Which surprise division leader is the more dangerous playoff contender: Oakland or Atlanta?
The Raiders are fun to watch. They have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Derek Carr, and head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t afraid to gamble to get a win. They’re a great story at a time when so much uncertainty surrounds that franchise and its future.
On the other hand, the Falcons made a dramatic statement by going into Denver earlier this season and knocking around the previously undefeated Broncos. That victory told us the Falcons weren’t just a high-scoring team that could take advantage of weaker defenses. This bunch has more mental toughness and more desire to prove that this fast start won’t lead to another late-season collapse (as was the case in 2015).
J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals (2.9 percent owned)
As their bye week began, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians confirmed that J.J. Nelson was now a starter in the three-wide receiver set, and someone would have to take the job from him. It certainly won’t be Michael Floyd, whose 44 percent catch rate ranks 84th out of 87 receivers with 30-plus targets this year.
Nelson already showed great potential in his first two games with a heavy workload, including Week 8 when he led the Cardinals in wide receiver snaps. In Weeks 7 and 8 Nelson owned a 40 percent share of Arizona’s intended air yards, whereas Floyd owned just a 19 percent share over the course of the entire season.
The Cardinals welcome the 49ers to Arizona in Week 10, and Nelson has an excellent chance at a massive game. San Francisco allows 15 touchdowns to wide receivers this season, which is the most in the NFL.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans (6.4 percent owned)
Over the last five weeks no player has more touchdowns than Rishard Matthews, who is tied with Mike Evans for a league-high five receiving touchdowns over that span. While he’s only hit 70 yards receiving in just one of those games, he’s been a boss in scoring position. All five of those aforementioned touchdowns have come in the red zone, where Matthews trails only DeMarco Murray in targets seven to five.
Matthews’ 100 percent conversion rate inside the 20-yard line is just screaming for some regression, but it also looks like his playing time is on the rise. His snaps share has gone up every game the last four weeks with 40, 67, 88 and 89 percent from Weeks 6 through 9. The Packers should be able to put up points on the Titans, forcing Tennessee into more of a pass-heavy game script. In that case, Matthews