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Inside the Matchup
Week 14
12/7/16; Updated: 12/9/16

By: Sal Marcoccio | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon



DEN @ TEN | NO @ TB | SD @ CAR | MIN @ JAX


- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Raiders @ Chiefs - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The surprising AFC-leading Oakland Raiders continue to put big numbers on the board offensively and they’re led by their MVP candidate at quarterback, Derek Carr. Carr has thrown for an impressive 11 touchdowns over his past five contests while only throwing two interceptions over that stretch. It seems that when Carr has time, he and his top targets, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, have been practically unstoppable. Unfortunately, this week they’ll be heading to Kansas City to face a defense that held them to a season-low 10 points back in Week 6. While they only sacked Carr twice that day, the defense did an excellent job of disrupting the passing game’s timing. To make matters worse, the Kansas City defense has actually been playing better as of late with the return of Justin Houston, their best pass rusher. This doesn’t bode well for Carr who will need time if he hopes to continue at the pace he’s been at as of late. Still, given their high usage and status as the game’s top duo as fantasy wide receivers, Cooper and Crabtree should remain in play as low-end WR1’s in this contest. Cooper was by far the Raiders’ stand out when these teams played in Week 6, having made 10 receptions for 129 yards. Crabtree was held to a season worst two catches for just 10 yards, but he’s actually been seeing more targets lately, which should mean a big improvement from those numbers in this important rematch.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: The Raiders running backs were held to just 56 rushing yards when they faced the Chiefs earlier this season, which was at the time also the Chiefs’ best day against the run. It was also a game where the Raiders were without starting tailback Latavius Murray. Since then, the Chiefs had a slightly better day against the Panthers, but have also given up double digit fantasy points (standard scoring) to the position in every other game this season. While Kansas City has surprisingly only given up five total rushing touchdowns, they have conceded seven games of 100 or more total rushing yards, including this past week when the Falcons backs were able to rush for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Murray producing touchdowns as often as any back in the league since his return in Week 7, he figures to play a significant role near the goal line once again in this contest. Don’t expect a huge breakout performance on the road in a hostile environment, but Murray should touch the ball around 20 times again this week, which should give him plenty of opportunity to get into the end zone.

Value Meter:
QB1: Derek Carr (low-end)
RB2: Latavius Murray (high-end)
WR1: Michael Crabtree (low-end)
WR1: Amari Cooper (low-end)
Bench: Jalen Richard, Seth Roberts, Clive Walford, Mychal Rivera

Passing Game Thoughts: You know things are bad for a passing game when the stat line you have to throw out is that you’re excited to see a quarterback has thrown a touchdown pass in three straight contests. But after all, this is the Kansas City Chiefs and it is Alex Smith. Smith remains one of the lowest ceiling passers in all of fantasy football. High completion percentage? Sure. Safe with the football? Sure. But fantasy relevant? Unless you’re in a two-quarterback league and you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, no, not really. What he is doing, though, is getting the ball to his tight end, Travis Kelce, who is now the top tight end in all of fantasy football. Sure, the position is a bit depleted this season but that’s still impressive. Kelce has now gone over 100 receiving yards in three straight contests - a number that cannot be overlooked. Kelce is an elite option even against an Oakland defense that held him to just three catches back in Week 6. The only other player who should be considered for fantasy purposes is Tyreek Hill, who has been seeing a good number of targets in the absence of Jeremy Maclin and always has the possibility of taking a special teams return back for a score or getting into the end zone on some sort of gadget play. Unfortunately for him, Maclin is expected to be back on the field on Thursday night, which will likely give him less looks from Smith. Maclin himself is too much of a risk to bother playing after having missed five straight contests. He also wasn’t very productive prior to getting injured.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: The Chiefs continue to use running back Spencer Ware fairly heavily within their offense, even getting him into the end zone with both a rushing and a receiving touchdown in Week 13 against the Falcons. Ware’s yardage numbers have been mediocre and chances near the goal line have been few and far between, but with the position as thin as it is this season, Ware should check in as a solid RB1 in this matchup. Oakland has given up the third-most rushing yards to opposing running backs this season, including three straight 100-yard games to the likes of the Texans, Panthers and Bills. Ware had his best game of the season when these teams played back in Week 6, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Charles and - oddly enough - Dontati Poe, also scored rushing touchdowns in that contest. If the Chiefs are smart, they will do their best to keep the Raiders’ offense off the field, which will mean a lot of short, efficient passes and a heavy dose of the running game. Look for Ware to approach 25 touches in this contest, which makes him one of the safest plays at the position beyond the obvious stud running backs.

Value Meter:
RB1: Spencer Ware
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Tyreek Hill
Bench: Alex Smith, Charcandrick West, Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson

Prediction: Chiefs 23, Raiders 20 ^ Top

Jets @ 49ers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jets have decided to go with Bryce Petty for the remaining four games of the season, thus likely ending the run in New York for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fantasy owners should beware that Petty has not been particularly good in his limited playing time, most notably throwing for just 11 completions in 25 attempts this past week against a beatable Indianapolis defense. That also included a touchdown, but two interceptions. What’s perhaps most concerning is that Petty has not been looking in the direction of Brandon Marshall or Quincy Enuna. In fact, his favorite target has been Robby Anderson who was targeted 12 times in this past week’s game, in comparison to just eight targets for Marshall and two for Enunwa. This passing game is in absolute shambles and even Marshall is a huge risk to trust in fantasy right now as he continues to nurse nagging lower leg injuries while playing with an inexperienced and not all that talented quarterback. If you’re in a tough situation, the silver lining is that Marshall will be up against one of the league’s worst fantasy pass defenses, so there’s always the possibility that he gets into the end zone.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: If there’s any hope for fantasy production for the Jets for the rest of this season, it has to come in the form of Matt Forte. But in order for that to happen, the coaches need to start calling his number more often. Forte has ran the ball 13 or fewer times in three of his past four games, including a nine-carry game this past week in the team’s blowout loss to the Colts. Thankfully the Jets will be playing against one of the league’s worst offenses, so a blowout loss isn’t likely to happen this week, but the team trying to look toward the future might dictate that we’ll see more of Bryce Petty throwing the ball rather than Forte and Bilal Powell running the ball. Still, Forte will be up against one of the league’s most miserable defenses who just gave up a 100-plus yard, three touchdown performance to Jordan Howard this past week. Forte should be in line for a decent workload, but he remains risky as long as the Jets are playing as poorly as they have been.

Value Meter:
RB1: Matt Forte
WR2: Brandon Marshall
Bench: Bryce Petty, Bilal Powell, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson

Passing Game Thoughts: Colin Kaepernick had been one of the hottest fantasy quarterbacks over the previous month of the season, but all of the hope that he had given fantasy owners recently came crashing to the ground this past week when he was benched early in the game after attempting just five passes. Kaepernick was simply not playing well, but the move to bench him seems to have been temporary as the 49ers will go back to him this week in what, at least on paper, appears to be a great matchup. Of course, it’ll be hard to trust Kaepernick after the pain inflicted upon fantasy owners a week ago, but Kaepernick does provide serious upside and the Jets have been terrible at getting turnovers this season, having forced just six interceptions on the year. Kaepernick is playing for a potential starting gig, whether it be in San Francisco or elsewhere, so he needs to shine down the stretch. This seems like a great opportunity for him to put up some nice fantasy numbers. However, despite the optimism on Kaepernick himself, none of the San Francisco pass catchers should be considered anything more than low upside / low floor, deep Flex options.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: In a game where he touched the ball 21 times, it would’ve been nice to see Carlos Hyde get into the end zone, but fantasy owners will have to settle for a “not-so-terrible” day this past week in what could’ve very easily been a complete disaster given the way the game unfolded. Hyde has been and should continue to be the workhorse for the 49ers down the stretch as the team trusts him to carry at least 80 percent of the workload most weeks. The Jets run defense ranks right in the middle of the pack this season, but they’ve been more susceptible to being run on in recent weeks, having conceded an average of 111 rushing yards per game over their past four contests. Hyde isn’t an RB1 given the offensive woes the team has seen this season, but he’s a solid RB2 option this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Colin Kaepernick (high risk)
RB2: Carlos Hyde
Bench: Shaun Draughn, Jeremy Kerley, Torrey Smith, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek

Prediction: 49ers 20, Jets 16 ^ Top

Falcons @ Rams - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan continues to be one of the breakout fantasy stars this season, but his high-end production has slowed down a bit in recent weeks as he has thrown a total of just four touchdowns over his past three contests. Still, even in his bad games, Ryan has been decent enough to not cost his fantasy owners games, in large part because he has continued to heavily target his top receiver, Julio Jones, who this past week went over 100 yards receiving for the seventh time this season. Jones and Ryan remain must-start fantasy options, but the team’s other top two pass targets, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, are still fairly risky. Gabriel seems to be passing Sanu in the pecking order and a groin injury has kept Sanu sidelined during practice this week, leading to speculation that Gabriel could see an uptick in targets, thus making him a viable Flex option this week. Jones has also missed practice this week, but expectations seem to be that he will be on the field on Sunday. Still, pay attention to the morning inactives and consider picking up Gabriel now, who could be a great value if either Jones or Sanu – or both – end up not playing.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Devonta Freeman continues to produce big numbers and dominate the fantasy production out of the Atlanta backfield and given his success, that doesn’t appear like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Tevin Coleman touched the ball 12 times this past week – his highest amount since Week 3 – but he’s just not being used quite enough near the goal line, or in the passing game, to be anything other than a low-end Flex play at the moment. Freeman, on the other hand, is once again a high-upside RB1 in this matchup against the Rams. Los Angeles has given up an average of almost 140 rushing yards per game over their past four contests.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB1: Devonta Freeman
WR1: Julio Jones
Flex: Taylor Gabriel (if Sanu or Jones don’t play), Tevin Coleman
Bench: Mohamed Sanu

Passing Game Thoughts: Jared Goff is not a great fantasy quarterback yet, but if you’re looking for a time to take a chance on him, this is it. Goff and the Rams have what has to be the best possible matchup this week as they play at home against an Atlanta secondary that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season – an average of almost 20 points per game to the position. While the Falcons have had a recent stretch of at least keeping opposing quarterbacks in check, this is still a great opportunity for Goff and his receivers to show their stuff. What’s unfortunate is that we just have no idea which Rams receiver is going to be the focal point of the gameplan. From week to week, it could be any of a plethora of mediocre fantasy options. The best bet seems to be receiver Kenny Britt who has scored between 10 to 12 fantasy points (standard scoring) in four of his past five contests. Tavon Austin, on the other hand, seems to be falling out of favor in the offense and missed this past week’s contest. Austin has not caught more than four passes in a game since Week 7 and isn’t being used in his “gadget” role as a runner nearly often enough to be considered a serious fantasy option at this point.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley continues to be one of the biggest busts in fantasy football this season and this past week’s dreadful performance against the Patriots isn’t going to inspire much confidence in fantasy owners going forward. Gurley rushed for just 38 yards on 11 carries against New England and he has now dipped down to being ranked outside the top 20 at his position this season in standard scoring formats despite having played and utilized heavily in every game. It’s been a tough season for the whole Los Angeles offense, but if there’s hope for a big game, it could be this week at home against the Falcons. Atlanta has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, including 10 total rushing touchdowns. What’s been a bit odd, though, is that Atlanta has been particularly vulnerable to receiving backs this season. In fact, at 779 yards, the Falcons have given up by far the most receiving yards to opposing running backs – more than 150 yards more than any other team in the league. With Benny Cunningham likely out with a neck injury, Gurley could be in line for increased usage in the passing game, which should give him a higher-than-usual floor this week.

Value Meter:
RB2: Todd Gurley
Flex: Kenny Britt
Bench: Jared Goff, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Lance Kendricks

Prediction: Falcons 27, Rams 20 ^ Top

Redskins @ Eagles - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Redskins took a step back last week, losing to the much-maligned Cardinals. Kirk Cousins had enjoyed three consecutive turnover free weeks until he threw a pick and lost a fumble. Cousins’ fantasy numbers weren’t terrible as he did manage 271 yards passing, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown, but the usual efficiency wasn’t there. His completion percentage was in the fifties (56.8%) for just the second time all season. Operating without Jordan Reed, Cousins relied heavily on Pierre Garcon (7-78) as a safety valve and tried to utilize Jamison Crowder more (8 targets, but only 3 receptions albeit one for a touchdown), but it was clear he was missing his top dog. The Eagles are fresh off a spanking by the Bengals where Andy Dalton had his best game of the season. The Eagles are up to 19 passing scores allowed this season so this is a great spot for the Redskins to bounce back. Hopefully Jordan Reed’s shoulder feels good enough for him to go. He got in limited practices Wednesday and Thursday, but was in obvious discomfort. I would list Reed on the more doubtful side of questionable. Vernon Davis didn’t do much in Reed’s absence, but that was due in large part to the Cardinals’ top ranked defense against tight ends. Davis will be a viable streaming option this week if Reed sits again.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Rob Kelley really isn’t that good. He is completely matchup dependent. The Cardinals and previously the Cowboys are bad matchups for Fat Rob and his numbers reflect that. He torched the Packers because the Packers were a good matchup. The Eagles are a decent matchup. They are decidedly average against the run, allowing 4.1 yards per carry. Kelley is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and while I know it’s not fair to cherry pick runs and remove them, his ypc is inflated by a handful of big runs. Otherwise, he’s really just a pile pusher, which is more beneficial for the Redskins than your fantasy team. With that being said, I like Kelley’s chances to find the end zone this week. Chris Thompson splits snaps with Kelley, but remains off the fantasy radar.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (low end)
RB2: Rob Kelley (low end)
WR3: Jamison Crowder
Flex: Pierre Garcon (gets a bump if Reed sits again)
TE1: Jordan Reed (if he plays), Vernon Davis (if Reed sits)
Bench: Vernon Davis (if Reed plays), DeSean Jackson, Chris Thompson

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz threw a lot of passes last week. Sixty of them, to be exact. His previous high was 47. He completed 36 of them, four more than his previous high of 32. Wentz also threw for 300-plus yards for the third time. All of these stats make it seem like Wentz had a great day at the office. He did not. Wentz did throw for 308 yards and a touchdown but he also threw three passes to the wrong team. The Eagles passing attack looked lost without Jordan Matthews last week, who missed the first game of his career with a sprained ankle. He was close to playing, so I’m optimistic he can go this week, but Doug Pederson also said JMatt was “fine” last week and he ultimately missed the game. Remember folks, do not trust Doug Pederson. But do trust the fact that Matthews returned to practice Wednesday and was reportedly looking good on Thursday. He should play. In the absence of Matthews, Zach Ertz led the team with 15 targets, catching 9 for 79 yards and a touchdown. He is clearly the guy who benefits the most from a lack of JMatt. Recent practice squad graduate, Paul Turner, caught 6 of 8 targets for 80 yards. He was far more effective than drop machine, Dorial Green-Beckham or why is he still in the NFL Nelson Agholor. This week could be another game where the Eagles have to throw, but if Matthews doesn’t play, it’s anyone’s guess as to who reaps the benefits beyond Zach Ertz.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: “I will not listen to Doug Pederson.” You can’t forget it. Last week it was Wendell Smallwood that was going to be used heavily, which apparently means eight carries for nineteen yards and zero targets. Darren Sproles wasn’t much better, but at least he saw six targets and caught all of them for 36 yards. Sproles also received a goal line carry, which he converted. Ryan Mathews also returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since spraining his MCL. He’s poised to return to action Sunday, but his involvement will be impossible to gauge. The Redskins are tied with the 49ers for allowing the most rushing touchdowns this season with 17. Even so, Sproles is the only Eagles back you can use and even he’s a question mark with Pederson’s running back games.

Value Meter:
WR2: Jordan Matthews (if he plays)
TE1: Zach Ertz
Flex: Darren Sproles
Bench: Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Wendell Smallwood, Ryan Mathews (knee)

Prediction: Redskins 30, Eagles 24 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Dolphins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Palmer spent four weeks producing no offense and then another four weeks being a turnover machine. He finally played a complete game last week with exactly 300 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no turnovers. While two of his touchdown passes went to J.J. Nelson and Michael Floyd, the only wide receiver of relevance in this passing game is Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz hasn’t scored since Week 5 and Palmer completely ignores him in the red zone, but he still leads the team in WR targets. The Dolphins are by no means an imposing foe and they are especially vulnerable underneath to slot receivers, where Fitz almost always lines up. After getting shredded by Joe Flacco, things are looking up for Palmer. He is a streaming option this week and his No.2 receiver, Fitz, remains a high end WR2.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Why did I just refer to Fitz as the No.2 receiver? Because Palmer’s No.1 receiver is David Johnson. Still the only running back in the league with 100-plus yards from scrimmage in every game, DJ is an absolute monster in every facet of the game. He has the highest floor in fantasy football and the highest ceiling. He is a legitimate threat to go 1000-1000 this season as well as crack 20 touchdowns. DJ has caught no fewer than three passes in every game this season and has caught seven or more in four of his last five. He has a receiving touchdown in his last four games and a rushing touchdown in three of those games. He is a weekly RB1 and WR1 all wrapped in one. He doesn’t care about the Dolphins defense and neither should you. You don’t need me telling you how great David Johnson is.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Palmer (low end)
RB1: David Johnson (No.1 every week)
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald (high end)
Bench: Michael Floyd, J.J. Nelson, John Brown

Passing Game Thoughts: If you can count on Ryan Tannehill for one thing, it’s that you can never count on Ryan Tannehill. Every so often, he likes to try and fool us into thinking he’s actually a good quarterback. Then he goes out and throws three picks in a blowout loss in Baltimore. Tannehill is terrible and you are not using him against Arizona. Jarvis Landry saw 14 targets last week and converted 11 of them into 87 yards. He’s okay for PPR and still useless in standard. It was just Landry’s second double digit reception game of the season. He has two touchdowns on the year. DeVante Parker was a surprise active last week, but he only caught three balls for 34 yards, although one was in the end zone. We are now headed to Week 14 and the Cardinals, along with the Broncos, still have yet to allow more touchdowns than interceptions. Say no to all your Dolphins passing game players this week.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Jay Ajayi looked good against Baltimore’s top ranked run defense last week. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, but the ground game was taken away when the Ravens went up 24-0 at halftime. Ajayi did see seven targets out of the backfield, hauling in six of them for 26 yards. At home this week, the Dolphins should be more competitive, which will allow them to feed Ajayi. The Cardinals are stingy against the run, but not in the red zone, where they have surrendered fourteen rushing scores. Ajayi should eclipse 20 touches this week and is a decent bet to score. He is still a RB1.

Value Meter:
RB1: Jay Ajayi (low end)
WR3: Jarvis Landry
Flex: DeVante Parker
Bench: Kenny Stills, Ryan Tannehill

Prediction: Cardinals 23, Dolphins 19 ^ Top

Steelers @ Bills - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: I could open this discussing Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown, but that’s no fun, right? How about Ladarius Green! His snap count had been steadily increasing since he returned from the PUP list and the explosion finally happened to the tune of 6-110-1. He led the Steelers with 11 targets and appears to be the answer to the “who is the non-AB guy” question. The Bills defense is only as good as the opposing offense. I know the Steelers struggle more on the road than they do at home, but this offense is too dynamic to contain completely. The Steelers may not put up the numbers the Raiders did last week, but Green is officially a TE1. As for Ben & AB, you know what to do.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Since his return, Le’Veon Bell has touched the ball no fewer than 20 times in every game. Last week, he didn’t score, but he touched the ball a whopping 35 times. His floor is almost as high as David Johnson’s. Speaking of DJ, it’s almost unfathomable to think about it, but Bell has just one fewer catch (63) than DJ (64), despite not playing the first three weeks. He’s caught at least four passes in every game he’s played. The Bills are no match for Le’Veon Bell.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (mid-range)
RB1: Le’Veon Bell (high end)
WR1: Antonio Brown (No.1)
TE1: Ladarius Green
Bench: Eli Rogers, Jesse James (irrelevant now with Green back)

Passing Game Thoughts: Tyrod Taylor has been so good this year, but there’s no denying he failed in a big spot last week. From a fantasy perspective, Taylor has been heavily reliant on his rushing numbers. He has six rushing touchdowns on the season and averages 39.1 rushing yards per game. He needs to run to produce since he does nothing through the air. In eight of his twelve starts, Taylor has thrown for fewer than 200 yards, including each of his last three. He doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing day and has thrown multiple scores just three times. With all that being said, I actually like Taylor to bounce back this week in what should be another high scoring affair. The Steelers’ solid passing stats defensively hide the fact that they’ve faced a lot of poor offenses with weak QBs. When they faced upper tier opponents like the Cowboys or Patriots, they struggled. Obviously Taylor is not on that level, but the point is that the Steelers can be beaten. Sammy Watkins still has a broken bone in his foot, but despite how concerning that may seem, he’s looked fine on the field. He saw nine targets last week and while he only caught three of them, the usage is what we’re concerned about. Robert Woods returned to practice this week and looks poised to play. I wouldn’t use him, but his presence helps Taylor. In a game where the Bills should have to throw, Taylor and Watkins have the potential for big days.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy only needs nine fingers to carry your team to victory. Don’t believe me? Look no further than last week’s 191-yard effort (130 on the ground, 61 in the air). Shady caught all seven of his targets last week and needed only 17 carries to amass his lofty yardage total. Mike Gillislee siphoned two of McCoy’s touchdowns, which is annoying, but apparently is now to be somewhat expected. Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn went on record to say that Gillislee’s role is in the red zone. The Steelers boast one of the better run defenses in the league, at just 92 yards per game, but they’ve allowed 10 rushing scores and allow 4.2 yards per carry. McCoy is an elite option as usual and Gillislee is a viable flex play given the Bills proficiency at running the football and his presumed red zone opportunities.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tyrod Taylor (I’m probably in the minority here, but I think he’s going to surprise)
RB1: LeSean McCoy (high end)
WR3: Sammy Watkins (I think he performs better, but I will list him for what he’s been)
Flex: Mike Gillislee
Bench: Justin Hunter

Prediction: Bills 27, Steelers 25 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Giants - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The second of four consecutive prime time games for the team that leads the NFL in primetime games just about every year comes on the road against the only team to beat them this year. This is a far different Cowboys team than the one that lost to the Giants opening day and a far different Dak Prescott. Prescott threw 45 passes in that game and completed only 25 of them in a scoreless game for him. Since then, he has not topped 40 pass attempts and he has completed at least two thirds of his throws in every game except Week 8 at Philly. While Prescott’s subpar performance last week appears troublesome, the fact is the Vikings still have a strong defense and that was an ugly, low scoring affair. This week’s game against the Giants should be far different. Helping the cause is a now clearly healthy Dez Bryant. Early in the season, Cole Beasley was operating as Prescott’s favorite target. It was only a matter of time before Prescott figured things out with Bryant. If we exclude Bryant’s invisibility at Cleveland (because they couldn’t stop Ezekiel Elliott), he’s had at least 72 yards or a touchdown in every game since his return from injury in Week 8. Bryant only caught one ball for eight yards week 1, but, again, that was Prescott’s first career start at a time when everyone was still pining for Tony Romo. Last week, Jason Witten went catchless for the first time since 2008. Witten owns the Giants. He will be more involved this week and remains a viable streamer. The Giants have had a very favorable schedule, which contributes to their only having allowed 12 passing touchdowns on the season. Expect this game to look much more like traditional Cowboys-Giants games with a fair amount of points.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Writing about Ezekiell Elliott is boring. What can I say? He’s a top three back every week. He’s matchup-proof. He’s a touchdown scoring machine. Zeke is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and a touchdown per game. The Giants are one of the best teams against the run, allowing just 3.6 yards per carry, but that won’t matter this week. Elliott will touch the ball no fewer than twenty times. His numbers will be there as always.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (low end)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (high end)
WR1: Dez Bryant (low end)
TE1: Jason Witten
Bench: Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams

Passing Game Thoughts: In a game where the Giants trailed wire to wire, Eli threw up 39 passes, managing a measly 195 yards, which, if nothing else, is at least a one yard improvement on his previous game. He managed two touchdowns, but last week really was a low point on the season for Manning as he posted his lowest yards per attempt average at 5.0 and failed to reach 200 yards passing for the fourth time. He also threw two passes to the wrong team. The Giants made a small push in the second half, which definitely has nothing to do with the 15 targets Odell Beckham saw after just one in the first half. Perhaps “one read Eli,” as I call him for his inability to progress past his first option, should consider starting the game looking for Beckham. Just a thought. Even in spite of Manning’s poor play, Beckham racked up 100 yards on ten grabs. If clueless Ben McAdoo stops running red zone plays for the likes of Rashad Jennings and Will Tye, maybe Beckham can return to the end zone this week. Sterling Shepard scored last week, but he also only caught half of his eight targets for 21 yards. You are hoping for a touchdown with Shepard. He does have one in four of his last five games, but in that other game, he didn’t catch a pass. The way to beat the Cowboys is through the air as they’ve allowed 20 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions. The Giants will have to throw to stay in this one.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Also, the Giants have to throw because they can’t run. Rashad Jennings may have caught a touchdown on a screen last week, but he is done. He should not be on the field. Paul Perkins actually showed some shiftiness last week and certainly deserves a longer look. At this point, he and Jennings are splitting carries just about evenly, which renders both of them useless. The Cowboys are impossible to run against. Of course, the inability to move the ball on the ground has never stopped the Giants before. The Giants motto: “Even if it’s broken, we’ll do it anyway!” But that doesn’t mean you should. Avoid all Giants running backs and maybe, just maybe, Shane Vereen can return in time to matter.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr. (high end)
TE2: Will Tye
Flex: Sterling Shepard
Bench: Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Giants 24 ^ Top

Ravens @ Patriots - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Every once in a while, Joe Flacco explodes. It is not a trend. Despite his four touchdown performance last week, this is still a very weak offense with a quarterback playing some of the worst football of his career. Flacco has thrown an interception in more games than he hasn’t. Last week, he utilized Dennis Pitta more than he has all season. Pitta caught nine of his eleven targets for 90 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. Mike Wallace and Steve Smith both had decent PPR days with six grabs for 59 and 53 yards respectively. Meanwhile, Breshad Perriman remains both the clear best receiver on the team and just a deep man. The Ravens should feature him more, but they won’t because they are averse to scoring points. Which is why Flacco’s poor play is not entirely on him. The offense is being treated as if this is 2008. The Patriots defense dominates weak opponents and struggles against strong ones. It is not entirely clear what we have in the Ravens, but I would lean towards weak opponent. There is the added caveat that the Joe Flacco led Ravens always play the Patriots tough. Since Flacco became the Ravens’ starter, the Ravens are 3-5 against the Patriots, but four of their five losses have been by one score. If this is another tight game, which I think it will be, I expect it to be more because of the defenses than the offenses.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Another week, another timeshare between Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon. Dixon continues to outplay West, managing six more yards on four fewer carries, but it was West who found the end zone twice. Predicting the split between these two is not the problem – it’s guessing who will score. Dixon’s work in the passing game gives him the PPR edge, whereas West’s goal line preference gives him the standard edge. I’d prefer to use neither if possible.

Value Meter:
WR3: Steve Smith
TE2: Dennis Pitta
Flex: Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West
Bench: Mike Wallace, Joe Flacco, Breshad Perriman

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, but he’s always been a little less robot and a little more human against the Ravens. Brady has six regular season matchups against the Ravens in his career. He’s thrown six touchdowns across those games. Obviously nothing that happened years ago should have any relevance to Brady now, but we have a 10-year record of Brady struggling against various incarnations of the Ravens. Their most recent game, in 2013, saw Brady throw for just 172 yards. Brady came storming out of his suspension this season, but his yards per attempt over his last two games has been 5.8 and 5.7, while failing to reach 300 yards in either. The loss of Rob Gronkowski matters. Martellus Bennett is not the answer. The only people it’s good for are Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell. Edelman has eight receptions in each of his last three games and cracked 100 yards for the first time last week. His PPR value has been restored. Mitchell played on 85 percent of the snaps last week and continues to be integrated fully into the offense. He has become a reliable option for Brady and your fantasy team. The Ravens are still an elite run defense so the Patriots, not being as stubborn as most other teams, will just throw to beat them. I don’t expect a high scoring affair, but Brady should be good for 250 and 2.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: LeGarrette Blount has been a true revelation this season, but this is not the week you want to rely on him. The Ravens are the top ranked run defense, allowing just 73.8 yards per game and having allowed only four rushing touchdowns on the season. Dion Lewis is seeing the field more and James White still receives snaps. Blount needs volume and with the competition in the backfield combined with the Patriots likely needing to throw to move the ball, this is shaping up as a poor spot for Blount. Lewis, on the other hand, could be in line for his breakout game. Call it a hunch, but I think Lewis is going to reward those who start him this week in PPR.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (always an elite option no matter the opponent or the history)
RB2: LeGarrette Blount (you’re hoping for a touchdown)
WR2: Julian Edelman
WR3: Malcolm Mitchell
Flex: Dion Lewis (PPR only)
Bench: James White, Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan

Prediction: Patriots 23, Ravens 17 ^ Top

Broncos at Titans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: All eyes are on the quarterback position in Denver. Paxton Lynch got his second career start last week and only completed half of his passes. To see him struggle that much was a little shocking considering the targets he has at his disposal. Trevor Siemian has shed his walking boot and started to participate in practice so there is some hope they he will be able to play this weekend. Denver worked out journeyman quarterbacks Sean Renfroe and T.Y. Yates but chose not to sign anyone just yet. That would seemingly indicate that the team is holding off until they know the status of Siemian prior to adding any depth. This certainly makes all Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders owners a little uneasy. If Siemian is unable to play, both receivers would fall down to being flex options. If Siemian continues to progress and gets back onto the field, I’d feel a little better about the entire offense’s chances of producing. Thomas has consistently produced in PPR formats but falls short more often than not in standard leagues. Sanders continues to be a frustrating receiver to own this year. He has failed to score double digit fantasy points in nine of twelve games played this season despite ranking among the top ten in targets. If you feel good about Siemian getting the nod, go ahead and use him in a flex capacity.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The struggles of the quarterback position trickle down to the running game. Denver’s inability to threaten defenses with the pass only gives them more reason to stack up against the run which limits the fantasy potential of anyone who lines up in the backfield. Kappri Bibbs’ high ankle sprain has landed him in on the IR and in a walking boot. Just like fantasy owners, the Broncos then looked for a replacement on the waiver wire where they looked past former Bronco Ronnie Hillman and chose Justin Forsett. The well traveled veteran running back had his best years playing for HC Gary Kubiak so there is renewed optimism that he can rekindle that success late in 2016 with Denver. Devontae Booker has been the top option since C.J. Anderson went down and he remains the best fantasy play from this backfield for Week 14 but he might be in danger of losing carries if Kubiak decides to give his old flame another chance.

Value Meter:
RB2: Devontae Booker (low end)
WR3: Demaryius Thomas
Flex: Emmanuel Sanders
Bench: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Justin Forsett, Virgil Green, Jordan Norwood

Passing Game Thoughts: Tennessee’s passing game has steadily improved over the course of the season but they face their toughest test yet against Denver. Rishard Mathews has blossomed into this team’s most potent fantasy receiver but very few receivers have fared well against the Broncos this year. In fact, only three receivers in total have registered over 75 receiving yards against Denver this season (Brandin Cooks in Week 10, A.J. Green in Week 3 and Kelvin Benjamin in Week 1). I don’t expect the Titans to attack through the air much in this game with Murray’s legs fresh off the bye week. Marcus Mariota will likely be asked to lead a conservative game plan which will limit him as a fantasy option this week. As a result, I recommend downgrading everyone in the passing attack a notch or two for Week 14. Tight end Delanie Walker remains a low end starter this week but he may not be your best option depending on who else you may have available.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The bye week was much needed for DeMarco Murray who lost carries to Derrick Henry in Week 12. Henry proved that he could step in and be a true difference maker for fantasy owners during the playoffs should anything happen to Murray. However, it doesn’t look like the team will deviate from Murray’s workhorse status coming off the bye week so Henry remains a handcuff only option. And why would they want to change a recipe that has them tied for the division lead coming into the season’s final month? Murray has been at the heart of the Titans’ turnaround this season. His 1,043 rushing yards on the year trail only Ezekiel Elliott. At this point only an injury would prevent him from finishing as a top 5 fantasy running back this season. Denver hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown since Week 9 (Latavius Murray) but they haven’t faced anyone nearly as good as Murray since then either.

Value Meter:
QB2: Marcus Mariota
RB1: DeMarco Murray
TE1: Delanie Walker (low end)
Flex: Rishard Matthews
Bench: Tajae, Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Derrick Henry

Prediction: Titans 20, Broncos 13 ^ Top

Saints at Buccaneers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: If you own Drew Brees then you should be in a good place most weeks knowing he has a shot for 300 passing yards and multiple touchdowns. However, if you own anyone else in the Saints’ passing attack you probably find yourself crossing your fingers that this is the week your guy goes off to carry your squad. Although the volume is there for Brees, his receivers rarely post elite numbers on a consistent basis. Brandin Cooks hasn’t seen the end zone in three weeks and is averaging less than five fantasy points. Ditto for Willie Snead. Michael Thomas’ huge Week 12 is flanked by single digit outings as well. Meanwhile, the backfield has contributed three receiving touchdowns over the past three weeks. Again, this is fine for Drew Brees but it lowers the floor for everyone involved in this passing attack. I still prefer to roll out guys in premium passing attacks and the match up with the Bucs shouldn’t be a deterrent when making your roster decisions this week. Drew Brees has won his last three games at Tampa Bay but the offense has only averaged 21 points in those games so keep your expectations in check for Week 14.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Sharing is caring when it comes to the New Orleans backfield. Tim Hightower and Mark Ingram have provided fantasy owners with quality outings more often than not lately and that shouldn’t change for Week 14. Tampa Bay has been tough against the run but the Saints’ passing game not only offers both running backs a few extra points but it forces the defense to respect the entire field; opening up the running lanes in the process. Ingram isn’t a lock for a ton of yards as long as he’s splitting carries but has scored in his last two outings against the Bucs. Hightower’s Week 14 projections are a little tougher to gauge. He tends to have better games when the entire offense is doing well and putting up points on the board. That’s not typically what happens when these two division rival square off.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB2: Mark Ingram
WR3: Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas
TE2: Coby Fleener
Flex: Tim Hightower
Bench: Willie Snead

Passing Game Thoughts: Mike Evans has ripped up the NFL for most of the season but he was held in check last week and I wouldn’t be surprised if has another sub par performance this week. It boils down to how improved you feel the Bucs passing game is compared to the prior two seasons. In their two games last season, Jamies Winston completed 32 of his 53 passes for a combined total of 389 yards and two scores. Mike Evans only played in one of last season’s games versus the Saints and was held to 3 receptions for 39 yards. The Saints have been markedly better against the pass over the past month or so and they have had Winston’s number to this point in his young career. You would have to play in a pretty shallow league to make a strong case for benching Mike Evans but don’t expect him to be the one carrying you to a win this week. Adam Humphries is in the concussion protocol and would be worth a look in deep formats if he is cleared in time to practice by Friday and play against the Saints. Chances are Russell Shepard will be the one to step up opposite of Evans to be the better fantasy option. Shepard hasn’t done much of anything in recent weeks and is only a flex option in deep formats if Humphries isn’t cleared to play. Tight end Cameron Brate is another player that could see a few more targets this week. He has a lower floor than you’d like out of a starter but he is coming off a nine target game in Week 13 against the Bolts and figures to remain a part of the passing game with the injuries at the wide receiver position.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Doug Martin owners have had it pretty good since his return from injury. Tampa Bay has been giving muscle hamster plenty of work, including goal line carries, to make him one of the game’s better RB2 options. He has a great match up going up against the fifth friendliest opponent for opposing fantasy running backs. I really like his chances of scoring this week with so few options in the passing game but he may end up losing a few carries throughout the game. As I alluded to last week, the Bucs will get Charles Sims back this week. Sims might be a little slow out of the gate but he is a guy that the coaching staff will want to work into the game on passing downs. That will push Jacquizz Rodgers into a reserve role but he will need to get a few carries in as well. We’ve seen how quickly Tampa’s backfield situation can change in the past so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the coaching staff distribute the work amongst all three backs in an effort to keep them healthy for this critical stretch of the season.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jameis Winston
RB2: Doug Martin
WR2: Mike Evans
TE1: Cameron Brate (low end)
Flex: Russell Shepard (if Adam Humphries doesn’t play)
Bench: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Adam Humphries

Prediction: Saints 24, Buccaneers 23 ^ Top

Chargers at Panthers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Injuries continue to wreak havoc on the passing game in San Diego but that hasn’t stopped Philip Rivers from throwing multiple touchdowns in five straight games. Tyrell Williams has a labrum issue that will continue to prevent him from being a go-to type of receiver down the stretch. You can expect to see more games like last week where he was able to score on a 40-yard touchdown but be a low volume player with average touchdown upside. That’s too risky for my taste at a time when fantasy playoffs implications are on the line so steer clear. Travis Benjamin is back from a knee injury but he hasn’t been able to get it going. I still think Benjamin has the most fantasy upside in this offense but Rivers won’t hesitate to use Dontrelle Inman or his tight ends to pick up the slack if needed. Inman has two straight games with a touchdown and has consistently been getting targets in the offense (29 targets over the past four weeks) so he’s definitely a flex consideration this week. Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates are splitting the targets but Rivers likes to find his tight end once he gets into the red zone. However, chasing touchdown upside will leave you on the outside looking in more times than not so I would just find another option for Week 14.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Melvin Gordon has gone over 100 total yards of offense in five of his last six outings and continues to inch towards David Johnson as the best fantasy running back of the year. He’s seen a few less carries in recent weeks but as long as he consistently makes up for it in the passing game. Carolina is usually a tough opponent to run on but the loss of Luke Kuechly (concussion) has severely weakened their front seven. The team’s star middle linebacker was able to return to practice this week but his status won’t be known until later in the week. Kenneth Farrow will continue to serve as the backup to Gordon but he seldom sees the field.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR3: Travis Benjamin
Flex: Dontrelle Inman, Tyrell Williams
Bench: Kenneth Farrow, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry

Passing Game Thoughts: I really don’t understand what Carolina is trying to do on offense these days. Cam Newton is lucky if he completes half his passes and he isn’t being used as a runner to offset his low volume of passing. Kelvin Benjamin is one of the toughest players to defend, especially in jump ball situations near the goal. Newton just doesn’t know how to throw the lob passes and back shoulder throws as effectively as other quarterbacks in this league. Benjamin is being used properly and his stats will continue to suffer as a result. Carolina’s red zone offense is laughable at times despite having one of the toughest players to defend against in those situations. Over the past three weeks, Newton has ranked outside the top 20 at his position in fantasy points per game. The pieces are there for the passing attack to thrive but the lack of execution is a glaring concern. The Chargers have been solid against the pass this season so I’m not too bullish on the Panthers’ passing game. On a positive note, Ted Ginn Jr. has become the best thing going for Newton’s fantasy lines. His ability to make plays down the field has put him back on the fantasy map but he’s a still a boom or bust option for deep leagues.

SD FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
SD FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
SD FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
SD FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: The one thing the Panthers are doing is run the ball. Newton’s struggles in the passing game have given HC Ron Rivera more reason to lean on Jonathan Stewart. The defenses are keying in on the Panthers’ running game but Stewart is getting plenty of chances near the goal. He needs them too because he has been stuffed more often than not. Nonetheless, he doesn’t have any competition for carries and the team’s decision to restrict Newton’s rushing attempts only favors Stewart’s weekly projections moving forward in Week 14. So despite the lackluster yardage totals, fantasy owners should show faith in his touchdown upside and plug him in at RB2 or Flex depending on the roster size of your league.

Value Meter:
QB2: Cam Newton
RB2: Jonathan Stewart
TE1: Greg Olsen
Flex: Kelvin Benjamin
Bench: Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Funchess

Prediction: Chargers 28, Panthers 20 ^ Top

Vikings at Jaguars - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Vikings are stuck in reverse and Sam Bradford’s dinking and dunking would play better up at the North Pole these days than in fantasy lineups. The high efficiency passes have Bradford on pace to set a career high completion percentage. Unfortunately, 13 passing touchdowns in 11 games leaves a lot of meat on the bones for the pass catchers. Stefon Diggs catches most of what is thrown at him, making him a PPR rock star. Even Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph (both have had 15 receptions over the past two weeks) have found a home in this short passing game. Outside of PPR leagues, these guys just don’t offer much upside for fantasy owners chasing championships. With the bye weeks in the rearview mirror and Minnesota facing a tough Jacksonville secondary I’d try to avoid starting anyone from the Vikings.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: The major news coming out this week was that Adrian Peterson plans on returning this season but that isn’t going to happen this week. The Vikings backfield is simply a black hole for fantasy purposes. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are splitting the work and neither has much to show for it. Asiata is a touchdown or bust option on a team that has scored fewer the 20 points in five of their past seven games. If the offense was better, McKinnon would be in the RB2 discussion. Instead, he often finds himself in the single digits for carries which makes him virtually useless in non PPR formats with Asiata getting the work near the goal. There isn’t anything to hang your hat on for fantasy purposes now that bye weeks have ended. If you are counting on either Asiata or McKinnon, your season is probably already over.

Value Meter:
TE1: Kyle Rudolph
Flex: Stefon Diggs
Bench: Everyone else

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jaguars’ passing attack hasn’t been good but they have faced some tough opponents over the last few weeks. If the Broncos are the best against the pass, then the Vikings are the second best so don’t expect the results to differ much in Week 14. Prior to running up against the buzz saw, the Jags’ signal caller had been on a five game streak of throwing multiple touchdown passes. Blake Bortles, the tough match ups have all but flat lined his fantasy value. Despite the minimal yardage output he’s been better over the second half of the season. Marqise Lee has emerged as the best secondary option in the passing attack. That’s made him a serviceable flex option throughout the bye weeks-especially with the team playing without TE Julius Thomas (back) or Allen Hurns (hamstring). Keep an eye on the practice reports this week to see if either or both players are limited or ruled inactive again this week. Lee would stand to see a few more catches considering the Vikings would presumably look to lock down Allen Robinson and let their defense handle the meager running game.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: The Jacksonville backfield is like a kiddie coaster. It just doesn’t offer much thrill and leaves you wanting more every time. But the lines are short and it’s something to do with the kids so you get on and make the best of it. The Jags tried using T.J. Yeldon at less than full health with Denard Robinson to carry the workload in Week 13. Then Robinson hurt his ankle in the second half of the game and was unable to return. It’s not good folks. Yeldon is still nursing his injury but was able to practice in full this week so he looks like the favorite to lead the charge against Minnesota’s 16th ranked rush defense (103.5 rushing yards allowed per game). Chris Ivory (hamstring) was limited in practice and would likely be playing at less than full health if he even suits up this weekend. Robinson’s high ankle sprain will probably keep him sidelined, leaving the door cracked open for Corey Grant to get some work. Grant was an undrafted free agent signing in 2015 out of Auburn with seven career rushing attempts. Yeldon will get as much volume as he can handle but Ivory could still steal some carries if he is healthy so try to avoid this situation unless you are desperate to fill a RB slot.

Value Meter:
Flex: Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, T.J. Yeldon
Bench: Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant

Prediction: Jaguars 10, Vikings 9 ^ Top

Texans at Colts - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Over the past three games DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller have combined for 40 targets. During that same span C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin have 41 targets. Where’s Keyshawn Johnson when you need him? Houston isn’t running the ball well and they aren’t using their best play makers to compensate. Instead, they are trying to simplify the reads for Osweiler by using the tight end as a crutch to limit his turnovers. They have the defense to get away with this in real life but fantasy owners don’t have that luxury at this time of year. Hopkins isn’t going to see enough volume to make him anything more than a flex option down the stretch despite his ridiculous abilities to make plays down the field. Will Fuller’s return to the lineup offers even more diversification to the passing game where the tight ends have become the most reliable fantasy asset on this team. The Colts have been gutted by the pass this year, but I’m not sure if Brock Osweiler is capable of doing the same for the Texans so start Texans at your own risk!

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: There are probably thousands of fantasy owners that will never own Lamar Miller (ribs) again. He’s been one disappointment after another and has been a limited participant in practice this week. He was able to return to Week 13’s game against the Packers so it isn’t a surprise to see the Texans monitor his work leading up to a pivotal division game. Still, he is definitely banged up and his owners need to weigh the limitations to his fantasy ceiling that continue to prevent him from being a sure-fire starter. Houston’s lackluster passing game hasn’t helped open things up in the running game. The bumps and bruises along the way have led to less work in the passing game and his three touchdowns on the season is ridiculously low for a player of his caliber on a team built around the run. I have to wonder if the Texans will even give Miller a chance to run the ball if they get it in close to the goal. Furthermore, last week proved that he is only one good hit away from being sent to the locker room. Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue will be ready to take over if needed but neither is a trustworthy option so long as Miller is active.

Value Meter:
QB2: Brock Osweiler
TE1: C.J. Fiedorowicz
Flex: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, Ryan Griffin
Bench: Braxton Miller, Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Tyler Ervin

Passing Game Thoughts: Hilton is the guy to own as this team continues to drive towards the top of the division rankings. The Texans have allowed an opposing receiver to go over the century mark in three of the past four games and Hilton might be the toughest of them all to defend against. That task only becomes harder for Houston considering that Donte Moncreif has become the NFL’s most consistent touchdown machine with scores in six of his seven games played this year. The Colts are trending up and Andrew Luck has the Texans’ number. He torched Houston in Week 6 on the road to the tune of 353 yards passing and three touchdowns and unless he should be in for a huge day again unless his offensive line fails him. Dwayne Allen’s statement game against the Jets on Monday night knocked me out of the playoffs in one league and proved that he has premium upside in this offense. He wasn’t healthy the last time these two teams met but Jack Doyle was able to score in that game. Allen has taken a big step towards separating himself from Doyle but this remains a two tight end committee as far as fantasy points are concerned.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: You may not remember the exact moment, but at some point in the middle of your fantasy football draft this year, you had the chance to draft Frank Gore and passed. He’s older but he remains one of the most consistent and durable fantasy running backs around a league full of committees. He enters week 14 with the ninth most rushing attempts playing on a pass first team. Like most weeks, he isn’t the greatest option against the Texans. There are plenty of risky options tempting fantasy owners this week and Gore is the safe play to get a few points and avoid being a total dud to lose you a key Week 14 game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andrew Luck
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
WR2: Donte Moncrief
TE1: Dwayne Allen
TE2: Jack Doyle
Flex: Frank Gore
Bench: Phillip Dorsett

Prediction: Colts 30, Texans 14 ^ Top

Bengals @ Browns - (Marcoccio)

Passing Game Thoughts: Andy Dalton has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his last three games against the Browns, a team that has incredibly allowed 3 or more passing touchdowns in seven different games this season. That sounds like a good matchup to me, despite Dalton most likely missing his best weapon, A.J. Green, once again this week. Brandon LaFell has been somewhat disappointing this season, but stepped up big last week, and has at least been a red-zone weapon all season. LaFell accounts for just over 35 percent of Dalton’s touchdown passes this season, and in a matchup against a team that has allowed 28 passing scores the odds look good for a score this week. Speaking of good matchups, tight end Tyler Eifert has scored in back to back games against two stout defenses and will face off against a Cleveland team that has been one of the best matchups for opposing tight ends. The Browns have allowed 9 touchdown receptions to tight ends. It’s a good bet that the Cincinnati passing offense opens up this week.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Jeremy Hill has been a very inefficient runner this season, making his fantasy value from week to week mostly contingent on volume and/or him finding the endzone. Luckily Hill owners should get good results this week as the volume should be there in a game the Bengals should control, and the Browns have already allowed 15 total touchdowns to running backs (13 rushing). The Browns are allowing 140 rushing yards per game, second worst in the league and have allowed over 100 rushing yards in ten of their twelve games this season. Rex Burkhead has filled in admirably replacing Gio Bernard and could even be an option this week for those desperate at the running back position.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andy Dalton
RB2: Jeremy Hill
WR3: Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd
TE1: Tyler Eifert
Flex: Rex Burkhead

Passing Game Thoughts: Robert Griffin has been named the starter and will get a look over the last few weeks of the season to see if he has any future with the Browns beyond 2016. It would be hard to trust him being effective after such a long layoff, and any fantasy team in the playoffs would likely have better options. Only Terrell Pryor is an option in this passing game and even he hasn’t scored a touchdown in his last six games. He is still being targeted heavily and could rack up receptions in a game where the Browns will likely be playing catch-up throughout.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: The Browns constantly falling behind quickly has made their ground game practically non-existent. Isaiah Crowell started the season strongly but his lack of usage leaves him as nothing but a desperation depth option in fantasy. During the last three weeks, the Browns have passed the ball on nearly 75 percent of their snaps, an outrageous number for a team that has trotted out Cody Kessler and Josh McCown during that time. There’s not much reason to put much thought into this running game, as there really is no running game in Cleveland.

Value Meter:
QB2: Robert Griffin III (low end)
WR3: Terrelle Pryor
Bench: Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Corey Coleman, Andrew Hawkins, Gary Barnidge

Prediction: Bengals 27, Browns 13 ^ Top

Bears @ Lions - (Marcoccio)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Barkley has played reasonably well during his two starts, but last week against the hapless San Francisco 49ers, he wasn’t asked to do much with Jordan Howard running wild. This week he will be tested against a much improved Lions defense that is coming off a game where they shut down Drew Brees and the Saints. Over the last six weeks the Lions have held their opponents to just 16.3 points per game, and they have not allowed an opposing quarterback to finish in the top 12 over their last five games. In other words, the odds are stacked against a Bears’ passing game featuring its third string quarterbacks and missing its top two targets in Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Miller.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Howard’s five 100-yard rushing games are tied for the most in the league. He’s been a true workhorse since taking over as the feature back, and is the only Bear that fantasy owners should feel safe putting in their starting line-ups. In a past article I laid out the main drawback to Howard, the Bears inability to sustain a running game after they fall behind, by showing his first and second half yardage splits. So if the Bears inevitably fall behind this week, his owners would need to hold out hope that he sees some targets in the passing game. The Bears’ defense has been particularly bad on the road, which could cause a game-script that is unfavorable to Howard racking up the rushing yards, but with as productive as he has been generally it’s difficult not to recommend the rookie runner.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jordan Howard
WR3: Cameron Meredith
Bench: Matt Barkley, Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Marquess Wilson, Eddie Royal

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford is an NFL MVP candidate, but his inconsistency makes him merely a matchup dependant quarterback in terms of fantasy football. The Bears have allowed QB1 production in five straight road contests, so this should be a nice matchup for the former Bulldog. Golden Tate started the year off slowly as he took a backseat to newcomer Marvin Jones until the offense went back to the short passing game which helped turn Stafford around last season. Since Week 5, Tate has been a top 10 wide receiver. Conversely Jones has been mostly useless as a fantasy asset since then.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: The Lions have not run for 100 yards in ten straight games, illustrating that there really has not been a running game at all since Ameer Abdullah went down with injury. Theo Riddick has grabbed hold of the Lions’ starting running back job, but he has shown little ability to gain yards on the ground. As with Golden Tate, Riddick is peppered with short passes in lieu of a running game. Zach Zenner, is the “big back” option for the team, now that rookie Dwayne Washington is injured again, but his usage has been minimal. The Bears have been decent against the run (106.9 ypg), which makes it even harder to imagine Detroit establishing a running game. Riddick’s value comes in the passing game however so don’t be afraid to get him in your lineup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB2: Theo Riddick
WR2: Golden Tate
TE2: Eric Ebron
Bench: Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 13 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Packers - (Marcoccio)

Passing Game Thoughts: Russell Wilson has largely struggled on the road this season. In four of his six road games, he did not even throw a single touchdown pass. However, in those other two road games, against the Jets and the Pats, he did total 6 touchdown passes, so it isn’t all bad. With the prospect of facing a soft pass defense, while it’s hard to fully get behind Wilson on the road in what may literally be the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, when the chips are down it would also be hard to bet against him. The Packers have allowed 24 passing touchdowns this season, and have struggled against opposing inside receivers and have allowed the second most receiving yards to tight ends. Therefore, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are more than valid options this week as well.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The Packers have played the run well this season, allowing 92.9 rushing yards per game, but that average has increased over the last couple of weeks as injuries have hit. The return of Thomas Rawls from an ankle injury has revitalized what was a struggling running game. The Hawks had averaged only 65 rushing yards per game over a six game stretch but that number has vaulted to 173 yards per game over the last three games. Given Wilson’s road struggles, and with Rodgers being red hot, establishing the running game will likely be Seattle’s goal heading into this contest.

Value Meter:
QB2: Russell Wilson
RB1: Thomas Rawls
WR3: Doug Baldwin
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Bench: Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers is on pace to shatter his career high in pass attempts and has looked very sharp after a slow start to the season, but will face a team that has only allowed two top 10 quarterbacks this season. With no running game to speak of Green Bay should continue to put the ball in the air, but will meet more resistance this week even with Earl Thomas being lost for the season. Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson have been the biggest beneficiaries of the high volume passing game, but Adams could see himself matched up often with Richard Sherman if the Packers try and keep Jordy Nelson away from the shut down corner by lining him up on the opposite side of the field.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: James Starks played just seven snaps last week after playing on close to 70 percent of the team’s snaps since he returned from injury. If that’s a sign of things to come, Starks is obviously now useless to fantasy owners. The Packers have really not established a running game all season, but worked former Seahawk Christine Michael into the mix last week and this could be a nice set up for a “revenge game”. Of course expecting that and any real production out of Michael would be far too risky in what is likely the fantasy playoffs for most owners. This is a backfield to avoid given the uncertainty and the strength of the opponent.

Value Meter:
QB2: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Jordy Nelson
TE2: Jared Cook
Flex: Randall Cobb
Bench: Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers, James Starks, Christine Michael

Prediction: Seahawks 20, Packers 17 ^ Top