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 10 in the books and another sample of fantasy points against data to work with, here are a few matchups to exploit in Week 11. These players might just win your week.
Fresh off a bye, Matthew Stafford and his Lions take on the Jaguars in Detroit. Jacksonville's pass defense isn't horrible, in fact the unit is allowing the third-fewest passing yards to quarterbacks this season (1,935). But, in his last two starts Stafford has overcome unfavorable matchups on the road in Houston and Minnesota. In those games, he posted 13.60 and 14.76 fantasy points respectively, which were both serviceable top-20 performances if you were forced to use him due to bye weeks. Definitely not week-winning outings, but respectable given the matchups.
With a healthy Eric Ebron back in the fold as an additional big body in the red zone, Golden Tate heating up of late while leading the team in targets and receptions, Marvin Jones as the deep threat who is due for a big game, Anquan Boldin in the mix and Theo Riddick as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, the Lions receiving corps is one of the most diverse and dynamic in the NFL. This gives Stafford a wealth of weapons to produce through the air. The quarterback's 7.5 yards per attempt is the second-highest mark in his career, and he's working with career highs in completion percentage, passer rating and touchdown/interception ratio, further solidifying how much of a menace this passing game is to opposing defenses.
Another trend in Stafford's favor is the fact that Jacksonville hasn't forced a turnover in five straight games. With an extra week of preparation coming off a bye, and the Jaguars' prone to giving the ball away, expect Stafford to have a ton of opportunities and have a top-10 fantasy day in Week 11.
I know what you're thinking. How can you rely on a quarterback who is averaging just 196.6 passing yards per game (30th among 33 quarterbacks who qualify)? But a cursory glance at Taylor's fantasy game logs tells the story of how he's been able to put up fringe QB1 totals all season long. The guy uses his legs to get the job done week in and week out, and leads all quarterbacks with 362 rushing yards this season. For context, Latavius Murray has 393 rush yards this year. Taylor has also collected four rushing touchdowns, including his last three straight games, which ties him for the most among quarterbacks with Cam Newton and Dak Prescott. He rarely turns the ball over, with just one interception in his last six games, and just three all season.
Even when the matchup doesn't favor Taylor, he's been able to put up big numbers. He even managed 25.86 fantasy points in Week 9 against the Seahawks ... in Seattle. That game was sort of a coming-out party for Taylor who doesn't get enough respect for his consistent and efficient play.
This week, the matchup is a juicy one against the Bengals. Cincinnati's defense has allowed 27-plus points in four of nine games this year and rank 24th in the NFL in total yards per game and rushing yards per game allowed. That means Taylor will have ample room to run when he sees open field and should be able to gain huge chunks of yardage on the ground.
Taylor's high in rushing yards this year was 76 in Week 3 against Arizona. Expect him to best that mark this week against the Bengals and slot him in as a QB1 in an extremely favorable matchup.
Yes, I did just write an article about why you should tradeRob Kelley away before the fantasy playoffs, but I noted to do it after he faces the Packers in Week 11. Why? Because he's about to eat against Green Bay.
If you sort by season-long stats, the Packers rank in the top 10 among run-stopping defenses. But the unit has been trending in the wrong direction against the position over the last few weeks. In Weeks 1 through 5, Green Bay allowed just 42.8 rushing yards per game. In Weeks 6 through 10, the team has surrendered more than double that, 119.4 rushing yards per game.
Kelley has taken over the starting job in Washington's backfield behind an offensive line that ranks second in run blocking according to Football Outsiders DVOA. He's getting 20-plus touches per game, and will serve as the goal-line back when the Redskins get inside the five-yard line.
If Washington can take advantage of Green Bay's banged up secondary and get ahead early, expect them to salt the clock with Kelley later on to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands. But remember, after Kelley goes off this week, look to sell high before he sinks your fantasy roster with the worst fantasy playoff schedule among all running backs.
According to Doug Pederson, a toothache is the reason why Mathews only played 16 snaps combined in Weeks 8 and 9. It was apparently so painful that it limited his playing time, but he had a root canal before Week 10 and was thrust into a featured role against Atlanta, in which he produced over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
This week, Mathews faces a Seattle Seahawks defense that on paper sounds like an awful matchup, but if you look at the numbers, they tell another story. Over the last four games, the Seahawks have allowed three 100-yard rushing performances, four rushing touchdowns by running backs and two rushing touchdowns by quarterbacks. Seattle is averaging 151.3 total yards per game allowed to running backs during that span. Most recently, in a game where LeGarrette Blount seemed like a must-sit against them he finished as the RB5 for Week 10.
After his surprising performance against Atlanta, Mathews is back to being the guy we thought he'd be coming into the season. Despite Mathews' fumbling issues, the Eagles would be remiss to use a 33-year-old pass-catching back in Darren Sproles as their primary runner. He's more effective as a receiver and only saw two rush attempts last week while Philadelphia rode Mathews' hot hand. If Mathews can see upwards of 15 touches again, fantasy owners can expect another top-10 performance -- even in what seems like an unfavorable matchup in Seattle.
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