Game Thoughts: A seemingly great matchup for Philip Rivers
in Week 14 fell as a dud for fantasy purposes as the quarterback
threw for just 220 yards and one touchdown in a relatively close
game. Rivers was, however, able to avoid turning the ball over
and is now on pace for nearly 4,500 passing yards and 36 touchdowns
on the season, so it’s easy to just write the one game dip
as more of an aberration than a trend.
This week he and the Chargers will need to get their passing
game going again as they head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs
in what could again turn out to be a shootout. The Chargers fell
by a final score of 28-38 against the Chiefs back in Week 1 and
that was on the shoulders of Rivers’ 424-yard, three touchdown
day. With the running game in flux due to injuries, he’ll
likely need to put up similar numbers to that in order for the
Chargers to have a real shot of winning this game.
That’s good news for wide receiver Keenan Allen who continues
to feast on defenses in the second half of the season. He’s
now caught a touchdown in five straight games and caught at least
five passes in seven straight contests, making him one of the
safest fantasy wide receivers in the league due to his high target
The other options in the Los Angeles passing game are not nearly
as trustworthy, however, as players like Tyrell Williams, Travis
Benjamin, Antonio Gates and Virgil Green are all seeing far too
little work to warrant serious fantasy consideration, even in
a good matchup.
The one other receiver in this offense who could be useful is
second-year wideout Mike Williams who hasn’t done much over
the past two weeks and has been very streaky over the course of
his young career. Still, Williams had a season-high five receptions
for 81 yards against the Chiefs back in Week 1 and currently leads
the team with seven touchdown receptions on the season, so there’s
reason to believe that he could be a solid WR3 or Flex this week.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2 Running Game Thoughts: With Austin
Ekeler already ruled out with an injury, the Chargers will be
hoping they can get their star running back, Melvin Gordon, back
onto the field. He’d probably be able to suit up if the
game was on Sunday but reports don’t seem to be too confident
that he’ll be available for Thursday night’s contest
against the Chiefs. Gordon had a monster fantasy day against the
Chiefs back in Week 1, in large part due to his nine receptions
for 102 yards, but the Chargers aren’t likely to rush him
back onto the field if he’s not healthy enough to take a
pretty hefty workload.
If he’s on the field, Gordon should be in your lineup,
but fantasy owners need to be prepared with a backup plan which
might include Justin Jackson. Jackson was quite efficient with
his touches in Weeks 12 and 13 but did practically nothing with
his nine touches in Week 15 against the Bengals. Still, the rookie
could be in line for some serious touches as the Chargers really
don’t have any other running backs who are experienced in
the offense. If Gordon is not active, Jackson could slot in as
high as a high-end RB2 in this matchup against the Chiefs who
have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running
backs so far this season.
Game Thoughts: Week 15 saw one of Patrick Mahomes’
least-productive fantasy days of the season, but that still meant
a 377-yard, two touchdown day that was marred by just one interception.
Mahomes did struggle a bit with Tyreek Hill nursing a foot injury
that kept him off the field more often than the Chiefs would have
liked, but he still put up gigantic numbers and Hill himself still
had another huge day with eight receptions for 139 yards. With
Hill expected to be active, this top-level quarterback-wide receiver
duo, alongside tight end Travis Kelce, will again be must-starts
as they face a Chargers defense that they crushed back in Week
1. Mahomes went for four touchdowns - two of which went to Hill
- in that contest, as he began what is now one of the most dominant
fantasy seasons in history.
Kelce was actually held in check that day as he caught just one
pass for six yards, but he’s been red hot down the stretch
including seven touchdown receptions over his past six games and
six or more catches in all six of those contests. Kelce is the
unquestioned top tight end in fantasy and needs to be in your
With Sammy Watkins out again, the other player to look at in
this passing game is Chris Conley, who was held to just two catches
for 13 yards against the Ravens this past week but who had scored
three touchdowns on 10 catches over his previous two games before
that. Conley is more of a boom-or-bust option but there is a chance
he booms in this one, especially if Hill reaggravates his foot
The Chiefs did add Kelvin Benjamin prior to their Week 14 game
against the Ravens but opted to keep him inactive. He is expected
to be on the field this week, but will likely be used in a limited
capacity and should not be in your fantasy lineup until we see
how he’s utilized in Kansas City.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: With Kareem Hunt off the
team and Spencer Ware listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury,
the Chiefs will now be looking deep down their bench to find running
back production here in Week 15. Running back Darrel Williams
might end up seeing a few touches, but the player to be paying
attention to for fantasy purposes is Damien WIlliams, who was
fairly unproductive in terms of yardage with his touches this
past week, but who scored twice in Kansas City’s narrow
victory over Baltimore. Williams had his moments at times as a
member of the Dolphins but he may now be getting the best opportunity
for fantasy production of his career as the lead dog in perhaps
the league’s best offense. Double-digit touches seem like
almost a guarantee for Williams this week so he’s worth
a speculative add and possibly a start as a Flex or even a low-level
RB2 this week, particularly in PPR formats. The Chargers have
given up at least 19 fantasy points (non-PPR) to an opposing running
back in three straight contests leading into this week, so Williams
actually has a higher floor than some might think, as well.
Texans at Jets
- (Katz) Line: HOU -7.0 Total: 41.5
Game Thoughts: Are the Houston Texans actually good?
I’m not sure, but I know they beat bad teams and the Jets
are a bad team. Deshaun Watson has just two rushing touchdowns
on the season and has only thrown more than two touchdowns once
all season. The Jets have allowed 59% fewer fantasy points to
QBs against league average making Watson nothing more than a middling
option. DeAndre Hopkins salvaged a bad game with a touchdown last
week because that’s what he does – he makes it work.
Hopkins has survived a lot on scoring this season, but he’s
an elite WR and that’s what the best receivers do. The Jets
secondary is no match for Hopkins. Keke Coutee is perennially
questionable and can’t be trusted, while Demaryius Thomas
is an afterthought in this offense.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller did what he always does every
time you think he’s turning a corner and puts up a dud.
He followed up back to back 100-yard games with 33 yards on 14
carries. Fortunately, he fell into the end zone. Miller should
have an easier time against a Jets defense allowing 4.6 yards
per carry. It is also worth noting that the Texans activate D’onta
Foreman, who was about to take over Miller’s job last season
before tearing his Achilles.
Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold threw for 170 yards, one touchdown
and one interception last week. I’m not saying Darnold is
a bust because it’s too early for that, but he’s been
terrible this year. Robby Anderson saw seven targets last week,
catching four for 76 yards and a touchdown. He’s a talented
player, but is too inconsistent to trust with Darnold at the helm.
Quincy Enunwa is out with an ankle injury and Jermaine Kearse
is not seeing anywhere near enough consistent usage. The Texans
have been average against the pass, but they’ve mostly faced
weak offenses. This, however, is another weak offense. Avoid Jets
in this spot.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: With Isaiah Crowell out, Elijah McGuire
has a chance to show what he can do as a primary back. He will
undoubtedly split time with Trenton Cannon, but this will be a
McGuire led backfield. He didn’t do much with his chance
last week, but he volumed his way to 83 total yards and a score.
That’s at least worth starting in fantasy. Only four teams
allow fewer fantasy points below average to opposing RBs than
the Texans, but since this game is in MetLife, game script shouldn’t
completely get away from the Jets. Plus, McGuire is the pass catching
back. He could be sneaky useful this week.
Browns at Broncos
- (Caron) Line: DEN -2.5 Total: 45.5
Game Thoughts: Many analysts had predicted that Baker
Mayfield might struggle in the previous Browns regime under head
coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and he
didn’t get off to a hot start in that system. However, since
the Browns moved on from those coaches, Mayfield is beginning
to look like the budding young superstar that made him the No.1
overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. Since Freddie Kitchens
took over the Browns offense, Mayfield is putting up some truly
staggering numbers. His 9.3 yards per attempt are among the highest
in the league and his 73.2 completion percentage would be the
highest mark in NFL history if he was able to sustain it for an
entire season. From a fantasy standpoint, his 11 touchdowns in
five games doesn’t sound like anything special, but he’s
throwing for 281 yards per game and he’s thrown just four
interceptions in those five games under Kitchens. Mayfield isn’t
quite a QB1 for fantasy at the moment, but he’s getting
close and is a decent streamer this week if you’re looking
for someone with a relatively high floor and decent ceiling.
The only issue for fantasy purposes is that Mayfield isn’t
exactly locking in on one receiver. Sure, Jarvis Landry has hit
the mark in each of the past two weeks, but he was also saved
by a touchdown this past week and has been held to under 60 yards
receiving in five of his past six games. That’s concerning
when Mayfield is playing as well as he has been. Landry would
typically be a player who we might recommend against playing this
week due to what would be a tough matchup against slot cornerback
Chris Harris, but Harris was sent to the IR this week, which does
open things up for Landry to stay a WR2 in this game.
The only other pass catcher worth looking for fantasy purposes
at the moment is tight end David Njoku who has been admittedly
a bit disappointing this season, but who has caught at least three
passes in each of his past three games. With the tight end position
as decimated as it has been this season, Njoku should again be
considered a mid-to-low-end TE1 for fantasy.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Rookie running back Nick Chubb continues
to impress and has now scored touchdowns in five straight contests,
which is - not coincidentally - when Freddie Kitchens took over
as the Browns’ offensive coordinator. The yards per carry
haven’t always been huge but Chubb is getting a significant
workload and solidified himself as a solid RB1 for fantasy down
the stretch. Chubb gets the Broncos this week who just gave up
90 yards rushing to San Francisco’s Jeff Wilson in Week
14 in his first ever start. Look for another 15-plus touch say
for Chubb who is a safe option in any format, but is probably
better in standard leagues over PPR leagues. The other running
back in the Browns offense, Duke Johnson, should be on fantasy
benches for the time being, even in PPR formats where he used
to be one of the underappreciated studs at the position. Johnson
has caught just one pass in his past two games and simply doesn’t
appear to be much of a fixture in the new Kitchens offense.
Game Thoughts: Finishing with under 16 fantasy points
in seven straight games, Denver’s Case Keenum is simply
not a fantasy option even against a less-than-stellar Browns defense.
The players we do care about, however, are his pass catching weapons.
Rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, to be specific.
Sutton fell flat on his face in Week 14 in what many believed
would be a potentially big game for him against the 49ers as he
caught just two passes for 14 yards. It was Sutton’s first
game without both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas who has
been pulling targets away from him early in the season. There’s
still hope for Sutton to emerge, but we have to understand that
he’s a rookie who’s simply not a reliable option.
We could still put him in lineups against the Browns this week
but understand that he could give you a dud again.
Fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, who had caught just five passes
this season prior to Week 14, caught seven passes for 47 yards
and caught the Broncos’ only touchdown pass of the day;
leading the team’s pass catchers in fantasy points for the
week. Hamilton essentially took over the Sanders role, primarily
playing out of the slot, and he could actually be more reliable
than Sutton down the stretch even though he’s not likely
to have as high of a weekly ceiling. The other receiver to look
at is wide receiver Tim Patrick, who actually led the team with
10 targets, seven of which he caught for a team-high 85 yards.
Patrick has never done much throughout his career prior to this
game so he’s a player we’ll want to see something
from this week before we consider putting him in lineups in Weeks
16 and 17, however.
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: He took over 60 percent of the Broncos’
carries in Week 14, but Phillip Lindsay is still giving up too
many touches to fellow running backs Royce Freeman and Devontae
Booker to be considered an elite option for fantasy. Instead,
due primarily to efficiency, Lindsay is a low-end RB1 even against
the Browns’ porous run defense who have given up 100-plus
total yard days to individual running backs in five of their past
six games. Freeman and Booker, however, are not fantasy options
other than in extremely deep leagues.
Game Thoughts: The Falcons have struggled against the
pass this season, allowing 256.0 passing yards per game. They
have also allowed 27 passing touchdowns, while recording only
nine interceptions this season. With that being said, Josh Rosen
is only averaging 173.6 yards and 0.9 touchdown on 28.6 pass attempts.
He has struggled in nearly every game this season, and he’s
a bad fantasy option at this point in his career.
Larry Fitzgerald is the only receiver that should be considered
for Arizona. He lacks upside because of Rosen, but he has scored
double-digit PPR fantasy points in six of his last seven games.
Trent Sherfield also saw seven targets last week, but he simply
isn’t playing enough to be considered at this point.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: David Johnson is currently questionable
this week, but he makes a great option in this matchup. On the
season, Johnson is averaging 88.5 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on
20.2 touches (3.3 receptions) per game. He has been more involved
in the passing offense recently and Atlanta is one of the worst
defenses in the NFL against running backs in the receiving game.
Atlanta is also allowing 131.2 rushing yards per game and have
allowed 15 touchdowns on the ground this season, as well. If Johnson
is out, Chase Edmonds will make a great option.
Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan has found plenty of success
this season, averaging 313.5 yards and 2.2 touchdowns on 38.6
pass attempts per game. He’s also averaging more yards and
touchdowns per game at home this season. He gets a matchup against
the Cardinals, who are allowing only 211.0 passing yards per game.
Arizona has allowed only 17 touchdowns, while recording six interceptions
this season, as well. The only real concern for Ryan would be
limited pass attempts in a blowout.
Julio Jones has been an elite option for the Falcons, averaging
7.2 receptions for 109.9 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 11.1 targets
per game. He has struggled at times at home, and will be shadowed
by Patrick Peterson, who is one of the best cornerbacks in the
NFL. Calvin Ridley has performed well at home this season, but
he hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to be considered,
especially in a game that could quickly turn into a blowout. Mohamed
Sanu is averaging 3.9 receptions for 49.0 yards and 0.2 touchdowns
on 5.4 targets per game. Sanu could see a few extra targets with
Peterson lining up against Jones, and Sanu is a fairly consistent
option, although he lacks upside. Austin Hooper has also found
success in Atlanta this season, totaling 30 receptions for 291
yards and three touchdowns on 38 targets in seven games. He’s
a strong tight end option this weekend but has missed practice
this week with an ankle injury. Check his status on Sunday before
setting your lineup.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: Tevin Coleman has been struggling recently,
but he’s averaging 63.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 13.0
touches (2.4 receptions) per game. He could see an extended role
in a potential blowout this weekend. Arizona has also struggled
against the run, allowing 139.5 rushing yards per game. They have
also allowed 18 rushing touchdowns on the season making this is
an ideal matchup for Coleman.
Buccaneers @ Ravens
- (Swanson) Line: BAL -7.5 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: Jameis Winston is quietly having his best
fantasy season as a pro since joining the league as the first
overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft. Winston’s 24.3 fantasy
points per game is a full three points per game better than in
previous years, and his eight-game pace would have him posting
career highs in yards (4,300), completion percentage, and rushing
Winston will find it difficult to match his season average in
fantasy points this week on the road against the Baltimore Ravens,
a team that ranks seventh in fewest fantasy points over the previous
five weeks. Only Andy Dalton in a flukey Week 2 performance with
the Ravens down their best cover cornerback has reached more than
two passing touchdowns in a game against Baltimore. And only two
quarterbacks, including Patrick Mahomes last week, have thrown
for over 300 passing yards.
Interceptions have always been a problem for Winston. Despite
playing in only eight games, Winston is tied with Cam Newton,
Josh Rosen, and Mitchell Trubisky for the second-most interceptions
in the league (12), just two behind Sam Darnold for the most in
Although Baltimore is tied for second for the fewest interceptions
as a defensive unit, they excel at putting pressure on opposing
quarterbacks and forcing poor throws, especially at home at M&T
Bank Stadium. The Ravens allow the fewest points per play in the
league while ranking second behind New Orleans in time of possession.
Look for the Ravens to force Winston into making ill-advised throws
and turnovers, while the offense runs a methodical run-heavy attack
to shorten the game and dominate time of possession.
Due to the question marks surrounding Winston and his ability
to move the ball against the Ravens, the skill position players
on Tampa Bay are also questionable starts. Mike Evans is no longer
getting elite targets that made him a must-start in previous seasons
(just under seven targets per game over the last five contests),
and cornerback Jimmy Smith will blanket him most of the game.
One area that teams have found success against Baltimore is targeting
tight ends. A tight end has reached the end zone in four of the
last five games against the Ravens, making Cameron Brate an interesting
touchdown-dependent option in 12-team leagues.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: One of the reasons why Winston may struggle
against the Ravens is the lack of balance provided by the Tampa
Bay ground attack. The Bucs as a team rank dead last in fantasy
points scored by RBs, with just 851 rushing yards and five touchdowns
between Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, Shaun Wilson, and Ronald
Conversely, Baltimore ranks first in allowing the fewest points
to opposing running backs. Without a running threat to worry about
defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be able to focus more
on getting pressure on Winston and disguising coverages.
If you own Peyton Barber, you can start him with the glimmer
of hope that he may get a fluky rushing touchdown, but expecting
a ton of yards or a multi-touchdown game is not likely.
Game Thoughts: Lamar Jackson will make his fifth start
of the season at quarterback for the Ravens despite Joe Flacco
returning to the team after missing four games with a hip injury.
The Ravens are 3-1 with Jackson under center, with wins over Cincinnati,
Oakland, and Atlanta.
Jackson has been fortunate in that the four opponents in the
games he has started rank in the bottom quarter of the league
in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and running
backs. The first round pick from Louisville has made the most
of those each matchup, averaging 23 points per game and just over
80 yards rushing per contest.
Jackson’s fortunes continue this week against a Buccaneer
defense that ranks in the bottom-eight in fantasy points to all
skill position players, including the fourth-most points to opposing
The downside of Jackson starting at quarterback is the massive
hit to the skill position weapons for Baltimore. Michael Crabtree,
Willie Snead, and John Brown no longer are start-worthy based
on the low volume of passes in the Ravens passing game. Sure,
one of the receivers may catch a sporadic touchdown here or there,
but the downside of a goose egg or two catches for 20 yards is
just as likely.
The quad of tight ends that the Ravens employ also creates a
quagmire that fantasy owners should avoid at all costs. Just when
Mark Andrews or Hayden Hurst appears to be gaining fantasy value,
Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle sneak in for a touchdown vulture.
The bottom line is that Lamar Jackson is the only player you should
consider playing in the Baltimore passing game, and his matchup
this week at home against the Bucs makes him a low-end QB1 play.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: The Ravens are equally confounding with
regards to running backs, with four tailbacks working in the mix
for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg. Just when we all
thought Gus Edwards would take over as the bell cow back on first
and second down Kenneth Dixon returns to the team and runs well
against the Chiefs. The team also loves to use Ty Montgomery in
passing downs, taking value away from both Edwards and Dixon.
Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Tuesday that Dixon
continues to impress with his plays in practice and will likely
get more carries against the Bucs. Of the two early down backs,
it appears that the Gus Bus experience may be running out of gas.
Edwards shouldn’t be dropped, but starting him this week
may present a frustrating result if Edwards receives fewer than
Lions at Bills
- (Katz) Line: BUF -2.0 Total: 39.5
Game Thoughts: I can’t remember a time when Matthew
Stafford played worse. With Golden Tate gone and Marvin Jones
on IR, the Lions passing attack has become a fantasy wasteland.
Stafford has long belonged on waiver wires, having thrown for
zero scores in three of his last six games and just one in two
of them. Recently, Kenny Golladay should have joined Stafford
on waivers as this passing attack is so anemic that it cannot
support even a single fantasy viable WR. Golladay will be covered
by Tre’Davious White this week. The Bills elite shutdown
corner allows just .24 fantasy points per snap, third fewest in
the league. Bruce Ellington has 30 targets over his last four
games, but is not turning them into anything helpful with no more
than 52 yards in a single game. The Bills have been the league’s
top pass defense, allowing a league low 186 yards per game. With
the Lions also on the road, stay away from anyone involved in
this passing attack.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: has no business being in the NFL. He is
arguably the worst RB currently on an NFL roster. Hopefully, last
week was a sign of change as Zach Zenner was receiving the bulk
of the carries later in the game over LeGarrette Blount. All Zenner
does is produce when given the chance, yet the Lions have spent
years pushing talentless players like Blount and Ameer Abdullah
ahead of him. Either way, it is way too risk to trust Zenner this
week, even with Kerryon Johnson remaining sidelined with his MCL
injury. Theo Riddick comes with a safe PPR floor, but we know
how low his ceiling is with touchdowns being highly unlikely and
his rushing game involvement minimal. The one area where the Bills
rank slightly below average is in defending RBs out of the backfield,
which makes Riddick a viable floor option.
Game Thoughts: Step aside Lamar Jackson, the real cheat
code is in Buffalo and his name is Josh Allen. The Bills rookie
QB has eclipsed 200 passing yards in each of his last two games,
which is really all he needs to be a QB1 while supporting it with
100 yards on the ground for the third consecutive game (okay,
the first game was 99, but I’m counting it). Allen put up
20 fantasy points last week despite throwing two interceptions
while failing to throw for a touchdown. The only reason Allen
is viable is because of his running ability so even though the
QB is useful, you aren’t interested in Zay Jones, Robert
Foster or Isaiah McKenzie. Yes, that is really the Bills trio
of WRs. The Lions struggle defending the run so expect the Bills
to try and pound the ball at home on the ground and use Allen’s
mobility, rather than have him air it out.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy is dealing with hamstring
injury, but practiced on Thursday and looks poised to play on
Sunday. While the Lions have struggled to defend the run, they
are only allowing 13.5 FPts/G to opposing RB1s. The Bills offense
is not potent enough to generate any ceiling plays and Josh Allen’s
rushing ability hasn’t translated into any extra space for
McCoy. If you’ve made it this far, you did so without McCoy.
Don’t change now.
Packers @ Bears
- (Swanson) Line: CHI -6.0 Total: 45.0
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers set the NFL record for most
completions without an interception last week against the Falcons,
as Green Bay beat Atlanta 34-20 at Lambeau Filed. The record is
an impressive feat and a testament to the greatness of Rodgers.
Unfortunately, Rodgers’ impressive streak does not make
up for the fact that he has been a supreme disappointment for
fantasy owners as the No.14 QB in points per game.
In a season in which Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt
Ryan, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees are posting massive numbers,
Rodgers has just to games of more than two passing touchdowns,
and he has topped 300 passing yards only three times. Perhaps
most shocking is the fact that Rodgers has failed to reach a mere
200 passing yards three times.
Rodgers outlook does not look like it will change this week with
a road matchup against a Bears defense that held the Rams to a
pair of field goals and Jared Goff to negative fantasy points
last Sunday Night.
Only Rodgers Week 1, Tom Brady, and Brock Osweiler have thrown
for three touchdowns this season against the Bears, and three
opposing quarterbacks failed to throw at least one passing touchdown
against Vic Fangio’s defense in 2018.
The primary reason why Rodgers will likely struggle to put up
elite fantasy points this week is the poor pass protection provided
by the Green Bay offensive line against the stout pass rush of
Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, and Khalil Mack. Under interim head
coach Joe Philbin last week the Packers opted for a quick pass
attack to negate the pass rush of the Falcons, which is one reason
why Rodgers threw for a pedestrian 196 passing yards.
Davante Adams continues to be an elite wide receiver, and a must-start
regardless of the matchup based on his impressive ability to find
the end zone against even the best cover corners. Adams and DeAndre
Hopkins are the only two wide receivers this season to post double-digit
points in every game this season. Outside of Adams, the receiving
options for the Packers should be considered questionable starts
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: It was thought by many in the fantasy
community that the firing of former head coach Mike McCarthy would
finally result in Aaron Jones taking over as the bell cow running
back for the Packers. Jones did receive 17 of the 21 rushing attempts
for the Packers against the Falcons, posting 106 total years and
a touchdown on 20 touches, but Jamaal Williams was still a factor
in the game for his perceived prowess in pass protection.
The Packers will look to establish the run with Jones this week
against the Bears to take the pressure off Rodgers and the passing
game, and to slow down the Chicago pass rush. Unfortunately, the
Bears excel in run defense and Jones will likely struggle to put
up fantasy points like is owners have come accustomed to over
the past five games.
Only the Ravens have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing
running backs than the Bears, and only three players have reached
the end zone rushing the ball vs. Fangio’s front seven.
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is a big reason why the Bears are
so stout against the run, with Hicks plugging up the middle of
the offensive line to allow speedy linebackers Roquan Smith and
Danny Trevathan shutting down outside zone and off tackle runs.
On the injury front, the Bears lost starting slot cornerback
Bryce Callahan to a broken foot last week against the Rams. Look
for Rodgers to try to exploit the loss of Callahan by targeting
Jimmy Graham and Randall Cobb on quick passes out of the slot.
Game Thoughts: Mitchell Trubisky returned to the field
last week after missed two games with a shoulder injury. Although
the Bears won their home matchup against the Rams, Trubisky did
not look sharp, overthrowing wide receivers for a pair of ugly
interceptions, while making more than a few questionable decisions
on throws against the Rams secondary.
Trubisky threw for just 110 yards and one passing touchdown,
with three interceptions and 16 completions on 30 attempts. It
was the third time in the previous four games in which the second
year quarterback failed to throw for more than 165 yards, making
him somewhat of a questionable start this week in the fantasy
At times this season, Trubisky has looked like a fantasy stud
with a three-game stand from Weeks four through seven in which
he averaged 38 fantasy points per game and well over 300 passing
yards. But he has been dreadful dating back to Week 11 and continues
to be one of the most inconsistent fantasy quarterbacks in the
With four rookies starting on defense, including cornerbacks
Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander, and a slew of injuries on the
defensive line and in the secondary, it is impressive that the
Packers rank 23rd in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Mike Pettine’s defense has held five opposing quarterbacks
to fewer than 20 fantasy points and three opposing quarterbacks,
including Mitchell Trubisky Week 1, to zero passing touchdowns.
Although the unit continues to deal with injuries, especially
in the defensive line, Green Bay presents a difficult matchup
for Trubisky as he tries to pull out of his funk and return from
his shoulder injury.
One positive for the Bears is the fact that the Packers defense
allows nearly ten more points per game on the road than at home.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson did not practice on Wednesday due
to a hip injury. Head coach Matt Nagy told reporters today that
Robinson missing practice was more of a maintenance day than anything
and that Robinson will be ready to go against Green Bay.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Howard is high on a short list
of early round busts for fantasy owners this season. If you are
lucky enough to still be alive in the playoffs with Howard and
his 3.6 yard per carry and 8.6 fantasy points per game average
on your team you should pat yourself on the back for doing a solid
job with waiver claims and trades.
After posting two consecutive seasons of at least 1100 rushing
yards and seven touchdowns, Howard has just five total touchdowns
through 13 games and will most likely not reach the century mark
in rushing yards for the first time in his career.
Backfield mate Tarik Cohen is the better fit for Matt Nagy’s
offense, and the player fantasy owners should consider starting
this week. Cohen Ranks 16th among running backs with 1,063 total
yards and six touchdowns, and his 63 receptions rank sixth in
With 26 targets in his last three games and nine or more fantasy
points in seven of his last ten contests, Cohen is a strong start
in all formats and a borderline RB1 in full PPR leagues.
Game Thoughts: Fantasy football owners who survived the
madness of Week 14 and advanced to the semi-finals hopefully have
better options at quarterback than Derek Carr against the Bengals.
To make it this far in the season likely means you already have
your quarterback situation secure, along with your other skill
position players and D/ST.
But for owners in very deep leagues and two quarterback formats,
Carr against the lowly Bengals is not the worst play this week.
Over the past three weeks, the much-maligned former second-round
pick from Fresno State ranks just outside the top 12 among quarterbacks
with 22.5 points per game, well ahead of other widely owned players
like Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees,
and Aaron Rodgers.
Carr has not thrown a pick since Week 5 against the Chargers,
and he has thrown at least two touchdowns in three of his last
four games. With difficult road matchups for Rodgers at the Bears
and Jameis Winston taking on the Ravens in Baltimore, Carr may
be a safer play this week against a Bengals defense that ranks
first in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and just
over 30 points per game to the opposition.
Jared Cook continues to be a strong start as Carr’s favorite
receiving option in the offense. Although defending the tight
end is the only thing the Bengals do relatively well on defense
(10th in point allowed), seven different tight ends have reached
the end zone this season, including two different Cleveland Browns
two weeks ago. Cook ranks fourth in targets at the tight end position
over the past five games, while trailing only Travis Kelce, George
Kittle, and Zach Ertz in yards over that span. With the Bengals
likely to find success moving the ball against the Raiders defense,
this game could be a sneaky shootout and Cook could be a top 3
play this week.
Another player to consider starting as a flex in deeper plays
is wide receiver Jordy Nelson. The former Packer has been very
active as of late with 16 catches on 18 targets over the previous
two games after missing time with a leg injury. Nelson has not
scored since Week 5, but his increased volume makes him an intriguing
option for owners hurting at WR.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Say what you will about Jon Gruden and
the unusual moves made by the Raiders front office this season.
One move that actually looks pretty smart in hindsight is the
addition of veteran running back Doug Martin. As the change of
pace and eventual injury replacement for Marshawn Lynch, Martin
has been surprisingly effective for both the Raiders and fantasy
Over the past five games, Martin ranks 26th among running backs
in fantasy points per game, ahead of Dalvin Cook, Adrian Peterson,
and Sony Michel. Martin’s streak of at least one rushing
touchdown in each of the last three games has provided an excellent
floor as a low-end No. 2 or flex running back in the critical
final weeks of the fantasy football regular season.
Owners who have trusted Martin this season should continue to
roll with him this week against Cincinnati, a team that is downright
awful against running backs. Thirteen opposing tailbacks have
reached at least 10 fantasy points this season vs. the Bengals,
and six of those players posted monster games of at least 20 points.
Simply put, it is always a good idea to start your running backs
against Cincinnati, even older backs playing in subpar offenses
like Doug Martin.
Game Thoughts: In two starts for the injured Andy Dalton,
Jeff Driskel has yet to throw for over 240 yards against the Broncos
and Chargers, and he has not thrown for more than one touchdown
in any game this season. To make matters worse for the journeyman
backup, stud wide receiver A.J. Green was placed on injured reserve
two weeks ago and will not play again this season.
Like his counterpart on the Raiders, Driskel is not someone that
should be started on many playoff teams, as one would hope that
teams who made it past the first round have better options on
Sunday. For those owners in two-quarterback leagues, or leagues
with 14 or more teams and deep benches, this week’s home
matchup against the Raiders is about as good as it gets for Driskel.
We all know that the Raiders stink, with Jon Gruden and company
setting their sights on an early draft pick in 2019. But what
many people may not know is just how bad the Raiders have been
open a per reception basis to opposing tight ends and wide receivers.
Oakland allows the fewest receptions to wide receivers this season
(132), better than the Cowboys, Jags, Colts, Ravens, and even
Yet with those 132 receptions, opposing teams have been incredibly
efficient with 19 touchdowns and 1,853 yards. Teams don’t
pass on the Raiders because it is just as easy to run the ball,
and when teams do pass on Gruden’s defense, finding the
end zone has been quite easy. By comparison, the Cowboys have
allowed 67 fewer fantasy points to opposing WRs despite allowing
four more receptions.
A favorite breakout candidate in the fantasy community earlier
in the season, tight end C.J. Uzomah did not materialize into
the weapon many anticipated with Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft
out for the season. Volume has been the issue for the Uzi, but
that changed when Driskel took over for Andy Dalton. Uzaomah is
tied with Jared Cook for the fourth-most targets over the past
three weeks and could finally be a fantasy league winner this
week against the Raiders, a team that allows the most touchdowns
and points to opposing tight ends.
OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Second-year RB Joe Mixon continues to
be an excellent fantasy player despite the loss of his starting
quarterback and stud win receiver. As one of the better pass-catching
backs in the league, Mixon supplements his rushing totals with
a healthy baseline of receptions and has totaled over 100 total
yards in each of the last three games.
Mixon found success against the Chargers, Broncos, and Browns,
leading me to feel confident that he will also be successful this
Sunday against the Raiders. 12 running backs in 13 games have
scored at least 10 fantasy points against Paul Gunther’s
defense, including monster games from Nick Chubb, Melvin Gordon,
Marlon Mack, and Todd Gurley. Not only to the Raiders rank in
the bottom quarter in stopping the run, but they also can be beaten
through the air on receptions by tailbacks.
Cowboys @ Colts
- (Bales) Line: IND -3.0 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: Dak Prescott has been enjoying a solid
season, but he has caught fire over his last three games. Over
that span, he’s averaging 331.0 yards and 2.0 touchdowns
on 37.7 pass attempts. He has also added 42 yards and one touchdown
on the ground. He gets a tough matchup against the Colts who are
allowing 242.0 passing yards per game. They have also allowed
only 19 passing touchdowns, while recording 11 interceptions.
Prescott could be throwing the entire game, though, as it projects
to stay close throughout.
Amari Cooper has been the receiving beneficiary of Prescott’s
big numbers. In those games, he’s averaging 8.7 receptions
for 157.7 yards and 1.7 touchdowns on 10.0 targets per game. The
Colts have allowed only one WR1 game on the season, making this
a terrible matchup for Cooper. Michael Gallup has quietly been
posting solid numbers recently, totaling nine receptions for 100
yards over the last two games. Over that span, he has seen 16
targets, as well. He likely shouldn’t be used outside of
difficult situations, but he’s worth noting. Blake Jarwin
is coming off of a 7/56 line on seven targets, but he has struggled
for the most part this season and that’s unlikely to change
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott has been one of the best
running backs in the NFL, and he’s matchup proof. On the
season, he’s averaging 135.7 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on
25.6 touches (5.0 receptions) per game. He has recorded five or
more receptions in each of his last five games, and he has scored
20+ fantasy points in each. The Colts are allowing only 102.9
rushing yards per game and have also allowed only 10 rushing touchdowns
in 2018. Even with the tough matchup, Elliott makes an elite option.
Game Thoughts: The Cowboys have featured one of the best
passing defenses in the NFL, allowing only 227.0 passing yards
per game. They have allowed 19 passing touchdowns, while recording
eight interceptions, as well. Andrew Luck has been a consistent
QB1, averaging 289.2 yards and 2.6 touchdowns on 40.8 pass attempts
per game. Even in a tough matchup, Luck makes a great option,
as he should see enough volume to be valuable in Week 15.
T.Y. Hilton (ankle) should spend a bit of time across from Byron
Jones, which is one of the worst matchups in the NFL. With that
being said, he is averaging 5.6 receptions for 89.6 yards and
0.6 touchdowns on 8.9 targets per game. Similarly to Luck, he’ll
be a volume play this weekend. Eric Ebron is the other player
in the receiving group that should be considered. He’s playing
a major role in the offense, and he has totaled a 58/654/13 line
on the season. Over the last three weeks, Ebron is averaging 6.3
receptions for 63.7 yards and 1.0 touchdown on 10.3 targets. The
way to attack Dallas is with the tight end, making Ebron an elite
option on this slate.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: Dallas has also featured one of the best
run defenses in the NFL this season. They’re allowing only
86.8 rushing yards per game, while allowing only seven touchdowns
on the ground. Dallas could potentially get Sean Lee back, making
their defense that much more dangerous. Marlon Mack has found
some success, averaging 68.4 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on 14.6
carries per game. This is an awful matchup for Mack and he needs
to be bumped down the rankings this weekend.
Game Thoughts: The Jaguars are allowing only 204 passing
yards per game this season. They have also allowed a league-low
15 passing touchdowns, while recording 10 interceptions. Josh
Johnson will draw the start for the Redskins making this is a
situation to completely avoid. He threw for 195 yards and one
touchdown, while adding 45 yards and one touchdown on the ground
in limited action last week, but Jacksonville will be preparing
for one of the oddest signings of the season.
Josh Doctson (concussion) and Jordan Reed (toe) are expected
to miss this game, and there isn’t much to like about Washington’s
passing attack with Johnson under center. Jamison Crowder and
Vernon Davis come with some value based on potential volume, but
neither should truly be considered on this slate.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: Adrian Peterson has only seen 20 touches
over the last two weeks, and there’s no reason to believe
he’ll have more value in this matchup. Chris Thompson makes
the better option at running back because of his big play and
receiving abilities. With that being said, neither make elite
options in what should be a defensive game. Jacksonville has allowed
120.4 rushing yards per game and 14 rushing touchdowns this season,
Game Thoughts: The Redskins are allowing 258.0 passing
yards per game this season. They have also allowed 23 passing
touchdowns, while recording 13 interceptions in 2018. Cody Kessler
attempted 43 passes last week, totaling 240 yards and one touchdown.
That’s virtually his ceiling and he still struggled as a
fantasy option. He isn’t a player to use at this point.
Kessler’s limitations at quarterback will limit the success
of the Jacksonville receivers. Dede Westbrook is the best of the
group, as he posted a 7/88/1 line on 10 targets last week. He’s
far from a great option, though. Donte Moncrief also saw 10 targets
and could be a volume-dependent option, but there’s very
little reason to believe the Jacksonville passing attack will
find much success against this defense.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette is averaging 81.5 yards
and 0.8 touchdowns on 20.0 touches per game through six games.
He has scored 20+ fantasy points in three of his four games since
returning from injury. Fournette gets a matchup against Washington,
who is allowing 112.3 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed
11 rushing touchdowns in 2018 and he could see a plethora of touches
again in this matchup.
Dolphins @ Vikings
- (Swanson) Line: MIN -7.5 Total: 44.5
Game Thoughts: Although he is not someone who fantasy
owners would want to start in the playoffs in anything other than
perhaps two-quarterback leagues, Ryan Tannehill has been a decent
fantasy quarterback this season, including 26.6 fantasy points
on 265 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Patriots.
Tannehill has more three-touchdown games than Aaron Rodgers despite
playing in only eight games in 2018, and he has scored more fantasy
points over the last three weeks than Rodgers, Russell Wilson,
Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers.
Despite these favorable stats, owners should consider benching
Tannehill for more attractive options this week with the Dolphins
heading on the road to take on the Vikings. Not only does Minnesota
allow the fifth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, but Tannehill
also suffered an ankle injury against the Patriots last week and
will likely have limited mobility on Sunday.
Tannehill’s return from injury has proven to be a massive
boost to the fantasy value or wide receiver Kenny Stills. Over
the past two weeks, Stills has 12 catches for 182 yards and two
touchdowns after failing to post a game of more than 40 receiving
yards dating back to Week 4 in New England. Stills clearly is
a favorite target for Tannehill and should be considered a low-end
No.3 wide receiver in deep leagues even in this tough matchup
against the Vikings.
With Tannehill’s mobility likely limited, an interesting
matchup to watch will be the matchup between the pass rushing
specialist Danielle Hunter against the tackles of Ja’Wuan
James and Laremy Tunsil. Miami ranks in the middle of the pack
at 17th overall in sacks allowed, but stopping Hunter and his
fellow pass rushing lineman Everson Griffin will be critical for
Miami to upset the Vikings.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: At age 35 Frank Gore continues to prove
his doubters wrong with 708 rushing yards on 151 carries, with
124 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown on 12 receptions.
In limited work alongside Kenyon Drake, Gore has averaged more
yards per carry that Alvin Kamara, James Conner, Adrian Peterson,
David Johnson, Sony Michel, and Dalvin Cook. He is not flashy
and continues to be the bain of existence for Drake owners everywhere,
but there is no doubt that he has been a solid contributor to
the Dolphins this year.
Although he does not get a bellow workload, Drake has been a
solid low-end No.2 running back this season. His 10.5 fantasy
points per game ranked 25th among running backs, and his nine
total touchdowns are the same as Ezekiel Elliott and Aaron Jones.
Look for both players to be very active on Sunday against a Vikings
team that is surprisingly bad against the rush this season after
allowing the fewest points to opposing running backs in 2017.
You can run on Minnesota and reaching the end zone against Mike
Zimmer’s team is no longer an impossible task. Head Coach
Adam Gase will heavily feature both players on Sunday to control
time of possession and limit the number of possessions for Kirk
Cousins and the Minnesota offense.
Game Thoughts: The Vikings moved on from offensive coordinator
John DeFilippo after Monday Night’s loss to the Seahawks.
Although DeFilippo’s calls were certainly questionable at
times, especially his play calls on third and short, he is not
the only reason why the Vikings offense has struggled over the
The offensive line is doing a horrible job of protecting quarterback
Kirk Cousins, and Cousins by his own right is not making correct
reads or accurate throws.
The $84-million man that the Vikings added this offseason ranks
21st among quarterbacks over the past five weeks with 20.3 fantasy
points per game. Lamar Jackson, Nick Mullens, and his opponent
in this game, Ryan Tannehill, all rank higher than Cousins over
that span despite the fact that the three players combined earn
less than Cousins does from his monster free-agent contract.
Cousins’ struggles have a direct effect on his receiving
skill position players, with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen ranking
11th and 16th respectively over the last five games. Thielen was
the top fantasy wide receiver and on pace to break the all-time
single season reception record at the midway point of the season,
only to taper off significantly with single-digit performances
in four of his previous five games.
On a positive note for fantasy owners of Cousins, Diggs, and
Thielen, a get-well game at home against the Dolphins is exactly
what the doctor ordered in the semi-finals of the fantasy playoffs.
No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks
since Week 12, with Andrew Luck, Josh Allen, and Tom Brady each
posting 30 or more fantasy points. With stud cornerback Xavien
Howard week-to-week after undergoing a minor knee procedure, the
Dolphins are very weak at cornerback, and the Vikings should be
able to exploit that weakness with both Diggs and Thielen.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners who drafted Dalvin Cook
in the late first or early second round of fantasy drafts likely
missed the playoffs. But for those who managed to keep the ship
afloat and survive the opening round, Cook might just be a week-winning
stud this week against Miami at home.
Cook appears to be healthy, the coaching staff continues to get
him more involved, and Miami allows the seventh-most fantasy points
to running backs. Over the last three weeks, Cook ranks 16th among
running backs with 12.8 fantasy points per game, with 265 total
yards and three touchdowns. Cook should be viewed as a low-end
RB 1 this week and started with confidence.
Titans at Giants
- (Katz) Line: NYG -2.0 Total: 43.5
Game Thoughts: Marcus Mariota is coming off a very quiet
game where he didn’t really have to do much because of a
man we’ll get to in a moment. You’re obviously not
starting Mariota in the fantasy semifinal, but Corey Davis is
certainly worth returning to your lineups after a week trapped
with Jalen Ramsey. The Giants only allow 13.2 fantasy points per
game to opposing WR1s, but the Titans really don’t have
anyone else. Jonnu Smith’s season ended with a sprained
MCL last week. Tajae Sharpe is not a good receiver. Taywan Taylor
should be great, but the Titans don’t use him properly or
nearly enough. The Giants also allow a league low 7.7 fantasy
points per game to receivers out of the slot. It’s Davis
or bust for this passing game.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: I think it goes without
saying that you should obviously be starting Derrick Henry over
guys like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey.
No? That’s not a good idea? You could’ve fooled me
after the reactions from people who had Henry on their bench last
week as if anyone could have foreseen Henry breaking Chris Johnson’s
single game Titans rushing record. Please do not go chasing last
week’s points. I know how frustrating it is to stare at
that 50 spot on your bench, but Henry hadn’t topped 58 yards
all season prior to last week. It was a random occurrence buoyed
by putrid tackling and multiple splash plays. Henry won’t
even rush for 50 yards this week. That doesn’t mean you
should go back to Dion Lewis, either. Mike Vrabel can’t
seem to make up his mind regarding his running backs, which makes
both difficult to trust. With the Titans small road underdogs,
that likely means a little more Lewis as they shouldn’t
be milking a lead. Despite Henry’s massive performance,
he still played just 40% of the snaps last week against 63% by
Lewis. The Giants are seventh in the league against opposing RBs
out of the backfield so that’s another strike against Lewis.
The most likely scenario is that Lewis and Henry eat into each
other’s workload enough to sap the other’s value.
Game Thoughts: Eli Manning went full Russell Wilson last
week with a sub 200-yard performance and three touchdown passes.
Manning should be asked to do a little more this week as the Titans
are actually starting a real life NFL QB under center. Manning’s
three touchdowns from last week were just his second three touchdown
game of the season. It sure looks doubtful that Odell Beckham
Jr. will return from his quad injury. With the Giants somehow
clinging to the most far-fetched of scenarios in which they can
grab the second wild card spot at 8-8, Beckham at least has some
incentive to play if he can, but I’m not optimistic.
With Beckham out, it will be Sterling Shepard who benefits from
a Titans secondary allowing 17.9 fantasy points per game to opposing
WR1s. One Giant you don’t want to touch is Evan Engram.
Even with Beckham out, Engram still played just 52% of the team’s
snaps and the Titans allow a league low 5.1 fantasy points per
game to TEs. While it’s fair to project a bit of a bump
in a game that is actually competitive, Engram is just not being
treated like he matters in this offense.
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley rushed for 78 yards on one
carry last week. Normally, this is the part where I tell you how
inefficient he was on his other 13 carries. But Barkley is not
Adrian “one carry for 90 yards and eight carries for 8 yards”
Peterson. Barkley added 92 yards on his other 13 carries. It was
his most efficient game of the season as he didn’t see the
field much after halftime with the game noncompetitive. The Titans
are strong against opposing RB1s, but who really cares? Barkley
is already one of the five best RBs in the league and locked into
massive volume. I suspect there are many Barkley owners in the
semifinal and he’s ready to carry you into a final.
Seahawks at 49ers
- (Caron) Line: SEA -3.5 Total: 44.0
Game Thoughts: We figured that Russell Wilson would probably
have a tough time producing a high-end fantasy day in Week 14,
but even the most skeptical of fantasy analysts couldn’t
have predicted that he’d only complete 10 passes for 72
yards against the Vikings. He did buoy his fantasy day with 61
rushing yards - his second-highest total of the season - but Wilson
looked terrible throwing the ball and that has to be a concern
as we go deeper into the fantasy playoffs. Doug Baldwin missed
the Monday night game which really cost some fantasy owners and
David Moore was held catchless for the second straight week, which
makes both of them serious question marks heading into this weekend’s
Tyler Lockett, on the other hand, continues to defy the odds
and score touchdowns at a rate that most of us would consider
to be completely unsustainable. Lockett now has nine touchdowns
on the season on just 49 receptions and continues to be a fairly
reliable WR2. The ceiling isn’t particularly high due to
his lack of total targets, but he’s someone who probably
needs to be in lineups given how efficient he’s been in
the red zone.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: He remains practically a complete non-factor
in the passing game, but if Chris Carson continues to get as many
carries as he has, there’s almost no way that he doesn’t
finish as at least a high-end RB2 for fantasy. Carson carried
the ball 22 times for 90 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’
Week 14 victory over the Vikings and he has now touched the ball
at least 15 times in each of his past four games. That type of
consistency is very difficult to come by but as long as Rashaad
Penny and Mike Davis remain afterthoughts in the running game,
Carson will be a solid fantasy contributor, especially in non-PPR
Game Thoughts: With 746 total yards passing in Weeks
14 and 15, no quarterback has thrown for more yards than San Francisco’s
Nick Mullens over their past two games. Mullens has shockingly
done this without Pierre Garcon and with a banged up Marquise
Goodwin and Dante Pettis as his top wide receivers. The player
who he’s been most connected with, however, is tight end
George Kittle who absolutely exploded this past week, catching
seven passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. Kittle has truly emerged
as one of the elite, must-start tight ends in all of fantasy football
and easily San Francisco’s best player, but he does have
a bit of a tough matchup this weekend against the Seahawks and
their seventh-ranked fantasy defense against tight ends. Kittle
did catch six passes for 70 yards when these teams played just
two weeks ago, however, so it would be surprising if he didn’t
turn in another solid fantasy day at home against this same defense.
We know Kittle’s a must-start but the under-the-radar breakout
star for the 49ers over these past few weeks has been Pettis,
who has now caught four touchdowns in his past three games, including
the two-touchdown, 129-yard day he had against the Seahawks in
Week 13. Pettis is nursing a foot injury and has been limited
in practice this week but he’s expected to play and would
be a good Flex option for those looking for a potential boom game.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: Running back Jeff Wilson made his debut
in Week 14 and immediately got a heavy workload that made him
a decent enough fantasy option despite his low yards per carry
average. Wilson rushed for just 90 yards on 23 carries, but the
real disappointment was that he caught just one pass for eight
yards. We warned fantasy owners that he wouldn’t likely
need to catch as many passes against the Broncos as he did in
against this Seahawks defense Week 13, but he’s facing Seattle
again this week in what could end up being another significant
negative game-script situation. If the 49ers do find themselves
behind on the scoreboard again, look for Wilson to be involved
in the passing game to the tune of five or more receptions, which
makes him a viable low-end RB2 or Flex play in PPR formats.
Also keep an eye on running back Matt Breida who continues to
be quite limited in practice due to an ankle injury but could
end up being active in this game. If Breida plays, this is probably
a backfield to avoid entirely as there would almost certainly
be some sort of a committee in what is already a relatively low-upside
Patriots @ Steelers
- (Swanson) Line: NE -2.5 Total: 52.0
Game Thoughts: Tom Brady and the Patriots head to Heinz
Field on Sunday to take on the Steelers just one week after giving
up a last-second game-winning touchdown to the Dolphins in the
Miami Miracle. The shell-shocked Patriots continued to downplay
the loss all week, claiming that they moved on to the Steelers
and their focus now is on beating Big Ben and the Steelers this
It remains to be seen how the Patriots will respond and whether
or not there will be a hangover. Brady is 8-2 in 10 matchups against
Pittsburgh in his career, with a 111.8 passer rating to go along
with 25 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
The ageless one currently ranks 16th in fantasy points per game,
just a half point per game worse than Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers,
and Philip Rivers. Although Brady will all off the pace of his
best fantasy years as in 2007 and 2001, he has been playing well
as of late with at least 20 points in each of his last three games,
including 30.2 points last week in the loss at Miami.
But Brady and the Patriot offense has been a much better team
at home than on the road this season, while the Steelers defense
is much better at limiting points to opposing quarterbacks at
home (at least to those not named Patrick Mahomes). New England
averages a full ten points fewer on the road than in the friend
confines of Gillet Stadium, although the Patriots do own a five-game
win streak against Big Ben and the Steelers.
The matchup that is most attractive in the Patriots passing game
is Julien Edelman lined up in the slot against Steelers linebackers.
Unless they change their scheme and learn from the butt kicking
the Chargers and Keenan Allen gave them last week, look for Edelman
to be featured extensively against slower and less agile Steeler
linebackers like Bud Dupree. This logic also applies to James
White out of the backfield.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: The Patriots as a team rank third in fantasy
points scored by running backs. On face value that stat sounds
great for fantasy owners, but the truth is Bill Belichick, and
the Patriot coaching staff keep fantasy owners and their opponents
guessing who will score points and who will be featured.
Earlier in the year when Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel went out
with injuries we all thought Kenyon Barner would get the first
and second down carries. Instead, Belichick used wide receiver
Cordarrelle Patterson as the primary running back for a few games.
With Sony Michel back from a knee injury fantasy owners were
thrilled with the chance of goal line carries against Minnesota,
Miami, and the Jets. Of course, that did not go as planned, with
goal line vulture James Devlin scoring three rushing touchdowns
in the last two games.
In the past five games, the Steelers allow the 10th-most points
to opposing running backs. Once again that sounds great for Patriot
fantasy running backs, but guessing who will score those points
is often an exercise in futility. James White’s snap count
last week fell to just 40% after going as high as 80% in Week
8, and Rex Burkhead returned to take 20% of the snaps in each
of the last two games.
If forced to choose who leads the team in receptions out of the
backfield it will be White, a player that the Patriots often turn
to when playing against teams with strong pass rushes like the
Steelers. Michel should have value on first and second downs,
and perhaps at the goal line as long as the Devlin vulture doesn’t
Game Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger is not part of the
NFL MVP race with Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees putting up record
numbers. But from a fantasy perspective, we all should give Big
Ben more credit as a fantasy MVP based on the impressive season
he has delivered in 2018.
With 27 fantasy points per game, Roethlisberger is four full
points better this season than his career best in 2014 when he
threw for a career-high 32 touchdowns. He is on pace for to set
personal bests in passing yards (5,200), passing touchdowns (35),
and has already tied his own record of three rushing touchdowns.
Perhaps the best aspect of Roethlisberger’s season is how
consistent he has been. He has scored fewer than 20 points in
just one game this year and has yet to play a game without throwing
for at least 250 yards and a touchdown.
All of the passing skill position players on the Steelers are
above average plays and should be started in what could be one
of the highest scoring games of the week. Antonio Brown and JuJu
Smith-Schuster are almost matchup proof when playing at home,
and the Patriots defense that allows the 14-most points to opposing
QBs and 20th to opposing WRs is not a team to avoid.
If you buy into the clichéd narrative that Bill Belichick
will attempt to stop the primary weapon for the Steelers, then
the team will look to double team Antonio Brown outside with Stephon
Gilmore and safety Devin McCourty. But doing so will put a ton
of pressure on Jonathan Jones in the slot against Smith-Schuster.
An area in which the Patriots have struggled this season is the
tight end position, with Eric Ebron, Trey Burton, and Jimmy Graham
each posting solid games against New England. If Belichick does
look to stop Brown, the tight end combination of Vance McDonald
and Jesse James could be in for a big day.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: Although head coach Mike Tomlin has not
yet ruled out James Conner from returning to the field after missing
last week with an ankle injury, it is likely that Jaylen Samuels
and Stevan Ridley will once again man the running back duties
for Pittsburgh. Ridley did get a goal line carry for a touchdown
against the Raiders, but the primary work and the majority of
snaps were taken by Samuels.
The Patriots rank seventh in fantasy points allowed dating back
to Week 10. All three running backs for the Dolphins last week
scored in double figures, including Brandon Bolden in the ultimate
revenge game (eye-roll). New England has played well at times
against the run, but on the road against a dynamic offense like
the Steelers will likely be a tough task for the Patriot run defense.
Assuming Conner is out again, fire up Samuels as a high-end No.2
RB with the upside of a monster game. Ridley is also an interesting
flex option in very deep 14 team leagues, but he will likely once
again get only a few short yardage carries.
Eagles @ Rams
- (Caron) Line: LAR -11.5 Total: 52.5
Game Thoughts: It was reported on Thursday that Philadelphia
quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing with a fractured vertebrae
and may end up sitting out the remainder of the 2018 season. We
saw this late in 2017 when Wentz suffered a season-ending ACL
injury which led to Nick Foles stepping in and making an unlikely
run to become a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The Eagles have
not yet officially ruled Wentz out, but either way this is a serious
blow to the fantasy potential of everyone in this passing game.
Foles, while admittedly a Super Bowl champion, was not particularly
effective from a fantasy standpoint in the games he played in
2017 and he hasn’t played much since that point. A downgrade
from Wentz to Foles would almost certainly knock Alshon Jeffery
down from being a WR2 for fantasy to more of a Flex play. Even
tight end Zach Ertz would be downgraded a tick, although his role
in the Philadelphia offense and the relative lack of competition
at tight end makes him a much safer play for fantasy purposes.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this one, but the Rams are
not a team that you want to be headed on the road to play against
without your starting quarterback. Los Angeles has forced an average
of over an interception per game from opposing quarterbacks and
potential quarterback-to-offensive line miscommunication could
be a major problem when trying to defend the likes of Aaron Donald.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: With more than 20 carries in both Weeks
12 and 13, Josh Adams’ sudden drop off to just seven total
touches in Week 14 was shocking and potentially crushing blow
for fantasy owners as he produced just 36 total yards on offense.
Instead, the return of Darren Sproles has made things difficult
for Adams as he was out-snapped by the veteran pass-catching back
by a total of 24 snaps to 20. Of course, the Eagles found themselves
behind the Cowboys on the scoreboard for most of the evening and
that played a big part in the play calling, but that is probably
likely to happen yet as the Eagles head on the road to Los Angeles.
Assuming the Rams get close to back on track offensively and
the Eagles are without Wentz who is dealing with a back injury
and might get shut down, there’s a real chance that the
Eagles fall behind multiple scores early in this game, which would
almost certainly make Adams a non-factor for fantasy purposes.
Sproles, on the other hand, sees a significant upgrade in PPR
formats if Philadelphia is playing from behind. He’s one
of the best pass-catching backs in the history of the league and
could realistically see double-digit targets in this one. Still,
his upside is capped due to his lack of actual rushing attempts,
so he’s more of a Flex play in PPR formats.
Game Thoughts: We knew that the Rams offense wouldn’t
always be as effective as it has been these past two seasons,
but none of us could have predicted the type of collapse that
we saw from them in Week 14 against the Bears. Sure, Chicago’s
defense has proven to be elite this season but four interceptions
with no touchdowns from Goff? Negative fantasy points from a starting
quarterback who played the full game?! Inconceivable! Still, it’s
one week and it’s something we need to be able to look beyond
if we want to make a run at a fantasy football championship. The
Eagles could find themselves in some tough spots offensively which
would presumably give solid field position to the Rams offense,
which is something they are well suited to take advantage of.
Even after his disastrous Week 14 performance, Goff has still
thrown 27 touchdown passes on the year with just 11 interceptions
and he’s given fantasy owners six games of 20 or more fantasy
points. Robert Woods has remained reliable from a PPR standpoint
even through Goff’s recent struggles, so he’s again
a borderline WR1 in a game the Rams should win. Cooks is also
a borderline WR1 although his struggles are a bit more concerning
as he has not been able to get much going these past two weeks.
Josh Reynolds remains a DFS option for those looking for a cheap
piece of this Los Angeles offense, but should not be relied on
in seasonal formats.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: It was his first non-double-digit PPR
fantasy day of the 2018 season and it came in a game where his
quarterback threw four interceptions, so I think we should be
willing to give Todd Gurley the benefit of the doubt and return
him to the top of our fantasy rankings here in Week 15. While
their seasonal rankings against running backs look great, the
Eagles have actually struggled mightily against the position in
the second half of the season. In fact, since Week 5 the Eagles
have given up nine different 14-plus point PPR fantasy days to
opposing running backs. Gurley, being fantasy football’s
most-prized commodity, is in line for another huge day, especially
if the Eagles offense struggles as it very well might be given
the quarterback situation. It can be tough to forgive a player
when they disappoint you, but this is one of those times when
you just need to bite the bullet and trust the guy who’s
brought you this far.
Saints vs Panthers
- (Bales) Line: NO -6.5 Total: 51.5
Game Thoughts: The Panthers have allowed 255.0 passing
yards per game this season and have also allowed 28 passing touchdowns,
while recording 11 interceptions. Drew Brees has been one of the
best quarterbacks in the NFL, averaging 266.4 yards and 2.4 touchdowns
on 31.9 pass attempts per game. Brees has been a significantly
better option at home this season, which is a major concern. With
that being said, this game should quickly turn into a shootout
and Brees makes a top option on the slate.
Michael Thomas has struggled in a few games this season, but
he has looked outstanding overall. Through 13 games, he’s
averaging 7.9 receptions for 93.7 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on
9.1 targets per game. He’s coming off a big game against
the Buccaneers, and this is another plus matchup for Thomas. Surprisingly,
Thomas is the only receiver for the Saints that should be considered,
and their tight ends have been splitting snaps, limiting the value
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: Carolina has featured a dominant run defense,
allowing only 97.8 rushing yards per game this season. They have
allowed 11 rushing touchdowns, though. Alvin Kamara has been their
best running back, averaging 106.5 yards and 1.2 touchdowns on
18.7 touches (5.4 receptions) per game. While he has been struggling
a bit more recently, Kamara makes an outstanding option and is
game script proof because of his versatility. Mark Ingram has
struggled quite a bit this season, but he has also flashed quite
a bit of upside. Overall, he’s averaging 72.8 yards and
0.7 touchdowns on 14.0 touches per game. Ingram is touchdown dependent,
and this game is expected to score plenty of points.
Game Thoughts: Cam Newton has been an elite fantasy option
for the majority of the season. In 2018, he’s averaging
251.1 yards and 1.9 touchdowns on 34.0 pass attempts per game.
Newton is also averaging 36.4 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on the
ground adding to his weekly floor. He gets an elite matchup against
the Saints, who are allowing 271.0 passing yards per game. They
have also allowed 24 passing touchdowns, while recording 11 interceptions.
As mentioned above, this game should feature plenty of scoring,
and Newton is a major part of this offense.
D.J. Moore has seen a bigger role for the Panthers recently,
as he has seen 8+ targets in each of his last four games. In those
games, he’s averaging 6.0 receptions for 89.8 yards and
0.3 touchdowns on 8.3 targets. Curtis Samuel has also taken over
as a significantly bigger part of the offense in those games,
as well. Over that span, he’s averaging 4.3 receptions for
6.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 7.0 targets. Ian Thomas has taken
over for an injured Greg Olsen, and he quietly makes a great option
at tight end. Over the last two weeks, he has totaled 14 receptions
for 123 yards on 16 targets.
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey is as matchup proof
of a running back as there is in the NFL. On the season, he’s
averaging 125.1 yards and 1.0 touchdown on 20.4 touches (6.6 receptions)
per game. McCaffrey is also averaging 7.6 targets per game. He’s
been playing at an elite level and will continue to see plenty
of volume this weekend. The Saints are allowing a league-low 77.6
rushing yards per game, although they have allowed 10 rushing
touchdowns this season. McCaffrey has multiple ways to score fantasy
points, meaning the tough matchup likely won’t be able to
slow him down.