- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
49ers @ Titans
- (Swanson) Line: SF -3.5 Total: 45.5
Game Thoughts: The 49ers head to Tennessee to take on
the Titans on Thursday Night Football. Despite all of the distractions
surrounding the first-round selection of rookie Trey Lance, Jimmy
Garoppolo has handled the situation well, and the 49ers look like
they have a solid chance to lock up a wild card berth.
Prior to last week’s game in which the Niners scored three
rushing touchdowns, Jimmy G averaged 20 points against both the
Seahawks and Bengals and continued his solid play with 235 yards
and a score and completing nearly 80% of his passes against the
A big reason for the 49ers and Jimmy G’s success as of
late is the emergence of George Kittle. Kittle’s 17.9 fantasy
points per game over the past five is nearly four points per game
better than Mark Andrews at No.2 on the list. Kittle has been
a monster and should get a ton of work in this road matchup against
a Titans team that has been tough to run on.
The 49ers are a run-first offense that takes advantage of teams
via play action. That is their bread and butter, and even against
a Titans team that has given up the fourth-fewest points to running
backs, Kyle Shanahan will still try to run.
The question is will he succeed at running as much as he would
like. Regardless, look for Kittle and Deebo Samuel to be active
early and often in this game, which Brandon Aiyuk providing some
big third down catches across the middle.
An interesting matchup to watch in this game will be linebackers
Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans on Kittle in the passing game.
Only two opposing tight ends have reached the end zone vs. Tennessee,
and no tight end has topped 65 yards. Considering Kittle has at
least one score or 93 yards in all, but one of his last seven
games, this strength against strength matchup should be fun to
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: Shanahan said that rookie sensation Eli
Mitchell has cleared the concussion protocol but will not play
with a knee injury. Veteran Jeff Wilson will get another start
and a chance to build on his 18.9 point fantasy performance against
Wilson’s performance vs. Atlanta was the third-best performance
this season by 49er running backs and a good sign that the veteran
is getting back to his old ways.
The Titans are not a great team to target in the run game and
just did an excellent job shutting down both James Robinson and
Najee Harris in Weeks 14 and 15. Wilson should get around 15 carries,
but expectations on a monster game should be tempered.
Game Thoughts: The Titans enter this game after a disappointing
loss on the road to a reeling Steelers team. Ryan Tannehill and
the passing game struggled mightily, with just 153 passing yards
and no passing touchdowns. Tannehill somewhat salvaged his day
with a rushing touchdown, but it did not make up for the fact
that the passing offense continues to struggle.
Reinforcements could be on the way with A.J. Brown coming off
of IR. Considering the teams’ desperate need for help in
the passing game and Julio Jones’ paper-thin hamstrings
continue to fail, Brown will be a welcome relief.
The Titans rank 5th in most sacks allowed this season, and the
49ers have been dominant as of late with their pass rush. Even
with Brown coming back, if Tannehill does not get enough time
to throw, he could be in for a long day.
Despite their potent pass rush and solid linebacking group, the
49ers secondary is very beatable, with rookie cornerback Aubry
Thomas constantly getting beat by opposing wide receivers and
veteran Josh Norman, not the player he once was.
This defense is built on pressure and stopping the run. If you
can give Tannehill time, Thomas can be exposed by Brown or Nick
On the injury front, the starting safety Jaquiski Tartt suffered
an ankle injury last week against Atlanta and was listed as limited
in the team’s walkthrough on Monday. We think he will play,
but an ankle injury for a defensive back is always something to
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners of Derrick Henry who have
held onto the star running back will need to wait another week,
as Henry is not going to play in this game. He is likely out until
the playoffs, although there is some hope he could return in Week
D’Onta Foreman led the Titans in touches last week by a
large margin and looks to be the starting back in this game, barring
injury. Foreman rushed for 108 yards on 22 carries and added 27
yards in the passing game on three receptions.
Forman was listed as limited in the team’s walkthrough
but should be good to go despite leaving the game twice last week
with ankle issues.
Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold III and Taylor Lewan were listed
on the walk-through injury report as well, but both should be
good to go.
From a matchup standpoint, the 49ers have been a dominant run
defense at times this season, and other times they have looked
anything but dominant.
They shut down Joe Mixon and the Bengals two weeks ago and followed
with a strong game against the Falcons, but they have been manhandled
recently by the Seahawks and the Cardinals.
With Fred Warner back to full speed (he missed the Seahawk game),
we anticipate the 49ers to be stout against the run on Thursday.
You can still start Foreman as a low-end No.2, but expecting 100
yards of total offense might be a stretch.
Game Thoughts: With Baker Mayfield (illness) and Case
Keenum (illness) both ineligible to play in Week 15 after being
placed on the COVID list, Nick Mullens was thrust into the starting
role. Mullens, who made 16 starts while with the 49ers, isn’t
your typical third-string QB and played fairly well under the
circumstances. Mayfield is eligible to be activated on Friday
and looks to be in line to start. The Oklahoma alum has had a
tough year, enduring several injuries, and isn’t someone
to consider in his return after more than a week without practice.
Jarvis Landry (illness) is in the same boat as Mayfield, having
missed Cleveland’s last game but being eligible to return
for the Christmas game. While the veteran has had a quiet season,
he’s been better of late, catching 11 passes for 152 yards
and a TD in his last two games, both against Baltimore. Donovan
Peoples-Jones leads the Browns in receiving on the season with
a 27-478-3 line, most of it coming in his last seven games. Both
could be rolled out as flex plays.
Green Bay ranks ninth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 217.9
yards per game. They sat back in soft coverage against Tyler Huntley
last Sunday to limited effectiveness, but they certainly have
the talent to make things tough on Mayfield and company. One piece
of good news for Cleveland is that Jaire Alexander (shoulder)
will not return this Sunday despite being back at practice.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: With Kareem Hunt (ankle/illness) out on
Monday, Nick Chubb got 23 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Hunt may clear COVID protocols, but his ankle is still an issue,
and he is not expected to play on Christmas. D’Ernest Johnson,
who has been so effective when called upon, went essentially unused
as Cleveland has definitively shown they don’t want to slide
him into Hunt’s role when Chubb is healthy. The Packers
are 12th against the run, allowing 107.9 yards per game, though
many of their struggles have been with running quarterbacks. Chubb
is an RB2 here, while Johnson could be used in an emergency as
Game Thoughts: It was iffy at times last Sunday, but
the Packers ultimately picked up a win in Baltimore to become
the first team to lock up a playoff spot while also capturing
the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers was solid, completing 23 of 31 passes
for 268 yards and 3 TDs, though he left a fourth TD on the field
when he overthrew a wide-open Allen Lazard. Assuming he throws
a touchdown pass on Christmas, he’ll pass Brett Favre for
the Packers’ all-time TD pass record. Suddenly in the thick
of another MVP push, Rodgers is a quality QB1.
Baltimore devoted substantial resources to slowing down Davante
Adams (6-44-1), and it served to break the veteran’s three-game
run of 100-plus receiving yards. All that attention allowed Marquez
Valdes-Scantling to shine with the speedy wideout hauling in five
passes for 98 yards and a score -- it was the second time in four
games that MVS has led the team in receiving. Lazard, who posted
a 6-75-1 line in Week 14, finished with a 2-23-0 but should’ve
had a touchdown.
The Browns are 12th in pass defense this season, giving up 216.1
yards per game, but they’ll be without John Johnson and
Greg Newsome, both of whom are on the COVID list, while Ronnie
Harrison’s status is up in the air. In a recurring theme,
Valdes-Scantling is also on COVID IR, though he has a chance to
be cleared in time to play Saturday. If he does, both MVS and
Lazard are flex plays. If not, Lazard could bump up to a WR3 while
Adams is, of course, a high-end WR1.
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: For the first time since Week 9, Aaron
Jones (13-58-0) led the team in carries instead of AJ Dillon (7-22-1).
It’s a luxury to have two backs of this caliber, something
the Browns are intimately familiar with. Cleveland is currently
ninth in run defense, yielding 105.6 yards per game and 4.1 yards
per carry. While both backs carry value into Christmas day, Jones’
ability to reach the end zone (10 TDs) puts him a notch or two
above Dillon (5 TDs). Play Jones as an RB1 and Dillon an RB3.
Colts at Cardinals
- (Caron) Line: ARI -1.0 Total: 49.0
Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz had been on a bit of a hot
streak through the middle part of the season, but the train has
absolutely fallen off the track over the past few games. We can
blame it on the effectiveness of the Colts running game all we
want, but the reality is that this passing game is just not seeing
enough volume or efficiency to be very confident starting really
anyone at the moment.
Wentz has now finished with fewer than 12 standard fantasy points
in four of his past five games, including a comically bad Week
15 performance in which he threw for just 57 yards on 12 attempts
in a win over the Patriots. This shows us that if the Colts get
out to a lead, they’re perfectly content with almost completely
abandoning their passing game.
With that being the case, the only Colts passing game weapon who
we should have much confidence in at all is wide receiver Michael
Pittman Jr. Pittman produced his worst game of the season this
past week when he caught just one pass for seven yards, but the
fact that he was targeted on over 41% of the Colts’ pass
attempts should be looked at as a positive. It’s unlikely
that they’ll be in a situation where they throw that infrequently
again, and he had been targeted 18 times over his previous two
games, so there’s still reason to be optimistic about him
against the Cardinals here in Week 16.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: This run that Jonathan Taylor is currently
on is the stuff that fantasy football championships are made from.
Taylor has been absolutely steamrolling defenses for the better
part of the season, having now produced at least 18 PPR fantasy
points in 11 straight games. He’s exceeded 100 rushing yards
in all but three of those 11 games while scoring at least once
in every single contest over that stretch.
Sure, the Cardinals have been pretty good at containing opposing
running backs throughout the season, but they’re coming
off of a loss to the Lions in which they gave up a 100-yard rushing
performance to the relatively unknown Craig Reynolds. This is
an excellent matchup for Taylor and one that he should be able
to exploit to help secure quite a few fantasy football championship
appearances for managers.
Game Thoughts: If you were lucky enough to make it out
of Week 15 after a dud performance from Kyler Murray against the
Lions, you should be hopeful that things will get better here
in Week 16 against a Colts defense that ranks as one of the 10
worst defenses in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks
this season. This past week they were successful on the field,
but still gave up a 20-plus-point day to Mac Jones.
The unfortunate truth for the Cardinals, though, is that their
offense just does not look the same without wide receiver DeAndre
Hopkins. The team has had to pivot to sort of a “by committee”
approach to their pass catching situation. The two biggest beneficiaries
have been A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, who each turned in solid
fantasy performances in Hopkins’ absence his past week.
Rookie Rondale Moore suffered an ankle injury in the game which
has him listed as questionable going into this week, but Green
took advantage, catching four of the eight passes that came his
way for 64 yards. Meanwhile Kirk led the team across the board
with nine receptions on 12 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Both receivers look like they should be in for a strong share
of the targets again this week, especially if Moore ends up missing
The only other wide receiver who fantasy managers should perhaps
have their eye on is Antoine Wesley. Wesley saw a big uptick in
playing time when Moore went down, so look for that to continue
again this week with him likely finishing near the top of the
team’s snap chart at wide receiver this week. Wesley isn’t
much of an option in normal seasonal leagues, but he could be
a decent desperation play for those in deep leagues who’ve
lost their starters to injury and illness.
Tight end Zach Ertz hasn’t delivered huge fantasy numbers
as of late, but the peripherals look excellent as he’s been
targeted at least six times in four of his past five games, including
a season-high 11 targets this past week. He’s only scored
two touchdowns since Week 7, but the tight end position is in
terrible shape right now and Ertz is a pretty solid option considering
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Week 15 gave us our first glimpse of the
Cardinals backfield now that Chase Edmonds has returned from injury,
but things are still pretty up in the air as we head into Week
16. James Conner out-touched Edmonds by a 10-to-six ratio but
it was Edmonds who was by far more effective with his touches,
as he had been earlier in the season. Normally we’d love
to see per-touch efficiency like Edmonds delivers, but Conner
has been one of the league’s most prolific goal line snipers
in recent memory this season, having already scored 16 touchdowns
on the year, many of which came in games wherein he was definitively
the “backup” to Edmonds.
Conner is a bit banged up heading into Week 16 but he’s
expected to play which should lead to another split backfield.
We have to expect that the Cardinals won’t face a shockingly
negative game script again like they did against the Lions in
Week 15, but the fact that we could see a nearly even touch distribution
really puts a cap on both backs’ upside. Still, assuming
he’s healthy, Conner’s role as the goal line back
in one of the league’s best offenses makes him one of the
better RB2s in fantasy.
Game Thoughts: Jared Goff and the Lions shocked the world
last week by beating up on Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Goff
finished 9th on the week with 20.6 fantasy points, with touchdown
passes to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds.
Unfortunately, Goff tested positive for COVID and will not play
in this week’s matchup against the Falcons. The momentum
built between Goff and his receivers will be sidelined for a week,
as Tim Boyle will likely get the start at QB with David Blough
backing him up.
Goff’s absence has to be a knock to the value of both St.
Brown and Reynolds, two players who have emerged as solid WR3
options in all formats. Boyle threw for just 77 yards and a pair
of interceptions in his one start this season, with the Lions
losing on the road to the Browns.
The Falcons are not the defense the Browns are, but they still
should provide enough of a challenge for Boyle to find success.
We are higher on St. Brown than Reynolds, as the latter will likely
see a heavy dose of AJ Terrell, who is the highest graded CB this
season by PFF.com and has seven games of fewer than 10 yards allowed.
As the slot receiver, St. Brown should get more targets and will
be the safety net for Boyle.
Look for the Lions to run the ball early and often with their
collection of running backs and solid offensive line. If you are
not comfortable with your quarterback throwing all over the field,
the best remedy is running the ball.
From a matchup standpoint, it does not get much better for the
passing weapons on the Lions than the Falcons. Atlanta gives up
the second-most points to opposing QBs and the 5th-most to opposing
The problem is Boyle may not be given full reign to throw against
this secondary, which could limit WR production.
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: On the season, the Lions running backs
have collectively scored more fantasy points than the Saints,
49ers, and even the Vikings. This is a solid running team with
a talented offensive line - exactly the type of team you would
expect with a head coach like Dan Campbell.
Craig Reynolds ran 26 times for 112 yards last week against the
Cardinals, and Jason Cabinda added a six-yard receiving touchdown.
Both Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift (shoulder) returned
to practice on Wednesday and could play in this game.
If they join Reynolds in the backfield, look for Williams and
Reynolds to share early-down work, with Swift getting eased back
in from his shoulder injury.
The crowded backfield makes projecting fantasy production difficult.
Swift is the most talented back of the three, but he could be
eased back in. Reynolds ran the ball well over the past two weeks,
but Williams is the presumed starter.
Game Thoughts: If you made it through last week’s
carnage and are in the fantasy semi-finals, we sincerely hope
you have a better option at quarterback than Matt Ryan. The aging
veteran who is past his prime sits 20th on the season in fantasy
points scored by quarterbacks.
His 15.6 points per game are the third-worst of his career, and
he is on pace to throw for fewer than 25 touchdowns and will barely
top 4000 passing yards. In essence, he is one of the worst fantasy
options and should not be in consideration, even in this matchup.
The other skill position players in the passing game are in consideration,
including Cordarrelle Patterson and Russell Gage. Patterson’s
work in the run and receiving game make him a must-start, and
Gage has quite been a top-12 WR in fantasy points per game over
the past five weeks.
Christian Kirk posted a solid 9/94/1 line against this defense
last week, and Justin Jefferson and Darnell Mooney also posted
solid games over the last month. The Broncos did not do much back
in Week 14, but that was more of a game script issue with Denver
running all over the Lions.
You can run on the Lions, which is why Patterson is such an attractive
play in this game. It would not surprise us to see a rushing touchdown
or two by the veteran skill player.
Look for Gage to get between seven and ten targets, with around
80 yards and a possible score.
The Lions lost a key member of their defense last week with a
season-ending injury to linebacker and defensive captain Alex
Anzalone. For a team that already ranks second in most points
allowed to running backs, the loss of Anzalone is a big deal.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: If somehow you held onto Mike Davis this
long and advanced to the semi-finals, you deserve a reward. With
Detroit’s sieve of a run defense that is now without starting
linebacker Anzalone, your reward might just happen on Sunday.
Yes, Davis has been terrible, and Patterson will eat into his
touches. But you cannot look past this matchup, as the Lions have
given up 22 total touchdowns in 14 games to running backs. And
that includes last week’s odd performance by the Cardinals
in which one of the league’s top-scoring backs, James Conner,
did not run well.
Both Davis and Patterson are worthy starts, with the latter coming
in as a must-start in this game.
Game Thoughts: Move along folks, nothing to see here!
Daniel Jones is out for the remainder of the season as they work
out his neck issues. Mike Glennon was an unmitigated disaster
last week, so much so that Jake Fromm actually entered the fray…and
didn’t do much better.
That renders every conceivable receiving target on the Giants
roster unusable for your fantasy playoff this week. Not that there’s
many to choose from. Sterling Shepard suffered a torn Achilles,
Kadarius Toney is off the Covid list, but still working through
an oblique injury, and Darius Slayton is an after-thought, even
when those guys aren’t playing. If you’ve gotta have
one, Kenny Golladay squeezed 54 yards out of a handful of targets
last week and could probably capably fill a flex spot on your
TE Evan Engram is the top target in this offense. As the Giants
continue to return to 3rd and long on a regular basis, young or
inexperienced QB’s will use Engram as their outlet, but
his ceiling is limited as there is little else for opposing defenses
to defend in the passing game.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley has 31 carries over the
last two games. So based on the workload I suppose he could have
some RB2 upside, but he is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, so this
week he’s an RB3 for me and I wouldn’t expect much.
Devontae Booker might be a flex option, but a weak one for sure.
Game Thoughts: Jalen Hurts had his biggest passing day
in some time last week with 296 yards and a touchdown. But he
has been limited in practice all week, and fantasy managers should
be legitimately concerned about his ability to suit up for the
Giants. Smart owners will handcuff Gardiner Minshew, and in re-draft
leagues the smart play is to stay away.
WR DeVonta Smith caught three passes and had an impressive TD
grab against the Cowboys, but his lack of targets leaves him as
a marginal flex play this late in the season. Jalen Reagor saw
an uptick in targets with less down the field routes and more
of a presence in the catch and run department, and Quez Watkins
has been activated from the Covid list, but with the over the
top commitment to the run game this team has employed, there’s
not a lot of reason to pursue receivers from Philly.
TE Dallas Goedert continues to produce and will be the top receiving
target no matter who plays QB. He’s the safest bet in this
entire offense right now.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: Miles Sanders has made
a strong return with over 250 rushing yards on 42 carries over
the last two games. But he didn’t finish last week’s
contest. Jordan Howard did. Howard has had at least 10 carries
in every game he’s played this season and should be handcuffed
by all Sanders owners.
Game Thoughts: Looking long term, Trevor Lawrence has
the talent to be a very good NFL QB, if the Jaguars can get their
act together, get him some coaching, and get him some support
out on the field. He has been less than sharp and shown rookie-like
inconsistency throughout the season. Despite all that, he could
have some Super-flex, or even low QB2 value because the Jets secondary
is just that bad.
As the Jags look to get Lawrence back on the rails, they have
leaned on the run and tried to streamline things in the pass game,
which is another way of saying they aren’t getting many
big plays out of the passing attack. Laquon Treadwell is a big
target, and Marvin Jones should get a bump in targets with Laviska
Shenault headed to the Covid list. But neither is more than a
WR3 play, even against the Jets.
Lawrence’s security blanket, TE James O’Shaughnessey
has been a target hog and should produce solid numbers against
the Jets who have been crushed by TE’s this season.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Urban Meyer is out and
James Robinson is back in. Trevor Lawrence’s favorite back
had 18 carries for 75 yards and a score last week, and even picked
up six targets in the passing game. Expect more of the same against
a Jets defense that is allowing over 4.5 yards per carry and over
140 ground yards per game.
Game Thoughts: QB Zach Wilson just hasn’t gotten
it. The light has not turned on for him, and as a result, to use
a hockey term (tis the season), this offense hasn’t lit
the lamp, in any way or form.
Corey Davis is out. So is Elijah Moore. Jamison Crowder has a
new injury and has been limited in practice all week. Even Ryan
Griffin is out of the mix. Could Keelan Cole, Braxton Berrios,
or even Tyler Kroft pop this week? Well, I suppose Wilson will
have to throw to someone at some point. And I suppose he might
even complete a couple, too. But I know I won’t be counting
on any of it. Not to be a scrooge, but not all Christmas wishes
come true, especially if you’re a Jets fan. Stay away.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: Speaking of Jets fans,
they were excited to have RB Michael Carter returning last week.
He posted a meager eight carries for 18 yards. Tevin Coleman is
running well enough to steal carries right now, and he’s
a factor as a receiver, so he will continue to eat into Carter’s
opportunities. Again, if you’re desperate, both could post
some relevant fantasy production against a Jaguars team playing
out the string, but it’s hard to recommend relying on that
this late in the season.
Game Thoughts: If by some miracle you played Tom Brady
last week against the Saints and lived through his 8.8-point debacle,
congrats to you. It was the worst game of Brady’s season
by far and his worst performance since he played the Saints back
in Week 9 of 2020.
Brady is a QB1 this week and should be in your lineup, but he
could give you another less than spectacular performance with
Chris Godwin out for the season with a torn ACL and Mike Evans
looking doubtful with a hamstring injury.
One would think that this would be a running game with Ronald
Jones, mixed in with play action passes to Rob Gronkowski and
The problem with that strategy is the Panthers on the season
have given up the third-fewest points to running backs behind
only the Saints and Bucs, and they are the only team who has yet
to give up a receiving touchdown to running backs.
However, Carolina has been fairly strong against opposing tight
ends, with just five touchdowns allowed and just two dating back
to Week 6.
You are stating Brady and Gronk regardless, and Tyler Johnson
could be a nice flex option based on his high snap count from
last week. Johnson should see around 90% of snaps should Evans
not be able to suit up.
The wild card in this game is Antonio Brown, who is returning
to the field after a three-game suspension for providing a fake
vaccine card. Brady and Brown have an excellent rapport, and Brown
could be a league-winning asset for owners who were able to hold
onto him through the suspension.
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: Ronald Jones was the premiere waiver claim
of the week with the news of Leonard Fournette going down with
a hamstring injury. Chances are, whoever added Jones to their
roster did so with all or most of their remaining FAAB, as getting
a starting running back on one of the league’s most potent
offenses is worth a ton.
From a matchup standpoint, this is not the best game for those
Jones managers looking for a big playoff performance. You are
starting Jones, but keep in mind the Panthers have given up the
third-fewest points to opposing running backs.
They have allowed just two 100-yard rushers on the season and
only eight total touchdowns. On a positive note, Devin Singletary
scored a rushing TD last week and logged 86 rushing yards on 22
carries, and Myles Gaskin scored twice back in Week 14.
On a negative note, the team brought in Le’Veon Bell to
possibly work as the team’s receiving back, which could
eat into Jones’ value in the passing game.
Game Thoughts: The quarterback situation in Carolina
is a mess. Cam Newton looks to be the starter in this game after
getting all of the work in last week’s loss to Buffalo,
but he is a few interceptions away from a third benching for P.J.
Walker. We also learned this week that Sam Darnold is back in
the mix and could see some snaps.
John Madden is thought to have said, “If you have two quarterbacks,
you actually have none.” Who knows what Madden would say
if you have three subpar QBs.
For fantasy purposes, it would make sense to avoid this situation
altogether. Sure, Newton could have a few rushing touchdowns and
a decent fantasy day, but he could also get benched and leave
you cursing his name all offseason.
Regardless of who is at QB, you should consider playing D.J.
Moore (hamstring). Although he has just four receiving touchdowns
the season, he has averaged ten targets in his last three games,
and the Panthers will need to throw if they have any hope to win
Robby Anderson has 20 targets in his last two games and has played
in nearly 100% of the team’s snaps over the span. He could
be in line as a flex option, but hopefully, you have better options.
The Bucs were one of the worst pass defenses in the league at
the start of the season but have turned things around as they
start to get healthy in the secondary. They have given up just
three receiving touchdowns to wide receivers in the past five
games, but allowed Marquez Callaway to post a nice 6/112/0 game
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: The Panthers would like to run the ball
with Chuba Hubbard, Ammer Abdullah, and Cam Newton. It will shorten
the game and keep Tom Brady and the Bucs offense on the sideline.
The problem is the Bucs are solid against the run and will likely
force Carolina into multiple third-and-long situations in which
Newton will be forced to throw.
Of the two backs to start, it looks like Abdullah is the one
to play based on the likely game script of chasing points and
the fact that he is the pass-catching option in the offense.
Hubbard would be more valuable as the short-yardage back, but
that duty is usurped by Newton.
Game Thoughts: Justin Herbert and the Chargers head to
Houston to take on the 3-11 Texans in what looks to be a game
with significant COVID-19 issues.
As of now, the Chargers have 11 players listed on the COVID-IR,
including starting stud running back Austin Ekeler, along with
starting center Corey linsey and pro-bowl defensive end Joey Bosa.
Should Ekeler not clear protocols before Sunday, look for Justin
Jackson and Joshua Kelley to carry the load.
The Texans were also hit hard by COVID, with top wide receiver
Brandon Cooks and starting linebacker Eric Wilson added to the
Of the players listed so far, we know for certain that Bosa is
out for sure as he tested positive and is not vaccinated.
Herbert owners could not ask for a better matchup this week.
Houston has given up seven games of 19 or more fantasy points,
including 260/2, to Russell Wilson back in Week 14. There should
be plenty of opportunity to Herbert to connect with Mike Williams
and Keenan Allen, with the biggest threat to a mediocre game coming
from a negative game script.
If you look at some of the lopsided losses that Houston has posted
this season, the opposing quarterback was not forced to throw
more than 30 passes in multiple games. With Davis Mills starting
and the Texans likely without Brandin Cooks, this game could go
sideways quickly, and Herbert may not need to put up big numbers.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: Stud running back Austin Ekeler did, in
fact, test positive and was officially added to the COVID-IR on
Wednesday. We do not know if Ekeler will be cleared by Sunday,
and if he is not able to go, Justin Jackson becomes a very interesting
Houston ranks 5th in fantasy points allowed to running backs,
with 12 games of double-digit fantasy points allowed. Five different
players topped 20 fantasy points, including Rashaad Penny, two
weeks ago when he logged 16/137/2.
There is a ton of fantasy production to be had for Chargers running
backs in this game, and it will be disappointing for Ekeler managers
if he is out.
If Jackson is available on waivers, he is a must-add and a must-start.
Game Thoughts: It may surprise some readers to know that
Davis Mills has the same number of 300-yard passing yard games
as Aaron Rodgers in 2021. Of course, we are not comparing Mills
to Rodgers, but it should be pointed out that the rookie has not
been as bad as some may think.
He faces a stiff challenge this week against a Chargers team
that held Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow to just one
passing touchdown each. He will also likely be without his top
wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is on the COVID-IR.
You are not starting Mills in any playoff games, and really,
the only player of consideration in the passing game would have
been Cooks, who just posted 7/102/2 against Jacksonville.
You could take a flier on Phillip Dorsett or Nico Collins in the
deepest of leagues, but we would not advise that play.
Two injuries of note that could make things better for the Texans
are safety Derwin James, who was limited with a hamstring on Wednesday,
and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr, who is in the concussion protocol.
If both those players are out, along with Bosa, this defense is
nowhere near as formidable as it could be.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: The good news for anyone looking to start
a running back on the Texans is this matchup could not be any
more choice. The Chargers rank 4th in points allowed to the position,
and they are hurting on their defensive line.
The bad news is the Texans, as a team, are the second-worst running
offense, and only the Falcons have scored fewer fantasy points
at the position.
It also does not help that the Texans continue to use multiple
running backs, despite none of them having much success.
Bottom line: the matchup is good, but we hope you have a better
option in your semi-final game than Rex Burkhead, David Johnson,
or Royce Freeman.
Game Thoughts: Josh Allen threw three TD’s last
week in what was otherwise a conservative game plan for the Bills.
He now has six scoring tosses in the last three weeks and has
thrown multiple TD passes in four of the last five, five of the
last six, and six of his last eight games this season. Despite
matching up with a tough New England defense, and missing part
of his arsenal, he’s a money-down QB1 in a game the Bills
have to have.
Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis ended up in Covid protocols this
week and won’t play. But Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders
is a pretty good duo to land on your feet with, and TE Dawson
Know should see a bump with Beasley and Davis out. All are in
play this week.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: The one thing that could
put a ceiling on the passing attack is the emerging run game.
The team seems to have settled on Devin Singletary as their lead
back, and the Patriots have struggled to stop the run this season.
I would still like to see more designed runs for Allen, but with
his ankle still a minor issue, I don’t know that we’ll
get much of that. Still, I do expect another run heavy game plan
this week, with Allen and the passing game having more of a red
Game Thoughts: Mac Jones actually put up some nice fantasy
numbers last week against the Colts with 299 yards and two TD
passes. But it also featured some significant mistakes and wasn’t
the game that Bill Belichick usually likes to play. Given the
up and down nature of that performance, and the success the Patriots
had running the ball the last time these teams met, you might
expect Jones to be reined in. But with injuries and illness running
rampant through the New England running back room, it might fall
on Jones this week. He’s a QB1 in my rankings and could
surprise this week.
All eyes will be on Hunter Henry after his big game against Indy.
And by that we mean the Buffalo defense. He is Jones’ top
target, so don’t be surprised to see Buffalo lock him down
and force Jones to make some throws further downfield. Jakobi
Meyers and Nelson Agholor are next in line for targets but Agholor
will miss with a concussion, meaning we should see more of N’Keal
Harry in the passing game. RB Brandon Bolden could be in play
as well, with Rhamondre Stevenson out and Damien Harris nursing
a hamstring injury.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: I’m sure the Pats
would love to grind up the dirt the way they did in their last
meeting with the Bills, but I expect Buffalo will have something
to say about that. That was embarrassing, and no one wants to
go through that twice. Look for eight and nine in the box early
in this week’s contest. Jones will have to hit on some things
downfield to loosen up the defense and give New England a chance
to re-establish the ground game.
With Stevenson out look at Brandon Bolden over Damien Harris,
who hasn’t made it through a full practice in multiple weeks
now. J.J. Taylor will be active but isn’t a trustworthy
Rams @ Vikings
- (Green) Line: LAR -3.5 Total: 49.0
Game Thoughts: For much of Tuesday it felt like the Rams
were going to give the game away, but the combination of Matthew
Stafford and Cooper Kupp stepped up and put Seattle away. While
Stafford’s final line (244 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) wasn’t
great, the veteran did enough to move LA into a first-place tie
with Arizona. The Vikings boast a middling secondary, but they
have proven capable of rushing the passer, pacing the NFL with
44 sacks. Stafford has absorbed seven sacks in the last two weeks,
which makes that a possible issue.
At this point, when you start listing off the best receivers
in the NFL you shouldn’t go much past Davante Adams before
you mention Kupp (9-136-2), who leads the league in receptions
(122), yards (1,625) and touchdowns (14). He’s 1a/1b with
Jonathan Taylor for Offensive Player of the Year. While Kupp is
a clear WR1, there’s less clarity with the duo of Van Jefferson
(2-23-0) and Odell Beckham Jr (1-7-0). Both players had three-game
TD streaks snapped on Tuesday with similar total yards in that
stretch. They were background players against the Seahawks, though.
As noted, Minnesota has issues on the back end, and if they can’t
get pressure, it could be a long day. Even with their pass rush,
the Vikings rank 29th in the NFL with 252.1 pass yards allowed
per game. They recently released Bashaud Breeland as well; the
veteran had started all 13 games this season, so while he wasn’t
a star, his departure still further weakens this group. Kupp and
Stafford should be No. 1s, while you can view OBJ and Jefferson
as WR3/flex types. Tyler Higbee (illness), who missed Tuesday’s
game on the COVID list could return; if so, he might be OK to
fill a low-end TE1 slot.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: Back after a two-game absence, Darrell
Henderson (6-23-0) worked behind veteran Sony Michel (18-92-0)
in Week 15. Head coach Sean McVay talked about a timeshare leading
up to Henderson’s return, but whether that’s the kind
of split we should expect moving forward remains to be seen. It
creates uncertainty at a bad time for fantasy owners. The Vikings
are an accommodating group to opposing backs, allowing 128.5 yards
per game (27th) and 4.7 yards per carry. Both Michel and Henderson
should exist in that RB3/flex range with risk/reward potential.
Game Thoughts: As I’ve often written here, Kirk
Cousins has a weekly ceiling that’s as high as almost anyone,
but he’s prone to lower lows than his contemporaries. After
completing 14 of 31 passes in Week 14, Cousins was even worse
Monday night, connecting on 12 of his 24 attempts for 87 yards,
2 TDs and 1 INT. He was sacked four times as well, and only Chicago’s
self-destructive nature saved the Vikings from an upset loss.
It’s the same story as always with Cousins this week. He
could be a low-end QB1 but carries all manner of risk.
The common thread in Cousins’ back-to-back struggles is
the absence of Adam Thielen (ankle), who has missed his last two
games but returned to practice on a limited basis this week with
the hope he can play in Week 16. The thought that Justin Jefferson
(4-47-1) would go off without Thielen proved unfounded as the
second-year wideout had a couple of quiet outings by his lofty
standards, though he did score in each game. K.J. Osborn (3-21-0)
did a decent job filling in for Thielen, but if the veteran returns
there’s no value left for Osborn. Jefferson is a WR1 regardless.
Thielen could be a WR2 if he returns while Osborn would be a flex
if he doesn’t.
While LA allowed only 156 passing yards to Russell Wilson on
Tuesday, it could’ve been much more had Wilson not missed
on a couple of big throws. Football being neither horseshoes nor
hand grenades, however, close doesn’t matter, and the Rams
rolled to a much-needed win. For the season, Los Angeles has given
up 238.4 yards per game, which is right in the middle. When you
have stars like Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey, however,
there’s always the potential to overwhelm an opponent.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: With Dalvin Cook (illness) on the COVID
list, the Vikings will once again turn to Alexander Mattison.
In his three starts, Mattison has averaged 149 total yards and
0.67 TDs per game, which is RB1 stuff to be sure. One caveat to
those numbers, two of his three starts came against Detroit, which
ranks No. 28 in run defense. LA is one of just six teams allowing
fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground. Despite a tougher
matchup, Mattison is at least a strong RB2.
Game Thoughts: It’s hard to find much to nitpick
about after Tyler Huntley accounted for 288 yards (215 passing,
73 rushing) and 4 TDs (2 passing, 2 rushing) in a Week 15 loss
to Green Bay. Whether he’ll make a second straight start
remains to be seen as Lamar Jackson (ankle) has yet to return
to practice. Certainly, Huntley’s work should give Baltimore
confidence no matter who starts, though with a division crown
perhaps hanging in the balance you can bet they’d prefer
to have Jackson.
Whatever plan the Packers had for defending Mark Andrews (10-136-2),
the Bengals would do well to ignore. To their credit, Cincy held
the talented tight end to 48 yards on just three receptions when
they locked up in Week 7. Marquise Brown (10-43-0) was used exclusively
underneath coverage in Week 15 but led the way against Cincinnati
with 80 yards and a TD on five receptions. Rashod Bateman (1-5-0)
matched Brown’s yardage, but he has only topped 40 yards
once since that game.
Although they held the Broncos to 159 yards passing last Sunday,
the Bengals rank 26th on the season at 249.8 yards per game. Jackson
passed for 257 yards and a TD during the first meeting, though
it came in a 41-17 blowout loss in Baltimore. Obviously, the big
story to follow is Jackson’s status. If he plays, he can
be used as a QB1. If it’s Huntley, he has some desperation
potential. Either way, Andrews is a high-end TE1 with Brown as
a midrange No. 2 receiver.
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: After weeks of Baltimore’s backfield
trending toward more Devonta Freeman (6-22-0) and less Latavius
Murray (7-48-0) they basically split the load 50/50 against the
Packers. The Ravens leaned heavily on the short passing game in
that one, and it might be smart to do it again. Cincinnati sits
fourth in the NFL against the run, yielding 95.9 yards per game
and 4.1 yards per carry. Freeman still feels like a better play
than Murray, though don’t rely on either as more than a
Game Thoughts: Coming off consecutive games of at least
300 yards passing, Joe Burrow played very conservatively in Week
15, completing 15 of 22 passes for 157 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs.
While none of those totals were season lows, they were bottom
two or three across the board. His best game of the year came
in Week 7 against the Ravens when he racked up 416 yards, 3 TDs
and 1 INT -- it was his only game of more than 350 yards this
season. Pencil him in as a QB1 this weekend.
Of Cincy’s top-three wideouts, only Tyler Boyd (5-96-1)
did much in Denver as he more than tripled the combined output
of running mates Tee Higgins (2-23-0) and Ja’Marr Chase
(1-3-0), who had by far his worst game of the year. Despite that,
Boyd remains the shakiest fantasy option, checking in at his usual
risk/reward flex level. Higgins’ quiet day broke a three-game
streak of 100-plus-yard performances, so don’t read too
much into it and keep him as a WR2. Chase lit up the Ravens the
first time he faced them, hauling in eight passes for 201 yards
and a touchdown. While he hasn’t topped 100 yards since,
he still rates as a midrange WR2.
Baltimore is holding their secondary together with duct tape.
Only the Seahawks have allowed more passing yards this season
than the Ravens (264.9 per game), and they had few answers for
Green Bay in Week 15. One name to consider if you’re in
need at tight end is C.J. Uzomah, who logged a 3-91-2 line against
Baltimore in their first meeting. That gives him lottery-ticket
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: Denver’s stout run defense held
Joe Mixon to 58 yards on 17 carries (3.4 YPC) this past Sunday;
that makes three straight games of fewer than 60 yards on the
ground. He’s also faded from the passing game after a brief
midseason uptick in usage. Mixon ran for 59 yards and a score
against the Ravens in October. They’re a tough team to run
on, allowing a league-low 86.2 yards per game on a per-carry average
of 3.9 yards. Consider Mixon an RB2 in this one.
Bears at Seahawks
- (Caron) Line: SEA -6.5 Total: 42.5
Game Thoughts: It’s been tough to trust anyone
in this Chicago offense over the second half of the season, but
it’s been nice to see the progression - at least from a
fantasy standpoint - of quarterback Justin Fields. The rookie
looked downright horrible for most of the first half of the season
and he was also not getting it done in fantasy, but at least he’s
finally been making fantasy owners at least somewhat happy as
of late. While the passing game hasn’t really been significantly
better, it’s been Fields’ rushing that’s been
saving the day. After rushing for just a total of just 140 yards
over the Bears’ first seven games, Fields has now averaged
56 yards on the ground per game over his past five starts and
that includes a Week 11 game in which he didn’t even finish
due to injury. He may not be Lamar Jackson or Jaylon Hurts, but
Fields is delivering the rushing floor that makes him at least
fantasy viable, especially in two-QB leagues.
While Allen Robinson could be back this week after missing Monday
night’s game due to being placed on the COVID list, he remains
a non-factor for fantasy at this time. Instead, his lack of presence
would seemingly help Darnell Mooney, the team’s only fantasy-relevant
receiver, in his bid to finish as a WR2 on the year. Mooney has
been targeted at least five times in all but one game this season
and he’s averaged nearly nine targets per game over his
past five. He remains a player who has a relatively low floor
due to the Bears’ offense as a whole, but Mooney is someone
who should be a WR3 most weeks, especially on the road against
a Seahawks defense that has seen three opposing wide receivers
targeted 10 or more times against them over the past two games.
The other potential sneaky fantasy play this week for the Bears
is tight end Cole Kmet. We know that the tight end position is
a complete disaster throughout the league right now and a lot
of fantasy managers are going to be scrambling for a replacement
option off the waiver wire. Kmet hasn’t produced huge numbers,
but he’s seen a nice target share in the Bears’ offense
as of late. He’s averaging nearly seven targets per game
over his past eight games and has clearly established himself
as the team’s second-best receiving weapon. Don’t
expect a monster game, but you could do worse as a low-end TE1
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: With Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams
still only playing minimal snaps, it’s been the David Montgomery
show in the Chicago backfield throughout the second half of the
season. The Bears running back has seen at least 15 touches in
every game since returning from injury in Week 9 and while he’s
yet to reach the 100 yard rushing mark and he’s only scored
one touchdown over that stretch, Montgomery has really stepped
up in the passing game as of late. His 19 receptions over his
past three games have helped elevate him into the consistent RB1
range and he has an excellent matchup this week, facing a Seattle
defense that has struggled to contain running backs this season,
especially in the passing game. Nine different running backs have
caught at least six passes against the Seahawks this season and
if Montgomery is able to make it to that number then he’ll
almost certainly deliver for fantasy owners.
Game Thoughts: Another disgustingly bad performance from
Russell Wilson this past week pushed him even further down the
season-long fantasy rankings. The Seahawks QB has now turned in
four sub-10-point fantasy days over his past seven games, a stretch
more akin to his early-career numbers than what we’ve come
to expect from the perennial Pro Bowler. The Seahawks simply are
not passing the ball often enough to allow him to produce fantasy
points on a consistent basis and to make matters worse, he’s
essentially become a non-factor as a runner as well this season.
Wilson himself does have a decent matchup against a Bears defense
that has given up multiple passing touchdowns in five of their
past six games, but the upside just isn’t strong in this
one. This could very easily be a low-scoring game and we don’t
like that for fantasy.
Wide receiver DK Metcalf is nursing a foot injury heading into
this game, but he’s expected to be on the field. While that’s
good to hear, it’s hard to get overly excited about a player
who hasn’t even reached 12 PPR fantasy points in a game
since all the way back in Week 8 despite missing no games. While
his build and skill set would seemingly indicate more of a boom/bust
type of player, Metcalf has actually been surprisingly consistent
throughout most of his career, which makes this recent stretch
quite concerning. Obviously Wilson isn’t playing at his
best which doesn’t help, but this has been really bad. What’s
crazy is that Metcalf continues to see plenty of opportunities.
He’s actually been targeted an average of eight times per
game over this bad stretch, but he hasn’t eclipsed 60 receiving
yards or scored a single touchdown. We have to assume that better
days are eventually coming and it’s hard to believe that
many fantasy owners have multiple players who have a higher likelihood
of a breakout game than Metcalf, but it’s hard to blame
someone if they’ve finally reached their wit’s end
Teammate Tyler Lockett doesn’t get nearly the hype of Metcalf,
but during that same stretch of Metcalf’s struggles, Lockett
has been absolutely torching opposing defenses. Lockett has averaged
nearly 100 receiving yards per game over his past six games while
adding a pair of touchdowns. He missed Week 15 due to being placed
on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but his five catch, 142-yard performance
against the Texans in Week 14 was his third 100-plus yard game
over that stretch. Lockett is a notoriously streaky player, so
if you’re not going to start him now, when will you? Get
him in your lineup this week.
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: A week after Rashaad Penny completely dominated
the backfield touches for the Seahawks, it was back to a committee
approach in Week 15 as Penny split touches with DeeJay Dallas
in the team’s road loss to the Rams. It’s hard to
know whether that was game script-related or not, but Dallas touched
the ball 11 times to Penny’s 13 and he also scored the team’s
only touchdown on the day.
We have to assume that Penny is going to continue to be the Seahawks’
primary back for the remainder of this season, but this isn’t
a backfield that fantasy owners should want much of. The offense
isn’t very good, they don’t pass much to their backs,
and unless they get out to a big lead, then they’re probably
not going to give Penny a huge workload.
The running back landscape throughout the league is pretty ugly
so it’s okay to put Penny in your lineup as a Flex or even
a low-end RB2 if needed, but understand that he’s a low-upside
Game Thoughts: With Teddy Bridgewater sidelined due to
a concussion, the Broncos will again turn to Drew Lock to quarterback
what has been one of 2021’s most disappointing passing games.
The Broncos wide receiver trio of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton
and Tim Patrick combined for just five catches against an awful
Bengals secondary in Week 15 and while Patrick was able to get
into the end zone, it was Jeudy who was held without a catch for
the first time this season.
With even the tight ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam eating
into one another’s production, there honestly isn’t
a player in this passing game who can be trusted for fantasy purposes
right now. It’s a disgusting situation and one can really
only hope for a quarterback upgrade and/or an offensive coordinator
switch for next season.
LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: While the passing game has been abysmal
in Denver, the running game remains pretty good both from a fantasy
standpoint and a real-life NFL standpoint. Both running backs
Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have remained relevant most
weeks this season and while neither has really broken out from
the other, it’s looking fairly likely that they’re
both going to finish as top-24 running backs this season.
This week the duo faces a Las Vegas defense that they actually
struggled a bit against earlier this season. These teams played
back in Week 6 and both backs were held to fewer than 75 total
yards and neither got into the end zone. This was in a game in
which the Raiders scored 34 points on offense, however, so the
game script didn’t really allow Denver to lean as heavily
on their running game as they have been especially as of late.
The Raiders have averaged just 17 points per game scored over
their past seven games, however, so things have certainly shifted
in the wrong direction for this offense since the last time these
teams played. Look for this to be a much lower-scoring affair
with the Broncos having the opportunity to get both running backs
involved. We expect that both of them will play even though they’re
listed as questionable, so we’ll rank both of them as mid-to-low-end
Game Thoughts: It’s been a weird season for fantasy
football and one of the least predictable outcomes has to be that
Raiders slot receiver Hunter Renfrow is flirting with a top-12
fantasy WR season. While he disappointed in Week 15 in what we
hoped would be another productive game against the Browns, Renfrow
has otherwise been an excellent PPR option this season. He’s
finished with double-digit PPR fantasy points in all but three
games this season. Unfortunately, this week he faces one of the
league’s best secondaries and one that locked him up back
in Week 6 when he caught just three passes for 36 yards on five
targets. That was, in fairness, when the team was still rostering
Henry Ruggs III and Darren Waller was healthy, so there should
be more opportunity for Renfrow in this depleted passing game,
but it’s still not a great upside situation for Renfrow.
He can still be put into PPR lineups as a WR2, but don’t
expect WR1 numbers this week.
The only other pass catcher we really care about in Las Vegas
is Waller. Waller has missed three straight games for the Raiders
and hasn’t yet practiced this week, indicating that he’ll
probably be out yet again. Perhaps we can justify putting backup
Foster Moreau in lineups in leagues where you start multiple tight
ends, but this is mostly a passing game that you’ll want
to avoid, aside from Renfrow, assuming Waller is out.
Quarterback Derek Carr is normally a solid QB2 for fantasy, but
he hasn’t even been that over the second half of the season.
Since the team’s Week 8 bye, Carr has averaged about 13
fantasy points per game and he’s been held to under 12 points
in five of those games. This is just not a good offense and one
that you want to avoid even in two-QB leagues, if at all possible.
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: Josh Jacobs continues to dominate the backfield
in Las Vegas especially now that Kenyan Drake is on IR and while
he’s still only reached 60 rushing yards twice on the season,
Jacobs has now caught 47 passes on the year and appears to be
turning himself into a full blown bell cow. We wish the Raiders
offense was a bit better overall so he’d have more opportunities
to get into the end zone, but Jacobs has delivered double-digit
PPR fantasy points in all but one game he’s played this
season and there’s little reason to think that he won’t
continue to produce solid RB2 numbers down the stretch.
The Broncos haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Week
7 and only two running backs have caught more than three passes
against them over that stretch, but Jacobs should see a pretty
good number of total touches this week and that makes him a solid
floor RB2 with RB1 upside if he does end up sneaking into the
Steelers at Chiefs
- (Caron) Line: KC -10.0 Total: 46.0
Game Thoughts: It’s been a very up and down season
for veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but he’s actually
been quite a bit better throughout the second half of the season
than he was in the first half. Unfortunately, this week Roethlisberger
and the Steelers head on the road to face a Chiefs defense that
has actually taken big strides of improvement especially in the
second half of the season. They started the season off playing
horribly, but they’ve now held every opposing QB they’ve
faced to under 275 passing yards and two or fewer passing touchdowns
since Week 5.
Certainly Roethlisberger isn’t someone we’re looking
to start in single-QB leagues, but the quarterback position is
brutal right now and you could probably do worse in two-QB leagues
given that at least the Steelers have multiple viable pass catching
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has been one of the league’s
true breakout WR1s this season, but - like many others - he suffered
from the Week 15 curse. For the first time all season, Johnson
was held to fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points in a single game
in his Week 15 matchup against the Titans. It should’ve
been a crush matchup, at least on paper, but Johnson was targeted
just five times in the game. This was, in fact, just the third
time this season that he wasn’t targeted at least 10 times.
The disappointment is valid, but there’s no reason to go
away from Johnson right now in fantasy. He’s one of the
most highly-targeted players in the game and he’s been converting
all year, delivering both a high floor and boom weeks. He’s
a WR1 in any matchup.
Fellow wide receiver Chase Claypool has seen some big highs and
some very low lows this season, but nothing was lower than his
disappointing Week 15 performance against the Titans. The Steelers
offense as a whole struggled on the day, but Claypool was targeted
just twice - a number that simply has to increase for him to have
any fantasy relevance whatsoever going forward. We’ve seen
the skills before and he’s had some decently high target
games recently, including Week 14 when he caught eight of the
nine passes that came his way, but his variance makes him more
of a Flex play than anything else. If Pat Freiermuth is unable
to play then both Claypool and Johnson should see a slight uptick
Speaking of Freiermuth, he is currently dealing with a concussion
and is yet to practice this week as of Thursday. There’s
still a chance for him to suit up this week, but it’s getting
less likely by the day. Assuming he’s able to play, Freiermuth
should again be a low-end TE1 with his heavy end zone usage. If
not, look for Zach Gentry and Kevin Radar to split the snaps at
tight end in what would be a pretty non-fantasy-friendly situation.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: Listen, yards per carry are certainly not
everything when talking about a running back, but it’s hard
to ignore that Steelers first round pick Najee Harris has finished
with 3.5 or fewer yards per game in nine of Pittsburgh’s
14 games this season, including a season-worst 1.5 yards per carry
against Tennessee a week ago. While the rookie has been able to
get into the end zone and contribute enough in the passing game
for him to remain an RB1 on the season, his performance in Week
15 highlighted what can happen when the Steelers get into an ugly
“run-the-clock” matchup against a bad offense.
This week they face a Kansas City offense that has been struggling
quite a bit throughout the second half of the season and now could
end up being without both of their top two pass catching options,
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, as both players were placed on the
COVID list this week. If they’re unavailable, this could
be a bad situation for the Kansas City offense and, potentially,
in turn a bad situation for the Steelers offense. Certainly we
could also end up seeing additional carries from Harris as he’s
carried the ball 20 or more times in seven games already this
season so there’s not a ton to worry about for him, but
a shootout would actually probably benefit him more, as it’d
likely increase his usage in the passing game which is where he’s
made a bigger impact on a per-touch basis in 2021.
Game Thoughts: It looked like we were headed for another
disappointing day for fantasy managers of Patrick Mahomes in Week
15, but the Chiefs quarterback really rallied in the fourth quarter
to deliver a 410-yard, three touchdown game. It ended up being
Mahomes’ second-straight 20-point fantasy day which doesn’t
sound like much for a player of his caliber, but he had been struggling
over the previous seven weeks. It looked as though the Chiefs
passing game was finally clicking again, but then they got bit
by the COVID bug.
Both super-stud tight end Travis Kelce and super-stud wide receiver
Tyreek Hill are currently on the COVID list and could end up missing
this week’s contest if they’re symptomatic. For what
it’s worth, Kelce was placed on the list on Monday and Hill
on Tuesday so it would seem more likely that Kelce is active than
Hill, but the virus affects everyone differently so that also
might not matter at all.
Assuming they’re active, of course, Hill and Kelce remain
must-start fantasy options in any league. If they’re inactive,
however, things become quite murky. The immediate reaction would
probably be to boost Mecole Hardman up the rankings, but Hardman
has been out-snapped by both Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle
in five straight games. Sure, he’s the more natural one-for-one
replacement for Hill, but we’ve seen Hardman play before
when Hill’s been out and it’s rarely been anything
to be excited about for fantasy. Realistically, though, these
receivers will probably all play similar snap counts, they’ll
probably not produce anything much for fantasy, and we’ll
be left wondering what it’d be like if the Chiefs had a
viable WR2 on their roster yet again.
At tight end, if Kelce is out, the Chiefs will likely have to
turn to Noah Gray as fellow backup tight end Blake Bell was also
placed on the COVID list alongside Kelce. Either way, this isn’t
a tight end situation you’ll want to be invested in if Kelce
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned from injury
back in Week 11 and it had been essentially a perfect 50-50 split
backfield between him and Darrel Williams ever since. This past
week, though, we finally saw Edwards-Helaire pull ahead and he
did so in a big way, out-snapping Williams by about a five-to-two
ratio in the Chiefs’ big road victory over the Chargers.
While Edwards-Helaire didn’t do a whole lot from a fantasy
standpoint as he carried the ball just nine times for 32 yards
and caught just two passes for 18 yards, his playing time increase
is something that savvy fantasy managers will be taking note of
as we head into the championship weeks.
While Pittsburgh is normally touted as an excellent defense, they’ve
quietly not been great against opposing running backs this season.
Most recently they gave up 245 total yards to the Titans ugly
committee of D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard and Jeremy
McNichols. That actually marked their second-straight game of
conceding over 200 total yards to a backfield as Dalvin Cook did
it to them by himself back in Week 14. While we certainly shouldn’t
be expecting that kind of production from Edwards-Helaire, there’s
a real chance that the Chiefs could be without their top two passing
game playmakers which would almost certainly lead to them relying
more heavily on their running game than normal. We usually like
to see running backs involved in the passing game for their touches,
but in Edwards-Helaire’s case, we just want to see him touching
the ball more often.
This is an RB2 situation with RB1 upside if things break his way.
Either way, Edwards-Helaire should be in for a good share of touches
this week which should allow him to at least avoid being a complete
@ Cowboys - (Ken
Ilchuk) Line: DAL -10.5 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: Taylor Heinicke has been activated off
the Covid list and will be back behind center this week. But Washington
is heading to Dallas to play a tough Cowboys defense that has
been putting immense pressure on QB’s in recent weeks. With
a limited arsenal at his disposal, and an offense that has been
sluggish at best, Heinicke isn’t in play, and neither are
many of his offensive teammates.
Terry McLaurin is athletic and will compete to make plays on
the ball. With Heinicke back, he could help you as a WR3, but
any lack of production really isn’t his fault, so while
I trust him, I don’t know that he gets enough chances to
matter this week. Curtis Samuel (hamstring) may play, but maybe
not. He hasn’t played much football all season. Receiving
back J.D. McKissic is on IR with a concussion, and DeAndre Carter
and Adam Humphries, while serviceable, are not productive enough
to consider for the fantasy regular season, much less the postseason.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones can get up the seam, but he’s no Logan
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: Antonio Gibson was hampered
by a toe injury all week, and working on a short week, it’s
not inconceivable that he misses this Cowboys game. With McKissic
out, Washington could be leaning on Jaret Patterson and Jonathan
Williams. There’s too much uncertainty, and the payoff isn’t
worth the risk of using a roster spot on anyone here.
Game Thoughts: This is not your early season Dak Prescott.
This Washington defense held him to 211 yards and a TD two weeks
ago while picking him off twice and forcing a fumble. He only
had 217 yards and a score against the Giants last week!...the
GIANTS! Whatever Dak’s issues are, if you have him, you’re
probably playing him as there’s not much out there on the
waiver wire equal in value.
Prescott seems so intent on forcing the ball to CeeDee Lamb that
he’s pretty much forgotten about his guys Amari Cooper,
who was chirping about a lack of targets on critical downs this
week, and Michael Gallup. The worse news is that with all those
receivers healthy and on the field, TE Dalton Schultz has seen
a drop in production, and he was flying high just about a month
The moral of the story is, play CeeDee Lamb if you have him,
play Dak if you have to, and hope for the best.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: Zeke Elliott is essentially
splitting the load with Tony Pollard and averaging under 4.0 yards
per carry right now. That’s alarming. Pollard has actually
looked better, but Elliott is the more likely mail carrier in
the red zone and around the goal line, which is keeping his value
elevated. Both are marginal RB2 to flex options and could pop
against this Washington defense, which is a shell of the unit
that started the season with such high hopes.
Dolphins @ Saints
- (Swanson) Line: MIA -1.5 Total: 37.5
Game Thoughts: Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins head to
the Super Dome to take on a COVID-depleted Saints team that will
likely be starting Ian Book at QB.
Since returning from injury back in Week 10, the Tua and the
Dolphins have been on a hot streak, taking advantage of a weak
schedule that included a pair of matchups against the Jets and
a home game against the lowly Giants.
This game should be a more challenging match for Tua and the
passing game, but we think the Dolphins will still come out on
During the winning streak, the wide receiving corps for Miami
have combined to average the 7th most points in the league, with
rookie sensation Jaylen Waddle and veteran DeVante Parker putting
up large numbers.
Even with Waddle out last week due to COVID, the team put up
31 points against the Jets, and Tua was a top-12 play.
From a matchup perspective, the Saints are riding high on an
impressive win over the Bucs in which Tom Brady was held without
a touchdown pass. On the season, the Saints have not been great
against opposing WRs as the No. 10th ranked team in points allowed,
but if they play like they did last week, this could be rough
for Tua and the Dolphins.
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: Duke Johnson took over the lead back role
for the Dolphins last week to the tune of 22/107/2 against the
lowly Jets. It was the first 100-yard performance in Johnson’s
career and the first 100-yard game of the season for any Dolphin
Before you get too excited about picking up Johnson and firing
him up for this week’s tilt against the Saints, you should
know that Flores has not committed to Johnson as the lead back,
and the team was easing Myles Gaskin back into action after missing
time with COVID.
You also need to keep in mind that the Saints have given up the
fewest points to opposing running backs and no 100-yard games
this season. Only seven players have managed to score more than
10 points against this defense, so Johnson’s outlook is
not the best from a matchup standpoint.
Johnson is a skilled pass-catching back and could have more value
in PPR formats. But if you are expecting 100 yards rushing and
a score or two, you are likely in for a disappointing end to your
Week 16 slate.
The Saints have been decimated by COVID on the defensive side
of the ball as well, with linebackers James Carpenter and Jordan
Mills, along with safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive lineman
Christian Rigo and Jayln Holes all being added to the list.
Game Thoughts: Former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book
will likely get his first NFL start after Taysom Hill, and Trevor
Siemian were both added to the COVID IR. Book will have his hands
full against a Miami defense that has given up the second-fewest
points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks.
Miami has given up just two passing touchdowns in that span while
forcing four interceptions.
Of course, you are not starting Book in your fantasy semi-final
matchup. The question is can he provide enough of a threat to
keep the Miami defense honest with regards to Alvin Kamara and
the running game.
The Book has yet to be written on the rookie QB, and we really
have no idea how he will respond. He is not a runner like Hill,
but he is just as mobile as Siemian and could make plays with
He flashed a solid arm while playing for the Irish, with 34 passing
touchdowns in 131 games as a senior in 2019. His extra COIVD senior
season was not as solid, with 15 passing touchdowns in 12 games.
Overall, he finished college with a 147 passer rating, with 72
touchdowns and 20 picks. Not the most impressive stat line, but
certainly not the worst.
It was nice to see Marquez Callaway get behind the defense for
100 yards last week against the Bucs. He will be in play in this
game as well as a very low-end flex, but hopefully, you have better
It would make sense for head coach Sean Peyton to design a run-heavy
offense that limits the number of passes for the rookie. Look
for Kamara and Ingram to get a heavy dose of carries, with Kamara
also being active as usual in the passing game.
Look for Miami to be aggressive with their blitz packages, with
the goal of flustering the young QB and forcing turnovers. The
Saints will counter with passes to Kamara on screens and quick
targets to tight end Nick Vannett.
If possible, the best course of action for the passing options
on the team is avoidance. There are too many uncertainties to
risk your title chances with this team.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: After an extremely slow start that included
three 100-yard performances and six touchdowns allowed in five
games to begin the season, the Dolphins have turned that aspect
of their game around.
Over the past five weeks, only the Titans have given up fewer
points to opposing running backs, and Miami has not given up a
touchdown since Week 6.
You are still starting Kamara, but you should keep your expectations
in check. His work as a receiver should give him a solid floor,
but the ceiling in this game is not the highest.