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- a whole today based on their matchups: Kansas City Chiefs( vs. Oakland Raiders) New England Patriots( vs. New York Jets)
- Los Angeles Chargers(at Denver Broncos)
- Seattle Seahawks(vs. Arizona Cardinals)
- Pittsburgh Steelers(vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
the top seed in the AFC with a win.” height=”533″ itemprop=”contentUrl “src=” https://img.bleacherreport.net/img/slides/photos/004/329/195/7fed2ae89942b3653cbb63ab83bb5b5b_crop_exact.jpg?h=53&w=80&q=70&crop_x=center&crop_y=top” width=” 800″>Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs can lock up the leading seed in the AFC with a win.Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images The final week of the NFL season
is usually rough for dream owners playing in championship video games. Playing-time concerns occur due to injuries and groups
without any motivation to risk top gamers prior to the playoffs.You’ll have to navigate some of those concerns in Week 17. The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys are locked into their particular seeds in the NFC. The Saints are the front runner and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Cowboys are the No. 4 seed and will host a Wild Card Game. Even if they begin, it’s hard to expect a lot out of top fantasy options like Drew Brees, Ezekiel
Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas. The Carolina Panthers are out of contention and are down to their third-string quarterback with Cam Newton and Taylor Heinicke out for the season ending. Head coach Ron Rivera has hinted at using Week 17 to assess players, which might imply a lesser function for Christian McCaffrey.
There’s great news if you have Patrick Mahomes or any Kansas City Chiefs in your beginning lineup. Their loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 implies the Chiefs are still battling for the front runner in the AFC and could drop to the fifth seed with a loss, so they have plenty of motivation to play tough Sunday.
Here’s the very first take a look at points-per-reception (PPR) rankings for Week 17. These will change throughout the week and as much as Sunday’s action as we get more details about injuries and limitations, so ensure to bookmark this page for my complete rankings for all scoring formats.Check out Matt Camp on his Dream Camp podcastoffered every Tuesday and Thursday. Click to subscribe or listen anywhere you get podcasts.1 of 7
alt=”With a win needed for an opportunity at the playoffs, the Steelers need to succeed against the Bengals.” height=” 533″ itemprop=” contentUrl”
src=” https://img.bleacherreport.net/img/slides/photos/004/329/196/25a267dec59dc42b1b7dcc6174bf6a91_crop_exact.jpg?h=53&w=80&q=70&crop_x=center&crop_y=top” width=”800 “>With a win required for a possibility at the playoffs, the Steelers need to do well versus the Bengals.Chris Graythen/Getty Images I present my top 100 players( minus quarterbacks) for the week as a method to help identify your flex areas.
You might favor a certain position or player over another based on his role and/or your scoring rules.As an additional tiebreaker, here are the teams I like as
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numbers in Week 17. Ryan deals with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that’s been typical against dream quarterbacks in the last month. For the season, Tampa Bay has allowed the fifth-most dream points per game to quarterbacks and the 10th-most passing lawns per video game (251.4 ). Without an issue about the match, you can utilize Ryan with top-five expectations this weekend.Concerns Drew Brees, NO
( vs. VEHICLE)Brees and the New Orleans Saints required a comeback to beat the
Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend, however even in the win, Brees was QB15 with 16.9 fantasy points. Over the last 4 weeks, he’s averaging just 11.0 dream points, making him a significant frustration at the worst possible time. According to Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, Brees stated there’s” no doubt” Teddy Bridgewater will get some playing timeversus the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. With the Saints locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Saints could restrict Brees ‘snaps or not play him at all. You ought to stay away from him.Dak Prescott, DAL( at NYG) Prescott has been a fringe starter in the last month with 15.3 dream points per game. Even with a prime home
match against the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers in Week 16, Prescott managed just 16.6 dream points and a QB16 finish.The Dallas Cowboys struck the road to handle the New York Giants on Sunday, however with no way to improve on their standing as the 4th seed in the NFC, it doesn’t make much sense to play Prescott for the whole video game. He’ll likely be restricted in his action, which suffices factor to keep him out of your lineup.Streamer Nick Foles, PHI (at WAS) Foles was in the streamer discussion for Week 16, however how well he played was a surprise. The reigning Super Bowl MVP finished as the No. 3 quarterback for the week with 30.9 dream points by going
35-of-49 for 471 backyards, four goals and one interception. In his last 2 starts, Foles has 741 backyards on 59-of-80 death, 4 goals and 2 interceptions. With Carson Wentz still nursing a back injury, Foles will get another start in a must-win game for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Washington Redskins have actually been a below-average match for quarterbacks over the previous month, although they dealt with the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants in the last three weeks. Wentz hung 306 lawns, two scores and an interception on them back in Week 13. You can go back to Foles as a fantasy starter today.3 of 7
It must be another hectic and efficient afternoon for Sony Michel.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Much better Than Normal Sony Michel, NE( vs. NYJ) The New England Patriots ended their two-game losing streak by returning to a hurrying attack that’s been one of the most constant parts
of their offense this season. That implied a heavy dosage of Michel versus the Buffalo Costs. He reacted by rushing for 116 backyards and a touchdown on 18 carries, that made him the No. 11 running back for Week 16 with 17.6 fantasy points.The last time Michel had 100 lawns or a goal was available in Week 12, when he hurried for 133 backyards and a rating on 21 attempts on the roadway versus the New York Jets. On Sunday, the Patriots
host the Jets with a possibility to earn a first-round playoff bye. Reasoning says Michel ought to be in for another busy and productive afternoon, so begin him with RB1 expectations.Concerns Christian McCaffrey, CAR( at NO) McCaffrey enters Week 17 as the No. 1 fantasy running back with 380.5 dream points and 25.4 fantasy points per game. In Week 16, he set the record for most receptions by a running back in a season
( 106) andbecame
only the third running back ever to have 100 receptions and 1,000 rushing lawns in a season. In spite of that, the Carolina Panthers lost their seventh straight video game and officially fell out of playoff contention. The Week 17 B.S. Meter covered interest in McCaffrey’s playing time based on head coach Ron Rivera’s remarks associating with assessing gamers in an otherwise useless game. Absolutely nothing is set in stone with McCaffrey’s role, however you should understand a possible limited snap count and work
for him.Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, NO( vs. Cars And Truck) Considering that Ingram returned from his four-game suspension in Week 5, Kamara has actually been the No. 5 fantasy running back while Ingram is RB20. In the last 4 weeks, Kamara is RB6 and Ingram is RB29. Despite the fact that Kamara has actually clearly been the much better alternative, both players have actually been beneficial fantasy alternatives and are necessary to the New Orleans Saints offense. That’s why New
Orleans may restrict just how much those 2 play in Sunday’s video game with the Panthers. The Saints have no inspiration to risk either back with the No. 1 seed currently secured following last week’s win over the Steelers. Make alternate strategies if Kamara and/or Ingram are regulars in your beginning lineup.Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (at NYG )Elliott has actually been the busiest running back in the NFL this season.
He leads the league in both hurrying attempts( 304 )and rushing yards( 1,434). He’s also fifth among running backs and is tied for 20th overall with 77 receptions for 567 lawns. There’s no doubt he’s the most fundamental part of the Dallas Cowboys offense, so he may get some rest this weekend because Dallas is currently set as the No. 4 seed in the
NFC. Even though Elliott hasn’t missed a video game this season, he’s been on the injury report with hip and shoulder concerns. Do not expect him to do much, if anything, on Sunday.Sleeper Peyton Barber, TB (vs. ATL) Barber has quickly been the very best of a bad backfield in Tampa Bay this season, especially considering that he’s getting the bulk of the volume with rookie Ronald Jones playing no role (absolutely no brings in the last 3 weeks ). In the ideal matchup, Barber has actually been a helpful dream option, and he could be in line for one of those Sunday with the Buccaneers hosting the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have actually been an average match for running backs in the last 4 weeks,
however on the season, they’ve allowed the sixth-most rushing yards( 127.1 ). Barber had a productive video game in the very first meeting back in Week 6 with 13 carries for 82 backyards and 4 receptions for 24 backyards and a goal to give him 20.6 fantasy points and an RB9 surface. He’s a sneaky play for the season finale in this rematch.4 of 7Search For Calvin Ridley to complete his novice season on a high note.Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press Much better Than Usual Calvin Ridley, ATL( at TB) Ridley has actually been much better than anticipated as a rookie, although he’s
far from constant. He has just five video games with at least 5 receptions and 5 video games with
at least 60 backyards. He’s been able to make up for that disparity with nine touchdowns. Ridley wasn’t busy in Week 16, but he was productive with three
receptions on five targets
for 90 lawns, including a 75-yard goal. He’ll have a likelihood to end his very first year on a high note in Tampa Bay.The Buccaneers have actually been a tougher matchup for pass receivers in the last four weeks, although those games came versus the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Ridley had only three receptions for 47 lawns when these groups satisfied back in the Falcons ‘Week 6 loss.The Falcons have injury problems in the backfield, specifically Tevin Coleman’s groin, so Ridley might get more targets as a result.
He might be a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in Week 17. Issues Michael Thomas, NO( vs. VEHICLE) Heading into Week 17, Thomas leads the league with 120 receptions and is seventh with 1,376 receiving lawns. He’s been the only consistent, high-end option for New Orleans’ death game in both dream and reality. Since the Saints have actually currently clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Thomas might not play much Sunday versus the Panthers. He can’t be relied on for his typical output.Amari Cooper, DAL (at
NYG) Because debutingfor the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9, Cooper is the No. 6 dream large receiver with 152.4 fantasy points (19.1 fantasy points per game ). In that stretch, he has 48 receptions on 65 targets for 694 lawns and six goals. Most notably, the Cowboys are 6-2 because acquiring Cooper, and they secured the NFC East title with recently’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.At 9-6, the Cowboys will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC, no matter what occurs in their Week 17 video game versus the Giants. That should be reason enough to rest stargamers like Cooper. Don’t expect him to play anywhere near sufficient to be an useful dream option.Sleeper Tre’Quan Smith, NO( vs. VEHICLE )If the Saints choose to limit or rest their leading gamers, Smith could be in line for a larger role, and he’ll still have an excellent quarterback throwing him the ball in Teddy Bridgewater. Smith has actually flashed this season, but he hasn’t been included on a regular basis. That’s made him hard to trust for fantasy, although he deserves an appearance for Sunday’s game with the Panthers. Over the last four weeks, Carolina has actually enabled the third-most dream points to broad receivers, so this is a beatable matchup for Smith. Watch on any possible hints from the group throughout the week as it relates to playing time. Smith’s fantasy stock
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. Thankfully, he’ll have a chance to bounce back in Week 17 when the Raiders try to play spoiler in Kansas City versus the Chiefs. When Cook last faced the Chiefs in
Week 14, he turned eight targets
into seven receptions for
100 backyards and a goal in 40-33 loss. Over the last four video games, which includes that Week 14 contest against the Raiders, the Chiefs have allowed the most dream points to tight ends. Even though the Chiefs might be the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win, their defense is vulnerable, and Prepare can benefit from that for the 2nd time this month.Evan Engram, NYG( vs. DAL )Odell Beckham Jr.’s lack hasn’t benefited the New
York Giants, however it has actually been great for Engram’s dream worth. With Beckham out for the last 3 video games, Engram has 15 receptions for 239 backyards on 23 targets. That includes 6 receptions on 6 targets for 87 yards in recently’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Engram is the No. 4 tight end over the last 3 weeks with 14.5 dream points per game.Beckham continues to handle his quad injury and is far from a lock to go back to action for what will be an useless game for the Giants.
It’s also an useless game
for the Cowboys, who are locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Engram’s increased function without Beckham has actually turned him back into a weekly starter, so you should use him with confidence in Week 17. Sleeper Chris Herndon, NYJ( at NE )While far from constant, Herndon has been an intense area for the New york city Jets in an otherwise disappointing season. Recently was Herndon’s finest video game of the season with 6 receptions on 7 targets for 82 backyards and a goal. He was TE3 for Week 16 with 20.2 fantasy points. Since Week 9, Herndon is the No. 10 dream tight end with 65.3 dream points( 9.3 dream points per game ). Coming off his finest video game of the season, Herndon and the Jets go on the road to take on the New England Patriots. Although the Patriots have been the sixth-toughest matchup for tight ends in the last four weeks, they have not
faced any elite competition in the Buffalo Costs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami
Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. The Jets ought to keep Herndon busy in their last opportunity to evaluate him this year, which makes him a great reach play Sunday.6 of 7
on the line.The Titans might
not have Marcus Mariota readily available, as he continues to handle effects of a stinger he suffered in Week 16. The Colts knocked Mariota out
of their last match back in Week 11
and logged five sacks and two interceptions while restricting the Titans to just 10 points. If Mariota can’t play, the Titans will rely on Blaine Gabbert, which would be a clear advantage for the Colts. Aside From Derrick Henry, the Titans do not have any constant alternatives in their offense. Put your faith back in the Colts defense in Week 17 with this match looking favorable.Ownership percentage: ESPN, 30.2; Yahoo, 53.0 7 of 7
Redskins. Elliott has linked on 14 of his 15 field-goal attempts in his last 8 video games, and he needs to have another busy trip in Sunday’s must-win video game. He’s a most likely top-10 kicker.Ownership portions: ESPN, 31.1; Yahoo, 53.0Read the Original Post.
Every Monday during the season, NHL.com will offer the leading 10 players to include off the fantasy waiver wire. Based on Yahoo deal data and other elements including production, lineup and/or injury trends, we have determined appealing options at each position for fantasy owners in season-long leagues.MORE DREAM PROTECTION:
Top 200|100′ F‘|50 ‘D ‘|25 ‘G’|Power ranks|Lines|Tracker FORWARDS Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, LAK( 49 percent owned in Yahoo): The Los Angeles Kings forward had an assist and one
shot on goal in their 4-3 overtime win versus the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. Kovalchuk missed 9 games with an ankle injury before returning Saturday with 2 goals against the San Jose Sharks. He had actually gone 11 straight video games without a point before his return, but has three points (2 goals, one assist) and seven shots on objective in his past 2 games. He has bounce-back capacity for the rest of the season, specifically in a top-six and/or very first power-play role.Josh Bailey, RW, NYI( 42 percent owned): The New York Islanders forward had his four-game point streak end in a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Baileyhad four assists in that period and has a help in 6 of his previous eight games, 2 on the power play. He is skating on a line with important center Mathew Barzal and wing Anthony Beauvillier (C/LW, 6 percent owned ), and on the top power play with Barzal, forwards Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle( C/RW, 23 percent owned ), and defensemanNick Leddy. Bailey is 2nd on theIslanders in points (28), assists( 21) and power-play points (10, connected withLee)in35 games and is on pace for 66 points.Bryan Rust, LW/RW, PIT (30 percentowned ): ThePittsburgh Penguins forward has been flourishing with his direct exposure to elite center Sidney Crosby and wing Jake Guentzel on the top line. Rust had 2 assists in a 3-0 win
versus theCarolina Hurricanes on Saturday, extending his point streak to five games. He has eight points( five objectives, 3 helps )throughout that span and has 11 points( 8 objectives, 3 assists) and 25 shots on objective in his previous seven games. Rust is seeing limited time on the second power play however is a must-own possession with his even-strength direct exposure to Crosby, which offers him an opportunity to break the 20-goal barrier, improving his prior NHL high of 15 in 2016-17. David Perron, STL (15 percent owned): The St. Louis Blues forward had an objective, a power-play assist and 2 shots on goal in a 3-1 win versus the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Perron has six points (4 goals, two assists )and 13 shots on objective in his past seven video games, and 21 points( 12 objectives, 9 helps )in 33 games this season.He is skating on the Blues ‘very first line with forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Alexander Steen( LW/RW, 5 percent owned), and at the point on the 2nd power play with Steen and exposure to defenseman Colton Parayko (58 percent owned). Andreas Johnsson, LW, TOR (9 percent owned ): The Toronto Maple Leafs forward had an assist in a 5-4 overtime win versus the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Johnsson has 4 points( one objective, three assists) and 3 shots on goal in his past2 video games, and isskating on a line with elite forwards John Tavares and Mitchell Marner. He has 17 points( eight objectives, 9 assists) in 32games and is worth streaming in all leagues as long as he keeps exposure to the important forwards in the Maple Leafs’ leading six.Phillip Danault, C, MTL (4 percent owned):The Montreal Canadiens forward had a hat technique and had 6 shots on objective and one hit in a 4-3 overtime win against the Golden Knights on Saturday. Danault has 7 points (three goals, 4 assists) in his previous six games and is gathering good category protection throughout that period with 7 hits and 11 shots on objective. He is focusing a line with forwards Tomas Tatar( LW/RW, 48 percent owned) and Brendan Gallagher( RW, 66 percent owned) and is worth streaming in deep leagues and DFS.Others to consider: Kevin Hayes, NYR; Ryan Dzingel, OTT; Brock Nelson, NYI; J.T. Compher, COL; David Krejci, BOS; Denis Gurianov, DAL; Alex Iafallo, LAK; Tyler Bozak, STL; Brandon Saad, CHI; Alexander Kerfoot, COL; Jakub Vrana, WSH DEFENSEMEN Alexander Edler, VAN( 34 percent owned): The Vancouver Canucks defenseman has nine points( 3 goals, 6 assists )4 power-play points and 27 shots on objective and has actually averaged 23:05 of ice time in 14 video games considering that returning from a lower-body injury Nov. 24. He is skating on the very first defense set at even strength and is running the point on the leading power play with elite forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, along with forwards Bo Horvat and Nikolay Goldobin( LW/RW, 5 percent owned). Edler is the leading fantasy choice for Vancouver defensemen and deserves owning with his exposure at even strength and on the power play with their leading forwards.Erik Gustafsson, CHI( 19 percent owned): Gustafsson leads ChicagoBlackhawks with an NHL career-high 18 points( eight goals, 10 helps)
, and also has three power-play points and 64 shots on goal in 36 video games. Gustafsson has 7 points( 4 goals, three assists), 2 power-play points and six hits in his previous 9 video games. He is skating on the very first defense couple with veteran Duncan Keith( 51 percent owned) and is running the point on the first powerhave fun with exposure to top forwards Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat. Gustafssondeserves rostering as a streaming optionand value defenseman in DFS contests.Others to consider: Colton Parayko, STL; Esa Lindell, DAL
; Ryan Pulock, NYI; Jake Muzzin, LAK; Tyler Myers, WPG; Connor Murphy, CHI GOALIES Carter Hart, PHI (42 percent owned):The Philadelphia Flyers novice was outstanding in his first three NHL begins this previous week, winning two. Hart, who permitted 4 goals in a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, is 2-1-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average and.904 save portion in 3 video games. He was 9-5-2 with a 3.05 GAA and.901 save portion in 17 games with Lehigh Valley ofthe American Hockey League before being phoned Dec. 17. Hart might figure heavily into the Flyers’ goaltending rotation, splitting time with Michal Neuvirth( 2 percent owned) up until starter Brian Elliott returns from a lower-body injury at some point after Jan. 1. Hart has high upside potential as a streaming option in all league formats in the short-term, and would deserve keeping in keeper leagues.Darcy Kuemper, ARI( 14 percent owned): The Arizona Coyotes goalie will be to go-to alternative for the Coyotes for the rest of the season after Adin Hill wassent to Tucson of the AHL on Monday. Kuemper made 35 conserves in a 4-3 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday and is 5-9-2 with a 2.81 GAA and.911 save portion in 16 video games. It’s most likely he gets the bulk of the work moving forward, making him rosterable in all formats as a third or fourth goalie or as a pick-up area start.Others to consider: Jacob Markstrom, VAN; Petr Mrazek, Cars And Truck; Linus Ullmark, BUF; Robin Lehner, NYI GAMES TODAYS: A LOT OF: ARI, VGK( 3 each )FEWEST: All other NHL video games play 2 video games after vacation breakRead the Original Post.
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Mike Williams might be the reason you’re heading to the fantasy championship.David Eulitt/Getty Images
It hasn’t been pretty, but if you’re still around heading into Week 16, congratulations on making it this far. The fantasy championship is upon us, and some surprising names could be in your lineup this week.
Mike Williams got Week 15 started on a high note with the best performance of his career. Of course, that came in a game with more than a few disappointing players, including Keenan Allen, who had to depart with a hip injury. Williams’ fantasy value for Week 16 will certainly be tied to Allen’s status.
Aaron Jones was in for a tough matchup with the Chicago Bears, but a knee injury knocked him out early, opening the door for Jamaal Williams to take the lead. Williams will be a coveted addition from the waiver wire since it looks like he’ll stay in the lead this weekend.
The Miami Dolphins took an ugly defeat to the Minnesota Vikings and also lost Frank Gore to a foot injury. Instead of turning to Kenyan Drake, the Dolphins had Kalen Ballage pick up the slack. He’s an intriguing name to consider if you’re hurting at running back.
The B.S. Meter breaks down 10 of the most pressing issues in fantasy football heading into Week 16. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10, with 1 being completely true and 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
Check out Camp on hisFantasy Camppodcast available every Tuesday and Thursday. Click to subscribe or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
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Jamaal Williams will be in Week 16 championship lineups.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
For most of the season, Jamaal Williams has taken a backseat to Aaron Jones in the Green Bay Packers backfield, and rightfully so since Jones is the more talented player. Week 15 saw Williams come back into the picture.
Jones had just four carries for eight yards before exiting toward the end of the first quarter with a knee injury. He was unable to return, so Williams took over for the rest of the game. He saw a season-high 86.8 percent of the snaps and carried 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown in addition to four receptions for 42 yards on five targets. With 19.7 fantasy points, Williams finished the week as a top-15 fantasy back.
According to Tom Silverstein of theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jones thought he suffered a sprained MCL. After losing to the Chicago Bears, the Packers were eliminated from playoff competition, so it’s fair to believe Jones won’t be rushed back this week or for the season finale. That puts Williams atop the waiver wire for the fantasy championship.
Williams has an average matchup on the road against the New York Jets on Sunday. The team added Kapri Bibbs as some insurance, but it should be Williams getting the majority of the snaps and workload, which should make him a decent RB2.
B.S. Meter on Williams being the top waiver add:1/10
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Elijah McGuire has value based on volume.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
It’s been a lost season for the New York Jets for quite some time, yet it doesn’t seem like the coaching staff was too eager to move into evaluation mode. That might have something to do with a lack of job security for head coach Todd Bowles. However, with Isaiah Crowell on the injured reserve list, the team had to take a longer look at Elijah McGuire in the Saturday afternoon Week 15 tilt with the Houston Texans.
McGuire was nothing more than a desperation fantasy option considering he had a less-than-ideal matchup. Luckily, McGuire got plenty of volume and was able to squeeze 42 rushing yards and a touchdown out of 18 attempts. He also snatched three of four targets for 29 yards. That was enough for 16.1 fantasy points and a top-25 effort, which should be considered a great success.
Over the last two weeks, McGuire turned eight targets into six receptions for 52 yards and 35 carries into 102 yards and two touchdowns while playing more than 74 percent of the snaps in each game. His fantasy value has been saved by the touchdowns, but the volume has been strong enough to make him a viable option.
In Week 15, Trenton Cannon played 30.7 percent of the snaps with seven carries for 13 yards and three receptions for 24 yards on four targets, so he’s been involved, yet not a big threat to McGuire’s workload.
The Jets face the Green Bay Packers in a battle of two teams with nothing to play for other than pride. It should be another busy week for McGuire in a more attractive matchup, which makes him easier to start with confidence.
B.S. Meter on the Jets featuring McGuire:2/10
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The Chiefs should stick with Damien Williams in Week 16.Ed Zurga/Associated Press
The Kansas City Chiefs played arguably the biggest game of the season with their third-string running back getting the start. They didn’t come away with the victory, but Damien Williams did more than enough to satisfy fantasy owners.
For only the third time in his career, Williams registered double-digit carries when he rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts. He also converted six targets into six receptions for 74 yards on a 73.3 percent snap share. His 30.3 fantasy points were second only to Todd Gurley for the week, so if you had to plug and play Williams out of necessity, he had one of the best games you’ll see out of a desperation lineup replacement.
The only other Chiefs running back to touch the ball was Darrel Williams, who had two carries for 13 yards and two receptions for 19 yards and a score on two targets. He was on the field for just 25 percent of the snaps.
Spencer Ware had to sit out Week 15 with what was listed as hamstring and shoulder injuries, although it appeared the hamstring was the primary reason for Ware’s absence.
When asked about Ware’s injury, head coach Andy Reid said, per Brooke Pryor of theKansas City Star: “He’s making progress with his hamstring. That was the primary thing. He tweaked it. It’s not a severe hamstring, but it was just enough he couldn’t open up for the game. He’s making progress there. We’ll just have to see on that. Day-to-day.”
In the two games before his injury, Ware rushed 29 times for 122 yards and a score and had six receptions for 59 yards on six targets. Williams has 12 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets and 23 carries for 101 yards and three scores in the last three games.
Williams has done more than enough to keep a significant role if Ware is ready to return this week, but if Ware isn’t close to 100 percent, Williams should continue to lead the way. He doesn’t have to see a lot of carries, as long as he continues to get plenty of touches.
B.S. Meter on if Williams should remain the Chiefs’ lead back:3/10
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Adam Thielen had a rough Week 15.Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press
If you’re still alive heading into Week 16, it’s not because of Adam Thielen’s fantasy production in Week 15. In fact, Thielen has been a frustrating player to deal with for the last three weeks.
The firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after Week 14 seemed to signal somewhat of a philosophy shift for the Minnesota Vikings offense. Simply put, head coach Mike Zimmer wanted to run the ball more, and that’s exactly what happened when the Vikings hosted the Miami Dolphins. Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries in a 41-17 victory.
That was great for the Vikings but bad for Thielen. He caught his only two targets for 19 yards. In two previous games, Thielen turned 17 targets into 10 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. After opening the season with eight 100-yard efforts, Thielen has just one 100-yard performance in his last six games. He’s failed to register 75 yards in five of the last six games.
Hopefully, Thielen can get back on track this weekend in Detroit. The Lions have been an average matchup for wide receivers, although he had just four receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown on seven targets when the teams last met back in Week 9. Even if the Vikings stay committed to the run, it’s hard to see Thielen seeing another low target share considering he had at least seven targets in every other game this season. He’s not a lock to be a WR1, but you shouldn’t shy away from using him.
B.S. Meter on Thielen bouncing back in Week 16:4/10
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Wendell Smallwood is back in the picture for the Eagles.Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images
The defending Super Bowl champions may not be back on the path to a first-round bye, but the Philadelphia Eagles are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Injuries continue to pile up, and the latest is a back issue for Josh Adams. That gave Wendell Smallwood increased opportunities against the Los Angeles Rams.
The back injury wasn’t enough to put Adams down for the count, although he wasn’t very productive. Adams saw just 37.5 percent of the snap share after playing at least 40 percent in four previous games. He still led the backfield with 15 carries but wound up with just 28 yards and a score and failed to catch his only target. In the last two weeks, Adams has 64 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Smallwood was completely off the fantasy radar until Adams’ injury. He entered Week 15 with four carries for three yards in five previous games. Luckily for the Eagles, Smallwood was able to handle 10 carries and racked up 48 yards and two touchdowns in addition to catching both of his targets for nine yards. Smallwood was on the field for 31.3 percent of the offensive snaps.
With Corey Clement on injured reserve and Darren Sproles playing a complementary role (six touches, 46 yards), the Eagles may need more of Smallwood if Adams continues to struggle with back and shoulder injuries. Since Adams made it through the game, there isn’t major concern with his status, although that should be monitored throughout the week. Smallwood is far from a slam-dunk waiver addition with the Eagles facing the Houston Texans in Week 16.
B.S. Meter on Smallwood taking over the Eagles backfield:5/10
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Mike Williams took full advantage of increased opportunities against the Chiefs.David Eulitt/Getty Images
Opportunity goes a long way when making lineup decisions, even this late in the season. The best fantasy options have the perfect combination of opportunity and talent. Mike Williams has plenty of talent, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to shine in his second season. That finally changed in Week 15.
In last week’s Big Board, Williams was featured as a sleeper because Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler were not expected to play. Gordon and Ekeler occupied the second and third spots of the Los Angeles Chargers’ target leaders. With both players out and a favorable matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Williams was primed for a bigger role.
That role got even bigger when Keenan Allen had to exit the game with a hip injury that wound up keeping him out for the entire second half. The Chargers needed a lot more out of Williams and got it when he hauled in seven of nine targets for 76 yards with two touchdowns and the game-winning two-point conversion. He was the No. 2 wide receiver for the week with 34.5 fantasy points.
Now the question is can Williams keep it up? Philip Rivers attempted 38 passes against the Chiefs, which marked only the sixth time this season he had at least 30 pass attempts in a game. This week’s game comes back at home against the Baltimore Ravens. That’s a much tougher matchup and a team that doesn’t have anywhere near the firepower of the Chiefs. Those are factors workings against Williams.
More importantly, the Chargers could be getting healthier for Week 16. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the team believes Allen, Gordon and Ekeler all have “a legitimate chance” to play against the Ravens. Those returns could cut into Williams’ target share. Plus, Tyrell Williams had six receptions for 71 yards on a team-high 12 targets against the Chiefs.
Mike Williams came through when the team needed him the most, but he may not be needed to play as big of a role this weekend when the Chargers host the Ravens. His value will depend on the health of the team’s injured players.
B.S. Meter on Williams sustaining his Week 15 production:6/10
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The Dolphins don’t seem interested in featuring Kenyan Drake.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Dealing with Kenyan Drake has been frustrating for most of the season. When he’s gotten chances to shine, he’s looked like the best part of the Miami Dolphins offense. Those chances haven’t been consistent, nor have they been plentiful. The team clearly trusted Frank Gore to carry nearly the entire workload on the ground all season. They had to pivot in Week 15.
A foot injury put Gore on the sidelines toward the end of the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings. He didn’t return, and instead of turning to Drake, it was Kalen Ballage who got the call. Ballage carried 12 times for 123 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and he caught his only target for negative-two yards. The rookie played 49.1 percent of the snaps. Ballage’s 26 snaps in Week 15 matched his entire snap total for the season.
Meanwhile, Drake was on the field for 52.8 percent of the snaps, which is close to his norm. Unfortunately, he also took his normal role as an afterthought in the offense with one carry for six yards and three receptions for 28 yards on three targets. Even if the Dolphins didn’t trust Drake to pick up the slack for Gore, it’s hard to explain why he didn’t see a bigger role as a receiver with the team trailing 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Gore isn’t expected to play this season because of his sprained foot. According to Barry Jackson of theMiami Herald, head coach Adam Gase said Drake’s light touch count had nothing to do with the shoulder injury that’s been lingering for a month. That doesn’t make much sense, but it’s been the case all season, and that needs to be accepted after how the team handled Drake and Ballage in Week 15.
Drake has just four games with double-digit carries all season, and the last one came in Week 8. It would be nice to think he’d see a bigger role in the passing game, although it’s hard to believe that will happen when he’s failed to record more than four targets nine times this year. If Drake does lead the way in Week 16, it would be a major surprise.
B.S. Meter on Drake being the next man up for the Dolphins:7/10
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Leonard Fournette was surprisingly quiet in the second half of Week 15.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
It’s hard to completely avoid players on teams that are out of contention, although rolling with the best players on the bad teams usually isn’t too dangerous, unless those players get injured. Even if the issue is minor, teams are unlikely to risk further damage to a star player in what amounts to a meaningless game. That might explain what happened to Leonard Fournette in Week 15.
The Jacksonville Jaguars suffered a 16-13 defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins. Fournette had just 11 carries for 46 yards and three receptions for 18 yards on four targets. He was on the field for just 51.9 percent of the snaps, which was down from the 77.5 percent he had in Week 14.
Fournette’s 10th carry of the game came with 1:04 left in the first half and the score tied at three. His next and final touch of the game came on a 25-yard run to get the Jaguars to midfield in a tie game with 5:46 to go in the fourth quarter. Cody Kessler got picked off later in the drive, and the Redskins converted that into a game-winning field goal as time expired.
After the game, head coach Doug Marrone said backup David Williams had a good week of practice, so the team wanted to see him in there, according to John Oehser of Jaguars.com. Fournette said, “That was the plan coming in.” It should be noted Carlos Hyde was a healthy scratch.
On Monday, Marrone said Fournette would be on the injury report this week with a foot injury, per John Reid of theFlorida Times Union. That provides a little more clarity on his lack of touches, especially since Fournette has had foot problems dating back to his time at LSU. Plus, he missed significant time with a hamstring injury earlier in the season.
At 4-10, the only battle the Jaguars have is for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. If they were willing to rest Fournette in Week 15, nothing can be assumed about his role or playing time for Week 16.
B.S. Meter on concern for Fournette being overblown:8/10
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Tevin Coleman crushed the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Last week’s B.S. Meter covered just how hard it was to trust any Atlanta Falcon besides Julio Jones. Of course, that was before we knew about Ito Smith’s knee injury. Smith went from full practice to limited practice last Friday, but he was active for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Despite the positive matchup, Smith’s presence made it hard to get too excited about Tevin Coleman’s fantasy value.
Smith equaled Coleman in touches, but the production was far different. Smith carried nine times for 34 yards and turned three targets into two receptions for five yards. Coleman didn’t catch his only target, but he did rack up 145 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. The yardage was a season high for Coleman and only his second 100-yard game of the season. It was also only the third time Coleman had at least 60 rushing yards. Smith saw a pretty normal snap share at 43.3 percent, while Coleman played 50.7 percent.
Smith’s knee was an issue toward the end of the game, and he landed on injured reserveas a result. That means Coleman has far less competition for touches and snaps heading into Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. The 25-year-old is likely coming up on his final two games as a Falcon with his contract up at the end of the season, so he’ll have a chance to leave a strong impression ahead of free agency.
Coleman will be much easier to use with confidence as a solid RB2 knowing Smith can’t steal touches away this week.
B.S. Meter on Coleman having a one-week resurgence: 9/10
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It’s been a rough two weeks for Phillip Lindsay.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
After Week 13, it looked like Phillip Lindsay would have a good chance of finishing the season as an RB1. The Denver Broncos were riding a three-game winning streak and found themselves back in the playoff hunt thanks to Lindsay’s 346 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 44 carries (7.9 yards per carry) during that span.
The last two weeks brought Lindsay and the Broncos crashing back to earth along with fantasy owners who were banking on Lindsay to stay hot in the fantasy playoffs. In Week 14, he managed to find the end zone but had just 30 yards on 14 carries and added four receptions for 21 yards on seven targets. He followed that up with another four receptions for 20 yards on six targets and his second-worst rushing performance of the year: 24 yards on 14 carries.
He’s averaging 15.4 fantasy points per game on the season and is 13th in overall fantasy points (215.1) among running backs, although the last two weeks have seen him score a total of 23.5 fantasy points. If you survived two down weeks from Lindsay, the fantasy gods may be back on your side for Week 16, when he faces the Oakland Raiders.
Even though they’ve been better than average in recent weeks, the Raiders provide the seventh-easiest matchup for running backs on the season while allowing the most rushing yards per game at 146.4. Back in Week 2, Lindsay got the Raiders for 107 yards on 14 carries, so there’s past success to be excited about. Get Lindsay back in your lineup with high hopes.
B.S. Meter on Lindsay’s slump continuing against the Raiders:10/10
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been noted as questionable for the game with a groin injury, did not take part in Friday’s practice session after restricted involvement on Thursday.A lot on the line this week. The entire season comes down to this. Yes, I’m discussing the fantasy football championship round. Naturally I’m playing Sunday!!! Theres no other way I can let down the genuine ones who believed in me by preparing me !! Let’s get it!! pic.twitter.com/6YntwS4lpD!.?.!— JuJu Smith-Schuster( @TeamJuJu )December 22, 2018 Smith-Schuster is sixth in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,274 and leads the Steelers in catches with 95. He is on a roster of a finalist in 31.3 percent of ESPN 10-team basic PPR leagues. That’s connected for the third-highest portion amongst receivers, behind only Tyler Boyd( 36.1) and Tyreek Hill (32) and matched with Adam Thielen( 31.3). Pittsburgh can clinch an AFC North with a win Sunday and a Baltimore Ravens loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday.Steelers to be without Conner for 3rd straight The Steelers will not have
James Conner (ankle) versus the Saints, and JuJu Smith-Schuster( groin) is questionable.Rookie James Washington, who is coming off a 65-yard performance, has been practicing and would be able to fill Smith-Schuster’s function if needed.The Steelers revealed Friday that running back James Conner will miss his third consecutive video game with a high ankle sprain. Novice Jaylen Samuels, who rushed for 142 yards on 19 carries vs. the Patriots last week, will once again begin in Conner’s place.ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler contributed to this report.Read the Original Post.
John Isner, one of the best tennis players worldwide, is likewise a Carolina Hurricanes fan and dream hockey player. He sits down with hosts Pete Jensen and Rob Reese in the current episode of “NHL Dream on Ice,” which is offered on NHL.com and numerous iOS and Android podcast Apps.Isner, the highest ranked male United States-born gamer( 10th) by the Association of Tennis Experts, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has actually been following the Hurricanes considering that they relocated to Raleigh in 1997. He discussed their 2006 Stanley Cup champion, the upcoming Hartford Whalers throwback night on Sunday and his NHL pregame enjoying routine. He praised Carolina’s young core of players, led by forwards Sebastian Aho and novice Andrei Svechnikov. Listen: NHLFantasy on Icepodcast withJohn Isner The 33-year-old likewise gone over whether his talents, namely his renowned tennis serve, might translate to the NHL. The 6-foot-10 Isner drew contrasts to Boston Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara for his size (6-9) and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber for his slapshot.Isner, who played in and won the longest tennis match in historyat Wimbledonin 2010 (11 hours, 5 minutes over 3 days), statedhe has a level of appreciation for NHL gamers, especially when enjoying them play overtime video games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “That’s what makes playoff hockey so cool, “Isner stated. “One-goal wins are very similar to tennis. It can take an extremely long time. As we’ve seen in the playoffs, there have been some video games that have actually been even 4 or five overtimes. These guys are playing 2 1/2 games in one night. That’s why we enjoy hockey. These guys lay it on the line each and every single night.” Earlier this month, Isner received a third jersey from the Hurricanes and revealed off his Carolina pride on Twitter by publishing images of his gameday setting with his tv tuned into NHL Network.Tweet from @JohnIsner: Thank you @NHLCanes for this ill sweatshirt. Getting all set for the tilt tonight in Montreal. #TakeWarning pic.twitter.com/lP0bKbIWrr!.?.!—!.?.!Hosted by NHL.com’s fantasy professionals Pete Jensen and Rob Reese,” NHL Fantasy On Ice” has the 24/7/365 pulse of the fantasy hockey world.Fans who play daily fantasy or are in a season-long league can stay connected to all the action with the twice-weekly podcast.Fans can subscribe and listen to” NHL Dream on Ice” at NHL.com
/ podcasts, Castbox, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iTunes, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn Radio.%%item_read_more_button %%.
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It’s perfectly fine to use Josh Allen in the fantasy championship.Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
The last three weeks provided fantasy players with lots of headaches and underwhelming performances. If you’re playing for a championship this week, you may not have been the top seed in your league or felt particularly confident heading into the playoffs. With so many big names letting us down at the most important time of the season, it’s important to assess who you can trust.
Josh Allen missed four games before returning to action in Week 12. He wasn’t anywhere near a viable option prior to his absence. Since Week 12, he’s been the No. 1 fantasy quarterback at 23.3 fantasy points per game. With players like Cam Newton and Jared Goff failing to produce, Allen’s consistently strong performances over the last month seem a bit more meaningful.
The Minnesota Vikings had a renewed commitment to the run in Week 15, and that was a big reason for the blowout victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Vikings remain in a tight battle for a playoff spot, so you should expect plenty more of Dalvin Cook (and Latavius Murray) when they face the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
It’s been a frustrating season for Alshon Jeffery, but he’s come back to life in the last two weeks, including his best game of the season against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. A beatable matchup with the Houston Texans means Jeffery could be the key to a fantasy championship.
Here’s the first look at points-per-reception (PPR) rankings for Week 16. These will change throughout the week and up to Sunday’s action as we get more information about injuries and limitations, so make sure to bookmark this page for my full rankings for all scoring formats.
Check out Matt Camp on hisFantasy Camppodcast available every Tuesday and Thursday. Click to subscribe or listen wherever you get podcasts.
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Look for the Seahawks to get back on track when the Chiefs visit Sunday night.Associated Press
I present my top 100 players (minus quarterbacks) for the week as a way to help determine your flex spots. You may favor a certain position or player over another based on his role and/or your scoring rules.
As an additional tiebreaker, here are the teams I like as a whole this week based on their matchups:
- Seattle Seahawks(vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
- Cleveland Browns(vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
- Chicago Bears(at San Francisco 49ers)
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Baker Mayfield and the Browns should dominate the Bengals.David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Better than Usual
Baker Mayfield, CLE (vs. CIN)
Mayfield won’t finish the season as a top-12 fantasy quarterback, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’s been a useful fantasy quarterback if you’ve been playing the matchups. Over the last four weeks, he is QB12 at 16.4 fantasy points per game. That’s even with Andrew Luck and better than Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Jared Goff.
This week, Mayfield should be a preferred option when he faces the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland. When these teams met back in Week 12, Mayfield completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns, which was good for 25.9 fantasy points. The Bengals have been an average matchup for quarterbacks over the last month, but for the season, they’ve allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game (270.6).
With the Browns still in contention and the matchup in his favor, Mayfield has top-10 potential for Week 16.
Jared Goff, LAR (at ARI)
The Los Angeles Rams have been NFC West champions for weeks, yet it doesn’t feel like the team is still in position to earn a first-round bye. Consecutive losses to the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles following a less-than-inspiring performance against the Detroit Lions has Goff owners worried about how he’ll perform in the most important week of the season.
Goff needed 53 pass attempts to throw for 339 yards against the Eagles, but he failed to throw a touchdown. Over the last three games, he has one touchdown to six interceptions while completing just 72 of 130 passes (55.4 percent). He’s been miserable for fantasy purposes, and if you’ve survived his poor play, it’s fair to wonder if he’s worth a spot in your lineup.
In Week 16, Goff and the Rams hit the road to face the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve been the 12th-easiest matchup for quarterbacks over the last month. Back in Week 2, Goff got the Cardinals for 354 yards with one touchdown and one interception on 24-of-32 passing. That feels like ancient history considering how bad he has been since the Week 12 bye. He’s not a lock for starting lineups.
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. ATL)
If you haven’t learned by now, players have a tough time truly getting over injuries suffered during the season. Despite limited practices in recent weeks, Newton hasn’t been on the final injury report heading into the last two games. His shoulder injury is a clear problem, so his injury designation hasn’t told the whole story.
On Monday night, Newton had just 131 yards with no touchdowns and an interception on 16-of-29 passing. He has just two touchdowns to six interceptions in his last three games. He has at least one interception in six straight games, and nine of his 13 interceptions on the season have come in the last six games.
According to Steve Reed of the Associated Press, head coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t “speculate” on Newton’s status for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Even though the Carolina Panthers haven’t officially been eliminated from the playoffs, Rivera’s lack of commitment to Newton indicates the concern is real. You should look elsewhere if Newton has been your starting quarterback.
Editor’s Note: Since publish, the Panthers have confirmed that they will be shutting down Cam Newton for the final two games.
Josh Allen, BUF (at NE)
Allen’s worst rushing performance of the season yards-wise was still good enough for the No. 4 spot at the quarterback position for Week 15. That probably more of an indictment of how bad the other performances were around the league, but that shouldn’t take away from Allen’s fantasy dominance over the last month.
He connected on just 13 of 26 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown. He added just 16 rushing yards on nine attempts but ran in a touchdown for the third time in four games. He’s the top fantasy quarterback since Week 12, so the sample size is big enough to believe in him as a legit starter.
When the Buffalo Bills faced the New England Patriots in Week 8, Allen wasn’t active, so this will be his first crack at the defending AFC champions. The Patriots have been an average matchup for fantasy quarterbacks in the last four weeks, but they’ve allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game at 256.5.
Obviously, much of Allen’s value is tied to his legs, so even if he has another pedestrian day through the air, he can make up for it on the ground. He is a low-end starter for Week 16.
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Expect another busy and productive week out of Derrick Henry.Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Better Than Usual
Chris Carson, SEA (vs. KC)
Another big game out of Carson wasn’t enough to lift the Seattle Seahawks to a win over the San Francisco 49ers, but it may have been enough to take you into the fantasy championship.
Carson rushed 22 times for 119 yards and a touchdown and added a season-high six receptions for 29 yards on six targets to finish Week 15 with 26.8 fantasy points and an RB6 finish. Carson has 13.2 FPG on the season, which makes him a reliable RB2, although he’s been closer to the RB1 tier with 17.5 FPG in the last month.
Expectations for Week 16 should put Carson in the RB1 conversation with the Kansas City Chiefs visiting Sunday night. From a fantasy perspective, the Chiefs have been a pretty average matchup for running backs over the last week. However, backs are averaging more than five yards per carry during that time, so Carson is in a good spot this week.
Assuming Carson gets his typical volume, his strong finish to the season should continue against the Chiefs.
Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. WAS)
The Tennessee Titans haven’t been a consistently reliable fantasy team for much of the season. They’ve struggled to find an offensive identity, and Marcus Mariota’s struggles have been apparent, although the last two weeks have provided lots of production from one player.
Henry blew up in Week 14 seemingly out of nowhere, so with the Titans battling for the final playoff spot in the AFC, they were smart enough to stick with what worked when they faced the New York Giants in Week 15. During a cold and rainy game, Henry bludgeoned the Giants for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. That gives him 408 yards and six touchdowns on 50 carries in the last two games.
This Saturday, the Titans host the Washington Redskins in a pivotal game for both teams. Even though the Redskins had an impressive run of slowing down some of the top backs in the league earlier this season, the last four weeks haven’t been nearly as good. During that time, Washington allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to running backs with 575 rushing yards and three scores on 109 carries.
The Titans have every reason to stick with Henry as the focal point of the offense in this positive matchup, so continue to play him with confidence this weekend.
Lamar Miller, HOU (at PHI)
Miller was rolling coming into the fantasy playoffs, but now there’s concern he may not be available for Week 16. He had to leave Week 15 with an ankle injury after rushing just three times for eight yards. Even though Miller will have an extra day to rest coming off a Saturday night game, nothing can be assumed about his status.
The Houston Texans sit in the No. 2 spot in the AFC, but they haven’t clinched the AFC South or a playoff spot, so having Miller available to play against the Philadelphia Eagles is important. Alfred Blue hasn’t been anywhere near as effective, and D’Onta Foreman has yet to play in a game this season.
Miller has been a reliable RB2 when he’s been on the field, so his status is one to monitor throughout the week, especially since the Texans don’t have an obvious replacement.
Latavius Murray, MIN (at DET)
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wanted to run the ball more in Week 15, and that’s exactly what the team did en route to a 41-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins. While Dalvin Cook led the way with 19 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns, Murray had a busy and productive day of his own with 15 carries for 68 yards and an 18-yard touchdown run.
The combined rushing effort from Cook and Murray was the best of the season for the Vikings. It also marked only the fourth time this season both had double-digit carries, although Cook’s 19 carries were a season high, while Murray’s 15 carries were the most he had in a game in which Cook was also active.
Zimmer’s insistence in running the ball and the success the team had by doing just that in Week 15 could mean more of the same in Week 16 when the Vikings visit the Detroit Lions. The last time these teams met was Cook’s return from a hamstring injury. He outgained Murray 89-31, with both players logging 10 attempts.
The Vikings clearly want more than 20 carries out of this backfield, so it could be another busy day for both players. Murray could get enough volume to be a solid RB3/flex.
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Amari Cooper will bounce back against the Buccaneers.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Better Than Usual
Amari Cooper, DAL (vs. TB)
The Dallas Cowboys were riding high coming in Week 15 after Cooper destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles with 10 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns in a huge victory. That excitement is gone heading into Week 16.
Dallas was shut out by the Indianapolis Colts, and Cooper had his worst game as a member of the Cowboys. He caught just four of seven targets for 32 yards. That marked only the second time Cooper failed to record five receptions or at least 58 receiving yards with Dallas. Luckily, he should have a good chance to get back on track this weekend.
The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Even though the Buccaneers have been better than average against fantasy wide receivers in the last month, they haven’t faced any stiff tests other than the New Orleans Saints, and in that game, Michael Thomas caught 11 of 13 targets for 98 yards. Tampa Bay has surrendered 274.2 receiving yards per game (eighth-most) on the season.
Try to forget the disappointment of Week 15 and get Cooper back in your lineup with top-10 expectations for the fantasy championship.
Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs. HOU)
Offseason shoulder surgery kept Jeffery from making his season debut until Week 4, although it didn’t seem to cause any lasting effects, as he was great over the first four games. Unfortunately, Jeffery went in the tank from Weeks 8-13. He failed to post more than four receptions or 39 yards and didn’t score during that time.
The last two weeks, specifically Week 15, were huge bounce-back efforts. After he was able to snatch six of his nine targets for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys in Week 14, he followed that up with his biggest game of the season. He caught all eight of his targets for 160 yards in a road victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
He’s back in the top-20 conversation thanks to the last two weeks and a beatable matchup Sunday. He faces the visiting Houston Texans and could be in line for another big fantasy performance. Houston yielded the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in the last four weeks.
It will be another week with Nick Foles throwing to Jeffery, so the two will have another great opportunity to connect against a shaky Texans pass defense. The faith in Jeffery is back, so get him in your lineup.
Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. BAL)
Allen suffered a hip pointer in last week’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs and exited before tallying even a single target. His absence opened the door for Mike Williams to have a huge game, so Allen’s status for Week 16 is big because it affects not only his fantasy value but also the fantasy value of all the Chargers.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said Allen “could be a game-time decision.” Luckily, the Chargers play Saturday night, so you’ll know if you need to get Allen out of your lineup to pivot elsewhere for your fantasy championship.
If Allen does play, he’ll face a Baltimore Ravens defense limiting wide receivers to the third-fewest fantasy points per game in the last four games. Allen may not be anything more than an OK WR2 if he’s active.
Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs. GB)
Anderson’s opportunities have been on the rise over the last three weeks, and his fantasy production has risen as a result. Relying on inconsistent players on bad teams is a good way to lose a fantasy championship, but if you’re reaching a little deeper to fill a spot in your lineup out of necessity, Anderson has to be on the radar for Week 16.
With Quincy Enunwa sidelined by an ankle injury, the Jets featured Anderson in the passing game, and he responded with one of his best performances of the year. He converted 11 targets into seven receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. He now has at least seven targets in the last three games and 11 receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games.
Anderson will get the chance to stay hot against the Green Bay Packers. They’ve been the ninth-easiest matchup for wide receivers in the last four weeks. If Enunwa is limited or out once again, it should be another busy day for Anderson. He’s a WR3 with upside.
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Jared Cook should rebound at home when he takes on the Broncos.Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Better Than Usual
Jared Cook, OAK (vs. DEN)
Just when it seemed like Cook moved into the safe starting options at the tight end position, he crumbled in Week 15. Despite a positive matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, he managed just two receptions for 23 yards on five targets. In two previous games, he turned 18 targets into 14 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the letdown in Week 15, Cook is looking good for his Week 16 matchup with the Denver Broncos. While Denver kept David Njoku in check last week, it remains the seventh-easiest matchup for tight ends in the last four weeks. Cook had a modest four-catch, 49-yard game against the Broncos back in Week 2, but that was when the Raiders still had Amari Cooper, who had 10 receptions for 116 yards in that contest.
Have some faith in Cook and get him back in your lineup in this favorable Week 16 matchup.
Evan Engram, NYG (at IND)
Another missed game for Odell Beckham Jr. pushed Engram into a bigger role for last week’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans. He had his best game of the season with eight receptions for 75 yards on 12 targets. That marks the second straight week Engram posted at least 75 yards. Prior to Week 14, he had just two other games with at least 50 yards.
Beckham’s status remains up in the air, and while the team has nothing to play for, head coach Pat Shurmur said Beckham “is going through treatment and doing everything he can to get back.”
Engram’s fantasy value is directly connected to Beckham’s status. If Beckham is out again, it makes using Engram a lot easier since the target share will likely be higher. If Beckham plays, using Engram becomes much riskier.
C.J. Uzomah, CIN (at CLE)
Uzomah lands in the sleeper category for the second week in a row, although this week is more about opportunity than the matchup with the Cleveland Browns. He could be the top passing target for Week 16 after Tyler Boyd injured his knee in Week 15. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Boyd suffered a low-grade MCL sprain, which could keep him out for the final two weeks.
Uzomah had just one reception for 27 yards on five targets in Week 15, but he and Boyd led the team with 27 targets over the last four games. Other than Joe Mixon, the Cincinnati Bengals don’t have a go-to player on offense, so Uzomah should continue to have a big target share. He’s worth a look against a Browns defense yielding the 11th-most fantasy points to tight ends in the last four weeks.
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The Dolphins defense should be on your radar this week.Bobby Ellis/Getty Images
Best Streaming Option
Miami Dolphins (vs. JAC)
You might have to reach a little deeper for a defense in Week 16 if some of the more obvious options were stashed away weeks ago in preparation for the fantasy playoffs. The Dolphins should be available ahead of a juicy matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses in the last month by giving up 16 sacks, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and scoring just 47 points. Add in a foot injury for Leonard Fournette, and you have a vulnerable offense for the Dolphins defense to exploit.
Ownership percentage:ESPN, 13.4; Yahoo, 18.0
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Ryan Succop is worth a look in Week 16.Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Best Streaming Option
Ryan Succop, TEN (vs. WAS)
Controlling a game can be important to the fantasy production of a kicker. The Tennessee Titans have been relying on Derrick Henry to carry the offense over the last two weeks, and he’s done so with tremendous success. That’s allowed the Titans to control victories over the Jaguars and Giants.
We should see more of the same Saturday afternoon when the Titans host the Washington Redskins. Succop has just one missed field goal in the last six games and only four misses on the season. He’s a good plug-and-play from the waiver wire.
Ownership percentages:ESPN, 45.4; Yahoo, 22.0
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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
We’ve reached the Final Four.
No, not that Final Four. March Madness takes place in, you know, March.
In the majority of fantasy football leagues, Week 15 represents the semifinals. Only four teams are still playing. By the time the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers close out this week’s slate, the championship game participants will have been determined.
Generally speaking, teams that got this far didn’t do so by sifting through the scrap heap every week.
But things happen. Maybe you lost first Kareem Hunt and then Spencer Ware of the Kansas City Chiefs. Or wide receivers like Emmanuel Sanders. Maybe you’ve been streaming at the quarterback position this season. Or the dumpster fire that has been tight ends in 2018 singed your squad,
Whatever the reason, even in this must-win week there are plenty of fantasy owners looking for a sleeper who can swoop in to save the day.
So let’s get to sleeper swooping. And sweeper slooping.
One of those may not be right.
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Michael Zagaris/Getty Images
Before we scope out the Week 15 sleeper calls, let’s look back at how Week 14’s picks played out.
I’d be hard-pressed to do worse than a week ago. Sigh.
For the record, sleepers count as wins if they finish inside weekly starter territory in a 12-team, points-per-reception fantasy league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense and the always popular flex play—a fairly standard setup.
Detroit Lions Defense/Special Teams (279 yards allowed, three points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD):The moment Darius Slay took a Josh Rosen pass back for a score, that sealed the deal for the Lions to have a good fantasy outing.WIN
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (147 passing yards, 2 TDs, 67 rushing yards):The Ravens lost their first game with Jackson under center, but he still had a good enough game to rank inside the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks.WIN
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (238 passing yards, 2 rushing yards, 1 TD):The Browns got a win and Mayfield played well, but he didn’t light up the box score. The Browns fan in me can live with that I suppose.LOSS
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Detroit Lions (12 carries, 33 yards, 2 catches, 18 yards):The Cardinals are a good matchup. Blount had been relatively hot. Sometimes calls make sense but just don’t pan out for whatever reason.LOSS
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (23 carries, 90 yards, 1 catch, 6 yards):Wilson didn’t exactly have the game I hoped he would against the Broncos, but he still checked in on the back end of the top 25 running backs.WIN
Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns (1 catch, 0 yards):This is a cautionary lesson about deep-threat wide receivers. When they have big games, they can be really big. But when they don’t, they can all but vanish.LOSS
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 catch, 13 yards):Godwin was a hot waiver pickup last week, in part because everything in this matchup pointed to a big game from him. That obviously didn’t come to pass.LOSS
Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills (3 receptions, 22 yards):My three wide receiver calls for the week COMBINED for a 5/35/0 line. The only thing sadder than that is the fact it represents an improvement over Week 13.LOSS
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets (1 catch, 14 yards):You know, it can’t be easy to pick a group of pass-catchers who all face-plant to such a depressing extent. And yet somehow I managed to do it. Hooray for me—the anti-picker.LOSS
Arizona Cardinals Defense/Special Teams (218 yards allowed, 17 points allowed, 1 sack, 1 FR):The Cardinals didn’t get much in the big-play department, but they also allowed fewer than 225 yards of total offense. That’ll do.WIN
WEEK 14: 4-6 (.400)
SEASON: 60-80 (.429)
The good news is that I hit on twice as many calls as the week before.
The bad news is that WR and TE were a disaster for the second week in a row.
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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (at CIN)
There was a time, not too long ago, when more than one sportswriter asked the question of whether it was time for the Oakland Raiders to move on from quarterback Derek Carr, including Bleacher Report’s own Brad Gagnon.
Of late, Carr’s doing his best to answer that question with an emphatic “no.”
Over his last two games, Carr is averaging over 300 passing yards a game, with five touchdowns against zero interceptions and a passer rating of over 120. After last week’s big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said (via SB Nation’s Tyler Smith) that Carr’s struggles earlier in the season might be partly his fault:
“He tries to do everything you ask him to do and he wants to do it by the book—read this play like that, go through this footwork—he really wants to do it by the book. I probably, I felt maybe I inhibited him. Free yourself, free yourself from me, free your mind, trust your instincts and go play. Don’t overthink these plays, don’t overthink these situations. I just didn’t want to paralyze him with too many thoughts. I just wanted him to relax, go play and trust his instincts and his abilities and trust his preparation, and that’s what he’s done.”
Carr’s future in Oakland still isn’t certain, but in the here and now, he’s looked good heading into a matchup with a nonexistent Cincinnati Bengals defense that ranks second in fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position this year.
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Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
The quarterback sleepers this year have been something of a list of the usual suspects. Either Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens or Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns have been regular inclusions—with good reason.
However, there’s another rookie quarterback who is making his first appearance in this column in Week 15.
As Graham Barfield wrote for NFL.com, it isn’t Josh Allen’s big right arm that has him on the streaming radar this week. It’s his ability to pick up yardage with his legs:
“It’s been ugly to watch through the air (44-of-88, 597 yards, 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio, 64.4 passer rating), but Allen’s legs have carried him to a string of remarkable fantasy finishes over the last three weeks. With 13/99/1, 9/135, and 9/101/1 rushing lines, Allen has recorded QB4, QB2, and QB15 fantasy performances in this three-game span. Allen does not have a floor in the passing game—which takes him out of starting consideration in shallow 10-team leagues—but he currently leads all qualifying players in yards per carry (7.4). On rushing prowess alone, Allen is a top-15 QB play in Week 15.”
Allen’s 335 rushing yards over the last three games aren’t just easily the most among quarterbacks over that span. It’s more than every running back in the NFL except Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.
Trusting Allen as a starter in the fantasy playoffs would take a lot of guts.
But given that he’s averaging 100-plus rushing yards a game of late and has a score on the ground in two of his last three games, if Allen can do anything throwing the ball, he’ll crack the top 10 at his position.
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Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
I rather hate to keep going back to the same well over and over again. But here we sit, in Week 15, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson remains unowned in more fantasy football leagues at Yahoo than he’s rostered in.
We’ve hit a crossroads with Jackson—and Joe Flacco—regarding the pecking order under center for the Ravens. Despite Flacco being cleared to play and Jackson suffering his first loss as a starter last week in Kansas City, head coach John Harbaugh indicated earlier this week that Jackson will start at home Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Every decision is based on making us the strongest possible team we can be,” Harbaugh said in a press conference Wednesday. “Whether it’s quarterback or defensive line, that’s the bottom line. That’s what it boils down to. That’s how we feel about this decision, and we’re rolling.”
If the Ravens are rolling with Jackson, fantasy owners should as well. Since Week 11, when Jackson took over as the team’s starting quarterback, only Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs have more fantasy points among quarterbacks than Jackson, who has dazzled with his legs and is improving with his arm.
Add in a matchup with a Tampa Bay team that’s fifth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season, and the reason I keep going back to this well is that it’s filled with clean, cold, high-quality H2O.
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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
The inclusion of multiple members of the Oakland Raiders means one of two things: Either I’ve finally gone off the deep end, or Oakland must have a really juicy fantasy matchup.
OK, I suppose it could be both. But it’s more that second one. On Sunday in Cincinnati, the Raiders will face a Bengals team that ranks dead last in the NFL in run defense, allowing 148.1 yards per game. The Bengals are surrendering 4.8 yards a carry, have allowed an AFC-high 17 rushing touchdowns and have given up the most PPR fantasy points in the NFL to running backs in 2018.
That’s a whole pile of numbers that bode well for Oakland tailback Doug Martin.
If that isn’t enough, consider the stat lines (courtesy of Heath Cummings of CBS Sports) of the tailbacks of the last eight teams to face the Bengals:
- Austin Ekeler: 17 touches, 94 yards and a touchdown
- Phillip Lindsay: 20 touches, 158 yards, two touchdowns
- Nick Chubb: 31 touches, 128 yards, two touchdowns
- Gus Edwards: 17 touches, 115 yards and a touchdown
- Mark Ingram: 16 touches, 162 yards and a touchdown
- Alvin Kamara: 16 touches, 102 yards, two touchdowns
- Peyton Barber: 19 touches, 85 yards and a touchdown
- Kareem Hunt: 20 touches, 141 yards, three touchdowns
- James Conner: 23 touches, 129 yards, two touchdowns
Martin hasn’t been tearing it up lately—he’s averaging less than four yards a carry and hasn’t had 100 total yards in a game this year. But Martin has found the end zone in three straight games; considering the matchup, expecting a fourth straight game with a score isn’t a reach.
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Given that this is a must-win week in fantasy leagues, the idea of putting any faith in an Atlanta ground game that ranks dead last in the NFL at just 81.2 yards per game is distressing. Whether it’s been Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman or Ito Smith this year, Atlanta’s running game has been a running disappointment.
However, as injuries continue to mount at running back, some fantasy owners are officially in “any port in a storm” mode—looking for anyone in the backfield who offers even a modicum of upside.
And in Week 15, hard though it may be to believe, Smith does.
It’s gone largely unnoticed because it hasn’t amounted to much yet, but the pecking order at tailback for the Falcons has shifted. Over the last couple of games, Smith has both out-touched and outgained Coleman.
As I said, to date it hasn’t really mattered. But this could be the week it does. The Arizona Cardinals are tied for 29th in the NFL in run defense, allowing just under 140 yards per game. Only the Cincinnati Bengals have surrendered more PPR fantasy points per game to running backs than the Cardinals, who have also allowed an NFL-high 18 touchdowns on the ground.
Bad though the Falcons may be, they are better than the Cardinals. If Atlanta can carve out a lead in this game, that could mean even more touches for Smith in the second half of a great matchup.
It’s not a play for the faint of heart. But there’s potential there.
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Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Last week at this time, as fantasy owners mourned the loss of Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a season-ending Achilles tear, a lot of fantasy pundits were talking up rookie Courtland Sutton as the biggest beneficiary of that injury.
Um…yeah. About that.
While Sutton finished last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers fourth on the team in targets, it was Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton who cleaned up. Patrick led the team with 85 yards on seven catches, while Hamilton added seven grabs of his own for 47 yards and a score.
Hamilton also led all Broncos pass-catchers in snaps, playing on all but two.
Hamilton hasn’t done a lot over his brief career. Prior to last week, the rookie fourth-rounder had just five catches for the season. But the 6’1″, 203-pounder showed potential as a vertical threat at Penn State in 2017, averaging over 16 yards a catch and scoring nine touchdowns.
Hamilton, Patrick and the Broncos get a very nice fantasy matchup Saturday. The team faces the Cleveland Browns, who rank 31st in pass defense and ninth in PPR fantasy points given up to wide receivers this season.
Of the two, my money is on Hamilton. He’s a more explosive prospect and a bigger threat in the red zone.
This isn’t a play without risk. But the upside is there as well.
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Michael Zagaris/Getty Images
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis still isn’t a full-time player. But as head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters this week, the team has been impressed by how Pettis has responded when forced into a larger role, and they want to get him more experience as the season winds down:
“Yeah, that’s definitely the plan right now. It started in Tampa [two weeks ago]. But that’s something just realizing as coaches, Dante, we haven’t been ready to throw him out there a ton because he’s shown he’s not 100 percent fully ready to handle that.
“But what has been neat to watch him is, when we didn’t have a choice and had to throw him out there, he did some things that he wasn’t ready for that we anticipated. But, by going through it, he got better as the game went with it.”
For a guy still learning the ropes, Pettis is making a dent in fantasy circles. Last week against the Broncos, Pettis reeled in three catches for 49 yards and a score. His hot streak began with four catches for 77 yards and a score November 25 against the Buccaneers.
And in between, Pettis exploded against the Seattle Seahawks for five receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
This week the 49ers face those same Seahawks, this time at Levi’s Stadium. There’s no guarantee he’ll sniff his numbers from a couple of weeks ago, but at this point Pettis has earned a start as at least a fantasy WR3.
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Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel appears to be coming into his own in the NFL.
The 5’11”, 195-pound Samuel starred at tailback at Ohio State. But making the transition to wide receiver in the NFL led to a quiet rookie season.
In Year 2, however, Samuel is waking up. Over the last month, he’s averaging over four catches a game for 60-plus yards and has a pair of touchdowns. In his last two games, Samuel has 10 catches for 168 yards.
Those numbers have been good enough to rate Samuel 19th among receivers in PPR fantasy points since Week 11—well inside WR2 territory.
As ESPN.com’s Jim McCormick wrote, this week’s home tilt with the Saints offers Samuel a great opportunity to keep that hot streak rolling along:
“Samuel has been quietly brilliant in his shift to the starting outside role for the Panthers, averaging an awesome 16.8 yards per catch thanks to 15.3 air yards per target during the past two games. Even with Cam Newton ailing, Samuel’s rapport with him on vertical opportunities is proving valuable for both real and fantasy purposes. The Saints, for their part, have allowed the most fantasy points per game to receivers this season.”
As someone who once spent an hour with Jim and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Chris Doleman debating the best pass-rushers of the last 25 years in a conference room at the Bellagio, I know better than to argue with him.
Or Doleman, for that matter. That dude is huge.
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Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
This is what it’s come to—trusting players for the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins season has gone completely off the rails due to injuries. Starting quarterback Alex Smith is in danger of never playing again after a gruesome broken leg. Backup Colt McCoy made it only a couple of games before suffering a broken leg of his own. Mark Sanchez has been sidelined by a severe case of being Mark Sanchez.
The quarterback position isn’t the only one that’s been hit hard. It took a little longer than most years, but tight end Jordan Reed is once again on the shelf with a toe injury.
That means when the Redskins take the field Sunday in Jacksonville, Josh Johnson will serve as the team’s starting quarterback—and 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis will be his safety valve underneath.
Davis had already been playing a fairly prominent role for Washington this season. He even had more receiving yards (119) over the last three weeks than Reed (96).
There isn’t a team in the NFL that has had worse luck with injuries than the Redskins this season, but while Jacksonville’s misfortune has been of a different variety, 2018 had been equally depressing. Per Andrew Gould of Fantasy Pros, one of the many things the Jags have failed at miserably is guarding tight ends, allowing seven touchdowns to the position this year.
Johnson is a lot more likely to be dumping it over the middle than pushing the ball down the field.
That means targets for Davis.
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Leon Halip/Getty Images
Last week, the Detroit Lions were my pick as the “Sleeper of the Week.”
That played out pretty well. In a 17-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit allowed just 279 yards and three points, piling up three sacks and a pick-six on the way to the No. 3 performance among team defenses.
Granted, that performance was only enough to get the Lions to 20th among fantasy defenses for the season. This isn’t the Chicago Bears—or even close to it.
But there’s reason to believe those same Lions might have one more rabbit left in their proverbial hat. And that’s why they’re listed here a second straight week.
That rabbit is red and blue and looks an awful lot like the Buffalo Bills. For the year, the Bills are last in the AFC in total offense at just 292 yards per game. Only the aforementioned Cardinals score fewer points per game than Buffalo’s 15.5. Buffalo has allowed 39 sacks (tied for eighth-most in the NFL) and turned the ball over 28 times (second-most).
Most importantly, no team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points to team defenses than the Bills this season.
One week after blowing up on the West Coast, the Lions are set to do the same on the East.
The fantasy football world wept late Thursday night, as tens of thousands of group owners regreted their apparently obvious decision to bench Derrick Henry.
He had not produced much consistency for most of the season, and he was breaking the Jacksonville Jaguars’ still formidable defense. He was using a short week. Sit him, the reasoning whispered in folks’ ears.
Henry immediately exploded for 47.8 points in PPR leagues, the highest mark of any gamer this season– that is, until Amari Cooper bested him Sunday evening with 49.7 in the Cowboys’ win over the Eagles.
How did they do it? Well, by beingunstoppable, of course.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
A theme has emerged from the banks of the Cumberland River. Come winter season time, the Titans turn from whoever they usually offer lead reaches at running back to Derrick Henry.
Thursday qualified as December, which implies it’s Henry Time. He didn’t disappoint.
Henry took carries of all kinds and found success on a range of gains, rumbling through the defense and running over defenders for one touchdown, hitting the edge for another, taking it in from three lawns and gaining healthy yards on non-scoring plays in between.
Oh, and there was also that 99-yard goal run.
In all, he ended up with 238 backyards and 4 touchdowns on simply 17 brings, dominating a Jacksonville defense that hasn’t seen this kind of performance in rather a long time. And he kept the Titans squarely in the playoff discussion with another late-season efficiency that’s starting to become his modus operandi.
Likewise thought about …
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Just how much of an advantage has the Amari Cooper trade been for the Dallas Cowboys?
Enough to make his quarterback reveal appreciation for his presence weeks after Thanksgiving.
” He is an incredible gamer,” Prescott said of Cooper, through The Dallas Morning News. “I understood he was excellent. I understood he was going to get separation and get open and make terrific catches.
” However when you simply see the pursue catch and breaking tackles, and being that fantastic of a player. As I stated, I’m simply thankful we got that trade.”
That trade– which we shouldn’t forget was blasted by lots of who said a first-round choice was too much for Cooper– has altered whatever for the Cowboys, an offensively inept group that has actually given that vaulted to the leading area in the NFC East, two times defeating the defending Super Bowl champions with almost all of the credit due to Cooper. How does one receiver should have such appreciation? Well …
A 217-yard, three-touchdown getting day for the @DallasCowboys’ star WR! #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/qI4RZQJYjr
— NFL (@NFL).
December 10, 2018.
Cooper single-handedly (well, he and Dak Prescott) dismantled the Eagles’ defense, serving as an unstoppable connection for a Cowboys group that required a go-to alternative after having a hard time early. He even captured the game winner, an improbable catch and run a tip that sent out the Cowboys to a massive victory in the battle for the NFC East title.
Appears like that’s worth a first-round pick.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are bad in 2018, but George Kittle isverygood.
How good, you ask? How about best tight end in 49ers franchise history?
That’s a title Kittle can at least make an argument for after setting the new single-season mark for the majority of receiving yards acquired by a tight end, passing Vernon Davis in a 20-14 win over the Denver Broncos. He did so in outstanding fashion, too.
Kittle exploded in the very first half, racking up 210 backyards and a goal on 7 catches– and did it all in two quarters. He was just 4 backyards from connecting Shannon Sharpe for the most getting yards in a video game for a tight end in NFL history when he went into the break.
And then, he was stopped.
That would seem to disqualify him for mention in this space, right? Wrong. While Kittle didn’t capture another pass in the final two quarters, his presence still made a distinction. Kittle commanded attention from Denver’s defense, and his existence helped other receivers get open. Case in point: On Trent Taylor’s reception to get an initially down and ice the video game for San Francisco, he ran his route below Kittle, who drew more attention. It opened enough space for the completion to secure the win.
Kittle impacted the video game in the box score in the first half and in non-statistical methods the second half. Entirely, it produced a win– and a brand-new requirement for Niners tight ends.
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Paul Sancya/Associated Press
At this point in the fantasy football season, with the playoffs either just around the corner or already underway in many leagues, sleepers are both less and more important than ever.
Confusing, ain’t it?
On one hand, if your starting lineup has a number of holes in it, odds are the fantasy postseason isn’t in your plans for 2018. If you’re still playing this week, it’s likely in the role of spoiler.
Go get ’em. Misery loves company. Plus, you can get a head start on Christmas shopping.
Yeah, it doesn’t make me feel better either.
However, injuries continue to occur, even to the best of teams. In the last week alone, we saw Pittsburgh Steelers tailback James Conner and Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders go down. The latter is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
Playoff teams are springing leaks just when the margin for error evaporates.
Luckily, there are some players out there who can help—whether it’s a fill-in running back or wideout or a matchup play on defense or under center.
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Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
Before we check out the Week 14 sleepers, let’s examine how Week 13’s recommendations played out.
Attaboys are welcome. Thrown vegetables, not so much.
For the record, sleepers count as wins if they finish inside weekly starter territory in a 12-team, points-per-reception fantasy league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense and the always popular flex play—a fairly standard setup.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (125 passing yards, 75 rushing yards, one rushing TD):Jackson spent part of the win over Atlanta in the medical tent but still managed enough yardage on the ground to finish inside the top 10 in fantasy points.WIN
Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos (151 passing yards, one TD, nine rushing yards):Keenum’s paltry stat line against a miserable Bengals defense was a disappointment. Unfortunately, life is filled with such disappointments—or something.LOSS
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (282 passing yards, two TDs, one INT, 43 rushing yards):Mariota got off to a miserable start against the Jets, but falling behind forced the Titans to throw the ball more than they otherwise might.WIN
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions (eight carries, 32 yards, three catches, 26 yards):The Lions managed to stay in Sunday’s game against the Rams most of the way. Had they spent more time playing catch-up, maybe Riddick’s stats would have been better.LOSS
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins (three rushes, three yards, three receptions, 18 yards):Any hopes Thompson had of a solid stat line against the Eagles died a painful death the moment Mark Sanchez entered the game.LOSS
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins (three catches, 51 yards):Doctson’s production and target share went way up with Colt McCoy at quarterback. Now? With Sanchez under center? Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.LOSS
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets (GOOSE EGG OF DOOM):There’s a moral to this story. Said moral is, “do not, under any circumstances ever, trust any of the wide receivers for the New York Jets.” Kearse not only had no catches, but he wasn’t even targeted.LOSS
David Moore, WR, Seattle Seahawks (DOUBLE GOOSE EGG of DOOM):Moore’s doughnut against the San Francisco 49ers is the perfect capper to a truly miserable week of wide receiver calls. I will now hang my head in shame.LOSS
Matt LaCosse, TE, Denver Broncos (TRIPLE GOOSE EGG OF DOOM):It’s bad enough that most of my recommendations missed this week. Three goose eggs is such a miserable showing that I may have to fire myself.LOSS
Green Bay Packers Defense/Special Teams (20 points allowed, 315 yards, two sacks):Green Bay’s faceplant against the woeful Arizona Cardinals is the perfect capper to my worst week of sleeper picks of the year. What a mess.LOSS
WEEK 7: 2-8 (.200)
SEASON: 56-74 (.431)
I don’t even want to talk about it. Now I know how Doug Marrone felt Friday morning.
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Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Detroit Lions Defense/Special Teams (at AZ)
The Detroit Lions haven’t had the best of seasons. At 4-8, the Lions are playing out the string in Matt Patricia’s first year as head coach.
Detroit’s disappointing campaign extends to the realm of fantasy football. The Lions don’t have a single player inside the top 15 fantasy producers at any position. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is the only player inside the top 20—and that’s just barely.
So why is a Detroit defense that ranks 26th in fantasy points at the position leading off this week’s sleeper column?
Well, as it usually is with defenses, this play is all about the matchup.
The Arizona Cardinals are coming off easily their best win of the season—a 20-17 upset of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
But one win does not fix all that ails the Arizona offense—and make no mistake, it is ailing.
Last Sunday’s win marked just the second time this season that Arizona has topped 300 yards of total offense in a game. Through 13 weeks, the Cardinals are dead last in the NFL in total offense (239.3 yards per game) and scoring offense (14.6 points per game).
The Greatest Show on Turf, they ain’t.
The Redbirds have also allowed 32 sacks this season (15th in the league) and have turned the ball over 22 times—sixth-most in the NFL.
If all those tasty numbers don’t do it for you, here’s one that should seal the deal.
No team in the NFC has surrendered more fantasy points to defenses this year.
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John Bazemore/Associated Press
There are a few great mysteries this time of year. Why do people continue to insist thatDie Hardis not a Christmas movie when it obviously is? What the heck is in fruitcake, and why would anyone eat it?
And why is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson still available in more fantasy leagues than not?
It’s not like Jackson isn’t producing for fantasy owners just as he has for the surging Ravens. In fact, over the last two weeks, Jackson’s combo attack of passing and (especially) running has propelled the rookie to top-five fantasy numbers among quarterbacks.
Admittedly, Jackson hasn’t been flawless. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said he’d like to see Jackson take better care of the football.
“I’d like to see us protect the football a little bit better than we have in the last few weeks,” Harbaugh told reporters. “That’ll be really critical in this game, I think, the turnovers, both ways. Those are some things to work on, too.”
But over the last three games, Jackson has piled up 265 yards on the ground. There are any number of running backs who will be in starting lineups this week that haven’t had that kind of success running the ball.
As if Jackson’s recent success isn’t reason enough to roll the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner out this week, there’s the matter of matchup. There are a great many things the Chiefs do well in 2018, but playing defense isn’t one of them. Kansas City ranks dead last in the NFL in pass defense and third in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
In a must-win week, there are two young quarterbacks available in a high percentage of fantasy leagues that are viable streamers.
Jackson is one of them.
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Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Baker Mayfield has probably appeared in this column more than any player in the NFL. Given those multiple appearances (with varying degrees of success), some may question the viability of his “sleeper” status.
However, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft remains available in about 40 percent of the fantasy football leagues at Yahoo, so after consulting with the sleeper eligibility commission (or the voices in my head, depending on how you look at it), it was ruled that he’s OK.
That’s good news for QB streamers in those leagues where he’s available.
Mayfield admittedly struggled last week against the Houston Texans, throwing three first-half interceptions. But Browns head coach Gregg Williams indicated in a press conference that Mayfield has already turned the page and moved on to Week 14:
“With those mistakes, he accepts responsibility and gets on to the next play. I’ve been around those kinds of people, too, and not just at the quarterback position but a lot of times at the cornerback position.
“You have to get on to the next play. Those are what really good players do, and [Mayfield] has that in him. Today he brought a smile to me as he’s getting everybody fired up out there today on lots of different competition type things, and so no worries at all.”
From Week 9 to Week 12, Mayfield parlayed a string of favorable matchups into a top-10 ranking among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. He gets another one Sunday, facing a floundering Carolina Panthers team that now ranks sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2018.
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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
For most of his first season in Detroit, running back LeGarrette Blount has been an afterthought. However, thanks to injuries in the backfield, that has changed of late.
With rookie Kerryon Johnson out with a knee injury, Blount has been tasked with the early-down work for the Lions over the past couple of games, piling up 35 carries for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Speaking with the media, Blount attributed that success at least in part to being able to get into a rhythm:
“As a running back, I think every running back in this league is going to want the rock over the course of a game. You want to get lathered up, you want to see how they’re playing and how they’re fitting the runs and how they’re playing against certain runs. Whenever you get a chance, an opportunity to get a few in a row, and see how it’s going, it helps a lot.”
Johnson still hasn’t made it back onto the practice field, and every missed one makes it that much more likely that he’ll again be sidelined when the Lions travel to face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
That would open the door for another heavy workload for Blount (who has at least 16 carries in each of the last two games) against an Arizona team that leads the NFC in fantasy points given up to running backs.
If you missed out on the hot waiver adds in the backfield this week, Blount is a decent consolation prize.
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John Froschauer/Associated Press
At this late juncture in the fantasy football season, sleeper running backs capable of big days are slightly less rare than unicorns.
However, injuries or other circumstances can create a window of opportunity for a tailback.
That’s what’s happening in San Francisco with undrafted rookie Jeff Wilson. As Matt Breida became the latest Niners back felled by injuries, lead duties last week fell to Wilson, who starred at North Texas.
Well, as much as anyonecanstar at North Texas.
Wilson made the most of his chance last week against the Seattle Seahawks, gaining 61 yards on 15 carries, adding 73 more on eight catches and earning the respect of head coach Kyle Shanahan:
“Jeff played very well. He earned that last week how he played, but it got stronger, especially with what happened with Breida in pregame warmups. We were going to give Jeff a lot anyways, but we knew Breida struggled in pregame. Then it got worse as the game went. Jeff also got hurt in the game too. He had to leave and go to the locker room for a little bit. But, it was good to see him. We all know he played well, but it was good to see him bounce back and play through some stuff that was bothering him also.”
With Breida already ruled out for Week 14, it will fall to Wilson once again to carry the mail for the 49ers against the Denver Broncos.
While Denver is only a middling matchup for running backs from a fantasy perspective, based on opportunity alone, Wilson is easily the best running back option who remains available in almost 50 percent of leagues at Yahoo.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
Antonio Callaway did something last week against the Houston Texans that’s really quite rare in the NFL.
Somehow, the rookie speedster from Florida managed to not score despite two long touchdown catches—twice in three plays. The first was negated by a holding penalty, and Callaway fumbled the second as he neared the end zone.
It’s been that kind of year for Callaway—flashes of considerable talent marred by drops, mental errors and inconsistency. However, Browns head coach Gregg Williams didn’t pile on the young pass-catcher after his Week 13 gaffe.
“He did really good, and he’ll learn from that ball-security play too, but he’s explosive, and I can’t coach that,” Williams told reporters. “He did some really good things to give him some opportunities to make plays, and he read the thing right. He and Baker were on the same page on a few of those shots. We’ve just got to protect the ball.”
The thing is, mistakes or not, the Browns are going to keep giving Callaway chances to make plays. That he was able to make those catches speaks to his ability to get open over the top. He and Baker Mayfield are getting on the same page more and more each week.
Throw in a matchup with a reeling Panthers team in Week 14 that has allowed the sixth-most PPR fantasy points to receivers this year, and if you don’t mind some risk, the upside is there with Callaway.
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Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
If there’s a common thread among most of this week’s sleepers, it’s that the door to a larger role has been opened by a late-season injury.
That’s the case with Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who has seen his target share increase with DeSean Jackson sidelined by a thumb injury.
Godwin made the most of that opportunity in Week 13, reeling in five of his six targets for 101 yards and making a case that he should enter 2019 as Tampa’s No. 2 receiver.
Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter told the media he wasn’t at all shocked by Godwin’s big game against the Carolina Panthers.
“First of all, it’s not surprising,” Koetter said. “I’ve been saying since day one, we have four starting wide receivers. They’ve all had their moments where they’ve played very well this year. Not surprising at all.”
If that’s the case, Koetter should be that much less surprised if Godwin puts on an encore against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
The Saints have had all sorts of problems covering wide receivers in 2018. It’s not just that New Orleans gives up more PPR fantasy points to wideouts than any team in the NFL. The Saints are No. 1 by a margin of six fantasy points per game.
Back in Week 1, Godwin posted a 3/41/1 stat line against the Saints as the No. 3 wideout. The No. 2 (Jackson) blew up for 5/146/2—on a day where Mike Evans also went well over 100 receiving yards with a touchdown.
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Seth Wenig/Associated Press
It’s been a tumultuous week for the wide receivers of the Buffalo Bills. The roster underwent a seismic shakeup earlier in the week when veterans Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes were shown the door. That left second-year pro Zay Jones as the leader of an unproven cadre of pass-catchers.
Per Kyle Silagyi of the team’s website, Jones—who struggled mightily with drops and inconsistency as a rookie—is confident he can step into the role of the Bills’ top wideout:
“We aren’t a group of guys that’s played, I haven’t played four or five years. I’m still a young player as well. We are building an identity. I think that we’re a hardworking group, a competitive group, we’re hungry. Rob Foster brings things to the table, Isaiah [McKenzie] brings things to the table, dynamic players. Our focus is just to keep working hard and expand on what we do well.”
Jones looked the part of a No. 1 receiver last week, catching four of nine targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
By no means is Jones a finished product, and his low catch rate relative to target share (he had just 27 receptions on 74 targets as a rookie) remains a cause for genuine concern.
But first-year quarterback Josh Allen seems to be developing a rapport with Jones, and for better or worse he’s Buffalo’s No. 1 heading into this week’s AFC East matchup with a Jets team that ranks fifth in PPR fantasy points surrendered to receivers in 2018.
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Overall, Chris Herndon’s 28 receptions for 345 yards and three scores aren’t numbers that inspire cartwheels from fantasy owners.
However, in a season where the tight end position has been a huge mess, those stats rank the rookie 15th in PPR fantasy points for the year. There are those who think the youngster has been pretty good in his first season.
Like, say, Herndon himself.
“I feel like I’m just trying to do everything they ask me to do and do it as well as I can,” Herndon said, via Randy Lange of the team’s website. “I don’t really look at the stats. I just see it as me having my number called and doing my best to make the plays.”
Herndon’s right—he’s had his moments. From Week 6 to Week 8, Herndon piled up seven receptions for 114 yards, scoring a touchdown in three straight contests. Over that span he checked in seventh among tight ends in fantasy points.
Those three weeks had something else in common—something (or more appropriately someone) who will return in Week 14 against the Bills.
Herndon’s hot streak came with rookie Sam Darnold, who he seems to have developed a rapport with, at quarterback.
Darnold will be back under center Sunday at Buffalo—and Herndon could be back to fantasy relevance.
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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Sunday’s matchup in Glendale between a pair of teams that have gone a combined 7-17 this season won’t be getting any national TV time. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman won’t be in town. And there’s not a lot to be had for fantasy owners on the offensive side of the ball outside of Cardinals running back David Johnson.
But on defense, both teams in this matchup between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals have fantasy appeal for folks who prefer to stream a new defense each week.
The Arizona offense has been a hot mess in 2018, but the defense has quietly been decent—especially through the air. For the year, Arizona ranks fifth in pass defense and third in the league with 38 sacks.
This isn’t to say the Redbirds haven’t had some struggles defensively—the team ranks just 17th overall and outside the top 20 in scoring defense. But the team has had its moments.
The Cards should have a few more against Detroit. The Lions are a disappointing 23rd in the league in total offense this season at 340 yards per game. They hold the same rank in scoring offense, posting 21.2 points per game.
The Lions do rank inside the top 10 in a few offensive categories, though. The 36 sacks the team has allowed in 2018 is tied for 10th in the NFL. Detroit’s 18 giveaways are tied for ninth. The team is eighth in fantasy points allowed to team defenses as well.
Hey, I never said the categories were ones the Lions wouldwantto be in the top 10 in.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
Fantasy weeks don’t get any bigger than this—at least in the regular season.
In the majority of fantasy football leagues, Week 13 is the last week of the regular season. And that means that for quite a few fantasy owners, this week is a playoff game.
Win, and it’s on to the playoffs.
Lose, and the season’s over.
The last thing any fantasy owner wants in a must-win week is to have a hole in the lineup. But injuries happen. It’s a cold, hard world that doesn’t care about your fantasy team. Plenty of folks are scrambling to find a running back play this week, or combing through the scrap-heap for a wide receiver.
Don’t get me started on the tight ends.
Well, I’m here to help (No, really. I can be helpful. Stop laughing), with some under-the-radar fantasy plays for lucky Week 13.
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Gary Landers/Associated Press
Before we take a look at the Week 13 sleepers, here’s a look at how Week 11’s recommendations panned out.
In order to go forward, we must first look back. Or some other wise-sounding pablum.
For the record, sleepers count as wins if they finish inside weekly starter territory in a 12-team, points-per-reception fantasy league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one defense and the always popular flex play—a fairly standard setup.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (258 passing yards, -4 rushing yards, 4 TD):Mayfield’s run of juicy matchups ended with last week’s win over the Bengals, but man, was it fun while it lasted.WIN
Nick Mullens, QB, San Francisco 49ers (221 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT):San Francisco’s Cinderfella quarterback made his first start away from Levi’s Stadium—and turned back into a pumpkin. Yes, I know that’s not how the story goes. I’m trying to be clever.LOSS
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (312 passing yards, 24 rushing yards, 2 TD):It’s been something of a carousel, but whoever has started under center for the Buccaneers this season has produced for fantasy owners.WIN
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens (23 carries, 118 yards):After posting a second-straight 100-yard rushing effort, Edwards appears to have overtaken the top spot at RB in Baltimore—and most assuredly lost sleeper status.WIN
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (5 rushes, 35 yards, 10 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD):Melvin Gordon came into this game banged up and left it even more so—and that opened the door for a top-10 outing from Ekeler.WIN
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (2 catches, 14 yards):It figures that the week I recommend Coutee would be the week that Demaryius Thomas breaks out and has a big game for the Texans. I think it was intentional on his part. Trying to make me look bad.LOSS
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers (DNP):Frankly, I should get a mulligan here—Goodwin left Tampa before last week’s game to attend to a family matter and still hasn’t re-joined the team. But a zero is a zero, so I’ll take the L.LOSS
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (4 catches, 41 yards):Generally speaking, when a team doesn’t even hit 150 yards of total offense, said team isn’t going to produce much in the way of fantasy production.LOSS
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 catches, 26 yards, 1 TD):Alert the news media and make your final preparations. The fact that a tight end I recommended actually had a decent game has to be a portent of the Apocalypse.WIN
New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams: (338 yards allowed, 13 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 INT):I would have liked more in the way of big plays, but the Pats did enough to sneak inside the top-12 defenses for the week.WIN
WEEK 7: 6-4 (.600)
SEASON: 54-66 (.450)
I went oh-fer on the wide receiver calls, but I was able to tie my high-water mark for any single week and get to 45 percent correct for the season.
I’ll take it.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (at ATL)
Now, it’s possible that this recommendation could blow up in all of our faces. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens was a limited participant in practice this week—the first time he’s practiced since hurting his hip a few weeks ago.
However, given how well Lamar Jackson has played in getting the Ravens back into playoff contention, it’s hard to imagine head coach John Harbaugh making a switch.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Granted, Jackson hasn’t been perfect by any means. He threw a pair of interceptions against the Oakland Raiders last week, and he remains a work in progress as a passer.
However, Jackson’s jaw-dropping athleticism has impressed more than a few people in recent weeks, including his teammates.
“It’s amazing how athletic he is, and how good of a quarterback he is,” tight end Mark Andrews said, via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “He is able to do so much that makes defenses stay up late at night.”
Jackson’s made quite the impression on fantasy owners as well. In the two weeks since he took the reins for the Ravens, Jackson has thrown for 328 yards, run for another 190 and posted the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks—ahead of the likes of Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.
However, despite those numbers and a matchup with an Atlanta Falcons team that ranks third in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks this year, Jackson’s owned in less than half of the fantasy leagues at Yahoo.
What’s up with that?
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Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
After the Denver Broncos pitched and lurched to a 3-6 start, many fans and pundits questioned the wisdom of the two-year, $36 million contract the team gave to veteran quarterback Case Keenum.
And by “questioned,” I mean “blasted with both barrels.”
However, after wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, the Broncos are back on the fringe of playoff contention. Per Mark Kiszla of theDenver Post, Keenum admitted he’s rather enjoyed serving a helping of crow to the naysayers.
“I really don’t think anybody else’s opinion matters but what’s going on in our locker room,” said Keenum. “I have a lot of respect for what you guys (in the media) do, but there’s a lot of things that go on outside this building that for us, we don’t pay attention to. We get after it and we work, and we trust each other. We trust each other’s opinion and we trust the coaches’ opinions. That’s what matters to us. But it feels good to prove people wrong every once in a while.”
Keenum isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard during this mini-streak, though. Over his last two games, Keenum is averaging just 201 passing yards and a touchdown per game.
But the 30-year-old is avoiding turnovers (a big problem for him earlier in the season), and this week Keenum and the Broncos should be able to open things up more against a Cincinnati Bengals team that’s both 31st in the NFL in pass defense and first in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks.
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Tim Warner/Getty Images
Marcus Mariota needs a hug.
On Monday night in Houston, Mariota had one of the best games of his career—he missed on just one of his 23 passes, topped 300 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
His reward for that performance? A 14-point loss that dropped the Titans below .500.
Mariota’s been hit-or-miss this season, and while speaking to Jim Wyatt of the team’s website, he said the key to better consistency is to make quick reads and spread the rock around.
“We just have to do a good job of spreading the ball around and just making sure the defense, can’t settle on a certain guy, and allowing those guys to make plays,” Mariota said. “Really the main thing is just spreading the ball around and making sure we are distributing evenly.
“I think you have to find ways to get every guy the ball, whether it is Dion (Lewis), whether it is Corey, whether it is Derrick (Henry), whether it is Jonnu (Smith). It is not focusing on one specific guy. One week it might be Corey, the next week it might be Tajae (Sharpe). It just depends week to week.”
The Titans may have lost in Week 12, but Mariota did just what he was talking about and looked good doing it en route to the No. 11 fantasy performance at quarterback.
If he plays at a similar level this week against a Jets team that has struggled on the road this year, he’ll crack the top 10.
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Paul Sancya/Associated Press
We tried the Theo Riddick route not too long ago in this column, and it didn’t pan out. But I’m going back to the well, and there are a few reasons to think this time will be different.
The first doesn’t make me feel any better, but it’s one of fantasy’s harsh realities. The later into the season you get, the shallower the pool of sleeper talent gets in the backfield. Players are not just rostered who were afterthoughts a month ago—they’re weekly starters.
See Adams, Josh. And Edwards, Gus.
The second is that injuries in the backfield haven’t spared the Lions. As Jacob Camenker reported for the Sporting News, lead back Kerryon Johnson missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury. It’s looking unlikely he’ll be able to play this week when the Lions host the Rams.
That means LeGarrette Blount will handle the early-down work, with Riddick assuming his normal role on passing downs.
Third, there’s the matter of the matchup—and that’s where things get really good.
The number of people who think the Lions won’t fall behind the Rams equals exactly zero. Matthew Stafford’s grandma bet the Rams minus-10 in this one.
Grandma Stafford’s a shark, she is.
If the Lions spend a significant portion of this game trailing, Blount is going to cede snaps to Riddick, who could be set for a bushel of garbage-time catches out of the backfield.
All hail garbage time!
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson certainly didn’t enter the 2018 season as a sleeper. Before his 2017 season was cut short by injury, the scatback spent the first half of the year as a top-12 fantasy option in point-per-reception formats.
In 2018, Thompson was going to stay healthy and serve as a high-end flex option. Maybe even an RB2.
That wasn’t what happened, though. Four uninspiring and injury-marred games into this season, Thompson hurt his ribs. He hasn’t played since Week 8 after hurting them again. And now he’s on the waiver wire in more than half the fantasy football leagues at Yahoo.
However, there just might be a light at the end of that tunnel—and an opportunity for the many fantasy owners in a lurch in the backfield.
Per Kareem Copeland of theWashington Post, Thompson has finally returned to practice and looks on track to play in Monday’s pivotal NFC East matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Granted, the Eagles aren’t a great matchup for running backs—Philly ranks 11th in the NFL in run defense and 21st in PPR fantasy points given up to running backs this season.
But Thompson isn’t a classical running back by any stretch. He’s not looking for yardage off-tackle. And an Eagles defense that’s been ravaged by injuries at linebacker and in the secondary could be vulnerable to a back catching the ball out in the flat and/or on wheel routes.
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Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
If you watched the Washington Redskins get throttled by the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in a game where Washington’s offense struggled mightily, the notion of trusting any Redskins player in a must-win game probably doesn’t fill you with holiday cheer.
However, if you look past the surface and dig a little deeper, there’s a player on the Redskins who just might be able to help you out.
Of Colt McCoy’s 38 pass attempts in the loss to Dallas, 10 were directed at wide receiver Josh Doctson. That was both a team-high for the game and a season-high for the former first-round pick, who converted those targets into six catches for 66 yards.
Both the receptions and yardage were season-highs for Doctson, who has quietly been on a nice little run of late. In three of his last four games, Doctson has managed at least 12 PPR fantasy points and ranks 27th among wide receivers—a high-end WR3 in 12-team leagues.
If those numbers don’t pique your interest, how about adding this to the mix? On Monday night, the Redskins travel to face their NFC East rivals in Philly in a game with huge postseason implications for both teams.
There are many things the Eagles do well. Defending the pass is not one of them.
Through 11 weeks this season, Philadelphia’s injury-ravaged secondary has given up the second-most PPR fantasy points to wide receivers—over 43 per game.
If Doctson gets a similar target share against the Eagles, he’s going to turn in his biggest stat line of the season.
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Mark Brown/Getty Images
This recommendation comes with a bit of a caveat. If rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is back under center for the New York Jets on Sunday, then wide receiver Jermaine Kearse becomes a riskier fantasy play.
Even so, I’m making the call.
In last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, Kearse had easily his best game of the season—six receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets.
As Gary Phillips reported for Jets Wire, Kearse said he thinks the New York offense has been more up-tempo of late since veteran quarterback Josh McCown took over for an injured Darnold.
“(McCown) sees things a lot quicker,” Kearse told reporters. “Just the mental aspect, he’s a lot further, just with his experience, being in the league, just being able to see things a lot quicker. The tempo kind of picked up a little bit (in practice).”
By no means is Kearse a slam-dunk in Week 13. The seventh-year veteran has hauled in less than half of his 65 targets this year and is averaging less than 10 yards a catch.
But in two of the three games this year in which Kearse has been targeted 10 or more times, he’s posted 18 or more PPR fantasy points—including a game with Darnold under center.
Throw in a matchup with a Tennessee Titans team allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and as gambles go, you could do worse than Kearse.
Now I’mrhyming.Oh yeah.
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Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore is available in three out of every four fantasy football leagues at Yahoo. There’s good reason for that, as Moore has all of 22 catches for a Seahawks passing attack that won’t be confused with the NFC West rivals down the coast in L.A. anytime soon.
However, Moore has the makings of a sneaky-good fantasy start in Week 13.
For starters, there’s the fact that five of Moore’s 22 receptions this year have gone for touchdowns. Only Tyler Lockett has more scores for the team.
If you were wondering, Doug Baldwin has one. Sigh.
Then there’s the matter of Moore’s 103-yard effort last week against the Carolina Panthers—an effort that surprised just about everyone but Baldwin, apparently.
“He’s a savage,” Baldwin said, via ESPN’s Brady Henderson. “He does that every day in practice, in games when he gets his opportunities. He’s a baller.”
Finally, there’s the matter of matchup. This week the Seahawks play host to the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners haven’t been a great fantasy matchup for wideouts in 2018, but they haven’t been awful, either—15th in PPR fantasy points allowed to the position.
Admittedly, Moore has a low floor. He’s not going to catch eight passes and have a solid PPR day through quantity. He makes his hay over the top and in the red zone.
But in three of his last four games, Moore has been targeted at least five times, and in two of those games, it was seven or Moore.
Get it? Moore?
HA! I kill me!
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Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
The tight end position in fantasy football has been a waking nightmare in 2018. One sentence sums up how incredibly weird it’s been this season.
Jared Cook and Eric Ebron have both been really good.
The season-ending rib injury suffered by Jeff Heuerman of the Denver Broncos robbed streamers at tight end of yet another option last week. But they may not have to look far for a replacement.
With Heuerman on the shelf last week, third-year pro Matt LaCosse had easily the best game of his career, hauling in three passes for 34 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
Those numbers are admittedly not knee-buckling. And to say that LaCosse is not an accomplished blocker is being kind—he’s not going to be on the field full-time.
But Case Keenum has shown a propensity for targeting his tight ends this season, and the 6’6″, 255-pound LaCosse demonstrated a nice aptitude for getting open in space last week against Pittsburgh.
Bedsides, this recommendation actually has less to do with LaCosse and more to do with who he and the Broncos face in Week 13. Sunday in the Queen City, Denver will meet a terrible Cincinnati Bengals defense that leads the AFC in PPR fantasy points allowed to tight ends in 2018.
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Jim Mone/Associated Press
This isn’t the first time the Green Bay Packers have made an appearance as a sleeper defense in this column.
Just as it was before, this time has little to do with a defense that has been asleep most of the year. The Packers rank a respectable 12th in total defense and 16th in scoring defense. Green Bay’s 36 sacks rank third in the NFL. But the Packers have managed just 12 takeaways in 11 games and haven’t scored a defensive or return touchdown all year.
As a result, they rank outside the top 20 fantasy defenses in 2018 in NFL.com default fantasy scoring.
But again, this isn’t about the Pack. This is about the team it hosts at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
At the risk of sounding mean, the Arizona Cardinals have been hot garbage offensively this season. The Redbirds are dead last in the NFL in offense, at 232.5 yards per game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have averaged just under that perhalf.
Arizona’s also 32nd in the league in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game.
There aresixteams averaging more than that every two quarters.
Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Redbirds scored 10 points and amassed 149 yards of total offense. Only once in 11 games have the Cardinals hit the 300-yard mark offensively.
Care to guess which team in the NFC is surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing team defenses this season?
If you guessed the Cardinals, you get a cookie.
Not really. I ate them all.