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Inside the Matchup
Week 15
12/12/19; Updated: 12/13/19

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | HC Green



Thursday:

NYJ @ BAL

Sunday Early:

DEN @ KC | SEA @ CAR | NE @ CIN | TB @ DET

CHI @ GB | MIA @ NYG | HOU @ TEN | PHI @ WAS

Sunday Late:

CLE @ ARI | JAX @ OAK | MIN @ LAC | LAR @ DAL | ATL @ SF | BUF @ PIT

Monday:

IND @ NO


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

Jets @ Ravens - (Swanson)
Line: BAL -16.0
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold’s sophomore season was hijacked by a case of mono that cost the former USC Trojan four games at the start of the season. Darnold showed some of the brilliance that made him a top-three pick with 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Cowboys in Week 6, only to follow up with 86 passing yards and four interceptions in the infamous “I’m seeing ghosts” game against New England.

Despite the ups and downs one would expect for a second-year quarterback, Darnold bounced back with a string of solid performances in a span of five games against some of the leagues’ worst defenses.

During that span, Darnold threw nine touchdowns and two interceptions, while adding two rushing touchdowns and 50 rushing yards. His 24.1 points per game ranked 11th among qualified quarterbacks during that streak, higher than Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson, and Matt Ryan.

Yet as the old saying goes, all good things come to an end. And for Sam Darnold and the Jets skill position players like Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder, the cupcake section of the 2019 schedule has come and gone with the Jets traveling to Baltimore to take on the NFL’s No.6 ranked defense on Thursday Night Football.

Only the Patriots and Bills have given up fewer points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and only Patrick Mahomes has managed to throw multiple touchdowns passes against the Baltimore defense.

Needless to say, starting Darnold this week is a risky proposition for owners still alive in the fantasy playoffs. The more pressing question is can you start Robby Anderson, who ranks seventh at the wide receiver position over the last three weeks with 18 catches for 303 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

From a game script standpoint, the Jets will likely be chasing points, and Darnold will need to throw the ball a ton in the second half. From a matchup standpoint, the Ravens rank 21st in fantasy points allowed to the position, with a touchdown or 90 yards given up to a wide receiver in seven of their last eight games.

Anderson is not a great start, but he could still put up top 30-production, and his volume of 21 targets in his last two games in hard to ignore. Crowder is also in play in full point PPR formats as a low-end flex, but it would take a leap of faith to start him after three games three or fewer fantasy points.

Darnold will be without TE Ryan Griffin, who left the game last week against the Dolphins early with an ankle injury and WR Demaryius Thomas (foot/doubtful).

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Only the Dolphins and the Giants have combined to score fewer fantasy points than the Jets, with the Jets scoring a mere three rushing touchdowns as a group in 13 games this season.

No Jet has topped 100 yards rushing in a game, and no Jet has reached double digits in fantasy points since Week 12.

Le’Veon Bell is set to return to the field after missing last week with an illness, but it is difficult to expect much considering the matchup. The Ravens give up the ninth-fewest points to opposing running backs this season, which is somewhat skewed based on the 165-yard, three-touchdown game Nick Chubb dropped on them back in Week 4.

The positive for Bell is his work in the passing game and the volume that he gets from catching the ball. Although the Ravens have given up just one receiving touchdown and they have given up the fewest receptions to running backs in 2019, Bell could be active with the Jets chasing points late.

Value Meter:
QB2: Sam Darnold (Low-End)
RB2: LeíVeon Bell (High-End)
WR3: Robby Anderson (High-End)
WR4: Jamison Crowder Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Chances are if you own Lamar Jackson in fantasy football you are alive and well in the fantasy playoffs. And chances are, if you have Lamar Jackson, you are salivating at the matchup of the Jets coming to M&T Bank Stadium this week.

Jackson is a must-start regardless of opponent, and the fact that the Jets rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed to quarterbacks should bring a smile to your face. But there is a concern in the fact that Jackson is questionable with a quad injury that he suffered against the Bills last week.

The quad injury and a stout run defense of the Jets that has given up only 878 rushing yards this season to running backs lead me to believe that Jackson may not run as much and lean more on the passing game.

This bodes well for the receiving options for the Ravens like Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, and tight end Mark Andrews, assuming he is able to ply through a knee injury that forced him to miss most of the Buffalo game.

The Jets are far easier to beat in the air than on the ground, as evident to the fact that they rank 12th in points allowed to wide receivers. 12 wide receivers have reached double-digit fantasy points against the jests, including a pair of Giants in Golden Tate and Darius Slayton, who amassed 24 and 21 points respectively in Week 10.

It may take a leap of faith to start Brown this week after he posted an improbable -2 yards on three receptions last week against the Bills, but he could be the difference-maker for your team this week and a home run play.

Sneed carries a much higher floor, but he does not have the monster game potential that Brown possesses. If Andrews is active he is clearly a must-start, but should he be out, Hayden Hurst could be a sneaky play - but keep in mind only the Jets are tied with the Ravens for the fewest points allowed to the tight end position.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: The quad injury to Lamar Jackson could force the Ravens to adjust their game plan this week when it comes to the running game. Don’t be surprised to see a heavier dose of Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, with fewer designed runs for Jackson.

The Jets are far more susceptible to the pass than the run, and the Ravens will likely take advantage of this fact will more passes to wide receivers and tight ends. But make no mistake, the Ravens are a team that believes they can run on anyone and they will still run the ball a ton against the Jets.

Look for Ingram and Edwards to combine for around 30 rush attempts this week, with Justice Hill also getting a bit of action. This game has the makings of a blowout, and the Ravens may want to limit the exposure of Jackson. Start Ingram with confidence despite the bad matchup on paper, and hope he reaches pay dirt for the 10th time this season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson (High-End)
RB1: Mark Ingram (Low-End)
WR3: Marquise Brown (High-End)
WR4: Willie Snead (Low-End)
TE1: Mark Andrews (High-End)

Prediction: Baltimore 30, New York 14 ^ Top

Broncos @ Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -9.5
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: We’re only two starts into his career but Drew Lock already looks like the best quarterback on the Broncos roster and that should give fantasy owners some confidence as they look at their Denver fantasy options this week.

Lock himself really isn’t a viable fantasy starter other than in two-QB formats but he’s been good enough to keep Courtland Sutton in fantasy lineups. Sutton has caught nine passes in Lock’s two starts, including two touchdowns, and he’s continuing to be targeted heavily. He’s been targeted at least five times in every game this season and he caught six passes for 87 yards when he faced the Chiefs back in Week 7 so it seems reasonable to think that he’ll continue to be a WR2 here in the fantasy playoffs.

The other fantasy-viable option in this passing game is rookie tight end Noah Fant who is more of a borderline starter in normal leagues given that he’s coming off of the second 100-yard performance of his career. Fant is dealing with a combination of foot and hip injuries that’ve limited him in practice, but it does look like he’ll be active on Sunday. The Chiefs have given up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season which makes Fant a nice tournament DFS play.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: The Chiefs aren’t particularly strong on defense as a whole but the biggest reason for their struggles has been their run defense. Kansas City has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They were able to mostly hold Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in check when these teams played earlier this season, but there’s reason to be hopeful about this situation, particularly for Lindsay who is seeing nearly two-thirds of the team’s backfield touches in recent weeks.

Lindsay has seen at least 14 touches in each of his past four games while Freeman has been held to 10 or fewer touches in every game over that stretch. It appears as if the Broncos are finally committing to Lindsay and it’s the perfect time for them to do so in this great matchup for the fantasy playoffs.

Lindsay isn’t quite an RB1 but he’s nearing that distinction given his workload. He’s a high-floor RB2 this week who does have upside. Freeman, unfortunately, has to be on fantasy benches as he’s just not seeing the workload that he did earlier this season. He could sneak in a touchdown and save fantasy owners but the odds of him doing anything in the yardage department are very low.

Value Meter:
RB2: Phillip Lindsay
WR2: Courtland Sutton
TE1: Noah Fant (low-end)
Bench: Drew Lock, Royce Freeman, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick

Passing Game Thoughts: With only three touchdown passes over his past three games, the confidence in 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes has to be wavering. Mahomes has not been the fantasy super-stud that he was a season ago and while he is certainly still a QB1, he’s no longer the lock as the top quarterback on the board.

Part of Mahomes’ struggles have been that wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been banged up throughout the season. Hill hasn’t found the end zone since Week 10 but he’s still seeing plenty of targets and he appears to at least relatively healthy, so don’t get cute -- Hill is still a solid WR1 with huge, week-winning upside. He only caught three passes when these teams played back in Week 7, but he got to 74 yards on those three receptions and scored a touchdown.

The Chiefs other wide receivers just have not provided enough consistency for us to trust them in the fantasy playoffs but we do know that Travis Kelce is still a stud tight end. Kelce has caught at least four passes in every game since Week 1 and he’s now been over 60 receiving yards in six straight games. There isn’t a better fantasy tight end in the business and there’s no reason to look elsewhere now.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The Kansas City backfield continues to be a mess from a fantasy standpoint even though Damien Williams has been missing time and Darrel Williams is on IR. LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson have been competing for touches with McCoy typically leading the way in touches when they’ve been healthy. Unfortunately that hasn’t led to much fantasy production most weeks even though this remains one of the more productive offenses in the league.

McCoy is still the back to own and start, but there’s a chance that Williams is back on the field this week, in which case there would be a three-headed backfield that we probably want to avoid from a fantasy standpoint. If Williams it out, however, McCoy could crack lineups as a Flex play given his touchdown potential. Understand that is upside is limited, however, given that the explosion and elusiveness just don’t seem to be there. This is a quality Denver run defense that has only given up two 100-yard rushers all season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: LeSean McCoy
Bench: Darwin Thompson, Damien Williams, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Broncos 17

Seahawks @ Panthers - (Green)
Line: SEA -6.0
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: With a chance to maintain control of the NFC's No. 1 seed, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks laid an egg in Los Angeles, failing to score an offensive TD en route to a 28-12 loss to the Rams. It was arguably the low-water mark for Wilson on the year as he threw for 245 yards and failed to pass for a score for the first time all season. It was the continuation of the MVP candidate's recent struggles as over the last four games he's averaged just 229 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT per game.

Wilson's struggles (and perhaps lingering shin pain) have greatly affected Tyler Lockett, who has managed eight catches, 107 yards and no TDs over that same four-game stretch. It's a far cry from the player that topped 50 yards receiving in all but one of his first nine games. While Lockett has faded, rookie D.K. Metcalf has improved, logging six receptions and at least 70 yards in four of his last five games. Josh Gordon has done little since being claimed off waivers and is a non-factor for fantasy owners. Despite his recent work, I'd still value Lockett slightly ahead of Metcalf.

Jacob Hollister has slowed after a fast start but remains a significant part of Seattle's passing attack and could be used as a low-end TE1 depending on your other options. That's especially true this week with a matchup that looks like a good opportunity for Wilson and company to bounce back, as Carolina has gone completely off the rails, and the firing of Ron Rivera did nothing to alter their trajectory. Their pass defense sits a respectable 15th (234.8 yards per game), but they're not doing anything well right now.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Seattle's running game was dealt a major blow when Rashaad Penny (knee) suffered a torn ACL last Sunday night, bringing his recent breakout play to a screeching halt. The injury means Chris Carson is back to carrying the load; he ran 15 times for 76 yards last week, and it'd be surprising not to see him log 20-plus carries against a Panthers squad that ranks 29th (139.2 yards per game) against the run this season. That makes Carson a midrange RB1 for Week 15.

Value Meter:
WR1: Russell Wilson
RB1: Chris Carson
WR2/WR3: Tyler Lockett
WR3: D.K. Metcalf
Bench: Jacob Hollister

Passing Game Thoughts: Although he passed for 293 yards, Kyle Allen endured another tough outing in Week 14, turning the ball over three times (two INTs, one lost fumble) as part of a 20-point loss to the lowly Falcons. It's obvious that less is more with Allen, who averaged 32 passes per game during his first six (5-1 record) and 43 over the last five (0-5). He's managed to add a little value with his running by scoring in back-to-back games, but Allen should be left on the bench this Sunday.

With Greg Olsen (concussion) out, backup Ian Thomas saw 10 targets, catching five passes for 57 yards and a score. Olsen is likely to return this week, but if not Thomas could be a bold one-week play with some upside. D.J. Moore (4-81-0) and Christian McCaffrey (11-82-0) continue to pace the aerial attack, and Carolina's struggles to stay in games have helped their receiving numbers. At this stage, Moore can be trotted out there as a low-end WR1 or strong WR2. Curtis Samuel has seen his role shrink recently, and he's barely hanging on as a middling flex candidate.

Seattle's defense has quietly been pretty bad against the pass this season, sitting 29th at 271.2 yards allowed per game. They struggled to handle Jared Goff a week ago and successfully made the 2019 Rams look suspiciously like the 2018 Rams. The bottom line is this Seahawks team is nothing like the Super Bowl teams on the defensive end, and I wouldn't shy away from starting any of Carolina's main offensive weapons.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: It's tough to stick with the run when you keep getting your ass handed to you, which explains McCaffrey posting fewer than 15 carries in three of his last four games -- he failed to top that number just once in his first nine. His receiving exploits keep his value at RB1 level, but with 332 touches already this season, you have to wonder if the Panthers won't scale things back a bit to save wear and tear on CMC in what's now a lost season. Seattle is 13th against the run (104.4 yards per game) and gave up 113 total yards and a TD to Todd Gurley in Week 14.

Value Meter:
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
WR1/WR2: D.J. Moore
Flex: Curtis Samuel
TE1: Greg Olsen (if healthy; low-end)
Bench: Kyle Allen

Prediction: Seahawks 34, Panthers 20

Patriots @ Bengals - (Swanson)
Line: NE -9.5
Total: 41.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Patriots took advantage of one of the easiest schedules in the NFL to jump out to an 8-0 record with cupcake matchups against the Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Jets, and Browns. When faced with a slate of games against teams with winning records like the Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs, deficiencies in the New England offense were exposed and Patriot fans were forced to come to the harsh realization that the 2019 Pats are not as good as perhaps they all thought.

New England ranks 15th in yards per game and eighth in points per game at 26. Perhaps most surprising of a Bill Belichick-led team is the fact that the Pats rank 23rd in the league in rushing after being one of the most dominant rushing offenses of the last two decades.

The Pats cannot run the ball, teams have finally gotten smart and started double-teaming Julian Edelman, and the other skill position players are not getting open and have not made plays for Tom Brady.

On a positive note, this week’s matchup against the Bengals has the makings of a get-right game for Brady and the passing offense. The Bengals allow the 10th-most points to opposing quarterbacks, with eight different QBs posting games of at least 20 fantasy points.

Although the Bengals have been better as of late against Mason Rudolph, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield, allowing just one passing touchdown since Week 12, the Bengals cannot get pressure on the quarterback and Brady should have tons of time to find open receivers in the secondary.

Julian Edelman continues to be a PPR stud and should be considered a must-start this week. The other wide receivers should be considered risky plays for those in the playoffs, as their volume and inconsistent play, even against a subpar defense like the Bengals, make them too risky to lean on this week.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Sony Michel came into 2019 riding high on a solid finish to the 2018 playoff that made him a breakout candidate for many fantasy owners in drafts this past summer. Instead of building on his solid rookie season, the former Georgia Bulldog cut his yard per carry average in half and has not posted a double-digit fantasy performance since Week 7 against the Jets.

With 15 carries in the last two weeks and next to no work in the passing game, it is going to be difficult for Michel owners to pull the trigger on him in the playoffs. The matchup is beyond juicy with the Bengals giving up the seventh-most points to running backs, but Michel could be a bust once again with Rex Burkhead and even Brandon Bolden stealing work.

James White owners will also be hard-pressed to pull the trigger this week based on his inconsistent play. White was a monster two weeks ago in garbage time against the Texans with 29.7 fantasy points on 177 total yards and two touchdowns, but it only his second game of more than 10 fantasy points on the season.

Game flow could hurt White if the Patriots are up and do not need to pass much on third down. It is very likely that New England will enjoy a sizable lead in this game, which could marginalize White in the second half.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (Low-End)
RB2: Sony Michel (Low-End)
WR1: Julian Edelman (Low-End)
WR4: NíKeal Harry (Low-End)
TE2: Ben Watson (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: It may surprise some fantasy owners to learn that Andy Dalton has averaged more fantasy points this season that Jared Goff, Jacoby Brissett, Kyle Allen, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Red Rifle, despite losing his job temporarily to rookie Ryan Finley in the middle of the season, is averaging 20.2 fantasy points per game and is on pace to tie his career-high in rushing touchdowns.

There are likely no fantasy owners in the playoffs faced with the dilemma of considering Dalton as a start this week, so I won’t spend much time on his outlook as a fantasy asset. Dalton is not worthy of a play in anything other than most deep two-quarterback leagues, but his return to the passing offense has been a boost to both the receiving options on Cincinnati and running back Joe Mixon.

Tyler Boyd has at least 75 yards or a score in each of his last three games, but his outlook should be tempered significantly based on the assumption he will see a healthy dose of Stephon Gilmore. If Boyd does not get Gilmore and the Pats opt to let slot corner Jonathan Jones cover Boyd in the slot, he could have a decent game despite the tough overall matchup.

John Ross returned to the field last week and posted a pedestrian two catches for 28 yards on three targets. Look for Dalton to lean more on Ross in this matchup with Boyd likely shadowed by Gilmore. With Auden Tate out with an injury, Ross could be a sneaky flex play this week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Only Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry have more scored more fantasy points than Joe Mixon over the past five weeks. After seriously burning his owners in the first month of the season, Mixon scored at least 13 fantasy points in five of his last six games, including 24.5 points last week against Cleveland.

The hot streak by Mixon likely helped more than a few owners make the playoffs. Keeping that hot streak going this week is going to be a challenge, as New England gives up the fewest number of fantasy points per game to running backs. Only one opposing running back has scored a rushing touchdown vs. Belichick’s defense, although three backs have topped 100 rushing yards, including Mark Ingram with 115 yards on 15 carries back in Week 9.

The positive on Mixon is he will see at least 18 carries and is used regardless of game script. He also can provide some added work in the receiving game, with 29 catches for 230 yards and three scores in the air this season.

Value Meter:
QB2: Andy Dalton(Low-End)
RB1: Joe Mixon (Low-End)
WR3: Tyler Boyd (Low-End)
WR4: John Ross (Low-End)
TE2: C.J. Uzomah (Low-End)

Prediction: New England 28, Cincinnati 10

Bucs @ Lions - (Swanson)
Line: TB -3.5
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Owning and starting Jameis Winston on your fantasy team is a roller coaster ride filled with terrible interceptions, a fumble here and there, but in the end, he seems to come through with a solid fantasy performance.

Winston leads the league by a wide margin in interceptions (23), but he makes up for with the second-most passing yards and touchdowns. He is second in the league in pass attempts, and his yard per attempt ranks eighth, ahead of Philip Rivers, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers.

One of the reasons why Winston has been so good for fantasy is the fact that the Bucs defense is terrible against the pass and forces Winston to throw the ball a ton to keep pace. Only Arizona has allowed more passing yards per game than the Bucs, and only the lowly Dolphins give up more points per game.

On a positive note, the Lions give up the third-most passing yards, and their secondary, like the Bucs, is dreadful and cannot stop anyone.

Yet on a negative note, Winston will be without Mike Evans for the rest of the season, and he has a small fracture in his throwing thumb. Also, the Lions will be rolling out David Blough again this week and may not put up a ton of points that would require Winston to throw as much as in previous weeks.

With those concerns aside, the Lions have given up monster games to Dak Prescott, Daniel Jones, and Kirk Cousins, and even Mitchell Trubisky managed to post 29.3 fantasy points against Detroit two weeks ago.

With Evans out for the season, Breshad Perriman should see an uptick in targets along with O.J. Howard possibly becoming a viable fantasy tight end once again.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The Tampa Bay backfield is a wasteland of unpredictability and frustration. Just when you think Ronald Jones is going to take control of the backfield, Peyton Barber comes out with tow rushing touchdowns against Jacksonville.

Both players were given 11 rushing attempts last week against the Colts, and both players did absolutely nothing with their opportunities. And Dare Ogunbowale continues to be the third-down back for some reason and limits the receiving value for both players.

Hopefully, you have a better option than Jones and Barber. Yet on a positive note, the Lions are downright awful against the run, with only the Panthers giving up more points to opposing running backs.

If forced to choose between Barber and Jones, I would choose Barber based on the assumption he is more likely to score a rushing touchdown. But Jones could also blow up, and Barber could disappoint, continuing the trend of frustrating weeks owners have had to endure this season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston (Mid-Range)
RB3: Peyton Barber (Low-End)
RB3: Ronald Jones (Low-End)
WR1: Chris Godwin (High-End)
WR4: Breshad Perriman (Low-End)
TE2: O.J. Howard (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: As expected, rookie third-string quarterback David Blough came crashing back down to Earth after shocking the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving with 280 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start.

Blough could not keep the magic going against the Vikings last week with 205 passing yards, a passing touchdown, and two interceptions in a 20-7 loss to Minnesota. Although technically Blough improved on his completion percentage from the previous week, he mad rookie mistakes and was careless with the football.

From a pure matchup standpoint, things do not get much better for Blough and the passing game of the Lions with the Tampa Bay Bucs coming to town. Only the Cardinals and the Raiders give up more fantasy points per game than the Bucs, with eight opposing quarterbacks posting 20 or more fantasy points this season against the dreadful Tampa Bay secondary.

This game has the makings of a shoot-out, but chances are if you made it this far in the playoffs, you already have a solid quarterback and do not need to consider starting Blough. However, if you are a Kenny Golladay owner, you should be happy with this matchup as he will be peppered with targets even more now that Marvin Jones is on IR.

Danny Amendola should gain a sizable increase in targets and could be a very low-end flex play in a full point PPR, but other than that, you are not likely going to start Jesse James at tight end or any of the running backs for the Lions.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Bo Scarbrough suffered a rib injury against the Vikings last week but told reporters he was just a little sore and would be fine for this week’s game against the Bucs. That is good news for Scarbrough, but anyone considering starting him this week in the semi-finals against Tampa Bay may want to look elsewhere.

The Bucs are terrible at a lot of things. They cannot run the ball, they can’t play pass defense, and Jameis Winston is well on his way to lead the league in interceptions.

One thing they can do well is play run defense. Only Chris Carson has managed to rush for over 100 yards this season against the Bucs, and only two players have managed to score a rushing touchdown. Tampa Bay ranks second behind the Pats for the fewest points allowed to running backs, making any Lions running back a questionable start this week.

Value Meter:
QB2: David Blough (Low-End)
RB4: Bo Scarbrough (Low-End)
WR1: Kenny Golladay (Low-End)
WR4: Danny Amendola (Low-End)
TE2: Jesse James (High-End)

Prediction: Tampa Bay 34, Detroit 21

Bears @ Packers - (Swanson)
Line: GB -4.5
Total: 41.0

Passing Game Thoughts: After a slow start with five games a fewer than 14 fantasy points his first seven starts, Mitchell Trubisky has been on fire as of late with an average of 30 points in his last three games against the Giants, Lions, and Cowboys.

Only Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott have move fantasy points since Week 10 than Trubisky, who looked primed to be replaced midway through the season.

One of the reasons why Trubisky has been much better as both a real-life and fantasy quarterback is he reincorporated running the ball back into is repertoire. Trubisky has two rushing touchdowns in his last three games and a season-high 63 yards in an upset win over the Cowboys last week at Soldier Field.

He will need to continue running and making plays outside the pocket for the Bears to have any hope going into Lambeau and upsetting the 10-3 Packers. The third-year former first-round pick is 1-3 against Green Bay, with three passing touchdowns and one interception.

The Packers give up the eighth-fewest points to quarterbacks this season. Only Carson Wentz has managed to throw for three or more touchdowns against the Pack, and only two quarterbacks have topped 300 passing yards. While it is impressive that Trubisky took advantage of bad defenses like the Lions and Giants, doing the same against Green Bay on the road may be a challenge.

From an injury standpoint, the Packers may be without starting cornerback Kevin King, who missed last week’s game against the Redskins with a shoulder injury. King’s absence could be a boost for Allen Robinson and the rest of the Bears receiving corps.

Robinson enters Week 15 as the No.20 ranked wide receiver with 10.1 points per game. He has seven receiving touchdowns and is on pace to post his first 1000-yard season since 2015.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: The Bears entered 2019 with high hopes for their rushing attack after using an early-round pick on rookie David Montgomery. The Iowa State star looked primed to be a stud running back for both real life and fantasy, with his draft stock creeping up into the third round in most drafts.

With 680 yards and five touchdowns, Montgomery has flashed some of that greatness we saw in the preseason, but he has not lived up to his draft capital, and his owners are likely not playing fantasy football in Week 15.

If for some reason, you are a Montgomery owner, and you are still alive, congrats. The Packers are far easier to run on than they are in the passing game, giving hope that Montgomery may be in line for 20 or more carries on Sunday.

The Pack ranks sixth in fantasy points allowed to running backs and have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns. Adrian Peterson rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries last week, which is well within reach this week for Montgomery.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (High-End)
RB3: David Montgomery (High-End)
WR2: Allen Robinson (High-End)
WR3: Anthony Miller (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers is the ninth-ranked quarterback with 277.2 fantasy points in 13 games this season. Although he continues to be among the league’s best in limiting turnovers with a league-best two interceptions on 441 pass attempts (Both picks were tipped balls or drops) he is not keeping pace with the other leaders at the posting in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and perhaps most importantly in today’s game, rushing touchdowns.

You can argue that Rodgers is playing some of his best football this season, but he is not doing much for fantasy owners, and he is likely to disappoint again this week.

The Bears rank fifth in fewest points allowed to quarterbacks this season, with no opposing quarterback managing to throw for more than two touchdowns in a game. Dak Prescott became only the second quarterback to top 300 passing yards against Chuck Pagano’s defense, while two of the last four quarterbacks to play Chicago have failed to top 200 yards.

The Bears are playing well and will likely come into Lambeau looking to avenge their 10-3 loss at home to the Pack Week 1. Rodgers has struggled this season against teams like the Bears who can put pressure on him from the outside.

A key factor in this game will be the ability of tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari in protecting Rodgers’ backside and allowing him enough time to find wide receivers downfield. Rodgers was under constant pressure when they played Week 1 and was unable to do much for fantasy owners.

Another worry about Rodgers is the fact that the ground game for Green Bay is coming off a solid performance against the Redskins that could and should carry over against the Bears. The Bears have been far more beatable on the ground than in the air, and it would make sense for the Pack to lean on their defense to force turnovers and run the ball, with Rodgers limiting the number of throws to avoid injury and sacks.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Aaron Jones is one of the hardest players to predict in fantasy and one of the most frustrating, as he has a habit of disappearing in games where he should be good and blows up in matchups that do not appear to be great.

Despite these frustrations for his fantasy owners, Jones enters Week 15 tied for second with Derrick Henry with 15 total touchdowns and continues to be a week-winning asset when he blows up.

The question his owners must ask themselves is, will he blow up this week against the Bears? Jones managed just 38 yards on 13 carries for 3.9 fantasy points against Chicago Week 1, only to go bananas with 21 fantasy points at home against the Vikings the following week.

Perhaps the better question is will the return of Akiem Hicks to the middle of the Bears line stifle the run game and limit Jones’ production?

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Low-End)
RB1: Aaron Jones (Low-End)
WR1: Davante Adams (Low-End)
WR4: Geronimo Allison (Low-End)
TE2: Jimmy Graham (High-End)

Prediction: Green Bay 21, Chicago 17

Dolphins at Giants - (Katz)
Line: NYG -3.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off a lackluster effort against the Jets. The good news is he’s shown mid QB1 upside and now gets a Giants pass defense that can’t stop anyone. The Giants have allowed back-to-back QB1 performances to Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers. They allow 22.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Most of the damage done against the Giants is by the opposing WR1, who averages 20.2 fantasy points per game.

Unfortunately, the Dolphins don’t have a WR1. Preston Williams was lost weeks ago and DeVante Parker is unlikely to play due to a concussion. Albert Wilson is out as well, leaving Isaiah Ford and Allen Hurns to operate as Fitzpatrick’s top two options. Both are nothing more than desperation options as someone has to catch passes. Mike Gesicki would appear to benefit from all the injuries, but he didn’t capitalize on the opportunity last week with just one catch. The Giants allow just 6.6 fantasy points per game to TE1s.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Patrick Laird played well ahead of Myles Gaskin in the first game of the post Kalen Ballage era. Laird played 82% of the snaps and has now seen five targets in back to back games. He is the clear lead back and absolutely comes with fantasy value against a Giants defense that has seen opponents target running backs 92 times this season. Laird doesn’t come with much of a ceiling, but he has a nice touch floor and given the rash of injuries we saw in Week 14, you can do worse than Laird as a fill in flex.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Fitzpatrick (low end)
RB2: Patrick Laird (low end)
TE1: Mike Gesicki (low end)
Flex: Isaiah Ford (deep play)
Bench: DeVante Parker (concussion), Myles Gaskin

Passing Game Thoughts: Daniel Jones practiced this week and is nearing a return, but, as fate would have it, Eli Manning is slated for one final start as a home favorite to bring his career winning percentage back to .500. Manning blindsided the Eagles in the first half last week, but then reminded us why he was benched with his dreadful second half play. With that being said, the Dolphins are the easiest of matchups, allowing 22.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Manning finds himself on the streaming radar as the Giants need to rely on the pass with their generational talent running back having a down season.

Last week it wasn’t Sterling Shepard or Golden Tate that caught Manning’s eye, but rookie Darius Slayton, who had never received a target from Manning. I think we have no choice but to react to this. Slayton led the Giants with eight targets, narrowly edging out Shepard’s seven. Tate was the odd man out and while any of these three can produce against the Dolphins, it will be difficult to predict which one(s). Fortunately, the Dolphins rank near the bottom in fantasy points allowed to WR1s, WR2s, and the slot. Perhaps the answer is all three? Evan Engram is still working his way back from a foot injury and was limited in practice Thursday.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Generational talent and 2019 mega bust Saquon Barkley is averaging fewer fantasy points per game than generational talent and 2018 mega bust David Johnson did last season. Hopefully, the Dolphins are a one week fix as they allow the third most rushing yards per game at 141.1. They’ve also allowed nine runs of 20+ yards, which should be a positive for a running back. Barkley has just five rushes all season of over 15 yards. One potential negative is the Dolphins seldom see teams throw to running backs against them, doing so just 17.14% of the time. With the Dolphins so poor at defending receivers, Manning should not need to check it down to Barkley so he will have to do his damage mostly on the ground.

Value Meter:
QB2: Eli Manning (high end streamer)
RB1; Saquon Barkley (high end)
WR3: Sterling Shepard
WR3: Golden Tate
WR3: Darius Slayton
Bench: Evan Engram (foot)

Prediction: Giants 24, Dolphins 17

Texans @ Titans - (Green)
Line: TEN -3.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Coming off one of the biggest wins in the Bill O'Brien era, the Texans promptly laid an egg in a lopsided home loss to the Broncos. Deshaun Watson wasn't great, completing just 28 of his 50 passes and throwing a pair of interceptions -- his third multi-pick game of 2019 and first since Oct. 20 -- but did account for three TDs, two of which came on the ground. Any early-season MVP talk is a distant memory, and Watson hasn't posted 300-plus yards and multiple scores in a game since Week 5. He's still worth starting, though.

It's hard to overstate how much the Texans miss Will Fuller (hamstring) when he's out of action, which he was once again last Sunday. Keke Coutee (five catches, 68 yards last week) and Kenny Stills (2-8) just don't bring as much to the table when they're asked to move up the depth chart. It's unclear whether Fuller will play in Week 15, but if he's up he'd be worth consideration as a WR3. If Fuller doesn't go you could roll the dice on Coutee if your need is dire. DeAndre Hopkins (7-120-1) continues to deliver each week, and he remains a strong WR1.

Tennessee ranks 25th against the pass this year (259.9 yards allowed per game), which is almost exactly what Derek Carr threw for last Sunday. This is definitely an area the Texans will look to exploit, especially with Adoree' Jackson (foot) banged up; he was a DNP in Week 14 and is no lock to return for this weekend's AFC South tilt.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Even in a blowout, Carlos Hyde logged 14 carries for 73 yards against Denver. That seems to be right in his sweet spot, as it marked the seventh time this season he's finished with between 55 and 85 rushing yards. Duke Johnson was barely used as a runner but did catch six balls for 40 yards. The Titans are 10th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (101.6 per game) and held Oakland under 100 last week, albeit without Josh Jacobs. In a critical showdown, I'd expect O'Brien to put the ball in Watson's hands, leaving Hyde/Johnson as flex plays.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson
Flex: Carlos Hyde
Flex: Duke Johnson
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins
WR3: Will Fuller (if active)
Flex: Keke Coutee (only if Fuller is inactive)
Bench: Kenny Stills

Passing Game Thoughts: Even with the caveat that Oakland's secondary is a train wreck, it's hard to simply dismiss Ryan Tannehill's performance in Week 14: 21 of 27, 391 yards and 3 TDs. While the yards haven't always been there, he's been steady with the scoring and has now thrown for multiple TDs in six of his seven starts. The mistakes have also been minimal, and his accuracy has been excellent. It's an impressive redemption story for Tannehill, who not only looks the part of an NFL starter once again but has also ascended to viable QB1 status in the fantasy world.

While there are no week-to-week locks among Tennessee's pass catchers, rookie A.J. Brown has clearly emerged as the best bet. His 153 receiving yards last week were a new career high, and he added two more TDs to bring his season total to six. There's still some risk -- he had just 17 receiving yards in Week 10 -- but after him it's become a total crapshoot with the likes of Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith probably coming the closest to being playable. However, I wouldn't trust either of them at this late stage.

After appearing to trend in the right direction recently, the Texans looked woeful last week in allowing Drew Lock to throw for 309 yards and three scores in just his second professional start. Sitting at 27th in pass defense for the season (265.8 yards per game), Houston offers very appealing upside for Tannehill and Brown.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Derrick Henry (hamstring) continued his late-season push for All-Pro consideration, topping 100 yards for the fourth straight time and pushing his TD count to 15 on the year. He's dealing with some hamstring trouble, though, and sat out practice on Thursday, so that's a situation to watch. If he's active, Henry would be a strong RB1. If he can't go, the team would likely call on seldom-used veteran Dion Lewis to hold down the fort. Against the 18th-ranked run defense (109.5 yards per game), Lewis would be a flex option as the lead back.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill
RB1: Derrick Henry
WR3: A.J. Brown
Bench: Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith

Prediction: Titans 27, Texans 23

Eagles at Redskins - (Caron)
Line: PHI -4.5
Total: 39.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz’s best fantasy game of the season came way back in Week 1 against these very Redskins. Wentz is a matchup based option and this is a quality matchup as the Redskins allow 18.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. The biggest concern for Wentz is who will he be throwing to? It is 2018 all over again for Zach Ertz as he’s the only game in town with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor all out due to injury. It will likely be Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside in two receiver sets. Ward did see nine targets last week, which is at least something.

The Redskins allow 14.3 fantasy points per game to opposing WR1s and 13.3 to WR2s. If you’re desperate, Ward is worth a look. Arcega-Whiteside is not. He played 91.5% of the snaps last week, but drew just three targets. Ertz is a near lock for double digit targets yet again and Dallas Goedert is in play as well. He is the de factor second option in the passing game and has seen at least six targets in four straight games.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: After averaging a 90% snap share for three games, Miles Sanders played just 54.9% of the snaps last week as Boston Scott commanded usage with his impressive play. Sanders still reached double digit fantasy points, but it’s hard to imagine Doug Pederson not going back to his preferred committee approach now that he knows he can trust Scott. The Redskins allow the highest percentage of opposing targets to running backs at 25.12%. Sanders has seen five targets in three straight games, but Scott saw six targets last week. In a favorable matchup, both backs are in play, but come with a very low floor since we can’t be sure how the touch distribution will play out.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz (low end)
TE1: Zach Ertz (high end)
TE1: Dallas Goedert (low end)
Flex: Miles Sanders
Bench: Boston Scott, Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Passing Game Thoughts: I will preface this by stating that Dwayne Haskins is a rookie with a weak supporting cast on a bad offense. However, there is no denying he has looked completely awful in every game he’s played. Haskins has finished QB26 or worse in four of his five starts. Terry McLaurin is averaging 6.5 fewer fantasy points per game with Haskins under center. There is no need to spend unnecessary time on this passing game. Everyone is off the table.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Derrius Guice was playing very well in his return from injury, but, as one would expect, Guice is back on IR for the third time in his two year career. That brings Adrian Peterson back into a lead role, splitting time with Chris Thompson. AP played 49.1% of the snaps last week and figures to be around 50-60% this week. The Eagles allow the third fewest rushing yards per game at just 89.6, but have allowed 99 targets to running backs. This could be more of a Thompson game, especially with the Redskins likely trailing.

Value Meter:
Flex: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson
Bench: Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, Trey Quinn

Prediction: Eagles 26, Redskins 19

Browns @ Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: CLE -2.5
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s been a terrible fantasy season for Baker Mayfield and the Browns passing game, but a matchup against one of the league’s worst pass defenses may be exactly what this group needs.

Mayfield himself hasn’t done much to give fantasy owners confidence, but he’s one of the better streaming options on the board here in Week 15. The Cardinals rank dead last in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks this season and they haven’t held a single starting quarterback to fewer than 15 fantasy points in any game this season. That’s not a spectacular game, but if that’s the floor then Mayfield is a pretty safe option to be a QB1 for fantasy this week.

If Mayfield is going to have a nice day then we need to look closely at his pass catching weapons. While Odell Beckham Jr. is the obvious star of the group, it’s also true that he’s been battling an abdominal injury that is still bothering him and at this point he’s outside of the WR1 conversation even in what is a great matchup. It’s hard to put him outside of WR2 territory, though, even given the high potential in this game, but don’t be surprised if this is another tough fantasy day for him as the other pass catching weapons fill in.

The Cardinals’ biggest struggles have mostly come against opposing tight ends and slot receivers and that’s an area where the Browns can absolutely exploit them. Jarvis Landry has gone for 300 yards receiving over his past three games and he’s averaging over 10 targets per game over his past seven games. This looks like a potential smash spot for Landry and this might be the first time all season when it actually makes sense to rank Landry ahead of Beckham.

The tight end who could go off in this game is David Njoku who continues to battle injuries this season. He’s been dealing with a knee injury over this week’s practices, but he turned in a full practice on Thursday which should indicate that he’ll be ready to go in this juicy matchup. There aren’t many tight ends who possess the physical tools that Njoku does and the Cardinals have been comically bad against tight ends this season so don’t be surprised if he turns in his first TE1 fantasy performance of the season.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Nick Chubb saw a touchdown get vultured by Kareem Hunt in Week 14, but he still turned in a nice fantasy performance with his sixth 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Chubb remains one of the top fantasy backs on the board despite his lack of usage in the passing game. He’s seen at least 15 carries in every game this season and has only been held under 10 PPR fantasy points in two games this season. He’s not a top-end RB1 because he doesn’t catch enough passes but he’s still very much entrenched as a great fantasy play this week.

Hunt continues to see between five to 10 carries per week but his real contributions remain in the passing game as he’s now caught 22 passes in the five games since he was activated in Week 10. Hunt hasn’t been held under 10 PPR fantasy points in any game this season and this looks like a great opportunity for him to continue that trend. He lacks high-end upside because he doesn’t get enough total touches, but Hunt is a solid high-floor, low-end RB2 in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Baker Mayfield (low-end)
RB1: Nick Chubb
RB2: Kareem Hunt (PPR)
WR1: Jarvis Landry (low-end)
WR2: Odell Beckham Jr.
TE1: David Njoku (low-end)
Flex: Kareem Hunt (non-PPR)
Bench: Ricky Seals-Jones

Passing Game Thoughts: Week 14 saw the first three-interception performance of Kyler Murray’s career as the young quarterback just could not avoid the Steelers defenders. Worse yet, Murray didn’t contribute as a runner which didn’t allow him to turn in a quality fantasy performance. Murray has been a very hit-or-miss fantasy option, but this Week 15 matchup against the Browns does look like one where he could find some success.

The Browns offense looks like a good one to exploit the Cardinals defense, so expect there to be plenty of points scored on the Cleveland side. That should mean that the Cardinals lean even more heavily on their passing game than they already do, so look for Murray to have plenty of opportunity to put up a solid fantasy day. He’s too volatile to trust as a high-end QB1, but if you’re still searching for a quarterback and need someone who could give you a boom week, Murray might be your guy.

If he does go off, look for it to be primarily in conjunction with wide receiver Christian Kirk. Kirk is a bit banged up with an ankle injury but he does intend to play this week and he’s been heavily targeted in this offense all season. He’s averaging 8.5 targets per game over his past six and he continues to be by far the most productive pass catcher in this offense. We’ll rank him as a low-end WR2 this week in PPR formats given that he isn’t much of a touchdown producer, but he’s a fairly safe bet to have a solid fantasy day against this middle-of-the-road Cleveland defense.

Larry Fitzgerald might be winding down his career in these final few games and nostalgia might have you thinking about playing him, but don’t fall for the trap. Fitzgerald has been held to fewer than 70 receiving yards in eight of his past 10 games and he has scored just one touchdown over that span. The upside just isn’t there to play him in fantasy.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Chase Edmonds has been phased out, David Johnson is serving as a backup and the Arizona backfield has been all but fully handed over to Kenyan Drake. The offensive line situation is still as bad as it gets and the Arizona offense as a whole is still not great but Drake has now carried the ball at least 10 times in five straight games and he continues to contribute in the passing game.

The Browns are a middle-of-the-road fantasy run defense but there’s a good chance that this ends up being a sneaky shootout, which would absolutely help Drake, especially if he ends up seeing some goal line touches. We’ll rank him as a high-end Flex option because he does have some decent upside. His floor isn’t great, though, given that he’s been held under 10 PPR fantasy points in back-to-back games despite seeing a good number of touches.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray
WR2: Christian Kirk (low-end)
Flex: Kenyan Drake (high-end)
Bench: David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, Charles Clay

Prediction: Browns 27, Cardinals 24

Jaguars @ Raiders - (Caron)
Line: OAK -6.5
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: With D.J. Chark now ruled out for this weekend’s game, the Jacksonville passing game becomes quite a bit more ambiguous as we look toward their matchup against the Raiders. Oakland has one of the worst defenses in the league so there is a real potential for this Jaguars passing game to do some damage so identifying which players are most likely to see an increase in playing time and targets could be important.

The obvious standout is Dede Westbrook who should see more targets come his way with Chark out. He doesn’t replace Chark in any way, really, given that he plays almost all of his snaps out of the slot, but he’s the most established pass catcher in this offense and the only one who’s really contributed much for the Jaguars this season. We’ll look at him as a high-end WR3 who has upside in this matchup.

The other two players who could see an increase in playing time and touches are Chris Conley and Keelan Cole. Conley has been much more productive than Cole this season so it would make sense for him to be ranked higher, but Cole is the player who probably sees the biggest bump in overall value with Chark out given that he should see significantly more playing time now that he’s not competing with Chark. Conley and Cole are both non-starters in standard seasonal leagues but they both have some appeal as cheap, deep DFS options who could significantly out-produce their cost.

Gardner Minshew himself shouldn’t be started in standard one-quarterback leagues but he has enough upside to be a middle-of-the-pack QB2 in this matchup against the Raiders’ 31st-ranked fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Overall offensive struggles for the Jaguars offense have not done any favors for running back Leonard Fournette’s fantasy production. He’s failed to eclipse 50 rushing yards in four of his past five games, but he’s been an absolute beast as a receiver. Fournette has now caught 68 passes on the season, including nearly seven catches per game over his past six contests. The receiving production in PPR leagues has made him one of the safest options on the board even despite his rushing struggles and his continued inability to get into the end zone.

Fournette will be up against a Raiders defense that has given up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and they just got smashed for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns by Derrick Henry this past week. Look for Fournette to turn in a nice fantasy day.

Value Meter:
QB2: Gardner Minshew
RB1: Leonard Fournette
WR3: Dede Westbrook (high-end)
Bench: Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, Nick OíLeary

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr finally turned in another solid fantasy day this past week, but the Oakland offense as a whole is just not producing well enough to be looked at for fantasy purposes other than in the deepest of leagues. Carr had failed to reach 20 fantasy points in five straight games prior to being saved by some garbage time production against the Titans in Week 14. He had actually been held to under 10 fantasy points in back-to-back games leading into that contest.

Tyrell Williams is completely off fantasy radars at this point and the only player who we should really be looking at is tight end Darren Waller who continues to produce solid numbers at a position that is practically completely devoid of talent beyond a few elite options. Waller has been targeted at least five times in all but one game this season and he’s a top option at the position because of that high usage.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: The Jaguars defense has been exploitable this season, especially on the ground and that’s what Oakland will almost certainly look to do this week. We’ve seen the Raiders rely heavily on their running game throughout the season which has led to a potential offensive rookie of the year award for Josh Jacobs, but Jacobs missed the first game of his career this past week with a shoulder injury.

Jacobs has been back on the practice field this week but he’s been limited which leaves some serious questions about his availability in what should be a great matchup this weekend. The nice thing is that the Raiders actually got some solid production out of DeAndre Washington this past week so they likely won’t rush Jacobs back onto the field only to have him split touches. If he’s active, Jacobs should return to a similar role as the workhorse back in this offense. If he’s inactive, of course, it should be expected that Washington will again see significant playing time with the potential of turning in a sneaky nice fantasy day.

The Jaguars have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and they just gave up a ridiculous 326 total yards to the Chargers’ running back unit this past week. There’s plenty of potential for a nice fantasy day here so keep your eyes on the inactives list as we head into Sunday’s contest. Be sure to handcuff Jacobs with Washington if he’s available in your league, or even play the “block” game and pick up Washington even if you don’t own Jacobs.

Value Meter:
RB1: Josh Jacobs
RB2: DeAndre Washington (if Jacobs is inactive)
TE1: Darren Waller
Bench: Derek Carr, DeAndre Washington (if Jacobs is active), Jalen Richard, Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones

Prediction: Raiders 24, Jaguars 16

Vikings @ Chargers - (Caron)
Line: MIN -3.0
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: It was popular to make fun of Kirk Cousins earlier this season, but there’s a reason why the memes have all but completely stopped over the past two months -- because Cousins is playing like the stud quarterback that the Vikings paid him to be.

That increased productivity has led to some nice fantasy numbers from the Vikings offense as a whole even though they’ve been missing wide receiver Adam Thielen who continues to battle a hamstring injury. Thielen has practiced now in back-to-back days and seems to be trending toward playing this week for the first time since Week 9, so that would be a huge boost to the Vikings passing attack overall. It’d be difficult to trust Thielen as anything more than a low-end WR2 just because we haven’t seen him play in so long and he might have his snaps significantly limited still, but he’s a player who can produce quality fantasy numbers even on limited touches. Either way, he’d be a welcome addition for Cousins, who could be utilized as a low-end QB1 if you’re in a tough situation.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs continues to mostly produce quality fantasy numbers but he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in Thielen’s absence. While Thielen’s return might lead to slightly fewer targets for Diggs, it’s worth noting that the targets he does see could be of improved quality against less difficult coverage as the Chargers defense would have to focus on shutting down more than just Diggs. Diggs’ value likely doesn’t change much whether Thielen plays or not and we’ll call him a mid-level WR2.

The rest of the Vikings pass catching weapons are just too inconsistent to place in your seasonal fantasy lineups, but Kyle Rudolph does have some value as a boom-or-bust TE option in DFS tournaments. He’s scored five touchdowns over his past five games.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook’s continued run as an elite fantasy option this season has been extremely impressive and he hasn’t been held to fewer than 13 fantasy points in any game this season. He’s now scored a touchdown in seven of his past eight games and he continues to be one of the most active running backs in the league in the passing game.

This week Cook gets a Chargers defense that has been great at containing opposing running backs as of late, but we should still be confident in starting him as one of the best high-floor / high-upside combination backs in the league.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (low-end)
RB1: Dalvin Cook
WR2: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen (low-end)
Bench: Alexander Mattison, Olabisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith

Passing Game Thoughts: The Chargers have a tough matchup this week against a Vikings defense that hasn’t given up more than 240 passing yards in a game over their past three games while also conceding just four passing touchdowns over that span. Philip Rivers’ days as a trustworthy fantasy asset are behind him, but that doesn’t mean that we have to completely neglect his pass catching weapons.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen has caught at least five passes in each of his past four contests and while he hasn’t reached the 100-yard mark since Week 3, he’s seeing enough work to be considered a solid mid-to-high-end WR2 against the Vikings.

Meanwhile, fellow wide receiver Mike Williams finally got into the end zone for the first time this season in Week 14. Williams had been one of the biggest candidates for positive touchdown regression throughout the league so don’t be surprised if he makes it happen again this week against a Minnesota secondary that has struggled to defend some of the big, physical receivers they’ve faced throughout the season. They’ve conceded the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season and Williams could be useful as a nice high-upside WR3.

Tight end Hunter Henry has cooled off in recent weeks but he did get into the end zone this past week in the Chargers’ blowout victory over the Jaguars. The tight end position is terrible overall so Henry remains a borderline top five option at the position even though he hasn’t been producing huge numbers as of late.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler started the 2019 season as one of the most productive fantasy players in the league, then the return of Melvin Gordon relegated him to Flex duty most weeks. Ekeler reminded everyone that he’s still capable of being an RB1 this past week, however, as he completely humiliated the Jaguars with 101 rushing yards along with 112 receiving yards and a touchdown on just 12 touches. It’d be impossible for us to assume that he’s going to do that with any sort of consistency, but Ekeler’s per-touch numbers are off the charts and he’s one of the few players who’s fantasy viable even though he’s the second option in his own backfield.

The starter, Gordon, also produced in the dominating Chargers victory over the Jaguars, but fantasy owners might be a little disappointed that he only gave them one touchdown in such a huge offensive output by the Chargers. Of course, the Chargers really didn’t need much out of Gordon in that game so it makes sense that they didn’t lean as heavily on him in that game as they had been in recent weeks. The Vikings should put up much more of a fight this week which should actually be a good thing for Gordon and it’s safe to call him a low-end RB1 in this matchup against a good, but not great Vikings run defense.

Value Meter:
QB2: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon (low-end)
RB2: Austin Ekeler
WR2: Keenan Allen
WR3: Mike Williams
TE1: Hunter Henry
Bench: Justin Jackson, Virgil Green

Prediction: Vikings 24, Chargers 21

Rams at Cowboys - (Katz)
Line: LAR -1.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s hard to imagine any quarterback is more volatile than Jared Goff. Goff has six games of 18 more fantasy points and five games of fewer than 10 fantasy points, with four of those 5.2 or lower. From Week 5 to Week 10, Goff failed to complete 60% of his passes in a single game. Over the last three weeks, Goff’s completed at least 70% of his throws. Despite Goff’s improved play, he has only posted one fantasy viable performance since Week 8. The Cowboys are not the easiest of matchups. They allow just 216.4 passing yards per game and Goff’s road struggles are well documented. The Cowboys just got lit up by Mitch Trubisky and have proven incapable of stopping any team that isn’t terrible.

One thing we can be sure of is Goff’s top receiving option: Robert Woods. Over his past four games, Woods has seen a whopping 48 targets and is coming off consecutive WR1 outings. Woods is setup for another strong game. The WR2 on the Rams is undoubtedly Josh Reynolds. He played 61.2% of the snaps last week and was the primary option in two receiver sets. However, he is well off the fantasy radar as his job was mostly to block, running just 12 routes and failing to record a single target.

The next option for fantasy purposes is Tyler Higbee. Now, Gerald Everett may return this week, which would throw a wrench into things, but Higbee has thrived in Everett’s absence. Higbee has seen 19 targets over his past two games and surpassed 100 yards receiving in both. The Cowboys allow a not terrible 9.0 fantasy points per game to tight ends.

Brandin Cooks hasn’t finished higher than WR60 over the past month, including two zero point performances. He played a season low 38.8% of the snaps last week. Last to be mentioned for a reason is Cooper Kupp. Perhaps I should have mentioned Johnny Mundt first though. After all, Mundt played way more snaps that Kupp’s 34.3%. It is entirely possible this was a one game outlier, as Kupp averaged nearly 90% of the snaps prior to last week, but clearly Sean McVay benched Kupp for a reason and, most concerning, it worked. The Rams destroyed the Seahawks with 12 personnel and McVay has made it abundantly clear that Kupp will not see the field unless there are three receivers out there. Kupp salvaged his day with a touchdown, but saw just four targets. It seems highly unlikely you can bench him this week, but you absolutely should if you have a better option.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: In addition to focusing on more 12 personnel, the Rams also focused more on Todd Gurley. Gurley touched the ball 27 times and surpassed 20 fantasy points for just the third time this season. The Cowboys allow 4.2 yards per carry, but have allowed 603 receiving yards to running backs. If McVay watched what the Vikings did to the Cowboys with Dalvin Cook in the screen game, we could see Gurley more involved as a receiver. If you have Gurley, you are obviously starting him.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jared Goff (high end)
RB1: Todd Gurley (low end)
WR2: Robert Woods (high end)
TE1: Tyler Higbee (mid-range, but a shaky play if Everett returns)
Flex: Cooper Kupp
Bench: Brandin Cooks, Gerald Everett

Passing Game Thoughts: Dak Prescott salvaged his fantasy day last week with garbage time production. Prescott continues to lead the league in passing yards because the Cowboys continue to give up points at an alarming rate. The Rams allow just 221.2 passing yards per game and 17.1 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. This is not an easy matchup, but Prescott has proven to be mostly matchup proof, at least to the extent that he won’t completely fail. However, Prescott has been matchup dependent for his ceiling.

Amari Cooper is going to see a lot of Jalen Ramsey, but Ramsey has been beaten by the likes of D.K. Metcalf and Allen Robinson. Cooper is playing at well below 100%, so he’s more of a floor than ceiling play, but he should be fine. Michael Gallup is slated for the easier cornerback matchup. He’s coming off a 100-yard day and is a solid option this week as well. Jason Witten has finished higher than TE19 once in his past five games. He can be safely ignored. Randall Cobb’s hot streak lasted all of two games. He’s back to the guy who has finished better than WR42 just four times this season. He’s off the fantasy radar.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott had four 30+ point fantasy games in 2018. This season, he doesn’t even have one. On a positive note, Zeke has been extremely consistent over the past month, finishing between RB6 and RB9 in four straight games. The Rams allow just 3.8 yards per carry and just 15.4 fantasy points per game to RB1s. This is not an easy matchup for Elliott, but he remains a locked in RB1. Tony Pollard did not play last week, but should return this week. If he does, he will eat into a series or so, but is no threat to Zeke’s workload.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (low end)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (mid-range)
WR2: Amari Cooper (mid-range)
WR3: Michael Gallup
Bench: Jason Witten, Randall Cobb, Tony Pollard

Prediction: Rams 30, Cowboys 25

Falcons @ 49ers - (Caron)
Line: SF -11.0
Total: 48.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s been a rough second half of the season for Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game and it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better now that they’ll be without second-year wide receiver Calvin Ridley who was placed on IR this week. Ryan threw for multiple touchdowns without an interception for the first time in two months this past week and he has been held to fewer than 20 fantasy points in five of his past six games. This week he’ll be up against a 49ers defense that has been excellent against opposing quarterbacks this season. They got torched by Drew Brees this past week, but they hadn’t given up more than two passing touchdowns in any game prior to that this season. Don’t look for Matt Ryan to reach that number this week. Ryan is still a QB2 given that he typically sees plenty of volume, but his upside just isn’t great in this matchup.

There are really only two fantasy options who we should be looking at in this Atlanta passing offense here in Week 15, those being wide receiver Julio Jones and tight end Austin Hooper. Jones hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3 which isn’t all that out-of-the-ordinary for him, but he’s also been held to six or fewer receptions in five of his past six games. Jones is still a WR1 given his high target volume but this isn’t a high-scoring offense at the moment and they’re in a very difficult matchup.

Hooper made his return to the lineup this past week and didn’t really do much, but we know that he’s likely to see an increase in target share now that Ridley is out for the season. Hooper is still a TE1 even if he’s not completely recovered from the knee injury that held him out for multiple weeks.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: With 21 touches in each of his past two weeks, Devonta Freeman is proving to be a bell cow running back deep into the 2019 season despite the Falcons being far out of playoff contention. It’s difficult to find this type of workload upside throughout the league and even though Freeman hasn’t been particularly efficient with his touches, that many touches makes him a quality fantasy play.

Unfortunately, Freeman gets a terrible matchup this week against one of the league’s best run defenses, the San Francisco 49ers, who’ve conceded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They held Alvin Kamara to fewer than two yards per carry this past week and haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 10.

Freeman has a nice floor given his workload, but his upside is limited in this one. Look for him to be a low-end RB2, but nothing more.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan
RB2: Devonta Freeman (low-end)
WR1: Julio Jones
TE1: Austin Hooper
Bench: Brian Hill, Russell Gage

Passing Game Thoughts: There was some concern that the 49ers eventual downfall would be that they couldn’t score with the best offenses in the league, but that was put to rest this past week when Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers down the field many times, earning a big victory over the New Orleans Saints in a 48-46 shootout. Garoppolo’s four touchdowns tied a season high and his 349 yards were the second-most he’s had in 2019.

While the 49ers likely won’t need - or even want - to rely on Garoppolo nearly as much this week as they did in Week 14, it’s still worth considering that “Jimmy G” is red hot right now and has to be considered a fantasy QB1 in this matchup against the Falcons defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders have both been producing as of late, but often times in different games from one another. That’s made it difficult to play them in fantasy as they’ve both had big games mixed in with some duds.

On paper, this looks like a Sanders game. The Falcons have been absolutely terrible at defending opposing slot receivers as of late and that’s a place where Sanders is much more experienced playing than Samuel is. Sanders hasn’t played nearly as much slot in 2019 as he did in 2018, but Kyle Shanahan is also one of the coaches who will often scheme his players into advantageous situations. Look for Sanders to play more out of the slot this week than he normally does, which could lead to a bigger game for him.

Samuel is still useful for fantasy, but his volume also fluctuates greatly from week to week, which is to be expected for a rookie wide receiver. Don’t put him in your lineup if you’re looking for a safe option, but his upside does make him a nice upside play.

Of course, the one constant in this offense continues to be tight end George Kittle who has now scored three times over the 49ers’ past four games. He’s a top five scorer on the season despite missing multiple games due to injury, which should illustrate why he’ll be at the top of fantasy rankings as long as he’s on the field.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers running game has been a mess throughout most of the season as we’ve tried to identify which back will end up seeing the most touches, only for the script to completely change on us for seemingly no reason. Recently, though, we’ve seen some serious breakout performances from Raheem Mostert. Mostert started the season buried deep down the 49ers depth chart but has now seemingly played his way to the top of the group, with head coach Kyle Shanahan noting this week that his performance had left the team with “no choice” but to play him.

Finally some clarity! Or so we hope.

Even if Shanahan isn’t lying to us and Mostert does lead the backfield in touches this week, he’ll likely still concede touches to both Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman, who themselves have both had some nice fantasy days this season. Mostert is the player we’re most excited about right now, though, and it’s worth putting him in your lineup as an RB2 in what could be a nice fantasy day, particularly if the 49ers find themselves up multiple scores.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB2: Raheem Mostert
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders
WR3: Deebo Samuel
TE1: George Kittle (high-end)
Bench: Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, Ross Dwelley

Prediction: 49ers 30, Falcons 17

Bills @ Steelers - (Swanson)
Line: PIT -2.0
Total: 36.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh Allen has put to rest any concerns of a sophomore slump with 439 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns to go along with 2737 passing yards and 17 passing TDs. The second-year quarterback from Wyoming increased his completion percentage nearly seven full points while cutting down on his interceptions.

Allen’s 22.8 points per game place him ninth at the position for qualified QBs who have made at least eight starts, ahead of other mainstays like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, and Philip Rivers.

Allen and the Bills passing game will be tested this week with a road tilt against a surging Steelers team that has won three straight games over the Bengals, Browns, and Cardinals. Pittsburgh gives up the ninth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, and only one QB has topped 20 fantasy points against Pittsburgh since Week 12.

Cole Beasley has emerged as Allen’s favorite target with a touchdown in each of his last three games and six receiving touchdowns since Week 7. Although John Brown is technically the No.1 WR on the team, Beasley is the more trusted receiving option as of late and will continue to be active this week out of the slot.

Brown has burned his owners with back-to-back games of 2.6 fantasy points in Weeks 13 and 14, and could once again be a disappointment with Joe Haden covering him on the outside.

Teams have found some success this season targeting tight ends against the Steelers, with Pittsburgh entering Week 15 as the No. 12 ranked team in points allowed to the position. Those numbers are a bit skewed with games against Baltimore and Seattle, yet seven touchdowns in 15 games is a number worth looking at with regards to starting Dawson Knox as a low-end sleeper tight end.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie Devin Singletary continues to impress with an average for 13 points in each of his last three games, including 16.1 points on 101 total yards and a receiving touchdown against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

Veteran Frank Gore is now just used sparingly as a change of pace back and short-yardage yet continues to struggle even in that limited role.

It will be difficult to bench Singletary in this matchup based on his recent production, yet his owners may need to temper their expectations based on how well Pittsburgh defends the run. The Steelers give up the seventh-fewest points to the position and only four rushing touchdowns on the year, although some teams have found success passing to running backs on the flat, and Singletary is a skilled pass catcher.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen (Low-End)
RB2: Devin Singletary (Low-End)
WR3: Cole Beasley (High-End)
WR3: John Brown (Low-End)
TE2: Dawson Knox (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Devlin “Duck” Hodges continues to provide a spark for a Steelers team in need of something from the quarterback position after Mason Rudolph struggled this season as an injury replacement for Ben Roethlisberger.

Duck’s fantasy production has not been anything special, and he is not at all in consideration this week for owners alive in the playoffs, but he has done a decent job proving value to wide receiver James Washington, and the running back corps has been given more room to run with the viable threat of a deep pass keeping defenses somewhat honest.

Hodges gets a boost this week with the likely return of JuJu Smith-Schuster from a knee injury, and running back James Conner may also return to the field for the Sunday Night tilt against the Bills.

Only the Patriots have allowed fewer points to quarterbacks this season than Buffalo, and the Bills are far more susceptible to the run than the pass. You are like going to start Smith-Schuster for his upside, but don’t expect a monster game based on his likely shadow coverage by Tre’Davious White.

The Bills are just as tough against tight ends, so don’t give much thought to starting Nick Vannett with Vance McDonald injured once again.

If possible, I would avoid all receiving options for the Steelers aside from Smith-Schuster, as this game projects to be one of the lowers scoring games of the week, and the Steelers will need to move the ball on the ground if they plan on beating Buffalo.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: James Conner logged a full practice on Wednesday and looks primed to return to the field against the Bills on Sunday Night. Conner has been out since aggravating a shoulder injury against the Browns back in Week 11.

His return to the field will come at a great time for the Steelers as they will need a strong performance on the ground to beat the Bills. Buffalo is one of the most difficult teams to pass on, yet they can be beaten on the ground with a strong running game.

Fantasy owners who have Conner will no doubt fire him up again and place him in their lineup. While the worry of another aggravation of the injury is possible and a full workload is not guaranteed, he is still worthy of a start in what is a must-win game for Pittsburgh.

Value Meter:
QB2: Devlin Hodges (Low-End)
RB2: James Conner (High-End)
WR3: Diontae Johnson (High-End)
WR4: James Washington (Low-End)
TE2: Nick Vannett (Low-End)

Prediction: Buffalo 17, Pittsburgh 14

Colts @ Saints - (Green)
Line: NO -9.5
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: A once-promising season has gone down the tubes with the Colts dropping five of six after opening the year at 5-2. It all started to go wrong when Jacoby Brissett injured his knee against the Steelers. He returned two weeks later, but he hasn't been nearly as crisp. Last week's loss, where they led the Bucs by 14 in the third, was particularly tough, and Brissett failed to lead his team on a scoring drive late in the game. Overall, he threw for 251 yards and two TDs. That's QB2 stuff.

Brissett isn't the only Colt to get banged up lately, as the team was again sans T.Y. Hilton (calf) last Sunday and lost Parris Campbell (foot) for the season after he broke his foot in the loss. Zach Pascal has had his moments as a stopgap, including a 5-74-1 line in Week 14, but he tops out as a WR3. Marcus Johnson served as the clear No.2 target in that one, hauling in three passes for 105 yards and a score. He'd be a desperation flex play. Jack Doyle disappointed with only two receptions, though he was targeted six times and is still a possible low-end TE1 this week.

New Orleans had no answers for Jimmy Garoppolo last week as he passed for 349 yards and four TDs. That leaves the Saints in the 20th slot against the pass this year, allowing 244.1 yards per game via the air. Their defensive line took a hit in the wake of the 49ers loss as well with Marcus Davenport (foot) and Sheldon Rankins (ankle) both being placed on IR. There are plays to be made here. It's just unclear if the Colts have the talent to take advantage.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: While a lot of Colts are injured and missing, Marlon Mack returned to action last week, carrying the ball 13 times for 38 yards and a touchdown. As expected, it was Mack's show as Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines carried the ball a combined five times. Despite Mack being the bell cow once again, I like him more as a high-end RB3 or low-end RB2 as opposed to the borderline top-12 option he was prior to injury. The Saints, who rate fifth with 94.2 rushing yards allowed per game, also present a stiff challenge.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jacoby Brissett
RB2/RB3: Marlon Mack
WR3: Zach Pascal
Flex: Marcus Johnson (low-end)
TE1: Jack Doyle
Bench: T.Y. Hilton (calf), Nyheim Hines

Passing Game Thoughts: Offered tremendous protection by his offensive line, Drew Brees stood in the pocket and picked apart a top-shelf 49ers defense last week for 349 yards and five touchdowns without a turnover. It was easily Brees' best performance of 2019, and it re-solidifies the future Hall-of-Famer as a solid QB1 down the stretch with the Saints battling Green Bay, Seattle and San Francisco for seeding, which should keep Brees in meaningful games the rest of the way.

As usual, Michael Thomas (11 receptions, 134 yards and a TD) was front and center as the focal point of New Orleans' passing attack. His 15 targets were more than double anyone else, and he remains the top fantasy wideout out there. Jared Cook (2-64-2) was off to a great start as well, catching a pair of long touchdowns before being knocked from the game with a concussion. He remains in the NFL's protocol but has a good chance of being cleared in time to play in Week 15. If Cook plays he's a TE1.

Tre'Quan Smith (2-29-1) and Ted Ginn Jr. (4-50-0) both had their moments against the Niners, but there simply isn't enough weekly production to warrant playing either one of them, even if Cook is out -- in that scenario you'd probably just see more Thomas and Alvin Kamara (4-18-0). The Colts couldn't hold up against the Bucs last week, allowing 467 yards and 4 TDs. They now sit 22nd in pass defense (245.4 yards per game), and with their playoff hopes fading it wouldn't be surprising to see them struggle.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: For all of the ways that the 49ers struggled defensively last week, they made life miserable on Kamara, who ran 13 times for 25 yards; that gave him 43 yards on 17 combined touches, and he had a critical fumble. Latavius Murray was far more effective, accounting for 94 total yards on nine touches, which makes me wonder if the team might actually look to give him more work down the stretch. Facing a Colts team that allows 99.7 rushing yards per game (eighth in the NFL), I'd consider Kamara an RB1 and Murray a possible flex.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB1: Alvin Kamara
Flex: Latavius Murray
WR1: Michael Thomas
TE1: Jared Cook (if active)

Prediction: Saints 31, Colts 20