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 9 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 10. These players might just win your week.
Carson Wentz has not been a great fantasy quarterback since the Eagles Week 4 bye, averaging just 10.5 fantasy points per game, totaling fewer than 12 points in four of his last five contests.
Wentz has struggled with success on deep balls of late and that makes sense given his tough matchups against WAS, MIN and DAL. Each of those defenses rank in the top half of the league in terms of passing yards allowed per game and have surrendered just 20, 21 and 24 completions of 20-plus air yards this season respectively, all of which are top 11 in the NFL.
Last week against the Giants, the rookie quarterback recorded a season-high 11.1 air yards per throw on his 47 pass attempts. He's attempted 90 passes in his last two games. Wentz has home-field advantage this week which is a factor as the Eagles have scored 28.0 points per game in Philadelphia versus 23.6 on the road this season. If the Eagles find themselves behind early, Wentz has potential to throw upwards of 45 attempts in this game.
And if there's a matchup for Wentz to get back on track with his deep ball accuracy and have another high-volume pass-attempt game, this is the week. He'll try to keep pace with the high-flying Atlanta offense by attacking a defense that has struggled to stop the pass.
The Falcons are on pace to set a franchise record for most passing yards per game allowed with a current mark of 289.6 (the record is 283.8) which is 28th in the league. Atlanta has also allowed more passing touchdowns than any other team with 23. Furthermore, the Falcons rank dead last in the league in red-zone touchdown percentage, 78.8, which bodes well for Wentz's fantasy outlook in terms of scoring. All of these deficiencies on Atlanta's defense have resulted in the most fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks this year.
Last week Eli Manning shocked fantasy fans, throwing three touchdown passes in the first half. He finished with a season-high four total touchdowns on the day against an Eagles defense which heading into Week 9, had allowed just eight passing touchdowns for the year. Manning supplemented his touchdown throws with 257 yards through the air for a 20-plus point fantasy day. He has played much better at home this season with an average of 344.5 pass yards per game at MetLife Stadium.
This week, the Giants stay in New Jersey to face a Bengals defense that has struggled against quarterbacks this season, as they're allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the position. And on the road this year, Cincy's defense has given up 27.3 points per game and 388.3 passing yards per game (excluding the Week 8 London game). The Bengals are currently the NFL's 25th-ranked defense, which Manning should be able to pick apart at home with a bevy of weapons (ahem, Odell Beckham Jr., etc) at his disposal.
The Giants have virtually zero run game, with a league-worst 68.3 rush yards per-game average, while Manning ranks 11th in the NFL among quarterbacks with 38.2 pass attempts per game. Basically, he's going to be passing a ton. This home stand could be exactly what Manning needs to string together a couple of solid fantasy outings and get back into the good graces of fantasy owners. With a juicy matchup against the Bengals, this an ideal week to roll with Eli if you're looking for a deeper quarterback play with the likes of Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr all on bye.
... Not so much, lately.
Minnesota has allowed running backs to average a combined 4.8 yards per carry over the last three weeks. This is not the same Vikings defensive front that we saw dominate in the first five weeks. Minnesota has allowed 118.7 rush yards per game in their last three contests. Even Theo Riddick, who is not particularly known for his rushing prowess, averaged 4.0 yards per carry against the Vikings last week after averaging 3.7 for the season heading into Week 9.
According to coach Jay Gruden, the Redskins run game is "going through" rookie Rob Kelley moving forward, as the fumble-prone Matt Jones takes a backseat. Kelley got 20-plus touches in the Redskins last game against the Bengals in Week 8 with Jones out. As a team, Washington is averaging 24 rushing attempts per game and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, good enough to tie them for seventh in the NFL. The Redskins' offensive line is ranked fourth in the league in run-blocking for the season according to Football Outsiders' DVOA.
So for Kelley, the volume will be there and the matchup is favorable despite the intimidating reputation of the Vikes defense. Kelley is in line to make a big statement both for Washington's ground game and for fantasy owners in front of his home crowd on Sunday.
Darren Sproles, who is known more for his receiving abilities than his run game, is on pace to set a career-high 118 rush attempts this year. The veteran has out-snapped Ryan Mathews by a count of 121-16 over the Eagles last two games and has piled up 33 total touches in that span. Coach Doug Pederson finally caved this week and stated that Sproles is the team's starting running back after stating before Week 9 that Ryan was still their lead guy despite the snap count differential that had been apparent for weeks.
Sproles should see yet another 15-20 touches in a game where the Eagles will need to score points to keep pace with a high-flying Atlanta offense. Because of his increased volume, Sproles ranks ninth in total rushing yards among running backs over the last two weeks. Oh and that minor detail about Sproles' main strength as a receiving back ... Atlanta has allowed more receiving yards (547) to running backs this season than any other team in the league. Look for Philadelphia to take advantage of that matchup as they try to build confidence in Carson Wentz with shorter passes before they let him unload a few downfield plays.
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