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Inside the Matchup
Week 17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Justin Bales

Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:



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

Dolphins at Bills - (Katz)
Line: BUF - 4.5
Total: 39.5

Passing Game Thoughts: There is something about Week 17’s finality that compels coaches of teams that have been out for weeks to throw in the towel on playing starters. With that being said, Adam Gase indicated Ryan Tannehill will start so it looks like the Dolphins will be playing this out. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much for fantasy as not a single member of the Dolphins passing attack is fantasy relevant. The Bills allow a league low 183 passing yards per game and even in a noncompetitive loss last week, they held Tom Brady to 126 yards and picked him off twice. Avoid all Dolphins.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: So much for the Kalen Ballage hype. The rookie played just 30% of the snaps last week compared to a season high 85% for Kenyan Drake. Both backs failed to produce for fantasy owners, but at least Drake was on the field and touched the ball 10 times. The Bills only allow 4.2 yards per carry, but they have allowed 17 rushing scores. If a Dolphins’ RB is going to score this week, it will likely be Drake. There are certainly worse flex plays.

Value Meter:
Flex: Kenyan Drake
Bench: Ryan Tannehill, Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, Kalen Ballage

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh Allen attempted a season high 41 passes last week, but he couldn’t even complete half of them. Allen’s 20 completions were a career high, but he only rushed for 30 yards and Allen isn’t any good in fantasy unless he productive on the ground. He rushed for 135 yards and threw two touchdowns (and two picks) the last time he faced the Dolphins, so there’s reason for optimism. As for his receivers, between Robert Foster, Zay Jones, and Isaiah McKenzie, Allen won’t be throwing enough this week to support more than one, which means you’re guessing and hoping for a splash play.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy is officially mailing it in. He played just 51% of the snaps last week, while Keith Ford played the other 49%. This is easily the worst season of McCoy’s career and I really think it has everything to do with the team as he still has some gas left in the tank. Miami’s run defense is dreadful, allowing 4.8 yards per carry, but McCoy was unable to exploit them back in Week 13 when he rushed for just 52 yards on 13 carries. Although, to be fair, that was McCoy’s fourth highest single game rushing total this season. McCoy is not being used in the passing game either, averaging just 2.5 catches per game. With the prospect of the offseason looming, it wouldn’t surprise me to see more Ford than McCoy this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen (low end)
Bench: LeSean McCoy, Robert Foster, Zay Jones, Isaiah McKenzie

Prediction: Bills 20, Dolphins 16 ^ Top

Lions @ Packers - (Swanson)
Line: GB -8.0
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford and the Lions head to Lambeau Field to close out a disappointing 2018 season against their divisional rival Packers. The former first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft finished the fantasy regular season with the worst fantasy point per game average of his 10-year NFL career, with just 19 passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions to go along with a career-worst 3511 passing yards.

In a season filled with monster fantasy performances from Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Andrew Luck, Stafford enters Week 17 as the No.35 ranked quarterback behind subpar QBs like Case Keenum, Sam Darnold, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Tannehill.

You can make a strong argument that the loss of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones hurt Stafford’s ability to move the ball, and the injury to running back Kerryon Johnson negated a promising running game that would have taken pressure off the passing game. But a close examination of Stafford’s game film revealed a quarterback who made questionable decisions with the ball and one who was very inaccurate. It also doesn’t help that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s scheme was rudimentary at best, often putting Stafford and the offense behind the eight ball before ever taking the field.

Owners playing in their championship in Week 17 should not consider playing Stafford in anything other than the deepest of two-quarterback leagues, as Stafford has just three total passing touchdowns in his last five games while failing to post a single touchdown in two of his previous three.

The only positive this season that came out of the mess in Detroit was the emergence of Kenny Golladay as the new No.1 receiving option for Stafford. The second-year player finished the 16-game fantasy regular season as the No.19 WR in total fantasy points, with 70 receptions for 1063 yards and five touchdowns. He is the only player worth starting this week in the Lions passing game and should convert his massive target share (15 targets last week against the Vikings) into a floor of around eight catches for 75 yards.

Golladay did not take part in practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable with multiple ailments. Be sure to keep an eye on Sunday’s injury report regarding his status against the Packers.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: It may surprise some readers to know that the Lions enter the final week of the NFL regular season with more fantasy points scored at the running back position that the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings. The much-maligned Lions run game has been fairly effective this season, but for fantasy purposes, the use of multiple running backs marginalized the value of any one player as a viable fantasy option.

Rookie Kerryon Johnson flashed brilliance at times with two 100-yard rushing performances in the middle of the season, including 158-yards on 19 carries against the Dolphins in Miami. A knee injury cut Johnson’s season short and opened the door for Zach Zenner to get carries in the final four games of the year.

Zenner has a rushing touchdown in two of the last three games and could be an interesting flex option in deeper leagues. Over the past five games, the Packers have allowed the 13th-most points to opposing running backs, including 85 total yards and two touchdowns to Elijah McGuire of the Jets last week. Zenner is not much of a pass-catching option out of the backfield, with Theo Riddick working as the primary receiving back for Stafford, but the Packers have allowed four rushing touchdowns in the past three games, making Zenner an interesting low-end flex play in deeper leagues.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matthew Stafford (Low-End)
RB3: Zach Zenner (Low-End)
WR1: Kenny Golladay (Low-End)
TE: None

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers rode a huge 45.3 fantasy point performance last week to vaultover Jared Goff and Drew Brees to finish the 16-week fantasy regular season as the No.6 ranked fantasy QB behind Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Deshaun Watson, and Andrew Luck. Although the consensus No.1 QB entering the season was a disappointment for fantasy owners for the majority of the season, his 24 FPts/G would have put him as a top-5 player most seasons and was a higher average than what he posted in three out of the last four years.

The fantasy landscape has changed with Mahomes and the high flying Chiefs. It will be interesting to see how Rodgers and the Packers will evolve with a new coaching staff to try to keep pace.

Although the Lions have been fairly strong limiting opposing quarterbacks to the 11th-fewest points over the final five games of the fantasy regular season, Rodgers should be considered a high-end play as he plays at home against a divisional rival at Lambeau. Rodgers roasted the Lions for 442 yards and three touchdowns on a hobbled knee when the two teams faced off Week 5 at Ford Field.

2018 proved to be the coming out party for Davante Adams as an elite fantasy wide receiver, with the former 2014 second-round pick from Fresno State posting career-highs in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns.

Adams sits just 134 receiving yards short from passing Jordy Nelson for the Packers single-season receiving record. Look for Rodgers to pepper his favorite target often as the two will make it a point to try and set a new mark for the team. Adams has publicly said it is something that he wants and hopes that Rodgers will help him achieve, but he worries about jinxing it by bringing it up in interviews.

Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay will be charged with covering Adams on Sunday. Adams posted 140 yards with a touchdown on nine catches when the two players faced off earlier in the season and has a history of success against Slay.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: Jamaal Williams proved to be a league-winning waiver wire claim with a touchdown in each of his final two games of the fantasy playoffs, including 156 total yards and a score against the Jets last week.

Williams is making the most of his opportunity with fellow second-year back Aaron Jones out with a knee injury. Not only has Williams found success running the ball against the Bears and the Jets, but he also has over 100 yards receiving in Weeks 15 and 16.

The Lions present a formidable challenge for the Packers ground attack as the No.24 ranked run defense over the past five games. The addition of Damon Harrison in the middle of the defense line shored up what was one of the worst run defenses in the first half of the season. With that said, Williams should be started in all formats and viewed as a high-end RB 1 this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Mid-Range)
RB1: Jamaal Williams (High-End)
WR1: Davante Adams (Elite)
WR3: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Low-End)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (Low-End)

Prediction: Packers 30, Lions 14 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Texans - (Bales)
Line: HOU -6.5
Total: 40.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Texans have quietly struggled against the pass, allowing 272.0 passing yards per game this season. They have allowed 28 passing touchdowns, while recording 14 interceptions, as well. Blake Bortles will be inserted back into the starting lineup this week, and has posted a few great fantasy games, while struggling most of the season. His touchdown totals have been low, but he has thrown for over 300 yards in four games. Bortles also comes with hidden rushing potential, making him a boom or bust option in this matchup.

Dede Westbrook has been the top option for the Jaguars receiving group, averaging 4.2 receptions for 47.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 6.3 targets per game. He struggled against Houston in their first matchup (4-17-0), but he has been a solid option for the majority of the season. Donte Moncrief is the other receiver that can be considered here, although he has struggled recently. Jacksonville doesn’t feature any tight ends that should be considered.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: It’s tough to know who will get playing time at running back this week, but the matchup is difficult for anyone. Houston is allowing only 86.2 rushing yards per game, while also allowing only eight rushing touchdowns. Leonard Fournette (ankle, foot) will be their top option if he’s healthy, but he missed practice on Thursday. If he’s out, Carlos Hyde will likely take the early down work, while T.J. Yeldon, who was inactive last week, would play the passing back role. Outside of Fournette, this may be a situation to avoid.

Value Meter:
QB2: Blake Bortles (mid-range)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (if healthy)
WR3: Dede Westbrook

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jaguars have featured one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, allowing only 194.0 passing yards per game this season. They have also allowed only 17 passing touchdowns, while recording 11 interceptions. Deshaun Watson has performed well this season, averaging 262.1 passing yards and 1.7 passing touchdowns per game. He has also totaled 485 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He struggled in his only matchup against the Jaguars (139-1-0), and Watson could see limited attempts again if Houston gets out to an early lead.

DeAndre Hopkins has looked outstanding in 2018, averaging 6.9 receptions for 95.0 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 9.8 targets per game. He’s expected to be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, but Hopkins posted a 3/50/1 line on eight targets in their first matchup. Keke Coutee is currently questionable, and he comes with upside if he’s active. If he’s out, DeAndre Carter will be thrust into another major role. In his last game, he posted a 6/61 line on seven targets. He could struggle to find value in this matchup, though.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller has quietly performed well this season and needs only 83 rushing yards to top the 1000-yard mark. Overall, he’s averaging 70.5 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on the ground this season. He adds some receiving potential, as well. Jacksonville has struggled at times against the run, allowing 115.7 rushing yards per game. They have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns this season, as well. Alfred Blue and D’Onta Foreman will split the backup carries, and neither should be considered in this game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson (low-end)
RB2: Lamar Miller (mid-range)
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins (high-end)
WR3: Keke Coutee (if healthy)

Prediction: Texans 17, Jaguars 10 ^ Top

Jets at Patriots - (Katz)
Line: NE -13.5
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Has Sam Darnold arrived? Just under 600 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions over his last two games suggests he just might have. Darnold missed the last game against New England, but you can bet he’s motivated to knock the Patriots out of a bye. He will try and do so by continuing to target Robby Anderson, who has seen 24 passes come his way over the past two weeks and has a touchdown in three straight. Anderson will be one of the more reliable options in the final week of the NFL season. The Patriots have allowed 29 passing touchdowns this season and are heavy home favorites, which means Darnold will be airing it out a lot.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Elijah McGuire also has a touchdown in three straight games. He had two last week, adding a second one through the air. McGuire is the primary back and he is going to touch the ball at least 18-20 times. He’s seen at least four targets each of the past three weeks, which means negative game script won’t adversely affect him. The Patriots allow 53 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs. On a week where a bunch of the league’s best players typically sit, McGuire is one of the stronger plays.

Value Meter:
QB1: Sam Darnold (low end)
RB2: Elijah McGuire (mid range)
WR2: Robby Anderson (mid range)
Bench: Chris Herndon, Jermaine Kearse

Passing Game Thoughts: I’m not sure what more to say about Tom Brady. He will do what’s necessary to win this game and lock up the bye, but that may not be much. Brady has nine passing touchdowns over his last eight games and has thrown four picks in his last four games. He threw for 126 yards last week and hasn’t been a trustworthy fantasy option all season. Julian Edelman has double digit targets in three straight games and is extremely safe. Last week’s 6-70-1 line was bolstered by a complete nonsense touchdown where Edelman was tackled, but managed to roll over the defender and continue to run for the score. Neither Chris Hogan nor Rob Gronkowksi caught a pass last week making them difficult to trust. The Jets allow 255 passing yards per game, which is below average, but the Patriots are no longer an elite offense.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Sony Michel had a great fantasy day last week, but that doesn’t mean you can confidently start him. Michel was actually last in snaps played amongst Patriots RBs at just 31%. Rex Burkhead played 33% and James White led the team with a whopping 39% snap share. The projected game script seems to point to Michel, but the Patriots led the Bills wire to wire last week and Michel played the fewest snaps. It would be great to exploit the 4.6 yards per carry the Jets allow to opposing rushers, but neither you nor I have any clue which running back will benefit.

Value Meter:
QB2: Tom Brady (high end)
WR2: Julian Edelman (mid range)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (low end)
Flex: Sony Michel
Bench: James White, Rex Burkhead

Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 20 ^ Top

Panthers @ Saints - (Bales)
Line: NO -7.5
Total: 43.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Kyle Allen was ESPN’s QB1 in the 2014 recruiting class. He then went on to be an undrafted free agent, signing with the Carolina Panthers. He obviously has arm talent, although he simply didn’t develop the way scouts were hoping. This is a plus matchup, but it would still be unwise to expect Allen to produce QB1 stats. In Allen’s favor is the Saints defense that is allowing 269.0 passing yards per game, while also allowing 28 passing touchdowns this season. Furthermore, New Orleans has only recorded 12 interceptions in 2018.

The Panthers receivers are likely going to be limited with Allen at quarterback. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are both big play threats, who will see the majority of the targets from Allen. They do come with quite a bit of upside because of the matchup and their ability to score from anywhere on the field but are risky plays given the uncertainty at quarterback. Ian Thomas has found success since the injury to Greg Olsen, but New Orleans has been an elite defense against the tight end, lowering his stock, even in a game that could turn into a shootout.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: New Orleans has featured an elite run defense, allowing a league-low 78.1 rushing yards per game this season. With that being said, they have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey has been overworked throughout the season, and he may be given the week off. If he’s starting, he’ll make an elite play, as he’s averaging 128.3 yards and 0.9 touchdowns on 21.4 touches (7.1 receptions) per game. If he’s out, Cameron Artis-Payne will likely take on somewhat of a workhorse role. He won’t be a great option though, and this offense could struggle without McCaffrey.

Value Meter:
RB1: Christian McCaffrey (elite, if starting)
WR3: D.J. Moore (boom or bust), Curtis Samuel (boom or bust)
TE2: Ian Thomas
Bench: Kyle Allen

Passing Game Thoughts: The Panthers have struggled at times against the pass, allowing 249.0 passing yards per game. Carolina has also allowed 31 passing touchdowns, while recording only 12 interceptions. Drew Brees is expected to start this game, but he’ll likely only play a couple drives. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to take over for Brees and there are some rumblings that Taysom Hill could potentially play some snaps as quarterback, as well. Bridgewater makes the best option of this trio, but they somewhat steal value from each other. Still, Bridgewater should play the majority of the game, and does come with some upside.

Michael Thomas has been an elite option this season, but he’s likely to get some rest in this game. Furthermore, Ted Ginn Jr. recently returned from injury, and New Orleans will likely give him rest in preparation for the playoffs. Tre’Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood will likely be the top receivers for the Saints this week. Kirkwood is a bit more consistent than Smith, but Smith has the tools to take over as the number one receiver this week. He comes with tremendous upside, but this offense comes with quite a bit of uncertainty given the musical chairs at quarterback. Dan Arnold will likely play the majority of the tight end snaps, and he makes a sneaky option if you’re in a tough spot at tight end.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: The Saints are a tough team to predict, but Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will both likely see limited snaps this weekend. That leaves Dwayne Washington to take over as the top running back. Zach Line could potentially see some work, as well, but this is a tough matchup for any running back. Carolina is only allowing 108.0 rushing yards per game, although they have also allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this season. Similarly to the Panthers, this offense could struggle with backups in.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater (high-risk)
WR3: Tre’Quan Smith (high-risk), WR3: Keith Kirkwood
Flex: Dwayne Washington
TE2: Dan Arnold

Prediction: Saints 24, Panthers 17 ^ Top

Cowboys at Giants - (Katz)
Line: NYG -6.0
Total: 41.0

Passing Game Thoughts: With their win over the Bucs last week, the Cowboys clinched the NFC East and are locked into the four seed. Simply put, this game does not matter. Jerry Jones publicly stated that the team will play their starters, as he and Jason Garrett have typically done over the past near decade. Do you know how many times the Cowboys have actually played their starters in a meaningless game? Zero. If Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper play, it will be for a series or two at most. We will see plenty of Cooper Rush, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. The only name of interest this week is Michael Gallup, who could get a chance to showcase his talents as the team’s WR1 for a week. Other than that, this game is one of many serving as a prime example of why fantasy football ends in Week 16.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: I think it’s safe to play Rod Smith this week. He’s been just as efficient as Zeke when filling in and will get plenty of burn, potentially seeing a full Zeke sized workload. The Giants have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns this season. Smith averaged 12.48 FPts/G in games where Zeke was out. If the Cowboys end up playing their starters for more than a series or two, then they truly are clueless and it will come as a surprise to everyone, including Vegas.

Value Meter:
RB2: Rod Smith
Flex: Michael Gallup
Bench: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper

Passing Game Thoughts: The Giants will close out yet another lost season with Eli Manning at quarterback. Odell Beckham Jr. is not going to play so it will once again be the Sterling Shepard (hip) and Evan Engram show. Both players have performed quite well in Beckham’s absence and are two of the stronger plays at their respective positions this week given the amount of players resting. While some teams are motivated to play spoiler, the Giants winning this game does nothing to the Cowboys. However, the Giants haven’t been playing for anything for weeks, but have still appeared to put their best foot forward. If the Cowboys rest Byron Jones, Leighton Vander Esch, and some other defensive starters, Shepard and Engram could have a field day.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley will finish out his strong rookie season against a very different version of the team that held him to 28 yards on 11 carries back in Week 2. Barkley is a much better player than he was back then and the Cowboys will not be putting their best defenders on the field. It’s worth noting that Barkley caught 14 passes in that Week 2 game as well. Barkley can always volume his way to productivity, but if you want elite level production, he’s going to need the Cowboys to rest starters as the starting unit only allows 3.7 yards per carry and has allowed just 10 rushing touchdowns all season.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning (high end)
RB1: Saquon Barkley (elite)
WR2: Sterling Shepard (mid range)
TE1: Evan Engram (high end)
Bench: Odell Beckham Jr.

Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 13 ^ Top

Falcons @ Buccaneers - (Bales)
Line: ATL -1.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Buccaneers have struggled against the pass this season, allowing 251.0 passing yards per game. They have also allowed 31 passing touchdowns while recording only eight interceptions. Matt Ryan has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks this season, averaging 303.1 passing yards and 2.2 passing touchdowns per game. He has found more success at home, but he has also looked outstanding on the road and has found quite a bit of consistency over his last few games.

Julio Jones (hip) has been an elite option averaging 6.9 receptions for 102.6 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 10.5 targets per game. He’s leading the NFL in receiving yards and should finish this season with a big game provided he plays. Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu has been the more consistent secondary receiver, while Calvin Ridley comes with significantly more upside. Sanu is likely the slightly better option because of his consistency, but Ridley has the potential to hit his ceiling in this type of matchup. Austin Hooper has only seen three targets over the last two weeks. On the season, he’s averaging 4.4 receptions for 39.5 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 5.5 targets per game. He does come with some risk, but this is also a plus matchup for him.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Tevin Coleman (groin) has yet to practice this week, suggesting he may miss this game. Brian Hill would be thrust into the starting lineup if Coleman is out, and needed only eight carries to record 115 yards in his last game. This is a plus matchup for Hill, as the Bucs are allowing 124.9 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed 18 rushing touchdowns, making Hill a nice upside play in Week 17.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan (high-end)
RB2: Brian Hill (if Coleman is out)
WR1: Julio Jones (elite)
WR3: Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley (high-risk)
TE1: Austin Hooper (low-end)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jameis Winston has played in 10 games this season averaging 264.7 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns when on the field. He has struggled a bit over his last two games, but he faced two of the best pass defenses in the NFL (DAL,BAL). He gets a great matchup this week against the Atlanta Falcons, who are allowing 254.0 passing yards per game. They have also allowed 29 passing touchdowns, while recording only 14 interceptions.

Mike Evans has looked elite throughout the season, averaging 5.3 receptions for 94.5 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 8.7 targets per game. His targets have been a bit inconsistent, but he has totaled 19 targets over his last two games. Adam Humphries has quietly been enjoying a great season, totaling 71 receptions for 750 yards and five touchdowns on 99 targets. He has also recorded double-digit fantasy points in six of his last nine games. DeSean Jackson (Achilles) is expected to miss this game, thrusting Chris Godwin into a larger role. Godwin has struggled for the most part in that role, but has also flashed tremendous upside. He’s a boom or bust option in a plus matchup. Cameron Brate always comes with touchdown potential, but he’s nothing more than a boom or bust option after struggling to find a role in the offense over the last two weeks.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Atlanta has struggled against the run, allowing 127.1 rushing yards per game. They have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns this season, as well. Peyton Barber has been an uninspiring flex option most of the season, but he is averaging 18.7 touches per game over the last six weeks. Jacquizz Rodgers saw seven targets last week, but that looks like an outlier. He shouldn’t be considered, while Barber makes some sense as a volume play.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston (low-end)
RB2: Peyton Barber (low-end)
WR1: Mike Evans (high-end)
WR2: Adam Humphries
TE2: Cameron Brate (TD-dependent)
Flex: Chris Godwin (boom or bust)

Prediction: Falcons 31, Bucs 24 ^ Top

Browns @ Ravens - (Swanson)
Line: BAL -5.5
Total: 40.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The rookie season for Baker Mayfield has been a smashing success for both Browns fans and fantasy owners. The first overall pick in the 2018 NFL led Cleveland to an impressive 7-7-1 record through Week 16, while finishing the 16-week fantasy season as the No.19 ranked quarterback based on FPts/G.

Mayfield threw one fewer passing touchdown that Tom Brady in two fewer games, while completing nearly 65% of his passes and only posting 11 interceptions. General Manager John Dorsey made the smart move by passing on Saquon Barkey in favor of Mayfield, as it is clear that Baker will be the face of the franchise for the long-term and a foundation for the franchise to build around over the next decade and beyond.

Mayfield and the Browns would love nothing more than to play spoiler and knock the Ravens out of the playoffs with a win on Sunday. The Ravens, on the other hand, are intent on splitting the season series with the Browns and securing a wild card berth with a win at M&T Bank.

For fantasy purposes, the matchup against the Ravens is not attractive for any of the skill position players in the passing game, including Mayfield and wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins. Only the Bills have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the season, and the Ravens have given up just four total passing touchdowns in their last five games.

The same can be said for the success of the Ravens against wide receivers and tight ends. Baltimore is one of two teams to not allow a single receiving touchdown to opposing wide receivers over the past five games. In fact, you would have to go back all the way to a flukey short passing touchdown by John Brown of the Bengals in Week 11 to find the last time the Ravens gave up a TD to a wide receiver.

On a positive note for Mayfield and the Browns, veteran pass rush specialist Terrell Suggs missed practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury. His absence would be a huge blow for the Raven pass rush and a big boon for Mayfield’s ability to make deep pass completions.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Rushing Game Thoughts: In addition to posting strong numbers against wide receivers and quarterbacks, the Baltimore defensive unit continues to be a formidable front seven in run defense. Only James Conner of the Steelers in Week 9 reached the 100-yard plateau vs. the Ravens, and no opposing back has posted a multi-touchdown game against Baltimore this season.

With so much on the line for the Ravens and little but pride up for grabs for the Browns, one would assume that the Ravens will come out gangbusters on Sunday. This over aggressiveness could play into the hands of the Browns regarding blown coverages in the passing game but could make moving the ball on the ground for Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson difficult.

Chubb has been nothing short of amazing since taking over the starting running back role from Carlos Hyde in Week 7. The second-round pick from Georgia reached double digits in fantasy points in all but one week, while scoring a touchdown or reaching 100 rushing yards in seven consecutive games.

Based on the success of Baltimore’s run defense over the past five games it will be a challenge for Chubb to extend his streak to eight games. Fantasy owners will no doubt want to play Chubb regardless of the matchup, but expectations may need to be tempered a bit this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: Baker Mayfield (Low-End)
RB1: Nick Chubb (Low-End)
WR3: Jarvis Landry (Low-End)
WR4: Antonio Callaway (Low-End)
TE1: David Njoku (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Baltimore Ravens have won five of the six games started by rookie Lamar Jackson, with the only blemish to their record coming at the hands of the Chiefs at Arrowhead in Week 14. Although Jackson has thrown for more than 200 yards in a game just once and possesses only one multi-touchdown passing game, his elite rushing ability has him ranked just outside a QB1 in fantasy points per game over the past five weeks.

As one would expect of skill position players playing with a quarterback who throws as infrequently and inaccurately as Jackson, the value of the Baltimore passing game skill position players has completely disintegrated over the past month. No Raven wide receiver ranks in the Top 50 at the position since Jackson took over under center, and the crowded and unpredictable stable of four tight ends used by the team makes predicting who will have fantasy relevance all but impossible.

Based on the entire season stats the Browns look like a cupcake matchup for opposing quarterbacks with Cleveland allowing the 13-most points on the year to QBs. But when you look a bit closer, you will notice the Gregg Williams’ team has been quite stout over the past five games, limiting opposing QBs to no more than 265 yards or two scores in any game.

For owners who are still playing fantasy as the NFL regular season closes out, no player in the Ravens passing game should be considered a viable option other than Jackson. Baltimore will continue to use the run-heavy approach that got them to the brink of a playoff berth, and Jackson will only throw the ball in obvious passing situations and to keep Cleveland off balance.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Only the Patriots and the Seahawks have run the ball more than the Ravens over the past five games started by quarterback Lamar Jackson. Dating back to Week 12, the stable of running backs led by Gus Edwards have combined to rush for a whopping 702 yards on142 carries, while leading the league in time of possession.

It is not the most exciting approach, especially in the modern-day NFL where rules favor teams who pass the ball, but it has been successful, and the Ravens are just one win away from securing a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

Gus Edwards continues to be the primary running back for head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens, but his snap count continues to diminish with the return of Kenneth Dixon. After posting a season-high 62% of the snaps in Week 11, Edwards saw just 37% of the snaps last week against the Chargers.

After starting the season off as one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, Williams and the Browns run defense have turned it around since Williams took over as interim head coach, only Tennessee and New Orleans have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing RBs dating back to Week 12, and only Lamar Jackson of the Texans has reached triple digits in rushing yards during that span.

The Browns held Joe Mixon, Phillip Lindsay, and Christian McCaffrey in check (CMC did score two TDs,) and they will look to continue to play strong run defense against a Ravens offense that will look to run early and often.

Value Meter:
QB2: Lamar Jackson (High-End)
RB2: Gus Edwards (Mid-Range)
RB3: Kenneth Dixon (Low-End)
WR4: Michael Crabtree (Low-End)
TE2: Mark Andrews (Low-End)

Prediction: Ravens 20, Browns 17 ^ Top

Bears @ Vikings - (Swanson)
Line: MIN -4.5
Total: 40.5

Passing Game Thoughts: With the Bears locked in as the No.3 seed in the NFC playoffs and a move up to the No.2 spot unlikely with the Rams playing host to the 49ers, the Bears enter Sunday’s game against the Vikings as spoilers for their divisional rival.

A win by the Vikings would secure a berth in the playoffs as the No.6 seed and a future matchup in the wild-card round against the Bears at Soldier Field on January 5th. A loss would cost the Vikings a trip to the playoffs while giving the Eagles a chance to slide into the final spot with a victory over the Redskins.

Although he has said he will not rest starters, Chicago head coach Matt Nagy may limit the playing time of Bears skill position players in both the passing and rushing game, including quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, should the Rams go up early on the 49ers.

For this reason, starting a Bear skill position player in this game could be a risky proposition for owners playing in Week 17.

The Vikings have been the most difficult defense for opposing quarterbacks over the past five games, with Minnesota allowing a league-best 11.7 fantasy points per game dating back to Week 12. Zimmer’s defense held both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to just one passing touchdown apiece, while Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Matthew Stafford each failed to log a single passing touchdown or top 116 passing yards.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Running the ball and moving the football on the ground has proven to be the best way to attack the Vikings this season with Minnesota allowing the 8th-most points on the ground to opposing running backs.

Both Kalen Ballage and Chris Carson posted impressive performances against Mike Zimmer’s defense in the fantasy playoffs, with the former scoring 18.1 fantasy points on 123 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The success teams have found running the ball against Minnesota comes as a surprised based on how well Zimmer’s defense has fared against the run in previous seasons. In normal circumstances, fantasy owners would feel confident playing Tarik Cohen this week, but with the likelihood of the game on Sunday Night having no playoff implications for the Bears, it would make sense for the Chicago coaching staff to limit the number of touches for both Cohen and Howard.

DFS owners may want to consider giving Taquan Mizzell a shot if Cohen and Howard are in fact out of the lineup. Mizzell has just nine carries for 16 yards this season, but he has been a decent receiving back and could make a sneaky DFS start as a bargain barrel play.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (High-End)
RB3: Tarik Cohen (High-End)
RB4: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
WR2: Allen Robinson (Low-End)
WR4: Anthony Miller (Low-End)
TE2: Trey Burton (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The first year of the Kirk Cousins era of Minnesota Vikings football proved to be a mixed bag of strong fantasy performances and head-scratching duds. Cousins came out strong with two games of over 400 yards and three touchdowns in his first four games, only to throw for just one touchdown in three of his next four games.

Cousins finished the season as the No.9 fantasy quarterback with 22.8 fantasy points per game. If he throws for at least one passing touchdown on Sunday night against the Bears, he will reach 30 passing touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career. Although his 4166 passing yards is well off of his best season of 4917 in 2016, he is on pace finish with a 70% completion percentage for the first time.

At full strength, the Bear defense finished the 16-week fantasy schedule the top-ranked fantasy defense. The Bears allowed the third-fewest points, behind only the Ravens and Titans, while finishing with seven more interceptions than any other unit and the most total takeaways in the NFL (36).

The question is whether or not they will be at full strength for the entire contest in what could be a meaningless game on Sunday. While we don’t know how long the Bears will play their starters on both defense and offense, we do know that star safety Eddie Jackson will likely miss the game with an ankle injury. Jackson made his first Pro Bowl after posting 51 tackles, six turnovers, and three defensive touchdowns.

Although the Bears proved to be the best fantasy defense and lead the league in forced turnovers and defensive touchdowns, they are not impossible to score against, especially in the passing game. Stefon Diggs posted 13 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while Adam Thielen logged a respectable seven catches for 66 yards when the teams faced off at Soldier Field Week 11. With Dalvin Cook back at full strength and the Bears hurting in their secondary, it is likely that the skill position players for the Vikings will once again find success.

Kyle Rudolph’s 9/122/2 performance last week against the Lions is something that shocked many fantasy owners, as the veteran tight end has been one of the most disappointing tight ends this season. Rudolph had not reached pay dirt since Week 3 against Buffalo while failing to post more than 72 yards in any game in 2018. With tight end being such a wasteland this season it makes sense to plug in Rudolph with the hope of riding the hot hand, but it is just as likely for him to finish with just a few catches for 30 yards.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: On a positive note, second-year running back Dalvin Cook has been a fantasy stud over the past five weeks after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury. Cook ranks ninth in fantasy points per game over that span (15.5), with at least 100 total yards and a score in each of his last five contests.

On a negative note, the Bears have allowed the fewest points to opposing running backs this season and the second fewest number of touchdowns to RBs. Only a handful of players have managed to post big fantasy performances against defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense, including Cook and Latavius Murray Week 11, who combined to rush for 17 yards on 133 carries.

Despite his struggles earlier in the season against the Bears, Cook should be viewed as a solid No.2 running back this week in a must-win game for Minnesota.

Value Meter:
QB2: Kirk Cousins (High-End)
RB2: Dalvin Cook (Mid-Range)
WR2: Stefon Diggs (Low-End)
WR2: Adam Thielen (Low-End)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph (Low-End)

Prediction: Vikings 21, Bears 10 ^ Top

Raiders @ Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -13.5
Total: 52.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Raiders are coming off of a double-digit division win over the Broncos in Week 16, but their Week 17 matchup is much more difficult as they head on the road to face one of the league’s best teams, the Chiefs. There was once a possibility that the Raiders would end up playing the Chiefs’ backups but with Kansas City needing to win the game to secure the AFC West, the Raiders will get the full strength Chiefs in this matchup.

Quarterback Derek Carr put together his third-best fantasy game of the season when these teams played back in Week 13, but that was a game in Oakland. This one will be on the road and there’s no doubt that the Chiefs will be looking to bring a heavy pass rush to disrupt Carr and the Raiders passing game. Tight end Jared Cook remains the strongest fantasy option in the Oakland passing attack but he’s been limited in practice with injured ribs. It’s believed that he’ll be able to suit up but he might not be at full strength so don’t expect a repeat of his seven catch, 100-yard, one touchdown performance that he delivered against the Chiefs earlier this season.

The only other player in this passing game who should be considered for fantasy purposes is wide receiver Jordy Nelson who is actually putting together a decent run down the stretch. He had his highest-catch game of the season against the Chiefs in Week 13 when he hauled in 10 balls but he’ll definitely be game planned against differently in this contest so think of him as more of a WR3/Flex option.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Positive game script led to Doug Martin having his best fantasy game of the season this past week as he carried the ball a season-high 21 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was Martin’s first 100-yard game of the season. Martin did stumble his way to a decent fantasy game when the Raiders played the Chiefs in Week 13 as he carried the ball 18 times for 61 yards and a score, but that was also in a pretty competitive game in Oakland. This game in Kansas City isn’t expected to be particularly close and there’s a good chance that the Raiders are playing from behind for most of the afternoon. That scenario has been played out many times this season and it hasn’t often led to productive fantasy days for Martin. In fact, he’s been outscored fairly regularly in those types of contests by fellow backfieldmate Jalen Richard. Richard has only 52 carries on the season but it’s his team-leading 66 catches that make him a decent fantasy asset in PPR formats. He’s not worth a look in standard leagues but there’s a decent chance that Richard is the better fantasy player this week when it comes to PPR.

Value Meter:
RB2: Doug Martin (low-end, non-PPR)
TE1: Jared Cook
Flex: Jordy Nelson, Jalen Richard (PPR only)
Bench: Derek Carr, Seth Roberts, Marcell Ateman

Passing Game Thoughts: Patrick Mahomes will finish his historic 2018 regular season at home against a weak Oakland defense that he torched for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns back in Week 13. Mahomes also added a season-high 52 rushing yards in that game, though that isn’t exactly likely to repeat itself. While Peyton Manning’s all-time regular season passing touchdown record is out of reach at this point, Mahomes needs just two touchdown passes in this contest to reach 50 touchdown passes on the season - a feat that only been reached twice in NFL history, by the aforementioned Manning and Tom Brady. The Chiefs still have a lot to play for in this game so don’t expect them to let off the gas pedal unless the game gets completely out of control.

Mahomes remains one of the top options on the board, as does tight end Travis Kelce who is approaching the all-time single season receiving yardage record. Kelce hasn’t scored in two weeks but put up his strongest game of the season against this same Raiders defense when these teams played in Week 13 - a monstrous 12 catch, 168-yard, two touchdown performance.

The Chiefs’ other top weapon, Tyreek Hill, has also been blanked in the touchdown column as of late and he was actually held to just one catch for 13 yards earlier this season against Oakland. He was also noticeably slowed down with some sort of lower leg injury that he sustained during the Chiefs’ loss to the Seahawks last week, so there’s some concern that he will not be at full speed this week. Hill remains a WR1 for fantasy but be forewarned that the chances of an explosive game from him in this contest are lower than they typically are.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Running back Spencer Ware returned to practice in full this week but there’s a real chance that Damien Williams has played himself into a timeshare or even the lead back role in Kansas City. The Chiefs extended Williams’ contract this week which is a sign that they see him as a long-term contributor for the team and he’s been quite successful in Ware’s absence, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns while adding 13 catches for 111 yards and an additional score over the past two weeks. Both Ware and Williams are viable fantasy options this week, although the Chiefs have historically leaned heavily on their veterans under Andy Reid, even when it’s seemed obvious to outsiders that the younger player is a better option.

The Raiders defense continues to be one of the worst in football and they may end up down multiple scores in this game which would likely lead to plenty of work for the Chiefs running game, thus making both of these backs fantasy RB2s - unless we hear word that they’re favoring one player significantly over the other.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Spencer Ware, Damien Williams
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Chris Conley, Kelvin Benjamin

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Raiders 20 ^ Top

Bengals @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT -14.5
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jeff Driskel era has been lukewarm at best with the former Louisiana Tech quarterback throwing for fewer than 170 yards in each of his last three games. The mobile quarterback has yet to top 18 fantasy points in a game this season, and the rushing yards that we all expected based on his fill-in work against New Orleans Week 10 never materialized.

On a positive note, Driskel did throw for two passing touchdowns last week against the Browns, and he has just two interceptions in 153 pass attempts. But in all honesty, if you have made it this far and are still playing fantasy football, you have no business playing any passing game option for the Bengals this week in what is a must-win game for the Steelers.

The Steelers rank 15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season, just a few fractions of a point better than the 49ers, Rams, and Lions. Over the final five games of the standard 16-week fantasy season, Pittsburgh proved to be more susceptible to the pass as the No.12 ranked team in QB fantasy points. Phillip Rivers, Derek Carr, and Drew Brees either reached 300 yards or two passing touchdowns against Keith Butler’s defense, with Carr surprising everyone with 322 yards and two touchdowns in Oakland’s upset win over Pittsburgh in Week 14.

While it is certainly possible that Driskel could throw for two touchdowns again, there is little reason to believe he will all of a sudden post a monster yardage game based on the fact that he has yet to throw for more than 236 yards in an NFL game.

As the only real receiving threat for the Bengals with Tyler Boyd likely out again with a knee injury, John Ross does have some high risk/ high reward value in deeper leagues. You can also consider playing C.J. Uzomah based on the logic that the Steelers allow the 10th most points to opposing tight ends, and Uzomah was the leading receiving option for Driskel last week with 49 yards and a score against the Browns. But all of these options are risky at best, and the truth is Joe Mixon is the only Bengal who should be used for fantasy purposes against Pittsburgh.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: If you have Joe Mixon, you are starting him regardless of the matchup, as he is the only Bengal with fantasy value in what is a meaningless game for Cincinnati. Sure, you can buy into the spoiler narrative of Marvin Jones wanting to keep the Steelers out of playoff contention in what could be his final game with the team (thank goodness). But I tend to lean more to the narrative that the Bengals are already in Bermuda mentally, and the Steelers will steamroll their divisional foe in a one-sided game.

The Saints proved that you could run on the Steelers with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram each putting up solid fantasy performances last week in the Super Dome. Phillip Lindsay reached 101 yards and a score vs. the Steelers Week 12, and heck, even Doug Martin managed to post 14.2 points against the Steelers two weeks ago in Oakland.

Mixon finished the 16-week fantasy season as the No.9 ranked running back in terms of fantasy points per game, one spot behind Ezekiel Elliott and ahead of Marlon Mack, Chris Carson, and David Johnson. Although he burned many an owner last week with just 68 yards and zero touchdowns on 17 carries against the Browns, he will be eager to try and build upon his first 1000-yard season and try to reach 10 total touchdowns.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jeff Driskel (Low-End)
RB1: Joe Mixon (Low-End)
WR4: John Ross (Low-End)
TE1: C.J. Uzomah (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: In any other season that does not include Patrick Mahomes and the high flying Chiefs offense putting up crazy numbers, the stats that Ben Roethlisberger put up in 2018 would have made him the fantasy stud of the year. Roethlisberger averaged just under 27 fantasy points per game this season while topping the 400-point plateau for the first time in his career. Prior to this season, Big Ben’s best fantasy season was back in 2015 when he averaged 23.6 fantasy points.

One of the primary reasons why Big Ben found so much success this season was the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster as an elite second receiving option opposite of Antonio Brown. On any other team Smith-Schuster would be a WR1 and the main receiving threat, but on the Steelers, the second year player from USC has flourished in the slot and matched up against slot and No.2 cornerbacks.

Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history with six consecutive seasons of at least 100 catches while riding a monster 14/185/2 line in Week 16 to take over the top WR spot from Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams.

All three players are must-start options in what will likely be a one-sided bloodbath at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Steelers need this win and some help from the Browns to get in the playoffs, while the Bengals have nothing to play for other than the possibility of it being Marvin Lewis’ last game as head coach.

Only the Chiefs allowed more points to opposing quarterbacks than the Bengals in 2018, an injury beaten defense that just gave up 27.8 fantasy points to Baker Mayfield last week. Big Ben should have as many points or more this week, with Brown and Smith-Schuster being the primary beneficiaries of his passes.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Head coach Mike Tomlin believes that James Conner will return to the field on Sunday after missing the last few games with an ankle sprain. With Conner on the shelf, converted tight end Jaylen Samuels filled in admirably with 328 yards and a touchdown in three games while proving to be a league-winning asset in all leagues, including those fortunate enough to play him as a tight end in Yahoo leagues.

We do not know how much Conner will play, or how much Samuels will continue to work in as a change of pace and on passing downs. What we do know is the matchup could not be better against the Bengals, a team that gave up the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season, behind only the Arizona Cardinals.

If you have Conner, you are starting him, but just be wary of the fact that the Steelers will likely pull ahead early in this game and could use Samuels more in the second half.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (High-End)
RB2: James Conner (High-End)
RB2: Jaylen Samuels (Low-End)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Elite)
WR1: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Low-End)
TE1: Vance McDonald (Low-End)

Prediction: Steelers 34, Bengals 14 ^ Top

Eagles at Redskins - (Katz)
Line: PHI -6.5
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: I’m not saying that Nick Foles is better than Carson Wentz. I’m just saying that what if Nick Foles does it again? Food for thought. As for this week, Foles will lead the Eagles into Washington in a must win game with the hopes that the Bears keep the starters in long enough to pull off a victory over the Vikings, propelling the Eagles into the playoffs. I think we can put to bed the narrative that Foles doesn’t like Zach Ertz after he tied a season high with 16 targets last week. Alshon Jeffery took a backseat to both Ertz and Nelson Agholor, who came out of nowhere to catch five balls for 116 yards and a touchdown. Ertz went 9-83 the last time these teams played and is locked in as an elite TE play. Jeffery is also a solid option given that the Redskins allow 74.3 receiving yards per game to opposing WR1s. And Foles himself has to be considered a top 12 play after his four touchdown explosion.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: If you’ve already read this section for the Patriots, you know what’s coming. It’s the same situation in Philly. Darren Sproles led the team with a 46% snap count, followed by Josh Adams at 30% and Wendell Smallwood at 20%. You want no part of this timeshare even against a Redskins defense allowing 4.6 yards per carry. There is simply no way to predict who will end up producing, if anyone at all.

Value Meter:
QB1: Nick Foles (low end)
WR2: Alshon Jeffery (low end)
TE1: Zach Ertz (elite)
Bench: Darren Sproles, Josh Adams, Nelson Agholor

Passing Game Thoughts: The Redskins starting receivers are currently Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and Michael Floyd. Josh Johnson is playing quarterback but has yet to reach to 200 yards in a game. Johnson is running, with totals of 45, 49, and 22 in his three games, but this offense has nowhere near enough volume to support anyone. The Eagles have the 20th ranked pass defense adjusted based on schedule so the matchup isn’t bad; the players on the Redskins are. Avoid them all.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Adrian Peterson somehow managed to rush for 119 yards on 26 carries despite the Redskins losing the game. To be fair, the game was close throughout so game script never actually worked against him. That is unlikely to be the case against the Eagles. I have no doubts the Redskins will try to ruin Philly’s season, but if they get down, we could see more Chris Thompson, who is not fantasy relevant, just a thorn in AP’s side. The Eagles allow 4.8 yards per carry so Peterson should be effective for as long as game script allows him to be.

Value Meter:
RB2: Adrian Peterson (mid range)
Bench: Josh Johnson, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Vernon Davis, Chris Thompson

Prediction: Eagles 27, Redskins 22 ^ Top

Chargers @ Broncos - (Caron)
Line: LAC -6.5
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It seems crazy but the Chargers, who currently sit as the No. 5 seed in the AFC, have a chance not only to win the AFC West this week, but leapfrog all the way up to the No. 1 seed and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Of course, that’s unlikely given that Los Angeles would need to not only defeat Denver, but they’d also need Kansas City to lose at home to Oakland. Still, crazier things have happened and it seems likely that Los Angeles will keep their starters on the field and attempt to win this game unless the Chiefs - who play at the same time - are absolutely blowing the Raiders out.

There is a risk of that happening, of course, which does make Philip Rivers a bit of a risky play and that’s why we’ll slot him in as more of a low-end QB1 this week, but he should have some time to put up some fantasy numbers even if he does come out of the game early.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen, who will not have to deal with Chris Harris, is a great fantasy play in this game. He torched the Broncos for nine catches, 89 yards and a touchdown back in Week 11 and he’s a solid WR1 in this matchup. Wide receiver Mike Williams remains pretty much a touchdown-or-bust type of player as he fell back to reality this past week in the Chargers’ disappointing loss to the Ravens. Williams has been held to 10 or fewer PPR fantasy points in all but three games since Week 3, so be careful about inserting him into your lineup and understand that there’s a good chance he gives you a dud in this game.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: Melvin Gordon made his return to the field this past week after missing three games and while his 12 carries for 41 yards is nothing special, he did give his fantasy owners a touchdown and got involved in the passing game by making three catches. It’s also worth noting that his game was against one of the league’s best defenses, the Baltimore Ravens, so he should have a significantly easier time this week against a league-average Denver run defense. The Broncos have actually given up 95 or more total yards to the opposing team’s No.1 back in six straight games, including a 156 total yard day to Gordon himself back in Week 11. Gordon and the entire Chargers offense is a bit of a risk given the potential scenario that could unfold between the Chiefs and Raiders, but we have to assume that he’ll be given a heavy enough workload early in the contest to justify his placement as a fantasy RB1 yet again this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers (low-end)
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
Flex: Mike Williams
Bench: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates

Passing Game Thoughts: Case Keenum’s mediocre 2018 fantasy season continued this past week as the quarterback barely eclipsed 200 yards passing while throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions in a blowout loss on the road to the Raiders. Keenum was able to get rookie Courtland Sutton involved, who caught a career-high six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. DaeSean Hamilton was also a strong play as he himself pulled in six receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Sutton remains the team’s top receiving weapon and easily the highest ceiling pass catcher on the roster, but he’s been risky due to defensive game planning. Hamilton, on the other hand, has offered a much higher floor in recent weeks despite not providing nearly the ceiling that Sutton possesses. The third option in this Denver passing game remains Tim Patrick who has seen his targets dwindle from 10 in Week 14 to eight in Week 15, then finally down to just five in Week 16. The Denver passing game just isn’t productive enough to justify putting Patrick in your fantasy lineup.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Philip Lindsay’s remarkable rookie season came to an end as the running back sustained a season-ending wrist injury that will require a lengthy rehab process. With Lindsay out, the Broncos will likely turn to fellow rookie Royce Freeman to handle the bulk of their early down work. Freeman has been decently productive as a runner this season but he’s been practically completely useless in the passing game, making him a risky play in this game against the Chargers. Freeman ran for just over three yards per carry against Los Angeles when these teams played back in Week 11 and although he got into the end zone, there’s a real concern that he’ll be limited in total touches this week due to game script.

Running back Devontae Booker has been essentially phased out as a runner in Denver but he’s still being utilized as the Broncos’ primary passing down back and he’s now been targeted 44 times on the season in comparison to Freeman’s 10. Booker doesn’t have much of a ceiling, but you could do worse than him as a PPR Flex this week.

Value Meter:
RB2: Royce Freeman (low-end)
WR2: DaeSean Hamilton (low-end, PPR only)
Flex: Courtland Sutton, Devontae Booker (PPR only)
Bench: Case Keenum, Tim Patrick

Prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 16 ^ Top

49ers @ Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -10.0
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: A tough game against the Bears in Week 16 has drowned out a bit of the hype that Nick Mullens was getting and he’ll have another tough matchup in Week 17 as the 49ers head to Los Angeles to face the Rams. There was a possibility that the Rams would have secured a first-round bye already but the Bears remain close enough behind to keep the Rams motivated in Week 17. Therefore look for the Rams to suit up their starters as usual, which does not bode well for the 49ers. Aaron Donald is within reach of the all-time NFL record for single season sacks and they may end up scheming him to get more pass rushing opportunities, which certainly would not be a good thing for Mullens and the 49ers passing attack. As such, Mullens has to be considered a low-end QB2 at best and he’ll be without rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis whose season was ended this past week due to an MCL injury. The 49ers will instead turn to Kendrick Bourne and Marquise Goodwin (calf) as their main weapons at wide receiver, neither of which should be in your fantasy lineup.

The player who we remain most excited about is tight end George Kittle who has continued his incredible breakout season and actually has a chance to break the all-time single season receiving yardage record this week. With the 49ers not having much else to play for, and the Rams likely to win this game by multiple scores, look for San Francisco to force-feed the ball to Kittle to secure the record in an effort to give themselves something to be proud of in this lost 2018 season.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Matt Breida has been ruled out for Week 17’s game leading the way for Jeff Wilson to again lead the 49ers backfield. Wilson has been decent in relief of Breida but nothing special from a fantasy standpoint, aside from his surprising usage in the passing game against the Seahawks in Week 13. Wilson can probably be used as high as a low-end RB2, but he’s better off as a Flex if you have better running back options. The Rams defense is no joke and the 49ers probably won’t be in a situation where they’re going to be feeding their running game all that much here in Week 17.

Value Meter:
TE1: George Kittle
Flex: Jeff Wilson
Bench: Nick Mullens, Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor

Passing Game Thoughts: Jared Goff finally threw a touchdown pass for the first time in three games this past week, but there remains concern that the Rams quarterback is in a big time skid as we head into the final week of the regular season. Goff threw for a pair of touchdowns against the 49ers when these teams played back in Week 7, but accompanied it with just 202 yards passing mostly because the Rams were so far ahead that they didn’t need to pass much. That could again be the case this week as Los Angeles is as much as a 10-point favorite in Vegas for this game. Goff has looked shaky as of late and it has hurt his top two receiving weapons, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, neither of whom have exceeded 100 receiving yards in a game since Week 11. Both players turned in quality performances when they met the 49ers back in Week 7, however, so they should remain in fantasy lineups despite their quarterback’s recent struggles.

Two other players to keep an eye on in deep leagues are wide receiver Josh Reynolds and tight end Gerald Everett. Reynolds remains a near every-down starter for the Rams and he could be considered a Flex option for those in need with a good matchup against the 49ers this week. Everett, meanwhile, has seen his snap share skyrocket in recent weeks as the Rams try to salvage a running game without Todd Gurley on the field. Gurley has been ruled out already for this weekend’s game which could mean additional blockers to try to make more room for C.J. Anderson - a strategy which worked to perfection this past week. Everett has done more than just block, however, as he’s caught five passes in each of his past two games, making him a viable low-end TE1 option if you’re in a tough spot.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley will likely miss Week 17 as the Rams will hope to have him back on the field for the playoffs and that will likely mean another heavy dose of veteran running back C.J. Anderson. Anderson, who signed with the Rams on Tuesday this past week, exploded in his first game for Los Angeles, rushing for a career-high 167 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ blowout win over the Cardinals. Another relatively easy matchup against the 49ers this week should mean plenty of work for Anderson who seemingly skipped right past rookie John Kelly, who still saw 10 carries in the game. Anderson is a strong play again and should be viewed as no worse than a low-end RB1 in this matchup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low-end)
RB1: C.J. Anderson (low-end)
WR2: Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
TE1: Gerald Everett (low-end)
Flex: Josh Reynolds (deep leagues only)
Bench: John Kelly

Prediction: Rams 31, 49ers 17 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Seahawks - (Caron)
Line: SEA -13.0
Total: 38.5

Passing Game Thoughts: 87 yards passing in a 31-9 loss at home. That’s what Josh Rosen fantasy owners - the few poor souls who are stuck with him - had to deal with in Week 16. It’s too early to write Rosen off as an NFL player, but his fantasy season has been bad enough that no one should seriously be considering putting him in their lineups in a road game against the Seahawks. In fact, the only player who should even be considered for fantasy purposes in this passing game is wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who may very well be suiting up for his final NFL game this weekend. Fitzgerald’s legendary career will almost certainly end with enshrinement in Canton, but his 2018 fantasy season has had more downs than it has ups. He’s been a little better and more consistent in recent weeks, producing three straight double-digit PPR days, but he hasn’t scored since Week 12 and he’s had only one 20-point PPR day all season. There’s a chance that the Cardinals simply feed Fitzgerald heavily in this game due to it likely being his final game, but that shouldn’t be something that we bank on. Fitzgerald is a WR3/Flex play in PPR formats and a low-end Flex in non-PPRs.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Running back David Johnson hasn’t had much to work with on the ground this season but he’s done what he can to remain a RB1 for fantasy by scoring 10 total touchdowns. He’s been a bit more productive through the air in recent weeks, too, as he’s caught 12 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown over his past three weeks, which has helped give him a decent floor despite three consecutive blowout losses for the Cardinals. Another double-digit loss seems imminent at this point and that makes Johnson a risk to bust, but if anyone’s going to produce in this offense, it’s probably him. Consider him a high-end RB2 in this difficult road matchup against the Seahawks, who held him to 3.2 yards per carry when these teams played back in Week 4.

Value Meter:
RB2: David Johnson (high-end)
Flex: Larry Fitzgerald
Bench: Josh Rosen, Ricky Seals-Jones, Chase Edmonds, Chad Williams, Trent Sherfield

Passing Game Thoughts: A strong second half of the season has helped pull Russell Wilson back into the mid-level QB1 conversation and he’s coming off of his best fantasy performance of the season as he threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs. He also added 57 yards on the ground, marking just the third time he’s eclipsed 50 yards on the ground in a game. The Seahawks locked up a playoff spot this past week and cannot move up even with a win, however they could fall to the No. 6 seed in the NFC with a loss, so don’t expect them to put Wilson or the starters on the bench unless this game gets very out of hand.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin is nursing a shoulder injury but is expected to suit up against a Cardinals defense that seems to have fallen apart a bit as of late, having given up over 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over their past five games. Baldwin will be joined by Tyler Lockett whose breakout season has continued despite having failed to score a touchdown in each of his past four games. Lockett has scored double-digit PPR fantasy points in all but two games this season and looks to be a solid WR2 against this weakened Arizona secondary.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: With 22 or more carries in each of his past three games, Seattle’s Chris Carson has to be considered a strong RB1 against the Cardinals and their fantasy run defense which ranks dead-last in the NFL this season. The Cardinals have already given up over 2,000 rushing yards this season along with rushing 18 touchdowns - both league-worst numbers. Carson missed Week 4’s game against Arizona, but backup Mike Davis put together a monster fantasy day, rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns while adding four catches for 23 yards. Carson remains one of the lease useful pass catchers in all of fantasy football but his incredibly high usage in the running game makes him a very safe play against this terrible defense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
RB1: Chris Carson
WR2: Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin
Bench: Mike Davis, Rashaad Penny, David Moore, Nick Vannett

Prediction: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 10 ^ Top

Colts vs Titans - (Bales)
Line: IND -3.0
Total: 43.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Andrew Luck has been one of the more consistent fantasy options in the NFL, averaging 287.2 passing yards and 2.4 passing touchdowns per game. He also totaled 297 passing yards and three passing touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans earlier this season. Tennessee has looked outstanding against the pass, though, allowing only 213.0 passing yards per game. They have allowed only 18 passing touchdowns while recording 10 interceptions.

T.Y. Hilton has been Luck’s top option, averaging 5.7 receptions for 93.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns on 8.8 targets per game. He has looked elite in divisional games, posting a 9/155/2 line on nine targets in his first matchup against Tennessee. Chester Rogers posted a 7/54/1 line on seven targets last week, but that game seemed more like an outlier. Eric Ebron (knee) has been an elite tight end option, averaging 4.1 receptions for 46.0 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 6.9 targets per game. He’s currently questionable, but expected to play in this game.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Marlon Mack has been performing well when healthy, averaging 81.2 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 16.7 touches per game. He has also scored four touchdowns over his last three games. Nyheim Hines has also scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games, although he isn’t much more than a passing down back. Tennessee is currently allowing 113.7 rushing yards per game, but have only allowed eight rushing touchdowns this season. It’s a difficult matchup, but Mack should have opportunities to score touchdowns this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andrew Luck
RB2: Marlon Mack (high-end)
WR1: T.Y. Hilton (high-end)
TE1: Eric Ebron
Flex: Nyheim Hines (high-risk)

Passing Game Thoughts: Marcus Mariota (stinger) was limited in practice on Thursday. If he’s active, it’s difficult to believe he’ll find success given his injury. If he’s out, Blaine Gabbert will start but can be avoided as well. The Colts are allowing 243.0 passing yards per game this season and have held their opponents to only 20 passing touchdowns, while recording 13 interceptions.

Corey Davis comes with some upside, averaging 4.0 receptions for 56.2 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 7.0 targets per game. Davis could struggle with an injured Mariota or Gabbert at quarterback. Taywan Taylor is another receiver that comes with upside, but he shouldn’t be considered in this matchup.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Once again, the Titans will rely heavily on Derrick Henry this week. Over the last three weeks, he’s averaging 23.7 carries, 164.0 rushing yards and 2.3 rushing touchdowns per game. Dion Lewis has seen his role decrease with Henry breaking out, and he can be avoided at this point. Indianapolis has been tough against the run, allowing only 102.2 rushing yards per game this season. They have also allowed only 12 rushing touchdowns.

Value Meter:
RB1: Derrick Henry
Bench: Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis

Prediction: Colts 24, Titans 14 ^ Top