“Cancer may not be life-ending, but it is usually life-changing.”
That’s a quote from my father, Dr. Leonard L. Berry. I may be on basic cable occasionally, but I assure you my father is the accomplished one in my family. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on customer service. He has won more awards than I can count, published more than a dozen books on the subject, written thousands of articles (including multiple articles in the Harvard Business Review) and once spent an entire semester at the famed Mayo Clinic, interviewing thousands, observing everything and even checking in as a patient to learn all of their lessons.
The trip to the Mayo Clinic changed his life. He co-authored a book on it in 2000 (“Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic”), but more importantly, he had a calling. Up until then, his lessons in service quality had been all about helping companies improve sales by being more focused on the customer and providing a good experience. But after the Mayo Clinic, my father had an epiphany. The Mayo Clinic was world-class, he thought. My dad knew nothing about medicine, but he knew there was still room for improvement at the Mayo Clinic … in customer care.
Is there any place more nerve-wracking, more anxiety-inducing, more in need of great customer service than a hospital? Yet, it was an area that often got overlooked the most at doctor’s offices and hospitals around the world. And just like that, my father changed the focus of his work and his life. In addition to his teaching at Texas A&M, he became a senior fellow at the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and he has dedicated the majority of his time to this one subject: improving the nonmedical part of a patient’s experience at hospitals and doctor’s offices. And he has focused that work into improving the experience for one very specific type of patient:
Those with cancer.
Again, “Cancer may not be life-ending, but it is usually life-changing.”
The moment someone hears the words “you have cancer,” their life changes. The life of everyone who loves and cares about them changes. And it will never be the same. Because even if the cancer is removed and the patient is in remission, there is always that concern it will come back. You wake up with a weird pain, a cough, anything … and maybe it’s nothing. It’s probably nothing. But maybe it’s something, you know?
Obviously, the most important parts are an accurate diagnosis of the issue and prescribing the correct treatment. But doctors, nurses and hospital staff also have to effectively handle the intense emotions of patients and their families.
So while medicine, machines and talented physicians are needed to beat cancer, you know what else helps?
You heard me. Kindness. As my father wrote recently, “Kindness is a potent antidote to negative emotions and may improve outcomes for those experiencing the frightening journey called cancer.” Yep. In fact a study at Stanford University showed that kind medical care can lead to faster wound healing, reduced pain anxiety and blood pressure, and shorter hospital stays.
As he wrote, “Do we really need to remind caregivers about the importance of kindness in serving seriously ill patients? Unfortunately, yes, as the stressors of modern medicine often interfere with good intentions.”
Yeah, it seems obvious and simple and yet, I’d be happy to bet, if you’ve ever had multiple visits to a hospital or doctor’s office, you’ve had wildly different experiences. Some were good, and I’ll bet some weren’t. Now imagine that wide range of experiences while dealing with cancer.
My dad has done tons of research on this subject for close to 20 years now, including field research at 10 different innovative U.S. cancer centers and interviews with more than 400 cancer patients, family members, oncology clinicians and staff. His research filled seven binders. He writes and speaks extensively on the subject, including writing an article earlier this year on TheConversation.com. It was then picked up and reprinted in The Washington Post, and I’d like to borrow from it liberally now. Because my audience is different than either of those places and if I reach just one doctor, hospital, care facility or person with cancer and can shine a light about how to improve their care, then it’s totally worth it.
My father wrote about the six types of kindness that can improve cancer care. Below is an abbreviated version of it. I highly recommend reading the whole article, located here.
1. Deep listening
Listening intently to patients and families, with minimal interruption, conveys respect for their self-knowledge. It also builds trust. The stakes are too high for the clinical team to be uninformed about a patient’s fears, practical concerns, home support system and personal priorities. As a hospice nurse stated during my field research, “We cannot be afraid of the deep conversations with patients to find out what’s important to them, which you are not going to get by asking, ‘How are you feeling today?'” Simple, open-ended questions can invite patients and families to share pertinent information. Intensive care unit nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston begin their shifts by asking patients, “What’s the most important thing we can do for you today?”
Nursing scholar Theresa Wiseman identifies four essential attributes of empathy: seeing the world from another’s perspective, avoiding judgment when assessing a situation, recognizing the emotion present, and responding to that emotion in a genuinely caring way.
One parent whose child was treated at Australia’s Peter MacCallum Radiation Center recounted, “My son had general anesthesia for radiation therapy. Because he was anxious about this procedure, the team allowed him to sit on me during anesthesia. When he woke up, he got upset about lacking a shirt. Now the team puts his shirt back on before he wakes … To me, these small acts were the ultimate kindness, reducing his anxiety and distress and, therefore, my own.”
3. Generous acts
Kindness often manifests as generous acts. In my study, I asked patients, “Can you think of the best, most meaningful service experience you had as a cancer patient?” Many responses reflected the kindness embedded in generous acts. A bladder cancer patient who had undergone surgery praised a nurse who taught him the best way to get out of bed at home. Patients at Marin Cancer Care mentioned the foot massages they were offered during chemotherapy. A surgeon commented on a patient “who swears my two-minute hug saved her life.”
4. Timely care
Undue waiting — for an appointment, the start of treatment or a consequential test result — can be excruciating for a cancer patient. An institutional commitment to being on time is kind, even though delays are sometimes inevitable. As a cancer center administrator commented: “Every cancer center has a wait-time challenge; however, we can do much better on what we control, such as running our lab on time. Everyone must go through the lab. If the lab runs late, the whole thing goes late.” Cancer centers can redesign their systems to deliver a bundle of getting-started services to newly diagnosed patients within 10 days, establish a multidisciplinary clinic day when new patients meet each care team member to discuss the treatment plan, and open an urgent cancer care clinic to provide off-hours emergency service. Telemedicine and other technology-driven services also can minimize delays when time is of the essence.
5. Gentle honesty
“Cancer is a high-potency word, a word without any positive associations,” states a cancer patient. Asking patients how much they want to know about their illness is informative and kind. Most patients want to hear the truth in honest, well-chosen words that convey a sense of partnership, and that guide them through difficult decisions. An oncologist commented, “Far too often, patients and doctors are too optimistic. Realism is needed so that patients and their doctors can make good decisions.” A nurse practitioner said, “A doctor may say, ‘We can continue treatment or we can just do supportive care.’ We have to take the word ‘just’ out of that sentence.”
6. Support for family caregivers
Cancer patients commonly depend on family members for assistance with medical care, daily needs and emotional support. Family caregivers themselves require training, timely assistance and emotional care to perform their role and to maintain their own health. Research shows the benefits of preparing, empowering and assisting a patient’s family to effectively care for a loved one. A patient is a person first. Caring for human needs, as well as medical needs through kind acts, is good medicine.
It’s a great article, and my father’s research on non-medical care of cancer patients spans much more than a few select excerpts. I hope his work inspires those of you in the medical field (or even those of you who know someone in the field) to continue to find ways to improve the care of cancer patients. We can always get better and there may not be a more important place to do so than when it comes to fighting cancer.
There is no time that I am more proud to be a part of ESPN than during #JimmyVWeek, which is currently going on here at ESPN. ESPN’s commitment to the V Foundation and cancer research is the best thing this company does, and there’s not a close second. Every year I volunteer V Foundation experiences to try to raise money.
And to this day, I continue my practice of unblocking anyone I have previously blocked on social media, if they make a donation (of any amount) to the V Foundation. Just go to JimmyV.org, donate what you can, and send the receipt (along with your social media handle) to UnblockMe@espn.com. I’m happy to say (or sad, depending on your view of the state of social media) that we’ve raised thousands for the V Foundation through the “unblock program” over the years. A reminder: Getting unblocked doesn’t mean you can be a jerk again. You can get blocked again.
Anyway, I love doing stuff for the V Foundation and want to do more (hint, hint to the Jimmy V folks), so I’m using my column this week to highlight the V Foundation and specifically cancer treatment. Since its formation, the V Foundation has raised $225 million for cancer research and 100 percent of the proceeds go to cancer research, an important fact, since that is not the case with many charities.
I know you came here for fantasy football advice and a good story from me, and I am well aware cancer is a tough subject, but I hope you stayed with this one. I’ve written about cancer a lot in my career and will continue to do so. Because everyone — and I mean everyone — is touched by it in some way, shape or form. Just remember: Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.
Let’s get to it now. As always, this is not a “start/sit” column, but rather a column about players I think either exceed or fall short of their ESPN projection for PPR leagues. “Loves” are players I think will score higher, “hates” are those I think will fall short. My thanks to the 06010 podcast’s “Thirsty” Kyle Soppe and The Fantasy Show’s “Stat-a-pillar” Damian Dabrowski for their help at various points in this column.
Here we go:
Quarterbacks I love in Week 13
Jared Goff at Lions (Projected: 21.4 points): For all the (deserved) Patrick Mahomes talk, very quietly Goff is the best QB in fantasy since Week 8, averaging 28.0 PPG. With two weeks to prepare, expect him to beat this projection against a Lions team that has given up multiple touchdown passes in three straight games (and in seven of the past eight) and has the second-highest rate of TD passes allowed per attempt in the NFL.
Jameis Winston vs. Panthers (Projected: 21.1 points): Winston will face a Panthers defense that has given up the second-most TD passes this season and, since Week 2, is giving up the fourth-most points to quarterbacks. A big reason why is Carolina’s struggles against the deep ball, as the Panthers are giving up the third-most yards per completion and fifth-highest TD percentage on deep passes. That shapes up nicely for Winston, who leads all QBs in air yards per attempt this season. He has scored more than 20 points in three of his four starts this season, so yeah, I’m taking the over.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Cardinals (Projected: 21.2 points): In 2014 and then again in 2016, Rodgers told fans to R-E-L-A-X. During the last “Relax” run, at the end of 2016, Rodgers had 19 more points than any other QB. Though I have serious questions about the coaching and many of the surrounding players for A-Rod, I believe he starts another “relax”-esque run here, as only Week 15 at Chicago scares you for him the rest of the way. Even with a freed Aaron Jones and a struggling Rodgers, the Packers are still passing at a top-10 rate over the past three weeks. At home against a Cardinals team that allows opponents to complete a league-high 76.2 percent of red zone passes against them, I’m taking the over.
Others receiving votes: Mitchell Trubisky might not play Sunday, but if he does, I like him against a Giants team that gives up the sixth-most red zone drives per game. Since Week 4, the list of qualified quarterbacks averaging more red zone points per game than Trubisky (8.8) is an impressive one: Andrew Luck, Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. … Dak Prescott has completed 70 percent of his passes since Amari Cooper joined the team, and he has a rushing score in three straight games (and five of the past six). Prescott should have a nice game Thursday night against a Saints defense that has given up 20 points to an opposing QB five times this season and has given up the most rushing touchdowns by QBs. … Man, I hope I’m wrong about this one — and no doubt Carson Wentz has sunk a LOT of fantasy teams the past two weeks — but at home, on Monday Night Football, against a Redskins defense that has given up the fifth-most QB PPG since Week 5 (21.1) and the seventh-most red zone drives per game since Week 7, I like his chances to get back on track. … Those in deeper leagues and/or the desperate could look to Case Keenum, who has scored at least 15.4 points in three of his past four games. Since Week 6, the Cincinnati defense is bottom five in the NFL in touchdown percentage, yards per completion allowed, passing yards and quarterback fantasy points against. … Baker Mayfield has multiple touchdown passes in five straight games and, since the coaching change, ranks fifth in yards per dropback and fifth in completion percentage. The Texans are operating on a short week after allowing Marcus Mariota to complete 22 of 23 passes against them on Monday night.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 13
Kirk Cousins at Patriots (Projected: 19.1 points): It depends on whether you think New England will be leading in this one or not. As of this writing (Wednesday afternoon), the line has the Patriots favored by five points. When playing with a lead, the Patriots are top six in the NFL in yards per pass attempt, completion percentage and pressure rate. That final stat is important because Cousins is averaging 29.1 percent fewer fantasy points per pass attempt this season when pressured than when not. He’ll be fine, but 19.1 is a big number to me, and Cousins has been too uneven this season for me to think he gets there on the road against Bill Belichick.
Tom Brady vs. Vikings (Projected: 16.5 points): Just in case you think I’m picking on only Cousins in this game. Brady has only three touchdown passes in his past four games, and he has struggled all season. No quarterback has been off target on a higher percentage of his passes than Brady (22.1 percent) in 2018. In fact, Brady is one of only three QBs to be off target on more than 21 percent of his throws this season (the other two: rookies Sam Darnold and Josh Allen). In addition, only three times this season has a quarterback scored more than 16 points against the Vikings. Drew Brees, Rodgers and Trubisky are among the QBs who didn’t get to 16 points against Minnesota, and I don’t think Brady bucks that trend. Give me the under.
Matthew Stafford vs. Rams (Projection: 16.4 points): He has failed to reach 16 points in four straight games — you know, since Golden Tate was shipped to Philadelphia. Not having Marvin Jones Jr. isn’t helping, either, and now he has to face a rested Rams defense that leads the league in pressure rate this season (36.5 percent). Stafford ranks 29th in completion percentage this season when pressured (34.8 percent) and since the beginning of last season, he has only five touchdown passes when under pressure: two to Jones and one each to Tate, Ameer Abdullah and Eric Ebron. None of them will be there Sunday.
Running backs I love in Week 13
Phillip Lindsay at Bengals (Projected: 15.0 points): Royce who? Lindsay has five rushing touchdowns in his past five games and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry in that stretch. During the past four weeks, the Bengals are giving up a league-high 198.3 rushing yards per game and the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (39.4). Crazy stat for you: 43.7 percent of Lindsay’s carries have gained five-plus yards this season. Among RBs with 100 carries this season, only Aaron Jones has been better. Speaking of Jones …
Aaron Jones vs. Cardinals (Projected: 17.9 points): Finally freed, there are only two players in the NFL with a rushing touchdown and at least three receptions in each of their past three games: Ezekiel Elliott and … Aaron Jones. Arizona is the most run-on team in the NFL this season (32.2 rush attempts against per game). That’s not good and neither is this: When teams run on them, the Cards struggle to tackle (sixth-most yards per carry allowed after first contact this season). Jones is a big play waiting to happen, as he ranks second in the percentage of carries that have gained 10-plus yards this season (18.8 percent, trailing only Matt Breida.) Speaking of Breida …
Matt Breida at Seahawks (Projected: 13.9 points): Breida leads all qualified RBs (minimum 100 carries) in percentage of carries gaining at least 10 yards (20.5 percent), and now he has consecutive games with more than 100 rushing yards AND more than 30 receiving yards (Elliott and James Conner are the only other RBs who can say that). Forget 13.9 points, seven times this season a running back has scored more than 18 points against the Seahawks. Breida is finally healthy, so I’m taking the over.
Josh Adams vs. Redskins (Projected: 13.8 points): We got Aaron Jones freed. We got Kerryon Johnson freed. And now, finally, we got Adams freed, as he had 81.5 percent of Philly’s RB carries last week. Adams is averaging 5.44 yards per carry since Week 8, more than guys such as Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley II and Elliott. The Redskins rank 24th against running backs over the past four weeks and have given up more than 125 running back rushing yards in three of their past four games. Adams has touchdowns in back-to-back games and as a Skins fan I hope I’m wrong here, but I don’t think I am. I’ll take the over on Monday night.
Gus Edwards at Falcons (Projected: 11.9 points): Just as Edwards has emerged, the Falcons have gotten worse. During the past four weeks, no team is worse against opposing running backs. Edwards is not just a grinder, as 62.5 percent of his carries during the past two weeks have gained at least five yards (for comparison, the NFL average for a running back is 38.1 percent in that span). Lamar Jackson is back under center, which means another heavy dose of the running game for Baltimore. Edwards doesn’t catch passes, which hurts, but volume and a good shot at a score makes me think he exceeds 11.9.
Others receiving votes: Chris Carson quietly has a rushing score in four of his five games with at least 15 carries this season, and with Seattle a 9.5-point favorite against the 49ers, I think it’s likely he gets into the end zone again Sunday. … Tarik Cohen has at least six receptions in five of his past eight games, and a TD in six of his past eight, so he should have success against a Giants defense that gives up a touchdown pass to RBs at the second-highest rate in the league and has given up at least one rushing score to an RB in six straight games. … With Kerryon Johnson banged up and the Lions lacking WR depth, Theo Riddick has caught at least five passes in four straight games and has seven or more targets in three of them. The Lions are 10-point underdogs against the Rams this week and Detroit passes on more than 75 percent of plays when it is trailing by a touchdown or more. … The Colts give up the second-most running back receptions per game (7.3) this season and it’s not as if Cody Kessler is known for chucking it deep all the time. I prefer T.J. Yeldon to Carlos Hyde in PPR, if you’re swimming in the Jacksonville RB waters.
Running backs I hate in Week 13
James Conner vs. Chargers (Projected: 21.0 points): You’re obviously starting him, but is anyone else concerned he’s averaging only 11.7 carries the past three games? Especially given that he was averaging 22.0 carries in the four previous games? No? OK, then does this worry you? In the past two weeks, Conner has a total of one, count ’em (it), ONE touch inside the 10-yard line (in Weeks 5-10, he was AVERAGING three such touches per game, second most in the NFL during that stretch). Since Week 10, the Steelers are passing at the third-highest rate in the league, so if that trend continues, it’s going to keep taking away from Conner’s workload. The Chargers boast the second-best red zone defense in the NFL this season and the Bolts have allowed only one running back receiving touchdown this season. Give me the under on 21 points.
Adrian Peterson at Eagles (Projected: 13.0 points): I’m on a bunch of Eagles and against many of my Redskins. Am I trying to reverse jinx, Washington? Maybe. But in Peterson’s past four games, he has 56 carries for 171 yards (3.05 YPC). In those four games, he is actually averaging more yards per carry after first contact (1.61) than before (1.45). No, the Eagles’ rush defense hasn’t been great, but Philly is top 12 in terms of limiting running back yards per carry before first contact this season. I’m guessing the Eagles load the box and take their chances with Colt McCoy beating them. The likely return of Chris Thompson and game flow (the Redskins are 6.5-point underdogs) also limit his upside here.
Tevin Coleman vs. Ravens (Projected: 12.9 points): Week 4 was the last time he had more than 13 carries in a game. Coleman is always a big-play threat, but he’ll need one to get to 12.9 points. The Ravens are giving up the third-fewest rushing yards per game this season (92.1) and the sixth-fewest yards per carry (3.88). Since Week 4, the Ravens are a top-six defense in terms of both yards per carry before AND after contact. They also give up the sixth-fewest receptions to opposing running backs and the second-fewest receiving yards per game.
Marlon Mack at Jaguars (Projected: 12.4 points): Mack is currently in the concussion protocol, so there’s a chance he doesn’t even play. But if he does, I’m not crazy about him on the road against a Jacksonville squad that, despite its struggles, has still been the best defense against fantasy running backs over the past four weeks. Mack doesn’t have a game with more than two receptions, so he needs rushing volume or a big play, and I fear both are unlikely here, especially since Mack is averaging just 14.3 rushes per game over his past three and the Jags are top 10 in terms of fewest rushing plays of 10-plus yards allowed.
Pass-catchers I love in Week 13
Kenny Golladay vs. Rams (Projected: 16.8 points): The man some of us call “Babytron” has a 30.6 percent target share in the past two games without Marvin Jones Jr. That’s not a typo. In his six games with eight or more targets this season, Golladay is averaging 19.7 fantasy points. He leads the NFL with 36 targets over the past three weeks and for all the Rams’ firepower, they allow a score on a league-high 14.8 percent of deep passes. More than 40 percent of Golladay’s production this season has come on deep passes. Given the target share and the state of the Lions’ defense, Golladay should just crush the rest of the way. Let me put it this way: In one of the “Vampire” leagues (update next week, promise), I won this past weekend and my starting WRs were Davante Adams and Golladay. The guy I beat doesn’t have great RBs, so the most obvious guy for me to “vampire” is DeAndre Hopkins and I would send him Golladay. I’m going to do it, obviously, but I had to think about it (and I love Hopkins), if that gives you any indication of where this is likely headed for young Kenny.
Robert Woods at Lions (Projected: 15.8 points): When my little Cooper Kupp (his legal name) tore his ACL, Woods moved to the slot to take his role and Josh Reynolds moved outside. Woods saw twice as many slot targets as any other Ram in the first game after Kupp was injured. He has at least 70 receiving yards in 10 straight games, and the Lions are allowing the fourth-highest completion percentage when the slot is targeted this season (75.5 percent) and a league-high 15.2 yards per slot completion.
Mike Evans vs. Panthers (Projected: 16.5 points): Yes, Evans caught one measly pass for 16 yards against these Panthers less than a month ago, but don’t get cute. Discarding that first Panthers game, Evans is averaging 2.26 fantasy points per target this season. He saw 10 targets in that game against the Panthers. Considering that they kept trying to get him the ball despite no success, it’s safe to say that the Bucs believe he can beat this secondary. I think more than 10 targets is very possible in this game, but based on his average production per target minus an outlier game, it will take only eight targets for him to surpass this number. As they have all season, the Bucs will have to throw this week to keep up with a Carolina team that should score at will. The Panthers have allowed multiple receiver touchdowns in three of their past four games.
Emmanuel Sanders at Bengals (Projected: 15.8 points): Since the trade of Demaryius Thomas, Sanders has a 27.4 percent target share, top 10 in the NFL. He also has a reception of at least 38 yards in five of his past six games, so he’s getting deep looks. It’s worth noting, since the Bengals have allowed 10.2 percent of deep pass attempts to result in a touchdown (seventh-highest rate).
DJ Moore at Buccaneers (Projected: 14.7 points): Since Week 8, Moore’s target share is above 20 percent and he has seen at least five targets in three straight games. In addition, he ranks third among all pass-catchers in yards after the catch per reception this season. That big-play ability should serve him well against a Bucs defense that has given up the second-most deep completions this season. Running after the catch is among the things Moore does well, which works perfectly with what Norv Turner likes to run. I don’t care if Devin Funchess is active or not. Give me the over on Moore’s 14.7-point projection.
Rob Gronkowski vs. Vikings (Projected: 12.3 points): After getting three end zone targets in Week 12 (the only player who can claim that), he finally looks like, well, Gronk. He had only two such targets for the entire season entering Week 12, so it’s certainly an encouraging sign. And as of this writing, I am expecting Xavier Rhodes to play and to shadow Josh Gordon. (If Rhodes can’t go, ignore my Brady “hate” above). My expectation is Brady will look elsewhere and that includes hitting Gronk, as the Vikings are a bottom-10 defense in terms of yards per pass attempt to the tight end position.
Eric Ebron at Jaguars (Projected: 13.9 points): More than 20 percent of Ebron’s targets this season have come in the red zone. In games without Jack Doyle this season, Ebron has averaged 10 targets per game. With Andrew Luck under center this season, the tight end position has been responsible for 27.8 percent of Luck’s completions, 28.8 percent of his targets, 30.5 percent of his passing yards and 56.3 percent of his passing touchdowns. The Jaguars have allowed the third-most tight end touchdowns this season and are a bottom-10 defense in terms of limiting yards per completion to tight ends.
Cameron Brate vs. Panthers (Projected: 9.1 points): Since the start of last season, he leads the Bucs with eight touchdown receptions from Jameis Winston. The Panthers are allowing the second-highest completion percentage when targeting tight ends this season, they’ve given up a league-high nine tight end touchdowns and seven times this season a tight end has surpassed 13 points against Carolina.
Others receiving votes: Tyler Lockett has a touchdown in eight of 11 games this season and the 49ers have allowed at least 37 WR points in each of their past five games not played against the hapless Raiders. I’m writing this on Wednesday and Doug Baldwin didn’t practice. Even if he plays, I like Lockett here, but Baldwin being out would certainly help. … Since Week 8, Adam Humphries leads all Buccaneers with 26 receptions. He has four scores in four games, more than 14.5 points in four of his past five games, and since Week 7, the Panthers are allowing the fourth-most slot completions per game. He’s available in 67 percent of leagues, if you’re looking for a decently high-floor type guy. … Josh Doctson leads the Redskins in air yards per target this season and owns a top-20 rate since the beginning of last season (13.4 yards). The Eagles have allowed the third-most deep passing yards this season (108.9 yards per game). … Speaking of the Skins, Jordan Reed leads Washington in red zone targets this season and while six catches for 70 yards may not sound like much, Reed is one of only four tight ends to do that in consecutive games this season. He’s also the only one currently riding such a streak, so it does seem, at least in a small sample, Reed has a connection with Colt McCoy.
Pass-catchers I hate in Week 13
Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Bears (Projected: 19.6 points): Another player you’re obviously starting, but man, 19.6 is a big number. Beckham has failed to catch more than five passes in three straight games, the first time he has done that since his first three games in the NFL. And if the volume is low, it’s a problem against the Bears, as the big play isn’t a likely outcome. Chicago has allowed the fourth-fewest deep completions and, since Week 5, the Bears have allowed just one deep touchdown pass while intercepting five deep passes. Plus, you know, Eli. Gimme the under.
Stefon Diggs at Patriots (Projected: 18.4 points): This also strikes me as a big number. Since Week 7, the Patriots are a top-six defense against wide receivers in terms of touchdowns and reception percentage. Just four receivers have reached this number against the Patriots this season and three of them scored more than 68 percent of their points against New England from the slot. Diggs mostly stays outside and I’m expecting shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore as well.
T.Y. Hilton at Jaguars (Projected: 16.4 points): He has just eight catches in his past three games against the Jags (and it took him 21 targets to get there). Since Week 3, only the Bills and Ravens have allowed fewer wide receiver points than the Jags, and this game is in Jacksonville. Five of Hilton’s six touchdowns this season have come at home. He’s averaging just 55.7 yards per game on the road this season (as opposed to 90.0 at home), so I’ll take the under here.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Redskins (Projected: 11.8 points): I have a team where I have Carson Wentz and Jeffery. Yeah, the past two weeks have been a lot of fun. Here’s Jeffery’s target count in the three games since Golden Tate joined the mix: 8-5-3. In those games, his target share is just 15.4 percent. That ranks 72nd in the NFL during that stretch (behind Chris Herndon and Cole Beasley, among others). He’ll see more than his share of Josh Norman in this one, so I’m taking the under.
Jarvis Landry at Texans (Projected: 11.5 points): Landry has really struggled recently, as he has topped 39 receiving yards just once in his past four games and is averaging less than 8 yards per catch in that stretch. He also has seen a season-low five targets in each of his past two games, so his role in that offense seems to be decreasing. I expect Landry’s struggles to continue against a Houston defense that is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to WRs over the past four weeks. Give me the under on Landry’s 11.5-point projection this week.
Matthew Berry — The Talented Mr. Roto — urges you to watch Jimmy V’s speech from the ESPYS in 1993. It’ll only be the best 11 minutes you spend today. He is the 2017 FSTA Fantasy Football Analyst of the Year and the creator of RotoPass.com and RotoPassDaily.com. He is also one of the owners of the Fantasy Life app and FantasyLife.com.