This week’s Thursday night matchup is a division rivalry between the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles and desperation-mode Giants. These teams currently sit at third and fourth in the NFC East with a combined three wins. The Giants offense showed signs of life in last week’s 33-31 loss to the Panthers but has now allowed 20 or more points in every game to start the season and 30+ in their last two. The Eagles have been decimated by injuries and don’t have the defensive personnel to match up with Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shephard, and Saquon Barkley in the receiving game. For a more in-depth breakdown of this game refer to Evan Silva’s Matchup column.
Devonta Freeman unlikely for Week 6
After missing three games with an MCL injury, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Devonta Freeman has a bone contusion in his foot and his status is in doubt for Week 6 against the Bucs. Foot contusions can vary in severity based on which bone in the foot is injured, but things aren’t looking great for Freeman. Even if he does play it’s tough to imagine the Falcons giving him more than the 10 touches he had in Week 5. In Freeman’s absence the three weeks prior, Tevin Coleman took on the 1A role with RB Ito Smith as the 1B. Clarifying further, Coleman played on 65% > 78% > 57% while Smith played on 29% > 15% > 43% weeks 2-4. The split between Smith and Coleman tightened as the weeks progressed, leading me to believe it will be a 60/40 snap share if Freeman does sit in Week 6.
Continuing with the Freeman-less scenario for Week 6, in a juicy matchup against the Bucs Coleman is an RB2 and Smith a viable flex play. The Bucs haven’t been good at defending running backs on the ground (5th worst in Football Outsiders’ success rate allowed) or in the passing game with the 7th worst success rate allowed (56 percent) and 3rd worst yards per attempt allowed (9.1) to the position. The major caveat to all of this is Freeman’s availability. Having a narrow scope of touches between two players in the rushing game is much easier to predict than a potential three-headed backfield. If Freeman does play, both him and Coleman are high-upside flex plays with a wide range of workloads and outcomes.
Leonard Fournette out until Week 10?
Fournette’s season has been derailed ever since getting injured early in Week 1. They tried to rush him back in Week 4, but he predictably got reinjured. Now Florida Football Insiders reported a “source having knowledge of the Jaguars’ thinking” expects the team to sit Leonard Fournette (hamstring) through the Week 9 bye. The dreams of Fournette drafters turning their seasons around once he returns is probably lost at this point. In his absence, the Jags will likely continue to give RB T.J. Yeldon the majority of work and mix in recent-signee Jamaal Charles. Yeldon played on a whopping 93 percent of snaps last week, but that was largely due to Corey Grant suffering a foot injury early on. Until Fournette returns I expect Yeldon to play around 65-70 percent of snaps.
The Week 6 matchup isn’t very good from a rushing efficiency standpoint with Dallas being fairly stiff on the ground, but they have allowed the fifth-highest rate of opposing targets (26%) to running backs this season. If Yeldon has a big game it will likely be buoyed by a lot of receptions.
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With Jay Ajayi out for the season and Darren Sproles already announced out for Week 6, the Eagles will use a tandem of Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Zach Berman. This makes sense as the Eagles have never truly featured a back and like to use a committee approach. While both players should see around 50 percent of the snaps, I’m not overly excited about starting either this week. Smallwood is probably a touchdown-dependent RB2 while Clement is a flex play. In a matchup that is neither imposing nor enticing, I’ll be staying away in daily fantasy.
Ben Roethlisberger said James Conner “should not go on the shelf by any means” if/when Le’Veon Bell ends his holdout. If this ends up being the case, Bell will be nowhere near the fantasy producer of old. Part of the reason Bell was so great in Fantasy was due to his massive usage in not only the rushing but receiving game as well. This is something to watch for when Bell does return. …Lamar Miller (chest) said he’s “definitely” going to play Week 6 against the Bills. This is a plus matchup for Miller as 10-point favorites but he is tough to trust based on how poorly he has played this season. …Free-agent OT Ereck Flowers will visit the Jaguars on Thursday. If he doesn’t end up signing with the Jags he will likely find a home fairly quickly. …Dalvin Cook (hamstring) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. This would hypothetically put Cook on track to play in Week 6, but with the way his injury is healing this must be monitored. …Brandin Cooks (concussion) and Cooper Kupp (concussion) were cleared for Wednesday’s walkthrough. This is great news for the Rams as they will likely be at full strength in Week 6. … Eric Ebron (shin, quad, ankle, knee) did not practice on Wednesday. This is just maintenance for Ebron and he will be good to go against the Jets in Week 6. … Olivier Vernon (ankle) was removed from the Week 6 injury report and will play Thursday night against the Eagles. Even in his 2018 debut, he will be a significant addition for the Giants pass-rush. …Evan Engram (knee) is out for Week 6 against the Eagles. He returned to practice this week but wasn’t able to play on a short week. Look for his to return in Week 7. …Doug Baldwin (knee) is practicing in full for Week 6 against the Raiders. Baldwin’s knee probably won’t ever be fully healed for the rest of the season as he previously alluded to. After being used as a decoy in Week 5, he will likely have a much bigger role in this matchup. …Chiefs OLB Justin Houston (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday. Houston missed the second half of Week 5 and hasn’t practiced since. His loss would be another significant blow to the Chiefs pitiful defense. … Anthony Miller (shoulder) is practicing in full for Week 6 against the Dolphins. Miller will return after dislocating his shoulder. Thankfully his labrum looks to have remained relatively unscathed otherwise his season would be in doubt. …Colts LB Darius Leonard (ankle) didn’t practice on Wednesday. The defense was noticeably worse against the Patriots last week without him. He is expected to return on Sunday but that’s by no means a lock. …Jack Doyle (hip) and T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) won’t play in Week 6 against the Jets. Both have been labeled as “week to week” by HC Frank Reich. … Sony Michel (knee) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. This is just precautionary and he draws a great matchup against the Chiefs defense this week. … O.J. Howard (knee) was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice. He was expected to be out for a few more weeks but is making a speedy recovery. If he’s out TE Cameron Brate should be started in nearly all fantasy leagues. …Darren Sproles (hamstring) is out for Week 6 against the Giants. Sproles should be good to return in Week 7. Both Corey Clement and Wendall Smallwood will have a sizeable workload in Thursday’s game against the Giants. …Greg Olsen (foot) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. He is expecting to play this week and should be started in most fantasy leagues. …Speaking Wednesday, coach Sean McDermott didn’t totally dismiss the possibility of trading LeSean McCoy. The aging, but still talented, running back should be traded prior to the deadline if the Bills want to maximize value, something the franchise haven’t been overly concerned with in the past.
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