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Thursday Night Football preview: What to expect fantasy-wise from Cardinals at Seahawks

Fantasy preview of Thursday Night Football.

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

NFL Week 11 Thursday night football game is a divisional showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Here’s how the two teams breakdown in terms of fantasy football value.

Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray, enters Thursday Night Football towering over his league-wide competition with an average of 30.16 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Excluding the injured Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson comes in at No. 2 in fantasy scoring with 27.56 FPPG of his own. Murray leads the rest of the NFL by nearly a full fantasy passing touchdown (Patrick Mahomes: 26.62 FPPG). Murray’s 604 rushing yards rank 8th across all positions and his 10 rushing scores trail only running back Dalvin Cook (12). His raw passing statistics are nothing to shake a stick at either: 2,375 yards (13th best), 17 touchdowns (T-11th best), and eight interceptions (26th worst). Importantly, for a mobile quarterback, Murray has fumbled just four times this year as well. Although Seattle’s played stout run defense against opposing running backs this year, that strength didn’t apply to Murray when the two teams met in Week 7 when the 2nd-year quarterback posted a team-league 14-carry, 67-yard, one touchdown stat line. Seattle’s pass defense hasn’t improved in the slightest, despite stud safety Jamal Adams returning to the lineup. Over the last two weeks, Seattle’s allowed Josh Allen and Jared Goff to pile a combined 717 passing yards onto their NFL-leading 3,180-yard total. Kyler Murray easily takes this week’s overall QB1 ranking.

Seattle’s 46.2 .5PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers leads the league by just under nine .5PPR points (37.3). .5PPR’s No. 5 scoring receiver (141.6), DeAndre Hopkins, will look to close the gap on the No. 4 scorer (150.1), Week 11 counterpart D.K. Metcalf, in what should be a high-scoring affair. Hopkins is an elite WR1 option after hanging 10/12-103-1 line on the Hawks, four weeks ago.

Ancient slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald continues to run cardio as the second-most frequently deployed receiver on the team, despite just posted the 84th-most .5PPR points on the year (44.9). Unfortunately for him, Seattle’s shutdown talented slot receivers in back-to-back weeks, limiting Cole Beasley (3/3-39) and Cooper Kupp (5/7-50) to lackluster totals. Fitz is an ill-advised flex option.

A consistent deficiency of the Seattle secondary all year long is the complete inability to stop the deep ball. Whether it’s Week 1 at Atlanta where Seattle allowed four pass catchers to hit 20+ yard receptions, or giving up a season-best performance to Michael Gallup (6/9-138-1), or Week 7 against the Cards where even a tight end, Dan Arnold, got in on the fun with a 41-yard reception, the Seahawks just can’t guard the deep portion of the field. Early in the season, Christian Kirk was being asked to play the downfield role but as the week’s have passed, one-trick pony Andy Isabella has slowly earned a larger share of the offensive snaps and he’s taken much of that role with him. Using the interface of Josh Hermsmeyer’s airyards.com, we can also see that DeAndre Hopkins average depth of target has nearly doubled—6.7 in Weeks 1-3 to 11.1 over the last three weeks, as an aside.

Ultimately, Seattle’s deep ball struggles give the under-performing Andy Isabella match-up-based boom/bust viability for those in need of a flex option. Christian Kirk, meanwhile, takes a bit of hit in the ceiling department as he’s been somewhat robbed of his big play opportunity. Kirk’s target counts over the last three games keep his high-floor safely intact though. His slight lead over Larry Fitzgerald for the No. 2 spot in team red zone targets helps his cause as well. Kirk’s a high-floor/high-ceiling flex option in a surefire shootout.

KeeSean Johnson and Trent Sherfield are not fantasy-relevant at this time.

Outside of the aforementioned 41-yarder against Seattle earlier this year, tight end Dan Arnold has made little noise in the box score. He’s just a boom/bust TE2.

The last time the Cards and the Hawks played, running back Kenyan Drake handled 14 carries (34 yards) to Chase Edmonds five (58 yards), while Edmonds posted a perfect 7/7-87 receiving line as Drake caught one of his two targets for seven yards. That workload is fairly representative of the workload split before Arizona’s Week 8 bye/Drake’s Week 9 injury-absence (ankle). Drake returned for last week’s Week 10 bout with the Buffalo Bills and carried the ball very well—16 for 100 yards—as did Edmonds (eight carrie for 56). Edmonds continued to beat out Drake in the receiving game, going 3/3-21 vs. Drake’s 1/1-9. Although fantasy managers can sleep soundly as Drake completed last week’s game without any setbacks the Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround is a short rest window and Edmonds hopped from 19% of the pre-bye RB carries to 50% in Week 10, while maintaining a sound lead in the receiving game. Given the game’s likelihood of a shootout, fantasy managers should expect Chase Edmonds to lead the backfield in snaps and production, just as he did in Week 7, with a solid chance at higher floor and ceiling fantasy numbers. As an aside for both backs, Seattle’s been a red zone sieve to opposing run games, allowing 14 rushing touchdowns on the year (3rd-highest total in the league). Edmonds is a low-end RB2. Drake, likely to see just 15 or so touches with most of them on the ground, is a stout flex option.

Seahawks

Russell Wilson has been visited by the interception fairy four times over the last two games, but a date with the Cardinals’ brick-handed secondary (33 passes defended—21st in the NFL and eight interceptions—14th in the NFL) bodes well for his Week 11 box score. The last time these two teams played, Wilson nearly hit the 400-yard passing mark while also finding his youthful rushing ways (6-84), en route to a QB5 finish. A number of opposing quarterbacks have had their fun on the ground as well, most recently evidenced by Tua Tagovailoa (7-35) and Josh Allen (7-38) adding nearly a full-fantasy-passing touchdown to their fantasy box score. Wilson is this week’s QB3 overall.

As evidenced by the above tweet from Ian Hartitz, Cards’ cornerback Patrick Peterson has thus far had D.K. Metcalf’s number, limiting him to just two catches and 23 yards combined through their last two meetings. Metcalf’s rocket-like speed and hard-earned wide receiver talent keep him in the WR1 ranks though. All he needs is one.

Tyler Lockett, meanwhile, is the highest-risk/highest-reward play of the day. After recording two Did Not Participate practice designations on Monday and Tuesday, Lockett got in a limited session at Wednesday’s practice. Head coach Pete Carroll, ever a steady optimistic liar, has stated in the same breath that “I don’t think that there’s any doubt that he’s playing. He just looked too good on the practice field today. We do have to see how he is after today. That’s an unknown right now, so as much as I’d like to be optimistic about it—which I am—we do have to see if anything happens coming off the work he had”. The fantasy community has seemingly latched onto the first part of that roller coaster non-commitment but fantasy managers would do well to add one of David Moore or Freddie Swain in case Lockett can’t go. Lockett’s ceiling is in this one is undeniable—the Cardinals’ slot coverage has been wholly helpless against talented pass catchers: Jamison Crowder went 8/10-116-1 on them in Week 5, Lockett himself hung 15 catches (20 targets), 200 yards, a three touchdowns on them in Week 7, and last week Cole Beasley posted a 11/13-109-1 line on them. If Lockett’s active he’s a locked-in WR1.

Should Lockett sit, the battle for the No. 2 pass catching duty is on. David Moore has been running as the team’s No. 3 WR, generally on the perimeter although he does run routes out of the slot on a 26.5% clip, while owning 265 of the team’s 2020 offensive snaps. No. 4 WR Freddie Swain has a slightly higher slot route rate (32.7%) and 199 of the team’s 2020 offensive snaps. It stands to reason that Moore would likely see a slight jump in slot routes (35%?) while simply seeing a much larger workload overall. Swain, meanwhile, would become a full-time player for Week 11 and would likely see, or best, Tyler Lockett’s 56.8% slot route snap share. Given his 2020 production and steady role in the offense, Moore would have to be treated as a high-end flex play with easy-peasy Top 24 upside. Swain would be a high-risk/high-reward flex play as the team’s primary slot receiver is a to-die-for match-up.

Things were trending up for tight end Jacob Hollister in Week 9 with season-highs in snaps and targets but it all came crashing down as Father Time (Greg Olsen) re-asserted himself as Seattle’s TE1 in Week 10. No. 3 TE Will Dissly is also there to sap the duo of any certainty. Hollister, youthful and talented, and Olsen, ancient and wise, present fantasy managers with coin-flip TE2 value. One of the two would likely benefit as a safety blanket option should WR Tyler Lockett sit.

Update 11/19/20, 3:40pm PST: Joe Fann reports that the Seahawks have exhausted Alex Collins’ practice squad/active roster flex-movements, meaning he is ineligible to play unless the team gives him an active roster contract. For Thursday Night Football, the Seahawks have instead opted to flex 6’1”, 235lbs Bo Scarbrough up to the active roster from the practice squad to complete the trio of he, Carlos Hyde and DeeJay Dallas. A cursory glance at the Cardinals’ box scores shows that big-bodied banger backs haven’t fared particularly well against them — it’s the dual threat types that have managed a bit more success. DeeJay Dallas is the likely favorite to operate as the No. 2 back given his recent tenure and pass catching ability, behind Hyde, with Scarbrough as the No. 3. The backup spot truly is a toss-up though, as the Seattle coaching staff showed they weren’t in love with DJD by signing Alex Collins two weeks ago and deploying him as the lead back over Dallas last week. Pete Carroll also has an affinity for bruisers so it’s totally possible that Scarbrough gets a fair amount of carries in relief of Hyde. Treat Hyde a high-end flex/low-end RB2. DJD should be the preferred boom/bust flex option over Scarbrough in PPR formats, with Scarbrough the preferred flex play for pure goal-line touchdown chasers.

Per the Seahawks’ jumbled and incomplete injury report, tonight’s Seahawks backfield is likely to consist of Carlos Hyde, Alex Collins, and DeeJay Dallas. Dallas can be ruled as least likely to contribute after getting kicked to the curb by the signing of street free agent Collins last week. Given that Hyde was the incumbent 2020 No. 2 back, we can unsafely assume that he’ll be inserted as the lead while Chris Carson (foot) sits out for one more week. Collins is likely to see his fair share of work though. In such a high-scoring game, consider Hyde and Collins both high-floor/high-ceiling flex plays.