Week #10 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Rundown
Fantasy Projections for The New England Patriots @ Tennessee Titans Matchup
Week Nine against the Green Bay Packers went better than Patriots fans should have reasonably expected from a defensive perspective. Their defense limited Aaron Rodgers to 259 passing yards, two touchdowns and 17 points in a game that looked like it could be an offensive buffet for all involved.
The Patriots had struggled to cover the tight end position all season and while Jimmy Graham isn’t the same guy we saw when he was the biggest mismatch in football in New Orleans with the Saints, he is still a tough player to defend and they held him to four receptions and 55 receiving yards. And, they were effective shutting down DaVante Adams, holding him to six catches and 40 receiving yards. Aaron Jones did gash them for 75 rushing yards on only 14 carries and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a 101 yard receiving game, but that was the plan and after allowing only 17 points, we have to say that it worked. Shut down their best, make the rest beat you and in the end they won’t be able to sustain enough success to outscore you and that’s what happened. 31-17 win. The Titans are an entirely different animal this week.
The Titans lack the big-play weapons and elite quarterback that makes the Packers so tough, but they are a better fundamental team, more well-rounded team on the field on Sundays. Their defense ranks 32nd in points allowed per game (17.6) and 25th in total yards allowed per game (333.5 Yards Per Game). Their pass defense ranks 7th in passing yards allowed (226.2 Yards Per Game), while their rushing defense ranks 17th in rushing yards allowed (107.2 YPG).
On offense, the Titans are a much more pedestrian unit than the Packers. They rank 30 of 32 teams in passing yards per game (178.2 YPG) and 16th in rushing with 110 yards per game. Marcus Mariota has thrown the same number of touchdowns (5) as Jimmy Garoppolo and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen. Garoppolo did it in three games before he was lost for the season with an ACL injury while Rosen is a rookie leading one of the worst teams in football and he has played in only six games, with five starts and 169 total passing attempts.
Mariota’s ineffectiveness puts pressure on their running game and diminishes the potential of his wide receivers. This is a game that the Patriots defense could shine while the offense could struggle. Thats where the Fantasy battle will be fought in week 10.
If the Patriots can be effective moving the ball early and build a lead they could decide to limit Sony Michel’s touches in an attempt to ease him back and save him for tougher opponents going forward. If it’s a hard fought, close game at the start of the fourth quarter then we could see 20-25 carries that will approach a 100 yard game from Michel. Thats a game flow element that could have an impact on who receives the bulk of the opportunities and who produces this week.
The other game flow factor is ex-Patriot and current Titan, Malcolm Butler. Who does he cover and how much help do the Titans give him? Do they put him on Josh Gordon, a terrible one-on-one matchup, with a lot of help or do they let him play tight, physical coverage on Julian Edelman close to the line of scrimmage and give him help over the top. If Butler doesn’t receive help then someone on the Patriots receiving core is going to have a huge game. If they do provide Butler with help, and I expect they will, then Brady will likely disperse the ball around evenly to everyone, minimizing the potential impact of any one individual in favor of the best matchup on any given play based on personnel and formation.
In Week nine we knew the Patriots would be able to move the ball and score points. The question was, could their defense shut down the Packers offense. This week, it’s more of a balancing act with less potential for drastically poor results on defense and explosive success on offense. The Titans are a good matchup for the Patriots defense while their defense poses a more difficult challenge for the Patriots play makers on offense.
New England Patriots
The Titans defense has allowed 171 completions (ranking sixth best), 11 passing touchdowns (tied for 4th best) and 226.2 passing yards per game, which ranks 8th best in football. That makes the Titans a difficult matchup for Julian Edelman, who is one of the Patriots biggest targets, and Tom Brady, due to a potential lack of passing yards and touchdowns.
The key for the Patriots will be to find Malcolm Butler and target whichever wide receiver he is assigned to on any given play. He has been one of the worst cornerbacks in football and will be a weakness to exploit for big plays all day long.
The Titans run defense has been a middle-of-the-road unit in yards allowed this season, ranking 17th in rushing yards allowed per game, but they only allow 17.7 Fantasy points per game because of how effective they have been in the red zone – fourth best in the NFL. They have only allowed two rushing touchdowns and zero passing touchdowns to running backs.
Tom Brady, QB
Brady has been good in the more friendly match ups and relatively pedestrian in the more difficult ones. He has had three 300+ yard passing games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills and four games with three touchdowns.
With the explosion in offense and the depth of the quarterback position across the NFL, Brady isn’t a must-start Fantasy quarterback any more and in DFS he is often overpriced. He lacks the high-end potential required to finish in the money due to the Patriots shift to more rushing attempts than in previous seasons and Rob Gronkowski’s disappointing season.
Brady ranks at the back-end of the top 10 quarterback rankings and isn’t a must-start option, depending on an owners alternatives are and he should be faded in DFS. 250-275 passing yards and two touchdowns is his Over/Under and I project a push. Thats what I expect from him this week.
James White, RB
White is the most reliable and has been the most impactful Fantasy player on the Patriots roster, but this is a tough matchup for the pass catching runner.
The Titans haven’t allowed a passing touchdown to a running back and have only allowed 35 receptions and 233 receiving yards to running backs this season. White will be one of the ten most expensive running backs to own in DFS in a matchup that is likely to be one of his toughest all season.
White has had five receptions or more in all but two games and hasn’t had fewer than five catches in a game since week three, his worst game of the season and an ugly loss to the Detroit Lions.
With the expected return of Sony Michel, White’s rushing attempts and overall targets could be one of the lowest of his season and will limit his rushing yards, passing targets, his chances of scoring a touchdown and potentially his receptions.
This is the week to fade White in DFS even though he is a must-start in yearly leagues. Even the elite players don’t dominate every week. This profiles to be a down week for the Patriots pass catching RB.
Sony Michel, RB
It’s always difficult to evaluate a player returning from injury because we don’t know how healthy a player will be or how there health will impact his role in the game plan.
The assumption is that Michel will play and will be close to 100%. If that’s the case, owners can expect 20 carries and a multiple of red zone opportunities. The opportunities will be there for Michel while the yards from scrimmage likely will not. The Titans defense isn’t the best matchup for a player that has average 4.4 yards per carry on the ground.
Fantasy players shouldn’t chase touchdowns and that’s where Michel will make or break his owners this week. He is a must-start in yearly leagues and a player to avoid in DFS.
Julian Edelman, WR
There isn’t an obvious mismatch for any of the Patriots offensive players to exploit with the possible exception of whoever is covered by Malcolm Butler. What we do know is the Titans aren’t going to completely shut down the Patriots offense, and that means yards from scrimmage and points and that’s good for Edelman. Even in a potentially difficult matchup Edelman will be targeted, he will finish with five or six receptions and 60-70 receiving yards.
What he is unlikely to do is have a 125+ yard receiving game with a touchdown or two. Edelman’s Fantasy floor is safe and reliable, while his ceiling is low and risky. That makes him a Flex starter and a DFS fade.
Josh Gordon, WR
Gordon has been a deceptively good player in recent weeks. He has had two 100+ yard receiving games in his last three and scored a touchdown. His receiving yards and touchdowns have been scattered and unpredictable. He has had two 100+ yard games and five games of 50 receiving yards or less and only three touchdowns. He scored a touchdown against a weak Pittsburgh Steelers defense, his only reception of that game; against the Indianapolis Colts, one of only two receptions in that game, and one against the Packers on a play that may have been intended for Julian Edelman and fell into his lap.
Malcolm Butler has to cover someone and if its Gordon, this could be a big game for him. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Butler, who has been one of the worst corners in football, to be matched up on Gordon one-on-one without help, but in an ideal world for the Titans, he would. That’s why you pay a corner. Line him up against an opponent’s most explosive player and hope he shuts him down.
Gordon can be explosive and with the possibility that he is covered by Malcolm Butler there is a chance he has one of the best matchups of any Patriots player, but we don’t know. He is a potential Flex starter in yearly leagues and a risky, potentially cheap possibility in tournaments for DFS. Taking a risk and being contrarian is rewarded more in DFS formats than any other and thats where Gordon is the most interesting play, but he is a risky one in all formats.
New England Patriots Defense
The Titans middling offense has allowed defenses to rank fourth in Fantasy points scored per game with 8.6. The Patriots defense ranks tied for fourth in interceptions with 11 while they rank third to last in sacks with 13. Marcus Mariota ranks 38th in passing attempts per game while the Titans are seventh in rushing attempts per game, averaging 28.2 per game. It amounts to a Patriots Fantasy defense that has a matchup they can benefit from for owners and a game where their weaknesses will be minimized by the Titans lack of offensive potential.
The Titans want to control the clock and establish the run. They should have one of their better games in yards allowed with a chance for two or three interceptions and possibly a touchdown.
The Titans are one of the more vanilla offenses in football. Marcus Mariota isn’t a playmaker and their offense lacks creativity and explosiveness. They like to run the ball (they rank seventh in average rushing attempts per game with 28.2) and limit their opponents time of possession.
A lack of a playmaking quarterback and a pre-season injury to tight end Delanie Walker has made the Titans one of the least relevant Fantasy teams in the NFL. They have a talented wide receiver in Corey Davis who has yet to be relevant except for a nine reception, 161 yard receiving game against the Philadelphia Eagles in week four and a quarterback in Marcus Mariota who has only one 300+ yard passing game and five total passing touchdowns all season.
The Patriots defense is a matchup that Fantasy owners should target and that most offenses are able to exploit, but the Titans lack the weapons and the quarterback to do it this week. Their running backs will be relevant because of their dedication to the run while their wide receivers are too risky to trust, even in a friendly matchup.
Dion Lewis, RB
Patriots fans know better than anyone how explosive Lewis can be, but he has only one rushing touchdown and one receiving score due to an overall lack of production by their offense. He has had only two games of 15 carries or more or five receptions or more even though he has had three games of 60 receiving yards or more and two games of 75 rushing yards or more.
Lewis leads the Titans offense in rushing attempts and is second in receptions to Corey Davis, while Derrick Henry has received 90 rushing attempts to Lewis’ 92, making it a committee on the ground.
Lewis is the best Fantasy player the Titans have and they have focused a lot of their offense around getting him the ball, both on the ground and through the air, but the Titans offense is pedestrian and at times, inept.
The Patriots defense has allowed 538 receiving yards, 784 rushing yard and an average of 23.9 Fantasy points per game to running backs. They have been respectable without being exceptional against running backs this season with the exception of one category, touchdowns allowed, where they have allowed two rushing scores and three receiving – one of the best in football.
The Patriots linebackers are slow and struggle with quick running backs in space, which makes this an intriguing matchup for Lewis, while the stinginess in the red zone limits Lewis’ upside. He is a must-start, low-end RB2 in yearly leagues and a good DFS play in cash games and, if the price is right, a tempting one in tournaments. Touchdowns are a key in tournaments, but Lewis’ volume, receptions and yards from scrimmage should make him a good tournament value as well.
Derrick Henry, RB
Henry’s miniscule 3.3 yards per carry average and two touchdown season makes him a bad play in most leagues, most weeks, but there could be an opening against the Patriots due to game plan.
The Patriots are likely to focus on preventing committee member Dion Lewis from beating them in the flat in the passing game, opening up running lanes in the middle for Henry. The Titans are committed to running the ball with Henry, elevating his Fantasy floor to a respectable level. Where he falls short is what the Patriots defense does well, the red zone.
For Henry to be a viable DFS play or a potential RB2 in yearly leagues he needs red zone opportunities and a touchdown or two, and he is unlikely to have either.
The Patriots game plan and the Titans lack of overall offensive potential will result in a respectable day in yards from scrimmage with touchdowns and overall production being a low-percentage endeavor. Henry has a respectable floor and a limited ceiling this week.
Corey Davis, WR
Davis is an explosive talent who has suffered due to a lack of playmaking ability from Marcus Mariota. He has been one of the least effective quarterbacks in the NFL and the Titans game plan has been to minimize Mariota’s attempts and therefore his potential for mistakes.
The Patriots pass defense has allowed 10 receiving touchdowns and allowed an average of 35.9 Fantasy points per game to wide receivers. If there is a player that can best exploit this weakness, it’s Davis. He has had one relevant Fantasy day against the Philadelphia Eagles when he had nien receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown. It’s foreseeable that he COULD have that kind of game Sunday, but the odds are low. The Patriots defense doesn’t typically allow those kinds of explosive games.
The Patriots pass defense is a matchup Fantasy owners should target while the Titans roster is one of the few that lacks anyone able to benefit enough to do it. If bye weeks, injuries or poor alternatives have owners desperate, Davis is worth considering. Otherwise, it’s Dion Lewis, possibly Derrick Henry, and that’s it.
Good Luck everyone and enjoy what should be a relatively pedestrian, grind-it-out victory in Tennessee for the New England Patriots.
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