Welcome to another edition of Bales’ Top GPP plays. In this article, I will outline my favorite NFL GPP plays for this week. I will not be including the Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night games. If you want all of my core plays along with our staff’s Final Thoughts article with access to our Discord, click here.
Bridgewater flashed in six games with Drew Brees injured last season. He totaled 1,370 yards and 9 touchdowns on 195 attempts. Bridgewater was roughly an average quarterback, ranking 13th in adjusted yards per attempt and touchdown rate. He also flashed in terms of fantasy, scoring 31.26 fantasy points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers in the offseason, giving him a much-needed change of scenery. He has a number of receiving threats, including DJ Moore, who is quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the NFL. Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson are a pair of receivers that can score from anywhere on the field, adding to Bridgewater’s upside with YAC. He has an athletic tight end in Ian Thomas, who adds another receiving threat for Bridgewater. His safety valve is Christian McCaffrey. Essentially, Bridgewater doesn’t have to consistently make elite throws to find success.
Arguably the most important new part of the Carolina offense is Joe Brady. He’s the Panthers offensive coordinator who worked as the LSU Tigers passing game coordinator in 2019. Brady was the man behind the most prolific college football offense in NCAA history. While not all of his systems will work in the NFL, he has experience coaching under Sean Payton, as well. I expect him to find success early and often with this Carolina offense.
Bridgewater gets a great matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, who didn’t make many moves to immediately help their pass defense this season. In 2019, they allowed the eighth-most passing yards (256.7) per game. They also allowed the sixth-most passing touchdowns (33) and third-highest passing touchdown rate (6.3%) in the NFL. Bridgewater is going overlooked at the moment but he comes with elite upside in this offense and the matchup is ideal for a week one breakout.
Ingram was quietly one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL last season, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Overall, he ran for 1,040 yards and 10 touchdowns on 208 attempts. He also added 27 receptions for 256 yards and 5 touchdowns on 31 targets. Ingram scored 20+ fantasy points in 3 of his final 6 games of the season [not including playoffs] while flashing 40 fantasy point upside early in the season against the Kansas City Chiefs.
There’s quite a bit of hype surrounding a number of rookies, specifically running backs, that doesn’t feel justified at the moment. That hype includes JK Dobbins, who is an elite dynasty option, but not likely to contribute early this season. Rookies haven’t had nearly as much time with their playbooks and they have yet to test their knowledge in a real-game situation. Instead, I expect Ingram to keep the same role as last season, which led to 27 red zone attempts and 8 red zone rushing touchdowns. He’ll continue to see roughly 15 rush attempts per game while adding a few targets, as well.
Ingram gets an elite matchup against the Cleveland Browns, who allowed 144.7 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry to their opponents last season. The Browns made a small effort to help their run defense by signing Andrew Billings but he has since opted out of the season. I don’t expect this run defense to get much better in 2020. Ingram is the lead running back in a team favored by more than a touchdown, leaving him plenty of carries and touchdown opportunities as the game wears on.
Singletary may be the most underappreciated running back in the NFL at the moment. He started 7 of the Bills final 8 games in 2019, excluding the playoffs. In those starts, he totaled 561 yards and 1 touchdown on 123 carries. He also added a 17/128/1 line on 23 targets through the air. Singletary averaged a healthy 14.3 fantasy points per game over his final 7 starts. He was also a major part of the Buffalo Bills offense in the playoffs, scoring 19.4 fantasy points while seeing 13 rush attempts and 7 targets.
Buffalo drafted Zack Moss in the third round while announcing they expect him to take on Frank Gore’s role from last season. That wasn’t a massive role when Singletary was healthy, though, and I don’t expect the rookie to immediately steal snaps from the proven veteran. Moss and Josh Allen are likely to steal the goal line work but Singletary saw 17 rush attempts (30.4%) in the red zone last season. I don’t expect the running back that averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2019 to lose work to a rookie with a short camp, especially early in the season.
Singletary gets an interesting matchup against the New York Jets this weekend. They allowed only 86.9 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry in 2019. They lost a number of key defenders, though, including Jamal Adams and James Burgess, who ranked first and second on the team in tackles and combined for 18 tackles for a loss. The Jets run defense will likely take a step back this season, starting with Singletary and company. Similarly to the Ravens, the Bills are -6.5 point favorites, suggesting Singletary could see plenty of touches down the stretch of this game.
Moore was one of the most impressive receivers in the NFL in 2019. He posted 87 receptions for 1,175 yards and 4 touchdowns in 135 targets in 15 games. Moore saw 1,499 air yards with an 11.1 aDOT last season. Surprisingly, he only saw 12 red zone targets, scoring 2 touchdowns on them. The majority of his success came with Kyle Allen at quarterback, suggesting Moore could find much more success with a more efficient option under center.
He’ll get that more efficient option this season as Teddy Bridgewater will lead the offense. As I mentioned above, Moore will be another major beneficiary of Joe Brady running the offense. He’ll continue to see a large share of the targets while likely seeing more deep shots and red zone targets. Moore is primed to be one of the premier young talents in the NFL, and he’ll lead the receivers in an offense that projects to be throwing from the start to the end of their games.
Moore gets a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders, who allowed 256.7 passing yards per game in 2019. Oakland also allowed a league-high 8.3 yard per attempt and 33 passing touchdowns. They also didn’t do anything in the offseason to fix the issues in their secondary. Ben Hossler and I discussed why the Carolina Panthers were one of our favorite offenses to attack in the NFL Game Theory podcast. Two of the best options in tournaments include Bridgewater and Moore.
Henry Ruggs III
Ruggs looked elite as a sophomore and junior at Alabama, totaling 86 receptions for 1,487 yards and 18 touchdowns. Ruggs consistently flashed speed, taking slants for long touchdowns in college. That speed was confirmed when he ran a ridiculous 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. The only concern with Ruggs is that he wasn’t the lead receiver on his team, although it’s impossible to fault him with how elite Alabama’s receiving group was in 2019.
This didn’t scare off the Oakland Raiders, though, as they drafted Ruggs after of fellow teammate Jerry Jeudy with the 12th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ruggs will immediately draw the start for Oakland, giving them an option that can score from anywhere on the field. Jon Gruden has often targeted his WR1 at an extremely high rate throughout his coaching career. Some will argue Bryan Edwards fits the mold better than Ruggs but it’s difficult to believe Oakland spent the 12th overall pick on their WR2 while drafting their WR1 later in that draft. I expect Ruggs to take on a major role early in his career, and he comes with scoring potential every time he touches the ball.
Ruggs gets a matchup against the Carolina Panthers, who only allowed 231.0 passing yards per game last season. They also held their opponents to only 21 passing touchdowns in 2019. They’re a defense that is expected to take a massive step backward in 2020, though. Their games project to be high scoring, specifically because of their inability to slow their opponents down. Ruggs certainly comes with risk, as does any rookie receiver, but his price tag doesn’t represent his upside, specifically against Carolina. He’s an elite option to run back with a Carolina stack this weekend.
Gesicki broke out in 2019, recording 51 receptions for 570 yards and 5 touchdowns on 89 targets. He ranked third on the Miami Dolphins last season with nine red zone targets, scoring three touchdowns. Gesicki also ranked fourth in the NFL in air yards (910) and aDOT (10.2) for tight ends with more than 50 targets. Even with his success, Gesicki wasn’t overly efficient last season, suggesting he could find significantly more success this season.
The Dolphins will return a healthy Preston Williams with DeVante Parker, assuming they are able to play on Sunday. With that being said, both are expected to see somewhat of limited snaps even if they play. Miami’s slot receiver, Albert Wilson, has opted out of the season, as well. Gesicki has proven that he can find success in the slot for the Dolphins, and he may see an extended role in that position this weekend. Gesicki saw 7+ targets in 5 of his final 6 games of the 2019 season, and that target share could continue early in 2020.
He gets a tough matchup against the New England Patriots, who featured one of the best pass defenses in recent memory last season. They allowed only 180.4 passing yards per game in 2019 while allowing a league-low 13 passing touchdowns. Multiple players opted out for New England this season, though, and I don’t expect their defense to continue that type of success. People are likely to either pay up or down for tight end this weekend, leaving Gesicki to go overlooked even with a potentially elite receiving role in this game.
Follow Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)