The Jacksonville Jaguars join the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs among the projected AFC division winners, thanks in large part to a pass defense that has been lights out. Opposing quarterbacks have a league-low 63.5 passer rating against the Jags — the league average is 88.3 — with four touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Since 2002, the year the league expanded to 32 teams, only nine other squads have held opponents to as low of a passer rating during the first nine weeks of the season.
Of the seven games on Friday night, five of them feature at least one team that is in the top nine in defensive rating (San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons), the top five in slowest pace (Memphis Grizzlies, Spurs, Utah Jazz, Heat, Sacramento Kings), or both. Thus, two games stand out as the most likely candidates for players to produce more than average across the board:
The Phoenix Suns (worst defensive rating, fifth-fastest pace) at the Denver Nuggets (T13th-worst DRTG, 18th-fastest pace) and the Indiana Pacers (ninth-worst DRTG, 17th-fastest pace) at the Los Angeles Lakers (17th-worst DRTG, fastest pace) both feature bad defenses and fast paces, especially compared to the other games on the docket. Plus, the Pacers are on the second half of a back-to-back, and their net rating (e.g., average margin of victory) drops by 8.7 points on the second half of a back-to-back compared to when rested, so their defensive performance is likely to be worse than the above-stated average on Friday.
That’s who he is; he’s not going to have a 180-yard, two-score game. He’s not going to win you a DFS GPP. But he’s a high-floor option — especially in the right matchup, which Week 14 should be for him, as the Colts travel to Buffalo to face a Bills defense that has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns to running backs in the past five weeks, only stopping the inexplicably imploding Chiefs rushing attack. You can’t expect Gore to finish Week 14 as the overall No. 1 RB, but if you need a low-end RB1, he’s got as good a shot as anyone.
Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: But as the quasi-surprise replacement for Doug Martin (most expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the workhorse), Barber got 23 carries for 102 rushing yards, and added four receptions for 41 more, leading the team in both rushing and receiving yardage. He topped 3.0 yards after contact per rush.