Monday Night Football

Washington @ Philadelphia
Team Totals: Eagles 27, Redskins 22

A top-12 fantasy quarterback in three straight games and top-five finisher in two of his last three, Kirk Cousins draws another favorable matchup on Monday night against the Eagles’ pass-funnel defense. Philly has yielded five consecutive top-12 quarterback results to Alex Smith (QB10), Eli Manning (QB10), Philip Rivers (QB11), Carson Palmer (QB12), and Cam Newton (QB7), and over the course of the season only seven defenses have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Eagles. A mild but notable concern is Cousins’ road-game splits. Beginning with most recent, Cousins’ last five passing yards/touchdown totals in away games are 220/2 > 179/1 > 270/1 > 234/2 > 271/1. … The Redskins’ early-down running back role is barely worth discussing until Rob Kelley or Samaje Perine emerges as a higher-volume option. Kelley (ankle) missed last week’s win over San Francisco, but Perine managed 12 touches on 34% of the snaps. The Redskins’ best approach would be to play spread offense and use Chris Thompson at tailback, a realization they may have made in Week 6, as Thompson logged a career-high 20 touches on a 61% playing-time clip. Philadelphia has given up the league’s sixth-most catches (36) and 13th-most receiving yards (276) to enemy backs. Whereas Perine and Kelley remain touchdown-or-bust flex options, Thompson has played his way into every-week RB2 treatment in PPR leagues. 

Cousins’ Weeks 1-6 targets: Terrelle Pryor 29; Thompson 26; Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed 24; Ryan Grant 20; Vernon Davis 14. … Washington’s wide target distribution has torpedoed the reliability of their individual pass catchers while Cousins flourishes. Pryor “leads” the team with just 5.8 targets per game. Pryor remains a tough fade in the most favorable matchup he’ll get all year. 11 different wideouts have cleared 50 yards against Philly in six games, including eruptions by Keenan Allen (5/138/0), Sterling Shepard (7/133/1), Tyrell Williams (5/115/1), Kelvin Benjamin (9/99/0), and Odell Beckham (9/79/2). … Doctson logged a season-low 26% snap rate coming off the bye and can’t be trusted. … Crowder hasn’t been the volume monster he looked set up to be entering the season and has the toughest matchup in Washington’s wideout corps against breakout slot CB Patrick Robinson, who is currently No. 2 in PFF’s cornerback grades. … Grant has five targets or fewer and fewer than 40 yards in four straight games. … The good news is Reed’s post-bye 73% playing-time clip was his highest since Week 1. The bad news is Vernon Davis (3/65/0) out-produced Reed (4/37/0), and the Eagles play stout tight end defense, giving up the NFL’s 12th-fewest yards (270) to the position. Reed needs to be downgraded to a low-end TE1 until something changes.

The banged-up Redskins defense lost DE Jonathan Allen to a year-ending foot injury in last week’s win over San Francisco, won’t have LCB Josh Norman (ribs), and is dealing with an MCL sprain to RCB Bashaud Breeland. Washington has allowed top-13 fantasy weeks to 3-of-5 quarterbacks faced and doesn’t present an imposing matchup for white-hot Carson Wentz, who’s been a top-five fantasy passer in 4-of-6 starts. Wentz’s floor and ceiling are raised by his underrated scrambling ability; he is tied for second among quarterbacks in rushing attempts (32) and ranks fourth in rushing yards (133). … Ranked No. 15 in run-defense DVOA, Washington’s defensive front is unimposing as it pertains to the Eagles’ running game, and will be softened by Allen’s loss. Unfortunately, Wendell Smallwood’s (knee) expected return will further muddy a Philly backfield that has consistently been split three ways, with or without Smallwood in the lineup. LeGarrette Blount has been the most reliable play with 14 or more touches in three straight games, although his minimal passing-game usage renders Blount a touchdown-or-bust flex option only. After a two-game absence, I’d want to see something positive from Smallwood before investing fantasy starts in him. His weekly touch counts in two games prior to the injury were 13 and 14. 

Wentz’s Weeks 1-6 target distribution: Zach Ertz 53; Alshon Jeffery 48; Nelson Agholor 30; Torrey Smith 25; Smallwood 11; Trey Burton 7; Blount 3. … This is a smash spot for Ertz against a Washington defense Ertz shredded for 8/93/0 receiving in Week 1, and was since rinsed by Rams tight ends (4/104/0), Raiders tight ends (5/42/1), and Travis Kelce (7/111/1). … Jeffery was contained (3/38/0) in that Opening Day game, as have been Pierre Garcon (5/55/0), Tyreek Hill (5/35/0), Cooper Kupp (3/30/0), Sammy Watkins (2/30/0), Robert Woods (1/8/0), Michael Crabtree (1/7/0), and Amari Cooper (1/6/0) by the Redskins. Still, Norman and Breeland’s injuries enhance Alshon’s outlook. … Slot man Agholor has been a difficult player to forecast week to week, staying afloat on low volume by compensating with big-play chops. He ripped the Redskins for a 6/86/1 stat line on a season-high eight targets in these clubs’ Week 1 draw, then drew his second-highest target total of the year (7) in last week’s upset of Carolina. Until he establishes a larger, more consistent weekly role, I think Agholor is best approached as a boom-bust WR3 option. … Smith is just a low-floor, big-play-dependent dart at Washington. Smith has finished with 30 yards or fewer in 4-of-6 games with one touchdown on the year. 

Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Redskins 23

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