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Inside the Matchup
Week 15
12/13/17; Updated: 12/15/17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon



NE @ PIT | LAC @ KC | TEN @ SF | LAR @ SEA


- ITM for all games will be available on Friday.
- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Broncos @ Colts - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Denver’s quarterback situation hasn’t led to the most consistent fantasy results this season but last week’s game gave fantasy owners a reason to smile. Trevor Siemian isn’t going to punch your ticket to a fantasy championship anytime soon but he gets a nice match up and appears to have a good approach - get Demaryius Thomas the ball. Thomas is averaging ten targets a game over the past three weeks and (gulp) may be considered a low end WR1 this week. It’s really tough trusting a receiver in an offense that barely reaches 200 yards passing but the veteran has been receiving such a large proportion of the team’s passes that his floor is amongst the highest of any of other fantasy receiver. He won’t lose too many looks near the goal either so give him the nod as your WR2 and hope Siemian can pick up where he left off last week.

Unfortunately, the leftovers are rather scant for anyone else to be a useful source of fantasy production. Emmanuel Sanders has needed four weeks to get the same amount of catches that Thomas had least week. Virgil Green and Bennie Fowler didn’t even register a catch a week ago. If the Colts can figure out a way to stop Demaryius Thomas they might just have a shot at winning a battle of field goals.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: C.J. Anderson saw 59-percent of the Broncos’ offensive snaps last week and received a two to one touch advantage over Devontae Booker. Anderson has more fantasy appeal than his backfield counterpart but that doesn’t mean he belongs in your fantasy lineup. He has been able to reach at least five fantasy points in three of the past four weeks but he doesn’t bring much touchdown upside to the table with only one score since Week 3. Indy has been better at stopping the run in the second half of the season and has only allowed three rushing touchdowns over the team’s past five games. Although he is the starter and getting more carries, Anderson’s low ceiling is the real limiting factor to the decision to keep him benched this week. Additionally, the team may decide to give the younger Booker a few more carries in the final weeks of a losing season. The backup has shown flashes at times but hasn’t been able to unseat Anderson when given the chance so avoid both players if possible.

Value Meter:
WR2: Demaryius Thomas
Flex: C.J. Anderson
Bench: Trevor Siemian, Devontae Booker, Emmanuel Sanders

Passing Game Thoughts: As we prepare for Week 15, who would have figured that the Colts have called a higher percentage of running plays than all but five other teams in the entire league? Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has reached 30 passing attempts only once in the past month of action after doing so in every week between Weeks 5 and 9. That has caused Brissett to accrue about five less fantasy points per game in his most recent stretch of games. Thursday night’s showdown with another struggling team would seem to provide a glimmer of hope but the Orange Crush have been an unfavorable matchup for opposing fantasy players despite being less dominating in 2017. The team’s biggest threat in the passing game, T.Y. Hilton, hasn’t scored more than three fantasy points in a home game since Week 5 and is lucky to see six targets lately. The limited upside of the entire passing game makes everyone a touchdown or bust fantasy play for Week 15. Then again, if you are playing meaningful fantasy games at this time of year, you probably didn’t have many Colts on your roster. The Colts may need to throw the ball more to win this game counting on them to be more effective against a defense coming off a shutout remains a risky proposition.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: The current state of the Colts offense has produced a fraction of its typical level of production this year but that hasn’t stopped Frank Gore from grinding out fantasy points. The Colts still rank amongst the ten least productive fantasy backfields coming into Week 15, but Gore’s 36-carry, 130-yard performance against the Bills last week place him 20th amongst running backs in standard scoring leagues. In doing so, he eclipsed the 200-carry mark for the twelfth straight season of his career. Unfortunately, the short week and overload of carries make it extremely difficult to predict a quality outing against the Broncos on Thursday night. With that in mind, Marlon Mack has a good shot at out-producing Gore in the fantasy realm this week. Mack’s versatility out of the backfield and increased usage in this game could easily see him surpass his current high-water mark of 14 this year. In a better matchup I might consider him as a low end RB2/Flex but the floor is considerably low against the Broncos. Too many unknowns make him a potentially hazardous flex option.

Value Meter:
Flex: Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton
Bench: Jacoby Brissett, Frank Gore, Jack Doyle

Prediction: Broncos 17, Colts 12 ^ Top

Packers @ Panthers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Those fantasy owners who scooped up Aaron Rodgers probably have a decision to make this week. Rodgers is set to return from a collarbone injury that has derailed the Packers season. Most quarterbacks would need a week or two but Mr. Doublecheck isn’t your typical fantasy QB. He will go into this game with a full week of practice under his belt. Carolina’s secondary continues to have problems stopping the pass. Carolina has given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other NFL defense over the past five weeks and must now deal with Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams return to their starting glory. Nelson’s timing with Rodgers is uncanny and should immediately vault him back into the top 15 at his position. Meanwhile, Adams stands a chance at losing out on some targets without Brett Hundley under center. Adams had overtaken Nelson to become the best receiver to own on this roster but it’s unlikely to expect Rodgers to abandon his favorite target (Nelson) in favor of Adams. Randall Cobb will continue to be a useful PPR asset gobbling up high percentage passes and the occasional touchdown.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: The entire offense gets a big boost in fantasy rankings this week as Rodgers returns to the huddle. That will only make Jamaal Williams a stronger fantasy option for those fortunate enough to have rostered him this season. The Brigham Young product has scored in three straight contests, with multiple touchdowns in two of them. Rodgers’ return may give the team more options near the goal but some of that production can be accounted for with more yards. After a pair of big games midway through the season Aaron Jones has been ineffective in a backup role. That cements Williams as a solid dual threat RB2 this week and a RB1 throughout the rest of the fantasy playoff season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB2: Jamaal Williams
WR2: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams
Flex: Randall Cobb
Bench: Lance Kendricks

Passing Game Thoughts: Cam Newton has been better at keeping other’s fantasy values from tanking this season than keeping his afloat. The Panthers quarterback was limited at practice this week as he continues to nurse a shoulder ailment. Newton’s favorite target, Devin Funchess, has now seen at least seven targets in four of the past five games and has scored four touchdowns during that span. Funchess has more receptions in 2017 than he had during his first two years as a pro and is set to go over the 100-target threshold for the first time in his career. Russell Shepard has had too many goose-eggs to be trusted with a starting roster designation. If anyone other than Funchess is to emerge in the passing game it will be Greg Olsen. The veteran stalwart has been slowed by a bum foot that required surgery this season. He was able to make it through last week’s game without incident and should be a larger part of the team’s game plan this week. The Packers have been one of the ten best matchups for opposing fantasy tight ends in the past five games so Olsen should finally return to being a useful fantasy starter this week.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey out-snapped Jonathan Stewart 44 to 26 last week. The rookie fared well against the Vikings but it was Jonathan Stewart that stole the show. Count me as somebody who didn’t see a three touchdown, 100-rushing yard game coming from the lifelong Panther running back. Especially since he saw only one third of the offensive snaps in the backfield. The versatility McCaffrey offers gives the coaching staff more reason to keep him on the field over Stewart so don’t expect that to drastically change this week after one huge game. I feel like this game will go back and forth into the second half which bodes well for McCaffrey to see maximum touches as a runner and receiver but his upside will remain limited by the presence of Stewart. As a result, both running backs fall into flex territory for me in Week 15.

Value Meter:
QB2: Cam Newton
WR2: Devin Funchess
TE1: Greg Olsen
Flex: Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stewart
Bench: Russell Shepard

Prediction: Panthers 30, Packers 27 ^ Top

Jets @ Saints - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh McCown’s broken hand will lead to Bryce Petty starting for the Jets in Week 15. Petty might be a solid name in other sports, but it isn’t steeped in NFL tradition. New York’s backup quarterback situation is one to avoid. Neither Petty or Christian Hackenberg were able to force their way into the lineup during the preseason. Nor have they given the coaching staff on a losing team a reason to bench a known commodity in McCown these past few weeks. New Orleans is banged up on the defensive side of the ball but that won’t help Gang Green much considering Petty was only able to complete two passes in limited time against Denver. He will also be playing in one of the tougher arenas for opposing teams. Rather than trying to figure out if anyone from the Jets receiving corps will show up, I’d simply release them from your roster.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: With McCown having moderate success this season, Bilal Powell and Matt Forte have been useful at times throughout the season. That all changes with Petty at the helm. New Orleans won’t have a lot of reason to respect the passing game so look for a greater defensive emphasis to stop the rushing attack. Powell has been a slightly better fantasy option than Forte lately but I can’t recommend starting a running back with a sub 3.0 YPC over his past two games. First downs will be in short supply so expecting a small boost from his stats in the passing game is also foolish. Forte is hanging around to steal a few touches from Powell but not enough to make himself a viable flex option. The Jets will lean heavily on both of their running backs to take pressure off of their inexperienced quarterback but I wouldn’t count on either one of them having much fantasy success while splitting carries.

Value Meter:
Bench: Bryce Petty, Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Passing Game Thoughts: Drew Brees didn’t look great against the Falcons and still completed 26 passes to allow him to post his best fantasy outing in the past three weeks. He should have another quality but unspectacular performance against the Jets this weekend. New York has lost games to Trevor Siemian, Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick in three of its past four weeks without any of them scoring more than 18 fantasy points. Conversely, their past two wins saw opposing quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith total 31 and 41 fantasy points respectively. In an expected blowout, I suspect Brees bounces back in Week 15. There isn’t much to dissect in New Orleans’ passing game. Michael Thomas should be a fixture in your starting lineup. Ted Ginn Jr. is a borderline flex option in good matchups but hasn’t scored a touchdown or gone over eight fantasy points (standard scoring) since Week 9. Counting on anyone else is a shot in the dark-which might be better than your other options (see Jets above).

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Alvin Kamara’s concussion took some people out of the fantasy playoffs before the weekend. If you survived or were fortunate enough to not be playing in an elimination game then you will be thankful to know that Kamara is feeling better this week. He has returned to practice and looks like he will be able to play this weekend but he hasn’t been cleared to play at the time of this writing so be sure to check back for an official update on his status. Mark Ingram didn’t take advantage of the backfield situation but still managed to post 92 total yards. The Jets have been stingy against the run so don’t expect either player to have much room to run. Assuming he is cleared from concussion protocol, Kamara’s homerun capability makes him a stronger fantasy play in this game. Ingram maintains his position as the higher floor and less risky fantasy option. You are starting both in redraft leagues, but go with the higher ceiling in DFS.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB1: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram
WR1: Michael Thomas
Bench: Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon Coleman, Josh Hill, Coby Fleener, Willie Snead

Prediction: Saints 34, Jets 3 ^ Top

Texans @ Jaguars - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Whether Houston needed a reason to put Tom Savage on the bench or not he found his way to the sidelines after suffering a concussion last week. T.J. Yates has been named the starter after doing an admirable job as Savage’s replacement. The journeyman quarterback threw more touchdowns in his relief appearance than Savage did over the past two plus games so all fantasy hope is not lost. Well, at least not until you factor in Houston’s Week 15 opponent. The Jags will make things awfully tough on Yates and in turn that makes it equally tough for fantasy owners to plug anyone from a banged up passing attack being led by a third-string quarterback. The Houston passing game is like an eclipse these days, it takes a lot of things to line up perfectly for it to happen and you do not want to look directly at what unfolds. For all the wrong reasons, it should be a magnificent display of what has gone wrong with Houston in 2017.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller is the new Frank Gore. The Texans lead back has now had more than 50 but less than 70 rushing yards in all of his previous eight games. Playing in an offense that will have a tough time moving the ball this weekend isn’t going to increase his chances of scoring a touchdown either. His only value to fake game managers is knowing he won’t give you a zero. That’s not saying much. Andre Ellington was the only other running back to see offensive snaps in last week’s loss to the 49ers. He has the same value as Miller in PPR leagues where he will probably give you a couple of points but not nearly enough to make him a good option for your starting lineup.

Value Meter:
Bench: T.J. Yates, Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Stephen Anderson

Passing Game Thoughts: Blake Bortles? It’s fantasy playoff time and you are talking about starting a player that up until Week 13 had not had a single game with 300 passing yards and multiple touchdowns this season. The reality is that their young running back is starting to hit a wall and teams are forcing the Jags to beat them through the air. The new coaching staff has helped limit his turnovers and brought his completion percentage up. A big chunk of the recent success results can be attributed to the emergence of Dede Westbrook in the passing game. I’ve harped on Bortles inability to throw multiple touchdown passes all year but he has accomplished that feat in each of the past two weeks. 17 passes headed towards Westbrook in those two games might have something to do with it. Bortles has thrown nearly as many passes over the past four games (with Westbrook) as he did over the first four games of the season but his completion percentage is 7.6 points higher in his most recent month. The addition of a dynamic secondary weapon in the passing game has helped this passing attack gain more consistency and move the chains. A more balanced offensive attack is just enough to make Westbrook, Bortles and Marqise Lee fantasy starters this weekend in a favorable matchup with the Texans. Keelan Cole has made big plays in consecutive weeks as well. He’s in the flex discussion for deeper leagues but he needs more targets before fantasy owners can truly believe.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: If you expected a rookie to keep chugging along as a top-five fantasy running back all year, you are naïve. Leonard Fournette has seen his production dip to the point where his owners can’t pencil him in as a true RB1 workhorse but his role hasn’t changed. The carries are better than most and the uptick in the passing game only improves the rookie’s chances of finding pay dirt and prevents defenses from loading the box. He’s playing a Houston team that is only yielding 15.6 fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2017. In a typical RBBC that may not be too much but with Fournette garnering most of the workload it means he has a solid floor with room for plenty of touchdowns if the passing game keeps backing up the defense into the red zone. Did I mention Houston has allowed four rushing touchdowns over its past three games?

Value Meter:
QB1: Blake Bortles
RB1: Leonard Fournette
WR2: Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook
Bench: Chris Ivory, Allen Hurns, Keelan Cole, Marcedes Lewis

Prediction: Jaguars 26, Texans 6 ^ Top

Falcons @ Buccaneers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Over the past two weeks, Ryan has two lowest completion percentages of the season. If you were able to weather the storm, it’s time to reinstall Ryan into your starting lineups. In his last three games against Tampa he is a combined 78 for 108 (72.2 %) so his current streak is likely to rebound. Furthermore, Ryan tossed four touchdowns in a rout over the Bucs the last time these teams met in Tampa and they just dispatched a far tougher Saints team in Week 14. Detroit was able to exploit the tight end matchup and I suspect Atlanta will copy them to some extent this week. If the boring Eric Ebron can find a pulse last week, the equally boring Austin Hooper has a shot to peak against the same foe this weekend. Ryan’s expected improvements on the longer week should help the usual suspects be fine choices for all lineups. These two teams are headed in opposite directions and I don’t see Tampa Bay keeping up. That would result in Atlanta taking the foot of the accelerator a little bit and letting the ground game carry them to the finish line.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: It’s been a couple of weeks since Devonta Freeman returned to the lineup but he was running hard against the Saints and looks like he has put everything behind him. That’s a great thing for his owners this week because he projects as a top performer in all of fantasy heading into this weekend’s divisional match game against the Bucs. Freeman won’t need a heavy workload to be productive but I expect the team to make sure he continues to see carries near the goal after he snapped his six-game touchdown drought a week ago. With the host team giving up 113 rushing yards per game this season and more rushing scores than all but two other teams, you can bet Tevin Coleman (concussion) will get in on the action as well if he is cleared to play. He’s a great flex and may even masquerade as a RB2 in deeper formats depending on your other options.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB2: Devonta Freeman
WR1: Julio Jones
WR2: Mohamed Sanu
Flex: Tevin Coleman (concussion)
TE1: Austin Hooper
Bench: Taylor Gabriel

Passing Game Thoughts: With everyone watching on Monday night and his team playing as a true home underdog, Jameis Winston has a lot riding on his shoulders. Losers of seven straight games, Tampa’s young signal caller will either keep his team in the game or find himself padding his stats in garbage time. Either way, it should result into a palatable fantasy outing so keep him in mind if you happened to lose Carson Wentz or your usual starter has a horrible matchup. The Buccaneers will certainly look towards the future over its last few games and that means O.J. Howard should get more chances. He saw six passes to Cameron Brate’s one against the Lions and that trend is likely to continue. Brate’s presence provides plenty of risk but the upside is too hard to ignore considering he will be amongst the first numbers called inside the ten-yard line. If you don’t own a “set it and forget it” fantasy tight end, give Howard a shot to have a big day on a national stage.

The Falcons know Mike Evans is the favorite target in this passing game and Winston’s improved passing percentage has come at the expense of Mike Evans’ targets. The star wideout has seen only 11 targets in the past two weeks as defensive coordinators force Winston to use his secondary options more and more. I don’t love Evans this week but the touchdown potential and potential to see ten targets anytime Winston is throwing the ball keep him WR3 appeal.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: I don’t expect Atlanta to shut down Tampa’s rushing attack but I do think Doug Martin may lose some touches once this game goes sideways on the scoreboard. I know Martin has plenty of skills as a receiver but he has yet to see more than three passes in a single game this year. Add in his lackluster 17 carries over the past two weeks and you have the makings for a potential bust at RB2. Week 14 marked the first time Martin has reached double digits fantasy points since the first month of the year and his 3.1 YPC on the season doesn’t inspire much confidence. Charles Sims would be the beneficiary of the team becoming more pass-heavy but he would need to break a big play to turn a profit. The Bucs backfield is short on upside and rich on risk so look elsewhere for Week 15.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston (low-end)
WR3: Mike Evans
TE2: O.J. Howard
Bench: Doug Martin, Peyton Barber, Adam Humphries, DeSean Jackson

Prediction: Falcons 28, Buccaneers 26 ^ Top

Bears @ Lions - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Bears rank dead last in fantasy points scored by the quarterback position, as Mitchell Trubisky and Mike Glennon have combined to throw just 10 touchdowns on the season on 224 pass attempts. No team in the NFL has thrown the ball less than the Bears or for fewer yards, including subpar passing offenses like Baltimore, Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Buffalo.

Although he has thrown for a touchdown in four of his last five games, including a career-best 21 of 35 for 297 yards and a score Week 10 vs. Green Bay, Trubisky has yet to post a multiple passing touchdown day, while only topping 20 fantasy points in nine career starts.

The Bears are a run-oriented team built around a solid defense and a young quarterback who is asked to make a limited number of difficult throws. The strength of the Bears matches up well against the weakness of the Lions, as the Detroit allows the third-most points per game to running backs. Teams have found success running the ball against Detroit, and fantasy owners of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen should expect a heavy workload on Sunday.

The same cannot be said for the skill position players in the passing game, especially wide receivers Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright. Both veteran wideouts have the possibility of scoring a touchdown, but their respective low volume makes them risky plays in the fantasy playoffs. If forced to start a receiving option for Trubisky, fellow rookie Adam Shaheen may be the best option. The Lions have allowed the seventh-most points to opposing tight ends and the third most receiving touchdowns, including an impressive 4/54/1 performance by rookie O.J. Howard last week at Tampa Bay.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: Detroit has been in a tailspin defensively over the past month, allowing the most offensive touchdowns during a span in which they faced off against subpar offensives like Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland.

An opposing running back has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the past eight games, with eight different tailbacks posting double-digit fantasy points. Bears tailback Jordan Howard became the fifth running back in that stretch to score a touchdown as part of an impressive 15/125/1 day for the second-year back from Indiana, while backfield mate Tarik Cohen added a score and 44 yards on nine carries.

Howard enters the game on the heels of his second multi-score game after an impressive 147-yard, two touchdown performance against the Bengals Week 14. It was the fifth 100-yard game of the season for Howard and the 12th in 28 career games.

On paper, a matchup against a Lions defense that is falling apart at the seams and allows the third-most points to opposing backs looks promising for Howard. In games this season in which he looked primed for big games, including two weeks ago against San Francisco, Howard failed to deliver.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (Low-End)
RB2: Jordan Howard (Mid-Range)
WR4: Dontrelle Inman (Low-End)
TE2: Adam Shaheen (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford played through a slow start and a bruised hand to throw for 381-yards and a touchdown in a close win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. For the second consecutive week, Stafford completed over 80% of his passes, including eight of nine throws to Golden Tate for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Detroit’s Week 15 opponent provides more of a challenge for Stafford and the Lions passing game than Tampa Bay, as Chicago allows the fifth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. Only three QBs have managed to throw for more than one touchdown passes in a game against Vic Fangio’s secondary, with only one opposing quarterback reaching 300 or more passing yards.

On a positive note for Stafford owners, the former first-round pick from Georgia is one of the three QB’s to post a multi-touchdown game, and Stafford came just one yard short of the 300-yard plateau when the two teams faced off Week 11 in Chicago.

A similar level of production from Stafford can be expected on Saturday, especially if the Detroit defense continues to struggle against the run and the Bears can force a positive game script for Detroit skill position players.

Look for Golden Tate to continue to be the focus of the passing game on short and intermediary routes. The Bears tend to play two deep safeties to limit deep passes (only two deep touchdown passes allowed on the season), making throws underneath to Tate and tight end Eric Ebron open for Stafford.

Chicago’s strength at limiting deep passes somewhat negates the upside of Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. However, Jones’ ability as a high-end red zone threat makes him a must-start.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters on Wednesday that Ameer Abdullah will likely return to action after missing the past few weeks with a neck injury. Initially reported as a healthy scratch against Tampa Bay last week, Caldwell said that the former Nebraska Cornhusker was not active Week 14 due to health issues.

Regardless of which three running backs participate in the three-headed committee, none of them are safe starts in standard size leagues. Theo Riddick provided a spark last week with 21.3 fantasy points on 93 total yards, but his value would be marginalized with a return of Abdullah. The two backs combined for a pedestrian 57 yards on 20 carries against Chicago Week 11, with Abdullah saving the day for fantasy owners with a fluky touchdown reception.

The Bears do not provide an overly attractive matchup as the 22nd ranked team in points allowed to opposing running backs, and injuries to four of five starting offensive linemen for Detroit make Abdullah and Riddick even riskier.

Starting guard T.J. Lang missed practice on Wednesday with a lingering foot injury. Lang missed multiple practices prior leading up the Bucs game but was able to start. Center Travis Swanson missed Wednesday’s practice with a concussion, and right tackle Rick Wagner is dealing with an ankle injury. Left tackle Taylor Decker is listed with a shoulder injury but appears to be on pace to play. Of the four injured linemen, Swanson is the likeliest to miss unless he is able to clear concussion protocol by Friday.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (Low-End)
RB4: Ameer Abdullah (High-End)
WR2: Golden Tate (High-End)
WR2: Marvin Jones (High-End)
TE2: Eric Ebron (High-End)

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 10 ^ Top

Benglas @ Vikings - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a heartbreaking loss on Monday Night Football to the Steelers Week 13, the Bengals appeared to quit on head coach Marvin Lewis in a pathetic 33-7 home loss to the Chicago Bears. An injury-depleted defensive unit had no energy and struggled collectively to make tackles, while Andy Dalton and the offense were out of synch and lifeless.

At 5-8, the Bengals are still technically alive in the playoff hunt, but a loss on the road against a tough Vikings team will eliminate them from playoff contention.

A win against the Vikings will take a near-flawless performance from Dalton, the No.17th ranked fantasy quarterback in points scored this season. Although the Bengals offense ranks dead last in total offense with 3604 total yards (The Saints are first with 5209), Dalton has been highly efficient over his last seven games, with 12 passing touchdowns and just one interception dating back to Week 8.

The Vikings allow the third-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks and have limited some of the most potent offenses in the league to less than 20 points. The Saints, Rams, and Falcons all failed to reach their respective season averages against Minnesota, and no opposing quarterback has managed to throw for more than two touchdowns this season.

A key matchup in the passing game will be A.J. Green vs. Xavier Rhodes on the outside. Rhodes started the season off strong with stellar performances against elite receivers like Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Mike Evans, but has stumbled as of late against Marvin Jones and Devin Funchess. Green has found success this season in both easy and challenging matchups, including a 4/51/1 line against the Broncos and 7/189/1 performance against a weak Buffalo secondary.

According to, the Bengals offensive line ranks 22nd out of 32 teams in pass protection, and Andy Dalton is sacked an average of 2.5 times per game. The ability of Cincinnati’s offensive line protecting Dalton against Everson Griffen’s pass rush on the outside and Mike Zimmer’s exotic blitz packages will be critical for the underdog Bengals have any shot of winning this game.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie Joe Mixon has yet to the league’s concussion protocol, but the former Oklahoma Sooner is progressing according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If Mixon is unable to pass the required steps to clear the protocol, Giovani Bernard will get another start.

Bernard has been much more efficient than Mixon this season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 58 attempts, including 24 carries for 139 yards while Mixon has been out of the lineup. In PPR leagues Bernard was a great play last week with six catches for 68 yards to go along with 62 yards rushing. Touchdowns continue to be an issue for the veteran back, but he would be worthy of another flex start should Mixon not clear the protocol.

Only the Eagles allow fewer fantasy points than the Vikings, a number that is skewed by the three-touchdown performance last week by Jonathan Stewart. If you take out the outlier game by the Panthers, only three players have managed to score a rushing touchdown vs. Minnesota, and only Benny Cunningham of the Bears has managed to reach the end zone on a reception out of the backfield.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andy Dalton (Low-End)
RB3: Giovani Bernard (High-End)
WR2: A.J. Green (Low-End)
WR4: Brandon LaFell (Low-End)
TE2: Tyler Kroft (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Case Keenum enters Week 15 ranked 15th in points per game among quarterbacks, less than a point behind Philip Rivers, Jared Goff, and Drew Brees, while only Russell Wilson has averaged more points per game than Keenum over the past five games.

In three consecutive road games against NFC playoff contenders Detroit, Atlanta, and Carolina, Keenum averaged 263 passing yards and two touchdowns. A home game against an injury-depleted Bengals unit that just allowed 33 points to the league’s lowest scoring offense at home pales in comparison to the difficult opponents Keenum and the Vikings faced in their last four games.

Linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil are listed as non-participants in practice on Wednesday with head and ankle injuries, while cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick were also absent. When healthy the Bengals defensive unit ranked in the top ten in fewest points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. But with injuries taking their toll and the Bengals fading from playoff contention, Cincinnati has taken a big step back in pass defense, allowing the six-most points over the past three games.

The ascension of Adam Thielen as the favorite target and No.1 wide receiver in Minnesota is complete, as Thielen is seventh in the NFL in fantasy points per game - only a tenth of a point behind first-round pick A.J. Green. After starting off red hot, injuries and sporadic play have attributed to the gradual decline of Stefon Diggs from an elite player over the first month of the season to the 21st ranked WR in points per game.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: After a strong start to the season allowing only two rushing touchdowns and zero 100-yard rushers in the first five games, the Bengals have declined into one of the worst rush defenses over the past five games. Starting with Demarco Murray’s three-touchdown game Week 10 and continuing with Jordan Howard’s 23/147/2 game last week, only the Bills have been more giving to opposing running backs over the past month.

Cincinnati’s struggles over that period coincide with the Vikings excelling in the run game as the No.11 ranked ground game in the league. Latavius Murray has been a consistent force for fantasy owners with double-digit points in four of his last five games, including a two-touchdown game against the Rams the last time the Vikings played at home.

Murray’s rise up the running back rankings comes at the expense of backfield mate Jerick McKinnon, who after a strong four-game run from Weeks 5 through 8, has just one touchdown and one double-digit performance in his last five games.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum (High-End)
RB2: Latavius Murray (Mid-Range)
RB3: Jerick McKinnon (High-End)
WR1: Adam Thielen (Mid-Range)
WR3: Stefon Diggs (High-End)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph Low-End)

Prediction: Vikings 34, Bengals 14 ^ Top

Ravens @ Browns - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Through 13 games and 422 pass attempts, Joe Flacco is on pace to set a career-low in average fantasy points scored. His 13.7 points per game places him 40th in the league, behind fantasy stalwarts Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mike Glennon, and rookie Mitchell Trubisky. Flacco has yet to throw for more than two touchdowns in a game, and he does not have the isolated rushing touchdown that has bolstered his stats in previous seasons.

On a positive note, the former Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen is on a hot streak with two consecutive 21-point performances and the Baltimore offense is on a tear with 83 points scored against Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The Browns allow the sixth-most points to opposing quarterbacks and are tied with the Broncos and Giants for the most passing touchdowns allowed on the year (26). With Baltimore looking to hold onto the wild card and sixth-seed in the AFC playoffs, a third-consecutive multi-touchdown game by Flacco is not out of the realm of possibility, making him a solid No.2 QB play this week in two-quarterback leagues.

As you would expect on a team with the 40th-ranked fantasy quarterback, the skill position players on the Ravens, especially the wide receivers, are not among the top 25 scorers at their respective positions. Mike Wallace continues to be the primary deep threat to stretch the field along with Chris Moore, while Jeremy Maclin and tight end Benjamin Watson patrol the short and intermediary routes. Maclin’s first year with the team has been a disappointment, with just 39 receptions on 71 targets and three touchdowns. Injuries and a clear lack of rapport with Flacco have hurt the former first-round pick from Missouri.

Look for tight ends Nick Boyle and Ben Watson to be more active in this game after combining for just one catch for one yard against the Steelers. The Browns allow the third-most points to tight ends and teams have found success attacking the middle of the field against Cleveland.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: After a strong start in run defense, the Browns have weakened as of late, allowing the 9th-most points to opposing RBs over the past five games, including a 23/114/1 performance by rookie Joe Mixon Week 12. Seven different running backs have topped double-digit fantasy points vs. Cleveland dating back to Week 8, highlighted by a 23.8 point performance by Jamaal Williams last week.

Cleveland’s recent struggles against the run bodes well for Alex Collins owners in search of a reliable playoff performance. The second-year player from Arkansas has quietly put together a nice season as the 17th-ranked RB in fantasy points per game and currently owns a four-game streak of scoring at least 100 rushing yards. Collins should be in line for 15 to 25 carries on Sunday, with the upside of a possible multi-touchdown game.

Buck Allen continues to be the second running back to own and play in Baltimore, while Danny Woodhead is not worthy of a start based on his low usage. Allen received only eight touches last week against the Steelers but made the most of them with 57 yards and two touchdowns.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco (Low-End)
RB1: Alex Collins (Low-End)
RB3: Javorius Allen (Low-End)
WR3 Mike Wallace (Mid-Range)
WR4: Jeremy Maclin (Low-End)
TE1: Ben Watson (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: A head-scratching interception in overtime overshadowed the best performance in the young career of rookie DeShone Kizer. The former Notre Dame Golden Domer completed a career-best 20 of 28 passes (71%) for 214 yards and three touchdowns, including an impressive dart to Josh Gordon on a skinny post in the first quarter. Kizer managed to score 23.4 fantasy points, despite posting a season-low seven rushing yards on two attempts.

On the season, the Ravens have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, trailing only the Jacksonville Jaguars by 1.7 points per game. But injuries to the secondary, including the loss of top corner Jimmy Smith, have made Baltimore more susceptible to the pass over the past three weeks. The Ravens have allowed a league-high 1074 yards over the past three games, highlighted by Ben Roethlisberger’s 500-yard blowout in primetime Week 14.

Obviously Cleveland pales in comparison to the Steelers in passing weapons and quarterback play, but Kizer and Gordon could find success in this home matchup, with Corey Coleman also providing sneaky value. After commanding 11 of 18 targets to wide receivers in his first game back from suspension, Gordon and Coleman each commanded six targets against the Packers Week 14, with each player finishing with 60-yards and a touchdown.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Isaiah Crowell rushed for a season-high 121 yards on 19 carries against the Packers last week, while adding three catches for 10 yards. It was the fifth 100-yard performance in 45 games and the first since Week 17 of the 2016 season.

Duke Johnson salvaged a pedestrian 49-yard game with a receiving touchdown on an inside pitch play for Kizer’s second passing touchdown on the day. After four consecutive games of averaging at least five yards per carry from Weeks 8 through 12, Johnson has been abysmal with his running efficiency over the past two games. He has just 10 rushing yards in his last 13 attempts, while he continues to see a decline in target share out of the backfield (only four targets in each of his last two games after garnering at least six targets in six of the previous eight contests).

Baltimore has been surpassingly weak against the run over the past three games after ranking in the bottom third in points allowed to RBs for the majority of the season. The Ravens have allowed a rushing touchdown in each of the past three games, highlighted by Le’Veon Bell’s mammoth 30.5 point performance last week.

Value Meter:
QB2: DeShone Kizer (Low-End)
RB2: Isaiah Crowell (Low-End)
RB3: Duke Johnson (Low-End)
WR2 Josh Gordon (Low-End)
WR4: Corey Coleman (High-End)
TE2: David Njoku (Low-End)

Ravens 28, Browns 24 ^ Top

Patriots @ Steelers - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady fell to fourth overall in fantasy points scored per game after back-to-back subpar performances in the first two rounds of the fantasy playoffs. The future first ballot hall of famer has three interceptions and one touchdown pass in his last two games while completing a season-low 55% of his passes last week against Miami.

Brady has a history of playing poorly in Miami, and the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski limited the effectiveness of the passing game. The Dolphins did an excellent job of getting pressure on Brady, and Xavien Howard posted two interceptions while limiting Brandin Cooks to just one reception for 38 yards on seven targets.

The return of Gronk and another week for Chris Hogan to get healthy from a shoulder injury should help Brady and the passing game return to form in a critical AFC showdown between the Steelers and Patriots.

The unfortunate loss of star linebacker Ryan Shazier to a season-ending spinal injury is a positive for the Patriots, as the Steelers defensive unit is not the same without Shazier patrolling the middle of the field. Over the course of the season, the Steelers allow the seventh-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. But over the past three weeks, two of which without Shazier, the Steelers have allowed the 11th-most points to QBs, despite playing against three of the league's least efficient quarterbacks in Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, and Brett Hundley.

This game has the makings of a high scoring affair between to top offenses and two average to below-average defensive units, with multiple elite fantasy options on both units. Fantasy owners should consider starting all Patriots in the passing game, including Cooks and Hogan on the outside. Seven wide receivers have posted double-digit games against Pittsburgh dating back to Week 10, including Chris Moore, A.J. Green, and Davante Adams.

Gronk owners may find in concerning that the Steelers allow the fewest points to opposing tight ends and no tight end has managed to score double-digit points against Pittsburgh in 2017. The success of the Steelers is a combination of a favorable schedule void of any elite tight ends mixed with solid play by Shazier in coverage. The Steelers have not faced a tight end of Gronks’ ability and Shazier will not be on the field to help cover Patriot tight ends.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Bill Belichick is a well-known for taking away the top offensive threat for the opposition and focusing on the weakness of their opponent on offense. Belichick will have his hands full trying to limit the offense of the Steelers, one of the only units to boast an elite wide receiver and running back. But on the other side of the ball, attacking the run game struggles of the Steelers will be something the Patriots focus on in this game.

Over the past three weeks no team in the NFL has allowed more points to opposing running backs. Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, and James White owners should be salivating at the prospect of playing against a Steelers unit that has been gashed in the absence of Shazier. Burkhead’s use as the goal line and short yardage back makes him the favorite to score a touchdown, while Lewis could get a ton of action in what appears to be a favorable high scoring game script.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (Elite)
RB2: Rex Burkhead (Low-End)
RB3: Dion Lewis (Low-End)
WR1: Brandin Cooks (Low-End)
WR3 Chris Hogan (High-End)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (Elite)

Passing Game Thoughts: Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing game has been on fire over the past five weeks, with Big Ben leading all quarterbacks in fantasy points during that span (145). His 29 points per game are slightly ahead of leading MVP candidate Russell Wilson, while Antonio Brown is lapping the competition in fantasy points scored by wide receivers.

Brown has been an unstoppable force with six touchdowns and four connective games of at least eight catches for 100 yards dating back to Week 11 vs. Tennessee. His performance against the Titans is one of the most impressive games of the season for any fantasy player, with 10 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

There is little reason to believe that Big Ben, Brown, and Le’Veon Bell will not continue their recent success in this matchup at home against an injury-riddled Patriots unit that ranks fifth on the season in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Far lesser quarterbacks playing in far worse offenses have found great success against New England, including Jay Cutler and the Dolphins last week.

Perhaps the most important member of the passing game in this matchup is Le’Veon Bell out of the backfield. Bell leads all running backs with 75 receptions on 92 targets for 579 yards and two touchdowns. The injury-depleted New England linebacking corps has struggled this season limiting catches to running backs, often failing to identify the RB in coverage while failing to make sure tackles after the catch. New England is tied for second in allowing the most touchdowns by running backs in the passing game, and they are tied with Carolina for allowing the 11th-most catches out of the backfield.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Le’Veon Bell continues to impress as the top duel-threat running back in the league. Owners fortunate enough to draft or trade for Bell have the benefit of owning the leading rusher in the league with 1105 yards rushing, mixed with an above average No. 3 wide receiver with 75 catches for 579 yards and two scores.

As referenced in the passing section preview, the Patriots struggle in all aspects of defense this season, particularly in limiting catches and yards to running backs out of the backfield. Look for Bell to build on his league-leading reception total (75) among running backs, while adding at least 25 carries on the ground.

An opposing running back has topped double-digit points in each of the last three games vs. New England, including Kenyan Drake of the Dolphins, who managed to scored 30 combined points against the Pats in Weeks 12 & 14. Anything less than 20 points from Bell in this high scoring game will be a disappointment, with the threat of injury the only reason why Bell would not come through in the playoffs for fantasy owners.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (Elite)
RB1: Le’Veon Bell (Elite)
WR1: Antonio Brown (Elite)
WR3: JuJu Smith-Schuster (High-End)
WR4 Martavis Bryant (High-End)
TE12: Jesse James (Low-End)

Prediction: Steelers 34, Patriots 28 ^ Top

Chargers @ Chiefs - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: He struggled early this season but Rivers is red hot right now. The veteran has thrown 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions over his past eight games and he’s now finished with 20 or more fantasy points in four straight contests. He had his worst game of the season earlier this season against the Chiefs, however, in Los Angeles, when he threw for just 237 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Now he’ll head on the road, to Kansas City, where the Chiefs play much better than they do on the road.

If it weren’t for the ridiculous pace that Antonio Brown’s been on, Keenan Allen might be the most talked-about fantasy wide receiver. With four straight 100-yard games, Allen is leading entire fantasy teams to championships at the moment. The one concern we have going into this game is that Allen only had five catches for 61 yards when these teams played in Week 3, even though he does have a solid history against the Chiefs throughout his career. He has averaged over six catches per game for nearly 80 receiving yards per game against Kansas City, giving him excellent floor with upside against a struggling Kansas City secondary.

Los Angeles’ other receivers are extremely big-play dependent. There’s a fairly good chance that one of them will connect with Rivers for at least one long ball but it’s anyone’s guess whether it’ll be Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams or Travis Benjamin. Trusting them in your fantasy playoffs is probably not a great idea. Hunter Henry has been producing fairly well as of late, having at least 50 receiving yards in three straight games with a pair of touchdowns over that stretch. Henry was held without a catch – and wasn’t even targeted when these teams played back in Week 3 so there is some concern that the Chiefs will look to take him away again. Kansas City has been terrible against opposing passing games overall this season but they’ve only given up two touchdowns to tight ends. Henry is a weak TE1 option, but that’s nothing new for his fantasy owners who have been dealing with that all season long.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Melvin Gordon continues to be one of the most heavily-utilized running backs in all of football. He’s touched the ball at least 20 times in five straight games and hasn’t had fewer than 15 touches in a game since Week 4. Gordon went for 79 yards on 17 carries against the Chiefs back in Week 3 and he did score a rushing touchdown but was completely irrelevant in the passing game. The lack of usage in the passing game has been a bit of a concern as of late for Gordon as he has not seen more than five targets in a game since all the way back in Week 6. Part of that has been the emergence of complementary back Austin Ekeler who has been utilized primarily in passing down situations. Ekeler himself isn’t getting enough touches to be particularly fantasy relevant himself but he is digging into Gordon’s workload which does lower floor a bit. The Chiefs have given up at least one rushing score in seven of their past eight games so Gordon looks like a pretty safe bet to have a productive fantasy day.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
TE1: Hunter Henry (low-end)
Bench: Austin Ekeler, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates

Passing Game Thoughts: After a one week explosion in Week 13 where he threw for four scores against the Jets, Alex Smith reminded us that he is still Alex Smith with a touchdown-less, garbage fantasy day against a weak Oakland secondary in Week 14. It is worth considering that Smith – and particularly tight end Travis Kelce – were inches away from getting into the end zone once, were very close to connecting in the end zone for another score, and Kelce dropped a likely would-be touchdown against the Raiders. Still, those points didn’t manifest on the scoreboard so it was still a frustrating day for fantasy owners. Smith has now thrown for one or zero touchdown passes in four of his past six games and he’s thrown five interceptions in his past five games after having none prior to that this season.

The positive is that this remains essentially a two receiver passing game, with the aforementioned Kelce and young wide receiver Tyreek Hill who is capable of going off for a big game at any time. Hill caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown when he faced the Chargers earlier this season while Kelce had by far his worst game of the season – one catch for one yard. Still, both players are must-starts in most formats even against a good Los Angeles secondary that has done a good job of slowing down opposing passing games as of late. The Chargers haven’t given up more than one passing touchdown in a game since Week 5 so there’s not a huge upside here for Alex Smith, but the fact that he essentially only throws to two players makes both of those players very valuable in practically any matchup.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt finally returned to being the fantasy superstud that he was early in the season this past week when he rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 22 yards against the Raiders. Hunt’s fantasy production had been extremely frustrating prior to that game but his on-field performance really wasn’t bad. It was just a lack of usage from the Kansas City coaching staff that led to some poor box scores from the rookie tailback. Certainly one game doesn’t guarantee that Hunt is “back” but it should give us some confidence in starting him against a defense that he destroyed for a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown back in Week 3. Los Angeles has been great against the run as of late but they haven’t been playing against many teams that have truly committed to the run. The Chiefs aren’t typically in many shootouts at home which often leads to higher workloads for Hunt. He’s a solid RB1 in this matchup.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR2: Tyreek Hill (high-end)
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Charcandrick West, Demarcus Robinson, Albert Wilson

Prediction: Chargers 24, Chiefs 20 ^ Top

Titans @ 49ers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Not many young quarterbacks are tagged with being “safe” but Marcus Mariota’s ability to avoid turnovers has been one of the best parts of his gameplay style thus far in his career. That hasn’t been the case this season, however, as Mariota has been one of the most turnover-prone players in all of football. Mariota has thrown just 10 touchdown passes this season while throwing 14 interceptions with six lost fumbles. That could potentially be an acceptable stat line if Mariota was throwing for 300-plus yards per game or rushing for a ton of yardage, but he simply isn’t doing either of those things. Only twice this season has Mariota eclipsed even 30 rushing yards and he’s also only thrown for 300 yards twice. In fact, he’s been held to 225 or fewer passing yards in seven games this season, including each of his past three contests. Needless to say, the fantasy shine is beginning to wear off on Mariota, who has become nothing more than a low-end QB2 in most matchups.

There are only two wide receivers in this offense who have much fantasy relevance at all right now and even they aren’t particularly intriguing due to a lack of usage. Rishard Matthews is still trying to get back to full capacity after missing time with injury while rookie Corey Davis has been unable to truly break out even with Matthews out of the lineup. Both could be utilized in this matchup against the 49ers if fantasy owners are looking for a dart throw but neither represents much upside. The only player in this passing game who is really interesting is tight end Delanie Walker who continues to show that he is one of the most consistent players at the position. Walker has caught at least three passes in every game this season which is extremely difficult to find at tight end and he has scored in two of his past three games. The Titans passing game is ugly right now but Walker is a player who can be trusted to at least produce some decent numbers, especially in a bit of a “revenge” game against his former team.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: The Tennessee coaching staff continues to display a complete lack of regard for actual production at the running back position as they insist on feeding DeMarco Murray (3.7 yards per carry) over Derrick Henry (4.9 yards per carry). Murray played 84 percent of the Titans’ offense snaps this past week while Henry was on the field for just 23 percent of snaps. This irritating committee will likely continue in Week 15 as the Titans roll into yet another great matchup. DeMarco Murray has been difficult to trust this season but he does have some solid upside against a bad San Francisco run defense that has given up the eight-most fantasy points to opposing backs this season. They have been better as of late but a lot of that is due to them facing some bad opposing running games.

The Titans, for all their faults, are still an offense that is capable of putting up some big rushing numbers. If they are going to go on the road and get a win, they will need to rely on Murray and even Henry to wear down the 49er defense and eventually breakthrough for some big plays. Murray is the preferred fantasy option here because of his share of the backfield but it’s not necessarily a bad idea to sneak Henry into your lineup as a Flex play, especially in daily tournaments. He’s the type of player who could be relied on to “close out” this game if the Titans do get up more than one score late in the game, which could lead to a higher-than-usual workload and thus some nice fantasy production.

Value Meter:
QB2: Marcus Mariota
RB2: DeMarco Murray
TE1: Delanie Walker
Flex: Derrick Henry, Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis
Bench: Eric Decker, Taywan Taylor

Passing Game Thoughts: It hasn’t been perfect but San Francisco looks to have made a wise move in acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots as the young quarterback has now thrown for an impressive 627 yards over his first two starts as a 49er. It’s been difficult to figure out where the ball is going to go in this passing game aside from one player – Marquise Goodwin, who has stepped up in a big way since Pierre Garcon went down with a season-ending injury. Goodwin has caught passes for at least 68 receiving yards in six of his past seven games. His production with Garoppolo behind center has been different, however – and in a good way. Rather than simply replying on beating defenses over the top, Goodwin has caught a total of 14 passes for 205 yards over Garoppolo’s two starts. It’s still tough to rely on Goodwin as more than a WR2 but he’s certainly a player who’s capable of producing huge days in best ball formats and he’s getting the most targets in this offense, so his floor isn’t nearly as low as it once was. The Garoppolo-Goodwin duo will be against a Tennessee defense that has given up the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season and they’ve allowed a whopping 18 different wide receivers to catch seven or more passes against them in a single game so far this season.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: He’s only rushed for 100 yards once this season but Carlos Hyde continues to produce decent enough numbers that he’s a fantasy RB1 on the season. A big reason for that is due to his increased usage in the passing game. He failed to catch a pass for the first time this season this past week against the Texans but Hyde has averaged 4.3 catches per game – a huge jump from his previous career average prior to 2017 when he averaged just under 1.5 receptions per game. The increase of value for PPR has been obvious but his overall production has been impressive when you consider the negative game script that the 49ers have often found themselves in. This week Hyde does have a tough matchup on paper as he’ll be against a Tennessee Titans defense that has given up sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and they’ve given up just one touchdown to the position over their past four games combined. Hyde is still a high-end RB2 in this matchup given his high workload but don’t look for a big “boom” game from him here.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB2: Carlos Hyde
WR2: Marquise Goodwin
Bench: Matt Breida, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson, Garrett Celek

Prediction: Titans 23, 49ers 20 ^ Top

Rams @ Seahawks - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Rams and quarterback Jared Goff fell in a shootout to the Eagles this past week but Goff continues to produce solid fantasy numbers, largely due to his surprising ability to protect the football. Goff has now thrown 22 touchdown passes on the season with just six interceptions and that’s helped keep him ranked as an overall fantasy QB1 in 2017. That production hasn’t always led to big games – especially not predictably big games – for his receivers, but it has brought players like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp into the fantasy conversation. Kupp has been exceptionally productive while Woods has been out, including two 100-plus yard receiving days as of late, but Woods is trending toward playing this week which could very well spell the end of Kupp’s WR1 fantasy upside. Don’t look for Woods to immediately step back in as the obvious WR1 but his return is not helpful for either Kupp or Watkins who had both produced fairly well while he was out. If anything, Woods’ return is a good thing for Goff but it does muddy the waters for an already murky Rams receiver group.

The Rams passing game will be against a Seattle pass defense that has been banged up and is not playing particularly well as of late. This past week they gave up 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, while forcing no interceptions. Goff might be overperforming his actual ability right now but he’s still quite a bit better than Bortles, so there’s reason for optimism in this matchup, especially now that Woods is back.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: The impressive bounceback season for Todd Gurley continued this past week as he extended his lead on the field as the highest-scoring running back in fantasy football. Gurley rushed for 96 yards, caught three passes for 39 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns in what was supposed to be a difficult matchup against the Eagles. Gurley has now touched the ball at least 16 times in every game this season. Needless to say, he’s as matchup-proof as it comes right now. That’ll be challenged, though, in Week 15, as he has another difficult matchup on paper against a defense that held him to a season-low 5.0 fantasy points (non-PPR) back in Week 5. Not only was that Gurley’s worst fantasy day of the season, it was less than half of the fantasy production that he’s had in any other game. Certainly that’s concerning but it’s also a blip on the radar of an otherwise exceptional season, and it came in a low-scoring game where neither team was able to generate much offense. Both offenses have been moving the ball at a great pace as of late so the shootout potential is much higher in this one than it has been in any game between these two seasons for perhaps the past decade or even longer. Maybe Gurley doesn’t go for 150-plus yards and multiple scores against Seattle but he’s still good enough to be considered a solid RB1.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low-end)
RB1: Todd Gurley
WR2: Robert Woods
Flex: Cooper Kupp (PPR), Sammy Watkins
Bench: Josh Reynolds, Tavon Austin, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett

Passing Game Thoughts: With Carson Wentz now out for the season, the path for Russell Wilson to finish 2017 as the highest-scoring player in fantasy football looks clear. Wilson has truly put the Seattle offense on his back this season, accounting for all but one touchdown that the offense has scored throughout the year. He’s also thrown for multiple touchdowns in eight straight games and 10 of his past 11 games overall after starting the year off slow. Wilson’s rushing numbers have also been getting back to the type of production that he was putting up early in his career, which makes him even more valuable as not many other top quarterbacks are capable of rushing for 40 yards per game.

Wilson’s top receiver, Doug Baldwin, has been more hit or miss than most predicted he would be heading into the season but he’s still a borderline WR1. Most will have him ranked as a middle-of-the-road WR1 this week but I’m not sure that his upside is particularly great against a Rams defense that held him to just four catches for 37 yards in Week 5 – his second-worst fantasy day of the season. That wasn’t just a one-time occurrence, either. In fact, he’s been held to fewer than 45 receiving yards in five of his past six games against the Rams. While I still like Baldwin as a fantasy starter because the Seattle passing game is doing so well overall, I’d be more likely to take a chance on lower-priced options like Paul Richardson for daily purposes. Richardson played every offensive snap for the Seahawks in Week 15 and has clearly established himself as the second-best wide receiver in this offense. The other potentially great option is Jimmy Graham who had been one of the most dominant forces in fantasy football prior to being held catchless this past week against the Eagles. One poor game might be enough to keep Graham out of some lineups but the Rams gave up three touchdowns to Philadelphia’s tight ends this past week – and that was without Zach Ertz. Graham is a dominant physical specimen and he’ll certainly be a big part of the gameplan in what is a must-win game for the Seahawks.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: The Seattle running game might finally be getting some consistency to it as the team has opted to give Mike Davis the lead job in back-to-back weeks, leading to 16 and 15 carries. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but for a Seattle offense that had practically completely given up on their running game prior to that, it’s a huge step in the direction of actually having a fantasy-relevant back. Davis hasn’t scored a touchdown yet and he’s not doing anything spectacular in the yards-per-carry category but he seems to have the confidence of the coaching staff which cannot be said for any other back on the roster. That all leads to speculation that Davis might actually have some nice fantasy value in what could be the best matchup he’ll see all season. The Rams have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and they’ve conceded countless big fantasy days to the position. It’s extremely difficult to trust any Seattle back but you could definitely do worse if you’re in a tough situation here in the fantasy playoffs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
RB2: Mike Davis
WR2: Doug Baldwin (high-end)
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Flex: Paul Richardson
Bench: J.D. McKissic, Thomas Rawls, Tyler Lockett

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Rams 23 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Raiders - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: It was a major struggle for Dak Prescott owners for nearly a month but Prescott seems to be back on track and leading his Cowboys back toward playoff contention. Prescott has thrown five touchdowns over his past two games - both blowout wins for the Cowboys - including a huge 332-yard day against the Giants this past week. Now he gets a Raiders defense that has mostly played against a who’s who of terrible starting quarterbacks this season yet has still only forced a total of two interceptions on the year. Prescott is typically great at avoiding turnovers so this looks like a very safe time to fire him up as a middle-of-the-pack QB1.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant has been dealing with an ankle injury which has held him out of practice but he’s expected to play and is coming off of back-to-back games with a touchdown, although he still hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards in a game this season. Bryant’s days as a high-end WR1 are likely in the past but he’s still a physically imposing beast who is among the best red zone threats in all of football. As such, he should be in the low-end WR1 conversation in standard formats where his touchdown-scoring skill set weighs most heavily. Tight end Jason Witten is really the only other Dallas pass catcher who should be in the fantasy conversation in this one as he has now scored in back-to-back games, despite those being his only catches. Witten isn’t much of a threat to go off anymore, either, but his target share is typically fairly healthy which should allow him to produce decent enough numbers to be in the low-end TE1 range.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Dallas’ final week without Ezekiel Elliott will come in Week 15 as the Cowboys face a Raiders defense that just gave up 141 total rushing yards and a touchdown each to Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. The Raiders have actually quietly been decent against opposing running backs this season so this doesn’t look like the game where Alfred Morris finally steps up and produces huge RB1 numbers, but it does look like a game where both he and Rod Smith have the potential to be decent fantasy options. Morris has been the workhorse back for the Cowboys in Elliott’s absence, touching the ball an average of over 17 times per game over the past five weeks. While his production isn’t anything amazing, he’s been decent enough most weeks to be a reasonable RB2. Unfortunately, his limitations in the passing game lead to him having a fairly low floor for a player with that high of an overall workload, but it does allow Smith to have a role in the offense. Smith has touched the ball an average of over nine times per game while Elliott has been out and he has scored a touchdown in three straight contests, including two this past week against the Giants. Smith’s gigantic 160 yard day came on just 11 touches, however, so don’t expect that type of production again in this matchup. Smith is a low-ceiling player who does have the ability to score a goal line touchdown or two but he’s not an Alvin Kamara-like satellite back with the ability to touch the ball 20 times in a game.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott
RB2: Alfred Morris
WR1: Dez Bryant (low-end)
TE1: Jason Witten (low-end)
Flex: Rod Smith
Bench: Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler

Passing Game Thoughts: Coming off of back-to-back disappointing performances in two straight excellent matchups, it might be time to stop discussing Derek Carr as even being in the discussion as a QB1, regardless of matchup. The fall from grace we’ve seen from Carr and the entire Oakland passing game this season has been shocking and catastrophic for fantasy purposes, but it just doesn’t look to be getting any better. Sure, a matchup against a Cowboys defense that has given up 24 passing touchdowns this season does sound great but it’s a worse statistical matchup than either of the past two defenses he’s faced, the Giants and the Chiefs. What’s worse is that Carr’s struggles have translated over to his receivers, particularly Amari Cooper who was projected by many to be one of the breakout receivers this season and has now caught just one pass over his past two games. This would typically be the kind of matchup that we’d be marking on our calendars as a potential “boom” game for Cooper but the level of distrust in the Oakland passing game as a whole, combined with an ankle injury which has kept him out of practice this week, has to make Cooper an extremely risky option even as a Flex.

Crabtree, on the other hand, hasn’t scored since Week 7 but has been getting plenty of targets as of late, including 10 or more in three of his past four starts. That type of target volume makes him at least a WR2, if not a low-end WR1 against the Cowboys. Tight end Jared Cook continues to be one of the most unpredictable players in all of fantasy football as he’s seemingly struggled in many of his “good” matchups while excelling in what we’d expect to be his “bad” matchups. Still, Cook has to be considered a low-end TE1 because the position as a whole is a trainwreck and the Cowboys have given up four touchdowns to opposing tight ends over their past six games.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Marshawn Lynch might have just had his most efficient rushing day since returning to the league this past week, but you wouldn’t know it by how often he touched the ball against the Chiefs. Lynch got just seven carries, which he took for 61 yards and a touchdown, in the Raiders’ road loss to the Chiefs, which was particularly frustrating to watch from a fantasy standpoint as Oakland let Derek Carr struggle his way to a 24-of-41 day passing with only 211 yards through the air. Lynch’s usage has been all over the place this season which makes him a very unpredictable option and this week he’ll face a Cowboys run defense that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 5 while allowing just six rushing touchdowns on the season. Still, Oakland has seemingly been willing to give him the ball near the goal line lately as he’s scored five rushing touchdowns over his past four games, so he’s capable of making his fantasy owners happy with a single goal line touchdown. Lynch is a middle-of-the-road RB2 in this matchup because we don’t know what his usage will be, especially if the Raiders fall behind on the scoreboard.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr
RB2: Marshawn Lynch
WR2: Michael Crabtree
TE1: Jared Cook
Flex: Amari Cooper
Bench: DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts

Prediction: Cowboys 23, Raiders 20 ^ Top

Eagles at Giants - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Typically, I will look back on what’s transpired over the season to help analyze the upcoming week’s game. That will be of no use for the Eagles. 2017 has been the year of the injured quarterback. Carson Wentz is the latest to fall as he tore his left ACL in last week’s narrow win over the Rams. Enter Nick Foles, a man who was briefly the greatest quarterback of all time during a miracle 2013 run. Foles is one of the more competent backups in the league. He made one lengthy relief appearance and one start for Alex Smith in 2016 and threw three touchdowns against zero interceptions over those two outings. He was a disaster with the Rams in 2015, but we can’t hold anything a player does with Jeff Fisher against him.

Foles can keep Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz producing. Since week 8, Jeffery has been a touchdown scoring machine, averaging one per game. Ertz didn’t play last week as he was still experiencing headaches Sunday morning. Trey Burton started in Ertz’s place and performed like an elite TE1 because Burton is immensely talented and should start somewhere in 2018. Ertz should be back this week and will resume his normal spot in your lineup. Nelson Agholor saw a whopping 11 targets last week after seeing 12 the week before. I still don’t think he’s particularly good at football, but the Giants have completely given up. It’s hard to know what Agholor’s rapport will be with Foles, if any, but I can’t deny that he’s been worth a WR3 start. My only caution would be that historically, the number two WR suffers the most from a backup QB being forced into action.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Jay Ajayi led the Eagles backfield last week, but still didn’t do much for fantasy. He posted 78 empty yards on 15 carries. He was efficient, but more so for the Eagles than fantasy owners. Such has been the story for the Eagles rushing attack this season – great for real life, bad for fantasy. LeGarrette Blount was mostly an afterthought last week and Corey Clement was not heavily involved despite the Eagles throwing 51 passes. This rushing attack remains what it has been all season – a three headed monster that you cannot predict or trust for fantasy.

Value Meter:
QB1: Nick Foles (low end)
WR2: Alshon Jeffery (mid-range)
WR3: Nelson Agholor
TE1: Zach Ertz (mid-range)
Bench: Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, all Eagles RBs

Passing Game Thoughts: The Giants went back to Eli Manning for respect reasons because the Giants care more about public image than fielding a competitive football team. I do think Manning gives them the best chance to win, but they should not be concerning themselves with winning games in 2017. Davis Webb deserves a look but he’s not getting one this week. Manning will continue his downward spiral after throwing for 228 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions against Dallas last week. Evan Engram led the Giants in receiving with 54 yards while Sterling Shepard was bottled up. Manning did a whole lot of dumping the ball off to his running backs and rarely attempted to stretch the field, mostly because he can’t do it anymore. Shepard remains in play this week as we are not going to abandon him based on one bad game. Engram has been mostly solid all season and given the pathetic state of the TE position in fantasy, it’s doubtful you have a better option. Roger Lewis led the team with 11 targets last week, but he only managed 46 yards on his seven receptions. I would not go chasing those targets.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo gave rookie Wayne Gallman an extra push last week. Gallman led the Giants with 12 carries and also with seven receptions. Orleans Darkwa was still around and saw 10 carries himself. I do think there will be more of an effort to get Gallman the ball going forward just to see what he can do. Gallman is nothing special, but he’s probably the Giants best back on the roster (which is more of an indictment of the roster). For those running back starved, Gallman is a dart throw flex play, but you’d be chasing yards and receptions with low touchdown potential. Darkwa can no longer be considered an option.

Value Meter:
WR3: Sterling Shepard
TE1: Evan Engram (low end)
Bench: Eli Manning, Roger Lewis, all Giants RBs

Prediction: Eagles 27, Giants 13 ^ Top

Cardinals at Redskins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: What did Blaine Gabbert do last week? Just enough. The Cardinals won a game without scoring a touchdown. With Gabbert only throwing for 178 yards, Larry Fitzgerald was held in check. He still led the team with five receptions on seven targets for 44 yards, but fantasy owners would like more out of their ageless WR. With no other options in the passing game, Fitz has a great bounce back spot this week. Although Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland are one of the best corner duos in the league, Fitz will mostly avoid them running his routes out of the slot. The Redskins have been floundering of late, but this is a game where they should be able to get a lead and at least force the Cardinals to call more than 26 pass plays. TE Ricky Seals-Jones has been a surprise this season, but his usefulness has expired. He is still playing around 15-20 snaps per game, which is not enough to sustain fantasy value. Even with the TE waiver wire devoid of all talent, you can do better than RSJ. J.J. Nelson and both J. Browns have no fantasy value.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: With Adrian Peterson a combination of old and injured, Kerwynn Williams has been given all the carries he can handle. He performed well two weeks ago, but stumbled last week, rushing for 73 yards on 20 carries. Williams is a fine replacement player and worthy of the type of role he has on the Cardinals. He’s a volume play that you hope falls into the end zone or, if not, generates enough yardage to at least not kill you. D.J. Foster is not seeing enough work in the passing game to be useful even in PPR leagues.

Value Meter:
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald (mid-range)
Flex: Kerwynn Williams
Bench: Adrian Peterson, D.J. Foster, Blaine Gabbert, Ricky Seals-Jones, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, John Brown

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins was a flat out disaster last week. He threw for a season low 151 yards and was lucky to at least throw a touchdown to salvage something out of his day. Cousins attempted a season low 27 passes in a game his team trailed wire to wire. At home against the Cardinals is more favorable spot, but I would still not feel confident using Cousins this week. His wide receivers aren’t much better. Josh Doctson is still the number one guy, but he’s posted 34 yards or fewer in four of his last five games. If he doesn’t score, he’s not very helpful. Jamison Crowder’s numbers have fallen off significantly the past two weeks. With Patrick Peterson locking up Doctson, this is the type of game where Crowder should be asked to do more. He is also not someone you can play confidently, but he’s someone you can at least play. Jordan Reed was mercifully placed on IR, ending yet another lost season for the talented TE. I am no longer interested in ever owning Reed in fantasy. His replacement has been Vernon Davis, who might as well not be playing. Davis caught a touchdown last week, his first since Week 3, but still is just a miniscule part of the passing attack. Way back in week 10, he caught seven passes. Since then, he’s caught seven passes. He is not an option.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Samaje Perine is one of the safer plays at the position. His volume floor is incredibly high and even more so now that Byron Marshall has been lost for the season. The Redskins have something called a LeShun Daniels behind Perine as well as the recently signed Kapri Bibbs. Perine is going to see all the work he can handle and this game projects very nicely for over 20 touches with positive game script. Perine has looked very good since taking over as the main back, but often hasn’t had space to run nor time to do it with the Redskins trailing so quickly. After carrying the ball 23 and 24 times in his first two games as starter, he’s handled 12 and 17 carries in the two games since. This shapes up as another 20-carry game. Perine has an RB2 floor based on volume with RB1 upside if he can find his way into the end zone.

Value Meter:
QB2: Kirk Cousins (high end)
RB2: Samaje Perine (mid-range)
Flex: Jamison Crowder
Bench: Josh Doctson, Vernon Davis

Prediction: Redskins 23, Cardinals 18 ^ Top

Dolphins at Bills - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jay Cutler just beat Tom Brady. That’s a real thing that happened. And his team didn’t just win, Cutler severely outplayed Brady. If you told me they had switched bodies…well I still wouldn’t have believed it because even Jay Cutler isn’t typically anywhere near as bad as Brady was last week. I digress. Cutler and the Dolphins travel to ice cold Buffalo in a huge game for both teams’ playoff chances. Realistically, the loser of this game is out. Cutler completed all eight of his passes to Jarvis Landry as well as two of his three touchdowns. Landry continues to be incredibly inefficient, somehow managing just 46 yards on eight receptions, but the PPR fantasy production has been there all season. I see no reason for that to change this week. You can fire up Landry and continue ignoring DeVante Parker, who should be owned in about 0% of fantasy leagues. He is one of the most overrated players in NFL history because of how good people, to this day, think he is, compared with how terrible he’s always been. I prefer Kenny Stills to Parker, but Stills wasn’t involved much last week either. However, if there were ever a week for him to notch another splash play, it’s this week. Julius Thomas is a desperation option at TE. He won’t get you zero and there’s a shot he can score, but if he doesn’t, you’re not getting much.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Breaking news: Kenyan Drake is an RB1. I’ve mistakenly had him as an RB2 and even a Flex for far too long. I knew he would be useful because of volume, but did not realize how useful he would be because of pure talent. Drake has never been a feature back in his entire career – not since high school. Now, he is and he is thriving. Drake handled 30 touches last week, 25 on the ground and five in the air for a total of 183 yards. Drake led the team in rushing and receiving. It would not surprise me if he did so again. He is an adept catcher of the football and very capable in open space. Although the Dolphins are underdogs, this projects as a competitive game rendering game script a nonissue for Drake. I can’t imagine many fantasy owners with backfields where they would even consider sitting Drake. Damien Williams’ return to a limited practice on Thursday is of no concern. This is the Drake show now.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jay Cutler
RB1: Kenyan Drake (mid-range)
WR2: Jarvis Landry (mid-range)
Bench: Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Julius Thomas, Damien Williams

Passing Game Thoughts: We can take last week’s Bills game and ignore everything we saw from the passing game. Players could barely see ten feet in front of them in the blizzard they played through. Nate Peterman started, but did not finish after a jarring hit. Joe Webb took over, but Peterman practiced in full on Thursday and should be ready to go Sunday either as the starter or backing up Tyrod Taylor. Right now, I’d tentatively expect Taylor to start, but that it is no guarantee. Regardless of Taylor’s status, I would not go near any Bills pass catchers for the fantasy semifinal. Kelvin Benjamin is the only one to consider and he’s banged up as well. He left last week’s game early and although he practiced on a limited basis this week, he wasn’t a great option at full strength. He did somehow catch a touchdown last week, reminding us that he’s always a threat in the red zone. Zay Jones and Deonte Thompson are not fantasy options. Charles Clay is intriguing if for no other reason than there are very few reliable TEs this season. Clay hasn’t done anything of note since Week 4. He’s nothing more than a desperation play.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy loves home cooking. Even a foot of snow couldn’t slow him down as he rumbled for 156 yards last week. Shady has played exceptionally well at home this season, which is great for fantasy owners in what I consider the most important week of the season. Although his reception numbers have been down, McCoy’s touch floor remains very high and he should catch more than the zero passes he caught last week given that the weather will be significantly better. He is at no risk of being game-scripted out. With at least 90 yards rushing in five of his seven home games, Shady is an elite RB1 in semifinal week.

Value Meter:
RB1: LeSean McCoy (high end)
TE2: Charles Clay
Bench: Tyrod Taylor, Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Deonte Thompson

Prediction: Bills 20, Dolphins 16 ^ Top