We’ve been compiling the best NFL betting notes, trends and picks all week, giving you insights with an edge to help you win your Week 13 bets. It’s a must-read before getting your action in. This week looks at the fallout of the Kareem Hunt situation for the Chiefs, some big name recievers return to action, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are healthy at the same time, and much, much more.
DANIELS GETS THE GIANTS
Bears coach Matt Nagy said on Wednesday that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky still isn’t throwing due to the shoulder issue that kept him out of their Thanksgiving game last week. He is not expected to play this week and Chase Daniels will make his second start as Chicago visits the New York Giants.
Daniels is an above-average backup and was certainly serviceable last week in the win over Detroit, posting 230 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-37 passing. What was most interesting about his start was his distribution, as he targeted Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen eight times each and Trey Burton seven times while Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller had just four targets each. Gabriel and Cohen both had seven receptions, with Grabiel posting 49 yards and Cohen 45. Gabriel is in a good spot to have another nice day on Sunday as the Giants rank 29th in DVOA to other wide receivers (not WR1 or WR2). Gabriel has seven receptions in each of the last two weeks and seemed to have some nice chemistry with Daniels last week. We see Daniels looking his way again on Sunday and we’ll be taking the Over on his receptions total.
JONES HITS IR
Marvin Jones Jr. is officially done for the season, after the Lions placed him on injured reserve on Monday due to a knee injury that has kept him out of the past two games. With Golden Tate now in Philadelphia, Detroit’s depth chart at receiver is paper thin with Bruce Ellington and T.J. Jones behind breakout sophomore Kenny Golladay.
The Lions host the Rams in Week 13 as a 9.5-point home underdog and a game total of 54.5. There’s no doubt that the Lions’ passing game will go through Golladay, as it has for each of the last three weeks where he’s racking up 93.6 receiving yards per game on an average of 12 targets. But with top-dog status comes added defensive attention (which could mean a lot of shadowing from Marcus Peters this week) and inflated prop totals.
Instead of forcing a bet with Golladay, we’re turning our attention to Theo Riddick, who cashed in for us last week with Over 4.5 receptions. Detroit’s pass-catching back hauled in all seven of his targets for 48 yards against the Bears last week, as Matthew Stafford looked his way early and often without Kerryon Johnson in the lineup. Even if Johnson does return this week, Riddick will still see his fair share of snaps and targets in what should be a negative game flow with Stafford forced to pass as the Lions play catch up. Take the Over for Riddick’s receptions total this week.
GOLLADAY ALL DAY
With Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones hurt, Matthew Stafford has leaned heavily on Kenny Golladay over the past few weeks and the second-year man out of Northern Illinois has delivered. In the last three games, he has more targets (35 ) than any other receiver in football and he has turned them into stat lines of 6-78-1, 8-113-1, and 5-90.
Golladay has two main things going in his favor on Sunday. The first is that the Rams are not great at covering the opponent’s top receiver where they rank 25th in DVOA. Over the past eight games, they’ve been especially bad, giving up 6.9 catches for 123.3 yards to the opposing WR1. Second, it’s likely the Rams crush the Lions as a 10-point road favorite, which, of course, means the Lions will have to go heavy on the pass. Take the Over on Golladay’s receiving total of 79.5 as we look for back-to-back weeks with winners from the Lions’ emerging star.
RAVENS RIDING JACKSON
Reports out of Baltimore on Tuesday stated that Lamar Jackson will make his third consecutive start at quarterback as Joe Flacco (hip) has yet to be cleared. There were also reports that Flacco will need a full week of practice once cleared, though that could happen later this week. Jackson has a 2-0 record as the starter and has revitalized the Ravens’ running game while getting them back into the playoff picture at the same time. If he keeps winning, it would be hard to envision Flacco getting his starting job back even when healthy.
There’s one obvious when considering Jackson: You’re not backing him to do any damage through the air. In his two starts, he’s averaging just 164 passing yards on 22 passing attempts per game and has thrown three interceptions. His passing struggles have impacted Baltimore’s receivers and it would be hard to trust any of them from a prop bet or fantasy standpoint moving forward. The past two games were prime matchups at home against the lowly Raiders and Bengals, yet no Ravens’ pass catcher has totaled more than six receptions over the two games — and that is tight end Nick Boyle who has six catches for 55 yards. Baltimore’s top receiver over the two games is Willie Snead IV. He had five catches for 51 yards two weeks ago and followed it up with zero targets last week. There’s no way to predict who Jackson will be throwing to when he does take to the air this week against Atlanta, but we can be certain it won’t translate into a big receiving day for whomever he does target. We’ll be monitoring the prop market when it opens and taking the Under on whichever Baltimore receiver has the highest receiving yards total.
GUS THE BUS RUNNING WILD
As alluded to above, Baltimore is a different team offensively with Jackson under center and over his two starts, it is running the ball on 67 percent of offensive snaps, by far the highest rate in the league. Jackson has kick-started the Ravens’ running game but let’s not forget about Gus Edwards’ role. The undrafted rookie out of Rutgers broke out two weeks ago with 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and followed that up with 118 yards on 23 carries last week. Edwards is a bruising runner (his teammates already call him ‘Gus the Bus’) who goes north-south and is apparently the perfect compliment to Jackson’s outside speed.
This week, he gets his easiest matchup to date on turf against an Atlanta defense that ranks dead last in DVOA and second-last in rushing DVOA. There’s always extra motivation for teams to run against the Falcons as well to keep Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and co. off the field, as evidenced by what Atlanta’s opponents have done against it recently. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 141 rushing yards on 25 attempts against Atlanta last week, Ezekiel Elliott ran for 122 yards on 23 carries against Atlanta two weeks ago, Nick Chubb ran for 176 yards on 20 carries three weeks ago…the list goes on. Take the Over on Edwards’ rushing yards total for Week 13.
PACK D STILL BEAT UP
Green Bay has put defensive lineman Mike Daniels on injured reserve, which isn’t much of a surprise considering his injury but it does remind us that the Packers are beat up on defense. In addition to Daniels, who is one of the top inside pass rushers in the league, Green Bay lists four members of the secondary as “did not practice” or “limited practice” on their final Week 13 injury report.
Luckily for the Packers, they get a relatively easy matchup as a 14-point home favorite against Arizona in the early-slate today. We expect Green Bay to win with relative ease which should lead to a game script where David Johnson gets involved in the passing game as the Cardinals play from behind. Johnson has just three total catches in the last two games but hauled in seven receptions in Week 10. It’s hard to be consistent with Josh Allen as your quarterback but we think Johnson is in a good spot this weekend against a defense that ranks 31st in passing DVOA against running backs. Johnson’s receptions total is set relatively low at 3.5 and we’re backing the Over as we think he gets back involved in the passing game today.
D-JAX OUT AGAINST PANTHERS
DeSean Jackson is out for today’s game against Carolina with a thumb issue, meaning the Bucs roll with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the outside and Adam Humphries in the slot in a game which should see plenty of offense with a game total set at 53.5. Humphries is who we’re looking at here as the Panthers are routinely burned by slot receivers — including by Humphries himself in Week 9 for 8-82-2. Humphries actually leads the Bucs in receiving since Week 8 with 26 catches and Jameis Winston looks his way with 18.4 percent of his targets. He has at least 50 yards in five straight and gets a Panthers secondary that gives up the fourth-most slot completions per game. Take the Over 52.5 on his receiving yards total.
MOORE MATURING INTO AN OFFENSIVE WEAPON
Panthers receiver Devin Funchess didn’t practice Wednesday because of a back injury that kept him out of last week’s loss to Seattle. It’s not a great sign for his availability this week. If he can’t go D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel will continue on the outside — though Samuel is also questionable with a hamstring injury. The Panthers head to Tampa Bay on Sunday in a mouth-watering matchup against a defense that ranks dead last in passing DVOA.
Moore, a rookie out of Maryland, might be turning into a top-flight receiver right in front of our eyes after back-to-back huge performances with eight catches for 91 yards last week and seven for 157 and a touchdown the week before. He received 30 percent of Cam Newton’s targets last week with nine and even received 20.1 percent of the total targets two weeks ago with Funchess on the field.
Regardless of whether Funchess returns this week, Moore will still have a nice matchup as the Bucs rank 30th in DVOA against WR1s and 31st against WR2s. You could argue that Moore had just one catch for 16 yards when these two teams played in Week 9 but that feels like the distant past when it comes to Moore’s role in the Panthers’ offense. We’re taking the Over on his receiving yards.
FOURNETTE LOSES APPEAL
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette lost his appeal on Wednesday morning and will sit out Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. Fournette was handed the one-game suspension after being ejected from Sunday’s game for fighting with Buffalo’s Shaq Lawson. The Jaguars will go with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde at running back in Week 13 (and just a reminder that Cody Kessler is at QB and the Jags have a new offensive coordinator).
Yesterday we suggested taking the Under 20.5 on Jacksonville’s team total and that stands with today’s news. As for how Jacksonville’s backfield will shake out on Sunday, we can look at a very small sample size by looking back to Week 7 when Kessler came on in relief of Blake Bortles and Yeldon was the main back as Fournette was hurt. In that game against Houston, Yeldon got 12 carries for 28 yards and also caught five passes for 40 yards. That was with Nathaniel Hackett calling plays, however, and he was fired on Monday. A lot has changed in Jacksonville since then, including the addition of Hyde. Tread lightly here but we do expect Yeldon to be involved in the passing game and we’ll be looking to take the Over on his receptions total, especially if it’s set at 3.5.
Indianapolis running back Marlon Mack remained in the concussion protocol on Wednesday. Mack was forced from Sunday’s game against Miami but still managed to gain 85 yards on 15 carries. He’s just in his second year but is already being labeled as injury prone after missing four games earlier this season and two games last year.
If Mack can’t go for the Colts against Jacksonville on Sunday, we’ll be focusing on rookie Nyheim Hines. The rookie out of NC State was just hitting his stride as a pass-catching back earlier in the season when Mack was sidelined. Hines had nine receptions in Week 4 and then seven in Week 5 but then went back to the bench when Mack returned in Week 6.
Jacksonville is a tough matchup against running backs, allowing the fifth-fewest yards from scrimmage to the position in the league, but it does give up 5.8 passes per game to the position. There’s also Jordan Wilkins, who will get a share of the snaps if Mack is out. We’re staying away from yardage totals for Sunday but if Mack is out we’ll be looking at the Over for Hines’ receptions total, especially if it’s set at 3.5.
JAGS, JAGS AND MORE JAGS
Jacksonville dominated the NFL news cycle on Monday, first by firing its offensive coordinator, then by benching its starting quarterback, and then by having its best player suspended for Week 13. Oh, and it also lost a starting lineman to injured reserve. Let’s dig in!
A loss to Buffalo makes you do desperate things and that’s exactly what coach Doug Marrone did on Monday morning as he fired his offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Just a few hours later it was announced that Blake Bortles has been benched and that Cody Kessler will be the starting quarterback moving forward.
The Jaguars host the Colts as a 4-point home underdog, with a game total of 47.5 in Week 13. Jacksonville has a new play-caller in quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich and a new QB in Kessler but at the end of the day, Leonard Fournette is the only player we can trust in the Jaguars’ offense. There’s only one problem with that: He’s suspended for Week 13 for “violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness” after his ejection from Sunday’s game at Buffalo. Fournette is expected to appeal and we should know the decision on Wednesday.
Assuming Fournette is out, the Jags will take on the Colts with Kessler, a combination of T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde at running back, and a banged-up offensive line. Enough said. Take the Under on Jacksonville’s team total.
EBRON GETTING LUCK-Y IN THE END ZONE
The red-hot Indianapolis Colts got bad news on Monday, as tight end Jack Doyle was placed on injured reserve after he suffered a kidney injury in Sunday’s win over Miami. Doyle should be good to go for 2019, while Eric Ebron takes over TE1 duties for the remainder of the season. Ebron has been a touchdown machine of late, with six in his last three games. There has been some inconsistency with Ebron, as seen in Week 11 where he didn’t touch the ball or receive a target, but his usage will be steadier now that Doyle is sidelined.
The Colts head to Jacksonville in Week 13 to face the mess that is the Jaguars (see above) as a 4-point road favorite. The Jags are below average against tight ends this season, ranked 19th in DVOA and are allowing 5.8 catches for 45.9 yards per game to the position. Ebron has had a nice role in the Colts’ passing game all season and that will only grow with Doyle out. Andrew Luck loves looking his way, especially in the red zone, and we’re backing him to score a touchdown at any time in Week 12.
We’ve been a big backer of Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay all season and we see another nice spot for him in Week 13 as Denver heads to Cincinnati to face a team in crumbles. Since Royce Freeman got hurt back in Week 7, Lindsay has put together some impressive numbers as he’s averaging 86.8 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns over five games. He’s also running for 5.9 yards per carry over that stretch. Even since Freeman returned two weeks ago, Lindsay has put up 106 and 110 combined yards and has 29 touches to Freeman’s 14.
Cincy has been a gold mine for opposing backs lately, giving up 198.3 rushing yards per game over its last four. The Bengals rank 28th in rushing DVOA and 32nd against passes directed to running backs. They’ve also given up at least one touchdown to a running back in every week since Week 1 and have given up multiple scores to an opponent’s backfield in five of the last six weeks. Take the Over on Lindsay’s rushing total of 76.5 and then double-down with Over 0.5 rushing touchdowns.
GREEN “BACK TO PLAY”
A.J. Green participated in Cincinnati’s walkthrough on Wednesday morning and told the media he will be “back to play” on Sunday as the Bengals host the Broncos. Green has missed the last three weeks and the Bengals have been dominated in each of those games. He returns to a team that is a longshot to make the playoffs and will be starting a career backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel.
There is obviously a lot of unknowns here but one thing we do know is that the matchup is leaning in Green’s favor. On the season, the Broncos defense is solid against the pass at third in DVOA, but they are coming off a game where they were absolutely burned by the Steelers where Ben Roethlisberger threw for 462 yards, Juju Smith-Schuster went 13-189-1, Antonio Brown had 9-62-0 and even Ryan Switzer posted 6-67-0.
That may have been just one game, but the Broncos are consistently worse against an opponent’s top receiver. They are ranked 12th in DVOA against WR1s by allowing 9.4 passes for 76.3 yards per game. Tread lightly here as it’s Green’s first game back and he has never played with Driskel as the starter, but we lean to the Over on his receiving yards total.
Cincinnati placed Andy Dalton on injured reserve on Monday as torn ligaments in his thumb will end his season. Dalton suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland and was replaced by Jeff Driskel, who went 17-of-29 for 155 yards and a touchdown while adding nine yards and another touchdown with his legs. Driskel will start on Sunday as Cincy hosts Denver, and will be backed up by Tom Savage who was recently claimed off waivers.
Driskel is a 25-year-old backup who had never played an NFL snap before this season. While Driskel’s numbers from Sunday look decent on paper, it’s important to note that he entered the game while trailing 35-7, at which point the Browns basically let him complete short passes at will as evidenced by his 5.4 yards per attempt and his long of 28 yards.
Driskel will be in tough against a Broncos defense that is ranked fourth in DVOA. Yes, the Broncos gave up 462 passing yards last week to Ben Roethlisberger but they also limited the Steelers to just 17 points after forcing four turnovers, which included two interceptions.
Driskel is a bit of a wild card this week, but we do suggest taking the Over 0.5 on his interceptions total as we expect him to make a mistake or two against a strong Denver defense.
COUTEE HURTS HAMMY AGAIN
Houston receiver Keke Coutee injured his hamstring again on Monday night though coach Bill O’Brien said that he is “trending toward” playing in Week 13 against Cleveland. Coutee has injured the same hamstring three different times this season and has missed multiple games already because of it. The injury has also forced him out of a couple of games, including Monday night where he caught just two passes (and cost us a bet in the process). The other storyline from Monday night was Demaryius Thomas’ emergence as the veteran caught four passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns after not being targeted since the first quarter of Week 9.
Coutee is questionable this week but if he suits up he has to be faded as Houston hosts the Browns and a defense that is stingy to slot receivers, ranked third in DVOA against the position. The bad matchup, the risk of Coutee not being able to finish the game due to re-injury, and the fact that some of Deshaun Watson’s targets will go to Thomas make this an easy call. Take the Under on Coutee’s receptions total for Sunday if he gets the green light.
DARNOLD, MCCOWN BOTH LIMITED
Who will quarterback the New York Jets on Sunday? And does it really matter? The shorts answers are we don’t know and no. Both Sam Darnold (foot) and Josh McCown (back, hand) have been limited participants in practice all week as the Jets prepare to visit Tennessee on Sunday. Darnold told the media earlier in the week that he’s “hopeful” to return but the Jets have no reason to rush back the man they hope is their franchise quarterback in a season where they’re playing for a higher draft pick. McCown has filled in for him terribly in the last two weeks but it’s unclear whether he’s physically able to go this week. Regardless, there’s only one way to bet the Jets, which is the same way we did with a winner last week.
The Jets are currently offensively inept. They’re averaging 11.2 points per game in their last five and are averaging one touchdown per game over that stretch. For the season, New York gets to the red zone just 2.5 times per game score a touchdown on just 40.7 percent of those trips inside the 20. Tennessee, on the other hand, allows the fourth-fewest red-zone drives in the league at 2.8 per game and allow opponents to convert just 48.4 percent of those drives into touchdowns, which ranks fifth in the NFL. The Jets are bad, the matchup on Sunday is worse — take the Under on the Jets team total of 15.5.
The Kansas City Chiefs released running back Kareem Hunt on Friday night after TMZ released a video from February of him shoving and kicking a woman. The Chiefs were apparently aware of the incident in August but didn’t act as Hunt was not charged and they had no seen the video evidence. He was placed on the Commissioner Exempt list on Friday evening and then released a few hours later.
Spencer Ware moves forward as the Chiefs’ feature back and gets the butter-soft Raiders on Sunday as a 14-point favorite. Oakland has been gashed by Gus Edwards (118 rushing yards) and David Johnson (154 total yards) in the last two weeks and has given up 100 or more total yards to eight running backs on the season. The Raiders are ranked 30th in rushing DVOA, are giving up 151.4 rushing yards per game, and have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. Ware is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has caught 14-of-17 targets on the season. Take the Over for Ware’s combined rushing and receiving total.
Additionally, at one online sportsbook the Chiefs’ Super Bowl odds for this season moved from 5/1 to 11/2 following the news of Hunt’s release. That’s still the third best odds the to win behind just the Saints and Rams.
WATKINS OUT AGAIN?
Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins remained on the sideline for the second practice in a row with a foot injury that kept him out or limited in each of the last two games. The fact that Kansas City’s bye last week wasn’t enough time to get him back on the field is concerning and at this point he’s trending towards missing Week 13 as the Chiefs visit the Raiders. Watkins will miss a dream matchup against a Raiders defense ranked 30th in passing DVOA, but his injury means more targets for K.C.’s other studs on offense.
Oakland is surprisingly tough against top receivers, ranked second in DVOA against an opponent’s WR1 and are giving up 7.4 passes and 60.4 yards per game. That still doesn’t convince us they can shut down Tyreek Hill but it, along with one other factor, shifts our attention to Travis Kelce. Where the Raiders are statistically good against WR1s, they are horrible against tight ends and rank dead last to the position in DVOA. Kelce has had 22 targets over the last two weeks — including 15 last game which he turned into 10-127-1 after Watkins was forced out of the game after the opening drive. He has also recorded five or more catches in 10 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history. Take the Over on his receptions total.
PILING ON THE CHIEFS
OK, we can’t help ourselves. Despite that DVOA stat listed above, we’re still backing Tyreek Hill to have a huge game on Sunday. With Watkins out or limited in the last two games, Hill has received an absurd 30.4 percent (14 targets) and 35.7 percent (10 targets) share of the targets from Patrick Mahomes and those translated into stat lines of 10-215-2 and 7-117-2. He’s absolutely on fire and now visits a Raiders team that is giving up 34.2 points per game at home. The road factor also plays for Hill as he has 42 catches for 739 yards and eight touchdowns on the road, as opposed to 23-367-3 at Arrowhead Stadium. There’s also the “Andy Reid off a bye” factor where he is 16-3 SU and 14-5 ATS, and while that doesn’t translate directly to Hill, it pretty much guarantees that the Chiefs aren’t going to put up a dud. Hill is the hottest receiver in the league right now and you’re not doing anything but backing him until further notice. Take the Over on his receiving yards total, even if it creeps up into the triple digits.
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin returned to the field on Thursday after missing Wednesday, though that was probably just a maintenance day as he appeared to make it through Week 12’s win at Carolina unscathed. Baldwin now has five, seven, and five catches over his last three, although he’s averaging just 43.3 receiving yards over that span. He also has a target share of 25 percent over the last three, which is well up from 18.2 percent over his previous five games. Helping Baldwin’s cause is the fact that Russell Wilson is playing much better as a passer of late, with 20 or more completions in three of his last four.
On Sunday, the Seahawks host the 49ers and a defense that ranks 24th in passing DVOA. San Fran was lit up through the air by Jameis Winston last week for 312 yards where Mike Evans went 6-116-0 and Adam Humphries had 6-54-1 — we mention both as Baldwin runs routes both on the perimeter and in the slot. Seattle won’t pass the ball 38 times like Tampa Bay did last week but Wilson should be able to get near the 20-completion mark once again against a soft Niners pass defense. Assuming he does, we expect five or six completions for Baldwin so we’re backing the Over 4.5 on his receptions total.
San Francisco running back Matt Breida has been removed from the injury report with his ankle issue. He should be at full speed on Sunday as the Niners visit Seattle without wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. Breida is on fire of late with 132 and 140 yards from scrimmage in his past two and became only the third running back this season to go for over 100 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards in consecutive games. He has 31 carries and eight targets in his last two games as the 49ers are pretty much down to Breida and George Kittle as actual offensive weapons.
As mentioned many times in this article throughout the season, the Seahawks are no longer a team to shy away from when it comes to matchups. They rank 20th in DVOA against the run and are giving up 121.4 yards per game on the ground. They’re also average against pass-catching backs, ranked 12th in DVOA while allowing 6.7 passes and 52.7 yards per game. We got a winner by backing Breida’s combined total last week and we’re looking to make it two in a row on Sunday. Take the Over on his combined rushing and receiving yards total.
PENNY TO SEE MORE TOUCHES?
In sticking with the 49ers-Seahawks matchup, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer talked about rookie running back Rashaad Penny on Friday, saying “I expect that he will play well this weekend. Expect that we need to get the running game back going again and I think he’ll be a big part of that.”
We’re not what to make of this as it’s hard to envision the Seahawks taking carries away from Chris Carson, who has averaged 81 rushing yards and a touchdown in his last three full games (Weeks 12, 11, and 8). If Penny is to get more work, it’ll likely come at the expense of Mike Davis, we already mentioned earlier in the week about San Fran’s tough run defense, but we did suggest backing Carson to score a touchdown at any time. We’re sticking with that and expecting Carson to remain the lead back in 2018 when healthy.
BRADY, GRONK HEALTHY
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were taken off New England’s injury report on Friday and both should be at close to 100 percent on Sunday as the Patriots host the Vikings. Brady hasn’t missed a game this season, while Gronkowski missed three of four between Weeks 7-10 before returning against the Jets last week. Gronk managed just three catches but did have 56 yards and a touchdown, much to the relief of those who drafted him early in fantasy drafts. It has been a tough season for Gronk statistically but, if he’s finally healthy, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t return to elite tight end status for the remainder of the season — and that could start on Sunday.
Minnesota is a tough matchup, ranked sixth in overall DVOA and eighth against the pass. But when you look at how they perform against each position, you notice that they are among the worst teams in the league at defending tight ends, ranked 27th in DVOA against the position and are giving up 6.4 passes for 56.5 yards per game. Jimmy Graham had just two catches for 34 yards against the Vikings last week but remember he was playing with a broken thumb and Aaron Rodgers completed just 17 passes for 198 yards. Looking back at Minnesota’s schedule, the last time they faced a top-end tight end was in Week 5 when Zach Ertz lit them up for 10-110-1. It sounds as if Gronk is healthy and we’re thinking he’s about to go on a heater, starting this week against a team that struggles against tight ends. Take the Over 60.5 on his receiving yards total.
GORDON SPRAINS MCL
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon suffered a sprained MCL and will be out for the “next few weeks.” It’s a tough blow for L.A. and for Gordon’s fantasy owners, as Gordon has been great this season ranking sixth in the league in rushing yards with 802. Austin Ekeler will see a big increase in his usage while Gordon is out, as the Chargers visit Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football.
Ekeler was already having a big game through the air on Sunday against Arizona (he finished with 10 receptions for 68 yards), and then added five carries for 35 yards and a touchdown after Gordon exited. Ekeler’s usage had slipped of late, even in the passing game where he had just four total targets over his previous three outings, so it was nice to see him back and involved in the game even before Gordon left.
With Gordon out on Sunday, Ekeler will be the featured back in a game that should feature a fair amount of offense with the total currently set at 51.5. Gordon also sat out back in Week 7 and Ekeler had 12 carries for 47 yards and hauled in five catches for 26 yards. Ekeler is averaging 5.8 yards per carry on the season but in his one game as the featured back he averaged just 3.9. For this reason, we’re going to shy away from his rushing yards total for Week 13 but we do suggest backing the Over for his receptions total, which will likely be set at 4.5.
PRIMETIME BIG BEN
Sunday Night Football features the Chargers at the Steelers which means we get a solid betting spot: Big Ben at home in primetime. Back in Week 10, we had this same situation on Thursday Night Football and we cashed an easy winner by taking the Over on his passing total. Prior to Week 10, Roethlisberger was 21-4 at Heinz Field under the lights while averaging 284.2 passing yards and had thrown 3.3 touchdowns to every interception. Then he went out and threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-21 win over Carolina.
Big Ben is hot, having thrown for over 300 yards in three of his last four games, including his 462-yard performance in the loss at Denver last week. The Chargers do rank sixth in passing DVOA but a quick look at their schedule tells us why: They’ve only played three legitimate quarterbacks on the season in Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Patrick Mahomes, and they averaged 281.7 passing yards and three passing touchdowns against the Chargers. Roethlisberger loves the big stage and we expect him to have a big night once again. Take the Over 300.5 on his passing yards total.
ADAMS HURTS HIP
Eagles running back Josh Adams was added to the injury report on Saturday with a hip injury and is listed as questionable for Monday night as Washington visits Philadelphia. The injury is a bit of a surprise as he wasn’t previously listed on the injury report, but he was at least able to get a limited practice in on Saturday and we’re assuming he’ll be out there on Monday night in what is a must-win for the Eagles.
Adams is officially at lead-back status after playing 61.5 percent of the snaps and getting 22 carries last week, which he turned into 84 yards and a touchdown. Washington is allowing 119 rushing yards per game on the season and is ranked 26th in rushing DVOA. Over the past four games, he is averaging 5.44 yards per carry and in that same timespan, Washington is allowing running backs five yards per carry. We don’t think the hip will be an issue and as long as Adams suits up we’re taking the Over on his rushing yards total.