- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Dolphins @ Titans
- (Swanson) Line: TEN -3.5 Total: 39.5
Game Thoughts: The Dolphins became the first team in
NFL history to have a 7-game winning streak and a 7-game losing
streak in the same season. Just when people thought they were
out of contention and Tua was a bust, the Phins stormed back with
seven wins in a row, including last week’s beat down of
To win their 8th in a row, Tua and the Phins will need to beat
a solid team in the Titans that just broke a losing streak of
their own with an impressive win over the 49ers.
It will be challenge to beat the Titans, who have been impressive
against opposing quarterbacks over the past five games. Only the
Dolphins, themselves, have given up fewer points to opposing quarterbacks,
and the Titans have not given up 20 fantasy points to a QB since
Tua is not someone you should be starting this week in the championship
game, but his receiving options are well worth a start. Jaylen
Waddle is on pace to set the rookie record for catches and in
a must-start. The team does a great job of manufacturing targets,
and he should give you a solid baseline of around 80 yards and
Miami should find it difficult to run the ball against the stout
run defense of the Titans, and Waddle may become an extension
of the running game with quick screens and other short passes.
It will take some guts to start DeVante Parker after he goosed
you last week. The matchup should force Tua to use Parker more
in this game, but we do not blame you if choose to look elsewhere.
As the 15th-ranked TE in points per game, Mike Gesicki has clearly
lost some value in the passing game with the emergence of Waddle.
Although he topped 100 targets for the first time in his career,
his 7.7 points per game and only two receiving touchdowns is a
Tennessee is not a plus-matchup for tight ends, as they give
up the 5th-fewest points on the year. If possible, we recommend
looking to another option.
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: The Dolphins backfield is a mess. Myles
Gaskin has gone from an industry favorite and the fantasy MVP
for more than a few prominent analysts to a guy who is the odd
man out in a backfield that includes Phillip Lindsay, Duke Johnson,
and Salvon Ahmed.
Gaskin saw just three carries and one catch last week against
the Saints and should be on your bench.
It might be a wise choice to bench Lindsay, Johnson and Ahmed
as well. Tennessee has given up the third-fewest points to opposing
running backs and just 964 rushing yards on the year.
On a positive note, the Dolphins have just three players listed
on their injury report and all three were full participants in
Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill got an early Christmas
present last week in the form of A.J. Brown returning from IR.
Without Brown in the lineup, the passing game for the Titans struggled
and Tannehill was one of the least efficient passers in fantasy.
Brown caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a score against the
49ers on a whopping 16 targets last Thursday against San Francisco.
It was the third time this season in which Brown garnered more
than 10 targets and his third game of over 130 receiving yards.
To beat the red-hot Dolphins, Tannehill and Brown will need to
have similar production.
Julio Jones is on the COVID list and not someone you would want
to start if he is able to clear by Sunday. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
is also on the list, but it is not clear if he will be activated
in time under the new COVID rules.
On the season, Miami ranked 9th in fantasy points allowed to
wide receivers. However, over the past five games, they have given
up the second-fewest, and no receiving touchdowns in the last
Brown is a must-start based on volume. The other options in the
passing game are risky at best.
MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19
Running Game Thoughts: A key matchup in this game will be the
running back trio of the Titans going against the stop Dolphins
run defense. It may surprise many to learn that the Dolphins give
up the fifth-fewest points to opposing running backs on the season.
In the first half of 2021, the Phins were an excellent matchup
for running backs, with three 100-yard games given up over the
first month. Yet since Week 4 when Jonathan Taylor rushed for
103/1, no opposing running back has topped 100 yards and no running
back has reached the end zone on the ground.
Mike Vrabel will want to run the ball. Mike Vrabel will try to
run the ball. But, it is likely that the trio of D’Onta
Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols will not be successful
running the ball.
If forced to start one, we would go with Foreman. He is the short-yardage
back and gets enough work in the passing game.
Game Thoughts: The production simply hasn’t been
there from QB Matt Ryan this year, mostly because he lacks the
targets he’s had in the past, and while rookie TE Kyle Pitts
appears to be a generational talent (he accounted for nearly half
of Ryan’s passing yards in Week 16), there are no Julio
Jones’ or Calvin Ridley’s currently on this roster.
WR Russell Gage has been wildly inconsistent in recent weeks,
posting 12 targets in two of his last four games, and a combined
11 in the other two. I don’t expect this to be an “up”
week. Buffalo can rush the passer, they can cover, and they will
take the ball away. Stick with Pitts if you can and move on.
BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30
Running Game Thoughts: On the other hand, the run game may be
the secret sauce for Atlanta this week. The Bills have shown recently
that they can be susceptible to the run (everyone should be thanking
the Patriots for that blueprint), and Cordarrelle Patterson is
versatile and explosive. And if Buffalo’s defense starts
chasing him all over the field, Mike Davis could get some sneaky
production and provide some flex value if you’re looking
for a sleeper.
Game Thoughts: QB Josh Allen is coming off his best day
in over a month, and it came against a solid Patriots defense.
Allen has thrown multiple-TD passes in seven of the last nine
games, including eight in the last three games. With a favorable
matchup against the Falcons this week, he’s the top QB play
in fantasy in all formats.
Allen posted 314 yards last week without two of his top receivers.
While Emmanuel Sanders seems highly questionable with a knee issue,
Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis return. Davis could get the starting
nod on the outside if Sanders can’t go, while Beasley should
return to a positive role in the slot, though after a stellar
outing in New England, Isaiah McKenzie could steal some snaps
at that spot as well. TE Dawson Knox is Allen’s favorite
target along with Stefon Diggs. Both should be starters in the
ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20
Running Game Thoughts: The Bills seem to have settled on Devin
Singletary as their go-to guy in the backfield. Matt Breida was
a healthy addition to the inactive list last week, and while Zack
Moss got the nod, he got very few touches on the ball. After a
season-long RB committee approach, Singletary seems like a safe
RB2 play this week.
Jaguars at Patriots
- (Ken Ilchuk) Line: NE -16.0 Total: 41.5
Game Thoughts: For all future Trevor Lawrence wanna-be’s,
this is why you don’t want to be the first pick in the draft.
Lawrence is a talented dude, but he hasn’t gotten the coaching,
the protection, or the necessary help from his skill position
players to approach anything resembling success as a rookie. The
story is in the numbers. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass
in four weeks and has just one in his last eight games.
Deep threat D.J. Chark has been out of the mix for a while, Laviska
Shenault is on the Covid list, and Marvin Jones and Laquon Treadwell
are the “best” options playing with a QB who is averaging
5.9 yards per attempt. To top it all off, security blanket TE
James O’Shaughnessey (hip) likely won’t play and RB
James Robinson is out this week.
NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: Five-year pro Dare Ogunbowale steps in
for Robinson, who went on IR with a torn Achilles. More receiver
than runner, he played well last week against a bad Jets defense
and posted 19 total touches. New England has been gashed by the
run this season, but with little to defend in the passing game,
I would suspect they’ll be ready for this. I suppose someone
has to get the ball for Jacksonville, and they can’t get
things opened up in the passing game, so D.O. could be a flex
play this week, but you’re reaching pretty deep.
Game Thoughts: Last week was not good, and QB Mac Jones
has now thrown four INT’s in his last two games. However,
the Jaguars present a get-right opportunity for Jones. I would
expect him to throw early and produce before Bill Belichick shuts
it down and just runs the ball down Jacksonville’s throat.
Jones is a back-end QB2 this week because of the matchup.
Jakobi Meyers has been the Patriots only consistent WR this season,
but the numbers are less than staggering. Kendrick Bourne has
been a big play threat, but is feast or famine. This could be
a feast week for him, but I wouldn’t bet my league championship
on it. Nelson Agholor has failed to clear concussion protocol
and can’t be relied on, and N’Keal Harry has done
a fantastic job of playing his way straight into Belichick’s
doghouse. TE Hunter Henry had one catch after a two-TD performance
in Week 15 against the Colts. He should be in your lineup this
week, but fellow TE Jonnu Smith is probably wondering why he came
to New England at all.
JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18
Running Game Thoughts: Damien Harris had himself a day last week
(3 TDs) with Rhamondre Stevenson out. Expect him to get the ball
again this week with Stevenson giving him a blow on run downs
and Brandon Bolden continuing his limited role as the 3rd down
Raiders @ Colts
- (Swanson) Line: IND -7.0 Total: 44.5
Game Thoughts: Derek Carr and the Raiders head to Indy
this week to take on the Colts in a pivotal AFC matchup with playoff
implications for both teams. If the Raiders can pull off the upset
and beat the Colts, and then win their Week 18 matchup at home
against the Chargers, and they are in the playoffs.
A loss, and they will need a ton of help to get in.
Beating a team that has won eight of their last ten, including
impressive wins over New England and Arizona, will be a difficult
task for Carr and company.
It also does not help that the Colts have the top running back
in the league, and a defense that is near the top in forced takeaways.
Carr and the Raiders will need to run the ball effectively, and
limit the number of mistakes and turnovers.
If you made the fantasy finals, you likely have a top 10 quarterback
on your roster and do not need to consider starting Carr. The
two Raiders who are in play in the passing game are WR Hunter
Renfrow and TE Foster Moreau.
Renfrow has evolved into a must-start WR in all formats based
on his volume and red zone targets, while Moreau has an excellent
matchup against a Colts defense that ranks first in yards and
catches allowed to tight ends. There is a tiny possibility that
Darren Waller (Covid list) returns to action this week, and managers
should insert him into their lineups if available.
The Colts have a sizable number of players on the COVID list
that could affect the outcome of this game. Most predominantly
is quarterback Carson Wentz, who tested positive and is unvaccinated.
Originally it was thought that Wentz would need to miss ten games,
but the NFL adjusted the rules based on changes to the CDC’s
guidelines late Tuesday night. It is possible that he plays, but
we will not know until Sunday.
The defense has been hit as well with COVID positives, including
all-pro linebacker Darius Leonard and defensive backs Khari Willis,
Jahleel Addae, and T.J Carrie. Leonard should return, while the
others are still waiting to clear the protocols.
IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Josh Jacobs posted his best game of the
season last week with 129 yards on 27 carries in Vegas’
17-13 win over the Broncos. It was the most rushing yards and
attempts by a Raiders running back this season.
He will need to have a similar performance this week for Las
Vegas to win this matchup. The Colts started off the season as
a stout run defense, but have become much more susceptible over
the past month.
Over the past five games, the colts have given up the fifth-most
points to opposing running backs, including four rushing touchdowns
to Tampa Bay back in Week 12 and 127 total yards and a score to
Chase Edmonds last week.
The return of Leonard and other starters should bolster the run
defense, but Jacobs is still a solid No.2 RB.
Game Thoughts: We started the week with news that an
unvaccinated Carson Wentz would not be available for this game,
only to learn late Tuesday night that the NFL and NFL Players
association agreed to follow new CDC guidelines for five days
With the new change, it is possible for Wentz to play on Sunday
against the Raiders. He is not someone you would want to start
in your fantasy championship, but his presence is critical for
the success Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton, and most importantly,
The Raiders would presumably stack the box more than usual with
Sam Ehlinger under center. It also does not help that two of the
Colts starting offensive linemen are still on the COVID list in
Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith.
On a positive note, Question Nelson, the team’s all-pro
guard was activated from the COVID list and will play.
Should Wentz play, Pittman should be in your lineup and Hilton
could be played in deeper leagues with more than one flex. The
former was pelted with targets last week and the latter is always
a threat to score, but is more of a boom/bust play.
The Raiders have been fairly solid against opposing quarterbacks
over the past five weeks, giving up the eighth-fewest points to
the position. Although, those numbers are a bit skewed when you
consider that the Raiders faced Drew Lock and Nick Mullens in
Both Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott each had solid games against
the Raiders, and Wentz should be able to put up around 250 and
LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: Last week for the first time since Week
3 that Jonathan Taylor failed to score a rushing touchdown. Although
he did top 100 yards for the ninth time this season, the Cardinals
did a solid job limiting his production and held him to just four
yards per carry.
This should be a get right game for Taylor and the running game
for two reasons. First, the Colts are getting back Nelson and
a few other starters on the offensive line. Second, the Raiders
on the season have given up the 5th-most points to opposing RBs
and 14 different players have topped 10 fantasy points.
Taylor is a must-start and the top running back play of the week.
I would be shocked if he did not post 150 total yards and a few
Game Thoughts: Tom Brady’s cupboard is looking
pretty bare these days. But this is Tom Brady, and this is the
New York Jets defense. He’ll make it work and is a top QB1
play in every format this week.
Chris Godwin is out, Mike Evans might be back, but is still feeling
the effects of a hamstring injury and a stint (though short) on
the Covid list, and Tyler Johnson, despite a lack of receiving
threats in the offense last week was a non-factor. Breshad Perriman
has been activated off the Covid list and could get a start, or
at least see snaps in three-wide sets, particularly if Evans can’t
go, or is limited.
Antonio Brown would seem to be the go-to guy, especially after
being targeted 15 times last week, but he’s working through
an ankle injury and didn’t practice Thursday. Fantasy owners
should keep a close eye on Friday’s practice reports. TE
Rob Gronkowski should be a beneficiary of all this chaos because,
well, when in doubt, Brady goes to Gronk.
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8
Running Game Thoughts: With Leonard Fournette on IR, Ronald Jones
takes over the majority of the workload in the backfield. Even
though Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s long TD run might earn him
some more carries this week, Jones is still the guy and a legit
RB1 against the Jets defense.
Game Thoughts: People in New York, or at least Jets fans,
keep trying to find reasons to get excited about Zach Wilson.
Yes, he had a 52-yard TD run on a broken play, very nice. It was
the Jaguars for crying out loud. He threw for 102 yards and his
only TD pass went for one yard to an offensive lineman. Granted,
he was without his top three receivers, but I’m not seeing
The Bucs have been devasted by injuries on the defensive side
of the ball. Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett and Antoine Winfield
Jr. are just a few of the guys who won’t be suiting up this
week. But WR’s Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Elijah
Moore are all out or highly questionable, leaving Braxton Berrios
as the main receiving threat. Oh yeah, and TE Tyler Kroft has
been added to the Covid list. There’s nothing here for anyone
who is playing in their fantasy championship this week.
TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12
Running Game Thoughts: Michael Carter turned 16 carries into
nearly 120 yards last week, and Tevin Coleman also got some significant
work. If you really need to reach deep, Carter is the play here
as a RB2, as Coleman has landed on the Covid list.
Rams @ Ravens
- (Green) Line: LAR -4.5 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: Fresh off a Pro Bowl snub, Matthew Stafford
went out... and played like someone that didn’t belong in
the first place. Perhaps it was returning to Minnesota after all
those years with Detroit. Whatever the case may be, Stafford hit
on just 21 of his 37 passes for 197 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs --
that was a season low in yards and a season high in picks. Despite
that, the Rams emerged with a win and control of the NFC West.
Up next, Stafford will try to pile on the Ravens, which have been
torn apart by opposing passing games of late.
For the fifth time this season, Cooper Kupp had double-digit
receptions, hauling in 10 passes for 109 yards; it was also his
fourth straight game of 100-plus yards. For as well as Kupp played
nobody else really joined him. Odell Beckham Jr. (4-37-1) did
score LA’s lone passing touchdown but was otherwise quiet,
and Van Jefferson (1-6-0) logged just one catch on six targets.
Tyler Higbee (5-41-0) returned off the COVID list after a two-game
absence and finished second in receptions and yards.
Considering that they gave up 525 yards to Joe Burrow in Week
16, it should come as no surprise that the Ravens now occupy the
bottom slot in pass defense at 280.5 yards per game. Injuries
have been the story all year long for Baltimore, starting in the
preseason and continuing through last Sunday. While Kupp and Stafford
are locks, Jefferson and OBJ should offer additional upside from
the WR3/flex realm.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5
Running Game Thoughts: With Darrell Henderson (knee) being placed
on IR, Sony Michel (27-131-1) takes over as the top back in LA,
at least for the time being. Michel has averaged 106 yards and
0.5 TDs per game over the past four weeks. He should be viewed
as a strong RB2. Cam Akers (Achilles) could make his season debut
after tearing his Achilles in the offseason, but they’ll
doubtless want to ease him back in. Baltimore’s run defense
is tops in the NFL (85.6 yards per game), and they’re one
of six clubs allowing less than 4.0 yards per carry.
Game Thoughts: With Lamar Jackson still dealing with
an ankle injury and Tyler Huntley (illness) on COVID IR, the Ravens
turned to journeyman Josh Johnson to lead them in Week 16. Under
the circumstances, Johnson played pretty well, though the team
is hoping to have Jackson back in Week 17 after he missed most
of the last three games. Jackson threw for five touchdowns in
his only career meeting against the Rams back in 2019, something
both sides most assuredly remember.
There were times this season when the pecking order in Baltimore
felt like Marquise Brown (5-44-0) and Mark Andrews (8-125-1) were
1a/1b, but that has skewed over time with Andrews now clearly
the focal point of the passing game. He’s been on fire of
late, posting three straight games of 100-plus yards and scoring
four TDs despite the turmoil at the quarterback position. Brown
has stagnated. The Oklahoma product hasn’t topped 60 yards
in a game since Week 9 and hasn’t scored since Oct. 24.
Rashod Bateman did score his first career TD last Sunday but paired
that with just 26 yards on four grabs.
Everyone knows the names associated with the Rams defense: Aaron
Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey. All three demand constant
attention and any one of them is capable of wrecking a gameplan.
While LA ranks 22nd in pass yards allowed (242.2 per game), they’re
tied for fifth in sacks (42) and are one of four clubs to have
more interceptions than TD passes allowed. If Jackson can go,
he’s a QB1. Andrews is a top-three TE right now, and Brown
should be a fringe WR2/WR3.
LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21
Running Game Thoughts: With a third-string QB that just joined
the team at the helm, it’s no surprise the Bengals stacked
the line and locked down the tandem of Devonta Freeman (6-17-1)
and Latavius Murray (5-12-0). The Rams are capable of making things
tough on Baltimore’s ground game as well -- they are sixth
in the NFL at 96.9 yards per game allowed -- but Jackson is the
X factor. His presence opens things up, and that should be enough
to roll the dice on Freeman as an RB3. Murray can be benched.
Eagles at Washington
- (Ken Ilchuk) Line: PHI -4.0 Total: 45.0
Game Thoughts: The only time in the last 12 weeks that
Jalen Hurts has thrown for 250 yards or more was Week 15 against
Washington when he had 296. In fact, that was one of only two
times in that span he was even over 200 passing yards. That Washington
contest saw Hurts post nearly 350 total yards and three scores,
and even with a bad ankle limiting his running game, Hurts should
be considered a QB1 against a defense that has had more success
hitting each other on the sideline than hitting any opposing players
with the ball. The Mighty Maroon are in a freefall, particularly
on the defensive side of the ball.
Look for Dallas Goedert, who has struggled in recent weeks, to
return to form. As we mentioned, Hurts will likely be limited
as a runner except near the goal line, so the short-passing game
is in play and Goedert is the top target along with DeVonta Smith,
who has caught eight of 12 targets for 120 yards and a score over
the last two games, also in play. Jalen Reagor posted his first
50+ yard game since Week 3 two weeks ago against Washington.
WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14
Running Game Thoughts: RB Miles Sanders is out again, this time
with a hand injury, so all eyes have been on Jordan Howard. He
was also questionable with a neck stinger, but seems to have returned
to practice late in the week. He has been a reliable handcuff
to the oft-injured Sanders, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and
amassing over 50 yards in five of the six games he’s played
with Philly this season.
Speaking of handcuffs, if you have Howard, you should probably
roster Boston Scott just in case Howard has a setback and can’t
Game Thoughts: QB Taylor Heinicke has been epically bad
the last two weeks, failing to complete 50% of his passes (he
was 7 of 22 against Dallas last week), failing to amass even 125
passing yards in either game, and tossing just two TD’s
to three interceptions. If you’re still not sure, word out
of Washington this week points to Kyle Allen getting in the game
at some point, as he did last week against Dallas.
When a team can nearly count all its’ completions on one
hand, there’s not much love to go around the receiver’s
room. McLaurin is the best of the bunch in a group that just can’t
count on its’ quarterback. Receiving RB J.D. McKissic is
on IR, Adam Humphries and DeAndre Carter are afterthoughts, and
TE John Bates out-targeted Ricky Seals-Jones, who had only one
catch against the Cowboys. Curtis Samuel has negative yards over
the last two games…literally.
PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1
Running Game Thoughts: Antonio Gibson has been
the workhorse, and while he’s reportedly banged up and limited
in practice this week, it’s been like that every week this
season. RB’s Jaret Patterson and Jonathan Williams would
split carries if Gibson can’t go, but they are hardly worth
a handcuff. Gibson is the only real option here.
Editor's Note: Antonio
Gibson was placed on the Covid list Friday and will miss Week
17. Jaret Patterson is expected to start.
Giants @ Bears
- (Green) Line: CHI -6.0 Total: 37.0
Game Thoughts: As the late John Madden said, if you have
two quarterbacks you have none. That hypothesis was again confirmed
to be accurate this past Sunday when the tandem of Jake Fromm
(6-for-17, 25 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) and Mike Glennon (17-for-27,
93 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) combined to do diddly poo in a 34-10 loss
to Philly. No matter which one gets the nod this Sunday, they
hold negative fantasy appeal.
New York’s receiving corps has had a tough year with injuries
thinning the group, but even at full strength there’s not
a lot to be done when the likes of Fromm and Glennon are delivering
the football. Kenny Golladay (3-22-0) has endured a miserable
debut after coming over from Detroit, but his size gives him at
least some semblance of upside; he has also been targeted eight
times in each of the past three games. Rookie Kadarius Toney returned
from an oblique injury in Week 16 and has flashed some potential,
but he and Evan Engram (4-17-1) are better off on the bench.
While Chicago ranks fourth in passing yardage allowed this year
(202.4 yards per game), their 28-to-6 TD:INT ratio is among the
worst in the NFL. They held up alright in Seattle last Sunday,
though, and for whatever struggles Russell Wilson has had this
season, he’s light years beyond what the G-Men will put
on the field in Week 17.
CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26
Running Game Thoughts: Will we ever see pre-injury Saquon Barkley
again? That’s impossible to know, but we can safely say
we didn’t see him in 2021 as the former No. 2 overall pick
hasn’t topped 65 yards in a game and is averaging just 3.5
yards per carry. Barkley has seen steady usage lately, which provides
a pathway to value, but he’d be no more than a risky RB3
even against a Chicago defense that is 25th against the run and
just struggled with injury-prone Rashaad Penny (17-135-1) in Seattle.
Game Thoughts: With both Justin Fields (ankle) and Andy
Dalton (hand) banged up, Nick Foles got the call last Sunday.
The results were surprisingly good with Foles connecting on 24
of his 35 passes for 250 yards and 1 TD in a 25-24 win over Seattle
in snowy conditions. It’s unknown who will be under center
for Week 17, though Fields would almost certainly get the nod
if he’s healthy enough as he’s the only quarterback
on roster that’s guaranteed to be back in 2022.
Another player that’s definitely in Chicago’s plans
for next season is Darnell Mooney, who logged five receptions
for 57 yards -- that gives him 860 yards on the year, so he has
a shot at reaching the 1,000-yard mark, which would be a nice
accomplishment. Allen Robinson (illness) missed a second consecutive
game on the COVID list but has since been activated. He’s
almost certainly playing his final two games with the Bears after
being franchise tagged before the season. Cole Kmet (4-49-0) has
enjoyed some growth in Year 2, though he’s still outside
the TE1 ranks at this point.
The Giants sit 18th in pass defense, yielding 238.5 yards per
game. As a group they deserve some credit for holding up despite
the absolute negative the offense has been this year -- even more
so since the Daniel Jones injury -- but there’s only so
much that can be done when the offense gains 2.6 yards per play.
Despite that, Mooney as a WR3 is the lone playable choice.
NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15
Running Game Thoughts: Although David Montgomery (21-45-1) didn’t
get much going on the ground, he still finished Week 16 with 106
total yards and a score. He’s the focal point of the offense
and by far the most desirable fantasy option associated with this
entire game. The G-Men are 26th against the run, allowing 125.3
yards per game, which affords Montgomery RB1 appeal this Sunday.
Game Thoughts: For all the struggles he endured earlier
in the year, Patrick Mahomes seems to have found his footing.
Over the last three games, the former MVP has thrown for 926 yards,
8 TDs and 1 INT as KC has extended its winning streak to an NFL-best
eight games. That puts Mahomes in the top five in both passing
yards and touchdowns, and just four of his 13 INTs have come during
the win streak. He’s back at must-start QB1 levels.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Mahomes’ performance
in Week 16 is that it came with Travis Kelce (illness) on the
COVID list and Tyreek Hill (2-19-0) barely involved in the offense.
Instead, it was Byron Pringle (6-75-2) and Derrick Gore (3-61-0)
that led the way. Barring further evidence to the contrary it’s
prudent to chalk that up as an aberration, and double down on
Hill and Kelce being the only playable options for fantasy owners
with both filling No. 1 slots. Pringle is worth watching, though,
as the team has been on the look for a true WR2 for years now.
Only three teams have given up more passing yards this season
than the Bengals, which have allowed 252.8 per game. They do rank
seventh in sacks (41), however, and that’s an area they’ll
need to do some work if they want to topple the Chiefs. With KC’s
ground game compromised, expect Mahomes to do a lot of heavy lifting
CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7
Running Game Thoughts: Although Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder)
avoided major injury last Sunday, he’s not expected to play
this week. As such, the tandem of Darrel Williams (11-55-0) and
Gore (12-43-0) will be expected to pick up the slack. Williams
has been a nice dual-threat, and he had some big games earlier
this year when CEH landed on IR. Gore has done some nice things
recently in spot duty as well. The Bengals are not easy to run
on, allowing just 92.1 yards per game on the ground, which is
fourth in the NFL. Williams is an RB2/RB3 with Gore as a possible
Game Thoughts: Only three players in NFL history have
passed for more yards in a game than Joe Burrow did last Sunday
when he torched the Ravens for 525 yards and four TDs in a win
that gave Cincinnati control of the AFC North. There’s still
plenty at stake for the Bengals, though, as if they lose and Cleveland
wins on Monday night, the two teams will square off in Week 18
for the division. Burrow has been inconsistent in terms of production
-- he threw for just 157 yards in Week 15 -- but has enough upside
to warrant a spot as a low-end QB1.
Although Ja’Marr Chase (7-125-0) may get the headlines
(and the Pro Bowl selections), you’d be hard pressed to
make a case against Tee Higgins (12-194-2) being Cincy’s
true No. 1 receiver right now. Higgins has topped 100 yards in
four of his last five games, and he has four touchdowns during
that span. For Chase, meanwhile, last Sunday was his first 100-plus-yard
showing since Week 7, which was also against the Ravens. Tyler
Boyd (3-85-1) remains the clear No. 3 option for Burrow, but he’s
produced 17 catches, 321 yards and 2 TDs in his last four games.
That’s solid production.
Kansas City’s early-season defensive struggles have been
cleaned up over the past couple of months, though they still rank
25th in pass defense at 245.7 yards per game. It’s worth
noting that KC has also been quite fortunate with their timing,
facing Green Bay when Aaron Rodgers was out, the Raiders twice
after Henry Ruggs was released, the Cowboys minus Amari Cooper
and CeeDee Lamb, and so on. The only comparably intact and talented
offense they’ve faced recently is the Chargers, and LA put
up 428 yards on them. Don’t hesitate to start all three
of Cincy’s top WRs in this one.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: When you see how much success Joe Mixon
has had as a receiver some weeks, it’s hard to understand
why he doesn’t see more looks in the passing game. Last
Sunday, Mixon turned 24 combined touches into 135 yards and a
pair of TDs. The Chiefs are 20th against the run (116.5 yards
per game) and tied for 27th in yards per carry (4.7), so this
is an area the Bengals could look to attack. Keep Mixon in your
lineup as an RB1.
Broncos at Chargers
- (Caron) Line: LAC -6.5 Total: 45.5
Game Thoughts: With Broncos starter Teddy Bridgewater
still yet to clear the league’s concussion protocols, there’s
a strong likelihood that we’ll again see Drew Lock behind
center in what has turned out to be one of the NFL’s most
disappointing offenses in 2021. Lock has been terrible this season,
having thrown just one touchdown pass in 62 attempts and there’s
little reason to be excited about him or anyone else in the Denver
With another pathetic game in the books this past week, the Broncos
pass catchers—wide receivers and tight ends included—have
provided a total of just four double-digit PPR games over their
past five games since their bye. No pass catcher has reached even
15 PPR points in a game over that stretch. With wide receiver
Tim Patrick placed on the reserve/COVID list on Wednesday, there
could be some hope that Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton see some
additional targets come their way, but this just isn’t an
exciting fantasy situation right now.
We have to assume that brighter days will be ahead for this group
of wide receivers and tight ends, but for now, whether it’s
Bridgewater or Lock throwing the passes, we want nothing to do
with anyone in this abysmal passing attack.
LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2
Running Game Thoughts: With the Broncos unable to do anything
through the air, the Raiders focused on shutting down their running
game this past week and it worked to incredible success. Both
Melvin Gordon (-1 rushing yards) and Javonte Williams (12 rushing
yards) were held to season lows on the ground and Williams was
only able to salvage an otherwise disastrous fantasy day by getting
into the end zone on one of his 12 carries.
The Broncos backfield duo did have some success rushing against
the Chargers when these teams played back in Week 12, but it’d
be wise to assume that the Chargers coaching staff is watching
what worked for the Raiders and will likely attempt to implement
plenty of that this week while daring Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater
to beat them through the air. It’s worth noting, however,
that the Texans’ Rex Burkhead embarrassed this same Chargers
defense this past week, scoring two touchdowns and nearly rushing
for 150 yards in that contest.
Gordon and Williams have been hovering around the 15-to-20 range
most weeks for fantasy and that likely won’t change. Fantasy
managers will be hesitant and with good reason, but these backs
are still seeing plenty of work and should continue to be pretty
good fantasy options, especially given the injury and illness
situations throughout the league.
Game Thoughts: This past week’s surprising loss
to a bad Houston Texans team has to have Chargers fans a bit worried
as we head into a Week 17 matchup against what has quietly been
one of the NFL’s best defenses. The Broncos are actually
tied with the Patriots this season with the fewest points given
up to opposing offenses, averaging just 17.3 points against them
per week. This is particularly impressive given that they’ve
had some horrible offensive performances themselves which has
often left their defense in vulnerable spots.
The Chargers already struggled once against this defense when
they went to Denver and scored just 13 points in a 15-point loss
to the Broncos. While this game will be played at home in Los
Angeles, fantasy managers have reason to be a bit concerned that
this could end up being a more difficult matchup than many would
assume by just quickly glancing at the two teams.
While the Chargers haven’t always come out on top this season,
the one thing that fantasy managers have been able to rely on
is Herbert producing solid high-end QB2 numbers or low-end QB1
numbers almost every week. Even in losses like the one the Chargers
suffered in Week 16 to the Texans or Week 12 to these very same
Broncos, Herbert still turned in 300-plus passing yards and was
able to deliver nearly 20 fantasy points and nearly 17 fantasy
points in those respective contests. He’s averaging about
24 fantasy points per game over his past six games, which includes
both of those down performances, and that’s made him a weekly
lock as a QB1. We should expect that to continue again this week
even if his ceiling is probably not as high as it usually is in
a tough matchup against the Broncos.
With Herbert continuing to deliver, the Chargers’ top pass
catcher, Keenan Allen, should be back in the low-end fantasy WR1
conversation this week. He struggled to get things going against
the Texans, catching just four passes for 35 yards—his worst
fantasy output of the season—but the Chargers may be without
Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton although both have cleared Covid
protocol. Depending on how much they play, there’s an opportunity
for some seriously high-end target volume for Allen this week.
Allen was targeted 10 times, catching seven of those passes for
85 yards, when these teams met back in Week 12.
Wide receiver Josh Palmer has been quietly productive in recent
weeks when given additional opportunities. He was targeted six
times this past week against Houston when Williams and Jalen Guyton
were out, catching five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Donald Parham was placed on IR on Christmas Day and
will miss the remainder of the regular season, which should have
led to more opportunities for fellow tight ends Jared Cook and
even Stephen Anderson, but neither player has done much as of
late and it’s tough to be too excited about them as they
face a good Broncos defense. Keep an eye on the snaps and targets,
though, as this could potentially be a situation to watch for
DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29
Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler missed Week 16 due to being
placed on the Reserve/COVID list, allowing backup Justin Jackson
to shine in what was a disappointing Chargers loss but a huge
fantasy performance for Jackson. With Ekeler activated on Monday,
however, we should expect that he’ll return to his usual
role as one of the league’s few true do-it-all bell cow
Ekeler was held to one of his worst rushing performances of the
season when he faced the Broncos earlier this year as he carried
the ball 12 times for just 31 yards, but it was his usage in the
passing game that still allowed him to turn in an excellent fantasy
day. Ekeler caught six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in
that contest, showing why he is one of the few true game script-independent
running backs in today’s game.
Texans at 49ers
- (Caron) Line: SF -12.5 Total: 44.0
Game Thoughts: The Texans earned their biggest win of
the season this past week against a good Chargers team. While
it was certainly a team effort, rookie quarterback Davis Mills
had one of his most efficient games of the season, completing
21 of 27 pass attempts for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The multi-score game was his second in a row and the first time
he’s accomplished that back-to-back feat thus far in his
career. What’s perhaps most impressive about that performance
is that he did it without top wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks
had been dominating in recent weeks, but was forced out of the
Chargers game after being placed on the COVID/Reserve list. With
Cooks out, Mills spread the ball out, attempting passes to eight
different pass catchers, four of whom saw four or more targets
and none of whom saw more than six targets. This meant that none
of the Texans’ receivers were particularly relevant for
fantasy purposes. Cooks was activated on Wednesday and expected
The 49ers have been quite good against opposing quarterbacks this
season, having not conceded more than two passing touchdowns in
a game since Week 1. They held both Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill
to under 250 passing yards and one single passing touchdown each
over their past two contests. While Mills is probably a borderline
QB2 right now, this isn’t a particularly great matchup and
it’s one that you’ll probably want to avoid if you
have a higher upside option available to you.
Cooks, on the other hand, should be back in fantasy lineups. He
had gone for over 100 yards in each of his previous two games
prior to being held out this past week and he was targeted 11
and 10 times respectively in those contests. We have to assume
that he’ll be back to his role as the top pass catcher and
that should give him enough volume to have some success against
a San Francisco defense that just gave up an 11-catch, 145-yard
day to A.J. Brown this past week.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27
Running Game Thoughts: The Texans haven’t often been ahead
on the scoreboard this season, but we got a glimpse of what this
offense would like to do when it has a lead this past week when
they—surprisingly—blew out the Chargers. The team
ended up running the ball 34 times with their two running backs,
compared to just 27 pass attempts from Davis Mills. It was Rex
Burkhead who led the backfield with 22 attempts for a season-high
149 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Royce Freeman also saw
12 carries. Burkhead has now touched the ball at least 15 times
in five of his past six games—a surprisingly high number
for a back on a team that doesn’t often find themselves
having much of an opportunity to run the ball.
While it was interesting to see Burkhead’s usage, the reality
is that we’re probably back to him being a low ceiling option
this week as the Texans face the 49ers. San Francisco had some
struggles containing running backs earlier this season, but they’ve
really locked things down as of late. Since Week 10, only one
running back has rushed for more than 60 yards against the 49ers
and that back, Travis Homer, only did so because he broke off
a 73-yard gain early in the contest. Aside from that one run,
the 49ers have locked down opposing backs, particularly on the
ground, but even in the passing game. Sure, Dalvin Cook caught
six passes for 64 yards against them in Week 12, but no other
back has exceeded 30 receiving yards against the 49ers over their
past seven games.
Injuries and illnesses have caused some seriously chaotic situations
in fantasy football so it’s very possible that Burkhead
has to be in your lineup this week just because of his high usage,
but this is not a great matchup for him and it’s one that
we’ll rank him outside of RB2 territory for.
Game Thoughts: A thumb injury has forced San Francisco
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the sidelines this week,
likely leading to Trey Lance’s return to the lineup this
weekend. While Garoppolo has been the butt of the joke in a lot
of NFL circles this year, there’s no question that the 49ers
coaching staff trusted him to run their offense and things will
certainly change with Lance behind center.
We got a glimpse of the San Francisco offense with Lance in the
lineup back in Weeks 4 and 5 and while there were some things
to be excited about, fantasy owners need to be aware that the
rookie completed just barely over 50 percent of his passes in
those two contests and he failed to reach even 200 yards through
the air in his only start, in Week 5, against the Cardinals.
The 49ers were without tight end George Kittle in that game, so
it’s hard to draw many conclusions as to what type of connection
he’ll have with his star tight end, but we did see both
Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel on the field in that one. Samuel
was targeted nine times in that game, catching just three of those
passes for 58 yards. He did chip in a rushing score which saved
his otherwise ugly fantasy day, but it was not a particularly
inspiring performance from a future projections standpoint. Aiyuk,
meanwhile, had not yet broken out of the dog house in San Francisco
and was targeted just four times, catching two passes for 32 yards
in what was one of his worst games of the season.
It’s tough to be too excited about Samuel or even Kittle
heading into this one, but they’ve both been such consistent
producers when they’ve been healthy that it’d be difficult
to bench them, especially in your fantasy championship. Especially
in Samuel’s case, he’s getting between five to 10
carries each week in addition to his passing game work, so there’s
just no way we can bench him. Aiyuk, on the other hand, is a player
who may not make the cut in some lineups. While he’s certainly
been better in the second half of the season than he was in the
first, Aiyuk has not yet reached 100 receiving yards in a game
and he doesn’t have a multi-touchdown game in 2021. He’s
still seeing between five to eight targets per week when Garoppolo’s
been in the lineup, but that could easily drop this week if the
49ers end up implementing another run-heavy approach. It’s
certainly not time to panic-bench Aiyuk for some borderline rosterable
options, but if there’s one player who’s most likely
to be negatively affected by Lance’s presence in the lineup,
it’s probably the second-year wide receiver.
The one thing that Lance does bring to the table, however, is
individual fantasy upside. His rushing numbers alone are as close
to Lamar Jackson-level as we’re likely to see throughout
the league. He rushed 16 times for 89 yards in his only start
this season, which carried his fantasy value for the week after
an otherwise measly passing performance would’ve left fantasy
managers disappointed. We have to be a bit concerned that he hasn’t
had much passing success, but the ceiling is just too high to
justify benching Lance for anyone other than certified stud quarterbacks.
He’s a low-end QB1 this week with overall QB1 upside if
he can just put together a respectable passing game performance
to go along with high-end rushing numbers.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: With Elijah Mitchell out, the 49ers have
turned primarily to Jeff Wilson to lead their backfield in recent
weeks. Wilson has delivered for fantasy managers in each of his
past two games, having scored a touchdown in each contest, but
the peripheral numbers are not very inspiring. Wilson is averaging
just 3.7 yards per carry this season, whereas Mitchell had been
nearly a full yard per attempt better at 4.6. We don’t yet
know if Mitchell will play, but the 49ers are reportedly “hopeful”
that he’ll be able to suit up on Sunday. We’re likely
headed for another game-time decision, though, so make sure you
have an alternate option available if he’s not on the field
Assuming Mitchell will be out again, look for Wilson to lead the
backfield yet again and he’ll be against a Texans defense
that is one of the absolute best matchups for opposing running
backs. Houston has given up the second-most standard fantasy points
per game to opposing running backs this season, including 20 total
touchdowns to the position on the year. This past week they got
lit up by Chargers backup Justin Jackson and two games before
that it was Seattle’s Rashaad Penny who went for 137 yards
and a pair of scores on the ground against Houston. Needless to
say, this is an ideal matchup for any back who is likely to see
a significant share of his team’s carries.
The one major concern for Wilson, aside from if Mitchell plays,
is that Trey Lance is likely to be extremely involved in the rushing
game, especially near the goal line. That could pose a problem
for Wilson’s upside as he’s not much of a pass catcher
himself and much of his fantasy success has come via goal line
rushing scores. Still, if he’s the starter, Mitchell is
a borderline RB2/Flex play against this horrible Houston run defense.
Cardinals at Cowboys
- (Ken Ilchuk) Line: DAL -6.0 Total: 51.5
Game Thoughts: QB Kyler Murray is a fantastic athlete
and one of the top dual-threat QB’s in the league. But his
inaccuracy, or inconsistency as a passer limits his ceiling, especially
this late in the season against an ever-improving Dallas defense.
If he’s on your roster, you’re not benching him this
week. He’s one big play away from bringing you a championship,
but he would make me nervous as my QB in this spot.
WR Christian Kirk and TE Zach Ertz have become the top targets
in the passing game, with Ertz being a top fantasy play at TE
this week. RB Chase Edmonds also showed last week that he can
be a viable piece of the air attack with eight catches for 71
yards. Beyond that, A.J. Green is a potential flex option for
you, but there are some who believe Antoine Wesley may have surpassed
him on the target list, or at the very least will be stealing
snaps from the veteran.
DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17
Running Game Thoughts: With RB James Conner likely out again
due to a heel injury, look for Edmonds to carry the load. He’s
totaled over 100 ground yards and a touchdown on 22 carries over
the last two games, averaging just under 5.0 yards per tote. With
Kyler Murray also providing a serious running threat, Edmonds
is a solid RB1 option, even against Dallas’ strong front.
Game Thoughts: QB Dak Prescott had a return to form last
week, throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns against a reeling
Washington defense. It will be a tougher road to hoe against a
Cardinals defense that can get after the QB (39 sacks) and doesn’t
give up the big play. Still, he’s playing if he’s
on your roster, and he’ll need a big game to help the Pokes
grab hold of the top seed in the NFC.
CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, who saw an uptick in targets and production
last week, and Michael Gallup are all in play, as is TE Dalton
Schultz, who now has TD’s in back to back games and three
of the last five. Dak has been seeking him out in the red zone.
ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: Zeke Elliott is talking about being 100%
by the postseason, which sort of says he’s not 100% now.
When given the chance to rest him in last week’s blowout
win, the Cowboys did, and it makes sense that, with a playoff
berth firmly in hand, they will continue to be cautious in these
final two games. At the very least, look for he and Tony Pollard
to continue to share the load, which will unfortunately limit
the ceiling on both players. But if you own Elliott or Pollard,
you already understand by now that this is standard operating
procedure for these guys. Find your RB1 elsewhere and fill in
the back end of your run game with these guys.
Lions at Seahawks
- (Caron) Line: SEA -7.0 Total: 42.5
Game Thoughts: Quarterback Jared Goff (knee) was activated
from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday and is now expected to
suit up Sunday as the Lions head to Seattle. Goff has mostly been
awful for fantasy purposes this season, but he’s quietly
thrown multiple touchdowns in three of his past four games which
should give fantasy owners some hope this week. Unfortunately
the Lions are against a Seattle defense that ranks in the top
12 of fewest fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks
so far this season so it’s not a particularly good matchup,
but fantasy managers really shouldn’t be focused on Goff
Instead, the attention should be on rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra
St. Brown. St. Brown had a very slow start to his season, having
failed to reach 15 PPR fantasy points in any of his first 11 games.
Since that point, however, St. Brown had exceeded 15 PPR points
in four straight games, averaging over 22 PPR points per game
over that stretch, while clearly establishing himself as the team’s
new top pass catching weapon. It’s perhaps not entirely
coincidental that St. Brown’s increased usage has coincided
with tight end T.J. Hockenson going on season-ending IR. St. Brown
has now been targeted at least 11 times in each of those past
four contests and there’s really no reason to think that
he won’t continue to see an extremely high target share
this week against Seattle. He performed even when Goff was sidelined
and Tim Boyle got the start at quarterback so this isn’t
just a “Goff’s new favorite weapon” situation,
either. It’s clear that the team is making a concerted effort
to get the ball to their young playmaking wide receiver and fantasy
owners should take advantage of that.
Editor's Note: Jared
Goff is listed as Doubtful. Tim Boyle is expected to start.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6
Running Game Thoughts: The Lions really have nothing to play for
at this point and pushing their not-fully-healthy running back
onto the field with two weeks remaining just doesn’t seem
wise, but D’Andre Swift practiced in full on Wednesday and
head coach Dan Quinn seemed to indicate that he expects to have
the second-year player back for this weekend’s game in Seattle.
Assuming Swift does return, we should probably not expect that
he’s going to immediately return to his usual role as the
team’s unquestioned top back. Still, Swift’s usage
in the passing game has been substantially more impressive than
any other back in the Detroit offense and if he’s activated,
he should probably be in most fantasy lineups this weekend.
If we’ve been misled by the staff in Detroit once again,
the team may turn to backup Jamaal Williams to be their primary
ball carrier. Williams himself had missed Weeks 14 and 15 due
to injury which led to Craig Reynolds getting some extremely high
usage, but Reynolds played the “1B” role to Williams
this past week in the Lions’ loss to the Falcons. Not only
did Williams see more touches than Reynolds, but he was also significantly
more effective with his carries which will likely mean that he
continues to play the role of the team’s primary back, perhaps
even extending his lead on Reynolds this week.
Williams didn’t catch any passes this past week, but he’s
shown to be at least a competent pass catcher in the past and
that does increase what is otherwise a low ceiling for him, for
fantasy purposes. Still, the Detroit offense is horrible and they
just don’t often have many opportunities to score touchdowns,
so Williams’ upside is limited. You could do worse than
him as your Flex, but we’ll need to see him fully take over
the backfield before Williams can be back in the RB2 conversation.
Game Thoughts: Another sub-200-yard passing performance
from Russell Wilson led to another less-than-exciting fantasy
performance for the Seattle quarterback who has now failed to
reach 20 fantasy points in seven of his past eight games and hasn’t
passed for more than two scores in a game since all the way back
in Week 1. Wilson remains good enough to be a mid-level QB2 for
fantasy in most matchups, especially like the one he’ll
face against a bad Detroit defense this week, but this has been
a lost season for him and the Seahawks as a whole.
Realistically, we only care about two players in this passing
game right now—wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
While Metcalf snuck into the end zone this past week, he only
caught two passes for 41 yards which was just enough to get him
a 12-point PPR day. Metcalf has now gone seven straight games
without exceeding 60 receiving yards and he’s scored just
that one touchdown in Week 16 over that stretch. To say that he’s
been a disappointment would be an understatement. Metcalf is borderline
unstartable at this point and there’s really not much to
be excited about in this matchup. Sure, the Lions are horrible
as a team, but they’ve actually been decent against opposing
wide receivers, probably due to the fact that their competition
doesn’t have to pass much against them in order to stay
ahead on the scoreboard. We know that Seattle is more than willing
to get into a low-scoring “grind-it-out” type game
against a willing opponent so there’s a strong possibility
that this will be another low volume passing day for the Seattle
offense as a whole and that just doesn’t do much for Metcalf.
Sure, you can still throw him in your lineup as a low-end WR3
or Flex if you’re still hoping for a bounce back game to
end the 2021 season, but this has been an absolutely disastrous
end to the season for Metcalf and it’d be entirely reasonable
to bench him if you have another option who could give you more
Lockett had been on a great stretch of fantasy performances prior
to missing Week 15 on the COVID-19 list. He averaged over 17 PPR
points per game over his previous six contests prior to landing
on that list. When he came back in Week 16, however, Lockett was
held in check against the Bears as he caught just three passes
for 30 yards on six targets. We’ve seen him have down games
in the middle of impressive streaks before so this isn’t
a death sentence to Lockett’s fantasy value, but it’s
also worth considering that he was realistically far out-performing
his per-target expectations over that stretch, so it’s tough
to be surprised when he turns in a dud when only six passes come
his way. The Seahawks just are not passing enough for anyone in
this passing game to be extremely exciting, but at least we have
some recent history of Lockett turning in some nice fantasy performances.
Lockett’s a low-end WR2 this week against the Lions.
If you’re looking for a tight end this week, one option
could be Seattle’s Gerald Everett. Everett hasn’t
really given fantasy managers any huge weeks this season, but
he’s produced four double-digit PPR point performances over
his past five games. The Lions defense has been exposed by opposing
tight ends as of late, including giving up a 102-yard game to
Kyle Pitts this past week in addition to a touchdown to fellow
tight end Hayden Hurst, a 74-yard game to Arizona’s Zach
Ertz in Week 15, 92 total receiving yards and a touchdown to the
Broncos’ tight end duo of Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam
in Week 14, seven catches to Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin in
Week 13, and eight catches to Bears tight end Cole Kmet in Week
12. Don’t expect a huge game out of Everett, but the position
is pretty bad overall and he’s someone who could produce
low-end TE1 numbers.
DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10
Running Game Thoughts: Alex Collins had been Seattle’s primary
back earlier this season when Chris Carson went on IR, but various
injuries and a bout with COVID-19 led to him missing time. While
he was away, former first round running back Rashaad Penny took
over the backfield to the point that Collins—who was without
injury designation—was inactive this past week.
If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about
who the Seahawks’ starting running back now is, consider
that Penny has now turned in two 100-yard rushing performances
over his past three games. He rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns
against the Texans in Week 14 and then he was successful this
past week against the Bears when he ran the ball 17 times for
135 yards and a touchdown. He’s still almost completely
inconsequential in the passing game, as pretty much all Seattle
backs have been for years, but Penny’s rushing usage has
been quietly very strong over the past month.
Now Penny gets an excellent matchup against a Lions defense that
has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running
backs this season. A month ago it would’ve seemed nearly
impossible that we’d ever get to the point where Penny would
be a viable RB2, but that’s where we’re ranking him
in this matchup. Look for the Seahawks to lean heavily on him
in this one.
Panthers @ Saints
- (Swanson) Line: NO -6.5 Total: 38.0
Game Thoughts: Head coach Matt Rhuel announced today
that Sam Darnold would start this Sunday for the Panthers. Both
Darnold and Cam Newton played in last week’s shellacking
by the Buccaneers, but Darnold got the majority of snaps and will
once again get the majority of plays this week.
Newton will no doubt be active again, but in reality, you want
nothing to do with either player in your fantasy Super Bowl.
The Saints defense is one of the best in the league and will
shut down the Panthers rushing offense, forcing Darnold to beat
them in the air. When you consider that Darnold has completed
fewer than 60% of his passes this season and has four more interceptions
than touchdowns, relying on him to beat the Saints is likely going
to keep Rhuel up at night this week.
The Saints will also be getting back Taysom Hill from the COVID-19
list, so we can thankfully close the book on the Ian Book debacle
that we had to watch last Monday Night. This means their offense
should be able to put up points on the Panthers and force more
throws from Darnold - again, not something that is good for this
Both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are in play this week, as
both players saw double-digit targets last week. Neither did a
ton with those targets, but the volume they will likely see will
make them interesting. Moore is more of a high-end WR3 and Anderson
is a flex in deeper leagues.
NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24
Running Game Thoughts: It is strange to see the Panthers so far
down on the list of team running back points after the previous
few seasons with CMC dominating. In 2021, the Panthers have just
seven total touchdowns scored by running backs and just four dating
back to Week 7.
The backfield tandem of Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdulalh have
been borderline dreadful, and it doesn’t help that Cam Newton
rejoined the team and took away almost any chance for a goal line
This is a backfield to avoid even in good matchups. Against a
team like the Saints that has given up the second-fewest points
to running backs, you should avoid starting anyone in this backfield
like the plague.
Game Thoughts: It appears as though the Ian Book has
just one, painfully ugly chapter, as Taysom Hill has been activated
from the COVID list and is set to start on Sunday. In Book’s
defense, the offensive line is decimated with injuries and he
was under constant pressure against the Dolphins.
At least with Hill under center, the treat of a running attack
from the quarterback position will force the Panthers to play
more neutral and will not tee off on the passing game with unrelenting
On paper, the Panthers have given up the fourth-fewest points
on the season to opposing QBs and just eight passing touchdowns
since Week 9. A closer examination shows a team that did give
up two rushing touchdowns to Jalen Hurts back in Week 5 and 24
rushing yards to Josh Allen back in Week 15.
Hill’s value lies mostly in the running game, and he will
need to post a solid rushing performance against this team to
be start-worthy in your title game.
It is a shame that the Saints are not a more efficient passing
team with Hill, as the matchup dictates a solid opportunity for
the receivers on the Saints. Carolina has given up 16 receiving
touchdowns to wide receivers in 15 games, including 100 yards
or a score to an opposing WR dating back to Week 10.
The Saints also are starting to get back to full strength with
11 players activated from the COVID list on Wednesday, including
Hill and defensive captain Malcom Jenkins.
CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22
Running Game Thoughts: Last season, Alvin Kamara proved to be
a league winner with six rushing touchdowns against the Vikings
on Christmas Day. Kamara would end the season with 21 total touchdowns
and his best season as a pro.
In 2021: Not so much.
The absence of Drew Brees has negatively impacted Kamara in both
the running and passing game. His 3.7 yards per carry is by far
the worst of his career, and he is not going to come close to
reaching the 80-catch threshold he has posted in each of the previous
In this matchup, the return of Hill will certainly help Kamara
and increase the likelihood of him posting a solid performance
for fantasy managers. Carolina is a strong running team, but they
have been weak as of late, with three rushing touchdowns allowed
in the last two games.
Game Thoughts: Coming off a pair of poor performances,
Kirk Cousins was uneven last Sunday, passing for 315 yards but
just one touchdown with much of that production coming after the
Rams pushed out to a 27-13 lead. It’s still been a good
all-around season for Cousins, who enjoyed probably his best game
of 2021 at Green Bay’s expense back in Week 11 when he threw
for 343 yards and 3 TDs in a 34-31 win. He could fill a low-end
QB1 role in the rematch.
One caveat to that designation is the health of Adam Thielen
(ankle), who returned this past Sunday after missing two games
with a high ankle sprain only to aggravate the injury and miss
most of the rest of the game. Thielen has since been placed on
IR, ending his season. That’s significant because Cousins’
two worst games were the ones that Thielen missed. He still has
Justin Jefferson (8-116-0), though, who sits in the NFL’s
top five in receptions and yards in his second season. He’s
a strong WR1.
Obviously, the wild card here is K.J. Osborn (5-68-1), who has
done yeoman’s work filling in for Thielen but doesn’t
command the veteran’s level of respect. Still, Osborn could
be a WR3 or flex in Week 17. The Packers are 10th in pass defense
(216 yards per game) and have become one of the league’s
better ball-hawking units; their four INTs on Christmas gives
them 18 on the year, which is the fourth-most in the NFL. They
nearly had multiple picks in the first meeting with the Vikings
as well, though those were erased on penalty and/or replay review.
Editor's Note: Kirk
Cousins landed on the Covid list Friday. Backup Sean Mannion was
just removed from the list Friday and could start. If not, rookie
Kellon Mond will be starter. This is a downgrade to all Vikings
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: Minnesota’s best chance to spring
the upset probably lies with Dalvin Cook (illness), who didn’t
play in Week 16 while on the COVID list but has been activated
and should be available Sunday night. His last trip to Lambeau
was a bloodbath with Cook amassing 226 total yards and four touchdowns.
With Green Bay coming off a brutal tackling performance on Christmas,
Cook is an RB1 if he goes. If not, Alexander Mattison (13-41-1)
would hold RB2 appeal as the lead back.
Game Thoughts: In his last five games, Aaron Rodgers
has passed for 1,503 yards, 16 TDs and 0 INTs. That’s MVP
stuff. The run actually began during the Week 11 loss to Minnesota
when he posted 385 yards and 4 TDs -- that gives Rodgers 1,040
yards and 11 TDs without a pick in his past three games against
the Vikings. While the offense scuffled in the second half on
Christmas day, Rodgers has been dialed in, and he knows how close
they are to claiming the top seed. Expect a big game from No.
After spreading the ball around in Week 16, Rodgers focused on
Davante Adams last Saturday. As usual, it proved a sound strategy
as Adams posted 10 receptions, 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
A late drop cost him an even bigger day, but as always you can
lock Adams into your lineup as a WR1. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
(illness) didn’t play against Cleveland while on COVID IR,
but he should return Sunday night against a Vikings team that
he’s had some big games against; he has a combined 9-238-2
line over his last three meetings with Minnesota. He’s a
low-end WR3 or flex with upside.
Allen Lazard (2-45-1) missed the earlier Vikings game with a
hip injury, but he has scored in two of the past three games,
including catching Rodgers’ record-breaking 433rd TD. He
could be a risk/reward flex play if MVS is back. The Vikings rank
27th against the pass this season, giving up 248.5 yards per game.
They gave Matthew Stafford and a potent Rams pass attack some
trouble last week, which is somewhat encouraging, though that
came indoors at home, and it wasn’t Rodgers on the other
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23
Running Game Thoughts: For the second straight week there was
more work for Aaron Jones (12-66-0) than AJ Dillon (9-41-0), though
given how solid the running game was you could argue there wasn’t
enough of either of them. Jones was out each of the past two times
Green Bay faced Minnesota, but in the previous three meetings
he ran for 336 yards and 4 TDs. Dillon had 97 total yards versus
the Vikings in Week 11. Only four teams have allowed more rushing
yards this season than Minnesota (130.5 per game), and they had
little success slowing Sony Michel last weekend. Consider Jones
an RB1 and Dillon as an RB3 with a bit of upside due to the cold
Game Thoughts: Fresh off the COVID list, Baker Mayfield
returned on Christmas day just in time to absorb five sacks and
throw four interceptions. It was an odd game in which the Browns
moved the ball successfully -- they punted once all day -- but
found ways to undo their good work time and time again. His first
meeting with Pittsburgh was far more uneventful as Mayfield threw
for 225 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. At this point there’s no
reason to let the Oklahoma product near your fantasy lineup.
If there’s one thing you can say about Mayfield in Week
16 it’s that he spread the ball around with a dozen players
catching a pass, nine of them on offense. Jarvis Landry, who also
returned from COVID IR, had four catches for 55 yards in the loss.
Meanwhile, Donovan Peoples-Jones turned six targets into a five-yard
reception. While Rashard Higgins (5-58-0) actually led the team
in receiving, it’s Landry and DPJ that can offer a little
fantasy value with both being potential flex plays.
Pittsburgh didn’t have any answers on either side of the
ball last Sunday, allowing the Chiefs to build up a 30-0 lead
despite the absence of Travis Kelce (illness). For the year, the
Steelers rank 13th in pass defense at 225.7 yards per game. Their
pass rush is still dangerous, though T.J. Watt (ribs) is clearly
operating at less than 100 percent. Despite their opponent’s
current state, Cleveland has definitively proven that their passing
game can’t be relied upon this season.
PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25
Running Game Thoughts: When you consider the Browns averaged
8.8 yards per carry as a team on Christmas it boggles the mind
that Mayfield was allowed to throw enough passes to be intercepted
four times. Nick Chubb (17-126-1) was dominant, and the team even
mixed in a little D’Ernest Johnson (4-58-0) to good effect.
The Browns are hoping they can get Kareem Hunt (ankle) back this
week as well. Pittsburgh is shockingly last in run defense (142.7
yards per game), though they held Cleveland to less than 100 yards
back in Week 8. Chubb is an RB1 here with Hunt a potential RB3
if he returns.
Game Thoughts: It’s been a rough season for Ben
Roethlisberger, who at times has looked ready to hang up his cleats
midgame. That could’ve been the case in KC when he managed
just 159 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT against the Chiefs with most of
his modest production coming after the outcome was determined.
Big Ben was solid versus Cleveland earlier this season, connecting
on 22 of 34 passes for 266 yards and a score in a road win over
the rival Browns. Outside of a late rally in Minnesota, Roethlisberger
has looked done the past three games and cannot be trusted for
Roethlisberger’s struggles have had a trickledown effect,
though Diontae Johnson (6-51-1) did enough in garbage time to
salvage a respectable output in Week 16. The same can’t
be said of Chase Claypool, who had a couple of nice grabs but
had to settle for 41 yards on four receptions. Johnson comfortably
led the team in Cleveland with a 6-98-0 line while Claypool’s
4-45-0 output was nearly a carbon copy of what he did in KC. Both
players remain playable even with the offense’s struggles;
Johnson is a borderline No. 1 or No. 2 receiver while Claypool
is a shaky WR3.
Cleveland had almost no success stopping Green Bay early on last
Saturday, but they held the Packers to just a field goal after
halftime. The Browns are eighth against the pass this season,
yielding 215.1 yards per game, though just five clubs have allowed
more TD passes than Cleveland’s 27. The Steelers will hope
to get Pat Freiermuth (head) back this week after he missed Week
16 with a concussion. The rookie tight end scored Pittsburgh’s
lone receiving TD back in Week 8. He could be a TE1 if he’s
CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16
Running Game Thoughts: You have to give Najee Harris (19-93-0)
credit for running hard even in a blowout loss with the rookie
accounting for 110 total yards on 24 touches in Kansas City. The
Alabama product posted 120 yards and a score against the Browns
earlier this season, which is a good day’s work. Cleveland
is 10th in run defense (105.9 yards per game), though they did
allow 5.1 yards per carry to the tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ
Dillon on Christmas. Consider Harris an RB1 this Monday.