in field goals.
- CHARGERS: They benched their top free-agent acquisition at cornerback last week and still held Russell Wilson to under 200 yards passing in an overtime game. That’s impressive even with Wilson struggling. They’ve kept 5 of 6 QBs to 21 or fewer Fantasy points.
- CHARGERS: They’re without pass rush monster Joey Bosa and still applied pressure on 35.3% of Wilson’s dropbacks last Monday. Chances are they’ll attempt to get to Smith like the Cardinals did last week.
- SMITH: Just so it’s in here, Smith posted 22-plus Fantasy points in his three games prior to last week.
- COOKS: Has seen an awesome target share (25.8%) but has taken a sharp downturn in catch rate (57.1%) and yards per catch (9.8). His ADOT, once steadily north of 11.0 yards, has fallen below 8.2. Four drops haven’t helped Cooks’ cause, nor have a few other close calls that could be called drops.
- COOKS: Leads the Texans with four red-zone and three end-zone targets. No one else has more than two in either category.
- COOKS: On film, his speed and agility still look pretty good, though maybe not quite as explosive as it used to be. Really it’s his hands that have not been as good as expected. That’s correctable, especially for a player who’s been in the league as long as he has.
- RAIDERS: Rank seventh-worst in catch rate allowed to receivers (66%) and are below league average in yards per catch and YAC/reception allowed to wideouts. Four receivers have posted 10-plus non-PPR and five receivers have hit at least 15 PPR points versus them.
- RAIDERS: Slot receivers have especially gone to town against Las Vegas — they rank bottom-four in catch rate (83%), yards per catch (13.3) and touchdowns (four) allowed to slots. They also lost slot cornerback Nate Hobbs to a broken hand.
- COOKS: Hasn’t really been a preferred slot option for the Texans this year but did line up there for a season-high 32.6% of snaps in their last game. They pushed him into the slot more on occasion and might do the same here given the matchup.
- THE GOOD: Jeudy’s had 15 targets in his past two games including three end-zone targets. He’s also had two plays of 20-plus yards, both of which involved good throws from Russell Wilson.
- THE BAD: Jeudy’s catch rate on those 15 targets is 40%, and his catch rate for the season is 47.2%, which involved bad throws from Russell Wilson.
- JEUDY: Has begun settling into a slot role, playing 70% of his snaps from there in the past two weeks.
- JETS: Have been challenged downfield this season (12.82 ADOT is the second-highest seen to wide receivers) but have kept receivers in moderate check with a 62.7% catch rate (which is league average) and 4.06 YAC/reception (ninth-lowest) allowed.
- JETS: Of their 11 pass plays of 20-plus yards allowed, six have been to slot receivers. And of the 260 yards after catch allowed, 175 have been to slot guys. There is some big play potential for Jeudy.
- JETS: Rank top-12 in catch rate (58.6%) and yards per catch (12.74) allowed to receivers who line up wide, and they’re the best in YAC/reception allowed to outside receivers (2.47). That could help the Broncos pivot to Jeudy.
- EDWARDS-HELAIRE: Has scored 85.3 PPR points this season in decimal-scoring. Thirty of the points (35.2%) have come from touchdowns. That’s a little scary.
- EDWARDS-HELAIRE: Has one game with over 100 total yards, two with over 75 yards and three with under 50 total yards.
- EDWARDS-HELAIRE: Has played under 50% of the snaps in 5 of 6 games (including his past two) and has played 20 fewer red-zone snaps than Jerick McKinnon. Obviously Edwards-Helaire has an edge on McKinnon on touches in the red zone, but not by much (12 to 10).
- 49ERS: Have held running backs to the second-lowest rushing average at 3.10 yards per carry. The only team that’s better? Buffalo, who held Edwards-Helaire to 33 total yards last Sunday.
- 49ERS: Allow the fewest Fantasy points per game to running backs and have let up 12-plus PPR points to just two RBs this season (Christian McCaffrey and Melvin Gordon).
- SMITH-SCHUSTER: I have mixed feelings on his game from last week. His 42-yard touchdown felt more like an improvisational play, and it’s been awfully rare for Smith-Schuster to avoid tackles and run 34 yards for a touchdown. But then he did it again in the third quarter, smoothly catching a short five-yard slant in stride and churning 36 yards after the catch for a big gain. That play felt less improvisational and much more indicative of a talented receiver who can still run a little bit when he finds space.
- COVERAGE: I had been going with the argument all year that Smith-Schuster, because of his size and technique, is a better fit against zone coverages than man. Entering last week he was certainly targeted more often against zone than man, but more explosive against man than zone. Last week he was terrific against both — but was targeted more often against man than zone and more explosive against zone than man. Point is, I just don’t think it’s reliable to base Smith-Schuster’s matchups against defensive tendencies anymore.
- FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Have been among the most reliable zone coverage defenses this year, playing at least 60% zone weekly and north of 75% zone in 4 of 6 games.
- 49ERS: More importantly, the 49ers pass defense is still missing key starters. Cornerbacks Deommodore Lenoir and Samuel Womack weren’t targeted much but still graded poorly per PFF, and starter Charvarius Ward (their best corner) may not play. Safety Talanoa Hufanga is in the concussion protocol and other safety Jimmie Ward might play with a cast on his hand to protect a broken bone.
- 49ERS: Rank in the top-13 in catch rate (62.3%), yards per catch (11.95) and YAC/reception (3.97) allowed to outside receivers, which is where Smith-Schuster has been lining up the majority of his snaps.
- SMITH-SCHUSTER: Had eight targets in Weeks 1, 3, 4 and 5, but had 13 or fewer PPR points in each of them. He really needed those two long catch-and-runs last week against Buffalo to finally have a game like we’re used to seeing.
- HISTORY: Smith-Schuster hasn’t posted back-to-back games with 13-plus PPR points (much less 15-plus PPR points) since his last two games of 2020. He hasn’t posted back-to-back games with 13 PPR points this year.
- ODDS: The Chiefs implied team total is 25.5 points, surprisingly tied for only the seventh-highest mark this week.
- JOHNSON: Has underwhelmed all year. He’s logged a 57.9% catch rate, an 8.9-yard receiving average and 0.61 YAC/reception, all of which are below his career numbers entering 2022, especially the after-catch numbers.
- JOHNSON: Posted north of 13 PPR points once this season and it took 11 targets/8 receptions. He’s had 12 or fewer PPR points in every game. Despite three end-zone targets he has no touchdowns.
- MATCHUPS: It’s worth pointing out that this will only be Johnson’s second matchup of the season against a pass defense that ranks in the bottom half in Fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. His 16 PPR point game came against Cleveland. The Dolphins are tied with the Browns for giving up the 10th-most Fantasy points to WRs.
- DOLPHINS: Against outside receivers they’re league-average in catch rate allowed (62.7%) but have been throttled in the yards per catch (15.95, third-worst) and YAC/reception categories (6.62, highest in the league). This is all without giving up many big plays — just 10 completions of 20-plus yards.
- BEARS: Coach Matt Eberflus said this week that the “hot hand” at running back will see carries from game to game.
- MONTGOMERY: Has been beaten in every rushing efficiency metric by Khalil Herbert so far this season except for one: avoided tackle rate, where Montgomery has a slim 5% edge. But otherwise, Herbert has been the more explosive running back through six games.
- MONTGOMERY: Does have an edge on Herbert in receiving metrics, including yards per catch and YAC/reception. It stands to reason the Bears will rely more on Montgomery in games when they’re chasing points.
- MONTGOMERY: Since coming back from his ankle injury, Montgomery has averaged 3.22 yards per carry, but a lofty 15.0 yards per catch, though that’s boosted by catches of 21 and 30 yards against the Vikings two weeks ago. Montgomery didn’t have receptions that long in all of 2021. Feels like an outlier.
- PATRIOTS: Have yet to allow a touchdown to a running back and just shut down Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Their 4.33 yards per carry allowed is a little better than what the league average is, but they’ve been good in limiting yards after contact per rush (2.77, ninth-best) and have the fewest missed tackles on running back runs (nine). They’re also great in the red zone.
- PATRIOTS: Do struggle with pass-catching running backs, yielding 9.6 yards per catch (third-worst) and 8.36 YAC/reception (eighth-worst) to them. They’ve missed as many tackles here against 32 targets as they have against 124 RB carries.