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Inside the Matchup


Week 15

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | HC Green
12/18/20

Thursday:

LAC @ LV


Saturday:

BUF @ DEN | CAR @ GB


Sunday Early:

HOU @ IND | DET @ TEN | TB @ ATL | JAX @ BAL

NE @ MIA | CHI @ MIN | SEA @ WAS | SF @ DAL


Sunday Late:

NYJ @ LAR | PHI @ ARI | KC @ NO | CLE @ NYG

Monday:

PIT @ CIN

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

Chargers at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: LV -3.0
Total: 53.5

Passing Game Thoughts: While Justin Herbert still looks like a strong bet to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the young gunslinger has taken a step back in recent weeks from a fantasy standpoint. It’s now been three weeks since Herbert reached the 20 point milestone after having hit that number in eight of his first nine starts. While that’s a somewhat arbitrary number, it should give us just a bit of hesitation about ranking him as a locked-in QB1.

Thankfully, this week the Chargers get a great matchup against a Raiders defense that ranks in the bottom-10 in fantasy points per game given up to opposing quarterbacks this season. They’ve also conceded exactly two passing touchdowns to each of the past four quarterbacks they’ve faced, so there’s a decent floor here for Herbert, especially when we consider that he’s averaged nearly 50 pass attempts per game over the past month.

With Herbert’s passing attempts being so high, he’s been able to get more members of the Los Angeles passing game involved than just Keenan Allen. Allen remains a WR1 when he’s active and he’s been combining an excellent floor along with high-level upside this season. Unfortunately Allen is dealing with a hamstring injury and it’s not entirely certain that he’s going to be able to suit up on a short week. Fantasy owners will need to pay close attention to the inactives on Thursday evening and be prepared to have alternative options if Allen is unable to go.

Another injury out wide for the Chargers is the back injury that Mike Williams has been limited in practice with. Williams seems more likely to play than not, but he’s only a borderline WR3/Flex play even when he’s fully healthy, so this is probably a good game to avoid him in. If Allen is out and Williams plays then it’s probably fine to put him in your lineup given that he’d almost certainly see more opportunities come his way, but this isn’t a particularly great situation otherwise.

If Allen and Williams are both unable to go then that’ll be enough that we’ll recommend sitting Herbert, but it’ll also lead the way for some additional opportunities for depth receivers Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson. Those two pass catchers have both seen limited opportunities this season but they’ve had their moments including this past week when Johnson saw a season-high seven targets come his way, six of which he caught for 55 yards and a touchdown. Williams and Allen would both have to be out to even consider Johnson or Guyton, but those are the two players who would seemingly benefit most if the Chargers’ top two wideouts were unable to suit up.

The other player who might be a sneaky higher-than-usual upside play this week is tight end Hunter Henry. Henry has been an unexciting fantasy TE1 this season but the position has been pretty terrible overall so he’s pretty easily going to finish the season in the top-12 at the position. This week, however, he faces a Las Vegas defense that he saw seven targets against back in Week 9. Although he only converted those seven targets into four catches for 33 yards, it was a glimpse into Las Angeles’ offensive strategy against Las Vegas. That target number could also see an increase - even a significant increase - if the Chargers are missing one or more of their top wide receivers.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: The Los Angeles running game has been weak for most of the season, but things appear to be headed in the right direction now that Austin Ekeler (quad) is back. Ekeler rushed for 79 yards on 15 carries this past week against the Falcons, but more importantly he’s been an incredibly valuable pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s now caught an absurd 24 passes in the three games he’s played since returning from injury, including nine catches this past week against the Falcons. The Chargers pass catchers are banged up so it’s pretty safe to assume that he’ll continue to see a heavy target share this week even if Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are on the field.

The usage is good enough that Ekeler is an easy RB1 this week against the Raiders even in non-PPR leagues. The Raiders have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and they’re coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing game performances given up to New York’s Ty Johnson and Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor. Get Ekeler in your lineup - this is the smash spot we’ve been waiting for all season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Justin Herbert (low-end)
RB1: Austin Ekeler
WR1: Keenan Allen
WR3: Mike Williams (if Keenan Allen is out)
TE1: Hunter Henry
Bench: Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, Kalen Ballage, Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson

Passing Game Thoughts: The Raiders passing game took a hit this week when rookie first round draft pick Henry Ruggs III was placed on the COVID-IR list and will not be able to suit up this for this Thursday’s contest. This comes at a tough time for the Las Vegas passing game as quarterback Derek Carr has been performing extremely well over the past two weeks and this is a potential shootout matchup against the Chargers. Carr did, however, only throw for 165 yards, albeit with a pair of touchdowns, against LA when he faced them back in Week 9.

Even if Ruggs were healthy, though, Carr has been spreading the ball out enough to his receivers that none of the wideouts have been particularly effective and reliable fantasy assets. If you’re looking for a wide receiver, it should be Nelson Agholor. Agholor caught five of the nine passes that came his way this past week against the Colts, for 100 yards and a touchdown. Agholor’s usage has been quietly increasing as of late and he’s now averaging nearly nine targets per game over his past four contests. With Ruggs out, look for that to continue and that should be enough for Agholor to be a solid WR3 this week against the Chargers.

The only other Las Vegas pass catcher worth noting is tight end Darren Waller who continues to perform at an elite TE1 level. Waller has been targeted 44 times over his past four games and he’s easily the No. 2 fantasy tight end at the moment. He was targeted 10 times against the Chargers in Week 9 and scored a touchdown so feel confident rolling him out again this week.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No12
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: It’s been an extremely disappointing second half of the season for second-year running back Josh Jacobs, but he still has a strong likelihood of finishing as an RB1 for the season. That’s in large part due to the high rushing game usage that he’s seeing because his passing game participation continues to be fairly minimal.

Jacobs rushed for just 65 yards but was able to get into the end zone against the Chargers when these teams played earlier this season. He’s a borderline RB1 this week but don’t get too overzealous about your expectations for him. If this game ends up being a shootout as many expect then there’s a good chance that Jacobs ends up conceding some work to Devontae Booker.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr (high-end)
RB1: Josh Jacobs (low-end)
WR3: Nelson Agholor
TE1: Darren Waller (high-end)
Bench: Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones

Prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 27 ^ Top

Bills at Broncos - (Caron)
Line: BUF -6.5
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: A solid fantasy day against perhaps the league’s best defense in Pittsburgh this past week should have Josh Allen fantasy owners very confident in their quarterback as we head into the final few weeks of the fantasy football season. Allen has now produced at least 15 standard fantasy points in all but one game throughout the 2020 season, while providing some absolutely gigantic upside games along the way. There’s no question that he’s a QB1 in any matchup, including this week on the road against the Broncos. Denver has been solid against opposing passers as of late, but this isn’t a particularly difficult matchup for someone like Allen who can also contribute on the ground.

Stefon Diggs saw another big target game this past week when he was targeted 14 times, converting 10 of those passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Diggs’ huge volume continues to give him one of the highest floors in all of fantasy football and like Allen he’s also been capable of delivering week-winning performances. Diggs hasn’t finished with under 10 PPR fantasy points in any game this season and it’s safe to consider him one of the top wide receiver plays on the board again this week.

With John Brown still sidelined, Cole Beasley remains the Bills’ second option in the passing game. While Beasley’s role in the offense is more as a short yardage converter, he’s still seeing a large target share and he’s seen at least 10 targets in three of his past four games. He doesn’t possess the upside that Diggs does, but Beasley is a very solid PPR WR3.

Gabriel Davis is the only other Buffalo pass catcher who we should really be considering for fantasy this week. While he’s not seeing quite the volume that Diggs and Beasley are, he’s been targeted heavily in the red zone as of late. He’s now caught a touchdown in four of his past five games and while it’s certainly difficult to guarantee another trip to the end zone, Davis appears to have a somewhat defined role in a good offense and that makes him worthy of consideration as a Flex play here in Week 15.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: The split backfield continues in Buffalo with Josh Allen often still functioning as the team’s primary goal line runner. That has really limited the upside of both Devin Singletary and Zack Moss who just don’t see enough money touches to be reliable fantasy options. Neither back has scored a touchdown since Week 9, neither player is being utilized more than occasionally in the passing game, and the carry split isn’t significant enough in either direction to trust these guys.

This matchup against the Broncos is actually a decent one as the Broncos have been beaten up, especially near the goal line, as of late by opposing backs. But Moss and Singletary vulture one another enough that neither one should be considered to be more than a Flex in non-PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen
WR1: Stefon Diggs
WR3: Cole Beasley (PPR only)
Flex: Gabriel Davis, Devin Singletary, Zack Moss (non-PPR only)
Bench: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft

Passing Game Thoughts: A gigantic four touchdown performance from Drew Lock in Week 14 probably only helped those who rolled the dice with him in DFS or were forced to start him in two-QB formats, but it still happened. It shouldn’t make us confident that he’s going to put up QB1 numbers again this week in a tough matchup against the Bills, but it should help us feel a little better about some of his pass catchers in this matchup.

Tim Patrick’s volume has been down a bit over the past few weeks, but he’s actually been converting higher fantasy point totals due to him scoring three touchdowns over the past two contests. We shouldn’t look for that to continue, but a matchup against a good Buffalo team could also mean a return to higher target numbers for Patrick who has been the team’s best fantasy receiver this season. Patrick is still only a WR3 but a lot of fantasy owners are still leaving points on their bench by denying that he’s a better option than some of the perceived must-start players who aren’t producing as consistently.

Jerry Jeudy will likely be matched up with standout cornerback Tre’Davious White in this one, which doesn’t bode well for his opportunity to have a big game here in Week 15. Jeudy has been practically non-existent as of late and he continues to deal with an ankle injury, so it’s probably best to avoid him this week.

Tight end Noah Fant was taken out of this past week’s game with an undisclosed (non-COVID) sickness so it’s now been six straight games that he has failed to reach even 10 PPR fantasy points. The tight end position as a whole is terrible but Fant is barely worth being a fantasy starter at this point.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Melvin Gordon now has three solid fantasy performances over his past four contests, including at least 12 carries in all four of those games, so he should be back into the solid RB2 conversation if he wasn’t dealing with a shoulder injury. While it sounds like Gordon is going to play, he’ll also likely be sharing the backfield with fellow running back Phillip Lindsay yet again this week. Lindsay himself has seen an average of 12 carries per game over his past four, so this is definitely a committee situation.

The Broncos duo will be up against a Bills defense that has been solid in recent weeks against split backfields. They have, however, given up a number of 100-yard performances this season, so there’s at least some hope for the Broncos running backs. It’s too much to call either of these guys an RB1, but Gordon should be a decent enough RB2 and Lindsay is someone who could be Flexed in if you need help in a non-PPR league.

Value Meter:
QB2: Drew Lock
RB2: Melvin Gordon
WR3: Tim Patrick
TE1: Noah Fant (low-end)
Flex: Phillip Lindsay (non-PPR only)
Bench: Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler

Prediction: Bills 31, Broncos 23 ^ Top

Panthers @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB 8.5
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Back in action after a Week 13 bye, Teddy Bridgewater went 30-for-40 for 283 yards against the Broncos. It was the continuation of a season-long, and in many ways a career-long, trend of few touchdown passes. The veteran has just 14 TDs on 406 attempts this season, giving him one every 29 throws, which is in line with his career mark. His yardage average of 258.5 per game is a career best, and he has some weapons, but without consistent TDs Bridgewater is a middling QB2.

Speaking of those weapons, Bridgewater is set to get DJ Moore back this Sunday after he sat out last week on the COVID list. He was also dealing with an ankle issue, but he hasn't played since Nov. 19 and should be active this Saturday. Robby Anderson (8-84) continues to provide value after the team signed him during the offseason; he has at least four catches in every game and is eighth in the NFL with 83 receptions. Curtis Samuel (7-68) has developed into a Swiss Army Knife, which helps make up for the absence of Christian McCaffrey (thigh). View Moore and Anderson as WR2s in this one with Samuel as a low-end WR3 or flex option.

Green Bay is 12th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 226 yards per game, and they are 10th in sacks (35). Jaire Alexander has developed into one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, and if he gets assigned to Moore or Anderson it could hinder their value, though it's uncertain if the Packers would ask Alexander to shadow either player.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: With McCaffrey officially listed as doubtful and unlikely to play Saturday night, Mike Davis (11-51-2) should once again get the call. While he isn't on par with CMC, Davis has done a nice job of stabilizing the position with 926 total yards and seven TDs on the season. The Packers have fared better against the run recently and rank 11th on the year, but this is still an area the Panthers may look to attack to help keep their own defense off the field. Consider Davis a solid RB2.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater
RB2: Mike Davis
WR2: D.J. Moore
WR2: Robby Anderson
WR3/Flex: Curtis Samuel
Bench: Christian McCaffrey (inj)

Passing Game Thoughts: With precious few exceptions, Aaron Rodgers was in complete control last Sunday, hitting the Lions for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He added a rushing touchdown and now has posted nine games in 2020 in which he accounted for at least three TDs and zero turnovers. The key to slowing Rodgers is generating pressure with your front four, something only Tampa Bay has managed this year -- they had four sacks in Week 6; in his other 12 starts he's been sacked more than once just one time. Carolina's 19 sacks are tied for 26th in the NFL, which is a bad sign for the Panthers.

Davante Adams (7-115-1) continues to argue his case as the league's top receiver, extending his touchdown streak to eight games last Sunday, which is behind only A.J. Green (nine) and Jerry Rice (12) in NFL history. Robert Tonyan (5-36-1) has also grown into a reliable contributor. He caught his ninth touchdown pass of the year in Week 14 and remains tied with Travis Kelce for most among tight ends. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the wild card, as he followed two games without a reception by posting a 6-85-1 line against Detroit. His upside is much higher than Allen Lazard (2-19), who has been pretty quiet since his return from core muscle surgery.

Rather that deep-dive into Carolina's numbers against the pass let's just go back to last Sunday when Drew Lock, who entered the game with 13 INTs and nine TDs on the year, tossed four touchdown passes without a pick. This is a strong matchup for the Packers, which features Adams and Tonyan as No. 1s and MVS as a lottery-ticket flex.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Aaron Jones (15-69) continues to see an increasing share of the snaps over Jamaal Williams (10-38), though the team has yet to really lean on Jones -- his season high for touches remains 22 back in Week 2. He ran for three TDs against the Panthers last season, but Green Bay has been considerably more pass-heavy in the red zone this year. Carolina ranks 13th against the run (113.6 yards per game), but Jones still carries RB1 value with Williams as a flex.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Aaron Jones
RB3/Flex: Jamaal Williams
WR1: Davante Adams
Flex: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
TE1: Robert Tonyan
Bench: AJ Dillon, Allen Lazard

Prediction: Packers 31, Panthers 20 ^ Top

Texans @ Colts - (Swanson)
Line: IND -7.5
Total: 51.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Deshaun Watson and the Texans head to Indianapolis to take on a Colts team that beat Houston 26-20 back in Week 13. Watson is the No.6 quarterback in total fantasy points scored on the season, but he has scuffled as of late, with just one passing touchdown in his last two games.

Watson failed to throw a touchdown pass against the Colts, although he did make up for the lack of touchdown passes with 341 passing yards and a rushing touchdown. Watson should get some reinforcements back with the return of Brandin Cooks from a neck injury.

Cooks caught five of eight targets for 65 yards vs. Indy back in Week 13. His absence last week against the Bears was evident, as Chicago was able to get significant pressure on Watson, and the QB had no real deep threat to keep the defense honest.

Keke Coutee kept up his solid production as of late with a receiving touchdown vs. the Bears and 141 yards two weeks ago vs. the Colts. Both Cooks and Coutee are solid plays this week in all formats.

Randall Cobb was placed on injured reserve on December 14th with a toe injury and will not return for the fantasy season. Assuming Cooks does play, it will be the Coutee and Cooks show in a game script that projects to be pass-heavy for the Texans.

The Colts have given up the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the past five weeks. Derek Carr had a surprisingly big game last week with three total touchdowns and 316 yards. A similar game is not out of the question for Watson.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: The way to beat the Colts this season has been in the passing game and not on the ground. Indy ranks 23rd in points allowed to running backs and have shut down everyone not named Derrick Henry. If you take out Henry’s 281 rushing yards and three touchdowns, including the game that DeForest Buckner was out, the Colts would be in the top 5 for the fewest points allowed.

David Johnson did reach the end zone vs. the Colts back in Week 13 and could once again this week, but the yardage totals will not be there for him or Duke Johnson, making them touchdown-dependent options.

Stud linebacker Darius Leonard is listed as questionable with a back injury. Per Zak Keefer of the Athletic, the team does not believe the back injury is serious, and they expect Leonard to play.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson (Mid-Range)
RB2: David Johnson (Low-End)
WR2: Brandin Cooks (Low-End)
WR3: Keke Coutee (High-End)
TE2: Jordan Akins (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Death, Taxes, the fantasy industry continually undervaluing Derek Henry, and T.Y. Hilton are all certainties in this world. It does not matter if they are playing at home in Indianapolis or on the road in Houston, Hilton finds a way to come through with monster games when playing against his division rival.

Hilton caught eight passes for 110 yards and a score against the Texans back in Week 13 and followed that up with two touchdown receptions and 86 yards last week against Las Vegas. After starting the season with no 100-yard games or a single touchdown in his first nine games, Hilton has been a godsend for fantasy managers, with only Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams scoring more points over the past three weeks.

Like Hilton, Philip Rivers had very little fantasy value for most of the season but has come on big as of late. Rivers has nine passing touchdowns compared to just two interceptions since Week 11, including three passing touchdowns against the Packers.

The savvy vet posted 295/2 against the Texans in their first matchup, and his recent rapport with Hilton makes him a viable streaming option.

Starting free safety Justin Reid suffered a UCL tear in his thumb and will be out, making an already juicy matchup for Hilton and Rivers that much more juicy.

The Texans rank 14th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but none of the Colts tight ends should garner serious consideration. Frank Reich continues to play all three tight ends, with Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle, and Trey Burton splitting around seven targets per game. One of them will likely catch a touchdown. Your guess is as good as ours on who that will be.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Christmas came a little early for Jonathan Taylor fantasy managers. The rookie sensation from Wisconsin delivered mostly dud performances in Weeks 1 through 10, only to post 90 yards and/or a touchdown in all three of its last games. His 150/2 performance against the Raiders proved to be a week-winning day for those owners who were able to weather his previous disappointing performances and make the playoffs.

While there is always the threat of Nyheim Hines stealing a touchdown here or there, the elite volume and matchup make Taylor a must-start RB1.

No other team has given up more points to running backs this season than the Texans. They continue to get gashed between the tackles, and no other team has given up more 100-yard games. If David Montgomery and the Bears can post nearly 150 total yards and a score on 15 touches, one would assume Taylor could put up similar production on his 20-25 touches.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers (Low-End)
RB1: Jonathan Taylor (High-End)
WR2: T.Y. Hilton (Low-End)
WR4: Michael Pittman Jr. (High-End)
TE2: Trey Burton (High-End)

Prediction: Indianapolis 30, Houston 21 ^ Top

Lions @ Titans - (Swanson)
Line: TEN -11.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: This matchup would have been an excellent matchup for Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing game, as the Titans give up the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks. Nine opposing quarterbacks have reached 20-fantasy points vs. Tennessee, including Baker Mayfield, who posted a career-best 334 passing yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago.

However, Stafford will not likely play in this game due to a rib injury he sustained last week against the Packers, leaving the Lions to roll out veteran Chase Daniel at QB. Daniel is a competent backup QB, but not someone you want to start in the fantasy semifinals.

Kenny Golladay has been out since week five with a hip injury and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Even if he plays, he is too risky based on the chance of him re-injuring the hip and the fact that the passing offense will not be the same without Stafford.

Stafford’s absence will also have an adverse effect on T.J. Hockenson, who is fourth among tight ends with 101.7 fantasy points on the season. The matchup is excellent, and the game script projects to be a heavy passing game for the Lions; it just may take some intestinal fortitude to trust Daniel.

Both cornerback Adoree Jackson, and safety Kenny Vaccaro are listed as questionable, while cornerback Breon Borders was placed on IR with a hip injury. An already dreadful pass defense could be down a few starters.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: D’Andre Swift returned to the field last week against the Packers after missing the previous two games with a concussion. Swift rushed for 24 yards on seven carries and a rushing touchdown while adding 26 yards on four receptions.

With Matthew Stafford likely out, the Lions will look to try and run the ball to mitigate exposure to backup QB Chase Daniel. I doubt the game script will allow them to stick to the run, with King Derrick Henry running wild on them and building a large early lead.

The Titans present an excellent opportunity for Swift and Adrian Peterson. Tennessee gives up the seventh-most points to opposing running backs, with ten games of over ten fantasy points allowed. The numbers would be even worse for the Titans had a long touchdown run by James Robinson not been called back for a holding penalty.

An injury to watch is starting tackle Tyrell Crosby, who missed last week against the Packers and is questionable for this week’s game vs. Tennessee. Crosby’s absence last week made the left side of the line somewhat vulnerable, and his return would be a boost for both the run game and the passing attack.
A second injury to keep an eye on is Frank Ragnow, who is questionable with a fractured throat. Beat writer Dave Birkett says he can breathe and eat as usual, but he is not supposed to talk.

Value Meter:
QB2: Chase Daniel (Mid-Range)
RB2: DíAndre Swift (Low-End)
WR3: Marvin Jones (High-End)
TE1: T.J. Hockenson (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill enters Week 15 as the No.9 quarterback in fantasy football, with 299.6 fantasy points. His 23 points per game are the best average of his career, and he is on pace to throw for fewer than ten interceptions for the third season in a row.

Tannehill managers could not get a much better matchup for their playoff semi-finals, as the Lions give up the seventh-most points to opposing quarterbacks. All but three opposing quarterbacks have scored at least 20 fantasy points against the Lions, including Aaron Rogers, who torched them for 290 yards and four total touchdowns last week.

Corey Davis and A.J. Brown are excellent starts against one of the worst secondaries in football. The biggest concern is not the Lions' pass defense but rather their own running game negating the need to throw the ball. Head coach Mike Vrabel is well aware that Derrick Henry has a chance for 2000 yards rushing and will give the King every opportunity to reach that goal.

Brown’s matchup against Derryl Roberts is the fifth-best matchup on the week, according to PFF.com. Although he disappointed last week with three catches for 34 yards and a fumble, Corey Davis is currently the third-ranked WR according to PFF.com, behind only Davante Adams and Adam Thielen.

The tight ends for the Titans continue to be a spinning wheel and not something you can trust in the fantasy playoffs. Two weeks ago MyCole Pruitt scored a receiving touchdown, and Geoff Swaim got into the action this week. Jonnu Smith is the de facto starter, but he is not trustworthy enough in this critical week for fantasy managers.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Derrick Henry is a smash play every week regardless of who the Titans are playing. When he gets a home matchup against the second-worst run defense in the league, Henry looks poised to be the reason why his managers will make it to the Super Bowl next week.

Both Aaron Jones and Dalvin Cook put up over 200 total yards against the Lions this season with five combined touchdowns. A 200-yard, two-touchdown game for the King is well within reach, especially when you consider how he has a realistic chance of getting 2000 yards rushing on the season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill (Mid-Range)
RB1: Derrick Henry (Elite)
WR1: A.J. Brown (High-End)
WR2: Corey Davis (Low-End)
TE2: Jonnu Smith (High-End)

Prediction: Tennessee 38, Detroit 14 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Falcons - (Swanson)
Line: TB -6.0
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady is currently ranked ninth with 24.1 fantasy points per game. On the surface, that seems like an impressive feat for the 43-year-old QB, but a closer examination reveals an aging QB who has been anything but reliable as a fantasy quarterback.

Brady has three monster games of over 35 fantasy points, including a season-high 40.6 points against the Raiders back in Week 7. He also torched the Chargers for five passing touchdowns back in Week 4.

Sandwiched between those behemoth games are six games of 19 or fewer points, including 10.5 points against the Saints and just 17.6 last week in what appeared to be a smash play vs. the Vikings.

If you survived the ups and downs of Brady’s performances and made the playoffs, you might be treated to another monster game with the Bucs heading to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. However, you also might be disappointed. Although the Falcons rank first in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks on the season, they have been much better defensively over the past six games, giving up no more than two passing touchdowns since Week 6.

No other quarterback in the league has better passing weapons than Brady, yet the Buccaneers wide receiving corps of Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin have combined to score just the 12th-most points over the past three weeks. Even the Bears wide receivers have done better over that span, as Brady continues to miss open receivers. Without his safety net in Rob Gronkowski, Brady would have really struggled over the past month.

Speaking of Gronk, he is a must-play this week in both season-long and DFS. Although the Falcons have given up just three passing touchdowns to tight ends on the season, Gronk has a touchdown or 100 yards receiving in his last two games.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Ronald Jones has a broken pinky finger and has been placed on the COIVD-19 list, effectively making him unavailable for this week’s game against the Falcons. If somehow you are still alive with Leonard Fournette on your team, congrats to you, as you get to play him as a No.2 running back this week vs. the Falcons.

The Falcons are often thought of as a terrible defense across the board, but that could not be further from the truth. Only the Saints, Steelers, and Bucs have given up fewer points to opposing running backs this season than Atlanta.

The Falcons are tied with the Saints for the fewest rushing touchdowns allowed on the season with five. The only reason why Atlanta is not ranked even better vs. running backs is the fact that they have given up a ton of points to RBs in the passing game.

Perhaps this fact will force head coach Bruce Arians to lean more on LeSean McCoy, the better pass catcher of his two remaining backs, instead of using Fournette as a bell cow.

The Bucs could be without their starting kicker in Ryan Succop and their punter Bradley Pinion, as both players were added to the COIVD-19 reserve list. Perhaps not having their starting kicker or punter will force Arians to go for it on fourth down more than he usually would.

Some important injuries to watch are safety Ricardo Allen who is questionable with a concussion, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Both players look iffy for the game and would give another boost to the Bucs offense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (Low-End)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (Low-End)
WR1: Mike Evans (Low-End)
WR2: Chris Godwin (High-End)
WR3: Antonio Brown (Low-End)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: To say that Matt Ryan has been a disappointment for fantasy would be an understatement. His 21.0 points per game put him at 23rd at the position, behind Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, and even Carson Wentz, who was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts this past week.

You can blame the poor production on injuries to Julio Jones and the offensive line, but those excuses should go only so far, as Ryan still has a talented wide receiving corps led by Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst.

The Falcons rank dead last in red zone efficiency. This has been great for Younghoe Koo owners, but not so much for managers of the other skill position players in the offense. In addition, the team has inexplicably zero passing touchdowns to their running backs in 13 games - not a single passing touchdown to Todd Gurley, Ito Smith, or Brian Hill.


Julio Jones did not practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury and is likely out. Calvin Ridley was limited with a foot injury and is also questionable, but we think he will suit up.

A matchup to watch in this game is the beat-up offensive line of the Falcons against the defensive line of the Bucs. Starting tackle Kaleb McGary is also questionable, which could pose a big concern for Ryan being able to get enough time to pass.

After starting the season strong, including a shutdown performance against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, the Bucs secondary has been terrible as of late. Only the Jets have given up more fantasy points over the previous five games than Tampa Bay.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley ranks seventh in rushing touchdowns among running backs but 25th overall at the position in fantasy points per game. All season long, we wrote about the red flag on Gurley being far too touchdown-dependent, making him a risky play if he does not reach the end zone.

Well, the shoe dropped on Gurley scoring rushing touchdowns. Over the past three games, Gurley ranks 79st in fantasy points scored. Even in a good matchup starting Gurley has its risks. Against a Buccaneer defense that gives up the third-fewest points to running backs, starting Gurley is borderline insane.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan (Low-End)
RB3: Todd Gurley (High-End)
WR2: Calvin Ridley (Low-End)
WR4: Russell Gage (High-End)
T1: Hayden Hurst (Low-End)

Prediction: Tampa Bay 34, Atlanta 17 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -13.0
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Jacksonville's quarterback carousel made yet another turn last Sunday when Mike Glennon was benched in favor of Gardner Minshew. For those that are keeping track at home, Glennon and Jake Luton have each started three games in 2020 with Minshew set to make his eighth start this Sunday. Minshew began the year strong but trailed off before his thumb injury. Although he's the kind of player that can post numbers in a loss, his nearly two-month absence doesn't foster much confidence in giving him a spot in a fantasy lineup this Sunday.

Perhaps Minshew's return can spark D.J. Chark, who has flatlined statistically since hitting the Texans for a 7-146-1 line in Luton's first start. Injuries have been a problem for Chark this season, but he's healthy now and could offer some upside as a flex or low-end WR3. Laviska Shenault (6-49 last week) is the other name to know in J-Ville. The rookie gets a decent number of touches most weeks as he's dangerous with the ball in his hands. He could function as a flex as well. Keelan Cole (7-67-1) has decent YTD numbers, but last Sunday marked just his second game of 60-plus receiving yards this season.

Although Baltimore ranks mid-pack in pass defense for the year, their secondary has a laundry list of injuries. It's unclear who will or won't play (and at what percentage they'll function at) on a short turnaround, but among the walking wounded are Marcus Peters (calf), Jimmy Smith (shoulder), DaVontae Harris (ankle) and Tramon Williams (thigh). This could create some opportunities for Jacksonville's passing game.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: If football were pro wrestling, James Robinson's moniker would be "The Silver Lining." In his last seven games, Robinson has averaged 23 touches and 113 combined yards while scoring five times, all while functioning as essentially the only running back on the team -- Robinson has 224 carries this season, Minshew is second with 27. The Ravens are 14th against the run at 113.6 yards per game and yielded four rushing TDs to the Browns on Monday night. Keep Robinson in your lineup as an RB1.

Value Meter:
RB1: James Robinson
Flex: D.J. Chark
Flex: Laviska Shenault
Bench: Gardner Minshew, Keelan Cole

Passing Game Thoughts: Remember those old horror movies where you'd think the monster was defeated only to have it jump out again and chase the exhausted victims? At this point that's COVID-19 and the Ravens. After suffering through one of the NFL's worst outbreaks, Baltimore appeared to have gotten through it... and then they placed three receivers, including Marquise Brown, on the COVID list. It's reportedly a close-contact situation, meaning they have a shot to play Sunday, but the only thing for certain when it comes to COVID is nothing's for certain.

On the field, the Ravens are coming off a thrilling win on Monday over Cleveland with Lamar Jackson returning to throw a 44-yard touchdown pass on fourth down after missing much of the final quarter with cramping. Jackson finished with 163 yards passing -- 78 of it to Mark Andrews, who returned from a two-game absence -- and 124 yards rushing to go with three total TDs (two rushing, one passing). Both Jackson and Andrews can be played as No. 1s at their respective spots, while Brown could fill a flex role if he's active.

If Brown can't go, Willie Snead and Dez Bryant, fresh off the COVID list himself, should assume larger roles, though given the run-to-pass ratio these days I wouldn't be inclined to play either of them. Defensively, the Jaguars don't do much of anything well. They are currently 28th in the NFL against the pass (273.4 yards per game) and only three teams have recorded fewer sacks.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Baltimore's running game dominated the Browns for the second time this season last Monday. While Jackson led the way, J.K. Dobbins (13-53-1) and Gus Edwards (7-49-2) still posted good fantasy numbers in limited touches. Mark Ingram, however, played just one snap and never saw the ball. Unless there was an unreported injury it appears the Ravens will move forward with Dobbins and Edwards as the primary backs. Jacksonville ranks 30th against the run this season, allowing 145.5 rushing yards per game; that gives Dobbins and Edwards major upside this weekend.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson
RB3: J.K. Dobbins
Flex: Gus Edwards
TE1: Mark Andrews
Bench: Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown (inj)

Prediction: Ravens 30, Jaguars 17 ^ Top

Patriots at Dolphins - (Katz)
Line: MIA -2.0
Total: 41.5

Passing Game Thoughts: When you play the Chiefs, you have no choice but to let your quarterback throw. The encouraging part of about Tua Tagovailoa’s performance last week was that he proved capable of hitting 300 yards passing and airing it out if necessary. The discouraging part is his 58% completion percentage. With a run funnel Patriots defense looming and the Dolphins bereft of healthy pass catchers, I fear that Tagovailoa will be put back in the box even in this week’s must win contest.

There’s a real chance the Dolphins’ top three receivers are Lynn Bowden Jr., Mack Hollins, and Malcolm Perry. Even a slight hamstring strain like the one DeVante Parker has is enough to keep him out of this week’s game. Jakeem Grant has a hamstring strain of his own and Preston Williams is long gone. Mike Gesicki left last week’s game with a shoulder injury, which leaves the team with Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe. Somehow, the Dolphins’ pass catchers are worse than the Packers without Davante Adams or the Jets at any point this season. Bowden is the favorite to lead the team in targets if none of the aforementioned can play so if you feel compelled to take a shot on someone, it’s him, but the best move is to avoid all Dolphins.

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

Running Game Thoughts: With Myles Gaskin testing positive himself so late last week, he is going to have to miss another week. Salvon Ahmed is still out as well. That positions DeAndre Washington for another week as the primary back. It seems ridiculous to start Washington in a fantasy semi-final, but it’s really not the worst move. The Patriots are a run funnel defense, fresh off getting torched by Cam Akers last Thursday. Washington has 15 touches each of the past two weeks. He played nearly 50% of the snaps and has nine targets over the last two games. The last part is important because Patriots’ opponents target running backs 20% of the time. Washington has a solid ppr floor and it’s not difficult to envision a game plan where Washington is utilized as a receiver given the injury issues the Dolphins have at wide receiver and tight end.

Value Meter:
RB2: DeAndre Washington (low end)
Bench: Tua Tagovailoa, Lynn Bowden Jr., DeVante Parker (hamstring), Jakeem Grant (hamstring), Mike Gesicki (shoulder)

Passing Game Thoughts: It feels wrong to even acknowledge the Patriots have a passing game. Cam Newton’s 119 yards last week was his second highest total in his last five starts. Newton hasn’t thrown for more than a single touchdown in any game this season. He was a QB1 back in Week 1 when he last faced the Dolphins because he ran the ball 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He will need to do that again to be even remotely useful and Newton hasn’t attempted 15 rushes since that game.

The Dolphins are also far better defensively. They allow 3.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks via rushing, which ranks towards the bottom of the NFL. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard have been two of the best cornerbacks in the league. This week, there’s no one for them to lock down. It doesn’t take much to shut down a receiving corps of Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd. Along with N’Keal Harry, all three receivers had similar stat lines last week, but Byrd led the team in targets. The reality is you’re not starting any Patriots this week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: We know what Damien Harris is. He’s what Sony Michel was last year. He’s what LeGarrette Blount was for years. He’s what Stevan Ridley was before that. They’re all the same for fantasy purposes. Harris will get a bunch of carries and you hope he scores a touchdown because, at most, he’s catching one pass. Harris feels he’s been more productive than he has, but he’s only scored in two games this season. The Dolphins allow just 12.9 fantasy points per game to running backs via rushing and that number includes touchdowns, something Harris is unlikely to get. You can certainly do worse than a guaranteed 10-15 carries, but if you made it this far, you probably don’t need to be using Harris. James White played a team high 46% of the snaps last week, but touched the ball just four times. He hasn’t been on the fantasy radar for a long time. Sony Michel is just a breather back.

Value Meter:
Bench: Cam Newton, Damien Harris, James White, Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, NíKeal Harry

Prediction: Patriots 20, Dolphins 16 ^ Top

Bears @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: MIN -3.0
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Following their loss to Detroit in Week 13 it sure seemed like the Bears were ready to hibernate for the winter, but to borrow from Lee Corso... not so fast, my friend! Chicago unleashed a can of whoop ass on the Texans last Sunday with Mitchell Trubisky passing for 267 yards and three TDs; it was the second time this year that he threw for three scores and didn't turn the ball over. While his time in the Windy City is doubtless coming to an end, Trubisky is playing for a second-chance somewhere in 2021. He's a decent QB2 this Sunday.

As is usually the case, Allen Robinson (9-123-1) led the way and continues to serve as the only sure fantasy play for Chicago's passing game. For the year, he has nearly double the receptions and more than twice the yardage of anyone else on the team. Cole Kmet (4-41) continues to make a little noise at least, and though Jimmy Graham (4-23-1) got the TD in Week 14, Kmet is the one with sudden fringe appeal as a risky TE1.

Although they've made some noticeable improvement from early in the season, the Vikings' secondary remains a weakness. They're currently 26th in the league in pass yardage allowed (256.6 per game) and only four teams have given up more TD passes this year. Minnesota did a nice job during the Monday night meeting with Chicago, but Trubisky is playing better now than Nick Foles was at that point.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: In three games since returning from a concussion that kept him out of the first meeting with Minnesota, David Montgomery has averaged 136 total yards per contest and scored four times. It's his best run of play since the Bears selected him in the third round last year. Cordarrelle Patterson has proven a nice fit as a change of pace, averaging 5.2 yards per carry in that same three-week stretch. Playing against the Vikings' 20th-ranked run defense, Montgomery is an RB2 and Patterson is a flex.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky
RB2: David Montgomery
Flex: Cordarrelle Patterson
WR1/WR2: Allen Robinson
TE1: Cole Kmet (low-end)
Bench: Darnell Mooney, Jimmy Graham

Passing Game Thoughts: Last Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay was a tough one as Minnesota came out and played the exact game they wanted to, running effectively against the NFL's top run defense. They couldn't get it done in the red zone, however, and that killed them. Kirk Cousins wasn't nearly as sharp as he had been recently, throwing for just 225 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked six times as well, and it seemed as though every one of those came in a critical spot where he couldn't afford to take it. He'll try to bounce back against the Bears, which he passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns against in Minnesota's Week 10 win.

Considered a borderline top-10 fantasy wideout by almost everyone, Adam Thielen has quietly underwhelmed in terms of receptions and yardage with last Sunday representing the fifth time in 12 games that he's finished with less than 40 yards receiving. He's made his living in the red zone this season, trailing only Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill in TD receptions (12). Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson continued his trend of quiet outings against top NFC competition -- in four games against current NFC playoff teams (TB, SEA and GB twice) the rookie has a combined 12-114-0 line. Both wideouts played well against the Bears in November, though, and can be utilized as WR2s.

Chicago held Deshaun Watson to 219 yards passing and logged seven sacks in Week 14. Impressive, right? Welllllllllllll... sort of. The Texans were without their top three WRs and starting tailback David Johnson, so that was definitely a watered down version of the Houston offense. Prior to that, the Bears had all manner of trouble with the Packers and Lions; there's nothing here to sour you on Minnesota's skill players.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Considering who it came against, Dalvin Cook's 22-carry, 102-yard and 1-touchdown performance in Tampa Bay last Sunday might have been his most impressive of 2020. Although he's been banged up in a couple of games recently he has stayed in the lineup, which is doubly important right now as backup Alexander Mattison (appendix) remains out following an appendectomy. Cook put up a workmanlike 112 yards on 34 touches in that Monday night win. Chicago will make him earn it, but Cook is a matchup-proof RB1.

Value Meter:
QB1/QB2: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Dalvin Cook
WR2: Adam Thielen
WR2: Justin Jefferson
Bench: Alexander Mattison (inj)

Prediction: Vikings 27, Bears 23 ^ Top

Seahawks at Football Team - (Katz)
Line: SEA -5.5
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: It would be easy to say Russell Wilson is back after a string of lackluster games with his four touchdown explosion last week, but we must look at the bigger picture. Wilson attempted a season low 27 passes and threw for just 206 yards. He just happened to throw for four touchdowns. The Football Team allows just 16.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. DK Metcalf is an obvious start as one of the true elite talents in the NFL. Metcalf has failed to score a touchdown in just five games this season. The real concern comes with those thinking about starting Tyler Lockett. Yes, it’s a genuine decision. Lockett scored 41% of his fantasy points for the season in two games. He’s averaging just 11.6 FPts/G in his other 11 games. Lockett has lined up in the slot 57% of the time. The Football Team allows a league low 10.3 fantasy points per game to the slot. If you have a viable alternative, you should consider sitting Lockett. The rest of the Seahawks’ pass catchers are not fantasy relevant.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Chris Carson played just 45% of the snaps last week, but he led the backfield with 15 touches. Most encouraging, since returning from injury, Carson has been more involved as a receiver. He has 11 targets over his past two games. The bad news is Washington has only allowed 11% of receiving yards against it to go to running backs. Only two teams allow fewer than the 19.2 fantasy points per game Washington allows to running backs. Carson’s touch share is great, but the snap share and the involvement of Carlos Hyde is a bit worrisome. You don’t have a better option than Carson most likely, but temper expectations in a game the Seahawks should be able to control with defense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (low end)
RB2: Chris Carson (high end)
WR1: DK Metcalf (high end)
Flex: Tyler Lockett
Bench: David Moore, Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly, Greg Olsen

Passing Game Thoughts: As of Thursday, Alex Smith has not practiced. Whether Smith plays is of huge importance as the alternative is Dwayne Haskins, one of the least talented quarterbacks of the past decade. Terry McLaurin would benefit from Smith returning to action. The Seahawks still have awful season long numbers against wide receivers, but they’ve been much better lately. Meanwhile, McLaurin is trending in the wrong direction. He hasn’t scored since Week 9 and his last two games he’s posted lines of 2-24 and 2-14. It’s unlikely you can find a better option if you survived McLaurin’s dud last week, but some concern is warranted.

Cam Sims has taken over the WR2 role, but he is nowhere near fantasy relevant. Logan Thomas is an every down player at tight end and an every week TE1. He’s seen 16 targets over the past two weeks, but teams target the tight end just 15% of the time against the Seahawks, the lowest rate in the league. With that being said, Thomas is the de facto WR2, but Haskins likely getting the start definitely knocks him down a peg.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: With Antonio Gibson’s season over, Washington turned to J.D. McKissic as the primary back. McKissic played 65% of the snaps last week and is firmly ahead of Peyton Barber, whose only job is to potentially steal touchdowns. McKissic is always a threat to be involved in the passing game, but with Haskins playing the entire second half and the Football Team in the lead, they just sat on the ball last week. That resulted in a season high 11 carries for McKissic, but fantasy managers would prefer the targets. They should come this week with the Seahawks strong road favorites. The Seahawks allow 11.8 fantasy points per game to running backs via receiving. This is the type of game you want to use McKissic. Even with Haskins out there, he can be started with some degree of confidence.

Value Meter:
RB2: J.D. McKissic (mid-range)
WR3: Terry McLaurin
TE1: Logan Thomas (low end)
Bench: Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Cam Sims, Peyton Barber

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Football Team 10 ^ Top

49ers at Cowboys - (Katz)
Line: SF -3.0
Total: 46.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Jimmy Garoppolo has not been ruled out for the season, but it looks like Nick Mullens will get at least one more start. Mullens attempted a season high 45 passes last week as the 49ers attempted a comeback against the Football Team. Expect a much more run heavy approach against the Cowboys this week. While no one is starting Mullens, everyone should be starting elite WR1 Brandon Aiyuk. It feels like no one is talking about how incredible Aiyuk has been. Perhaps it’s because he missed two games sporadically due to injury and Covid, but Aiyuk has been a monster with or without Deebo Samuel, who will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring strain. Over his past five games, Aiyuk has at least five catches and 75 yards in all of them. He’s seen double digit targets three times and scored three times. He’s done this against weak pass defenses and strong ones.

The Cowboys have certainly improved defensively as the season has gone on, but they still allow 25.4 fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers. Aiyuk is going to smash this week. Kendrick Bourne is also a deep league consideration in the sense that he’s going to catch a couple balls for 30 or 40 yards and maybe he scores. George Kittle is not going to return this week so Jordan Reed gets a familiar foe in the Cowboys. Reed is playing fewer than 50% of the snaps and is barely being targeted. He’s a touchdown or bust option.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The Cowboys cannot stop the run. They allow 25.1 fantasy points per game to running backs. This has been a strange fantasy season and in the most important fantasy week of the season (yes, Week 15 is more important than Week 16), Jeff Wilson looks like a league winner. I want to be very clear in that I’ve watched way more Jeff Wilson than anyone should ever have to this season and he’s one of the least talented running backs I’ve ever seen. With that being said, he’s taken Raheem Mostert’s job with or without injury and now it looks like Mostert is going to miss this week’s game.

Is Jerick McKinnon even in the league anymore? The 49ers certainly don’t care. Tevin Coleman played just two snaps last week and four the week before. He will likely be the primary change of pace back, but this is going to be Wilson’s backfield. He’s the primary early down back and the goal line back. The 49ers are going to win this game so that means no negative game script taking the run away from them. Wilson is a must start.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jeff Wilson (mid-range)
WR1: Brandon Aiyuk (low end)
Bench: Nick Mullens, Jordan Reed, Raheem Mostert (various injuries)

Passing Game Thoughts: No one is even remotely considering Andy Dalton in fantasy so let’s get that out of the way early. Even though Dalton is not a fantasy option, Amari Cooper has proven how rock solid he is. The only two weeks Cooper has completely flopped were a fluke dud against the Giants in the game Dak Prescott got hurt and the disastrous Ben DiNucci start. Since Dalton returned, Cooper has at least five receptions in every game and has scored in three straight. 69% of receiving yards allowed by the 49ers have gone to wide receivers.

Michael Gallup has not been reliable all season. That will not change this week. CeeDee Lamb has not been useful since Prescott went down. That will also not change this week. The only other Cowboys pass catcher in play is Dalton Schultz. Here’s a fun little nugget: Schultz has caught every pass thrown his way each of the past three weeks. It hasn’t been much, but you can pencil Schultz in for around 3-30, which is at least a passable floor.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: While it’s very easy to blame Prescott’s injury on Ezekiel Elliott’s downfall, plenty of running backs have excelled in spite of quarterback injuries. The reason Elliott can’t do it is because Elliott isn’t good anymore. For the betterment of the Cowboys, it appears as though Mike McCarthy knows this as Tony Pollard’s snap share has increased over the past month. Zeke played as many as 98% of the snaps early in the season. Over his past five games, Zeke hasn’t played more than 70% of the snaps in a single game. Last week, in the smashiest of smash spots against a bad Bengals defense in a game the Cowboys dominated wire to wire, Zeke couldn’t even get close to double digit fantasy points. He has just one 100-yard game all season. There is no intent to use him in the passing game and the 49ers allow just 19.5 fantasy points per game to running backs.

Value Meter:
WR2: Amari Cooper (mid-range)
TE2: Dalton Schultz
Bench: Andy Dalton, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb

Prediction: 49ers 27, Cowboys 17 ^ Top

Jets at Rams - (Caron)
Line: LAR -17.5
Total: 44.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jets continue to perform as one of the lowest-volume offenses in just about every game so there just isn’t much to like here from the passing attack. Sam Darnold has only thrown for even 200 yards in two games this season. Jamison Crowder was, at one point earlier this season, averaging over 10 targets per game, but he hasn’t exceeded seven targets since Week 6. Rookie Denzel Mims has some fun upside for the future but this just isn’t a good situation for him as he’s likely going to see coverage from Jalen Ramsey.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Frank Gore returned in Week 14 and stepped back into a split backfield with Ty Johnson, further limiting whatever tiny bit of upside this team has. The Rams have also given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, so a split backfield in perhaps the league’s worst offense is just not something that should interest anyone.

It’s probably too simplistic to just say “bench all Jets,” but seriously - just bench all Jets - or drop them and hope that your opponent picks them up to start them against you.

Value Meter:
Bench: Sam Darnold, Ty Johnson, Frank Gore, Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Chris Herndon...everyone. Seriously, just bench everyone.

Passing Game Thoughts: Rams quarterback Jared Goff has now failed to exceed one passing touchdown in five of his past six games. While the other game was a huge 376-yard, three touchdown game against the Buccaneers, there’s just too low of a floor for us to look at Goff as a high-end QB play even in a great matchup against the Jets. With that said, New York has given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, including some gigantic performances as of late. They’ve given up at least 19 fantasy points to every opposing quarterback they’ve faced going back to Week 4 when they allowed a 19.6 point game to Denver’s Brett Rypien. Goff is a strong floor option as a QB1 this week but there’s a good chance that the Rams get out to enough of a lead that his upside is capped in this one.

Wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp both remain strong fantasy plays this week despite a potential blowout win for the Rams. Kupp saw a season-low five targets this past week against the Patriots, but still was able to convert that into five catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. He’s now reached at least 10 fantasy points in six of his past seven games, although he’s lacked the upside of being a true fantasy WR1 this season. Woods, on the other hand, is knocking on that door as he’s had some big breakout performances this season combined with still ensuring a solid floor most weeks. He’s been targeted 46 times over his past four games so there’s plenty to like heading into this game. He’s a low-end WR1 this week.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown combined for just two carries this past week which meant that rookie Cam Akers finally got his chance to shine -- and shine he did. 29 carries for 171 yards against a very good New England defense should give fantasy owners plenty of confidence heading into these final couple of weeks.

Akers is in a potential smash spot here against the Jets in what could easily end up being a blowout Rams victory that allows Akers to see 20-plus touches. While the Jets have been much better against the run than they have the pass this season, they’re still a terrible defense overall and the Rams may opt to lean heavily on their rookie running back just as they did in a similar spot last week against the Patriots.

Akers went from being a non-starter to an RB1 in one week. He’s either going to win - or lose - people a ton of money down the stretch.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low-end)
RB1: Cam Akers (low-end)
WR1: Robert Woods (low-end)
WR2: Cooper Kupp
Bench: Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett

Prediction: Rams 30, Jets 16 ^ Top

Eagles at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: ARI -6.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jalen Hurts experience has begun in Philadelphia and we now have a glimpse at the new Eagles offense. Things looked great for fantasy purposes as Hurts ran the ball 18(!) times for 106 yards in the Eagles’ surprising victory over a good New Orleans team. He wasn’t particularly effective as a passer, throwing for just 167 yards and a touchdown, but he didn’t turn the ball over. Hurts’ rushing ability gives him a great floor so he should be looked at as a low-end QB1 this week.

Unfortunately for his pass catchers, no Eagles pass catcher was targeted more than Dallas Goedert’s six targets and no player caught more than four passes. It’s just a one game sample size but it’s very possible that this passing game is just too spread out for any of the wide receivers to be a particularly strong play in. Goedert is, however, a solid TE1 still given that he should remain one of the highest target recipients at the position throughout the league. Zach Ertz is back but doesn’t appear to be fully healthy and should be benched until we see him performing back at full capacity.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Miles Sanders’ season has been a rollercoaster but things are looking up in the Jalen Hurts offense. It’s true that he broke off an 82-yard touchdown and was otherwise fairly bottled up in the running game against the Saints, but we’ve seen situations like this before where a mobile quarterback comes in and opens things up for the running backs. This is particularly true when the quarterback is as willing to run the ball as Hurts showed that he is.

In addition to the defenses having to account for Hurts as a runner, Sanders actually caught four passes from Hurts in Week 14 - the most he’s caught since all the way back in Week 3. We shouldn’t expect that Sanders sees an increase in target share but if he can at least remain involved in the passing game then he should see an increase in total fantasy value.

This week he’ll be against an Arizona defense that ranks in the top 10 in most fantasy points given up to opposing running backs so far this season. They have actually held every back they’ve faced to fewer than 85 rushing yards, but they’ve also given up six rushing touchdowns to running backs over their past four games and they haven’t faced particularly strong backfields.

Sanders is a solid RB1 here and should be for the remainder of the fantasy season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jalen Hurts (low-end)
RB1: Miles Sanders
TE1: Dallas Goedert
Bench: Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward

Passing Game Thoughts: Kyler Murray has remained a top fantasy option this season but he hasn’t has quite the upside in recent weeks that he did earlier in the year. Nevertheless, fantasy owners should remain confident in this young dual-threat passer as he has only finished with fewer than 16 standard fantasy points in one game this season. He does have a tough matchup this week against an Eagles defense that just held Taysom Hill to only 33 rushing yards. They have, however, struggled against other mobile quarterbacks this season, having given up a 108-yard rushing day to Lamar Jackson, along with 92 and 64-yard rushing days to Daniel Jones. Murray remains an obvious QB1 for fantasy this week.

Likewise, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been an elite fantasy asset all season and remains one of the most-targeted players in the league. His floor is around 10 points but he has massive upside against this Eagles defense that recently got smashed by fellow alpha receivers Davante Adams and DK Metcalf.

The rest of the Arizona pass catchers, including Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, just do not see enough volume in this offense to be considered starters in your fantasy playoffs.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Kenyan Drake’s rushing numbers haven’t been particularly impressive since he returned from injury, but he’s been getting it done near the goal line. Drake has now scored five rushing touchdowns over his past four games despite having compiled an average of just 59 yards per game on the ground.

This week he’ll be against an Eagles defense that themselves have struggled near the goal line against running backs as of late. Opposing RBs have scored four rushing touchdowns against the Eagles over their past four contests, including a 114-yard performance for Nick Chubb and a 130-yard performance for Aaron Jones. We can’t really expect that Drake is going to continue to score at this type of pace, but Drake is getting a healthy enough workload that he still has to be looked at as an RB1 for fantasy.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray
RB1: Kenyan Drake
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins
Bench: Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, Dan Arnold

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Eagles 20 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Saints - (Swanson)
Line: KC -3.0
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs head to take on Taysom Hill and the Saints in the Super Dome in what could be the game of the week. A ton of playoff seeding is at stake in this matchup, along with more than a few players who will decide fantasy outcomes.

Patrick Mahomes has just one game of fewer than 20 fantasy points this season, making him one of the most consistent fantasy assets. Although he threw more interceptions last week against the Dolphins than his season total of two entering the game, he still delivered a monster 393/2 touchdown game.

No other team gives up fewer points to opposing running backs than the Saints, which is not a problem for the Chiefs, a team that ranks 25th in running back fantasy points. Mahomes and Andy Reid have no issues passing 40 or more times in a game if the matchup dictates it, so do be surprised if Mahomes and company abstain from the ground game and pick apart Dennis Allen’s secondary.

Although the Saints give up the fifth-fewest points to QBs on the season and have allowed just three passing touchdowns since Week 6, those stats are somewhat skewed based on who they played. Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Mullens, Matt Ryan, Jalen Hurts, and Kendall Hinton are not exactly in the same stratosphere as Patrick Mahomes, so one should take those numbers with a grain of salt.

Of course, you are starting Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They are unstoppable weapons who should in your lineup regardless of matchup. Sammy Watkins saw a season-high 87% of snaps last week and saw two catches for 52 yards. You could do worse for a boom or bust second flex option, but he could also give you a goose egg.

The Saints could be without two critical defensive starters this week. Marcus Davenport is questionable with a quad injury, and staring nose tackle Malcom Brown missed practice on Wednesday with shoulder and calf injuries.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: The fantasy industry drank the Kool-Aide this summer on rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, buying into the idea that the rookie from LSU would become an instant fantasy stud and instructed fantasy mangers to use a first-round pick on CEH.

Through Week 13, CEH ranks 16th at the position and has scored fewer points than Mike Davis and David Montgomery. On a point per game basis among players with at least seven games, CEH ranks 22nd overall - not exactly what managers were hoping for when they passed on other top players in drafts this season in favor of CEH.

The rookie has averaged barely over four yards a carry in an offense that boasts the most potent passing attack in the league. To make matters worse, he has one of the lowest-grade pass protecting grades according to PPF.com. His struggles in pass protection have limited his snaps, and his struggles in the red zone have limited his touchdown upside.

This matchup on paper is one of the worst possible matchups for a running back, as the Saints give up the fewest fantasy points to running backs. If you somehow overcame CEH’s bad regular season and made the playoffs, I’m not sure this is someone you want to start in what could be a pass-heavy game for the Chiefs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes (High-End)
RB2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Low-End)
WR1: Tyreek Hill (Elite)
WR4: Sammy Watkins (High-End)
TE1: Travis Kelce (Elite)

Passing Game Thoughts: With Drew Brees out with rib fractures, Sean Payton and the Saints will roll out Taysom Hill for the fifth-straight week. Hill has been serviceable both as a real-life quarterback leading the Saints to wins in three of four games, and his four games of over 20 fantasy points have been great for fantasy managers.

This will be an interesting challenge for Hill and Payton, as they have not played against a potent offense like the Chiefs with Hill under center. Will he be able to keep pace with the high-flying Chiefs? Chances are no, and it makes sense for the Saints to try and play ball control and keep Mahomes and company on the sideline.

The Chiefs have given up the fourth-most rushing touchdowns to running quarterbacks, with Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, and Tua Tagovailoa all reaching the end zone on the ground. I will be shocked if Hill does not get at least one rushing touchdown in this game.

Michael Thomas posted a respectable eight catches for 84 yards last week against the Eagles and will once again be the top target for Hill. His matchup against Beshaud Breeland is the 20th-ranked cornerback/wide receiver matchup according to PFF.com, and one to watch in this game. Thomas is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and did not participate in practice on Wednesday, but they should be good to go in this marquee matchup.

It would not surprise us to see Jared Cook have a solid game against the Chiefs. Kansas City gives up the 8th-most points to opposing tight ends, and Cook has a score in each of his previous two games.

UPDATE: Drew Brees has been named the starter. The biggest impact of this move is raising the floor of RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas and TE Jared Cook. Brees checks in as QB2.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The game plan for head coach Sean Payton and the Saints is going to be run-heavy, with both Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara getting a heavy dose of work. Payton knows that he does not have the firepower to keep pace with the Chiefs in a shootout with Drew Brees on the sideline, and the best way to beat Mahomes and company is to keep them off the field.

Although Kamara’s production has dipped significantly with Hill under center, he is a solid play in this game. Look for around 20 total touches, with around 100 total yards and a score. You can also play Lativius Murray as a very deep flex, but his limited volume as of late makes him somewhat of a risky play.

Tackles Andrus Peat and Ryan Ramczk are both listed and questionable for this game. Both were limited in practice on Wednesday. If they cannot go or are limited, the Saints will be in for a rough day offensively.

Value Meter:
QB1: Taysom Hill (Low-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (Elite)
WR1: Michael Thomas (Low-End)
WR4: Emmanuel Sanders (High-End)
TE1: Jared Cook (Low-End)

Prediction: Kansas City 27, New Orleans 14 ^ Top

Browns at Giants - (Katz)
Line: CLE -6.0
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Are you ready for the Baker Mayfield let down spot? I know I am. The stars couldn’t be aligning more perfectly for Mayfield to completely faceplant this week on the road, in the cold, against a tough Giants defense. Mayfield has thrown eight touchdowns over his past three games while adding one more on the ground. After not throwing for 300 yards all season, he’s done so in back-to-back games. Both of those games were shootouts seeing both teams surpass 35 points. The Giants do not play shootouts. It’s why they allow just 15.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Jarvis Landry is always in play because of his high floor. Landry is averaging 10 targets per game over his last three games and has at least six receptions in each of them. I trust him to survive the Mayfield crash more than Rashard Higgins, whose rise has corresponded with Mayfield’s two big games. Prior to two weeks ago, Higgins was just a touchdown or bust dart throw. He has at least six receptions and a touchdown in two straight, but I do not trust him against the Giants here.

Donovan Peoples-Jones has emerged as the Browns’ WR3. He’s a deep ball specialist that has caught a deep ball in back to back games. His snap share was a season high 70% last week. You’re getting a handful of targets and you hope he catches a long ball. That’s probably not what you want in fantasy. Austin Hooper is set to return this week, which will send Harrison Bryant and David Njoku back to the bench. They were never fantasy options anyway. The Giants are pretty stingy against the tight end so I would not be excited about Hooper.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are one of the most talented running back duos in NFL history. Since returning from injury, Chubb has carried the ball at least 17 times in every game, has three 100-yard games, and has scored in four of his last five games. Hunt has seen his usage drop, but over the past two weeks, he’s been heavily involved in the passing game. Hunt had seven targets last week. Giants’ opponents target the running back position 23% of the time, the second highest rate in the league. Only the Packers allow more than the Giants’ 12.7 fantasy points per game to running backs via the air. Chubb is always a must start, but this feels like a strong Hunt game as well.

Value Meter:
RB1: Nick Chubb (mid-range)
RB2: Kareem Hunt (high end)
WR3: Jarvis Landry
Bench: Baker Mayfield, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Austin Hooper

Passing Game Thoughts: I thought the Giants would start Colt McCoy last week because I mistakenly believed they wanted to at least try and win the game. Daniel Jones was clearly not 100% and I’m not entirely sure Jones gives the Giants a better chance to win as opposed to McCoy. At the bare minimum, McCoy actually knows the definition of pocket awareness. Jones took six sacks last week and just isn’t cut out to play quarterback in the NFL.

McCoy will start this week, but regardless of who starts at quarterback, you can’t trust any Giants pass catchers. Sterling Shepard has just four receptions over his past two games. Darius Slayton has four receptions over his past three games. Golden Tate is barely even in the NFL anymore. Every week, I try and find a reason to trust Evan Engram, and every week, he lets me down. But here we go again. The Browns allow 0.69 touchdowns per game to tight ends and 23% of targets against them to go to the tight end position. Engram is still out there almost every down. He’s the only Giants’ pass catcher I would trust this week and I’ll probably regret saying that.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Even in the worst possible game script, Wayne Gallman wasn’t a total disaster last week. He totaled 73 yards and caught three passes so he hit double digit fantasy points. The Browns are fresh off getting destroyed on the ground by J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Before that, they were destroyed by Derrick Henry. Before that, they were destroyed by James Robinson. You can run on the Browns. You can run for touchdowns on the Browns. I like Gallman to bounce back this week and find the end zone. Dion Lewis and Alfred Morris are nothing more than breather backs.

Value Meter:
RB2: Wayne Gallman (mid-range)
TE1: Evan Engram (low end)
Bench: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate

Prediction: Giants 24, Browns 20 ^ Top

Steelers @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: PIT -12.5
Total: 40.5

Passing Game Thoughts: For weeks now the Steelers have treated the passing game like a stand-in for a non-existent rushing attack. Its effectiveness continues to wane. This past Sunday night, Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 37 passes for a meager 187 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Buffalo played physical with Pittsburgh's wideouts at the line and dared them to win over the top. When it didn't happen, the Steelers possessed the ball for just over 24 minutes and lost their second straight game.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-55-1) fared the best out of the wideouts while Diontae Johnson (4-40) struggled with drops early on and was actually benched for a bit. That pair, along with Chase Claypool (3-15), arguably form the league's top receiving corps, but the quick passing has cut into their value. As it happens, the last game that all three put up good numbers was against Cincinnati in Week 10 with Johnson (6-116-1) topping 100 yards and both Smith-Schuster (9-77-1) and Claypool (4-56-2) scoring TDs.

Obviously this is a plus matchup for the Steelers -- Cincy is 22nd against the pass on the year -- but you have to wonder how Pittsburgh views this game. Their offense has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now, so do they use the NFL's version of a sparring session to try and get their running game back on track? Or do the Steelers double down on the short-passing attack and try to get it back up to speed? Given the uncertainty, Big Ben is a low-end QB1 with all three wideouts as WR3s.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Only Houston is averaging fewer rushing yards per game than the Steelers (89.1), which is a million miles from where they began the season; believe it or not, James Conner (10-18) ran for more than 100 yards in three of his first five games. This Sunday should paint a pretty clear picture of whether or not that's still possible as the Bengals are 28th against the run at 131.7 yards allowed per game. Conner (quad) managed just 36 yards on 13 carries in Week 10, though. Don't consider him more than an RB3.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (low-end)
RB3: James Conner
WR3: JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR3: Diontae Johnson
WR3/Flex: Chase Claypool
TE1: Eric Ebron
Bench: Benny Snell

Passing Game Thoughts: Statistically speaking, Brandon Allen wasn't bad last Sunday. He connected on 27 of his 36 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown, and he didn't turn the ball over. It didn't matter. The Bengals lost, 30-7, to a bad Cowboys team and Allen departed with a knee injury late; it was the second straight game he couldn't finish due to injury. Allen's status for Monday night is up in the air, and if he can't go the team will turn to Ryan Finley, who has made three relief appearances this season.

In three games since losing Joe Burrow, Tyler Boyd has averaged a 3-43 line, Tee Higgins a 5-50, and A.J. Green a 2-21; each of them has scored once. Higgins has been steadier than the others, and as such he carries the most value as a possible WR3. Boyd's already modest average is bolstered by his 72-yard TD catch in Miami, leaving the one-time solid WR2 as no better than a flex. Green went without a catch in Weeks 12 and 13 before leading the team last Sunday with 62 yards and a score on six grabs. He was blanked by the Steelers in the first meeting and should be benched in the rematch.

Pittsburgh is second to the Rams in pass defense (202.2 yards per game), and they lead the NFL in both sacks and interceptions. They held the Burrow-led Bengals to 10 points in the Week 10 blowout and sacked the rookie four times. That's bad news for whoever is under center on Monday.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Giovani Bernard (3-18) took a seat after an early fumble in Week 14 and then watched as backups Samaje Perine (10-32) and Trayveon Williams (12-49) got most of the work. Whether or not that arrangement will reset in Week 15 with Bernard back atop the pecking order remains to be seen. We'll give Gio flex value for now, but keep an eye out in case it sounds like Williams will see the bulk of the work. Although the Steelers haven't been as stout against the run of late, they still rank sixth in the NFL at 100.9 rushing yards allowed per game.

Value Meter:
Flex: Giovani Bernard
WR3/Flex: Tee Higgins
Flex: Tyler Boyd
Bench: Joe Mixon (inj), A.J. Green

Prediction: Steelers 34, Bengals 9 ^ Top