Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 14
Which lineup dilemmas are you facing in critical Week 14? Our Dave Richard shares his outlook for every player you may be considering.
Falcons at Packers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Give the Falcons some credit for playing hard in a meaningless game against the Bills last week. The offense hung around in a close game and took advantage of an overtime turnover to win. And though the Packers proved to be opportunistic last week with four turnovers of the Lions, they still struggled against the pass and especially the run. It's going to take Matt Ryan beating the blitz for him and the Falcons to pull off the victory.
No-brainers: Eddie Lacy
, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Ryan was sacked six times by the Bills in Week 13 but still threw for 311 yards on 47 attempts with a touchdown. A similar outcome could happen in this game. The Packers allowed three passing touchdowns last week but it's been mostly the prolific passers who have mowed them down. Despite finally having a semblance of a threatening receiving corps last week, Ryan isn't promised anything carrying over to this matchup. He has one game with more than one touchdown pass in his last six.
Flow chart: Alex Smith > Philip Rivers > Matt Ryan > Joe Flacco > Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 13 FPTS
The Packers have allowed at least one running back to score in five of their last six. The Packers have also allowed a back to get over 100 rush yards in four of their last five. And just for good measure, they're allowing 167.8 rush yards per game and 44.4 receiving yards per game to running backs in their last five. Steven Jackson been strong for the last two weeks and is expected to keep it up here.
I'd start him over: Chris Johnson , Bills RBs
, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Roddy White , WR, Falcons: My Projection: 7 FPTS
They'll both get thrown at a lot, though it's worth noting the Falcons had the ball for over 38 minutes last week, affording the team 77 plays and 47 pass attempts. White was also the primary target in the first half, getting half of his 14 targets then while Douglas had just two of his 15 targets. The Packers pass defense is nearly as bad as their run defense, giving up 100 yards to a single receiver in four of their last five with eight touchdowns in that five-game window. I'd still lean toward Douglas than White -- White has looked much better in his past couple of games but is historically less productive on grass.
Flow chart: Riley Cooper > Harry Douglas > Pierre Garcon > Roddy White > T.Y. Hilton
, TE, Falcons: My Projection: 11 FPTS
The Packers have allowed a tight end to score just five times all year, the most recent of which came in Week 7. To be fair, nearly every single premier tight end the Packers have lined up against has scored -- Vernon Davis in Week 1, Jordan Reed in Week 2 and Jordan Cameron in Week 7. I'd argue that the biggest tight end threat to not score on the Packers this season has been Martellus Bennett , which isn't saying too much. Opponents can't focus on Gonzalez on every play with the way the rest of the Falcons receiving corps is playing. Gonzalez should be in lineups.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten , Greg Olsen
, WR, Packers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Jarrett Boykin , WR, Packers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
James Jones , WR, Packers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
If you saw Matt Flynn play last week you'd give him a no-confidence vote and the receivers would follow suit. There's something to be said about him getting a week's worth of practice and taking on a defense that hasn't gotten after the quarterback much, though. Maybe the Packers give Flynn a scaled-down version of the offense that favors short-area passes (Boykin's catching passes like those for much of the year). The Falcons have allowed 24 passing touchdowns including 14 to receivers, but just three to the position in their last five games. Trusting the Packers receivers means trusting Flynn, and that's tough to do.
I'd start Nelson over: Pierre Garcon , Eric Decker
I'd start over Boykin and Jones: Kendall Wright , Raiders WRs
Raiders at Jets, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Jets should be able to lean on their ground game to give them a good shot at winning. The Raiders' ground game is in flux with Rashad Jennings status up in the air and it might not matter either way given the Jets' run defense. That means it'll come down to Matt McGloin passing for the Raiders to pull off the victory. While his completion percentage has nudged up in three straight weeks he's probably put enough on film for Rex Ryan to take note of (he's already been picked off in consecutive weeks). Both defenses might deliver nice numbers.
, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Although the Jets were susceptible to the Dolphins run game last week it's hard to believe the Raiders will be effective running the football. Jennings has been great but the matchup is tough: The Jets have allowed 62.0 rush yards per game and one rushing touchdown in their last five to a rusher.
I'd rather start: Ryan Mathews , Pierre Thomas
, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Rod Streater , WR, Raiders: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The matchup is excellent for Streater and Holmes as the Jets have allowed five scores to receivers in their last three games. All five have been from 25-plus yards! In fact the Jets have allowed nine plays of 20-plus pass yards to receivers in that three-game span. McGloin is 7 for 15 for 149 yards with an interception on deep passes over the last two weeks but the mere fact that the Raiders even tried 15 deep passes should mean some opportunities for both receivers. I think you'd have to be pretty thin at receiver to consider either one but the home run play is Holmes.
Flow chart: Dwayne Bowe > Andre Holmes > Kendall Wright > Rod Streater > Roddy White
, RB, Jets: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The only Jet worth considering is the one with the best matchup. Oakland's run defense was spiked for three touchdowns last week and four in its last three games. In that span they've given up 4.4 yards per carry. Digging deeper, the Raiders have allowed a back to get 10-plus Fantasy points in nine of their last 10 games. Ivory has just 21 carries over his last two games but injuries and a lopsided score played into the lessened workload. This week he should see plenty of touches.
I'd start him over: Ben Tate , Rashard Mendenhall , Shane Vereen
Bills at Buccaneers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Buffalo's offensive style is to lean on its ground game, but this isn't such a bad week for it to try airing it out a little more than normal. How can you ignore a defense that's allowed just six rushing touchdowns (two to running backs) versus 24 passing touchdowns (three to running backs)? The matchup is even juicier for the Buccaneers' offense, though they seem resigned to a balanced approach regardless of the opponent.
, QB, Bills: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Eight straight quarterbacks have had at least two passing touchdowns against the Buccaneers, all getting at least 19 Fantasy points and seven of eight getting to 21 Fantasy points. And Manuel is making it easier to trust him after accumulating at least two scores in each of his last two games. You'd just have to be in a really tricky situation to consider going with Manuel at this stage of the season.
Flow chart: Alex Smith > Robert Griffin III > EJ Manuel > Matt Ryan > Andrew Luck
, RB, Bills: My Projection: 11 FPTS
C.J. Spiller , RB, Bills: My Projection: 11 FPTS
So just how tough is this matchup? Only two running backs have run for a touchdown on the Bucs this year (three have caught a touchdown) and six have had 10-plus Fantasy points against them. Of those six, five have come in the Bucs last seven games where they've allowed 4.4 yards per rush and 5.9 yards per catch. Jackson's nose for the end zone keeps him in the starting conversation, but I'd look long and hard at Spiller as a yardage beast for this week.
I'd start them over: Bengals RBs, Chargers RBs, Saints RBs
, WR, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Marquise Goodwin , WR, Bills: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Thirteen different receivers have caught at least one touchdown against the Bucs this year. Nine of the 13 were non-No. 1 receivers. That speaks to the play of Darrelle Revis against No. 1 wideouts (or is it the lack of play of other Tampa Bay cornerbacks?). But Johnson has had Revis' goat in the past and could be in for a major bounce-back game after struggling against lowly Atlanta last week. And even if he follows the path of most other top-shelf wideouts against the Bucs we could still see Marquise Goodwin haul in a long pass or Robert Woods get some chances against the likes of Leonard Johnson and Johnthan Banks . Woods has more than twice as many targets as Goodwin but Goodwin has more touchdowns and just five fewer receptions. All Bills receivers are risks but in the case of Johnson and Goodwin there is some appeal.
I'd start Johnson over: Marques Colston , Hakeem Nicks
Low-end WR Flow chart: Emmanuel Sanders > Steve Smith > Marquise Goodwin > Danny Amendola > 49ers WRs
, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Buffalo's pass defense continues to improve. They haven't allowed a quarterback to over 20 Fantasy points since Drew Brees lit them up in Week 8 and have given up just three passing touchdowns in their last four games, three of which was against good competition. Glennon will only attempt so many passes from week to week and there might not be much need for him to throw given the Bills' weak run defense and the expected workload for Bobby Rainey .
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel , Ryan Fitzpatrick
, RB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
I love that the Bucs were willing to give Rainey 17 and 18 carries in each of his last two games in unfavorable situations. It tells me they'll trust him to carry the rushing workload weekly, a good thing to know with the Bills coming to town. Buffalo's run defense has come undone, yielding five touchdowns to running backs with 134.0 total yards per game over its last four. I suspect Rainey could get a lot of work and be a very sneaky starter over a lot of rushers you might have questions about.
I'd start him over: Fred Jackson , Chris Johnson
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Like their numbers against quarterbacks, the Bills have improved against receivers in terms of scoring. Only one wideout has scored on them in their last four. In that same span they've seen wideouts pick up 148.3 receiving yards per game, though the Falcons had over 200 yards split between Roddy White and Harry Douglas last week. Jackson is due for a big game and might get it if the Bucs isolate him against cornerback Leodis McKelvin instead of Stephon Gilmore . There are sure to be some deep passes attempted.
I'd start him over: Wes Welker , Riley Cooper , Victor Cruz
Browns at Patriots, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Browns' quarterback woes makes it a little easier for the Patriots to defend against this offense. No one in the Cleveland run game is a major threat and the only real threats to worry about in the air are Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon . Bill Belichick might opt to swarm Gordon with double coverage on every play, leaving the rest of his defense to take its chances with whatever the Browns offense can muster up. Note: Belichick's Patriots are 4-1 in their last five against offenses coached up by Norv Turner (offenses with Philip Rivers under center, not Jason Campbell ), allowing 19.4 points per game.
No-brainers: Tom Brady , Rob Gronkowski
, WR, Browns: My Projection: 13 FPTS
This isn't going to be like last week against a bad Jacksonville secondary -- expect at the very least for Aqib Talib to cover Gordon with safety help over the top. Thing is, they tried to get Talib on Andre Johnson last week and Houston did a nice job scheming their receiver away from Talib. Eight receivers have hit 10-plus Fantasy points on the Patriots this season -- five in their last four games including Johnson last week. Having Campbell under center salvages the Fantasy value of Gordon.
I'd start him over: Demaryius Thomas , Antonio Brown , Riley Cooper
, TE, Browns: My Projection: 4 FPTS
I can't trust him for much, if anything. It doesn't even help that Campbell is under center -- he had horrible numbers with him! It's tough to count on him given his five-game streak without a touchdown or double-digit Fantasy points (standard or PPR).
I'd rather start: Jared Cook , Rob Housler
, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 10 FPTS
LeGarrette Blount , RB, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Browns have not allowed a rushing or receiving touchdown to a running back in four straight games, holding backs to 3.3 yards per carry and 7.3 yards per catch. But this should get one-sided rather quickly leading to some serious clock killing in the second half. The theoretical appeal for Blount is him getting a lot of carries in the event of a blowout. Vereen would participate a lot before the game got to that point.
I'd start them over: Zac Stacy , Lamar Miller , Frank Gore
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Danny Amendola , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 5 FPTS
There is no question that Edelman has been the better receiver in New England. Over the last two weeks he has 18 catches on 23 targets for 211 yards and two scores. Amendola has eight grabs on 11 targets for 71 yards and no scores in those two weeks. Maybe the Browns opt to move Joe Haden into the slot to contain Edelman but it's not like Haden has been unbeatable. In fact over the last two weeks the Browns have allowed 141.0 yards per game to receivers with three touchdowns.
Flow chart: Victor Cruz > Julian Edelman > Roddy White > Nate Burleson > Danny Amendola
Dolphins at Steelers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Give the Dolphins credit for a good effort on the ground against the Jets last week, nearly leading Lamar Miller to his best game of the season if not for him falling just short of a touchdown. But give the Steelers some credit for bulking up against the run, something I wasn't sure they'd do going into even last week. Expect Ryan Tannehill to lead the Dolphins in what amounts to an important matchup of teams jockeying for a wild card spot.
, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Tannehill had his best game of the season last week at the Jets and has been showing signs of improvement over his last four games (64.8 comp. pct., 7.0 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, four interceptions). What has especially helped is Tannehill throwing downfield more, something the Steelers have had a hard time with of late. But that hasn't helped quarterbacks post big numbers consistently against the Steelers (only three passers all year have posted 20-plus Fantasy points).
I'd rather start: Matt Ryan , Andrew Luck
, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Pittsburgh has allowed only 69.8 rush yards per game over its last four with one rushing touchdown to backs. That means Miller's in for another unfavorable matchup. The positive is that he came close to scoring while posting a career-high 22 carries a week ago, so it could mean some real good numbers are in his future when he's not in a tough matchup.
I'd rather start: BenJarvus Green-Ellis , Ray Rice
, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 11 FPTS
For the first time in just over a year, Wallace has scored in consecutive games, catching 12 of 20 targets for 209 yards. It's that kind of momentum that should help him in what amounts to a "revenge game" against his former team. It doesn't hurt that the Steelers have been slashed by the big play. Calvin Johnson , Josh Gordon and Torrey Smith have all posted monster games in the Steelers' last three games in large part to connecting on long passes. The Dolphins have been working the deep pass into their offense more and more and shots should be taken in this matchup.
I'd start him over: Wes Welker , Harry Douglas
, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Clay has seen seven-plus targets in each of his last four games but it hasn't led to consistency. Clay has eight-plus Fantasy points in two of those four games but he has three Fantasy points or less in four of his last six. Only three tight ends have scored on the Steelers this year, only four have posted more than 50 receiving yards. Starting Clay doesn't seem like a safe bet.
I'd rather start: Ladarius Green , Martellus Bennett
, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 18 FPTS
This is a tough call. The Dolphins might slow Big Ben's roll -- they haven't allowed a quarterback to throw two-plus touchdowns in eight straight (only one of the last eight have had more than 16 Fantasy points!). But Roethlisberger has thrown at least two touchdowns in each of last three without a single interception. He's making the most of his receiving corps and might have too many weapons for the Dolphins to reliably cover, though teams like the Chargers, Bengals and Panthers have multiple weapons and they couldn't put up big numbers. I'd argue Roethlisberger isn't worth the risk.
I'd rather start: Philip Rivers , Matt Ryan
, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
All signs point to Bell playing on Sunday after getting concussed on Thanksgiving. That's good news because Miami's run defense is about as bad as it gets. The Dolphins have allowed 11-plus Fantasy points to a running back in nine of their last 11 games, taking a two-week hiatus against multi-back teams like the Panthers and Jets. Bell is the only back in the Iron City and he's posted at least 80 yards over 20 or more touches in five straight. He's effective as a receiver and a plow horse as a runner. He's a must.
I'd start him over: Bobby Rainey , Chris Johnson
, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Emmanuel Sanders , WR, Steelers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Great receivers, especially fast ones, have been able to rack up yardage against the Dolphins but not touchdowns. Miami has allowed only one touchdown to a receiver all season. It's also a wacky stat because tight ends have caught eight touchdowns and running backs have caught two. I like Brown as pretty much a must-start while Sanders is far less appealing, especially since he's averaged less than 10 yards per catch in each of his last four.
I'd start Brown over: Vincent Jackson , Jordy Nelson
I'd rather start over Sanders: Marques Colston , Hakeem Nicks
, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Miller has 21 catches on 25 targets in his last three games but it's been good for 194 yards and no touchdowns. But he nearly scored twice last week and again two weeks ago against Detroit. Eventually those touchdowns will come through and it might happen this week against a Miami defense that has allowed eight scores to tight ends on the year including twice in their last three.
I'd start him over: Coby Fleener , Vernon Davis
Lions at Eagles, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Think Chip Kelly studies the stats like we do? Last week he took on a defense that was awful against tight ends and his tight ends caught three touchdowns. This week he'll take on a defense that has been hideous against receivers -- maybe it means a big week for DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper (they're due). It will be important for Philly's O-line to continue protecting Nick Foles -- if they can, there should be a ton of numbers for the Eagles receivers.
No-brainers: Matthew Stafford , Reggie Bush , Calvin Johnson ; LeSean McCoy , DeSean Jackson
, WR, Lions: My Projection: 6 FPTS
It's probably for the best to sit Burleson this week. Last week he basically played decoy while Matthew Stafford leaned on Kris Durham against the Packers. Maybe that was because Durham was getting single coverage against smaller corners, but for whatever reason it's clear that Durham (who is not on the injury report) will cut into Burleson's opportunities long term. After allowing 13 touchdowns to receivers through their first six games, the Eagles gave up just two in five straight before yielding a pair of scores to both of the Cardinals' top wideouts last week. But it was just the second time all year a team had more than one receiver score on the Eagles -- and you know Calvin Johnson will get his.
I'd rather start: Roddy White , Packers WRs
, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 23 FPTS
It's a good matchup for Foles -- the Lions have given up multiple passing touchdowns in six of their last seven with 290-plus yards in four of those. Their dominant win over the Packers will serve as a reminder to the Eagles to protect Foles and run the fast-break offense so as to not get him decimated by their massive front line. The Eagles O-line should be up to the task, giving Foles a platform to attack the porous Lions secondary.
I'd start him over: Tony Romo , Cam Newton
, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Before you go and bench Cooper, there's some things you should know. Over his two week cold spell he's been targeted on deep passes five times, drawing penalties on two of them including two that might have otherwise resulted in touchdowns. He's been thrown at into or near the end zone three times in the last two weeks and set up a touchdown on a catch last week. He's playing a ton and has simply either missed his opportunities or had his opportunities to score taken away by an opponent drawing a penalty. The Lions have allowed multiple touchdowns to receivers in five of their last six games and of the 12 touchdowns allowed over their last six games, half have gone to non-No. 1 receivers. Plus the Eagles might have a little trouble running and the passing matchup is definitely in their favor. I've talked myself into starting Cooper.
I'd start him over: Julian Edelman , Eric Decker
Eagles: My Projection: 5 & 3 FPTS
I think the matchup played a big role for these guys last week. The matchup plays an equally important role this week, albeit not for Fantasy purposes. I might expect one or both of these guys to block a bunch and help protect Foles from getting smushed by Ndamukong Suh and Ziggy Ansah. The Lions have allowed only one tight end to score all season and only two to get at least nine Fantasy points.
I'd rather start: Brandon Myers , Rob Housler
Vikings at Ravens, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Matt Cassel looked impressive leading the Vikings to an overtime win last week, but we've seen this from him before. One week he'll play without preparation and he'll shine; the next he'll get all the practice reps and then wilt under pressure. Make no mistake, he'll be under a ton of pressure this week against the Ravens and it should make all the difference in the outcome of this game.
No-brainers: Adrian Peterson
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Jennings' best numbers have come with Cassel under center but he'll play against a Ravens defense that has allowed only five touchdowns to receivers since Week 7. True, the Ravens did allow multiple scores last week to wideouts but one of them wound up with under 10 Fantasy points. There's not a lot to get excited about with Jennings.
I'd rather start: Steve Smith , Marquise Goodwin
, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 18 FPTS
I'd give Flacco a look if I was thin at quarterback. Six straight passers have not only delivered multiple touchdowns against Minnesota but they've all had at least 22 Fantasy points. It is tough to trust Flacco considering he has just three games this season with 20-plus Fantasy points but the matchup is fantastic and the Ravens might need to lean on Flacco given their rushing troubles.
Flow chart: Alex Smith > Matt Ryan > Joe Flacco > Andrew Luck > Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The matchup is seductive: Minnesota has allowed at least 13 Fantasy points to each of the last four starting running backs its faced and 11 of 13 games on the year. This defense stinks against the run as their linebackers either overpursue or are late to the play and the defensive tackles don't make an impact. Rice's two major issues are an offensive line that has had a hard time blocking all year and a lack of quickness that's been missing for much of the year. It's obviously a gamble to start Rice in Fantasy but at least it's comforting to know how bad the Vikings run defense has been and that Rice has accumulated at least 17 touches in each of his last four.
Flow chart: Shane Vereen > Montee Ball > Ray Rice > Chargers RBs > Frank Gore
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Didn't you see what Alshon Jeffery just did to this Vikings defense?! Minnesota has allowed 14 touchdowns to receivers on the season including six in its last five games. They've also allowed seven 100-yard games and another four with 75 to 99 yards. Expect the Ravens to take several deep shots to Smith along with whatever he can get in the red zone.
I'd start him over: Larry Fitzgerald , Wes Welker
Chiefs at Redskins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Redskins used a lot of zone-read scheme stuff mixed with the no-huddle last week and it seemed to serve Robert Griffin III well. Griffin ran his way to a very nice stat line and over 20 Fantasy points, but it hasn't been the norm for him. I would expect the Redskins to try and establish the run before firing some deep shots at the Chiefs much like the Broncos did last week. Those kind of shots have been very hit-or-miss for Washington all season, making this offense a risky proposition to lean on in Fantasy.
No-brainers: Jamaal Charles
, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Smith's been awesome over the last three weeks, posting at least 25 Fantasy points per week. Five quarterbacks have matched or exceeded that total against the Redskins this year, though only two in their last nine games. Lower that bar to 20 Fantasy points and four have hit that number in Washington's last six. The catch here is that we knew Smith would have to throw in each of his last three matchups -- in this contest he might not chuck it as much as the Chiefs aim to just win and not necessarily ramp up their passing attack. So there's some risk.
Flow chart: Josh McCown > Carson Palmer > Alex Smith > Robert Griffin III > Philip Rivers
, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 9 FPTS
If not for a touchdown being called back last week Bowe would have posted a third straight game with at least 11 Fantasy points. The Redskins have allowed a wide receiver to score in eight of 12 games, giving up 177.8 yards per game to the position. It's enough to buy into Bowe for another week as a low-end No. 2 receiver or quality Flex.
Flow chart: Harry Douglas > Jordy Nelson > Dwayne Bowe > Kendall Wright > Roddy White
Robert Griffin III
, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The Chiefs have surrendered eight passing touchdowns over their last two games. That's something the Redskins are sure to take notice of. They'll also see that three straight quarterbacks have thrown for over 300 yards against them. ANd they'll note that a trio of early-season opponents -- Michael Vick , Ryan Fitzpatrick and Terrelle Pryor -- all gained at least 50 rush yards on the Chiefs. This paints a pretty positive picture for a quarterback who hasn't played with much consistency. If Kansas City's pass rush is still iffy and if Jordan Reed plays then Griffin is a quality starter. If Reed is out (or if the Chiefs somehow get their pass rush back to full strength), then Griffin is more of a low-end No. 1 starter.
Flow chart: Carson Palmer > Alex Smith > Robert Griffin III > Philip Rivers > Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Redskins: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Roy Helu , RB, Redskins: My Projection: 5 FPTS
No one liked how limited Morris was last week but part of that was because the Giants did a great job containing him (26 yards on 11 carries). If Morris is limited this week it would likely be because the Redskins are playing from behind, not because of a tough run defense. Kansas City has allowed four rushing touchdowns and 114.0 rush yards per game over its last three. Kansas City has also afforded running backs two receiving touchdowns and 48.7 receiving yards per game over its last three. The unit is struggling and the Redskins should try and take advantage.
I'd start Morris over: Chris Ivory , Bills RBs
Low-end RB Flow chart: Joique Bell > Willis McGahee > Roy Helu > DeAngelo Williams > Jacquizz Rodgers
, WR, Redskins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's funny, Garcon has some of the most reliable metrics among receivers but just hasn't had them translate into great Fantasy success. In seven of his last eight games he has at least 10 targets and at least six catches. But in those eight games he has less than 70 yards in six of them and just one touchdown. Last week was a prime example: He was targeted short on nearly every pass and was wrapped up quickly on most of them, dropping two. The one time he had a chance at even a medium-length play would have counted for six had he run the proper route (at the end of the play he kicked the ball into the stands out of frustration). Garcon's received one target of over 20 yards in his last two games (five in Week 11 at Philadelphia, though he caught none). Before melting down against Eric Decker they had allowed just eight receivers to score and 10 receivers to get 10 or more Fantasy points over 11 games. If the Redskins follow the blueprint laid out by the Broncos last week then they'll try some deep passes. It's just a matter of how many Garcon will get, and how many he'll actually catch.
No. 2 WR Flow chart: Harry Douglas > Jordy Nelson > Pierre Garcon > Dwayne Bowe > Eric Decker
Colts at Bengals, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
With both teams 8-4 and the divisions basically locked up for them, this game is effectively for the No. 3 seed in the AFC. Indianapolis has struggled on both sides of the ball and come into this matchup without defensive end Ricky Jean Francois , a decent run stopper. That means a defense that has allowed a touchdown to a running back in four straight games could have trouble containing the Bengals' running duo.
No-brainers: A.J. Green
, QB, Colts: My Projection: 18 FPTS
It's another outdoor game for Luck against a team with a ferocious pass rush. Cincinnati hasn't allowed a quarterback to do better than 14 Fantasy points in each of its last five. In that span the defense has allowed five total touchdowns to quarterbacks (including one rushing) and no more than 252 passing yards. Even without Geno Atkins and Leon Hall this unit has held up nicely. Luck has struggled outdoors and has had one good game (and four crappy ones) since Reggie Wayne tore his ACL. His offensive line has and will continue to struggle to protect him and opponents have done a nice job taking the deep ball away from him. There's not a lot of confidence in Luck
Flow chart: Josh McCown > EJ Manuel > Andrew Luck > Ryan Tannehill > Eli Manning
, RB, Colts: My Projection: 7 FPTS
For all the hullabaloo over Brown he has yet to exceed 100 total yards in a game this year, meaning if he doesn't score he won't be great for your Fantasy team. Well, here's bad news: The Bengals have allowed just three total touchdowns to running backs all year and none since Week 5!
I'd rather start: Bobby Rainey , Ryan Mathews , Frank Gore
, WR, Colts: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Hilton has been reduced to a short- to mid-range option for Luck and the Colts because teams aren't letting him beat them deep. Hilton has also taken on two tough defenses in three games: The Titans twice and the Cardinals once. But the Bengals aren't a pushover defensively -- they've given up just two touchdowns to receivers in their last five. But they have allowed a 100-yard receiver in each of their last two games thanks in part to yielding one deep completion in each. Hilton caught two long balls last week but neither went for more than 20 yards. In his last three games he and Luck have hooked up on just those two deep passes out of seven tries -- the rest of Hilton's targets have been much shorter. There's no doubt Hilton will get a couple of deep targets but considering the conservative nature of the Colts playcalling and the Bengals defense expected to keep coverage tilted toward Hilton (everyone else has done it), more weak production is likely on the horizon.
Flow chart: Pierre Garcon > Kendall Wright > T.Y. Hilton > Steve Johnson > Marques Colston
, TE, Colts: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Technically the Bengals have allowed a tight end to score in two of their last three games. One went to Ladarius Green last week (the more traditional tight end Antonio Gates was held under 50 yards) and Dallas Clark made his one catch count from a yard out in Week 10. Only one tight end has had more than 50 yards against the Bengals this season and only six tight ends have scored. We've seen Fleener get a steady diet of targets, which helps his cause, but it only makes him a good start for Fantasy, not a great one.
I'd start him over: Vernon Davis , Chargers TEs
, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 16 FPTS
Five of the last six quarterbacks to play the Colts have totaled at least two touchdowns, though only three had more than 20 Fantasy points. Multiple touchdowns and a lack of Fantasy points is pretty much right up Dalton's alley -- he's done that four times already this year (and only three games with 20-plus Fantasy points). Given the matchup for the Bengals' running backs there might not be a lot of work for Dalton to actually do.
I'd rather start: Andrew Luck , Eli Manning
, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis , RB, Bengals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
An injury to defensive end Ricky Jean Francois compounds a developing problem for the Colts defense: They're struggling against running backs. Over their last four games the Colts have allowed 139.8 total yards per game and five touchdowns to backs including at least one score per week. Given this development we should see the Bengals continue to lean on their running backs like they did last week (36 total touches) and the game prior (30 total touches). I wouldn't rule out either rusher as a No. 2 option this week.
Flow chart: Bills RBs > Giovani Bernard > Rashard Mendenhall > Patriots RBs > BenJarvus Green-Ellis > Zac Stacy
Titans at Broncos, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
Tennessee's pass defense will give it a chance to keep the game close but it'll take a major effort from the run game to pull off the upset. On the year Denver is allowing 384.2 total yards per game so it's not like it is dominant. Chris Johnson needs to bring his best game to help the Titans win the time of possession battle and to keep the Broncos offense off the field.
No-brainers: Peyton Manning , Knowshon Moreno , Demaryius Thomas , Julius Thomas
, QB, Titans: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Fitzpatrick has multiple touchdowns in three of his last four but turnovers have hurt his stats and the Titans' game results. There is definitely a chance for Fitzpatrick to deliver some numbers considering the Broncos defense (not to mention the possibility of the Titans playing from behind and throwing a lot). Denver has allowed a quarterback to tally 25-plus Fantasy points in three straight games, twice to Alex Smith , so you don't have to be a mega-gunslinger to upend the Broncos.
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel , Andy Dalton
, RB, Titans: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Titans must get Johnson going to have any shot at staying competitive in this game. His stats say that won't be a problem -- he has at least 17 touches in each of his last five contests. And the Broncos have allowed a running back to get at least 11 Fantasy points in three out of their last four. Taking it a step further, of the seven running backs with at least 17 touches against the Broncos, six posted at least nine Fantasy pints in a standard league. That's a plus considering Johnson has nine or more Fantasy points in seven of 12 games, not exactly a great average.
Flow chart: Bills RBs > Rashard Mendenhall > Chris Johnson > Ray Rice > Zac Stacy
, WR, Titans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Teams ultimately end up throwing a lot on the Broncos because they're playing from behind. On the year Denver is giving up an average of 13.7 yards per catch and 182.4 yards per game to wideouts. Wright should get a lot of that -- he's had at least six grabs in each of his last four games, averaging 12.1 yards per. I like Wright much better in a PPR league because he'll catch a lot of passes.
No. 3 WR Flow chart: Dwayne Bowe > Kendall Wright > T.Y. Hilton > Marques Colston
, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 9 FPTS
My hunch is that the Broncos will lean on the Titans' run defense weaknesses and try to grind their way to a win. That means Ball will continue to see a good amount of work in this offense. He has 10 or more touches in each of his last three and at least 11 Fantasy points in two of those three. Tennessee has allowed 12 touchdowns to running backs in its last eight and multiple touchdowns to rushers in five of its last seven. And over the Titans' last four games they've allowed backs to average 182.0 total yards per game.
I'd start him over: BenJarvus Green-Ellis , Ray Rice , Lamar Miller
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Some might argue "Welker's due" after being statistically soft in four straight games. I think the matchup will help him have a chance to contribute more. While the Titans rank highly against the pass, they tend to leave their top cornerbacks on the outside. That means Welker will see a lot of slot corner Coty Sensabaugh , easily the weakest of the Titans' three corners. Moreover, the Titans haven't taken on an offense with such a great slot receiver this year, so it's a big challenge for them. If you've made it this far with Welker in your Fantasy lineups you'd be hard pressed to pull him now.
I'd start him over: Harry Douglas , Giants WRs, Eric Decker
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 8 FPTS
A lot of people guessed wrong on Decker last week, myself included. But while some of those people might be ready to trust him one game removed from a four-touchdown game, remember that he is just two games removed from a one-catch, 5-yard effort. The Titans pass defense is solid and they might be fine challenging Decker with one cornerback, either Jason McCourty or Alterraun Verner depending on where Decker lines up, and two deep safeties. That's not how the Chiefs went after Decker last week and Manning made them pay for it. You could be in trouble if you expect Decker to put up numbers like he did last week.
I'd rather start: Harry Douglas , Wes Welker , Victor Cruz
Rams at Cardinals, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
Back in Week 1 the Rams beat the Cards by rattling Carson Palmer and leaning on tight end Jared Cook , setting off a troubling trend of tight ends beating up the Cardinals all season. St. Louis would be wise to lean on Cook more this week given how Arizona has struggled against them all season long, including each of the Cards' last three games. A balanced, methodical offensive approach designed to kill the game clock could help the Rams stay close.
, RB, Rams: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's another tough matchup for Stacy. The Cardinals have allowed four 90-total-yard and three rushing touchdowns to running backs all season, clearly making it hard for offenses to grind the ball against them. The Rams lost another key lineman this week in center Scott Wells and tackle Jake Long needs to pass a concussion test to play. With all the absences it seems like a longshot for Stacy to pull off another big game like he's had in three of his last four games.
I'd rather start: Shane Vereen , BenJarvus Green-Ellis , Rashard Mendenhall
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Austin's story is going to be the same -- he's a boom-or-bust type player Fantasy owners should start in the event they need some big points to catch up against a high-scoring opponent. Austin's a good talent but he had seven targets last week and caught one of them. Plus it's not like he'll sneak up on defenses anymore, and the Cardinals have fast defensive backs to keep up with Austin.
I'd rather start: Andre Holmes , Nate Washington , Roddy White
, TE, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Rolling with Cook is for the Fantasy owner who has bounced around at tight end all season (or maybe started the year with Cook). He's caught three or four passes in all but one of his last six games and has more than four catches in just two games this year. But one of those games was against the Cardinals in Week 1 when he cashed in for 141 yards and two touchdowns on seven grabs (all season-highs). The Cards have given up 13 touchdowns to tight ends all year including three last week and five in their last four games. If you're gambling at tight end to begin with, you might as well go with Cook.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett , Jordan Cameron , both Chargers TEs
, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 20 FPTS
The Rams' defensive line will come after Palmer, attacking him the same way pretty much every team has. Heck, St. Louis sacked him four times in Week 1 back when the Cardinals offensive line was at its regular-season best. That's going to be a factor in the game and it could lead Palmer to turn the ball over a couple of times, but you'd be foolish to think Palmer won't continue connect with Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald . Only one of the last nine quarterbacks to play the Rams have posted over 20 Fantasy points but Palmer has been over 20 Fantasy points in three straight and had 21 points at St. Louis back in Week 1.
I'd start him over: Alex Smith , Andrew Luck , Matt Ryan
, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
The Rams have allowed at least one running back to get at least 10 Fantasy points in each of their last four games and have allowed six total touchdowns and 162.8 total yards to backs over that span. If Andre Ellington knee costs him another game then Mendenhall should hog carries against this terrible run defense. Mendenhall has only three games this year with 10-plus Fantasy points, which makes him risky, but he hasn't been the main back in all of those games and the matchup is just to sweet to pass on.
I'd start him over: Shane Vereen , Pierre Thomas , Ryan Mathews
, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Larry Fitzgerald , WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Both guys have produced 10-plus Fantasy points in each of their last three games, an impressive feat. But it's been Floyd who has been better than Fitzgerald in two of those three games. He's been more explosive, forcing defenses to make tough calls on who to cover. That's going to be a problem the Rams face -- typically they've been horrible against one receiver, usually No. 1 options, and solid against everyone else. But this is a secondary that struggled to contain Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis last week as well as Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett the week before. I don't think it's necessarily a tight end problem as much as it is a coverage problem when the pass rush doesn't knock down the quarterback. I like both Cardinals receivers this week with Floyd the more dangerous of the two.
I'd start them both over: Antonio Brown , Vincent Jackson , Eric Decker
Giants at Chargers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
I don't know if either of these teams is going to the playoffs this year but the loser almost certainly won't be. The Giants should continue to run their general offensive game plan of running the ball and not putting Eli Manning in a position to make a mistake. The Chargers might have to lean heavily on Philip Rivers given the Giants' capable run defense.
, QB, Giants: My Projection: 16 FPTS
I don't know how anyone could consider starting Manning at this point. He's been brutal, averaging 13.8 Fantasy points per game with none over 20 Fantasy points since Week 2. Only two of the last seven quarterbacks to face the Chargers have posted over 20 Fantasy points -- one was named Manning but plays in Denver. The other was Alex Smith . I do think Manning will have time to throw and the matchup for his receivers is quite good. I just can't trust him.
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel , Ryan Tannehill
, RB, Giants: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Brown has at least eight Fantasy points in each of his four games since coming back from short-term IR with 15-plus points in three of them. San Diego's run defense has bottomed out, giving up eight rushing touchdowns and 144.2 total yards per game to running backs in their last five. This one's pretty much a no-brainer.
I'd start him over: Alfred Morris , Reggie Bush
, WR, Giants: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Hakeem Nicks , WR, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Rueben Randle , WR, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Does it matter that the matchup is favorable? How many good matchups have the Giants had only for their receivers to struggle? The Chargers' secondary is not good and there is a shot for these guys to put up something decent. They've allowed six scores and 193.6 yards per game to receivers in their last five. Because the Chargers' pass rush isn't expected to get in Eli's face, there's some potential for these receivers to make plays. Targets favor Cruz, plus it doesn't hurt that lead receivers have scored or posted over 150 yards on the Chargers in four of their last five.
I'd start Cruz over: Pierre Garcon , Eric Decker
Flow chart: Jarrett Boykin > Doug Baldwin > Nicks and Randle > Nate Burleson > Steve Smith
, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 19 FPTS
Rivers hasn't been awful in three of his last four games -- he just hasn't scored a ton of touchdowns. I wouldn't be quick to say he'll change that this week but given the make-up of the Giants defense I'd argue he'll throw plenty. The Giants might be cool with that since they've allowed one quarterback to fling multiple touchdowns in a game in their last six. But Rivers' arm is better than most of the passers they've faced in that span and given the multitude of receiving weapons he has, including hot new tight end Ladarius Green , I think Rivers will do moderately well. I'd put him in the conversation as a potential starter but not a slam-dunk.
Flow chart: Robert Griffin III > Philip Rivers > EJ Manuel > Matt Ryan > Andrew Luck
, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Ryan Mathews , RB, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Mathews has been playing very well lately, scoring at least nine Fantasy points in each of his last four and even adding elements of the receiving game into what he's doing. Woodhead hasn't played as much and his touches are way down. I think the matchup could lead to a role reversal this week where Woodhead plays more as a pass catcher against the Giants. In its last four games New York has allowed a stiff 3.7 yards per carry -- but also a good 9.5 yards per catch. That's an element the Chargers have to look at, and for Rivers to remember when he needs to check down against them on Sunday. The last two running backs to score on the Giants maxed out at 10 Fantasy points each -- consider that a ceiling for Mathews.
Flow chart: Ray Rice > Zac Stacy > Chargers RBs > Frank Gore > Donald Brown
, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Allen continues to make plays for the Chargers and is a tough guy to sit out of lineups. Two of the last three No. 1 receivers the G-Men have faced went over 100 yards receiving, a mark Allen has topped in each of his last two games and five of his last eight. In fact every time he's had over six targets he's had over 100 yards, and chances are he'll have a slew of targets in this one as the Chargers opt to throw the ball.
I'd start him over: Antonio Brown , Vincent Jackson
, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Antonio Gates , TE, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
It's risky to buy into either of these guys, but they have their merits. In keeping with the theory that the Chargers will have to throw in this contest, both guys should emerge with decent targets and the chance to make plays. But it's Green who has the speed and athleticism to make long plays while in mismatch situations while Gates seems relegated to a short-area role. Green has grossly outperformed Gates in each of the Chargers' last two games and will be harder for the Giants to cover. New York has allowed three touchdowns to tight ends over its last two games, more proof of a favorable matchup for both guys.
Flow chart: Heath Miller > Jared Cook > Ladarius Green > Martellus Bennett > Antonio Gates > Jordan Cameron
Seahawks at 49ers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
Weaknesses will be attacked in this game and unfortunately for the 49ers it means a lot of pressure on their offensive line. Left tackle Joe Staley is expected to miss a couple of games with a knee injury. Left guard Mike Iupati is a lynchpin for the run game -- since he's been hurt the Niners have struggled to run. If he plays he won't be at 100 percent. If they're both out then the Niners will have to deal with a ton of blitz packages from the oversized, athletic and hyper-aggressive Seahawks defensive front. That could spell bad news for the Niners.
No-brainers: Marshawn Lynch
, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 20 FPTS
I've relied on matchups to guide me to Fantasy success, but I think highly talented players can transcend tough matchups. I'd call Wilson one of those players. He's scored multiple touchdowns in six straight games, posting 22-plus Fantasy points in five of them. So while I respect the Niners defense, which has held all but two quarterbacks to under 20 Fantasy points this year, I just can't call Wilson someone to bench unless a very capable quarterback (or someone as hot as Wilson) is in the conversation.
I'd start him over: Carson Palmer , Alex Smith , Robert Griffin III
, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Golden Tate , WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 6 FPTS
It's time to buy into Baldwin as a helper in Fantasy. He's scored in three of his last four with at least 60 yards in each of those four games. That's better than Tate, who is way more of a boom-or-bust type of wideout (three games with 12-plus Fantasy points, seven with five or fewer). The Niners have been tough on receivers: In their last six games the Niners have allowed two receivers to 10 Fantasy points (none to more), one to nine and one to eight.
Flow chart: Steve Johnson > Doug Baldwin > Steve Smith > Golden Tate > Lance Moore
, QB, 49ers: My projection: 14 FPTS
Kaepernick's track record against the Seahawks along with his pass protection make him a very risky play. In two career starts against Seattle he has one touchdown, four interceptions, a fumble and a 50 pct. completion rate. The area he's done well in is rushing, where he has 118 yards over those two games including 87 yards back in Week 2. But I don't think he will improve to the point of being dominant, particularly if his offensive line isn't at 100 percent.
I'd rather start: Ryan Tannehill , Eli Manning , Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, 49ers: My projection: 7 FPTS
Gore had a big game against the Seahawks at home on a Thursday night last year. In two games since he's been squashed for 44 rush yards and 14 receiving yards. Moreover, Gore hasn't sported a strong rushing average since losing guard Mike Iupati . If he's out along with Joe Staley at left tackle then Gore's chances of having a big game drop exponentially.
I'd rather start: Bobby Rainey , Ray Rice , Chris Ivory
, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Anquan Boldin , WR, 49ers: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Crabtree looked a step slower than I remember last week and Boldin has been heating up but the matchup against the Seahawks should cool him off. I don't think we'll see Richard Sherman follow Boldin or Crabtree around this time. Instead we'll probably see the Seahawks lean on zone coverage to corral the receiving threats while using their pass rush to attack Kaepernick. I don't like the matchup for either receiver.
I'd rather start: Jarrett Boykin , Brandon LaFell , Doug Baldwin
, TE, 49ers: My projection: 8 FPTS
You'll probably start Vernon Davis because the alternatives are just as risky, but he's been terrible against the Seahawks of late. He's been held out of the end zone in five straight against Seattle with no more than 54 yards in those games.
Flow chart: Heath Miller > Coby Fleener > Vernon Davis > Jared Cook > Chargers TEs
Panthers at Saints, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
I know the matchup says the Panthers defense will keep things tough but the Saints are a very different team at home compared to on the road. Throw in the prime time factor along with the major playoff implications and there's no doubt Drew Brees will have his team ready for a strong rebound.
No-brainers: Drew Brees , Jimmy Graham
, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
There's a lot for the Panthers to attack after the Seahawks blew the doors off of the Saints defense last week. Cam Newton make the throws that Russell Wilson made last week? And can he possibly make them in the Superdome? In two career games in New Orleans Newton has one passing touchdown, two interceptions and under 250 yards passing and under 50 yards rushing. Both of those games were pretty much meaningless Week 17 matchups. This time around it isn't so meaningless. As it stands only four quarterbacks have tossed two or more scores on the Saints this year. Two came in the Superdome but only one got to 20 Fantasy points. I'd be nervous going with Newton this week but his potential keeps him very much in the mix.
Flow chart: Nick Foles > Josh McCown > Tony Romo > Cam Newton > Russell Wilson > Carson Palmer
, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
DeAngelo Williams , RB, Panthers: My Projection: 5 FPTS
If there's one thing the Saints did a good job with last week it was stopping the run, the second time in three weeks they did such. That's helped hold opposing rushers to just one touchdown and 111.7 total yards per game over their last three. That along with the tough road environment makes the Panthers running backs risky plays.
I'd rather start: Donald Brown , Pierre Thomas
, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Steve Smith , WR, Panthers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
I wouldn't count on these guys if I didn't have to, especially Smith, who hasn't been strong for much of this year. But we have seen the Saints begin to struggle with receivers over their last four games, giving up three touchdowns and 126.5 yards per game to the position in that span. That's not exactly great.
I'd rather start: Andre Holmes , Kendall Wright , Rod Streater
, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Olsen has eight or more Fantasy points in five of his last six and the Saints have allowed two touchdowns in their last three games. Seems like Olsen is a slam dunk to me, especially as a short-area target for Newton to lean on.
I'd start him over: Heath Miller , Vernon Davis
, RB, Saints: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Thomas will touch the ball the most of the Saints running backs but running into the teeth of the Panthers defense isn't a good idea. Carolina has allowed just three rushing touchdowns (four total) to running backs all season and only five rushers have had over 80 total yards against it. We just got done seeing Thomas struggle against a great Seattle run defense -- it seems reasonable to expect another difficult game from him, even if the Saints try and just blow out the Panthers.
I'd rather start: Rashard Mendenhall , BenJarvus Green-Ellis
, WR, Saints: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Colston should be a decent short- and mid-range target for Brees but not one of his playmakers. He's just underwhelmed this year, posting over 100 yards once this year (four times total over the last two seasons). With the Panthers good at keeping receivers out of the end zone (three TDs allowed on the year!), there isn't enough to separate Colston from the reliable receivers around the league.
I'd rather start: Steve Johnson , Jarrett Boykin
Cowboys at Bears, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
It would be smart for Dallas to stick to its ground game as the Bears have been pitiful in slowing down running backs. I know there are concerns about the Cowboys wearing down DeMarco Murray but he should be given a big dose of work with Joseph Randle pitching in. The Bears have held three straight quarterbacks to one touchdown but they've all been lesser passers -- elite quarterbacks have done well against the Bears this season.
No-brainers: DeMarco Murray , Dez Bryant ; Matt Forte , Alshon Jeffery , Brandon Marshall
, QB, Cowboys: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Yeah, Romo's numbers have been terrible lately -- three straight without
20 Fantasy points -- but if the Cowboys expect to keep up with the Bears
then Romo has to throw, especially once the Cowboys establish the run.
Dominant receivers (and even some lesser receivers) have performed very
well against the Bears lately, suggesting that if Romo leans on
then the numbers will follow.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton , Russell Wilson
, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 10 FPTS
One of the weaknesses the Bears have defensively is against tight ends thanks to the injuries and poor play they've had from their linebackers and safeties. A tight end has been worth at least six Fantasy points in three of the last four games the Bears have played. That should be enough to have some reasonable confidence in Witten, who Romo should need to lean on in this game.
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen , Heath Miller
, QB, Bears: My Projection: 22 FPTS
It's not like the Cowboys pass defense is anything special, either. Last week they looked pretty good against Matt McGloin but in their two previous games they allowed multiple touchdowns to the Saints (in a blowout) and the Giants (Eli lives!). More importantly McCown has delivered at least 22 Fantasy points in three of his last four starts, proof enough that he is more than serviceable in a quarterback-friendly offense loaded with talent.
I'd start him over: Tony Romo , Cam Newton , Russell Wilson
, TE, Bears: My Projection: 7 FPTS
My colleague Jamey Eisenberg sold me on Bennett on the strength of two stats: One, he has played well against his former teams over the last two seasons, scoring on both. Two, the Cowboys have allowed a tight end to score in two of their last four games. Bennett's worth a look as a low-end starting option.
I'd start him over: Antonio Gates , Charles Clay
Texans at Jaguars, Thurs., 8:25 p.m. ET
The deflating loss for the Texans (their 10th straight), the encouraging win for the Jaguars (their third in four games) and the short week suggest a beat-down delivered by the Jaguars. That might seem odd considering the team's lack of production at home -- they've yet to win a game there and have scored just two offensive touchdowns in Jacksonville all season. The Jaguars defense has improved dramatically against the run and could make it hard on Ben Tate to repeat his feats from last week.
No-brainers: Andre Johnson
, QB, Texans: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Two weeks ago the Jaguars held Keenum to 169 passing yards and no touchdowns with an interception. He sort of rebounded last week against the Texans, running for a touchdown and passing for 272 yards, but he's still throwing up an interception per game (he has one in each of his last three) and his completion percentage is in the tank. The Jaguars have allowed an opposing passer to hit 20 Fantasy points in four of their last five games including lowly Brandon Weeden last week but it's tough to trust Keenum outside of deeper two-QB leagues.
I'd rather start: EJ Manuel , Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Texans: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Tate surprised everyone last week with a three touchdown game against a Patriots defense that has struggled against the run. The same can't be said for the Jaguars, who have held opposing rushers to 2.6 yards per carry over their last four games (with two touchdowns allowed). The Texans gave up on Tate two weeks ago when he had all of 1 yard on seven carries against the Jaguars, helping that rushing average. Something tells me they'll stick with Tate a little longer on Sunday, though I suspect he won't find nearly as much success as he had last week.
I'd start him over: Rashard Mendenhall , Patriots RBs
, TE, Texans: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Graham is still in play for Fantasy owners because of all the targets he gets. Over his last three games he's averaged 10.7 passes thrown his way per. You can't ignore that kind of opportunity, though the rest of his numbers are brutal: one game with over 100 yards and a touchdown and two games with under 40 yards with no score. He had 32 yards on five grabs against the Jags two weeks ago. Jacksonville has given up three touchdowns to tight ends in its last four games but only one has had even 70 yards receiving in its last eight.
Low-end TE Flow chart: Jared Cook > Martellus Bennett > Garrett Graham > Charles Clay > Jordan Cameron
, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 13 FPTS
MJD is responsible for a touchdown in four straight games including a rush score at Houston in Week 12 (he had 144 total yards with it). The Texans run defense continues to drag, giving up 146.4 total yards per game to backs over their last five with four total touchdowns (at least one rushing touchdown in each of last three games). The way Jones-Drew is racking up touches makes him a prime candidate to continue the Texans' defensive skids.
I'd start him over: Le'Veon Bell , Steven Jackson , Alfred Morris
, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Since complaining about his workload Shorts has attained 11 targets in each of his last two games, tallying 14 catches for 135 yards and a game-winning touchdown on cornerback Joe Haden last week. The Texans have managed to stay strong against receivers, giving up under 12 yards per catch to the position on the year. Kareem Jackson is back for Houston, improving the unit. Shorts remains a better PPR option than standard-league guy.
I'd rather start: Julian Edelman , Dwayne Bowe
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