Derrick Henry returned to practice yesterday and boy is it a sight for sore eyes:
Getting Henry back from the playoffs just seems right. His production this year, despite missing half the season, is impressive:
A few other things worth monitoring this week…
* Cam Akers is surprisingly set to return this week for the Rams vs. the 49ers. Here’s what coach Sean McVay said: “He sure looks good. He looks like he could carry -- play a lot of plays, but I do think you want to be smart with an incremental approach. Is that 10 snaps? Is that 20? Is that 25? I think that's something that as the week progresses, we'll have a better feel for, but definitely want to get him involved."
* Antonio Brown released a statement telling his side of the story from Sunday and announced he’ll be getting surgery on his ankle.
* The Packers don’t have anything to play for this weekend and coach Matt LaFleur already admitted that the starters will likely only play a few series.
* One team that is motivated, however, is the Kansas City Chiefs. They need to win vs. the Broncos to stay No. 2 in the AFC and they could even secure the No. 1 seed if Tennessee loses and they beat Denver. Our friends at Monkey Knife Fight are featuring that game this weekend…
Playoff implications headline a variety of matchups in the first-ever Week 18, with the No. 1 seed in the AFC up for grabs and division titles hanging in the balance. A complex playoff scenario for many teams, but there’s no complexities to playing More or Less contests at Monkey Knife Fight.
KC’s Patrick Mahomes and Denver’s Drew Lock are featured in the More or Less contest for Saturday’s 4:30pm ET game. Mahomes’ line sits at 275.5 passing yards, a number he’s only surpassed in six games this season…meanwhile Drew Lock has only played in five games all season. His line is 185.5 passing yards.
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📊CHARTS ON CHARTS
Sam Hoppen—an analyst and web developer wizard for 4for4 Football and Ship Chasing—shares an “Air Yards Distribution” chart for four teams and a chart displaying the number of plays teams are running per game to help us make better lineup decisions. Take it away, Sam...
The chart below displays the distribution of how far downfield (or how far away from the line of scrimmage) a player is targeted. Where the player's bubble is higher indicates where more of his targets are concentrated. We would expect players with higher bubbles further to the right to be downfield, big-play threats while we would expect players with higher bubbles further left to be more consistent, higher-target players.
* Unfortunately, Michael Gallup suffered a season-ending injury last week. This sets up well for Dalton Schultz, though, as he averaged a solid 12.4 PPR points per game in the seven games that Gallup missed earlier this year. This was buoyed by a solid 18% target share and 54 receiving yards per game, so he should be set up well through the playoffs.
* Have a day, Ja’Marr Chase! The odds-on favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year had a record-setting day, posting 266 receiving yards and sending many fantasy managers to championship victories. This came after teammate Tee Higgins posted a season-high 43 PPR points, clearly making them the two alphas in this passing attack.
* The Eagles have become as run-heavy of a team as any, but that doesn’t make their receivers useless for fantasy. Dallas Goedert has fully broken out, averaging 16.7 PPR points per game over his last four games despite averaging just 6.5 targets per game over that span. Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith is averaging one fewer target per game making his fantasy production a bit more sparse, but still a worthwhile flex play, if needed.
In this next chart, the team's bar shows the number of plays per game that team has averaged. Then the teams that play each other in the upcoming week are combined to show the total average between that week's matchup. With more plays come more opportunities for fantasy points, so use teams at the top of this chart as a tie-breaker when making your start/sit decision.* While the Ravens and Steelers game may look like a spicy matchup, there’s a lot going against this game being a shootout. First, we don’t know if Lamar Jackson is going to play in this game. Though Tyler Huntley has been a suitable backup, he’s not Jackson. Second, Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of a terrible game on Monday night with a paltry 2.7 yards per attempt. This looks more like one of those classic AFC North matchups that ends with a combined score under 20.
* There are few games with playoff implications for teams on both sides, but one that looks to be high-flying is the one between the Chargers and Raiders. It’s a win-and-get-in scenario for both teams and gives us the matchup with the fifth-highest combined plays per game. These are also two teams that have thrown the ball at an above-average rate over the last month. The final game of the regular season should give us plenty of excitement!
For more of Sam’s great work, follow him on Twitter, read his terrifically titled “Hoppen to Conclusions” pieces on 4for4, and watch him break down the most relevant fantasy data and charts on Stat Chasing.
🙏 LAWERENCE TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Our guy Lawrence Jackson sheds light on an important topic.
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