I'm not sure how many people will read this (or care about it), but if it reaches even a few people, that's great. I've been playing competitive shooters for a very long time, over 15 years of CS, GM in Overwatch, COD, Battlefield, BRs. But CS is my pride and joy. I figured I'd whip up some really simple tips for those that might need to hear it.
You're welcome to ask questions if you have it, I'll respond to anything I can (and I'm sure others will answer questions you might have as well!)
Again: this guide is not for players that are experienced in CS already or for CS styled games. This is more for our Overwatch and League and whatever other players that might be experimenting with this style for the first time.
I know this guide is going to be long even before I start writing it, I am going to break it up as best as possible, skip to areas you feel you need if necessary.
Again, maybe no one will read this, or I'll be downvoted for trying, or it'll just be lost in the sea of highlights, or whatever else. But if it reaches a couple of people that find it helpful, I'll be stoked about that.
I might add more sections to this if someone suggests something and the activity hasn't tapered off. I will mark new sections with an asterisk (*) in this case, I just added the "Win Conditions" section.
Also; I really do enjoy teaching CS/CS Styled Games. If there's a question you're too embarrassed to ask in public, or you just want some friendly tips, my DMs are always open. If I get overwhelmed with messages, I might be slow to respond, but I'll try and get to everything. I love CS (and Valorant is growing on me), and I love teaching it and talking about it. So if you want help, find me!
Edit 2: Thanks for the golds and random awards guys. I'm really stoked to see that people like this guide and are getting some good usage out of it! I'm glad I could help some of you! Keep practicing out there!
Edit 3: Learning to aim well, learn the gunplay, etc
* I'm getting a LOT of questions from people looking for help learning how to aim, or improve their shooting mechanics. I'm going to post here what I've been telling a lot of them.
There really aren't any "shortcuts" to learning how to aim. A guide like mine, or a video on YouTube might give you tips on controlling recoil, or counter-strafing, or lowering your sensitivity. But really, you just gotta PRACTICE. CS has existed in one form or another for over 20 years now, some of us have a LOT of experience and it's ingrained into our muscle memory. You can't expect to learn that type of thing over night. Run the bot training in the Practice Range until you can get 30 out of 30 every time. Practice controlling your spray. Practice burst firing and tap firing. Just hop in live games and do your best.
I promise, if you keep practicing, the aim will come. No one out there can give you some magic trick that will suddenly turn you into the best aimer in the world. You just have to keep on trying!
Edit #4: I added a few new terms to the Glossary towards the bottom, they are marked with an asterisk (*). If I think of more, I might tack them on.
Win Conditions * u/Helfeather
suggested a write up on exactly how rounds are won and lost, and I liked the idea so much I'm adding it to the BEGINNING
of this post.
Winning a round in CS is done one of 4 ways, I'm gonna name them, and give a brief explanation of how to maximize your chances of that happening.
Attacker Planting the bomb
the Spike (or "Bomb" as CS players might call it) gets planted at one of the two (or three) bomb sites. If that bomb blows up, regardless of how many players are still alive on EITHER team, the Attackers win. The bomb timer is 45 seconds long, and once it's down the timer begins. The most important thing to remember to win off a bomb plant is to, what we call, "playing the bomb". Instead of leaving the site and trying to find the remaining Defenders, put yourself in a position where you can see the bomb, and are covered from as many angles as possible. Make the Defenders come to you! The more often you do this, the better chance of a detonation you have. Eliminating all the enemies
Even if the bomb is never planted, eliminating all the enemy Defenders wins you the round. Simple as that really, play your role on the team, and if you get 5 kills before they do, you win the round.
Defender Defusing the bomb
once the bomb has been planted, your only concern should be defusing it. I'm not sure exactly how long the defuse timer is in this game, someone can jump in with that information, but defusing the bomb successfully is a round won even if there are still Attackers left alive. "Retaking" the bomb site if all the defenders from that position are dead is your best bet. Wait for your team mates to be close enough, and push in together. (At this point, basically pretend YOU'RE the attacker and play the same way you would on the Attack side of the game.) Push in togehter, check your corners, and make your way to the bomb. If you're last alive and you can't find the remaining Attacker(s), something you can do to try and draw them out is called Fake Defusing. You walk up to the bomb and press 4 (or whatever you're defuse bind is), this will make a sound that notifies enemy players that you've begun defusing. At that point you can immediately release 4 and watch to see where they come from to attack you.
This is a bit of a mini-game within the game. Good players know about faking a defuse, so they might not peek straight away. So you might be able to get away with holding the defuse even when theres an enemy lurking about. (Colloquially you might hear a CS player say something like "PROS DONT FAKE" which is a bit of a CS meme. The implication that Pro players don't ever fake defusing a bomb, they just hold it, so you have to peek THEM.)
A BIG TIP
about fake defusing here: if you fake defuse and then make a foot step sound, the enemies will know you are not still defusing. You can't walk and defuse at the same time, so if you fake defuse and want to adjust your position, WALK
. Use shift and readjust while you wait for them to come out! Eliminating all the enemies
Just like on Attack, if you eliminate all the enemies before the bomb is planted, you win the round. BUT REMEMBER
unlike the Attacker side, if the bomb has been planted, and you kill all the enemies, you still need to defuse it. If there isn't enough time left, and the bomb blows up, the Attackers still win the round even if they're all dead. So either kill 'em quick, or don't forget about that bomb! Time running out
the Defenders have an additional win condition of the round clock. If the timer hits 0 and the bomb has not been planted, the Defenders win. Even if all 5 members of the enemy team are still alive. Even if the bomb is planted JUST AFTER the clock hits 0, the Defenders win. This is where "stalling" comes in to play. If you're holding a bomb site and it's late in the round and an Attacker tries to sneak in and get a plant, stall him. Shoot at him and make him stop the plant animation. If you can stall him long enough to either A: get your team mates there, or B: run out of time, you can win the round without even needing to kill him. Stalling is huge.
One of the big things to remember is to pick a site to defend, and stay there for the whole game. When you're on the Defender side (or CT as some CS players might refer to it), whatever site you're assigned, or have chosen, or are playing, it's important to not suddenly switch to another site without saying anything.
If you aren't comfortable with the site, ask if someone is willing to swap with you. If you think you can't play a site alone, ask for someone to back you up.
Sometimes someone might suggest stacking a site, or playing more than the usual number there, that's fine. If YOU
feel like they might come A, let people know you're giving up B site to stack A. But don't just leave your spot without saying anything, it can leave sites open if people are unaware, or force people to defend from unoptimal positions.
Rotating is when the bomb is seen or a push of one site is called by a team mate. Knowing when to rotate (and how to rotate) is crucial to good CT sided defense. One important thing to be aware of is whether or not the bomb has been seen or called. If you're at B and one of the A players calls that three are pushing into A, but they haven't seen the bomb yet, it might be good to hang back at B and "lurk" until bomb is spotted.
It might leave your team with one less player to defend A, but it prevents a bomb site from being left completely open. If you lurk at the opposite site when bomb isn't spotted, even if you cant kill the enemies coming in, you can relay the information to your team that the bomb is coming to THAT site instead of A.
By the same token, if the bomb is called as seen on A, even if you know someone is at B, as long as you're not in an active fight with him, it might be better to just leave him there and move to A to defend the bomb. Inform your team that someone was at B, and they might come from the flank, but the Attackers can't win without the Spike, so it's better for you to defend from the bomb instead.
If you're playing a bomb site with a team mate, and one of you needs to rotate to defend a bomb site, communicate it. Tell them you're leaving them to back up B (or C), and that you think they should lurk until the bomb is spotted. Don't just up and leave without letting them know.
Learning the pacing of rotations is one of the harder skills of CS to master, not over-rotating or under-rotating can often be the difference between winning and losing a round. Don't fret if you're not grasping it immediately, it will take some time!
Playing a site with a team mate
Some bomb sites are going to be defended by only one player (maps where mid is very important, or Haven where it's better to have 2 at B/mid than 2 at C.) But if you're defending with another player, it's important to work together.
Have a "default setup" to defend from, one person watches long, the other watches short, stay at that spot unless it's discussed between you and your partner that you're going to be off position. Don't leave someones blind side open without telling them that you're not there.
Sometimes you two might decide to push together, either both of you pushing from the same angle, or both pushing from separate sides to pinch potential attackers. Sometimes you might want to play further back a more passive angle and let them get in before contact.
Where to attack/play/watch
Attacker (or T side as CS players might call it), is a much more complex and dynamic side than the defenders. Different maps, diffrent opponents, different economy situations will call for different types of attack.
Some of the basic styles that you might hear called by a team mate: Rush
- this ones pretty simple, someone is suggesting that the entire attacker team (or at least most of them) fully rush into the site and over whelm the defenders with numbers. This can often mean rushing THROUGH
smokes or flashbangs. A rush only works if everyone gets into the site and no one is left alone on site, or lingering behind a smoke. If a rush is called, just do your best to get in site with your team mates, find the enemy, and do what you can.
(I don't want to get any grief for this, so I'm adding a little editors note here: pushing through a smoke is not ALWAYS
the play, even on a rush. Sometimes it's the right thing, other times it's not, but it's very situational. But it's important to remember that smokes are not impenetrable walls that can never be walked through. Sometimes the smartest play is the one that seems dumbest, walking (or even running) through a smoke might seem dumb, but sometimes it's going to catch the enemy off guard. So basicaly, don't always rush through smokes, but don't always be afraid to rush through smokes either.) Split
- a "split" attack is performed at a site that has more than one entrance. Say A Site on Haven, you might send 3 players to long and 2 players short and attack from both sides. Whether or not you push a smoke or not will depend on the situation, but the idea here is to attack a limited defense from multiple sides before they can call a rotation from their team mates. Playing for Picks
- when a team mate suggests playing for picks, this means that you separate to different areas of the map, and play a slightly more passive role while waiting for a Defender to get aggressive and give up a kill. You might send 2 to A, 1 to mid, and 2 to B, no body pushes in, everyone communicates where they are spotting (or hearing) enemies, and you wait for someone to make a move.
Once someone GETS a pick, your team will have to collectively decide if you want to "push off the pick", which means you start pushing into the site you got the pick on. Or if you want to "play for the rotate", which means you guys will assume the Defenders are going to rotate to make up for the dead CT, and the Attackers move to the opposite bomb site. Contact
- a "contact" play is a slower take of a bomb site. The majority of the team will group up at one bomb site, and move slowly. Everyone will walk, you won't throw smokes or flashes or any utility until you've seen an enemy
. Once you've seen an enemy, or (more importantly an enemy has seen you), then you fully commit. Get smokes down, flash in, take the site. The goal here is to get as close to the site as possible before the enemy can call that you're there and ask for backup from his team. But once you're spotted, no more time for lurking, push into the site as fast as possible, cover up the entrances, and get the bomb down. Set Take
- a set take is going to be a scenario where your team mates drop smokes (and other utility) at predetermined positions to cut off the enemy team. Typically it goes as follows: the team will set up outside of, say, B site, a specific time on the clock will be agreed to (say 45 seconds), at which time characters with smokes (in this case namely Brimstone) will drop his smokes in key spots to cut off defender visibility and rotations, and you'll all rush in together. Set takes can be very powerful if you know the defenders play from passive positions. And with all the different types of utility in the game, you can smoke angles out, and then use one of the AOE attacks (fire, freeze, grenade) to flush enemies out of corners.
Planting "safe" vs planting "open"
There are two main types of plants for the bomb. If you're unaware of where the enemy is, especially if theres only 2 or 3 Attackers left, you might plant "safe". Planting in a corner that covers you from as many angles as possible, on B site Bind, planting inside the tube for example. This is to minimize risk of you dying while planting.
But planting OPEN is usually a much better alternative. If you have full control of the site (you've taken it with 3 or 4 of your team mates still alive), try to plant in the open. Somewhere that you can defend it from multiple angles. Rely on your team mates to cover your open angles and not get shot while planting.
Regardless of which type you plant, try to call where you're planting for your team mates. Just say "planting safe" and they'll know the bomb is going to be tucked in a corner. "Planted for Long" would mean that one of your team mates can defend from the "long" entrance to the bombsite and still be able to see the CT when they try to defuse.
As the game progresses, bomb sites will organically develop a "default" plant. This is the spot that you plant in that is reasonably safe, but you're not sure if you're safe or not. Saying "planted default" will immediately let team mates know exactly where the bomb is.
Strategies can get a lot more complex, "fakes" are when you draw a lot of attention to one site with utility, gunshots, visible angles, wait for CTs to start rotating, and then you fall back and take the now empty (or weaker) site. At more advanced levels, there might be decoy plays, where 4 players rush a site and 1 lone player with bomb tries to sneak in the other side and get a plant. (Useful on Eco or Save rounds.)
Good communication is perhaps the most important thing to a successful game of Valorant. It's a very complex issue, and rather than dragging it out too long, I'm just going to touch on a few key topics. As a defender
try to be precise with your calls. Instead of "they're coming A", try to say HOW MANY are coming A when possible. "3 A", or "I hear multiple Long A" is better than just "they're here". Remember to call the bomb if it's seen
if you've seen the bomb, either on an Attacker or just down on the ground, relay this information to your team. Your team mates can then start to safely leave their bomb sites and make their way to you to defend. Try not to talk after you're dead
in most cases, once you die, you should just let the other players play. If you saw someone or heard someone that you REALLY think the person you're spectating didn't see, then tell them quickly, and then quiet down again. "You saw him behind the box", something along those lines is concise and if the player you're watching was unaware, they'll work off that information. Short reminders are helpful, even after you're dead
but be quick, and don't try to micro manage. If you're on Attack, and only one of your team mates is alive, he is going to want to keep his eyes only on his crosshair and what's in front of him. If he is low on time, typically just saying "time" will remind him that he has to speed it up a little bit, or decide to save his gun. Reminding him he still has utility left if he may have forgotten is also usually okay, but again, don't micro manage, don't tell him how to use them, just remind him and let him focus on his game. Once freeze time has ended, non-game related chatter should end
, during buy time if you're laughing about the previous round, or just shooting the breeze, great, but once buy time ends, trail off the conversation and focus on listening for enemies, and hearing the calls of your team mates. Be quick about calls
try to be as concise with them as you possibly can. "3 Long A" is enough information, you don't need to tell your team exactly what guns they have, where they're positioned, what they are wearing, how they've styled their hair. If someone asks for additional information ("have you seen bomb?") answer of course, but getting the call out fast is more important than up to the minute information. Calling places you're unfamiliar with
everyones new to this game, even the CS players. Sometimes you're not going to know the "official" name for a location, or even what it's been colloquially referred to as. But getting out something is better than nothing. On Haven, most people will understand what you mean if you say they are "C Hall", most people will get it if you refer to A long on Bind as either "bathrooms" or "long", or "showers" or "toilets" for you Europeans. Terms like "behind you" and "to your right" only work if people know exactly where you are/were playing and who you're referring to. Using generic terms for locations is the better choice if you don't know or can't remember what its called. Most importantly however
is to find the right flow with your team. Some types of teams function better with more information, some want every little thing called. Some teams will want as little as possible called. Some players/teams don't mind if everyones chatting while playing, some do. CS/Valorant styled games are often considered more "serious" than some other shooters, but it still should be fun. Find the right times to talk and laugh and be silly while also letting those that want to "try hard" do so.
Trading and Baiting
This section could fit in all the other sections, so I'm going to give it it's own. Trading
is the act of responding to a kill from the enemy team with a kill from YOUR team. So say you and a partner are entering a bombsite that hasn't been cleared yet. Even if you time things perfectly, chances are one of you will be seen before the other. Sometimes that first person isn't going to get the kill, it is important for you to be in position to return the kill.
Trading is HUGELY important. Having a man advantage in Valorant can make all the difference, and no player is going to survive every round, everyone will die their share of times in the game, so it's very important to be in position to "trade" the kill and keep the numbers even.
The keys to doing this are to just work with your team mates. Push in with them, don't leave them stranded on their own, and if they die, try to kill their attacker. Baiting
on the other hand, is sort of a modified form of a trade. Baiting can be very negative (willfully letting your team mate die so that you can get the kill instead of them), but baiting can also be used intelligently. If your team mate is already on extremely low health, he might say something like "bait me". Which means you will play very slowly behind him while he rushes into the site, his job is to find the enemy, do any damage (if possible) and tell you where he is so you can immediately peek out and take the kill without taking any damage yourself.
The difference between "good baiting" and "bad baiting" is usually as simple as communication. If you're not telling your team mate you're playing back, and you let them die just so you can get the kill, thats a bad bait.
But if you inform your team mate that you're going to bait him for information, usually they won't mind, especially if they are low on health, or perhaps don't have a gun.
There's lots of terms that you might not be familiar with coming from other games, I know there have already been other guides and videos on this stuff, but I figured I'd add in a few, and repeat a couple of them. These are terms that CS players are accustomed to using, and might instinctively call, especially in the heat of the moment. AK
- AK is the Vandal M4
- That's the Phantom. MP5
- Would be the Spectre. Deagle
- The Sheriff. Scout
- The Marshall CZ
- The Frenzy. A-W-P
- The Operator. (Some people, namely Europeans, call it by it's initials A-W-P instead of "Awp", for Americans Riot preemptively negated this issue by naming the AWP an "Operator" which is easily shortened to the AWP homonym "Op". Bomb
- The Spike itself. Save
- This can have two meanings. 1: a save round, your team is short on money and you should avoid spending a lot. A pistol, maybe a couple of your abilities. You want to keep at least 3900 for the next round (visible on the Buy menu). 2: saving your guns, sometimes as either attacker or defender, a round is deemed unwinnable. Maybe you're last alive with 5 Attackers having already planted the bomb, if your teams money is low, you might choose to save your gun. Typically you'll find a place far away on the map to hide, be silent, and hope you dont get found. Save the gun for your next round. Eco
- Same as a "save round" detailed above. D-Eco (pronounced dee-coh)
- Just a save round where you all buy the powerful Sheriff (Deagle) for hopes of one shot kills against armored enemies. Long (bombsite) or Short (bombsite)
- A lot of the bombsites in this game will have multiple entrance. Usually one being a longer "straighter" path, and the second being a shorter and more "cluttered" path. Long, and short respectively. Mid
- * Mid refers literally to the "middle" of the map. The area between A and B (on a two site map). On most maps, having mid control is very important as it allows you to attack a bomb site from an additional area. On Split for example. The B bombsite only has one "natural" entrance, the garage tunnel. The other entrance to B is the upper walkway that connects to mid. If the Attackers can gain control of mid by killing Defenders, they can attack B from two sides instead of just one.
(Note: the maps in Valorant seem less reliant on having a normal CS styled mid. In CS, mid is typically a very pronounced "lane" to steal a moba term. But in Valorant, a lot of the mids (even on the 2 site maps) are kind of split. Bind for example, both the area connecting Attacker spawn to Hookah could be considered a mid, as well as potentially the area from Attacker spawn to "short A".Neither are really your typical mid, normally a mid has access to BOTH
bomb sites equally. The Attacker spawn to Hookah does not have fast rotation to A, only to B. Meanwhile, the Attacker spawn to Portal side DOES have a fast rotation to both A AND
B, but it's also directly connected to an exposed A bomb site, which makes it more of a "short A" than a mid.
Which area of a map is determined as "mid" will happen organically by players as we move forward. Heaven
- * Heaven is a term you might hear a lot from CS players. It typically refers to any designated upper area on a bomb site. I'm not talking just a box in the middle of the site that a Jett or Raze may have boosted onto, but areas specificly elevated. On Bind, there is an upper ledge at the back of A, this would typically be referred to as a "Heaven". (Note, if an enemy is standing directly underneath this walkway, they are often referred to as being "under heaven" or "hell". DD
- * "D-D" will refer to "double doors", right now this is only present on Haven, but it's something you might hear called. Just a faster way of calling that someone is playing in, at or around the double doors near B. Window
- * Someone calling that someone is in "window" would be an area LIKE a "heaven" spot, except covered a little bit better. What Americans have begun calling "Hookah" on Bind is an example of a "Window" spot. It's elevated, and has more cover than a Heaven-named spot does (compare it to "heaven" on A site). Default
- another one with multiple meanings. 1: A default hold is all 5 Defenders playing from their usual positions, no stacks, no weird positioning or doubling up, just your normal. 2: A default TAKE is all 5 attackers running a pre-determined strategy. Usually it has all 5 players spreading out and playing for picks (each of you at a predetermined spot, similar to on Defense). and 3: the "default plant", I mentioned this above, but basically as the game progresses, players will organically determine which the "default plant" spot is. This is a spot that is a little bit open, but also a little bit safe in case there are enemies lurking unknown. Execute
- as sort of detailed above, an execute is just the take of a bombsite. "We're executing A" usually means they're putting their smokes and AOE down, and moving in. This is a warning to players that might be lurking at other sites or mid to either listen for rotations from enemies, or start making their way over to A to help defend the planted bomb. Boosted
- * A player being "boosted" means they are on top of a box or other area of the map that they couldn't normally get to solo. Jett, Raze, Omen and Sage can get to some of these locations by themselves, and there have been various methods for boosting team mates on top of your head. So if someone calls "boosted on A site" it probably means they are up on top of a box or other object on the bomb site.
I think that's all I got for now. Again, this is meant just to include some really basic information for players new to a CS style game. I didn't include anything overly advanced, nor did I include every potential "basic" thing about the game, I'm sure there are already plenty of guides on exactly when to buy and save and force buy and all that.
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them if I'm capable of doing so. Others that are knowledgeable are welcome to do the same.
If this helps you at all, I'm a happy camper.
Good luck out there, and have fun!
Part 3 of 3
GLOSSARY DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average):
calculates a team's success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average. DVOA Pass/Run Defense Rank:
Team’s NFL rank in DVOA pass or run defense so far this season. #1 means best DEF against the pass/run, #32 means worst DEF against the pass/run. Weighted DEFENSE:
is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important. It better reflects how the team was playing at the end of the season. ATS = Against the spread DVOA from https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef/2019
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (-6.5) Jaguars ATS:
5-8-0 Raiders ATS:
6-7-0 Projected Team Totals:
Jaguars 19.5 Raiders 26
Jaguars Opp (OAK) Pass DVOA:
#31 Opp (OAK) Run DVOA:
#27 Opp (OAK) Weighted DEF:
#31 Injuries to Watch DEF (OAK):
LB Marquel Lee (Q) LB Kyle Wilber (Q) CB Daryl Worley (Q) S Erik Harris (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (JAX):
WR DJ Chark (OUT) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
D.J. Chark (20%) Leonard Fournette (19%) Dede Westbrook (17%) Chris Conley (14%) Seth DeValve (11%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Leonard Fournette (77%, 18, 6) Ryquell Armstead (23%, 2, 2)
The Jags got blasted at home against the Chargers last week, and Gardner Minshew (2QB stream)
did little to instill confidence that he is an upgrade over Nick Foles
. While last week was a struggle, Minshew gets an extremely vulnerable Raiders secondary this time around. Oakland has the 31st ranked pass defense by DVOA, and has given up the 2nd most FPPG to QBs on the season. While it would be unwise to trust the rookie signal caller in a 1QB league, he makes for a possible streamer in 2QB or superflex leagues, and should be considered a mid-range QB2 with some upside in Sunday’s matchup. The loss of one of his top weapons does downgrade his outlook slightly, however.. DJ Chark
has been ruled out for Week 15 with an ankle injury, leaving the Jags without their most explosive offensive playmaker. That should provide Dede Westbrook (upgrade)
with an opportunity to see a high volume of targets against this leaky Raiders secondary. Oakland has allowed the 13th most FPPG to WRs, but their 31st ranked pass DVOA portrays a team that is quite vulnerable through the air. Chris Conley (upgrade)
should also see a bump in usage, but he has been extremely boom or bust this season, and is reliant on big plays. Consider Westbrook a borderline WR2 under the circumstances, while Conley can be viewed as risk-reward WR3/4, just know his floor is extremely low. Keelan Cole
will step into 3-WR sets with Chark on the sidelines, but he isn’t a realistic fantasy option at this point. None of the Jags TEs have been able to stand out after dealing with so many injuries, but Nick O’Leary
did snag a TD last week. O’Leary is a hail mary TE2, although he does have a favorable matchup against a defense ceding the 4th most FPPG to TEs. RB Breakdown
The running game didn’t have any more success than the passing game against the Chargers, as Leonard Fournette (auto-start)
was held to 63 total scoreless yards. The Raiders are less vulnerable to the run than the pass, but have given up the 9th most FPPG to RBs, so Fournette remains a volume based RB1. He’s especially valuable in PPR leagues, as he is consistently among the RB target leaders each week. Ryquell Armstead (stash)
is the clear handcuff to Fournette, so roster him if you want to have insurance through the playoffs.
Raiders Opp (JAX) Pass DVOA:
#21 Opp (JAX) Run DVOA:
#31 Opp (JAX) Weighted DEF:
#29 Injuries to Watch DEF (JAX):
None Injuries to Watch OFF (OAK):
WR Hunter Renfrow (OUT) OT Trent Brown (Q) RB Josh Jacobs (Q, expected to play) WR Marcell Ateman (Q) Key WCB matchups:
Tyrell Williams vs. A.J. Bouye (Rotoworld) Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Darren Waller (19%) Hunter Renfrow (18%) Tyrell Williams (14%) Jalen Richard (11%) Zay Jones (10%) DeAndre Washington (8%) Josh Jacobs (7%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
DeAndre Washington (63%, 20, 7) Jalen Richard (38%, 9, 3) QB/WTE Breakdown
A nightmare second half of the season continued for the Raiders last week in a blowout loss to the Titans, but Derek Carr (2QB only)
was able to finish with a serviceable final fantasy line. Carr has gone over 21 points just once this season, so his ceiling is not something to get excited about. The Jags have given up the 11th most FPPG to QBs, so Carr has a reasonable floor, but can’t be viewed as anything more than a mid-range QB2. Leave him on the wire in most leagues.
A battle with plantar fasciitis might help to explain Tyrell Williams’ (drop)
extreme dropoff over the second half of the season, but it appears the wideout will continue playing through the pain this week against the Jags. He hasn’t been a worthwhile starting option in quite some time, and the Jags surrender the 13th fewest FPPG to WRs, so consider him a TD or bust WR4, and keep him on your benches outside extremely deep leagues. Darren Waller (volume upgrade)
is the real WR1 on this team, and his high weekly target floor makes him an attractive TE option at a position that is so heavily TD-dependent. The Jags have given up the 11th fewest FPPG to TEs, but Waller is too involved to be anything less than a top-6 TE1. Get him fired up this week to ensure you get a stable floor from that spot on your roster. No other Raiders pass catcher has emerged as fantasy relevant, so Waller is likely the only player that should be near a starting lineup this week. RB Breakdown
Stud rookie RB Josh Jacobs (upgrade if healthy)
was unable to play through his shoulder injury last week, leading to a workhorse level role for DeAndre Washington (stash)
. Jacobs currently plans to play on Sunday, so owners should put Washington on benches, and continue to leave Jalen Richard
on the waiver wire. The Jags are an exploitable matchup on the ground - 4th most FPPG to RBs - so if Jacobs is active he needs to be in all lineups as a solid RB2. Washington should remain rostered as a solid handcuff. Score Prediction: Raiders 21, Jaguars 20
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals Browns ATS:
5-7-1 Cardinals ATS:
7-5-1 Projected Team Totals:
Browns 25.5 Cardinals 23
Browns Opp (ARI) Pass DVOA:
#29 Opp (ARI) Run DVOA:
#13 Opp (ARI) Weighted DEF:
#26 Injuries to Watch DEF (ARI):
CB Kevin Peterson (Q) LB Joe Walker (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (CLE):
C JC Tretter (Q) OT Chris Hubbard (Q) Key WCB matchups:
Odell Beckham vs. Patrick Peterson (Rotoworld) Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Jarvis Landry (30%) Odell Beckham (23%) Kareem Hunt (17%) Antonio Callaway (12%) David Njoku (12%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Nick Chubb (70%, 16, 1) Kareem Hunt (62%, 11, 3) QB/WTE Breakdown
Cleveland won the battle of Ohio last week, it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t without drama. Baker Mayfield (upgrade)
was inconsistent yet again, throwing for only 192 scoreless yards, with two interceptions. He’s sandwiched two serviceable fantasy outings with three that weren’t over the last five, so a bounce back seems likely. Arizona has proven time and again they can’t guard anyone, ranking 29th in Pass DVOA and 26th in Weighted Defense - ceding 24.5 FPPG to QBs, and 25.4 to WRs. Mayfield becomes an appealing matchup based QB1 this week, consider him a top-10 option.
The Cleveland passing game has been a wasteland all season, with Jarvis Landry (upgrade PPR)
being the only solid fantasy asset. Odell Beckham
is having the worst season of his career, and is reportedly playing through a sports hernia. His expected shadow matchup with CB Patrick Peterson isn’t imposing, as Peterson has struggled against No. 1 WRs (Rotoworld). A viable fantasy day isn’t out of the question, yet OBJ is far from trustworthy at this point in the season, especially since we know now he’s been playing through injury. That being said, Arizona cedes explosive pass plays (20+yards) at a 12% clip, 3rd worst in the NFL (sharpfootballstats). Consider him a boom-or-bust WR2 in the great on-paper matchup. Landry
on the other hand, has vacuumed up at least seven targets in every game over the last five weeks, clearing 10 targets in three out of five. He’s seeing monster usage, and there’s no reason to expect it to slow down. He’s a borderline WR1, and needs to be in all lineups. David Njoku
returned last week, splitting time with fellow tight ends Stephen Carlson
, and Ricky Seals-Jones
. This is a smash spot for the position - ARI hemorrhages 13.1 FPPG to TEs, league worst - but with Njoku popping up on the injury report again with a knee issue, plus the timeshare at tight end, there really isn’t a viable fantasy play here. RB Breakdown
Like many other backfields in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns are now utilizing a committee, to the dismay of Nick Chubb (upgrade standard)
owners everywhere. Fortunately, both Chubb and Kareem Hunt (upgrade PPR)
are seeing solid touch counts, and having both on the field at the same time has become a regular occurrence since Hunt became available. Arizona possesses a much better Run DVOA than Pass DVOA, but game-script and scoring opportunities should work in favor of the Cleveland backfield. Arizona plays at the 3rd fastest pace in the NFL, so there should be plenty of opportunities to go around. Consider Chubb an RB1, and Hunt a borderline RB2 play in PPR settings - ARI cedes 19.5 FPPG to the position.
Cardinals Opp (CLE) Pass DVOA:
#13 Opp (CLE) Run DVOA:
#25 Opp (CLE) Weighted DEF:
#19 Injuries to Watch DEF (CLE):
DE Olivier Vernon (OUT) CB Eric Murray (OUT) Injuries to Watch OFF (ARI):
WR Andy Isabella (Q) OL Justin Pugh (Q) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Christian Kirk (24%) Larry Fitzgerald (19%) Kenyan Drake (16%) Pharoh Cooper (11%) KeeSean Johnson (9%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Kenyan Drake (65%, 14, 3) David Johnson (37%, 5, 2) QB/WTE Breakdown
The Cardinals season has taken a downward plunge in recent weeks, and Kyler Murray
and company have only managed to score 24 combined points in back-to-back matchups (Rotoworld). Murray has made some downright silly mistakes, and while some of it can be chalked up to being a rookie, some mistakes shouldn’t be seen at the NFL level. His O-line isn’t doing him any favors either, he’s the most-sacked QB of 2019 (teamrankings.com). At home against Cleveland is the easiest matchup he’s seen in recent weeks, but it’s no cakewalk - Cleveland has a sturdy secondary, ranking in the top-half for Pass DVOA - and cedes just 18.2 FPPG to QBs and 20.6 to WRs. Still, Murray has demonstrated a high-floor through multiple tough matchups, and warrants every week QB1 consideration. Just be aware that although he always has boom potential, this week projects more as a floor performance.
Although he’s done little since his Week 10 explosion, Christian Kirk’s (upgrade volume)
8.8 targets per game rank 13th among wideouts this season (Rotoworld). Again, the matchup doesn’t scream boom week, but Cleveland has been inconsistent at best this season, and Kirk’s volume should keep him in the WR3 ranks. Larry Fitzgerald
, after turning back the clock in the beginning of the season, has bottomed out over the second half. He shouldn’t be considered anything more than a low-end WR4, so look elsewhere. The auxiliary passing options shouldn't be considered for Arizona. RB Breakdown
Like the Cleveland backfield, the Arizona backfield is devolving into a two man RBBC. Unlike Cleveland, it’s not bearing fruit in the way of fantasy points for either running back. Kenyan Drake
has ceded snaps to David Johnson
since the bye week, and at this point neither can be fully trusted. Drake is the preferred option, and the matchup is good on paper, but due to DJ’s involvement, he’s no more than a back-end RB2. DJ is a big-balls dart throw; it can’t be recommended. CLE cedes 18.6 FPPG to RBs. Score Prediction: Browns 24, Cardinals 21
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers (-10.5) Falcons ATS:
5-8-0 49ers ATS:
8-4-1 Projected Team Totals:
Falcons 18.75 49ers 29.25
Falcons Opp (SF) Pass DVOA:
#2 Opp (SF) Run DVOA:
#9 Opp (SF) Weighted DEF:
#2 Injuries to Watch DEF (SF):
DE Dee Ford (OUT) DT DJ Jones (OUT) CB Richard Sherman (OUT) S Jaquiski Tartt (OUT) DT Jullian Taylor (OUT) CB K’Waun Williams (OUT) Injuries to Watch OFF (ATL):
OG James Carpenter (OUT) OT Ty Sambrailo (OUT) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Julio Jones (22%) Calvin Ridley (20%) Russell Gage (16%) Austin Hooper (16%) Devonta Freeman (11%) Christian Blake (10%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Devonta Freeman (67%, 21, 4) Brian Hill (19%, 9, 0) QB/WTE Breakdown
Atlanta’s second half resurgence continued against a rudderless Carolina team last week. Matt Ryan (downgrade)
has returned to form of late, posting back-to-back solid fantasy performances. His ankle injury may have been the reason for the mid-season stumble, but either way, against a ferocious 49ers defense and without offensive weapon Calvin Ridley (OUT-IR)
, just isn’t the time to chase points. While the argument can be made that the San Francisco defense is banged up, they still possess most of the pass rushers that have carried them this season. Atlanta has struggled to keep Ryan upright, he’s been sacked the 5th most in the NFL (teamrankings). He’s no more than a back-end QB2 in a tough matchup - SF gives up just 15 FPPG to QBs and 17.9 to WRs.
Ridley’s injury vacated 20% of the target share to Atlanta’s pass catchers, and Russell Gage
is the best bet to assume his snaps and some of his target share. Yet, he still projects as a distant third option to Julio Jones (upgrade volume)
and Austin Hooper (upgrade volume)
. The remaining receivers split snaps evenly last week, and aren’t realistic options in the tough draw. Julio should be peppered with targets san Ridley, and should be treated as an every-week WR1 regardless of matchup. Same goes for Hooper, both should be active in most lineups. RB Breakdown
Since returning from injury, Devonta Freeman (upgrade volume)
has accumulated 20+ touches in two of three games. As long as he’s operating as the clear lead back and receiving the bulk of the touches, he’ll continue to be a floor-play RB2. The matchup is imposing - SF cedes just 12.2 FPPG to RBs - but Freeman’s volume should stabilize his floor, just don’t expect a big day.
49ers Opp (ATL) Pass DVOA:
#26 Opp (ATL) Run DVOA:
#16 Opp (ATL) Weighted DEF:
#23 Injuries to Watch DEF (ATL):
DE Allen Bailey (OUT) CB Isaiah Oliver (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (SF):
None Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
George Kittle (23%) Deebo Samuel (20%) Emmanuel Sanders (17%) Kendrick Bourne (12%) Ross Dwelley (12%) Tevin Coleman (8%) Raheem Mostert (5%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Raheem Mostert (60%, 12, 2) Matt Breida (18%, 7, 1) Tevin Coleman (16%, 3, 0) QB/WTE Breakdown
The 49ers won the game of the year last week, in an exciting shootout on the road against the New Orleans Saints, 48-46. Jimmy Garoppolo (upgrade)
showed critics a side of him many thought he didn’t possess, by not just managing the game, but gun slinging his way to victory when facing a deficit. He may be more than an elite game manager, rolling up 349-yards passing, with four touchdowns and an interception. On tap is an exploitable secondary that has been dissected by opposing signal callers routinely - ATL cedes 22.1 FPPG to QBs and 24.3 to WRs - Jimmy G is a very attractive QB1 streaming option in the plus matchup.
The addition of Emmanuel Sanders (upgrade)
and Deebo Samuel
, with the emergence of Kendrick Bourne
, has created an explosive receiving corps for the 49ers. The three have settled in as the fulltime wideouts, clearing up what used to be a mess of a rotation. Sanders and Samuel are both solid fantasy plays against an Atlanta team that boasts a true pass funnel; ranking much higher in Run DVOA than Pass DVOA. Adding to that, CB Desmond Trufant has been placed on IR, creating an even softer matchup. The concern is volume. Positive game-script early could erase the need for passing, so hopefully the injuries to San Francisco’s defense allow Atlanta to stay in the game. Consider Sanders a WR2, and Samuel an upside WR3. Kendrick Bourne is a no more than a DFS dart throw. George Kittle
is an every week top-3 option at tight end. Fire him up - ATL cedes 7.5 FPPG to the position. RB Breakdown
Two camps exist when it comes to the 49ers backfield. There are those that think Raheem Mostert
has completed a hostile takeover, and is now the lead back. And there are those that think a Kyle Shanahan offense takes the hot hand approach, and that Matt Breida
or Tevin Coleman
could be next in-line to have the big week. Kyle Shanahan has stated that Mostert has “earned” his role as the lead ball-carrier, but we’ve seen that talk before from coaches, just look at Ronald Jones. Either way, Mostert has earned every-week RB2 consideration, but be warned, this backfield can change in an instant. Breida and Coleman are much riskier propositions, and can’t be started as more than desperation dart throws. They’ll likely still be involved in some capacity, but it’s not worth betting on. Score Prediction: 49ers 30, Falcons 17
LA Rams (-1.5) at Dallas Cowboys Rams ATS:
9-4-0 Cowboys ATS:
7-6-0 Projected Team Totals:
Rams 25.25 Cowboys 23.75
Rams Opp (DAL) Pass DVOA:
#24 Opp (DAL) Run DVOA:
#19 Opp (DAL) Weighted DEF:
#21 Injuries to Watch DEF (DAL):
LB Leighton Vander Esch (OUT) LB Sean Lee (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (LAR):
TE Gerald Everett (OUT) OT Rob Havenstein (D) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Robert Woods (30%) Tyler Higbee (19%) Cooper Kupp (16%) Gerald Everett (15%) Josh Reynolds (10%) Todd Gurley (9%) Brandin Cooks (7%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Todd Gurley (80%, 27, 4) Malcolm Brown (20%, 5, 0) QB/WTE Breakdown
After his first blow-up week in a long time, Jared Goff (streamer)
returned to his mediocre 2019 levels in Week 14’s win over Seattle, at least in terms of fantasy points. The positive is that the Rams offense suddenly looks at least partially back to its old ways, scoring 28 and 34 points the last two weeks, albeit against questionable defenses. This week, Goff will take aim at the Cowboys - 24th ranked pass DVOA but allowing the 13th fewest FPPG to QBs. Dallas got lit up by Mitchell Trubisky last week, and are on a downward trend overall, so this actually sets up as a favorable matchup for Goff. Consider him on the QB1/2 borderline, and ride him if you are thin at QB as he should be able to produce a point total that lands somewhere in between his last two performances.
What started as a year for the record books has turned into a disappointment in a hurry for Cooper Kupp (start)
. Despite the Rams being without their top TE Gerald Everett (out again this week)
the past few weeks, Kupp hasn’t gone over 70-receiving yards since Week 8. He snagged a TD last week to salvage his day, and could be on the verge of a breakout day with the Rams offense starting to hum again. The Cowboys have given up the 8th fewest FPPG to WRs, so this isn’t an ideal matchup, but Kupp should still be viewed on the WR2/3 borderline and be in most lineups this week. The only consistent producer over the last month at WR for the Rams has been Robert Woods (auto-start)
. Woods has gone over 90-yards in 4 straight games he’s played in, and looks to be Goff’s #1 target at this point in the season. Consider him a borderline WR1 this week. Brandin Cooks (volume downgrade)
just hasn’t seen much volume since returning from his multi-week concussion absence, and played about a third of the offensive snaps last week. He can break a big play at any time, but his role is too tough to trust as more than a WR3/4 at this point. If you have the depth, Cooks should likely be on your bench as only a part-time player in a difficult matchup. With Everett out again this week, Tyler Higbee (volume upgrade)
will resume his role as the clear pass-catching TE for the Rams. He’s won a lot of matchups for owners the past two weeks, and should continue to thrive as long as Everett is sidelined. The Cowboys have given up the 10th most FPPG to TEs, so there’s no reason to view Higbee as less than an elite TE1 this week. RB Breakdown
Perhaps part of the reason that the Rams have looked re-energized the last two weeks is the commitment to the run game with Todd Gurley (volume upgrade)
. The offensive line and entire team are getting healthier, and Gurley is getting the volume necessary for an RB1 valuation. The Cowboys have given up the 16th fewest FPPG to RBs and have the 19th ranked rush defense by DVOA, so the matchup is basically a wash. Consider Gurley on the RB1/2 borderline, and get him locked into your lineup for a game the Rams absolutely have to win to remain in the playoff race. Malcolm Brown
makes for a worthwhile handcuff.
Cowboys Opp (LAR) Pass DVOA:
#9 Opp (LAR) Run DVOA:
#3 Opp (LAR) Weighted DEF:
#6 Injuries to Watch DEF (LAR):
None Injuries to Watch OFF (DAL):
None Key WCB matchups:
Amari Cooper vs. Jalen Ramsey (Rotoworld) Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Michael Gallup (20%) Amari Cooper (19%) Randall Cobb (15%) Jason Witten (15%) Ezekiel Elliott (10%) Blake Jarwin (8%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Ezekiel Elliott (99%, 21, 5) QB/WTE Breakdown
While the Cowboys have been a huge disappointment overall, they remain firmly in the playoff race due to the antiquated NFL seeding rules, and their QB Dak Prescott (auto-start)
has shown he is deserving of a huge contract extension. The Rams have given up the 12th fewest FPPG to QBs, and have the 9th ranked pass DVOA, but Prescott will be needed for a big day if Dallas is to get a win at home. Their solid projected point total, and Dak’s consistent presence as a top-5 QB in fantasy, means that Prescott should be a fixture in fantasy lineups in the second week of fantasy playoffs. He’s a solid QB1. Amari Cooper (slight downgrade)
may not like the term “garbage time”, but it’s hard to argue that’s not the scenario in which he caught his TD pass and salvaged his day against the Bears. Regardless, Cooper was able to produce despite looking less than 100%, and isn’t on the injury report this week. However, he’s likely to face Jalen Ramsey in shadow coverage this week, which is a concern considering just how good Ramsey has been since landing in LA. Cooper has been more effective against shadow coverage this year than in previous years, and his role in the offense combined with his individual talent make him tough to bench. View him as a high-end WR2 that is capable of breaking Ramsey’s coverage, but could also finish with a disappointing 2-30-0 type of day as well. Michael Gallup (upgrade)
has been relatively productive over the last month, and he could benefit from Ramsey’s focus on Cooper. The Rams overall cede the 15th fewest FPPG to WRs, so this is a spot for Gallup to potentially come through for owners. Consider him a mid-range WR2 with upside this week in a game the Boys will likely need to throw heavily to win. Randall Cobb
has benefitted from the high volume of passing in the Cowboys rough last five games, but will likely see a lot of highly-graded CB Nickell Robey-Coleman in the slot (PFF). Consider Cobb a low-end WR3 whose ceiling isn’t extremely high, but whose floor makes for a useful asset in deeper leagues. Jason Witten
and Blake Jarwin
have rendered each other relatively unstartable this season, and both should be viewed as low-volume TE2s. Neither is worth starting this week against a Rams squad giving up the 7th fewest FPPG to TEs. RB Breakdown
The Cowboys were without Tony Pollard
last week, but that didn’t serve to change their game plan much as Ezekiel Elliott (auto-start)
has been a workhorse all year long. Pollard is expected to return on Sunday, but Zeke will get his 20+ touches again this week regardless. The Rams are stout on the ground - 3rd best DVOA and 10th fewest FPPG to RBs- but Zeke is an easy RB1 due to his volume and talent. Get him locked into your lineup, and keep Pollard rostered as a feel-good insurance policy. Score Prediction: Rams 21, Cowboys 17
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at LA Chargers Vikings ATS:
7-6-0 Chargers ATS:
4-7-3 Projected Team Totals:
Vikings 24 Chargers 21.5
Vikings Opp (LAC) Pass DVOA:
#20 Opp (LAC) Run DVOA:
#23 Opp (LAC) Weighted DEF:
#18 Injuries to Watch DEF (LAC):
LB Uchenna Nwosu (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (MIN):
RB Alexander Mattison (Q) WR Bisi Johnson (Q) Key WCB matchups:
Stefon Diggs vs. Casey Hayward (Rotoworld) Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Stefon Diggs (20%) Dalvin Cook (15%) Kyle Rudolph (13%) Irv Smith (13%) Bisi Johnson (11%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Dalvin Cook (47%, 20, 2) Alexander Mattison (37%, 16, 2) QB/WTE Breakdown
Last week was a game that fantasy owners always fear; the home favorite Vikings so outmatched the injury riddled Lions that none of the offensive weapons were needed for a big day to capture the win. Kirk Cousins (low-end QB1)
was solid as a game manager, but finished with only 242 yards and 1 TD. This week he’ll likely be in a more competitive game with the Chargers, who have given up the 5th fewest FPPG to QBs. While this should lead to higher volume for Kirk, the matchup concern is a legitimate reason to consider keeping him on the bench. Getting Adam Thielen
back from injury should help to establish his floor, but his ceiling isn’t as high considering the Chargers are not often involved in shootouts. Owners can view Cousins
as a low-end QB1, and throw him in lineups if they don’t have a safer and higher upside option.
Cousins will have stud receiver Adam Thielen (downgrade)
back on the field this week, and that means owners will have a tough decision to make with their lineups. Stefon Diggs (start)
is likely to see Casey Hayward in shadow coverage this week, which would leave Thielen with more positive matchups, but Diggs is easier to trust given his body of work throughout the year. The Chargers have given up the 3rd fewest FPPG to WRs this year, giving both receivers a slight downgrade in outlook. Consider Thielen a WR3, and Diggs a WR2. Both have a solid case to be in starting lineups this week, but Diggs is the slightly preferred play. Kyle Rudolph (downgrade)
gets a tough potential individual matchup with stud safety Derwin James, and needs to be pushed just outside the TE1 ranks this week. The Chargers have given up the 9th fewest FPPG to TEs, and Rudolph is quite TD-dependent, so consider your options before plugging him in. Irv Smith
simply isn’t seeing the volume to be trusted at this point, so he should be viewed as a low-end TE2 in a tough matchup. RB Breakdown
Fantasy superstar Dalvin Cook (auto-start, upgrade)
was subject to the same issue as Cousins, as he saw an uncharacteristic 47% snap share, but still was able to save his line with a few nice runs and a short TD plunge. This week sets up much better for Cook, as the game should be competitive throughout, and the Chargers are more vulnerable to the run than the pass. They’ve given up the 13th most FPPG to RBs and have a bottom-third run DVOA, so get Cook fired up as an elite RB1 once again. Keep Alexander Mattison (stash)
rostered as a top-3 handcuff, even if he ends up being ruled out. If Cook were to suffer a setback or pick up a minor injury, Mattison would be an elite RB1 for the fantasy finals assuming he’s healthy.
Chargers Opp (MIN) Pass DVOA:
#11 Opp (MIN) Run DVOA:
#7 Opp (MIN) Weighted DEF:
#9 Injuries to Watch DEF (MIN):
S Jayron Kearse (OUT) CB Xavier Rhodes (Q) Injuries to Watch OFF (LAC):
None Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Keenan Allen (23%) Hunter Henry (20%) Austin Ekeler (17%) Mike Williams (13%) Melvin Gordon (11%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Austin Ekeler (49%, 12, 5) Melvin Gordon (46%, 17, 5) QB/WTE Breakdown
The Chargers came a bit out of nowhere last week to drop 45 points in their win over the Jags. Philip Rivers (slight downgrade)
eclipsed 25 points for the first time this season, and was dealing all game long. He’ll face a stiffer matchup from the Vikings - Minnesota cedes the 11th fewest FPPG to QBs and has the 11th ranked pass DVOA. Consider Rivers a mid-range QB2; his ceiling isn’t extremely high but his weapons should establish his floor as a solid asset in 2QB or superflex leagues.
Still not producing at levels owner are accustomed to, Keenan Allen (start)
has at least returned solid value over his past 4 games with good yardage and 2 total TDs. Mike Williams (downgrade PPR)
FINALLY scored his first TD of the year, after getting 10 last year, and continues to make impressive contested chunk catches week in and week out. The Vikings have given up the 8th most FPPG to WRs, and Xavier Rhodes is no longer a shutdown shadow corner, so both WRs are worth starting consideration. Consider Allen
a WR2, with upside in PPR leagues, and view Williams
as a WR3 with an upgrade in standard leagues. The Vikings pass rush is impressive, and the Chargers O-line has struggled to keep Rivers upright against top defensive lines, so having the time to throw downfield might make Allen more productive than Williams this week. Hunter Henry (start)
found the end zone last week, and despite some low yardage totals the last month remains a solid TE1 this week. The Vikings have allowed the 14th most FPPG to TEs, so this isn’t a shy-away matchup by any means. Get Henry active unless you have a top-3 alternative, as he might benefit from additional short throws due to Rivers needing to get the ball out quick. RB Breakdown
Perhaps the most important player to the Chargers this year has been the explosive and dynamic all around back, Austin Ekeler (auto-start)
. He put up a career-high 213 scrimmage yards in the win last week, which was buoyed by an impressive 84 yard catch and run TD. Melvin Gordon (PPR downgrade)
got in on the action by rolling up 84 total yards and a TD, and should continue to handle a slight majority of the carries. Ekeler’s role is slightly more valuable, however, as his looks in the passing game often give him room to make plays in the open field, and give him a higher floor in PPR leagues. Consider Ekeler
on the RB1/2 borderline, especially in PPR formats, and Gordon
can be viewed as a solid RB2. Both should be in lineups this week, despite the Vikings giving up the 6th fewest FPPG to RBs, but Ekeler is a bit safer as he doesn’t require rushing lanes up the middle or goal-line opportunities to be able to rack up the points. Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Chargers 16
Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints (-8.5) Colts ATS:
6-5-2 Saints ATS:
8-5-0 Projected Team Totals:
Colts 18.75 Saints 27.25
Colts Opp (NO) Pass DVOA:
#10 Opp (NO) Run DVOA:
#10 Opp (NO) Weighted DEF:
#7 Injuries to Watch DEF (NO) Friday Report:
LB Kiko Alonso (DNP) S Vonn Bell (DNP) CB Patrick Robinson (DNP) DE Cameron Jordan (LP) LB AJ Klein (LP) Injuries to Watch OFF (IND) Friday Report:
WR TY Hilton (LP) OL Le’Raven Clark (DNP) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
T.Y. Hilton (24%) Zach Pascal (20%) Jack Doyle (15%) Parris Campbell (15%) Nyheim Hines (12%) Deon Cain (6%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Nyheim Hines (56%, 8, 5) Marlon Mack (41%, 13, 0) Jordan Wilkins (14%, 1, 0) QB/WTE Breakdown
This season has gone south fast for the Colts, dropping five of their last six games, and Jacoby Brissett (downgrade)
has been much less effective in the second half of the season. He was able to take advantage of the Buccaneers ridiculously bad secondary last week in a close loss, but will face a stiffer challenge this week. The Saints give up the 10th most FPPG to QBs, but have the 10th best pass DVOA, and Brissett may be without his top WR again this week. Consider him a low-upside QB2, and don’t look his way unless desperate in a 2QB or superflex league. TY Hilton (injury downgrade)
is currently listed as a game time decision for MNF, making him a risky starting proposition due to the fact that most of the alternative options in your lineup will have already played by the time we get final clarity on his status. Unless there is a report stating definitively he will suit up, it’s best to avoid him this week. If you own Zach Pascal (start only if Hilton sits)
, you could also use him as a pivot option in case Hilton is ruled out before kickoff. If that’s the case, it would leave Pascal in position to soak up another high target total. He’s been extremely productive the past two weeks, and the Saints give up the 3rd most FPPG to WRs, so if he’s the #1 option this week he should be in your lineup. However, it’s hard to bank on this as Hilton likely won’t be declared active or inactive until just before kickoff, so it’s tough to bench more established studs for him during Sunday’s games. Consider Pascal a borderline WR2 if Hilton sits, but he’s no more than a boom-bust WR3/4 if Hilton plays. It’s likely best to avoid this situation entirely if you can, and either player could potentially see Marcus Lattimore in shadow coverage if the Saints decide to go that route as well. With Eric Ebron
out for the year, Jack Doyle (upgrade)
has shown flashes, but put up a 2-27 dud last week. Brissett likes throwing to his TEs, and Doyle is a great red-zone threat, so with the scarcity of quality options at the position Doyle is a mid-range TE1. The Saints are middle of the pack against TEs, so get him in your lineups this week unless you have a higher floor elite option. RB Breakdown
Another tough draw is on deck for Marlon Mack (volume upgrade)
. He played 41% of snaps in his return from injury, receiving only 13 touches. Still, he looked healthy, and was clearly the lead back. The Colts will likely increase his workload moving forward, and he should see closer to 20 touches this week, game-script permitting. New Orleans has only ceded 14.2 FPPG to the position, but Mack’s projected volume keep him in the RB2 ranks. Nyheim Hines
and Jordan Wilkins
are merely afterthoughts in this offense with the return of the Mack, and both can be safely dropped.
Saints Opp (IND) Pass DVOA:
#14 Opp (IND) Run DVOA:
#20 Opp (IND) Weighted DEF:
#15 Injuries to Watch DEF (IND) Friday Report:
CB Kenny Moore (DNP) CB Pierre Desir (LP) Injuries to Watch OFF (NO) Friday Report:
OT Terron Armstead (LP) OL Will Clapp (LP) OG Andrus Peat (DNP) Key WCB matchups:
None Relevant Target Share %’s (Last 6 Weeks):
Michael Thomas (30%) Alvin Kamara (22%) Jared Cook (15%) Ted Ginn (10%) Tre’Quan Smith (6%) RB Snap %/Touches/Targets Week 14:
Alvin Kamara (76%, 17, 6) Latavius Murray (33%, 9, 3) QB/WTE Breakdown
Lamar Jackson broke Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for a quarterback on Thursday Night Football this week, so it would be fitting for Primetime Drew Brees (upgrade)
to break the all-time passing touchdown record on Monday Night Football in the same week. Brees is sitting at 537 career touchdown passes, just two shy of Peyton Manning. However, Tom Brady is at 536, so it’s possible that going into MNF, Brees will be chasing both Manning and Brady (NFL.com) Indianapolis has been fading of late, Jameis Winston just posted 456-yards and four touchdowns against a usually solid secondary. Monday feels like it’ll be a special moment for Brees, he’s a top-5 QB option, fire him up. Michael Thomas (upgrade)
is also chasing greatness, going after Marvin Harrison’s single-season reception record of 143. Thomas is just twenty-three catches shy with three weeks left to go (NFL.com). Indy’s zone defense should provide plenty of underneath windows for the stud wideout, he’s an every-week elite WR1. The other wideouts are riskier: neither Ted Ginn
or Tre’Quan Smith
can be relied upon, and should be treated as boom-or-bust dart throws. Jared Cook
has emerged as the No. 3 passing option since Brees returned from injury, vacuuming up a 15% target share in the last six weeks. He’s expected to suit up Monday, after a concussion knocked him out of last week's barn burner. He’s an every week TE1 - IND cedes 7.3 FPPG to the position. RB Breakdown
It was extremely disappointing to watch the Saints roll up yards and points in the shootout last week, while Alvin Kamara (upgrade)
busted on 17 touches. Latavius Murray
was given fewer snaps and touches than Kamara, but was able to parlay his limited opportunity into a successful fantasy outing. Unfortunately, that’s just fantasy football sometimes; a plethora of variables exist and many cannot be predicted. Kamara owners that managed to survive the opening round of playoffs, despite his unfortunate bust week, need to renew their faith for this one. Indy cedes just 14.4 FPPG to RBs - but they are bottom-12 in Run DVOA. Additionally, we may be back to a reality in which the Saints score 30 a week in The Big Easy. I’m not betting against the positive game-script the home matchup should provide; Lat “Pulldown” Murray can be considered a viable, albeit slightly unpredictable, flex option as well. Score Prediction: Saints 35, Colts 20
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