Happy Week 11! Next week let's pick an hour to talk starts, sits and other fantasy questions on Twitter. How about Tuesday, so we can all get a jump on our Thanksgiving roster setting? Let's tentatively say 3pm ET/12pm PT. Actually, let's pretty much for sure do that time. Also, I want to make sure you all know how thankful I am for your time and for the fun we've had so far this season. It's not lost on me how busy life is and I can't tell you how grateful I am for you sharing part of your NFL season with me and my coworkers.
Note: These projections are based on my stat-line projection for each player translated into standard fantasy scoring. These are the median values.
Tip: Use the order and points as a way to compare ... e.g. if a running back is projected to earn 1.5 points more than the guy behind him, but only 0.15 points less than the guy in front of him, take the magnitude into consideration. Also, asterisks (*) mean watch out for injury report changes, but always do that anyway, even if there doesn't happen to be an asterisk.
Furthermore, the Ravens defense hasn't allowed any team to put up 30-plus points this season, while the Cowboys have scored 30-plus in three of their past four. So what gives? One more thing first … both of these teams have had the benefit of easy schedules. If you only consider opponents' wins and losses, the Ravens have had the easiest schedule in the NFL (opponents are 31-52-1) and the Cowboys have the second easiest schedule (opponents are 30-50-2). Next, the Cowboys rank first in rushing attempts per game (50.7 percent) and also time of possession (33:13 mins per game). The Ravens rank first in passing attempts per game and are third in time of possession (32:09 mins per game). Controlling the clock via the run game is a better predictor of success in my model than controlling the clock with passing attempts when a quarterback has a nine-to-nine TD-to-INT ratio.
Fantasy Impact:Ezekiel Elliott is already listed above. Usually, Zeke has an overall rating of RB1-3 but it is a tiny bit lower this week due to the Ravens' strength against the run. The two names to consider that aren't listed in the top seven are Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant. In fact, Dez is only slightly outside the list for this article. Last week the Dak-to-Dez connection resulted in six receptions on nine targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. One thing to note is that Dez has the second-highest ceiling for any wide receiver in my model. This reflects the potential for the Cowboys to increase the number of passing plays they call in this game. For example, the league average for passing-to-rushing plays is about a 60-to-40 split. Here's some estimating for example's sake. The Cowboys run 50.7 percent of the time which is approx. 34 rushing attempts compared to 32 passing attempts per game (this part is real). Bumping that up using the league average of 60 percent passing would be 39.6 attempts, so let's call it 40. Against a tough run defense, the game script could call for more passing attempts … and behind that awesome line, Dak has a 66.8 completion percentage. Also, Jason Witten is my TE11 for the week if you are in need and he's available.
Be careful with this one and remember to factor in the game script. Typically, teams who are playing from ahead end up running the ball more to control the clock, so it would follow that the 2-7 Jags have a lot more rushing yards against them than passing yards. This context is important and helps navigate the difference between the Jags and why you'd see the Seahawks or Broncos limiting effectiveness in passing yards per game. If you look at past results by position, the Jags have an average to better than average defense overall (toughest against opposing tight ends and most vulnerable to opposing running backs).
4a) In 16 games without Rob Gronkowski (since 2010), Tom Brady has a passer rating of 82.5. In 85 games with Gronk, that number jumps to 104.8 (and for reference, the league average since 2010 is 86.9). Do I think this is predictive in any way? Nope. Do I think this is anything to factor into this week's matchup against the 49ers? Also nope. But it's interesting and fun trivia for Sunday Funday. Also, the quick answers here: A Blount touchdown? Yup, maybe even two. Martellus Bennett a great option? Yup. Play Edelman? Yes, and he even shows signs of touchdown-upside this week in my model (his 72 targets are first on the team but his lone touchdown on 48 receptions is tracking at a lower rate than the touchdown rate his targets would suggest).
4b) The Colts have allowed 33 sacks this season (most in NFL) ... They've allowed two-plus in each game this season, and the Titans have 28 sacks (fourth in the league) and at least one in nine straight games. I pretty much just wanted to bring this game up (despite many of the players in it appearing in No. 1 above) because I anticipate this to be one of the highest scoring games of the week, which is great for fantasy players in all formats. Including maybe some sleeper-ish picks? Like Rishard Matthews or Donte Moncrief who I have rated as my WR23 and WR26. I also have Jack Doyle at TE16.
5) Three If/Thens: Injuries
If the Chiefs' Marcus Peters doesn't play, then upgrade the projections for Mike Evans and Jameis Winston. Peters leads the NFL with 15 passes defended and is tied for the most interceptions this season with five. If OLB Justin Houston plays, then factor in increased pressure on Winston in passing situations.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been cleared to play Sunday. If he plays, then his presence on the perimeter downgrades my projections for the Cardinals' J.J. Nelson and Michael Floyd. Note: Captain Munnerlyn is still listed as questionable. He typically gets the slot assignment and if he sits again, this would improve Larry Fitzgerald's outlook.