Sunday Night Football
New England @ Indianapolis
Pats-Colts has Week 6’s highest Vegas total at 54.5 points. Favored by ten, New England has a monster team total of over 32 points. … While the Patriots have earned a reputation for attacking Chuck Pagano‘s Colts defenses with a power running game, it’s also true that Tom Brady has thrown multiple touchdown passes in three of his last four meetings with Indy, and the Colts have played far better run defense than usual this year. Stifling opposing running backs to 3.45 yards per carry, Indianapolis currently has a top-12 run defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. OC Josh McDaniels‘ offense is certainly still capable of morphing based on opponent, but this year’s Patriots have been a true spread team, frequently lining up in empty-back sets and picking apart mismatches. Particularly with LT Nate Solder (biceps) done for the year, a high-volume, quick-pass-based approach may be in order. … That’s not to take away from LeGarrette Blount, who could very well have another huge day. As a member of the Pats, Blount’s two rushing lines against Indy are 30-148-3 and 24-166-4, with former power back fill-in Jonas Gray dropping a 37-201-4 number in between. Blount is an every-week RB2 in season-long leagues with legitimate RB1 overall upside depending on usage, which can also be a product of in-game flow. If the Patriots smoke the Colts early, Blount will salt away the second half. … Dion Lewis is entrenched as the Pats’ primary back when games are close, ranking No. 4 among running backs in per-game PPR points, behind only Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell, and Jamaal Charles. Although it’s conceivable we’ll see more of Blount than usual against the Colts, it’s also more than conceivable both backs will pay off as Week 6 fantasy starts on a team with the biggest weekly total of the year to date. Don’t overthink.
Brady’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Julian Edelman 47; Rob Gronkowski 33; Lewis 30; Danny Amendola 13; Aaron Dobson 12; Scott Chandler 8; Keshawn Martin 5. … Running ankle-breaking pass patterns and being schemed open on precision route combinations, Edelman is a no-brainer every-week WR1 as the Patriots’ clear-cut target leader. Despite the Pats’ history of power-running approaches, Edelman is averaging 95 total yards per game over his last four meetings with the Colts. … Gronk has scored four TDs in three career dates with Pagano’s Indy defense and is a good bet to rebound from last week’s disappointing 4-67-0 number in Dallas. Although Gronkowski still made an impact on the game, Cowboys rookie DB Byron Jones deserves a lot of credit for keeping Gronk in check statistically, something not many (no?) NFL defenders have been able to do. … After dropping two passes in his previous two games, Dobson was a healthy scratch as the Patriots returned from their bye against the Cowboys in Week 5. Dobson has fallen behind September trade acquisition Martin, who played 85% of New England’s snaps at Dallas, catching 2-of-2 targets for 23 yards. Martin logged more playing time than Amendola, who played only 62% of the downs. A good athlete at 6-foot, 188 with 4.45 wheels, Martin is worth a look in especially deep fantasy leagues, though he is very unlikely to maintain a major role in New England’s offense when Brandon LaFell (PUP, foot) returns.
Friday Update: Colts beat writers expressed skepticism on Thursday that Luck was a sure thing to play on Sunday night. On Friday, those covering the team changed their collective tune as Luck returned to a “full” practice and was observed making high-velocity throws with the first-team unit. It would be a very big surprise if Luck didn’t start at this point.
While Andrew Luck‘s upside is undeniable in this potential shootout, it’s noteworthy that Bill Belichick historically has his number. Including playoffs, Luck has faced New England four times in his career. He’s 82-of-163 passing (50.3%) for 1,094 yards (6.71 YPA) with a 6:10 TD-to-INT ratio and an 11th turnover on a lost fumble. The Pats have also prevented Luck from beating them with his legs, holding him under 20 rushing yards in all four dates. Now battling back from a subluxed throwing shoulder, Luck should be viewed as a tournament-only DFS option, and a potentially volatile QB1 for season-long leaguers. New England’s D/ST is a sneaky play. Luck committed eight turnovers in three games before going down, and the Patriots rank top seven in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. … New England has been far more vulnerable on the ground, ranking 25th in DVOA after allowing 376 rushing yards on 84 carries (4.48 YPC) in their initial four games. From a game-scheme standpoint, Belichick figures to be more willing to allow the Colts to bang out 4-5 yard runs than let T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief beat the Patriots for downfield shot plays. If “fresh legs” are a real thing, Frank Gore should have them returning from a ten-day layoff following Indy’s Thursday night win over Houston. It’s an Inconvenient Truth, but Gore is averaging 4.47 yards per carry with three touchdowns over his last three games, and his scoring outlook would get a bump with Luck back. Pretty much every week, Gore is a borderline fantasy RB1. … Signed Wednesday, Ahmad Bradshaw will likely require a week to get up to speed and back into football shape before becoming a meaningful contributor. Bradshaw should still be grabbed in all PPR leagues as a likely passing-game asset behind Gore. Bradshaw was terrific in that role last year, averaging nearly four catches per game and 4.72 yards per carry. Bradshaw could legitimately dominate if Gore got hurt.
Luck’s target distribution before his two-game absence: T.Y. Hilton 28; Donte Moncrief 26; Andre Johnson 18; Phillip Dorsett 12; Coby Fleener 7; Gore and Dwayne Allen 6. … These are Hilton’s four career receiving lines against the Patriots in chronological order: 6-100-2, 4-103-0, 3-24-0, and 1-36-0. The good news is the Pats’ secondary personnel isn’t as good as it was in 2014. The bad news is the descending nature of Hilton’s production versus New England, in addition to his appearance on this week’s injury report with a groin ailment. … Last year’s Patriots were seemingly more worried about Moncrief than Hilton, assigning Darrelle Revis to Moncrief while then-slot corner Kyle Arrington shut down T.Y. Moncrief and Hilton are both every-week WR2s in season-long leagues, but neither stands out as a particularly great bet to light it up on Sunday Night Football. … At best, Johnson is a week-to-week unknown with Luck returning after Matt Hasselbeck temporarily kickstarted Johnson (6-77-2) against the Texans two Thursday nights ago. While Johnson’s role in Indianapolis’ offense has held steady — he’s started all five games and is playing 70% of the Colts’ snaps — Johnson remains difficult to trust as more than a WR3 dart throw. He goose egged in Weeks 3 and 4, and Johnson’s stat lines are 4-24, 3-27, and 0-0 in Luck’s three 2015 starts. … First-round pick Dorsett logged a season-low 9% snap rate in Week 5 against Houston and is not worth holding onto in re-draft leagues. … New England is a middling 16th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Fleener’s receiving lines are 1-5, 0-0, and 2-9 when Allen plays this year. Allen’s stat lines are 3-17-1 and 1-21. If forced to choose between the two, look at Allen first as the superior bet for a red-zone score.
Score Prediction: Patriots 30, Colts 20
Monday Night Football
NY Giants @ Philadelphia
The Vegas total on Giants-Eagles is 49.5, third highest on the Sunday/Monday slate. Philly is a four-point favorite with a rock-solid team total of just under 27 points. … Although Sam Bradford‘s weekly performances have become tales of two halves — he sputters early before catching fire late — the fantasy bottom line is that Bradford has produced top-six cumulative QB1 stats over the last two weeks in an Eagles offense that has resumed pushing the pace. Philly logged a season-high 87 offensive snaps in last week’s tail-kicking of the Saints, while Bradford now ranks fourth in the NFL in pass attempts. In Week 6, Bradford will do battle with a Giants team ranked No. 2 in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA, but 20th versus the pass and 28th in sacks (7). New York will also be missing RCB Prince Amukamara (pec strain), its most consistent cover man. Bradford’s pocket should largely be clean, and he should see heavy volume in a mouth-watering matchup. He’s an upside QB1 play. … For better or worse, the Eagles appear committed to DeMarco Murray as their lead back, feeding him a season-high 27 touches on 51% of the snaps against New Orleans. Ryan Mathews remained more efficient than Murray, but only touched the ball 11 times and played 24% of the downs. Darren Sproles (6 touches, 30%) remained a low-volume satellite player. The Giants did finally spring run-defense leaks in last Sunday night’s win over San Francisco as Carlos Hyde and Jarryd Hayne combined for 102 yards and a touchdown on 23 runs (4.43 YPC). The matchup still isn’t ideal, but Murray is seeing enough volume in a high-scoring enough offense for every-week RB2 treatment. Mathews is at the low end of the flex conversation, while Sproles isn’t an attractive flex.
Bradford’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Jordan Matthews 45; Zach Ertz 27; Sproles 24; Murray 20; Riley Cooper and Nelson Agholor 17; Miles Austin 12; Josh Huff and Ryan Mathews 11. … The last three weeks have been frustrating for J-Matt; he’s been held to 50 yards or fewer in each contest. Matthews has still seen seven or more targets in every game he’s played this year and continues to have plus matchups, in Week 6 drawing Giants slot CB Trumaine McBride, who has easily the worst PFF coverage grade among New York’s cornerbacks and stands 5’9/185 to Matthews’ 6’3/212. McBride also missed Friday’s practice and was listed with an “illness/groin” designation. Matthews flamed the Giants for 8-105-1 in Week 17 last year. If he can’t produce in this matchup, there will be legit cause for concern. I’m betting J-Matt delivers. … Ertz remains scoreless on the season, but is coming off his most productive box score of the year (5-60) and gets a juicy Week 6 matchup with a Giants defense yielding the NFL’s most catches to tight ends, and the fourth most fantasy points. This is a fine week to stream Ertz if he hit the waiver wire in your league. … Battling a muscle injury in his shin/ankle, Agholor looks on the doubtful side of questionable. Agholor’s absence could send more targets to Ertz and Matthews, and more snaps to fellow rotational receivers Cooper, Austin, and Huff.
The four-point road dog Giants have a Week 6 team total of just under 23. … Climbing to No. 7 in this year’s fantasy quarterback rankings, Eli Manning will enter Monday night red hot with a 68.9% completion rate, 10:2 TD-to-INT ratio, and 306-yard average over the last month. Eli also benefits from a no-huddle-heavy New York offense that ranks seventh in the NFL in snaps. Not only do the similarly up-tempo Eagles force their opponents to play faster, they demand foes generate offense via the passing game by ranking No. 4 in run-defense DVOA and holding enemy RBs to 3.65 yards per carry. Arguably playing the best football of his life, Eli offers a monster ceiling as a potential Monday Night Hammer. … After not catching a single pass in Weeks 3-4, Shane Vereen reappeared for an 8-86-1 receiving line in last Sunday night’s win over the 49ers, producing a season-best 110 total yards on 49% of the snaps. It should be noted that three of Vereen’s receptions and 54 of his receiving yards occurred on New York’s final drive, with Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham nursing hamstring injuries. Albeit with a low floor, Vereen makes sense as a flex play in PPR leagues in what projects as a fast-paced game. … Rashad Jennings typically offers the highest weekly floor in New York’s running back corps, but has a limited ceiling as part of a three-way committee wherein goal-line work can be vultured by Andre Williams. In a bad matchup, Jennings would be a truly desperate Week 6 flex play.
Eli’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Odell Beckham 52; Larry Donnell 30; Rueben Randle 26; Vereen 25; Dwayne Harris 15; Jennings 12. … Although Philadelphia has played better pass defense this year than last, the Eagles are still coughing up generous numbers to opposing wide receivers. The following are receiving lines so far given up by Philly: 9-141-2 (Julio Jones), 10-109-1 (Brandon Marshall), 6-141 (Willie Snead), 5-107-1 (Brandin Cooks), 7-55-1 (Pierre Garcon), 4-84-1 (Terrance Williams), 7-65 (Jamison Crowder). Beckham flamed Eagles DC Billy Davis‘ defense for 12-185-1 in Week 17 last season and should be locked into fantasy lineups despite last week’s hamstring scare. … Randle’s two 2014 stat lines against Philadelphia were 5-58-0 and 6-158-0. You never know what you’re gonna get from “Roob,” who is a hit-or-miss WR3 fantasy option. … Slot man Harris could come into play as a sneaky WR3/flex should Beckham or Randle experience a pre-game setback. Showing reasonably well in the old Victor Cruzrole, Harris has topped 50 receiving yards in back-to-back games. … Allowing the fifth most receptions in the league to tight ends, the Eagles offer a plus draw for Donnell coming off last Sunday night’s game-winning touchdown catch. Donnell is 14th among tight ends in fantasy scoring and belongs in the TE1 streamer conversation every week.
DFS Players: Giants at Eagles is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders’ top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups this weekend in daily fantasy football.
Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Giants 24
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