Game Spotlight: Hungry Doug
Game Spotlight: Hungry Doug

This article is part of our Game Spotlight series.

Sunday

Cincinnati vs. New Orleans, 1:00

Open: 55 O/U, NO -3.5
Live: 54 O/U, NO -5.5

A.J. Green is out multiple weeks with a very concerning toe injury. Everything sucks. Green's absence opens a massive target void – 76 targets in eight games – so Tyler Boyd looks locked into a double-digit target role given that he had 66 targets of his own with Green on the field. As much as it opens up additional targets for Boyd, Green's absence might offset that with a decline in overall passing production. Andy Dalton is a below average starting quarterback, and we're about to find out just how far below the average with Green no longer around to bail him out. But Boyd should have a high floor especially in PPR, and it helps that he should avoid Marshon Lattimore a good amount by running from the slot.

For this particular matchup, though, against a Saints team that figures to score reliably, Dalton might have the pass attempt volume to give his owners something useful. I'll be staying away in DFS just because I don't trust him, but the matchup otherwise seems nice against a Saints team that's allowed 18 passing touchdowns so far. I might be able to convince myself to go with John Ross in a couple tournament lineups. Ross is likely to always be injury prone but for one week at least we have him in a lineup with Green's target void as the Bengals project to play from behind. Alex Erickson won't be of interest to me, but he actually might be the favorite to play the second-most receiver snaps behind Boyd. C.J. Uzomah remains a viable punt play TE, but one whose floor is basement-level.

It wouldn't be shocking if Green's absence results in more work for Joe Mixon even more than Boyd, Erickson, or Ross. As a dangerous pass catcher Mixon could stay involved all game even if the Bengals fall behind early. He might need to do his greatest damage as a receiver regardless of the game script – the Saints are allowing the second-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs, with just 420 in eight games (3.1 YPC).

Drew Brees' projection takes a hit on the road against an opponent that just doesn't look that imposing. The Saints had to use all their tricks to beat the Rams last week, but against Cincinnati you can get away with a lesser effort. If the Saints get an early lead, it wouldn't be surprising if Brees doesn't throw much the rest of the way. If Brees does need to throw the ball, though, he would seem likely to succeed against a Bengals defense tied with Tampa and the Saints themselves as the most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. If Brees goes, Michael Thomas goes. Sometimes Thomas goes even when Brees doesn't. Tre'Quan Smith is the only other Saints receiver on the radar with Dez Bryant and Cameron Meredith both out. After seeing his snap count drop in Week 8, Ben Watson got back onto the radar by scoring and playing 33 snaps against the Rams. The Bengals have defended tight ends poorly this year, on pace to allow 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns to tight ends for the year.

Alvin Kamara has six touchdowns in his last three games, and 12 already on the year. If New Orleans is scoring a touchdown from scrimmage, Kamara is the player most likely holding the ball. The Saints are projected to score about 30 points in this one, and the Bengals defense has otherwise been accommodating to opposing running backs, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and 6.6 yards per target. Kamara should find the end zone in this game and offer yardage from scrimmage otherwise, but I also like the setup for Mark Ingram. It's concerning that Ingram fumbled last week, but so long as Sean Payton isn't feeling overly punitive then it should be one of Ingram's better games. We saw Payton make the seemingly conscious effort to give Kamara some rest when Ingram returned from suspension against Washington, and following last week's high-stakes divisional contest against the Rams it might make sense to give Kamara a lighter day against the toothless Bengals. Kamara had just nine touches in that Washington game following a 24-touch game the week prior, and he saw 23 touches against the Rams. A much more important game against Philadelphia is up in Week 11, too.

Cleveland vs. Atlanta, 1:00

Open: 51 O/U, ATL -2.5
Live: 50.5 O/U, ATL -5

For the first quarter or so of last week's game against Kansas City it looked like the Browns offense was going to look exactly as disgusting as it was before the firings of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, but then Freddie Kitchens and company got things in order well enough for Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense to show some promise in the second half. The Falcons are an easier matchup than the Chiefs were, so perhaps the momentum can carry.

If Mayfield can put forth a solid showing, it would hopefully result in a bounce-back game for Jarvis Landry, whose big target volume has done nothing to save his rotted box scores. His 65 targets from Mayfield's starts have yielded just 35 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns (53.9 percent completion rate, 4.6 YPT). Those numbers can only improve, and I think Landry makes definite sense as a GPP pick despite his nauseating numbers against a Falcons defense allowing 7.9 YPA at a 69.7 percent completion rate. The same is mostly true of David Njoku, though his projection is worse than it could have been since he's playing through rib and knee issues that might limit him to something like a 50-snap, six-target sort of workload rather than the ~65-snap, 7-to-10 target workload he had for the first six weeks. It's not clear whether Antonio Callaway saw his snap count fall to 39 last week because of his ankle injury or because the Browns decided to get Rashard Higgins (knee) and Breshad Perriman more involved anyway. One or two of the three could do something helpful – it's interesting that Perriman saw six targets and two carries on just 26 snaps in just his fourth week with the team – but it's a ton of risk at the same time given that it's three unproven players with roles that still seem fluid.

None of that is even to account for Duke Johnson, who quickly proved the malpractice committed by the pre-Kitchens game planners by taking nine receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets against the Chiefs. Matt Ryan poses a similar threat to the struggling Browns defense that Pat Mahomes did, so the catch-up scenario from last week could largely transfer right into this one. That would be good for Johnson, who's a great runner out of the backfield but for some reason even last week only got one carry. Johnson's breakout presumably occurred at the expenses of Njoku and Landry to some extent, but it's otherwise encouraging that Johnson's big game didn't mess up the script for Nick Chubb, who still got 22 carries. Granted, the Browns might be playing an unsustainable number of snaps right now – 73.3 per game since Week 5 – but a matchup with the Falcons specifically seems unlikely to drag down that number.

Ryan's superb play of late combined with the injuries on the Atlanta defense creates an insta-shootout environment, and even if his historical road splits trigger a lower-end range of outcomes in this case, the floor should be quite high. If he plays poorly, Cleveland's high tempo should assure he offsets it with volume somewhat. But he probably won't play poorly exactly, both because of how well he's playing in his own account as well as the fact that the Browns defense has fallen off a bit in the past six weeks, allowing 31.3 points per game in that stretch.

Particularly as long as the Falcons defense is beat up like this, I think we need to err on the side of extreme optimism for Julio Jones until further notice. He's doing 10.3 yards per target on a 65.9 percent catch rate, so even the end zone isn't safe from Julio in times like these. It would be forgivable if someone didn't trust him in cash games, but these might be exceptional conditions he's playing through right now. Calvin Ridley has matched the snap counts of Mohamed Sanu in recent weeks after playing clearly behind the veteran for the first six weeks, though it's not clear whether that had something to do with Sanu's hip issue, which he's apparently over at this point. Both wideouts are capable, with Ridley boasting a 75 percent catch rate at 10.5 yards per target while Sanu owns a 70 percent catch rate at 9.2 yards per target, but it feels a bit more like overachieving in Sanu's case. It looks difficult for Sanu and Ridley to post big numbers in the same contest. Austin Hooper is playing well this year, but his blowup games occurred in shootouts with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, in which he combined for 22 targets. The Browns probably pose a threat more similar to the Giants and Washington, against whom Hooper combined for seven targets. He might need a touchdown to make his owners content in this one.

The Falcons backfield in any case could be a trove of DFS value this week since Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith are so affordable as they take on a Browns defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs, getting butchered on the ground (4.7 YPC) and through the air alike (7.9 YPT). I don't think you can use both on a lineup, but the low prices on Coleman and Smith means that an adequate showing from one wouldn't necessarily preclude the other from doing the same.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle, 4:25

Open: 51.5 O/U, LAR -9.5
Live: 50 O/U, LAR -10

With Cooper Kupp (knee) back in the offense, the Rams are to proceed as previously scheduled, and there's probably not much that even a good Seattle defense can do about it. They certainly couldn't the last time they saw the Rams, even with homefield advantage. And yet, those 33 points occurred in what was mostly a struggle from scrimmage for Todd Gurley (77 yards on 22 carries) and Jared Goff (23-of-32 for 321 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions). Gurley got his three touchdowns anyway, but getting the Seahawks defense out of Seattle should make the sledding from scrimmage easier, too.

Brandin Cooks suffered a concussion early in that game, which might have slightly buoyed the production of Kupp and Robert Woods, who respectively finished with 6/90/1 on nine targets and 5/92 on seven. Kupp might offer the most stability week to week and at no expense of his upside just because he's the go-to red-zone wideout yet stays plenty involved between the 20s as the primary slot receiver. Woods and Cooks showed the ability to post big numbers within the same week earlier this year, and in matchup terms I see no reason to worry about Cooks against this grabby defense. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense have some momentum lately, so I like the chances of Goff throwing enough to give all three Rams wideouts a good chance at producing.

The Seattle side of this game might not be especially coveted, but I think there will be value to claim in the passing game. Doug Baldwin's low prices just aren't reflective of his skill, and I think he screams of blowup potential now that he's off the injury report from the groin issue that limited him earlier in the week. But I'll also need to seriously consider tournament shares of Tyler Lockett and David Moore. Lockett's target volume is discouragingly low lately (14 in his last four games), but he's still very explosive and might trend upward against a Rams defense that's giving up a lot of big plays against the pass. But if not Lockett or Baldwin, then I think Moore would have to do something in that case. He might be Wilson's top red-zone target in any particular setting, and in this one he might see plenty of work between the 20s after playing 108 snaps in the last two games. Even Nick Vannett is worth some tournament consideration at tight end, but understand the risk is high given that he lacks explosiveness, and he's unlikely to play more than 55 percent or so of the snaps in a rotation with Ed Dickson.

Chris Carson (hip) looks unlikely to play, so Mike Davis is expected to hold a workhorse role against the Rams. The Wade Phillips defense gives up chunks of rushing yardage almost as a feature in an effort to prioritize gap disruption instead, it just usually doesn't show up to any notable extent in the box score because opposing teams need to so quickly abandon the run against the Rams. So despite his likely workhorse designation, Davis might not see an especially high carry count against a defense that's otherwise vulnerable (4.7 YPC). If Davis does get carries he should do well due to the matchup and Seattle's strong run blocking. Rashaad Penny is the better pure runner but even I'm not interested in him in tournaments, mostly because Davis is, for all his limitations, a legitimately good pass catcher at running back. If the Seahawks don't trust Penny with carries, I can't imagine them trusting him with catch-up snaps.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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