Fantasy Football Mailbag: Friday 10/14/16

Devonta Freeman tore it up last week, but he's in a tough spot on Sunday. Can we trust him in Week 6? And what's Terrelle Pryor's outlook with Cody Kessler at quarterback?

Fantasy football research never stops, and roles change drastically from one week to the next. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Keenan Bates:

Happy Friday and I am sending greetings from Northern Virginia (Woodbridge). I am trying to decide who I should start between Freeman and Gore in my 8-team tournament league. After a dud in week 1, Freeman has been very good and my gut says to roll with him, even though the Falcons are playing a stout Seattle run defense fresh off a bye week. But I am not in a position to make many mistakes, as my team is 2-3 and hanging on for dear life in the play-off Frank Gore's match-up isn't ideal either, but I think it's better than Freeman's. I think Gore has a higher floor and Freeman has a higher ceiling. Having said all that, can you please give me your take on who you would start? Thanks so much!

This is absolutely a tough decision, so I can see why you'd have trouble deciding. The discussion about floor versus upside was spot on, further complicating the matter. There are two factors that favor Frank Gore over Devonta Freeman, though, as we look at both Vegas lines and weather.

In comparing the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons straight up, Vegas has more confidence in the Colts, assigning them an implied team total of 22.75 points. The Falcons -- thanks to their tough matchup with the Seattle Seahawks -- are all the way down at 19.75, the 26th-highest total on the slate. And as noted by numberFire's Matt Blair, the over/under has been moving up in the Colts' game against the Houston Texans with the spread closing, providing more incentive to give Gore an extra look.

There's tons of gross weather on this slate, and that includes Freeman's game in Seattle. The forecast looks better now than it did earlier in the week with drizzle throughout the game and winds at nine miles per hour, but it's still less than ideal. While it's not enough to get you to avoid players in that game altogether, it does make a difference compared to Gore, who has the luxury of a retractable roof in Houston.

We'll start with Jonathan Stewart, who gets a dream matchup this week against the New Orleans Saints. He has been practicing in full this week and appears fully ready to return, so you could absolutely do worse than having him on your roster.

With Terrelle Pryor, the ideal situation for him is that Cody Kessler starts, which appears to be the case, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Kessler has been sneaky good this year, and it helps boost Pryor's value.

Of the 36 quarterbacks who have recorded at least 50 drop backs this year, Kessler ranks 19th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, the stat we use to track the efficiency of quarterbacks. He's also 11th in Success Rate of that same group, meaning that he has been truly solid given the supporting cast. He's capable of generating touchdown drives, and that helps Pryor a good amount.

The matchup isn't cake this week against the Tennessee Titans, who rank 17th against the pass, according to numberFire's metrics. However, with Kessler's early competence and Pryor's insane talent, they're in a position to keep succeeding going forward.

If you want to look ahead, Alex Smith's schedule is hyper-conducive to fantasy Gucciness, as noted by numberFire's JJ Zachariason in this week's 15 transactions column. You should pick him up with the intention of starting him in Week 7. But before that, Carson Palmer gets a sickly matchup against the New York Jets Monday night.

The Jets are currently numberFire's 31st-ranked pass defense, besting only the Detroit Lions. In five games, they've already allowed three quarterbacks to finish as top-four weekly scorers against them, and no quarterback has finished worse than 18th. They are getting shredded both with and without Darrelle Revis, who isn't a sure bet to return this weekend. We want to target quarterbacks against them in fantasy until they give us reason to think otherwise.

Palmer has certainly had his struggles this year, but it may not be as bad as perception. He's 17th in Passing NEP per drop back among relevant passers, and that's with John Brown operating on a short snap count the first few games of the season. Given the matchup, you'll want to keep Palmer starting for this weekend, though Smith may be the superior option after.

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