Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, regardless if you're playing season-long fantasy, DFS, or are grinding player props. If you're just looking for fantasy football rankings and only have 10 minutes to skim through for your sit/start decisions, then head over to the "Forecast" sections below where I project each player's PPR finish based on a 12-team league. But if you want to get your research on, then I have full player breakdowns. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions.
Teams were listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: LAR, NE, NO, SEA, PIT, DET, HOU, GB, ATL, IND
Page 2: TEN, JAX, SF, BUF, TB, CHI, OAK, KC, NYG, PHI
Page 3: ARI, DEN, CAR, LAC, NYJ, CIN, CLE, MIA
TNF: MIN, WAS
Byes: BAL, DAL
Now 4. Rams (28.75 projected points, -11.0 point spread) vs. CIN
The friendly matchup in Atlanta got Jared Goff somewhat on track (268-2) and another friendly matchup is here with Cincy. The Bengals are PFF’s 24th best pass rush defense, and they’re really banged up right now. It’s another week where we can put aside Goff’s pressure (5.7 YPA) vs. no pressure (7.8 YPA) rates because he should be able to play in rhythm. Goff’s a low-end QB1. … Todd Gurley returned last week but only played 46 offensive snaps, which was in line with his snap counts in Weeks 1-3. However, Gurley did see 18 carries with the Rams way out ahead of the Falcons, game script that is expected to play out once again with LA favored by 13 points. Expecting Gurley to be as efficient this season as he was in 2017 and 2018 is a lost cause, but Gurley’s 15-20 touches are enough to keep him in the mix as an RB1/2 with upside, especially against the Bengals’ defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to RBs this season. …. With Malcolm Brown (questionable for Week 8) out last game, rookie Darrell Henderson set season-highs in offensive snaps (26) and touches (12). Because Henderson is the best running back on the Rams, I’m hoping (not projecting) Henderson keeps his 8-12 touches per game when Brown returns. Henderson is a worthwhile bench stash in season-long.
Cooper Kupp was a disappointment last week all things considered, but he still had 11.0 PPR points on eight targets. Only a few receivers have his floor/ceiling combo, especially with the Bengals’ bottom 10th percentile pass DVOA defense on schedule. Kupp’s 51 receptions are second in the NFL. He remains a fantasy WR1. … Brandin Cooks has hovered around 100 air yards in 6-of-7 games as the Rams best downfield threat. His 13.9 average depth of target makes him inconsistent week to week, but he should average out as a strong WR3 when the dust settles because he’s the WR21 in air yards to date. With only one touchdown to date, Cooks is a positive touchdown regression candidate. … Robert Woods’ week to week usage is far less predictable (see above chart), but he is still PPR’s WR21 despite the ups-and-downs. As the week-leading team total (30.5 projected points) indicates, this is a week for Woods to have a ceiling game. Woods is an upside WR2/3. … Gerald Everett is the TE5 in air yards, but the TE10 in PPR points. He’s a slight positive regression candidate -- he just missed a few deep targets last week -- and the Bengals injured and untalented defense is a matchup to bet on things evening out for Everett. He’s a preferred TE1/2.
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Now 7. Patriots (27.25, -11) vs. CLE
The Browns pass defense is slightly better than what the above chart is showing with CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams healthy, but it’s still not a matchup to fade. Tom Brady’s issues are his efficiency metrics -- both his 7.3 YPA and 4.0 TD% are season-lows since 2013 -- which can be attributed to offensive line and pass-catching problems. Neither of those will dramatically improve this week, so Brady will remain on the QB1/2 borderline. Through seven weeks, Brady is the QB9. … The first thing to figure out in the New England backfield is if Rex Burkhead is playing or not. Both James White and Sony Michel have scored *a lot more* fantasy points without Burkhead than with him since 2018. … Sony Michel is second to last in avoided tackles per rush attempt and is only averaging 3.2 yards per carry with 10+ yards to go. When he has space, Michel is failing. But does that matter for fantasy? Not much. Michel is leading the NFL in carries inside-the-5 (10) and inside-the-10 (19), and is 8th in overall carries. Usage does matter, and it’s keeping him in the upside RB2 mix. The matchup is also pretty with the Browns checking in as PFF’s 31st-graded run defense. … James White has 6-9 receptions in each of the last four games. I know, it’s nice. But it could be even nicer. White is a positive receiving touchdown regression candidate given his red zone usage, only if he continues to see his current workload. That isn’t a given with Burkhead and Mohamed Sanu coming to take his looks away. White is an RB2/3, one that would be a lot more appealing if Burkhead remains out.
As you can see above, Julian Edelman's two highest usage games (air yards & targets) came in the two games with Josh Gordon (knee, IR) either out or injured. He’s the locked-in No. 1 receiver and should continue to see 8-12 targets with nearly 100 air yards per game. Edelman is a strong WR1/2. … Gordon heading to the injured reserve is fantastic news for Phillip Dorsett, who is now a near full-time route runner as the Pats No. 1 outside receiver. In the three games Dorsett has played at least 50 snaps, Dorsett has averaged a 4.3-64-1.3 receiving line, good enough to be considered as a flex play at least until first-round rookie N’Keal Harry returns from IR in Week 11. … Mohamed Sanu will operate in similar ways as Edelman, just with fewer targets, especially in his first game with the team (Antonio Brown ran just 17 routes after New England acquired him). Sanu can and will be moved across the formation, doing most of his damage within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage (low 6.9 average depth of target). I expect his usage to be moderate (4-7 targets) since Jakobi Meyers is also around, but he should be efficient (career 8.0 YPT), making him a fantasy WR4 option after this week. … Ben Watson is looking like he’ll settle in as a 3-5 target tight end, who will compete for short-yardage passes with Edelman, Sanu, White, and Meyers. Watson is a touchdown-or-bust TE2.
Now 1. Saints (30.25, -12.5) vs. ARI
Drew Brees (thumb) will start for the first time since Week 2. This week’s matchup is ideal for multiple reasons -- it’s in New Orleans, it’s against a bottom 20th percentile pass DVOA defense, and it’s against the second-fastest offense. Brees has a nice ceiling and a high floor as a low-end QB1 here with the only reason for slight hesitation is his health. If the Saints are willing to play him despite having a bye week, then I'm not going to be overly concerned here.
Alvin Kamara (ankle) had limited practices this week, making him a true game-time decision for Week 8. It would be smart for the Saints to rest him with the bye next week, but who knows at this point. If Kamara is playing, he’s on the RB1/2 borderline with some re-injury risk and because Latavius Murray should see more work than earlier this season. I’m hoping Kamara is out. As we saw last week (119-2 on 27 carries), Murray has elite RB1 upside with Kamara inactive.
Michael Thomas is third among receivers in yards per route run (2.91, min. 20 targets) and is leading in targets (78), receptions (62), yards (763), and PPR points (156). Patrick Peterson is back for the Cardinals, but Thomas will have the advantage in the slot. Thomas is a high-volume WR1, although the WR/CB matchup will make hitting a ceiling slightly harder. … Ted Ginn is a great DFS tournament option. The air yards have been there the last two weeks, and Pat Pete chasing Thomas should open things up for Ginn. The Cardinals have allowed completions deep downfield at an above-average rate, and as shown above, Brees completes more passes downfield compared to Teddy to make things even better. Ginn is a boom-or-bust WR4 with upside, especially with Brees. … The Cardinals Defense has famously been awful against tight ends this season, but we need Jared Cook, who missed practice Wednesday, healthy (ankle) to take advantage of the mismatch. We’ll have to wait for more info on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before plugging Cook as a low-end TE1 with upside. If Cook is out again, Josh Hill will fill in at tight end and would have some streaming appeal.
Now 2. Seahawks (29.25, -8) @ ATL
Russell Wilson is a baller. The Falcons’ defense is last at defending opposing fantasy QBs. Russ is obviously one of the best quarterbacks of the week in season-long and in DFS. … The matchup for Chris Carson isn’t as great as Russ’ but it’s still solid with Vegas projecting nearly 29 points for the Hawks. Carson is seeing just about every running back touch now -- Rashaad Penny played two snaps last week -- and is an every-week RB1. Carson will be looking to make it five-straight games with at least 20 carries this week.
Tyler Lockett’s usage has been frustrating (see above chart), but he’s still fifth in yards per target (10.8, min. 40 targets) as one of the most efficient receivers of the decade. Lockett will be an upside WR1/2 against a defense that’s 31st in pass defense DVOA. … A similar story can be told about DK Metcalf, just on WR3 usage. Metcalf’s 14.4 average depth of target makes him an inconsistent fantasy asset, but one capable of reaching a weekly ceiling. Metcalf is also a positive receiving touchdown regression candidate given his red zone usage, so I’m firing up Metcalf as an upside WR3. Sign me up for Russ to DK stacks in DFS. … Jaron Brown and David Moore have seen enough usage (see chart above) to be considered as near min-priced DFS tournament options. … Luke Willson isn’t seeing enough usage to be counted on in fantasy. He’s purely a touchdown-dependent dart throw in a good offense. Jacob Hollister also saw six targets last week.
Now 3. Steelers (29, -14) vs. MIA
The Dolphins are 31st in PFF’s pass-rush grade and dead last in pass coverage. Everyone knows they’re bad, but can we stream Mason Rudolph? The Year 2 quarterback has tried to be a game manager this season, finishing with fewer than 230 yards in every game. But Vegas believes in Rudolph in the spot, giving the Steelers a 28.75-point projection. That’s enough for me to take a shot with Rudolph. At Oklahoma State, Rudolph would take shots downfield, and as you can see with the “Sack Rate” columns, he’ll have the time to throw downfield. Rudolph is an upside QB2. … James Conner’s volume has been more than fine this season; 12.3 carries with 83% of the teams share of inside-the-five carries and 4.3 receptions per game. His efficiency has been the problem, currently sitting at 3.2 YPC with the third-lowest avoided tackles per carry rate among qualifying ball carriers. The Dolphins should help those rates, bringing Conner back into the RB1 mix for this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and the rest of the receivers aren’t hitting ceilings because Rudolph isn’t throwing the ball deep. Luckily for JuJu, the Dolphins have allowed the second-most 20+ yard pass plays per game, which obviously elevates his ceiling. I’m not ready to call JuJu a WR1 this week, but he’s a rock-solid WR2 with upside. … Diontae Johnson has operated as the No. 2 receiver despite the #ShowerNarrative with James Washington. Diontae has actually seen *more* air yards in three of the last four games. What. The. Hell. But that’s more than enough usage for Diontae to enter the flex conversation against Miami. … James Washington is questionable for now. … Vance McDonald’s usage has been garbage with Rudolph, and for what it’s worth, Miami has been the best against TE compared to defending other positions. I wouldn’t get carried away with jamming McDonald into starting lineups, but he’s on the TE1/2 borderline here.
6. Lions (28.25, -6.5) vs. NYG
Matthew Stafford is one of the best streamers this week and is actually in my top-10 rankings at the position. Stafford has been rolling this season, averaging a career-high 8.0 yards per attempt thanks to having multiple plus-level pass-catchers. The Giants are also 28th in PFF’s pass coverage grade and 30th in pass rush. Pass volume could be a minor issue, but I like Stafford as a low-end QB1 with the Lions projected for 28.5 points this week. … The overall scouting report on rookie Ty Johnson can be found in my Tweet below. Essentially, I think he’s a fine talent, definitely good enough to produce in fantasy. Last week, Johnson ran 33 routes to J.D. McKissic’s 11 and lead the backfield in carries with 10 carries. I’m projecting Johnson for a mini bellcow role (13-17 touches), losing some snaps to McKissic on passing downs and possibly some snaps to Tra Carson and/or Paul Perkins on running downs. The issue for season-long is the threat of Detroit adding a back next week, but for this week, Johnson is a plug-and-play RB2, especially with the positive expected game script.
Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones have been trading big weeks, both seeing plenty of air yards (Golladay WR7, Jones WR25). Despite Jones’ four-touchdown game last week, Golladay is the No. 1 receiver here. Golladay is tied for the lead in inside-the-10 targets with seven and can win downfield, a place that the Giants have struggled defending in 2019. Golladay is an upside WR2. … Marvin Jones isn’t too far behind and wins in very similar ways, just on less usage. Jones is a boom-or-bust WR3 in a good spot at home with a 28.5-point team projection. … Danny Amendola only gets involved when the Lions find themselves in a shootout, which isn’t likely with Daniel Jones quarterbacking the other team. … We are still searching for Week 1 T.J. Hockenson, but we aren’t likely to see that again this season. Hockenson’s 4-6 targets and his on-field talent keep him in the mix as an upside TE2, however.
7. Texans (28.75, -6.5) vs. OAK
Don’t overthink the Deshaun Watson/Will Fuller splits. Watson is a stud, and the Raiders are 31 in PFF’s pass coverage grade and dead last in pass rush. No QB has as much upside this week as Watson. … Carlos Hyde is game-script dependent. In the Texans’ four wins this season, Hyde has averaged 19.3 carries. In the Texans’ three losses, the former Buckeye has averaged 11.3. As 6.5-point home favorites, Hyde is in a good spot, although it’s worth noting that Duke Johnson out-snapped Hyde, 38-25, in last week’s loss to Indy. Hyde is an upside RB2/3, while Johnson is a zero-floor RB3/4 in likely bad game script.
Losing Will Fuller would be a lot worse for the offense if Kenny Stills wasn’t around. Stills is fifth in yards per route run (2.84) among receivers with at least 10 targets, and he ran a route on 95% of the Texans’ dropbacks last week with Fuller sidelined early. With the Raiders even more limited with the CB Gareon Conley trade, Stills can be inserted into the upside WR3 discussion. … DeAndre Hopkins may see an extra target or two with Fuller out, but the biggest change could be Hopkins’ average depth of target. Fuller was the deep threat (14.3 aDOT), while Hopkins operated closer to the line of scrimmage (10.8 aDOT). Hopkins’ weekly ceiling would be higher if he was targeted deeper downfield. This is a week for Hopkins to show out as an elite WR1 with the Raiders’ bottom 10th percentile defense against fantasy WRs in town. … Keke Coutee, like Stills, will also be thrusted into more opportunity; Coutee set a season-high in routes run (32) last week with Fuller leaving early. Coutee’s weekly ceiling is far lower than Stills’ since he’s an underneath receiver (9.0 aDOT), but he’s in play as a WR4 given the explosive offense. … The Texans’ tight ends, Jordan Akins and Darren Fells, continue to eat into each other's workload. Last week, Akins ran more routes (29) than Fells (18), but they each only saw two targets. They are both complete dart throws in a matchup against a bottom 10th percentile defense against fantasy tight ends.
8. Packers (26.5, -5) @ KC
Update: Davante Adams is out, and MVS was left off the injury report. He should head back into a near full-time role and is my bet to lead Green Bay in targets.
Before last week’s five passing performance, Aaron Rodgers had gone 17 games without throwing even three passing touchdowns. It was an insane outlier performance given his recent production, but on tape, Rodgers does look better and more comfortable now than he did earlier in the year and definitely in recent seasons. The Chiefs are 28th in PFF’s pass-rush grade, so Rodgers should have time to pick apart the defense. Rodgers is a middle-of-the-pack QB1 with the eighth-highest team total (25.75) of the week. … Aaron Jones rebounded last week after a horrible Week 6 game with 12 carries and an awesome over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone. Jones will lose snaps and some touches to Jamaal Williams, but Jones remains the 1A in this committee. The Chiefs are dead last in PFF’s run defense grade and have fell victim to run-heavy approaches this month. The Packers may give Jones a few extra looks on the ground because of this, so he’s an RB1/2 while Williams is boom-or-bust RB3.
Davante Adams (toe) is a positive receiving touchdown regression candidate given his red-zone usage, if he can get healthy, but that doesn’t look likely after Adams missed early-week practice. … That keeps things open for the Packers’ crazy receiver group. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been running as the clear-cut WR2 behind Adams this season, but knee and ankle injuries have kept him limited recently (13 routes in Week 7). Luckily, MVS was a full participant at practice Wednesday, which gives me more confidence in him as a flex option. MVS’s improved health hurts fan-favorite Allen Lazard, who led Green Bay in routes run (84%) last week since they both primarily line up outside. … Geronimo Allison was second in routes run in Week 7 after surprisingly getting cleared. Allison’s slot duties are pretty safe despite the madness at the position, but his WR4-level volume will keep his floor/ceiling combo lower than we’d like. … Jimmy Graham’s usage is pretty clear. They don’t want to use him between the 20s, but he’s a red-zone target with Adams sidelined. In fact, Graham is tied for fifth in inside-the-10 targets with five. The former basketball player a touchdown-dependent TE1/2.
Now in the 20s. Falcons (21.25, +8) vs. SEA
Matt Ryan sprained his ankle in Week 7. He apparently is gunning to play this week, but I don’t see any reason for the Dirty Birds to rush him back, especially with a bye week waiting after this game. If Ryan plays, he’s a QB1/2 option with re-injury risk despite the Mohamed Sanu trade. The Seahawks Defense is 27th in PFF’s pass-rush grade and the secondary is average at best, even with new DB Quandre Diggs who is just a guy right now. If Matt Schaub starts, well, that would suck. Wouldn’t it? … Devonta Freeman’s usage and efficiency are tied to Ryan’s health. I’ll wrap up Freeman’s blurb once more info is gathered, but I think he’d be a low-end RB2 with Ryan and an RB3 without him. Ito Smith (concussion) being out slightly improves Freeman’s outlook.
The Mohamed Sanu trade opens up 12% of the Falcons’ targets and 14% of the Falcons’ air yards. The interesting part of this equation is if Julio Jones’ and/or Calvin Ridley’s role changes since their average depths of target (13.1 and 13.5) were much higher than Sanu’s (a very nice 6.9). It’s possible that the Falcons draw up more targets underneath for both Julio and Calvin, which would give them a higher weekly floor, especially for the boom-or-bust Ridley. … As for this week, their projections are obviously directly tied to Ryan’s status. Julio is a WR1 regardless, but the floor and ceiling take a hit with Schaub throwing ducks. … Ridley will likely continue to see 6-10 targets per game as a fantasy WR2/3 with Ryan. Ridley would need to be downgraded to the WR3/4 range if Matty Ice is out. … Austin Hooper’s usage is probably already maxed out, but he’s targeted in similar areas of the field as Sanu was. Hooper is locked into the TE1 mix, especially against the Seahawks’ bottom 10th percentile defense against fantasy tight ends.
10. Colts (25.75, -6) vs. DEN
Jacoby Brissett is a negative touchdown regression candidate (see my Tweet below), but Vegas is believing in the Colts Offense this week (25.75 projected points). Brissett will have to get there with efficiency, not with volume because both the Colts and Broncos are in the bottom half of the league in offensive plays per minute. Brissett is a high-end QB2. … The Broncos, even without Bradley Chubb, are PFF’s best defense against the run. That slightly hurts Marlon Mack’s outlook, but the Colts’ offensive line is good enough to handle it. Mack’s 19.8 carries per game are awesome and so is his positive touchdown regression projection:
T.Y. Hilton has been running really hot inside the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 4-of-6 inside-the-10 targets -- that’s obviously nowhere near sustainable, especially with elite CB Chris Harris coming to Indy. Hilton’s floor and ceiling are lowered with the individual matchup (look at the 20+ yard pass column above), but he’s seeing WR2/3 usage, which keeps him in the starting lineup in season-long leagues as a boom-or-bust WR3. … Zach Pascal has seen enough usage in two of the last three weeks (see above chart) to enter the season-long and DFS conversation. The potential concerns here are last week’s 44% route running percentage and the potential return of Parris Campbell. Pascal has zero floor, but he has some upside with Harris chasing Hilton around the dome. … Chester Rogers, Deon Cain, and Campbell aren’t options until we see them more involved. … Eric Ebron had an insane touchdown grab last week and his weekly usage is keeping him in the mix as an upside TE2 with touchdown equity.