Welcome to FedEx Air and Ground fantasy analysis. Each week, we'll highlight some favorable quarterback plays and a few running backs that could prove valuable for fantasy owners based on matchups, projected game flow, and most essentially, talent. With Week 4 in the books and another sample of fantasy points against data to work with, here are a few options to keep your eye on in Week 5. These players might just win your week.
Fantasy owners will be able take advantage of Derek Carr's matchup against the Chargers this week. San Diego's top corner, Jason Verrett, was ruled out for the year with an ACL injury, a devastating blow to a Chargers' team that has lost too many stars on both sides of the ball just over a month into the season. With the team's left corner Brandon Flowers also dealing with concussion symptoms, that leaves second-year corner Craig Mager and Pierre Desir, who was waived by the Browns earlier this season, to patrol San Diego's secondary.
The Raiders already average 6.3 yards per play, second-most in the NFL. And when Oakland is in the red zone, the offense scores touchdowns 90.9 percent of the time, tied with the Colts for the highest percentage in the league. Oakland also throws more than any other team in the red zone with pass attempts on 73 percent of their plays in that space.
If this one ends up being a shootout, (because Oakland's defense also isn't great), that works out well for Carr's outlook. Five of Carr's nine touchdown passes this year have come in the fourth quarter, second only to Andrew Luck (six). Carr should have a field day on his home turf Sunday afternoon.
Even with a 6.9-point outing in Week 3, Big Ben stands as the QB4 in fantasy football. This week, he gets the Jets at home. It's no secret that he plays much better at home than on the road: Since 2013, Roethlisberger has played 24 games at home and 24 on the road and averages a full 1.21 more passing touchdowns per game on home turf.
According to the Next Gen Stats research team, Roethlisberger has been more consistently accurate throwing the deep ball than he has on shorter passes with a 100.7 passer rating on throws of 20-plus air yards versus a 90.3 passer rating on passes fewer than 20 air yards. He also has 11 completions of 25-plus air yards, most in the NFL this season.
Roethlisberger's success and tendency to take more risks with the deep ball is significant this week because the Jets secondary has frequently given up big passing plays. In fact, the Jets have allowed seven plays of 40-plus yards, most in the NFL this season. Additionally, the Jets defense ranks 28th in the league in yards per play, 16th in yards per game allowed and 21st in points per game allowed. With wideout Antonio Brown primarily lining up wide (89.0 percent of snaps) and the Jets allowing the seventh-most yards to receivers lined up on the outside with 538 yards versus the 440 league average, this matchup is a recipe for Big Ben, Brown and the rest of the Steelers' receiving corps to put up huge numbers in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Fantasy fans got a good look at rookie Jordan Howard last week against the Lions. With Jeremy Langford (ankle) sidelined, Howard was the Bears featured back and logged 23 rush attempts, more than Langford has ever received in a game, for 111 yards. Howard played on 91 percent of Chicago's snaps too, so fears of veteran street pickup Joique Bell having a significant role were pretty much squashed.
The Colts defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this year. Even the mediocre T.J. Yeldon got over on this defense last week in London. Yeldon was averaging 3.6 yards per carry in the first three weeks. Then he faced Indianapolis and averaged 5.1 yards per rush. Additionally, the Colts are returning from London and turned down the scheduled bye week. The players are going to be exhausted from travelling and the disruption in the weekly routine is not to be overlooked here.
Howard is a virtual lock for another 20-touch workload and has a great shot at becoming the first Bears rookie running back to post consecutive 100-yard rushing games since 2001. Opposing teams have scored 30-plus points in three of four games against the Colts this season, so Howard will have touchdown-upside as well.
His five total touchdowns and 456 yards from scrimmage put Murray at the top of the heap as far as fantasy running backs go. And the guy who we thought might be a threat to Murray's workload, rookie Derrick Henry, has seen his snap percentage decrease each game since Week 2.
The Titans seem intent on running Murray into the ground, and fantasy owners should have no concerns about his output against Miami in Week 5.
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