The fantasy playoffs are rapidly approaching. With most league playoffs starting in Week 14, there are only three matchups left before you either make a run towards the championship or miss out. Before I break down Thursday’s game, be sure to check out Ian Hartitz' WR/CB Matchups.
Thursday Night Football
This week’s installment of Thursday Night Football is a divisional matchup between the Browns and Steelers. The Browns are 2.5-point home favorites with the total sitting at 41. There has been no movement on the spread and there's been just a half-point dip in the total since opening at 41.5. Based on the total and spread, the Browns are projected to win 21.75-19.25. The Steelers have scored 20-or-more points in every game started by Mason Rudolph this season except for last week’s 17-point outing against the Rams. The Browns have also allowed 20-or-more points in 7-of-9 games this season. On offense, the Browns have cleared 22 points in just 3-of-9 games this season while the Steelers have allowed more than 22 in 5-of-9 games.
The Steelers Offense hasn’t been very good with Mason Rudolph under center, ranking 25th in passing success rate, 29th in rushing success rate, and 28th in overall success rate. Rudolph isn’t startable in single QB fantasy leagues and is a back-end QB2 for deeper leagues. James Conner is on the RB1 radar against the Browns who rank 22nd in Football Outsiders run defense DVOA and 29th in explosive run rate allowed. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a low-upside, low-floor WR2 with Rudolph at the helm and should continue to be treated as such.
The Browns have been one of this season’s biggest disappointments on offense and rank 26th in rushing success rate. 28th on passing success rate, and 28th in overall success rate. The Steelers are an especially tough matchup who have been excellent since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick after Week 2. In Weeks 1-2 the Steelers ranked 30th in passing success rate allowed and 26th in explosive pass rate. After acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick their defense improved dramatically, skyrocketing to 3rd in passing success rate allowed and 2nd in explosive pass rate allowed. Even though the Steelers pass defense has been excellent, Odell Beckham is still a WR2 play and Jarvis Landry is a WR3. Baker Mayfield is a low-end QB2 and shouldn’t be started in most fantasy leagues. Nick Chubb has the best matchup against a slightly above average Steelers run defense and the workload split between Chubb and Hunt should be something we continue to monitor going forward.
8-2 on TNF Predictions
Coach Doug Pederson said Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is day to day. Jeffery was injured during the Eagles Week 9 win over the Bears. Even with the Eagles Week 10 bye, he is still considered day-to-day and his practice participation should be monitored closely. There’s a decent chance he doesn’t suit up. In which case the Eagles would continue to roll with a number of replacement-level wideouts, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert as their main pass-catchers.
Ty Johnson (concussion) didn't practice on Wednesday. Since he is still in the league’s concussion protocol, it’s unlikely he’ll play in Week 11 against the Cowboys. This means Paul Perkins and J.D. McKissic will likely handle the majority of backfield touches for the Lions. Neither back should be started with much confidence in fantasy.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the "expectation" is Tyler Lockett (leg) will be ready to play Week 12 against the Eagles following the Seahawks' bye. This is great news for Lockett after spending two nights in the hospital this week. It looks as though he should make a speedy recovery and start to practice again at some point next week.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Matt Breida (ankle) is expected to miss 1-2 weeks. He suffered a low-ankle sprain in Monday Night’s game against the Seahawks. Raheem Mostert will now be Tevin Coleman's backup for this week’s game against Arizona.
Amari Cooper (knee, ankle) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice. He has been banged up for nearly the entire season but has still been incredibly effective. As long as he plays, he should be started in fantasy leagues as a WR1 play.
George Kittle (knee) has not been formally ruled out for Week 11 against the Cardinals but is unlikely to play. He didn’t practice on Wednesday after not playing in Week 10’s game against the Seahawks. His practice participation is something to monitor but there isn’t much reason to hold your breath regarding his availability.
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T.Y. Hilton (calf) remained sidelined at Wednesday's practice. Hilton hasn’t officially been ruled out for this week’s game but it’s highly unlikely he plays. … Jets owner Christopher Johnson confirmed coach Adam Gase will be back in 2020. Hiring Gase after his uneven spell in Miami was a questionable decision to start with so it’s not too much of a surprise to see the Jets continuing down this road. … Devin Funchess (clavicle, I.R.) returned to Colts practice Wednesday. Funchess would immediately compete for targets in the Colts barren receiver corps. … Matthew Stafford (back) didn’t practice on Wednesday. There’s probably a 50-50 shot he suits up for this week’s game against the Cowboys. … Adam Thielen (hamstring) remained sidelined at Wednesday's practice. Thielen worked out on the sideline on his own. He’ll likely be out through the Vikings' Week 12 bye. … Texans claimed CB Vernon Hargreaves off waivers from Buccaneers. The former first-round pick is a low-risk claim who has yet to pan out as a pro. … Jack Doyle (shoulder) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice. This is something to keep an eye on as Eric Ebron would be a much stronger play if Doyle’s to miss. … Washington Post's Mark Maske reports there is "positive momentum" that a new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement will be agreed upon before this postseason is completed. Included in this discussion is an agreement of a 17-game season. We will continue to receive updates about this situation in the next couple months. … Jacoby Brissett (knee) is expected to start Week 11 against the Jaguars. Brissett practiced fully on Wednesday, a great sign for his potential availability.