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 are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: SEA, DAL, OAK, GB, KC, DET, NE, TB, HOU
Page 2: PHI, BUF, CAR, MIN, NYJ, JAX, LAC, IND, CLE
Page 3: BAL, PIT, NYG, MIA, TEN, CHI, DEN, WAS
TNF: SF, ARI
Byes: ATL, CIN, LAR, NO
Seahawks (28.75 implied points, -5 point spread) vs. TB
Russell Wilson can fall victim to low passing volume when the Seahawks jump out to an early lead, but the Bucs have allowed the second-most pass attempts against this season (40 per game). That’s partially because the Bucs are a pass funnel (26th in pass defense DVOA and 1st in run defense DVOA) and partially because the Bucs’ offense can make games shoot out. With Vegas projecting this to be a 28-22 game, Russ offers elite QB1 fantasy upside, especially since he’s currently second in passing touchdown rate (6.8%) with a career-high 8.5 yards per attempt average. … The Bucs are fifth in PFF’s team run defense grade and have allowed the fewest yards per carry to running backs this season (2.9). This will be a very difficult matchup for Chris Carson to overcome, but we can confidently project Carson for 15-25 carries since he has at least 20 carries in five-straight games. With a 29-point team total, Carson still easily belongs in the top 12 at the position despite some efficiency concerns. … Rashaad Penny could steal 5-10 touches from Carson, but he’s still purely a fantasy handcuff.
With the pass-funneling Bucs in town, we can project both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf closer to their ceilings. Lockett’s 11.4 yards per target average gives him a chance at 20+ fantasy points even when the Seahawks aren’t passing with volume, but I expect Russ to pass more this week for the reasons I stated above. Lockett is on the WR1/2 borderline against this bottom 12th percentile against fantasy receivers Bucs defense. … DK Metcalf finally had some good luck in the red zone last week (two touchdowns), and this is another week to keep the good luck rolling. Metcalf and his 13.8 average depth of target will benefit against the Bucs’ defense that’s in the bottom 16th percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays. Metcalf is a boom-or-bust WR3. … David Moore is a quiet min-priced DFS tournament option in Russ stacks after three-straight weeks with over 50 air yards. … Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister are splitting snaps in a low-volume passing offense. I’ll pass.
Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Start/Sit Tool, Trade Analyzer, Consensus Rankings, Projections and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
Cowboys (27.5, -7) @ NYG
Dak Prescott is leading or amongst the leaders in every single advanced passing metric, and he now catches the Giants, who are fifth-lowest in PFF’s team pass coverage grade. Prescott has absolutely torched New York the last two times they matched up, tossing four touchdowns and at least 387 yards in each game. Vegas projects Dallas to score the second-most points of the week (27.75), so it’s easy to see why I’m listing Prescott as a top-four quarterback this week. … Ezekiel Elliott is also in a smash spot as a 7.5-point favorite against an average run defense. Zeke is also quietly seeing more work as a pass-catcher (6, 2, 5, and 6 receptions in the last four games), which was the missing ingredient to getting back into the elite RB1 mix.
Amari Cooper should be much healthier after the bye than he was in the previous two games. For all of the same reasons as I just laid out for Dak, Amari is a no-brainer WR1 with tons of upside. The Giants are in the bottom 12th percentile at stopping opposing fantasy receivers, preventing 20+ yard pass plays, and in pass defense DVOA. Cooper is a long touchdown candidate, and he usually 7-10 targets when he’s healthy, so the floor is nice as well. … Michael Gallup fell victim to Dak only attempting 27 passes in Week 7, but he’s otherwise been a strong WR2/3 option with a weekly ceiling. The last time Gallup played New York, he caught all seven of his targets for 158 yards. Gallup, like Amari, is a threat for a deep touchdown this week. He’s a fine WR2/3. … Randall Cobb isn’t a full-time route runner and he’s been held to two or three receptions in each of the last four games. Cobb is a forgettable WR5. … Jason Witten’s usage has been extremely steady this season; he has exactly four targets in 6-of-7 games. That, however, is only enough to be on the streaming radar as a touchdown-or-bust option. The Giants are in the top 10th percentile against tight ends, so Witten is a standard zero-floor TE2.
Raiders (26.5, -2.5) vs. DET
In terms of efficiency, Derek Carr is having a career season, which isn’t much of a surprise given the offensive line upgrades. Carr will go overlooked because he’s Derek Carr, but he’s a fantastic streamer and possible DFS tournament option this week. Oakland is projected to score the fourth-most points this week, and Carr has upside against a Lions Defense that’s allowed the third most 20+ yard passes per game. Carr is firmly on the QB1/2 borderline. … The fantasy blueprint on Josh Jacobs is pretty simple. The Raiders want to establish the run, and Jacobs is one of the best runners in the NFL already, but if they get behind, Jacobs won’t see too much receiving usage (3 receptions has been his max). That’s not completely ideal, but he offers plenty of upside this week given the Raiders’ team total (26.5) and point spread (-2.5), not to mention the Lions’ second-worst defense against opposing fantasy running backs. Jacobs is an upside RB1/2.
Tyrell Williams has been running hot in the touchdown department, but he’s seeing plenty of air yards and is one of the few pass-catchers involved in the offense. Williams will face CB Darius Slay (hamstring) this week, not a matchup to be afraid of. With the Lions in the bottom 6th percentile against 20+ yard passes, I’m firing Williams up as an upside WR3 who needs to be in DET/OAK game stacks. … I’m not chasing Hunter Renfrow’s stat line from last week. He’s not seeing enough air yards or targets. … On the other hand, Darren Waller is very much in the mix. He’s top five in targets and air yards at the position. Plus, the matchup is sweet. Detroit is in the bottom 29th percentile against the position. Waller isn’t just a locked-in TE1, but he’s in the mix for TE1 overall.
Packers (25.75, -3.5) @ LAC
Aaron Rodgers followed a 17-game stretch of two or fewer passing touchdowns with five- and three-touchdown games the last two weeks. Rodgers looks to be back, and he’s fully capable of torching this injured Chargers Defense, at least in terms of efficiency. The problem is projected volume since the Bolts have allowed the fewest pass attempts against this season (27 per game). Rodgers is definitely a QB1, but I’m not expecting the biggest of games. … Aaron Jones has a 10-15 carry projection every week, but he’s really starting to get going as a receiver. Jones has four-straight games with 4-7 receptions and has three receiving touchdowns over that stretch. The Chargers are also in the bottom 22nd percentile ranking against fantasy running backs, largely because of injuries to their defensive tackles. Jones is a rock-solid RB1. … Jamaal Williams has been productive, but that’s been mostly due to luck, not workload. Williams has four receiving touchdowns on just five red-zone targets, a clearly unsustainable pace. There’s a ceiling to chase, but I’d be way more comfortable leaving Williams on my bench in season-long. Williams is still one of the best fantasy handcuffs.
Davante Adams (toe) is inching towards a return, but I’m guessing he’s one more week away. If I’m wrong, I’ll update this section on Saturday. … Assuming Adams is out, the Packers will deploy a four-man rotation at receiver. As you can see above, air yards and targets have been hard to come by and hard to predict over the last four weeks. Here were the routes run totals in Week 8 on Rodgers’ 43 dropbacks: Allen Lazard (32), Geronimo Allison (31), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (30), and Jake Kumerow (19). I wouldn’t call any of them WR3s, but Lazard and MVS are dart throw flex options if you’re in a pinch. … In the four games Adams has missed, Jimmy Graham is averaging a 3-35-0.3 receiving line while running a route on about half of Rodgers’ dropbacks. The veteran is primarily a touchdown-dependent TE1/2 in a good offense.
Chiefs (25, -2) vs. MIN
I’m not expecting Patrick Mahomes (dislocated kneecap) to return this week -- I actually think selling Mahomes right now is smart -- so we’ll get another week of Matt Moore. Through 56 pass attempts, Moore is averaging a decent 6.9 yards per attempt, which is definitely good enough to keep him in the mix for fantasy. The issue is the Vikings, who are fifth in PFF’s team pass coverage grade. With Moore capable of a meltdown any game, I’m looking at other QB2s wherever possible. … Here are Week 8 snaps and touches: Damien Williams (25, 7), LeSean McCoy (23, 13), and Darrel Williams (9, 2). McCoy started last week, but a costly fumble allowed Damien to play more snaps late. It’s a messy, largely unpredictable backfield right now without Mahomes, so it’s probably best to flat out avoid if possible. I’m projecting Damien for the most usage with McCoy not far behind, but both are just boom-or-bust flex options.
Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins don’t have the upside and the floor that they had with Mahomes because Moore doesn’t throw the ball as deep as often as the reigning MVP. Both can still make plays, especially Hill, but inconsistent production is expected even if they’re seeing close to 10 targets as full-time route runners. The Vikings Defense hasn’t been as dominant (bottom 35th percentile) against fantasy receivers as they once were, so Hill is a boom-or-bust WR2 while Watkins is a boom-or-bust flex. … Watkins’ return pushed Mecole Hardman to the bench (10% routes run) while Demarcus Robinson ran a route on 60% of dropbacks. … I’m less concerned with Travis Kelce’s production with Moore at quarterback because Kelce is targeted closer to the line of scrimmage, the place where Moore has historically thrown most of his passes. Kelce is a candidate for positive red zone touchdown regression as well, so he remains a top-five TE1.
Lions (24, +2.5) @ OAK
Matthew Stafford has four games of 291+ yards and 3+ touchdowns this season. He’s been able to reach a ceiling because he’s throwing deeper more often and because he has two solid deep threats in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. This week, Stafford gets a Raiders Defense that is last in quarterback pressure rate and third to last in PFF’s team pass coverage grade. Stafford is a low-end QB1 with upside. I’m interested in him for DFS tournaments. … Coach Matt Patricia loves to troll us. Last week, he used four different running backs and that doesn’t include the full back. Ty Johnson led the team in snaps (24 of 62), but Tra Carson out-touched Johnson, 12-8. With J.D. McKissic and Paul Perkins also seeing snaps, this is a backfield to avoid if possible. If forced to rank them, Johnson would be my top choice with Carson not far behind.
Kenny Golladay is fourth in air yards and has an unbelievably good matchup against a Raiders Defense that’s dead last at stopping 20+ yard passing plays. With 8-10 targets in all but one game, Golladay can be safely counted on an upside WR1/2. … Marvin Jones is in a very similar spot as Golladay, just on fewer air yards and targets (see above chart). With a 13.4 average depth of target, Jones is a candidate for a long touchdown as an upside WR2/3. Give me all of the Stafford to Golladay and/or Jones stacks in DFS tournaments. … Danny Amendola has oddly had the same amount of air yards as Jones in the last two weeks, but they do it in totally different ways. Amendola obviously has less upside as the low-aDOT (8.9) slot receiver, but he can be fired up as a WR4 in this matchup after back-to-back games with usable volume. … T.J. Hockenson has averaged 2.2 receptions, 18.2 yards, and 0.2 touchdowns in the six games since his debut. Over that span, Hockenson has a low 4.9 aDOT. He’s a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Patriots (24, -3) @ BAL
Tom Brady has not been very efficient this season (7.3 YPA, 4.2 TD%), but the Patriots are fourth in pass attempts, which has kept Brady in the starting mix for season-long leagues. The Vegas team total (24.25) and the matchup against the Ravens (see chart above) are both quite average, so there’s not a great reason to move Brady off the QB1/2 borderline. … Rex Burkhead returned last week but was limited to just 13 snaps and four touches. Burkhead’s presence has historically really affected both Sony Michel and James White in fantasy, so his snap counts are very much worth watching. … Sony Michel is leading the NFL in carries inside-the-five (11) and inside-the-10 (20), so he clearly has touchdown equity. But he’s pretty touchdown-dependent since he’s not involved as a receiver and is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry with low-level broken tackle metrics. Michel is a boom-or-bust RB2. … James White is one of the biggest positive touchdown regression candidates, but he can’t afford to lose too many snaps to Burkhead. White is averaging 6.0 receptions and 51.1 receiving yards per game. He’s a boom-or-bust RB2/3 in PPR leagues.
Julian Edelman is a pretty easy evaluation. He’s the no-brainer top receiver, who can win outside or in the slot. I’m not very concerned with his volume projection even with Mohamed Sanu involved, especially against the Ravens who are in the bottom 38th percentile against fantasy receivers. Edelman can continue to be fired up as a WR1/2. … Phillip Dorsett ran a route on every single dropback last week and can be projected for 4-6 targets each week. Dorsett will likely be inconsistent week to week as the primary deep threat, but there are spots we can use Dorsett as an upside flex play. This is one of those weeks. The Ravens are in the bottom 22nd percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays because they are one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL. … Mohamed Sanu is a candidate to increase his routes run (28) and targets (5), but it likely won’t be by much. There are a lot of mouths to feed, and Sanu’s low average depth of target (5.8 last week) keeps his weekly upside tied to touchdowns. Sanu is a WR4. … Ben Watson is a touchdown-dependent TE2/3 with 3 and 1 receptions in his two games.
Bucs (23.75, +5) @ SEA
The Seahawks are 29th in quarterback pressure rate and have allowed the fourth-most pass attempts per game (38) to opposing quarterbacks. Despite the loud environment and travel, this is an underrated good matchup for Jameis Winston, who should be among the weekly leaders in pass attempts this week. Winston’s ceiling (3-of-7 games with 380-plus passing yards) makes him a fantastic DFS tournament option and decent low-end QB1 season-long play, even if he carries implosion risk (tied for most interceptions, 12). … Touches between Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones continue to be pretty evenly split (79 carries to 74), making it very hard for either back to reach a ceiling, especially with Dare Ogunbowale also stealing snaps. As road dogs, this isn’t the spot to expect a breakthrough game, leaving both Barber and Jones as forgettable RB3s.
The Bucs pass-catching group is very easy to figure out. Chris Godwin is the consistent WR1 producer -- look at those week-to-week air yardages above -- while Mike Evans is the boom-or-bust WR1 king as the primary deep threat (15.1 average depth of target). The Seahawks’ defense is average against the pass (see bar chart above), making Godwin and Evans both WR1 options. … Cameron Brate filled in for the injured O.J. Howard last week, but the tight end position continues to be mostly an afterthought with Godwin and Evans being fed a ton of targets and air yards. Whoever starts will be a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Texans (23.5, -1) @ JAX
Deshaun Watson has averaged 1.0 touchdown in his last three games against Jacksonville, but I’m largely throwing away those numbers because this Jaguars Defense isn’t as good. Their pass rush is good, but no Jalen Ramsey opens things up through the air. With Vegas “only” projecting Houston for 24.25 points, I’m projecting an average Watson performance, which makes him a high-end QB1. … Carlos Hyde is very game script dependent -- he has averaged 19 carries in wins and 11 carries in losses -- because he’s not involved in the passing game (6 receptions). As 1.5-point favorites, Hyde is projected for an average game as an RB2/3. … Duke Johnson is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, but he’s not involved in the offense right now. Johnson is merely a handcuff to Hyde, although they play running back in two totally different ways.
DeAndre Hopkins is finally seeing the usage he deserves with three-straight games with at least 12 targets. Hopkins probably has a slightly higher target projection without Will Fuller in the lineup, and he definitely has a higher average depth of target without him That’s how Hopkins can reach elite-level ceilings, something he hasn’t done quite yet. Hopkins is a top-three receiver this week with Jalen Ramsey no longer involved in these divisional matchups. … Kenny Stills ran a route on every dropback last week as the Texans’ No. 2 receiver. Stills offers some level of a ceiling attached to Deshaun, but we can only project Stills for 4-7 targets, making him a boom-or-bust flex option. … DeAndre Carter randomly took over Keke Coutee’s No. 3 receiver job last week. It’s difficult to trust either of them, definitely Coutee, with the job presumably still up in the air. … Darren Fells has been the luckiest tight end in fantasy since he has five touchdowns on just eight red-zone targets. That’s the benefit of playing with a stud quarterback, but that rate is too high to keep up. Fells and Jordan Akins are touchdown-dependent TE2s. Last week, Fells ran more routes than Akins, 37-25.