Sunday Night Football
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers -3.0 / 51.5
Oh what a treat we received on Thursday with a wild touchdown fest resulting in a Gronk-approved 69 points and the remaining two Prime Time games this week are among the top five overall projected game totals. Buckle up for safety!
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Quarterback – Joe Flacco will be facing the Steelers for the 20th time in the regular season Sunday night with 10 of the 19 previous starts taking place away from Baltimore. There is really no change in his production other than a slight uptick in games where future HOF safety Troy Polamalu was absent.
That comfort should allow us to realize that with Flacco averaging about 300 passing yards per game this season it is not so whacko to consider the Charm City signal-caller as a QB17-20 on the full slate and a viable option in prime time action!
Running Back – Alex Collins has come back to earth after a very solid 2017 campaign which is easing the anxiety of Seahawks fans who were lamenting the team letting him go after last season’s running back debacle. In all honesty, he is firmly in play as he and Javorius Allen have equally shared snaps at a nearly identical pace over the first three weeks with Allen getting just a tick more and Kenneth Dixon dropping out of the picture after his Week 1 knee injury.
In the ground game, Collins has the lead over Allen with carries through the first three contests 7,9 and most recently 18 resulting in a combined 116 yards and 2 TDs vs 4,6 and 6 for 32 yards and 3 TDs for Allen.
Collins has also closed the target gap 1, 4 and most recently 4 for 7/67/0 vs 6, 7 and 4 for 13/70/1. It is a timeshare, but that is fine for us on the single game slate as both are involved in all aspects of the game and have COMBINED for 7 total touchdowns which is very, very nice – and also unsustainable.
On the season Pittsburgh is just below average against the run and they are actually allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs in full-PPR formats, but they have given up just one rushing and one receiving score to the opposition. Please do recall that outside of the weather induced slugfest/tie overtime game in Cleveland Week 1, they were going against Kansas City (no dump-off passes) and Tampa Bay (playing from behind and no real RB threat of note) so this will likely be a much different outcome on Sunday Night Football.
Wide Receiver – There has been a wholesale changing of the guard in the Ravens receiving corps with John Brown (23 targets 12/222/2), Michael Crabtree (26 targets 15/144/1) and Willie Snead IV (19 targets 12/142/1) replacing Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Ben Watson (yeah he is a TE, but those three combined for 42.8% of the targets, 52.8% of the yards and 55% of the touchdowns. Through three weeks Joe Flacco has connected with his pass catchers for 13 20+ yard receptions as compared to 29 ALL OF LAST SEASON. This trio can be targeted in all formats on the Prime Time slates.
Tight End – Good luck figuring out which among Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle will see the most action, but just know that they each have one 20+ yard reception and have combined for 5 of the 19 with Andrews getting the lone score. Adding to the muddy waters, while Boyle-135, Williams-110 and Andrews-84 have all been heavy in the snap counts and the Ravens are not afraid to mix things up with 2-TE sets about 25-30% of the time thus far, it is Andrews that has led in the pass catching metrics. Mix and match as you see fit with a last-man-in approach.
Defense/Special Teams – While we know Big Ben plays better at home, he has been sacked 8 times this year with 4 interceptions. This leaves the B’more squad in play as a single game dart throw. Just know that the Steelers are passing nearly two-thirds of the time so far this season and if the Ravens offense can put points on the board, that will give the defense an opportunity to accrue counting stats and in general, we can ignore the points against negative scoring as just one return touchdown can erase four TDs allowed.
Quarterback – Ben Roethlisberger has shown some WILD home/road splits over his career and this will be his 22nd regular season game against the inner-division rival Ravens.
The main thing that stands out is of course the passing yardage and touchdowns, which has an amazing disparity. Gamers – your mileage may vary, but I want to roll with Big Ben at home and have banked on him in both my Best Ball and season long leagues to take advantage of this quirk.
Running Back – James Conner has been doing his best Le’Veon Bell impersonation and has been on the field for 206 snaps through three tilts. There are just three other RBs who have been in the mix with Roosevelt Nix seeing 34 snaps (despite having a great name), Stevan Ridley 8 snaps and… well that is it. If this game does get a little frisky and turn into a track meet, at least we have seen Conner with 5 receptions in each of the first three games for 139 yards, which is somewhat comforting as he has shown good hands with an 89% catch rate.
Wide Receiver – Antonio Brown has let us all down with just 24/210/2 through the first three games, but he has had 42 targets which is third in the league behind Adam Thielen (56) and Stefon Diggs (44) but keep in mind they played on Thursday and have four outings under their belts.
Juju Smith-Schuster is checking in with the fifth most targets in the league with 38, tied with Alvin Kamara and just two behind Michael Thomas. He is fourth in receptions with 27 (tied with Diggs and 13 behind Thielen again, both of whom have had an extra stanza). Roll with both of the Pittsburgh receivers in all formats for Week 4.
Wildcard options are Ryan Switzer who has seen 26 snaps (6 targets for 4/23/1 – keep in mind he does return punts and kickoffs) and James Washington who checks in with 117 (7 targets for 3/39/1).
Tight End – Jesse James had Week 1 to himself and was decent as a cheapie with 5 targets for 3/60/0, he then trolled all of us (well ME AT LEAST) in Week 2 when Vance McDonald was corralling all 5 of his targets for 5/138/1 and dashing many hopes and dreams.
One underlying key is that over the last three weeks, James has seen his snaps decline from 69 to 45 to 33 and we know that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t play favorites with his TEs, but knows how to utilize them well (just remember all the “surprising” fantasy bonus games from Heath Miller over the years).
I will be casting my lot with former San Francisco tight end Vance McDonald who missed most of the preseason and Week 1 with a foot injury. In his two weeks back on the field he has seen just shy of half the snaps and twin outings of five targets accumulating 7/138/1 and he is discounted on most sites for the full slate and most definitely in play on the single game Sunday Night battle.
Defense/Special Teams – For the most part, Joe Flacco is a game manager which means he knows how to NOT make mistakes. On the season he has taken 7 sacks on 140 attempts with just two interceptions. Again, we are looking for a wild card and Blitzburgh is in play on all of the short slates.
Summary – If you are looking for a viable “Sunday Night Hammer” on the slates that offer this game, then you are GOLDEN! In this series over the last six games each team has on average scored 25.7 points with an AVERAGE GAME SCORE OF 51.3 so DIZZAM we are looking good for another single game slate with the potential for fantasy goodness!
Single Game Ranking (taking into account projected production, pricing and popularity)
- Ben Roethlisberger (on both DraftKings and FanDuel, how can we not consider they guy who is likely to have his hand in nearly every touchdown for his team?!)
- Joe Flacco (he is a close second and probably from a “game theory” play will be the 3rd or 4th most popular guy – which means we should consider him for top status to gain a little differentiation from those rolling with the Steelers)
- John Brown (yes, this is MOST DEFINITELY where you call me a fool – however considering that we need to make a stand for these one game contests, here is mine)
- Antonio Brown (leading the league for those who have played three games with 42 targets – the fantasy goodness will come soon enough)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (38 targets checks in behind only Michael Thomas and Brown, production may dip a little, but he has been doing it without touchdowns, notching just one so far this season)
- Michael Crabtree (getting a lot of looks and this game should feature a ton of passing)
- Mark Andrews (strictly a price savings option, this is high risk considering he does share the position with two other teammates Shout out to Awesemo.com member Kevin Z who alerted me to the likely return of rookie 1st round pick Hayden Hurst who could further muddy the waters for the Ravens TE position – be sure to watch the actives/inactives list) Hurst is inactive, so fellow rookie Mark Andrews is most definitely in play – and we need to be cognizant of Hurst in future weeks)
- Alex Collins (yes, I am putting him ahead of James Conner, but only slightly)
- James Conner (dropping him down for his high salary only)
- Vance McDonald (see above for my reasoning if you just skipped to the rankings)
- Javorius Allen (solidly priced and very close to Collins, which makes him the perfect direct pivot to his fellow running back)
- Willie Snead IV (better on DraftKings than FanDuel which has the higher pricing floor, we are going touchdown hunting here)
- Pick a kicker (Heinz Field does have some tricky winds and the Steelers like to go for two and we may see more XPs than field goals in this matchup – of course this is all highly variant)
- Pick a defense (don’t worry about negative scoring for points allowed on DraftKings, the most you will lose is four)
- Jesse James (dammit, I just can’t seem to get this guy pegged, but as detailed above – I am sailing with Vance McDonald – I would not try to talk you out of playing him)
- Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams (best left to DraftKings as value plays in a stars and scrubs build)
- James Washington and Ryan Switzer (are you feeling lucky?)
Reach out to me in Awesemo.com Premium Slack or on Twitter @EMacDFS if you have any questions.
Good Luck Gamers! ~ EMac
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