Quarterbacks (Updated: Thursday, Dec. 18 - 3:49PM CT)
1. Tom Brady (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Brady was able to make last weeks game end up on a good note, as he scored more than 24 fantasy points for the second week in a row. Brady threw for 287 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the Dolphins. This week he will face the Jets, and the last time they faced each other Brady only completed 54% of his passes for 261 yards, but threw three touchdowns with no interceptions. In 25 career games against the Jets, Tom has 35 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. The Jets have been playing better defense of late, allowing less than 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over their last four games while holding two of their last three opponents without a touchdown pass. Brady should be just fine in this matchup and will more-than-likely have a nice fantasy day, while notching win #20 over the Jets.
2. Aaron Rodgers (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Aaron Rodgers had a really bad fantasy day, and if not for the historically bad start to the Johnny Football era in Cleveland, you probably would have heard a ton more about it. Rodgers has looked nearly unstoppable against your average NFL defense, but when going up against the elites, more than a chink in his armor has been exposed. Rodgers completed just 17 of 42 attempts for a completion percentage of 40.5 - his lowest since Week 9 of the 2012 season against Arizona. He failed to crack 200 passing yards for the 4th time this season, throwing for a mere 185 yards while putting up his first game of the year with no touchdown passes. Luckily for Rodgers, every QB in the league not named Drew Brees or the one that has Odell Beckham Jr. on his team had a down week, so if you started your fantasy star, you still had a chance to come away with a victory. This weekend, Rodgers has a good matchup to right the ship in Tampa Bay. The Bucs are giving up 17.1 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks this season and over the last three, have given up 17.5. Basically, start Aaron and he shall deliver this week, as the leagues best wide receiver corps in terms of fantasy points faces the sixth worst unit in the league at defending them.
3. Andrew Luck (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Luck has been the best quarterback all season long, but he let some of his fantasy owners down in a critical playoff game last week, throwing for only 187 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Andrew only mustered up 19.2 fantasy points, which was his worst output of the season… and it could not have come at a worse time. This week he faces the Cowboys, who did a great job against Mark Sanchez, picking him off twice while holding him without a touchdown pass. Prior to that game, Dallas had allowed six passing touchdowns in their previous three weeks. Every time Luck has had a subpar performance, he has come back strong the next week. The future league MVP has carried you all season and should get back on track with a good game against Dallas this week.
4. Matthew Stafford (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Detroit visits Chicago for a huge divisional game. Currently, the Lions are tied with Green Bay atop the division as both teams are 10-4. Undoubtedly, they will come correct this weekend. If they win, they are in the playoffs. In fact, if the Eagles lose on Saturday, they are in just like that. They will still be playing for home field, so there is no concern about them resting any starters. In Stafford’s 9 career games against the Bears, he has 14 passing TDs, but also has 9 INTs. He has averaged 257 yards per game. In the last 5 weeks, only 6 teams have given up more fantasy points to opposing QBs. When these teams met in Week 13, the duo of Johnson and Tate tore up the Bears secondary for 235 total receiving yards. Kyle Fuller was primarily on Megatron. In fact, 9 of his 11 catches came against Fuller and 117 of his 146 yards as well. Plus, both his TDs came against Fuller, whom Pro Football Focus ranks as the 106th cornerback out of 110 total. That same week, Stafford enjoyed his best game of the season. He ended the day with 390 yards with both of his 2 TDs going to Calvin. Stafford could be a nice Fan Duel play, as there are 10 QBs that cost more.
5. Drew Brees (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
After a shaky game versus Carolina last week, Brees got back on track in Chicago in Week 15 throwing for 375 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Drew now has three or more touchdown passes in three of his last four games. This week he faces the Falcons, who allowed Big Ben to throw for 360 yards last week, but did not allow him to throw a touchdown. The last time the Saints and Falcons met was in the season opener when Brees threw for 333 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback to put up a three-touchdown game against Atlanta all season. Brees has won 13 of 18 matchups against the Falcons and has 35 touchdowns with 20 interceptions in those games. This game is for major playoff stakes, so expect Brees to be on his game.
6. Peyton Manning (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
Peyton Manning has been in a free-fall the last three weeks, scoring an average of 13.4 fantasy points per game in that span. It has been four weeks since Peyton threw for a 300-yard game, and he only has three touchdowns with two interceptions in his last three games. Manning will be facing the Bengals, who have been great as of late against quarterbacks, holding three of the last four quarterbacks they faced under 10 fantasy points. Over their last six games, the Bengals are allowing a mere 14.3 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and Ben Roethlisberger is the only one who had success, throwing for three touchdowns in Week 14. They have held four of their last six opponents without a touchdown pass, and only allowed one score in another game. Manning does not have a great matchup here, and the Bengals have been more exposed on the ground, which is where the Broncos firepower has been coming from. It is hard to believe it, but this is not a great week to play Peyton.
7. Matt Ryan (at NO - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Matt Ryan has elevated his game over the last three weeks, which has really helped his owners making their championship runs. In that span, Matty Ice has thrown for 1,046 yards with over 300 yards in each game, along with eight touchdowns and only three interceptions. Ryan has scored 89.8 fantasy points during this run and will have a great chance to keep it going against the Saints this week. Matt has not seen the Saints since the season opener, but he torched them in that game to the tune of 448 yards and three touchdowns. This game still means something with the entire NFC South sucking eggs, so expect a lot of points to be scored. It’s looking like a good week to keep rolling with Ryan.
8. Mark Sanchez (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
9. Andy Dalton (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
Andy Dalton and Johnny Manziel had a tight race for who was going to have a worse fantasy day, with the veteran narrowly edging out the rookie with three fantasy points to Manziel’s 0.5 points. Dalton and the Bengals passing attack just never got on track for a number of reasons, even in the absence of CBs Joe Haden and rookie Justin Gilbert for a majority of the game. The Bengals were up early and rode their running backs to a victory, as their defense absolutely ruined the debut of Johnny Football. Dalton passed for just 114 yards on the day and didn’t find the endzone to counteract his interception. This week, the Bengals get the Broncos at home in a game in which their defense will be unlikely to dominate, so Dalton and the passing attack will have to go to work. The Broncos are allowing 17.8 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks on the season, so expect Dalton and Green to get back on track this week as they try to keep pace with the Broncos high-powered attack.
10. Tony Romo (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Tony Romo made up for his Thanksgiving performance against the Eagles last Sunday night… he and Dez Bryant both. Romo completed 22 of his 31 attempts for 265 yards, three touchdowns (all to Dez) and no interceptions after not throwing for a single TD on Thanksgiving. Romo made good decisions all night long, using the running game to set up play-action while playing a pretty flawless football game (outside of his one fumble). This week, Romo and the Cowboys have a big test as they host the Indianapolis Colts and a big question mark hanging over them with the health status of DeMarco Murray. Should Murray play, the Cowboys strength of running the ball matches up very well with the Colts’ weakness against running backs. Romo will still be asked to make plays on play-action and near the endzone, where Dez Bryant absolutely dominated anyone who was asked to cover him last week. With or without Murray, Romo will still have to call his own number to come away with a victory, so if you’ve been playing him this long, its hard to see you looking the other direction this week… even if the Colts have been above average against quarterbacks this season allowing just 15.1 fantasy points a game.
11. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Ben Roethlisberger did not throw a touchdown pass for the second time this season, but his 360 passing yards were enough to propel him to a 12th place finish among QBs in standard scoring last week. Ben has already set his career high in passing yards this season with two games yet to play. He incredibly has EIGHT games this season with over 300 passing yards with his season low being 196 yards. This week Roethlisberger has a tough matchup against a Kansas City Chiefs defense in need of a victory to hopefully get into the playoffs. The Chiefs are allowing just 14.6 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks on the season and over the last three weeks have allowed just 12.9 points a game. Roethlisberger looks like he will be needed to get this victory, so expect the Steelers to lean on their veteran signal caller and star running back (Le’Veon Bell) this week.
12. Russell Wilson (at Ari - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
Russell Wilson was asked to be a game manager yet again against the 49ers, as Marshawn Lynch continued his domination against their division rival. Wilson attempted just 24 passes and completed 12 of them for 168 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He also tacked on 27 yards on five carries, which was a little underwhelming considering how great he has been with his legs this season. The Seahawks have won their last 4 contests and now trail the Cardinals by just a game, and with a new quarterback starting opposite Russell Wilson this week, the Seahawks look to regain the NFC West crown by season’s end. Earlier this year, Wilson had a nice day against this rugged Arizona defense completing 17 of 22 passes for 211 yards and a score. He also added 73 rushing yards on 10 carries for a total of 19.7 fantasy points. The Cardinals have been good overall against the quarterback position on the season allowing just 14.9 fantasy points a game, but against quarterbacks who most would consider to be in the top-half of starters, they have really struggled giving up 19.5 fantasy points a game.
13. Robert Griffin III (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
RGIII was thrust back into the starting lineup last week when Colt McCoy reinjured his neck strain. With the opportunity, Griffin threw for 236 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions while adding 46 yards on the ground (he also had an apparent touchdown called back). It looks like he will get the start in Week 16, and he will have a chance to put up some sneaky points against a poor Eagles defense. The Eagles have allowed two or more touchdowns in 12 games this season. Griffin will also have DeSean Jackson, who enjoyed playing his former team earlier this season, and in this game will have a chance to end the playoff hopes of his former team. RGIII is available on a lot of waiver wires right now and has a better matchup than a lot of the top quarterbacks this week, making him a sneaky start.
14. Ryan Tannehill (vs. Min - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Tannehill had his first 300-yard passing game of the season last week, throwing for 346 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Patriots. That being said, Ryan now only has two touchdown passes in his last three games played. This week he will face the Vikings, whose defense has been stepping up their game as of late, holding opposing quarterbacks to one touchdown pass in each of their last three games. In that time, the Vikings have limited quarterbacks to an average of 16.8 fantasy points per game. Tannehill was rushing for a lot of yards earlier in the season, but that aspect of his game has taken a hit with an average of less than 12 yards rushing per game over his last seven. This looked like a good matchup for him about a month ago, but with the way the Vikings have been playing, this is now a much tougher game to throw Tannehill in your lineup for this week.
15. Alex Smith (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Alex Smith finished third among quarterbacks for Week 15. Let me say that again, Alex Smith finished THIRD among quarterbacks for Week 15 while scoring just 21.6 fantasy points. Smith completed 18 of his 30 pass attempts for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no picks while adding 17 rushing yards to boot. This week the Chiefs travel to Pittsburgh to take on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a game with big playoff implications for both squads. The Steelers are allowing 18.4 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks. Over the last three games, though, they have allowed 25.6 fantasy points a game to opposing passers. On the season the Steelers defense has given up at least 19 points a game, excluding the Jaguars anemic offense, and have played some of the most shootout-laden games of the season, which only increases Smith’s value. Take a look for him on the waiver wire if you went with an unknown or unpredictable option at quarterback last week as his consistency and upside this weekend might be worth a shot.
16. Joe Flacco (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Joe Flacco was very efficient against the Jaguars on Sunday. Normally that wouldn’t be a compliment, but completing two thirds of your passes for 221 yards and a touchdown pass with no interceptions was good enough to finish as the 13th scorer among quarterbacks. This week Flacco takes on the Texans, who on the season are allowing 15.5 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks. However, over the last five weeks, they have allowed just 13 fantasy points a game and just held fantasy’s top scorer, Andrew Luck, to his second-lowest point total of the season with 15.3 standard points. Flacco and the Ravens will probably go in with a balanced attack, but if their run game gets going, they can choose to pound it in there and let their defense do the rest with a quarterback who will most likely be making his first start of the season under center. The Texans have also given up just one 20-point game to an opposing quarterback all season long, so Flacco’s ceiling is very much on the low end this week.
17. Kyle Orton (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
18. Josh McCown (vs. GB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Josh McCown completed just 13 of his 28 pass attempts last week against the Panthers for 154 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He also rushed twice for 21 yards with a surprisingly semi-athletic-looking touchdown run. With McCown at the helm of the Bucs offense, the team has scored 27 points once against the Redskins, but in the eight other games he has played in, the Bucs have scored between 13-17 points on the day. Maybe when Marc Trestman gets fired after this season, he can join Lovie down in Tampa and the Bucs can go on a some sort of a historic run… but for the rest of this season, expect more of the same. The Packers are allowing 16.3 fantasy points a game to opposing passers, just a hair over the 16.1 league average. The Packers made Kyle Orton look awful last week and they could very well do the same to McCown. The Bucs will most likely put up another 13-17 points with McCown putting up a mediocre 13-17 fantasy points of his own.
19. Cam Newton (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
20. Colin Kaepernick (vs. SD - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
On the season, Colin Kaepernick is currently the 17th best fantasy QB. Oh will dRx ever live this one down. His last 3 games are a microcosm of his year. In that span, he has only totaled 1 TD, 4 INTS, and has not thrown for 175 yards in any one outing. Many folks drafted him as a “running” QB, but the guy has not scored a rushing TD on the season. Harbaugh is just not using him like he used to. I saw an interesting article this week that pointed out that Kaepy should no longer play under Harbaugh’s script. Kaepy needs to audition for his future NFL job. Chances are the coach will be gone next year, so the question will be, will the new guy keep him as the #1? If indeed Kaepy decides to go off the res, change it up at the line and call his own number a bit more, it could be interesting and might even produce some fantasy goo. After all, San Diego is giving up the 10th most rushing yards to opposing QBs. Plus, one of their cornerbacks, Shareece Wright, is ranked by Pro Football Focus as their #104th CB out of 110 total. Kendall Reyes, their 3-4 defensive end, is ranked dead last in coverage situations and dead last when they are in pass rush. Still, by no means am I suggesting playing him in your playoffs. It is just something to watch in Week 16. It could reveal a glimmer of something worth salvaging, or perhaps just provide a resounding thud, culminating in his perpetual plummet back to earth this season. Now, for weekly leagues, he is one hell of a bargain. In Fan Duel, he only costs $6,700. He is the 27th rated QB. The guy is behind Nick Foles for God’s sake. It is a gamble, but San Diego can be had defensively. Plus, if he wises up, Kaepy needs to start impressing some folks around the league otherwise he might be on the outside looking in come next season.
21. Case Keenum (vs. Bal - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
22. Jimmy Clausen (vs. Det - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
23. Eli Manning (at StL - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
Amazingly, Eli was the 5th best QB in Week 15. Primarily this has more to do with the lack of QB performances last week than anything ole Eli did. He finished with 24.5 fantasy points, 350 yards and 3 TDs. When you get right down to it, it was Odell Beckham Jr. that really saved his skin. However, that does not mean it won’t happen again, but it might be a tough hill to climb this coming week. The Giants visit the Rams for one of the late Sunday afternoon games. The Rams have not given up a TD to a wide receiver since Week 12. The top opposing WR in each of the last 3 weeks has failed to score a double-digit day against St. Louis. According to Pro Football Focus, they have 3 cornerbacks rated 40 or better out of 110 CBs. They struggle a bit against elite QBs, but lord knows we have put that debate to bed regarding Eli. Versus QBs, they are even tougher. In the last 5 weeks, only 1 team has been stingier against opposing fantasy QBs. Don’t let the ODB mania carry you away. He may get his TD, but it will be a rough day for Eli.
24. Johnny Manziel (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Johnny and crew head to Carolina for Week 16. He was a major gamble last week and to be honest, I thought his legs would be a big plus, a la Tim Tebow. Well, that was not the case. In retrospect, it was a sign that head coach Mike Pettine did not go to him in Week 14. The guy was, and still is, coaching for his job. Many people asked, why not go to the kid? After all, defenses have not really seen what he can do, it should be a huge plus right? Well, the fact that Pettine did not go there suggests he was witnessing what we all saw Sunday, day in and day out in practice. Johnny seemed confused out there, as he turned 3 step drops into one-hoppers, throwing off the wrong foot; you name it, he did it. Now, they face Carolina, who although not as tough a matchup as the Bengals, is still a formidable foe. In the last 5 weeks, only 11 teams are allowing fewer fantasy points to the position. You cannot think of going back to the Manziel well until next season. He is certainly still worth a stash in dynasty leagues, but for re-drafts and weekly leagues, there is no way. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice…. Won’t get fooled again.
25. Blake Bortles (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
26. Philip Rivers (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Rivers had his second bad playoff performance in a row last week, throwing for 232 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions, and scoring only 15.9 fantasy points. Over the last two weeks, Rivers has only scored 30.2 fantasy points. Philip has thrown one touchdown or less in five of his last six games, and it is not going to get any better this week as he travels to San Francisco to face the 49ers. The 49ers are playing well against quarterbacks, and if you take out the Oakland game two weeks ago, they have only allowed three passing touchdowns in their last four games. They did a good job against Russell Wilson in Seattle last week, limiting him to 168 passing yards and 15.1 fantasy points. This is not the matchup you want for your championship game.
27. Shaun Hill (vs. NYG - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
28. Geno Smith (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
29. Teddy Bridgewater (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Minnesota heads south to face a tough Miami defense. Although they are rated as the 26th toughest for opposing fantasy QBs on the season, in the last 5 weeks, they are rated 10 spots up, meaning an easier matchup for QBs. However, don’t get sucked in. The difference is primarily due to the competition. Recently, Miami has faced the likes of Brady, Peyton, and even Joe Flacco who managed to put up 24.4 fantasy points against them. Against low-end QBs such as Bridgewater, they are fierce. Carr, Cutler, Orton, Geno Smith, and even Philip Rivers all failed to amass 9 fantasy points against them. I am staying away from Bridgewater in all formats.
30. Charlie Whitehurst (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
31. Derek Carr (vs. Buf - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
32. Ryan Lindley (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
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Running Backs (Updated: Thursday, Dec. 18 - 5:39PM CT)
1. Le’Veon Bell (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Le’Veon Bell just took over the top spot among running backs in standard scoring over DeMarco Murray by the smallest of margins. Bell’s tear has been one of the best in recent memory, as he has scored 125 standard fantasy points over his last 4 games, a number that would rank him as the 17th running back in standard scoring ON THE SEASON. Bell has simply just carried teams to the championship over the last 4 weeks, and getting rid of Blount was the best thing ever for his fantasy owners. Bell wasn’t particularly impressive on the ground last week as he gained just 47 yards on 20 carries, but did score two rushing touchdowns and caught 5 of his 7 targets for 72 yards. His season as a whole has been very impressive as he has just one performance on the season in which he scored single digit fantasy points. This week Bell has a tougher matchup against the Chiefs who have given up just 2 rushing touchdowns all season long, both to Latavius Murray. Outside of preventing touchdowns to running backs though they aren’t very good as a rush defense, they have given up the third most rush yards to running backs this season, allow 5.1 yards per carry this season, and over the last five weeks have given up 19.8 fantasy points a game. Look for Bell to keep up his hot play of late and help his owners bring home a championship.
2. C.J. Anderson (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
After his three-touchdown performance in Week 14, Anderson was slowed last week, with only 85 yards on 29 carries. That makes two weeks in a row that C.J. has had less than a 3.0 YPC average. The Broncos have leaned on Anderson a lot over the last four weeks giving him 109 carries during the stretch, but the excessive usage seems to be taking it’s toll on him over the last two weeks. This week he faces a Bengals squad that did a great job against the Browns running backs last weekend, but allowed Le’Veon Bell to crush them two weeks ago. Cincinnati has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns on the season, and it seems their weakness is in defending the run. Denver has become a running team over the last month, so with this being a potential playoff matchup and a road game, look for them to lean on the run here a bit as well.
3. DeMarco Murray (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
DeMarco Murray had the biggest news day of any player on Monday, on a day in which the Cowboys didn’t play a game. Murray was diagnosed with a broken bone in his hand that he had surgically repaired later that night in hopes that he would be able to play this Sunday against the Colts. This is all coming off a Sunday night performance in which he rushed for 81 yards and 2 scores and caught 1 pass for 3 yards. DeMarco is a must-start if he plays, which we believe he will. With his contract status and him wanting a full 16 game season under his belt as he goes into negotiations for a new deal, it is hard to believe he sits out. The Cowboys are also fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC, where it looks like a 10-win team is going to miss the playoffs. The Colts are a bad defense against running backs plain and simple allowing 20.7 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs and over 23 points a game over their last five, remember this is a team that gave up 200 yards and 4 scores to Jonas Gray. Murray might not get as much play in passing downs as he typically would in a given week but if he plays he should handle a bulk of the carries and redzone work.
4. Jamaal Charles (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Although Charles has a nagging ankle injury, he put in a full practice on Thursday and is listed as probable. Charles has had a rough patch lately. In 2 of his last 3 games, he failed to rush for more than 52 yards. Even against Oakland last week, which should have been a good matchup and historically has been for Charles, he struggled only managing 53 all-purpose yards. This week they face Pittsburgh who has been a top 10 fantasy defense for opposing RBs in the last 5 weeks only allowing an average of 13.8 fantasy points in that time. In 2 career games versus the Steelers, he is averaging just below 4 yards per carry, although he has 1 rushing and 1 receiving TD against the organization. In the last 6 games, the Steelers have only allowed 3 RBs to put up double digit fantasy days, the highest being 12.1 by Mark Ingram. It is a tough week for RBs, and you are certainly not benching your studs in the playoffs. You know what they say, they harder they come, the harder they Jamaal.
5. Joique Bell (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Joique Bell continued his string of double-digit fantasy games to three straight weeks. He did it on the ground and through the air. On his 15 carries he gained 62 yards and caught 4 of his 6 targets for 41 yards. Bell was held out of the endzone for the first time in three weeks. Bell has had at least 19 touches in each of the past 5 games and has helped his owners into the championship game in most cases. The Lions take on the Bears this week at Soldier field and the Bears are allowing 19 fantasy points a game on the season, but over the last three games have given up over 29.3 fantasy points a game. This includes a game on Thanksgiving where Bell rushed 23 times for 91 yards and 2 rushing scores, so expect Joique to have a nice follow up performance as the Bears have mailed it in.
6. Eddie Lacy (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
The Packers head to Tampa for Week 16. Although Lacy is averaging just over a full yard less when on the road, it is still 4.1 (he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry at home this season). Within the last 3 weeks, Tampa has allowed 2 different RBs to gain more than 20 fantasy points in a game (Joique Bell – 25.3 and Matt Forte 23.2). Lacy has not practiced this week due to irritation of the eye from a contact lens. HE says he does not plan to go the Eric Dickerson google route, but instead just use contacts. Since the Week 9 bye, Lacy and the Packers have played in 6 games. In that time he has amassed 9 TDs. If you are a Lacy owner, he just may power you to a championship.
7. Mark Ingram (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Mark Ingram salvaged a nice fantasy day Monday night against the Bears with a late touchdown run. Ingram rushed 17 times for 59 yards and was not targeted in the passing game, as Pierre Thomas was the main target there. The Falcons are the worst defense in defending opposing running backs, allowing 24 fantasy points a game to them. In Week 1 of the season, Ingram rushed 13 times for 60 yards and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. Ingram has been given numerous opportunities to score rushing touchdowns this season and is the team’s preferred option when they get in close, so we expect he’ll have another chance to score a TD or two against the Falcons. The New Orleans RB has been one of the biggest value picks in the entire draft this season and should be able to help your team to a championship this week because of the matchup.
8. Marshawn Lynch (at Ari - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
Lynch found the endzone for the second week in a row, but was held under 100 yards for the second week in a row as well. Marshawn now only has one 100-yard game in his last four. This week he faces a Cardinals stout run defense which held him to 39 yards on 15 carries in Week 12. Jamaal Charles is the only running back with a rushing touchdown against the Cardinals in the last five weeks. The Cardinals did not allow Lynch to run for 100 yards in either of their games last season. This is not a good matchup for Lynch in your fantasy Championship game.
9. Lamar Miller (vs. Min - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Miller faces a banged up Minnesota defense in Miami in Week 16. As of Thursday, the Vikings had 3 starting defensive lineman listed as questionable, plus their strong-side linebacker, Anthony Barr. Although the Vikings have seemed better lately, their defense has not face many big times backs. On the season, they have witnessed 11 different running backs go for double digit fantasy days. On 2 of those 11 occasions, the back went over 20 fantasy points. Miller should have a nice day under the Miami sun. He is a RB2 with upside in the matchup.
10. Fred Jackson (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Fred Jackson was the lead dog last week as the Bills got the upper hand on the Packers. Jackson was given 20 carries for 71 yards and caught 3 of his 6 targets for 27 yards. Jackson has gotten his post back as the top back in the Bills rotation and has gotten at least 22 looks in each of the last three games. This week Fred Jackson gets the 2nd worst defense against running backs in the Oakland Raiders who are allowing 23.6 fantasy points a game. Over the last three games however the Raiders have given up 26.4 fantasy points a game, so look for Fred Jackson to have a nice game in the Championship round.
11. Tre Mason (vs. NYG - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
12. Chris Ivory (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Chris Ivory is coming off a lackluster performance against the leagues worst rushing defense in Tennessee. Ivory got 12 rush attempts for 25 yards, but he did score a rushing touchdown to salvage his fantasy day. His last game against the Patriots was his best game of the season, rushing 21 times for 107 yards and a score. It was his last 100-yard game of the season and just his second on the season. The Patriots are allowing 17.8 fantasy points a game on the season, but over the last five games have really started to shut down the run game. Over the last five they have allowed just 9.4 fantasy points per game, including just over 50 rush yards a game and no touchdown runs. Ivory seems unlikely to repeat his performance of early in the season against this current Patriots front, but being an inter-divisional rivalry game at home, we're betting on the kid being okay.
13. Justin Forsett (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Perhaps the running back waiver wire pick up of the year, Forsett hit a snag last week. I was watching a great deal of the game, the Baltimore line was gotten knocked back time and again, giving leaving Forsett little to work with. According to Pro Football Focus, only their center and the fullback got a positive run blocking grade that game. The offensive guards down right stunk. On the season, the Baltimore team averages 4.6 yards a carry. They have a tough matchup against Houston this week who only gives up an average of 3.9 yards per carry to opposing RBs. They are 1 of only 10 teams allowing an average yards per carry of less than 4. In the last 5 weeks, only 3 teams have given up fewer fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. I don’t see those offensive guards making much of a push against Houston, so Forsett might be in for a tough game again. Forsett, who normally has a fairly consistently high floor, is more of an RB2 this week against another tough defense.
14. Steven Jackson (at NO - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Steven Jackson had his streak of double-digit fantasy games broken over the weekend against the Steelers. The Pittsburgh Steelers jumped out to an early lead so the Falcons went with a heavy passing attack giving Jackson just 11 rushing attempts for 46 yards and caught his 1 target for 11 yards. This week Jackson takes on the Saints, who are allowing 22.7 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs on the season and over the last 5 games have allowed 27.8 fantasy points a game. In their first matchup, Jackson rushed 12 times for 52 yards and was targeted another three times. Look for Jackson to be involved early in the game as the Falcons try to keep their defense on the sideline.
15. Arian Foster (vs. Bal - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Arian Foster had a tough time getting going last week after the injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, finishing with 99 yards on 26 carries and three receptions for 18 yards without a touchdown. Case Keenum (or Thad Lewis) will be under center for the Texans this weekend, which means the Ravens are going to stack the box to stop Foster. Baltimore is great at stopping the run and has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher on the season. The Ravens have only allowed an average of 57 rushing yards over their last four games and a total of four rushing touchdowns on the season. This is not an ideal matchup for Foster.
16. Matt Forte (vs. Det - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Matt Forte has had a tough couple of weeks in which his value has taken a little bit of a hit. The Bears offense has been anemic in the first half of the last two games and the team has fallen behind by some big margins, forcing the team to abandon the run game and go with an aerial assault that allows owners to get garbage time points. Against New Orleans, Forte was great on the ground averaging 4.9 yards a clip on his 16 rushes, but after half running the ball was all but forgotten. Unfortunately against the Saints the Bears were unable to get Forte involved in the passing game as they routinely blew up screen plays intended for Matt and he caught just 2 of his 5 targets for 21 yards. Unfortunately for Forte owners this week is unlikely to be any better for him as he takes on the stout front of the Detroit Lions. In their last matchup the Bears decided the run game was not an option and went with an entire aerial attack in which Forte had just 5 carries on the day. Forte did catch 6 of his 9 targets for 52 yards, but those in standard scoring wanted more. Forte will need to get it done in the pass game if he wants to have any success against the Lions this week and they still have allowed the most receptions to running backs so he is likely to catch quite a few passes to make his owners in PPR happy, but expecting a big game out of Forte this week is very unlikely.
17. Latavius Murray (vs. Buf - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
18. Alfred Morris (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Having RG3 under center has been great for Morris, save last week. In every game the pair has started and finished together, Morris has averaged over 4 yards per carry (again, not last week’s giant’s game). This week, they face Philly. Earlier, Morris amassed 77 yards against the Eagles and that was without RG3 on the field. In 5 career games, Morris has scored twice, and only averages 3.86 yards per carry. This season has been up and down, but the back is still averaging almost 4.1 yards per tote. Philly has a tough defensive line. Fletcher Cox is rated by Pro Football Focus as the 3rd best defensive end against the run. Brandon Graham, their outside linebacker, is tied for 5th best. Morris generally has a consistently decent floor, but low ceiling this year. He only has 1 rushing game that has totaled over 100 yards this year. With the shape of affairs in Washington, plus a tough run matchup, Morris is a low end RB2.
19. Jonathan Stewart (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
20. LeSean McCoy (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
McCoy was looking to have another big game against the Cowboys after taking it to them on Thanksgiving, but after being held to 64 yards without a score, it turned out he was the turkey. LeSean now has just 114 rushing yards with no scores in the last two weeks after rushing for 289 yards and two touchdowns in the previous two games. This week he faces the Redskins, who held him to 22 yards on 20 carries back in Week 3. Washington has not allowed a rushing touchdown in their last two games and have only surrendered six scores on the ground all season, so the disappointing McCoy could be in for another long game this week.
21. Giovani Bernard (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
Giovani has had a horrible sophomore season and has now given way to rookie Jeremy Hill, who has taken over as the lead back in the offense. Gio is now just a change of pace back, and is no longer being used in the redzone. Last week he had a nice effort with 79 yards on 15 carries along with three receptions for 24 yards, but he was held out of the endzone for his fourth straight game. This week he will face the Broncos, who have allowed running backs just 149 rushing yards and 162 receiving yards with one touchdown over the last three weeks. That is an average of 12.4 fantasy points per week. This is a potential playoff matchup, and with Hill once again being the focal point of the running game, Bernard will need to do more damage as a receiver here. Whichever way you cut it, this is not a great matchup for the sophomore RB.
22. Isaiah Crowell (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
23. Andre Williams (at StL - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
Rashad Jennings just can’t seem to stay healthy, and with that, Williams was once again thrust into a much larger role last week. He had 18 carries in the game, but was largely ineffective rushing for only 44 yards, which was the ninth time this season Andre finished a game with a 3.0 YPC or less average. This week he will face a Rams defense that has not allowed a rushing touchdown in their last three games and only two over their seven. Williams is going to have a hard time finding open running lanes this week and is not a strong start.
24. Jeremy Hill (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
Mo's Take: Hill had a monster game last week, as they gave him the rock 25 times which he converted into 148 rushing yards and 2 scores. He has out-touched Gio in every game since Bernard’s Week 12 return (technically, they had the same amount of touches his first week back) and has a firm hold of the #1 spot in Cincinnati. They have a tough one this week, however, as they are home to Denver for the Monday Night matchup. In the last 5 weeks, there are only 8 teams out there that have been stingier than the Broncos versus running backs and amazingly, in the last 10 games, the Broncos have allowed just 1 rushing TD (2 through the air in the same time span). In fact, in the last 3 weeks, they have allowed more yards through the air to opposing RBs than on the ground. I am not so sure that really favors Gio, as many believe. Since he has returned, both backs have exactly 9 catches, while Gio has 12 targets in that time to Hill’s 10. I am not expecting much. Denver has only surrendered one 100-yard rushing game on the season and one 100-yard receiving game to a back. If Hill can get the work, which he will likely receive since Denver has been laying off Peyton’s arm lately, he will be an RB2 in 12-team leagues.
Dåwg's Take: The Bengals monstrous rookie running back out of LSU has a real nice future ahead of him, but despite his dominant showing against the Browns last weekend, I simply can't see him putting together a repeat performance against the Broncos here in Week 16. First off, the Donkeys have allowed just four running backs to rush for more than 50 yards against them all season, with only one of them putting up over 90 (Tre Mason had 113 yards on 29 carries in Week 11). That said, the way for running backs to score fantasy points against this Denver defense is not to pound the ball (like Hill does), but to use them out of the backfield as a receiver (Denver is tied for the most receptions allowed to RBs this season), which means Giovani Bernard is bound to see some extra playing time in this game. Cincinnati should come to understand this real quick on Monday night and when they do, Hill's fantasy-scoring potential will be capped as a result.
25. Doug Martin (vs. GB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Doug Martin had a nice game against the Carolina Panthers nearly topping 100 yards for the first time since week 2, of the 2013 season. It was the first time Martin averaged over 5 yards a carry since that same week 2 game as well. He rushed 14 times for 96 yards, but 64 of those yards did all come on 1 carry, which was the team’s largest run of the season. This week Martin and the Bucs take on the Green Bay Packers at home, and they are pissed off coming off a loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Packers defense has allowed 18.1 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs, a mark that is just a shade over the 18 point league average. Over the last five weeks however the packers are allowing just 16.2 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs, mostly due to the fact that they have jumped out to big leads early and forced teams to play catch up. Martin looks to be the teams top ball carrier at the moment and it looks like that will continue till the end of this season, with that volume in mind he is a potential flex play for someone in need in the championship round.
26. Dan Herron (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
27. Reggie Bush (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Bush’s lingering ankle issues seem to be slowing him down. Although he is practicing, he just does not have the burst he once displayed. The Lions have been leaning on Bell, and bringing in Reggie as a change of pace guy. He is just not getting the touches one would like to see as an owner. This week, the Lions face the anemic Bears. In his 3 career games against Chicago, bush is averaging just over 110 all-purpose yards. However, this game is at Chicago. Yes, I know he had 105 yards on the ground there last year. In 2014 however, the Lions use Bell on grass, not Bush. Bush has ran the ball 58 times on turf this season to just 6 on grass. Besides, all but 2 of his Detroit TDs have all come at home. I do not see him being used nearly enough at Soldier field to consider him in the fantasy championship games. Keep in mind, Bush has not amassed 30 rushing OR receiving yards a game since suffering the injury versus the Jets in late September. His only TD came before the injury as well.
28. Shane Vereen (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Shane Vereen is coming off a week in which he scored his second rushing touchdown of the season, and oddly enough both of those have came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. Other than the saving grace of a short yardage touchdown, Vereen was utterly ineffective rushing for just 5 yards on six carries and catching only 1 of his 3 targets for 12 yards. This week Vereen gets the stout Jets run defense that has allowed just 14.2 fantasy points a game to opposing running backs. The Jets have been especially stout over the last three weeks allowing just 10.2 fantasy points a game. The Jets have contained big power backs all season long, but can be taken advantage of by the smaller shiftier backs who work around the edges. Vereen was one of the backs who hurt the Jets earlier this season as he rushed 11 times for 43 yards and caught 5 of his 8 targets for 71 yards and 2 scores. That game marked Vereen’s biggest fantasy day of the season and it seems like the Jets will use all their efforts to try and stop it from happening again, in this version of the Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan chess match it is hard to tell exactly how Vereen will fare.
29. Toby Gerhart (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
30. Terrance West (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
West and the rest of the Browns offense was shut down by the Bengals last week, but West has now been held under 62 rushing yards in each of his last five games and has been held out of the endzone in that span as well. Terrance only has double-digit carries in two of his last five games and if Johnny Manziel is under center again this week; it could be another long day for him. West will face the Panthers, who are playing better as of late and have not allowed a rushing touchdown in their last four games. In that span, they are only allowing running backs 12.2 fantasy points per game. Look for a better option this week.
31. Matt Asiata (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Asiata found the endzone last week, but he was held under 40 rushing yards for the ninth time this season. The touchdown last week was his first score since having three against Washington in Week 9. He will face the Dolphins this week, who seem to be in a free fall, and have allowed three rushing touchdowns in their last two games. Asiata is not going to breakout for a ton of yards, but he will have a good chance to score again this week.
32. Chris Johnson (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Johnson had his best opportunity against his former team and horrible run defense of the Tennessee Titans, but he only had 55 yards on 10 carries. From that great matchup, Johnson now will face a much stiffer challenge in the New England Patriots. New England has not allowed a rushing touchdown in their last five games and has only given up 9.4 fantasy points per game to running backs in that span. There is no way that CJ is a good play this week.
33. Trent Richardson (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
In this season of giving and good will, I am looking to find nice things to say… Well, starting Richardson on Fan Duel will leave you an abundance of dollars to deal other players. Actually, he has a great matchup as well. In the last 5 weeks, only 3 other teams have given up more fantasy goo to opposing RBs than Dallas. In that same time span, they have surrendered 6 rushing scores, no one has given up more in that time. There. Now for the rest. T-Rich has only had 1 game in the last 6 where they afforded him double digit carries. He only has 4 total games all year where he averaged at least 4 yards per rush. As far as the fantasy championships are concerned, he will be watching them from your bench.
34. Alfonso Smith (vs. SD - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
35. LeGarrette Blount (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
36. Pierre Thomas (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Pierre Thomas was a big part of the Saints game plan against the Bears on Monday night. He got 2 carries for 11 yards and caught all 5 of his targets for 83 yards including two of Thomas’ longest receptions of the season. Thomas and the Saints take on the Falcons in a big game for both teams, as the winner will most likely be the division winner. In their first matchup this season, Thomas rushed 7 times for 31 yards and caught 6 of his 7 targets for 58 yards. The Falcons are the worst team in defending opponent running backs allowing 24 fantasy points a game this season and 25 fantasy points a game over their last three games.
37. Charles Sims (vs. GB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
38. Lance Dunbar (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
39. Bishop Sankey (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Sankey has become less and less a part of the Titans offense over the last two weeks, with nine carries two weeks ago and only three carries last week. Sankey has been held to under 3.0 YPC over his last two games and has not scored a touchdown since Week 11. He is not to be trusted this week, even though he is facing a Jaguars defense that has allowed six touchdowns in their last five games.
40. DeAngelo Williams (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
41. Kerwynn Williams (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
Williams had 15 carries for 75 yards last week, making it his second week in a row with at least a 5.0 YPC average. He has not scored a touchdown in that time, and this week doesn’t look like it will provide a lot of opportunities for his first, as the Seahawks have allowed just one rushing touchdown in their last four games. The Cardinals are down to their third-string quarterback now, so expect the Seahawks to stack the box and force the Ryan Lindley to beat them. Basically, this is not a good week to roll with Williams.
42. James Starks (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
43. Donald Brown (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
44. Knile Davis (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
45. Shonn Greene (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
46. Roy Helu (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
47. Chris Polk (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
48. Branden Oliver (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
You gotta love this time of year. We have a couple of Saturday games, the later one being the Bolts heading up the coast to square off against San Francisco. In the last 5 weeks, the 49er’s defense has been very pedestrian against RBs, ranking as the 15th easiest for opposing backs. Since Week 9, they have allowed 3 RBs to amass more than 100 rushing yards against them. In the first 8 weeks, that only happened once. Ryan Mathews was out last week. In his absence, Oliver’s carries increased as usual. It looks as though we are in for more of the same this week as Mathews did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. In Week 15, Oliver recorded 12 carries and 4 receptions for 70 all-purpose yards. Donald Brown also had 4 receptions but only toted the rock 5 times for 56 all-purpose yards. With Mathews out again, I expect Oliver to be the starter and Brown to be used as a change-of-pace guy. Just keep in mind, Oliver has not averaged over 4 yards a carry since Week 7 (if you toss out his 1 carry for 7 yards in Week 13). This is the reason I see him as a low-end flex play this week. He will likely see 10-15 touches, plus he has not been that productive with the ball in his hands in many a week.
49. Darren Sproles (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Sproles continues to be under-utilized in the offense, and even though he scored a touchdown against Dallas last week, he only touched the ball five times in the game. The most touches Darren has in a game this season is 15, which came in the season opener, and he has not had more than 11 touches in a game since Week 6. This week he will face a Redskins D that has only allowed just one rushing touchdown in their last three weeks. When they last faced each other back in Week 3, Sproles had 50 total yards with no touchdowns. He simply does not touch the ball enough to know when the touchdowns are going to come, but it definitely doesn’t look like one will come this week in Washington.
50. Joseph Randle (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
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Wide Receivers (Updated: Thursday, Dec. 18 - 5:46PM CT)
1. Calvin Johnson (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Calvin had a rough game last week against the Vikings, finishing with only 53 yards on four receptions, without a touchdown. The good news for your championship matchup is that Megatron will be facing the Bears, and when he last saw them on Thanksgiving, he torched them for 146 yards on 11 receptions, with two touchdowns. The Bears have given up five touchdowns to receivers in their last three games, and they have played uninspired football to start each of their last five games. The Lions are still fighting for a division title, and they need this win to force a game for the division next week against Green Bay. Look for Calvin and the Lions to feast on the Bears defense this week.
2. Antonio Brown (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Brown had his second straight 100-yard game this week, but it was also his second straight week being held out of the endzone. Brown finished with 10 receptions for 123 yards, and has seen double-digit targets in all but two games this season. This week he faces the Chiefs, who have allowed five touchdowns to wide receivers in their last five games. The Chiefs have allowed three 100-yard receivers this season, but none since Percy Harvin in Week 9. Antonio is must start every week, and the Steelers really need this game as they are still in the hunt to win the division.
3. Jordy Nelson (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Nelson was targeted 12 times last week, but only had five receptions for 55 yards against the Bills. The huge lowlight came when Jordy dropped a sure 94-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. That score would have given Nelson a monster performance, and instead he left his owners with remnants of flaming shit in a bag on their shoes. He will look to make up for that this week, and he face the Buccaneers, who are ahead in their quest to obtain the #1 overall draft pick next year. Tampa has allowed a 100-yard receiver and one touchdown to receivers over each of their last two games. The Packers are pissed about their loss to the Bills, and it would not be surprising for the Packers to have over 30 points on the board by halftime. Jordy redeems himself this week.
4. Julio Jones (at NO - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Jones missed last week’s game against the Steelers, and his fantasy owners lost a lot production because of it. If his owners are still alive this for their championship, the Falcons are anticipating that Jones will play against the Saints. In their first meeting this season, Julio had seven receptions for 116 yards, but was held out of the endzone. Jones will look to carry his recent momentum into this week, as he has 26 receptions for 516 yards, with three touchdowns in his last three games played. This game has the makings of a shootout and if Jones plays, you start him.
5. Demaryius Thomas (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
After being held under 100 yards in his last three games, Demaryius got back on track last week, with six receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. Thomas now has a score in three of his last four games, and five total touchdowns in that span. This week he will face the Bengals on Monday Night Football, and he will face a tough test, as the Bengals are only allowing receivers 15.9 fantasy points over their last five games, and only two touchdowns in their last six games. The Broncos have been focusing on the run as of late, and that has hurt the production of Thomas. That trend should continue this week, as the Bengals weakness is in their run defense. You are still starting Demaryius, but this is not going to be the week he singlehandedly delivers you a championship victory.
6. Odell Beckham Jr. (at StL - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
The only thing that blows up more on Sunday’s besides ODB is dRx Twitter feed when Beckham scores. Hands down, this is the pickup of the season. Remember, he did not start playing until Week 5 due to a nagging injury. Since then, the kid has 9 TDs. In his last 7 games, his lowest yardage total is 90. This week, the G-men roll into St. Louis. In the last 5 weeks, there are only 9 teams that are allowing fewer fantasy points to opposing WRs. That said, it is O to the D to the mother scratching B. Although they have kept receivers out of the end zone as of late (2 WRs TDs in the last 5 games), the Rams have surrendered 13 on the season. It appears the weekly leagues have finally caught on. Fan Duel has his price set at $9,000, which is the 3rd most expensive. But in redraft, you are going to continue to ride him into the fantasy sunset without a second thought.
7. Randall Cobb (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
8. T.Y. Hilton (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
T.Y. was expecting another big day last week, as he faced the Texans, a team he has owned, but he was held to 50 yards on four receptions without a touchdown. Hilton had fewer than 10 targets in this game, and now has had less than 10 targets in five of his last six games. This week he will face the Cowboys, who have given up an average of 24.4 fantasy points to receivers over the last four weeks. They have allowed four touchdowns to receivers in that span, and two 100-yard receiving games. The Colts still have an outside shot at home field advantage for the playoffs, or at least a chance for a bye if Denver or New England falters. Hilton should be active in this game, and there is no way you can leave him on your bench this week.
9. Dez Bryant (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Dez Bryant balled out against the Eagles on Sunday night. He made up for the poor performance against the Eagles a few weeks earlier in a big way. Bryant caught 6 of his 7 targets for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns, and finished 2 yards away from a 4th score. Bryant was able to tie his career high in touchdowns with 13 with the three-TD performance on Sunday night. Bryant was able to beat defenders with his blend of size and speed against the Eagles and looked like one of the best wide receivers in the league. This week Dez will most likely be matched up against Vontae Davis on the outside. Vontae has still not allowed a touchdown pass this season to a wide receiver. The Colts are allowing just 18.6 fantasy points a game to opposing wide receivers on the season and over the past five games have allowed just 13.6 fantasy points a game. The Colts have allowed just 1 touchdown pass to a wide receiver over the last 5 games after allowing 10 touchdown passes to wide receivers over their first 9 games of the season.
10. Emmanuel Sanders (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
11. Jeremy Maclin (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
12. A.J. Green (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
After a monster game against the Steelers, Joe Haden and the Browns brought Green back down to earth last week. He finished with five receptions for 49 yards on 11 targets. A.J. has now been held under 100 yards in two of his last three games, after having more than 100 yards in three of his previous four games heading into last week. He will face the Broncos this week, and Denver has been tough on receivers over the past three games allowing just one touchdown and holding them to 15.1 fantasy points. The Bengals are a run-first team and the Broncos have also been very run-heavy over the past four weeks, which if that trend continues, means a lot less looks for Green in this game. This game has big playoff implications, so if the Bengals are playing from behind, A.J. could get some nice garbage yards in this game.
13. Mike Evans (vs. GB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Mike Evans had his lowest catch total of the season, catching just 2 passes on the day, the only game this season when he caught less than three passes. Evans did salvage his fantasy day with an 8-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter on another redzone fade route that he has become so proficient at. Evans was targeted 8 times but only caught 2 total passes. This week Evans takes on the Packers who are allowing 24.6 fantasy points a game to opposing wide receivers. Over the Packers last five weeks the Packers have allowed 28.1 fantasy points a game and have given up 10 touchdown passes during that span.
14. Golden Tate (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Tate had seven receptions last week, coming away with a touchdown, but was held to 38 yards. The score ended a five game streak without a touchdown, but he was held under 100 yards for the fifth straight game. This week he will face the Bears, and when he played them on Thanksgiving finished with eight receptions for 89 yards, but Megatron did the scoring. The Bears are in free fall, and receivers are scoring an average of 29.5 fantasy points per game over their last three. Tate should be able to exploit the Bears, and there is a good chance he can find the endzone again, as Chicago has allowed five in their last three games. Playing the Bears means he is a must-start.
15. Josh Gordon (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
16. Brandon LaFell (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
17. DeSean Jackson (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Jackson was very ineffective last week, with only 15 yards on three receptions and one rush attempt for nine yards. DeSean has now gone four straight games without a 100-yard game and only has one touchdown in that span. This week he will face his former team and has had nothing good to say about the Eagles in the paper this week, so he will no doubt be looking to back up his talk on game day. The last time they met, DJax had five receptions for 117 yards and touchdown while being targeted 11 times. He should once again see a healthy amount of targets, and he will have a chance to end the playoff hopes of the Eagles. That should be reason enough to start him, but also remember the Eagles are horrible at stopping receivers, and have allowed four touchdowns in their last three games, and eight over their last five to wide receivers. Jackson is a must-start.
18. Roddy White (at NO - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
19. Kelvin Benjamin (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
20. Sammy Watkins (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Coming off his worst game of the season in Week 15, Watkins heads west to face Oakland. Surprisingly enough, in the last 5 weeks, there are only 3 teams in the NFL that have allowed fewer fantasy point to opposing WRs than the raiders. In the last 5 games, only 2 receivers have posted double-digit fantasy days against the Raiders. You certainly cannot bench Watkins, his talent is such that he could score from anywhere on the field and has the potential to put up huge numbers versus any opponent. With a tougher matchup however, he is low end RB2.
21. Julian Edelman (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Edelman scored a touchdown for the second week in a row, and finished with seven receptions for 88 yards. Julian has now been targeted 47 times in the last four games, and has had at least seven receptions in all of them. This week he faces the Jets, who limited him to 44 yards on four receptions in Week 7. The Jets have been playing better defense as of late, and receivers are only scoring an average of 18.9 fantasy points per game over their last five games, with three touchdowns scored. Their weakness has been allowing yards, as receivers have four 100-yards games against them in their last four games. Edelman is a great start this week, and should avenge his earlier performance against the Jets.
22. Torrey Smith (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Torrey was totally ineffective last week, with only two receptions for 16 yards while being in on 51 offensive snaps. Smith did not seem to be tremendously slowed by the knee injury, but his game was definitely off. This week he heads to Houston to face a very poor defense against receivers. In their last five games the Texans have allowed an average of 26.1 fantasy points to receivers, and six touchdowns. Receivers have score 19 touchdowns on them this season, and that has been the strength of Torrey’s game, with eight scores this year. Smith should be healthier for this game, and will have a good chance of finding the endzone, but most likely not a lot of yards.
23. Alshon Jeffery (vs. Det - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Well, it has come to this. Jimmy “I am a jackass” Clausen. This is the kid that arrived in a stretch limo to announce his commitment to Notre Dame. This is the kid Sports Illustrated once dubbed “The Kid with the Golden Arm”. Well things have not exactly panned out for little Jimmy. But, seeing what they had to work with, the Bears are taking their chances as Clausen gets another crack at an NFL starting gig. While defenses will not really have relevant tape on the kid, Jeffery’s fantasy numbers will likely take a hit. Even though Cutler did not give them a great chance to win, he could still deliver the ball. With a huge question mark as his quarterback, Alshon is a flex play in my book. Not only that, they face a nasty Detroit defense who is in a heated race with the Packers for the division. There are just too many variables going against Alshon, including the loss of Marshal. I would be nervous starting him at anything higher than a flex play in Week 16.
24. Vincent Jackson (vs. GB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Heading into last week, Jackson had two 100-yard receiving games in his last three, but was held to a modest stat line of six receptions for 70 yards last week against the Panthers. This week the Packers come to town, fresh off a loss to the Bills in Buffalo. The Packers will look to score early and often in this game, which could lead to some nice garbage yards for Jackson before this one ends. The Packers are giving up an average of 28.1 fantasy points to receivers over their last five games, which includes poor receiving teams in Buffalo and Minnesota.
25. DeAndre Hopkins (vs. Bal - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
DeAndre Hopkins was targeted a season high 13 times in a tough matchup with Vontae Davis and the Indianapolis Colts. He was also without his running mate Andre Johnson as he missed the game with a concussion. With the coverage rolled his way, Hopkins caught only 5 of his passes for 77 yards. Hopkins looks like he will be teamed up with his 4th quarterback of the season so even with the tastiest of matchups it is hard to trust him too much. The Ravens are allowing over 27 fantasy points a game to opposing wide receivers and over the past five weeks are allowing over 30 fantasy points a game. Because of his quarterback situation it is hard to know what to expect from Hopkins this week.
26. Anquan Boldin (vs. SD - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
27. Jordan Matthews (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Matthews has disappeared from the offense over the last two weeks, with only two receptions for 23 yards and just 74 yards over his last three games. This week he will face the Redskins, and the last time they faced off, Matthews had eight receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns. DeSean Jackson came out in the media and that Jeremy Maclin is the only good receiver they have in Philadelphia, so Jordan has the bulletin board material to get him going for this one. Washington has also allowed nine touchdowns to receivers in their last five games, and six over their last three, with four 100-yard receivers in their last five games. This looks like Matthews should have his chances to answer Jackson on the field.
28. Mike Wallace (vs. Min - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Wallace is coming off his best game of the season last week, with five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. He finally connected with Ryan Tannehill on a deep pass, and made a nice catch in the endzone for the score. This week he will welcome the Vikings to town, and they just shut down Calvin Johnson in Detroit. Minnesota has allowed three touchdowns to receivers in their last three games, and six over their last five. They have also played better on the road, holding their opponents to an average of 16.75 points per game over their last four road games. Wallace may have a chance to score a touchdown again this week, but don’t expect him to have back-to-back 100-yard performances.
29. Marques Colston (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Colston had five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Bears last week. Marques now has a touchdown in three of his last four games, but has not had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 7. This week he matches up against the Falcons, and in the season opener Marques had five receptions for 110 yards. Last season the Falcons did a good job on Colston, limiting him to 108 yards and one score in two games. The Falcons have allowed a 100-yard receiver in each of their last two games, and 13 touchdowns to receivers on the season. This is a game that should feature a lot of offense, and Colston is a decent play this week.
30. Charles Johnson (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Johnson had a decent game last week against a good Lions defense, with five receptions for 72 yards, but was held out of the endzone. Charles still had a tie for the team lead in targets, with seven. This week he will face the Dolphins, who have allowed receivers seven touchdowns in their last five games, and an average of 26.3 fantasy points per game. Johnson should be able to find more room to run this week, and will have a good chance for a touchdown this week. Johnson is a sneaky play this week.
31. Kenny Stills (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Stills was held out of the endzone for the second straight week against the Bears, and finished the game with five receptions for 67 yards. Kenny is still the deep threat in the offense, but he saw his offensive numbers decline, as Jimmy Graham got more involved in the offense last week. That trend looks like it will continue this week against the Falcons, but Stills could still have a chance for a long pass in this game. This game has major playoff implications, and this should be a game with a lot of offense. Kenny may not be as consistent, but if you are looking for a higher ceiling, he has a good one this week, but the floor will look like his last two weeks.
32. Andre Johnson (vs. Bal - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Johnson missed last week, as he was still dealing with concussion symptoms, but he is expected to play this week. Johnson will have either Thad Lewis or Case Keenum throwing him the ball this week, which is not great news, but still better than Tom Savage under center. AJ will be facing a Ravens defense that is allowing receivers an average of 27.1 fantasy points over their last three games, with four touchdowns scored against them. The matchup is tasty, but the quarterback situation makes his prospects murky in this game.
33. Steve Smith (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
34. Kendall Wright (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
The Titans are hopeful that Kendall Wright will be back in the lineup for the Thursday Night Football game this week, but he is still questionable. Jake Locker was placed on IR, which means it will be Charlie Whitehurst under center. With the short week, a third string quarterback, and coming off an injury, you will be better off leaving Wright on the bench this week for better options.
35. Mohamed Sanu (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
36. Davante Adams (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
37. Martavis Bryant (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
38. Allen Hurns (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
39. Pierre Garcon (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Last week saw the return of DeSean Jackson to the Washington lineup. The fact that Garcon’s numbers fell back down was no coincidence. Garcon definitely plays better with RG3 under center. This week, Washington is home to Philly. When these two teams met in Week 3, both Garcon and Jackson put up over 100 yards performances. This game marked Garcon’s best performance of the year. On that day, he did most of his damage against Cary Williams, but Fletcher was on him quite a bit as well. He was thrown at 9 times with Williams and 5 times with Fletcher on him. Pro Football Focus ranks Fletcher as their 95th cover corner out of 110. Philly has been taken by tandem receivers in 2014. Not only did the Washington boys each go for a buck each, but so did Cobb and Nelson, as well as John Brown and Larry Fitz. Philly has allowed 14 different receivers to put up double digit fantasy performances on them so far this year. On 4 occasions, the pass catchers went for over 20 fantasy points. In redraft leagues, I would call him a low end flex play with a certain amount of trepidation, depending on your roster of course. Now in weekly leagues, he might be a decent play. He is going for $5,700 on FanDuel, or $1,200 less than DeSean.
40. Eddie Royal (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
41. Jarvis Landry (vs. Min - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
42. Donte Moncrief (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
43. Malcom Floyd (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
44. James Jones (vs. Buf - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
45. Stedman Bailey (vs. NYG - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
46. Eric Decker (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Eric Decker is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season as he caught 7 of the 11 passes thrown his way. He did all this against one of the better pass defenses in the entire NFL. Decker will have another tough matchup this week against the New England Patriots who are allowing just 19.7 fantasy points a game to opposing wide receivers. However, the Patriots have given up more in the pass game in recent weeks, as wide receivers have caught an average of 14 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown over the last three weeks. Mike Wallace also just had his first 100-yard game of the season against the Patriots last week. Earlier this season when these two teams squared off, Decker caught 4 of his 7 targets for 65 yards.
47. John Brown (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
48. Percy Harvin (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Harvin was able to play through an ankle injury last week, but he finished the game with no catches on three targets, and one rush for 10 yards. This week he will face the Patriots, who have struggled in their three games, allowing an average of 26.4 fantasy points to wide receivers. Harvin has been held under 30 receiving yards in four of his last five games, and is not worth starting in this crucial week of the season. Percy has been a disappointment all year and can’t be trusted this week.
49. Marqise Lee (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Marqise Lee failed in one of the tastier matchups of the week against the Ravens who were allowing over 36 fantasy points a game over their last five before playing the Jaguars. Lee was targeted 9 times and caught just 4 passes for 14 yards on the day. This week Lee and the Jaguars are taking on the Tennessee Titans who are an average team against opposing wide receivers, giving up 22.4 fantasy points a game on the season. The Titans have given up 29 fantasy points a game to wide receivers over their last five games so things have gotten a little bit worse for Tennessee in the pass game.
50. Michael Crabtree (vs. SD - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Crabtree has had a tough time over his last four games, with a total of 20 receptions for 143 yards, with no touchdowns. Michael only has one touchdown reception in his last eight games, and is still looking for his first 100-yard receiving game of the year. He will face the Chargers this week, who have been burned as of late, allowing receivers four touchdowns in their last three games, and an average of 26.8 fantasy points. Crabtree still has the problem of an inconsistent quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, and the 49ers offense only has 13 touchdowns scored by receivers on the season, and Crabtree only has four of them, most which came early in the season. Look elsewhere for an impact player this week.
51. Marquess Wilson (vs. Det - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
52. Kenny Britt (vs. NYG - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
53. Robert Woods (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
54. Cecil Shorts (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
55. Andre Holmes (vs. Buf - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
56. Greg Jennings (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
57. Dwayne Bowe (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
58. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
59. Albert Wilson (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
60. Nate Washington (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
61. Philly Brown (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
62. Wes Welker (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
After a good game with 82 yards against Buffalo, Welker had 16 receiving yards last week, which was his third game of his last four with less than 20 yards. Welker will be facing the Bengals, who have allowed receivers only 15.9 fantasy points over their last five games, with only two touchdowns scored against them. The Broncos have featured their running game as of late, and Welker was not that involved when they were passing a lot. This is likely going to be a bad week for Wes.
63. Cole Beasley (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
64. Reggie Wayne (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
T.Y. Hilton has not practiced this week. This moves everyone up, well, it certainly moves up Moncrief and Nicks, Wayne will still be in the same role. You could expect a slight uptick in Wayne’s numbers if Hilton fails to go. There are only 7 teams out there that give up more yards to #2 receivers than the Cowboys. Their best cover corner, Orlando Scandrick, whom Pro Football Focus ranks as the 7th best corner so far this year, will not likely be on Wayne. Chances are, Brandon Carr will see a fair amount of Wayne. Carr is ranked as CB #103 out of 110. Not only that, Wayne has turned out some great performances against the Cowboys. In 3 career games, he has 2 TDs and averages just over 106 yards a game. Wayne has definitely lost a step, and while I love the history, and think it is a good matchup, he could conceivably be on a snap count this week. Pagano has suggested giving guys some rest as they gear up for the playoffs. Wayne could easily see his snaps decrease starting this week.
65. Jarius Wright (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
66. Harry Douglas (at NO - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
67. Nick Toon (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
68. Markus Wheaton (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
69. Hakeem Nicks (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Even though Dawg has a man-crush on Nicks, you are still sitting him for your fantasy championship. T.Y. Hilton did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, he was listed as questionable. If he does not go, this would conceivably move everyone up. Mainly, I foresee this affecting Moncrief the most. However, Nicks might not be a bad FanDuel play, but it is a huge gamble. To me, Moncrief is the play in weekly leagues. In redraft, Nicks is far too risky to consider for your fantasy championship.
70. Terrance Williams (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
71. Michael Floyd (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
Floyd has not had a touchdown reception since Week 11, and has only one game with more than 60 receiving yards in his last 11. This week he faces the Seahawks, who dominate receivers, and held him to no catches on two targets in Week 12. The Cardinals have lost their top two quarterbacks, and then you add the Seahawks…DO NOT start Floyd this week.
72. Riley Cooper (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
73. Doug Baldwin (at Ari - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
Against the 49ers last week, Baldwin produced his usual mediocre performance. He caught 3 of 6 targets for a total of 53 yards. This week they face Arizona in the desert. When these two teams faced off in Week 12 this year, Baldwin celebrated the meeting by putting up his worst performance of the season. He tucked away 2 passes and racked up 6 yards. I am not touching him this week. Although the Cardinals started off the season getting sliced up by opposing WRs like John Wayne Bobbitt, they have been lethal lately. In the last 5 weeks, only 7 teams having given up fewer fantasy point to the position. Seattle is a ground and pound team and that means Baldwin is on your bench.
74. Chris Hogan (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
75. Jeremy Kerley (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
76. Marlon Brown (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
77. Jermaine Kearse (at Ari - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
78. Andrew Hawkins (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
79. Rueben Randle (at StL - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
80. Andre Roberts (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
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Tight Ends (Updated: Thursday, Dec. 18 - 7:23PM CT)
1. Rob Gronkowski (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Rob Gronkowski has returned to being the top player at his position this season, and the gap between him and the second player at his position is bigger than at any other position. Gronk currently holds a 43.3-point edge over the second tight end in standard scoring and is currently the only player at his position to be above 1,000 yards on the season. With 2 games left it looks like he will be the only tight end to finish with over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. Last week Gronk put up another big performance for his owners. Even though he caught just 3 passes on 8 targets, he was able to gain 96 yards and score another touchdown. This week Gronk gets the Jets, who are the second worst team in the NFL at defending opposing tight ends allowing over 10 fantasy points a game to the position. Gronk didn’t have a great game against the Jets the first time around catching 5 of his 10 targets for 68 yards and didn’t score a touchdown. Gronk will look to change that during championship week as he has had a ton of success against the Jets in his career.
2. Julius Thomas (at Cin - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
3. Jimmy Graham (vs. Atl - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
4. Greg Olsen (vs. Cle - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Olsen had his second strong game in a row, and while he was held out of the endzone, he did record his third 100-yard receiving game of the season putting up 110 yards on 10 receptions. Derek Anderson targeted Olsen early and often, and will likely do the same thing this week against the Browns. Cleveland has been tough on tight ends, holding them to 5.7 fantasy points per game over their last three games while allowing just three touchdowns on the season. Olsen should be able to some damage this week, but don’t count on a score.
5. Delanie Walker (at Jac - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
6. Coby Fleener (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
7. Travis Kelce (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
Travis Kelce followed up his first 100-yard game of his career with a 6-target game. He caught 5 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Kelce is the ninth ranked tight end on the season and part of one of the top five tight end units in terms of fantasy scoring, with Kelce and Anthony Fasano doing most of the heavy lifting. This week the Chiefs are taking on the Steelers who are the 8th worst unit in defending opponent tight ends on the season allowing 8.9 fantasy points a game on the season. The Steelers are also one of five teams in the league to allow double-digit touchdown receptions to opponent tight ends so Kelce could start a small streak of touchdowns this week.
8. Antonio Gates (at SF - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Last week, Gates had six receptions for 54 yards and recorded his first touchdown in the last six games. The Chargers offense has struggled a lot over their last six weeks, and a road game against the 49ers is not the best cure for their needs. Mychael Rivera tore San Francisco up two weeks ago, but that was total team collapse in that game. Last week they held the Seahawks tight ends without a catch. Gates will see a decent amount of targets, but his consistency has been hurt with the poor play of Philip Rivers.
9. Martellus Bennett (vs. Det - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Martellus Bennett looks to hold off Julius Thomas for a Top-5 finish among tight ends in fantasy scoring this season. His last game against the Saints was lackluster as he caught just 4 of his 6 targets for 36 yards, but the Saints have been a touch defense against opposing tight ends. Bennett’s season numbers are so good that he is a must-play, especially with target hog Brandon Marshall done for the season. Bennett is currently third among tight ends in targets, tied for first in receptions, third in yards, tied for sixth in touchdowns, and fifth in fantasy points. This week Martellus will take on the Lions for the second time this season, but will have a new quarterback under center with limited experience as a starter. On the season the Lions are average at defending the tight end position allowing 8 fantasy points a game to the position, but over their last 5 games have given up an average of 10 fantasy points a game including an 8-catch, 109-yard performance by Bennett on Thanksgiving.
10. Dwayne Allen (at Dal - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
11. Jason Witten (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
Jason Witten was used as the chain mover against the Eagles and was targeted 9 times. Witten caught 7 passes for 69 yards and was held out of the endzone for the third straight game. This week Witten takes on the Indianapolis Colts who are allowing 9.7 fantasy points a game to tight ends this season. Over their last five weeks they have allowed 3 touchdown catches to tight ends and have given up 9 on the season. Witten should be a main cog in the Cowboys passing attack as the Colts are suffocating against opponents’ wide receivers.
12. Brent Celek (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
13. Jordan Reed (vs. Phi - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
14. Heath Miller (vs. KC - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
15. Jared Cook (vs. NYG - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
St. Louis is home for one of the late afternoon games against the G-Men. Cook has popped in a few games this year, but it is always difficult to call which one he’ll go off in. He went from nary a catch in Week 13, to 4 for 61 and two TDs in Week 14. Although he was targeted 9 times last week, he only hauled in 3 catches for 22 yards against a notoriously bad TE defense in the Cardinals. It won’t get easier this week, as there have only been 6 teams tougher than the Giants against the TE position over the last 5 weeks. In the last 6 games, the Giants have only given up 1 TD to opposing TEs. Although it is always an up-and-down ride with Cook, odds are he will not finish in the top 12 for TEs this week.
16. Charles Clay (vs. Min - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Charles Clay is coming off a solid game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Clay was targeted 7 times and caught 6 of them for 59 yards. This week the Dolphins take on the Minnesota Vikings at home. The Vikings are very good against opposing tight ends allowing just 5.1 fantasy points a game to opposing tight ends and have allowed only 1 tight end on the season to score double digit fantasy points against them this season. Over the past three games the Vikings have allowed just 6 catches for 70 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends. At home Clay has averaged nearly 11 yards a catch compared to just 8.5 on the road.
17. Owen Daniels (at Hou - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
18. Mychal Rivera (vs. Buf - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
19. Eric Ebron (at Chi - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Ebron continues to be an afterthought in the Lions offense, and is still looking for his first game with more than 40 receiving yards. He will be facing the Bears and their horrible defense, which is the worst at defending tight ends allowing an average of 11.7 fantasy points. They have also given up three touchdowns in their last three games. However, Ebron has just one touchdown on the season and cannot be trusted in this crucial week, even with the favorable matchup.
20. Andrew Quarless (at TB - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
21. Zach Ertz (at Was - Saturday Afternoon, 4:30pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
Although Celek is still on the field more than Ertz, it has been a bit more even lately. Last week, Ertz played on 26 offensive snaps to Celek’s 34. The deteriorating health of the offensive line has been the main impetus behind Celek’s playing time. Pro Football Focus rates Celek as the second-best run blocking TE in the league, which is something Philly sorely needs. This week the Eagles are up against Washington, who is abysmal against opposing TEs. On the season they rank as the 4th easiest to score fantasy points against. In the last 5 weeks, no other team has given up more fantasy goo to opposing TEs than Washington, which is great if you are a Celek owner. Ertz, however, is too big of a gamble.
22. Larry Donnell (at StL - Sunday, 4:05pm ET - TV: FOX)
23. Luke Willson (at Ari - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
24. Scott Chandler (at Oak - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
25. Tim Wright (at NYJ - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
26. Marcedes Lewis (vs. Ten - Thursday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: NFL Network)
27. Kyle Rudolph (at Mia - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: FOX)
Rudolph had his best receiving game of the year last week with seven receptions for 69 yards, but was held out of the endzone. Kyle had a lot of potential at the start of the season, but injuries and not being on the same page with Teddy Bridgewater has hurt him. The chemistry seems to be getting better of late, but the fantasy points will be tough to come by against the Dolphins. If you take away the game that Gronkowski had against them last week, they have limited tight ends to four receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns in their last four games. This is not a great matchup for Rudolph.
28. Jordan Cameron (at Car - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
This has been a wasted season for Cameron, and last week was the cherry on top as he put together a whopping line of one reception for four yards. Jordan has only one touchdown on the season and one with more than 50 receiving yards… and they both happened in the same week. Over the last three weeks the Panthers have held tight ends to seven receptions for 40 yards, but have allowed two touchdowns. Cameron does not have big game potential and is not worth trusting in the Browns current quagmire of an offense.
29. Anthony Fasano (at Pit - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
30. Jermaine Gresham (vs. Den - Monday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: ESPN)
31. Jeff Cumberland (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
32. Gavin Escobar (vs. Ind - Sunday, 4:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
33. Jace Amaro (vs. NE - Sunday, 1:00pm ET - TV: CBS)
34. John Carlson (vs. Sea - Sunday Night, 8:30pm ET - TV: NBC)
35. Vernon Davis (vs. SD - Saturday Night, 8:25pm ET - TV: CBS)
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