It seems like every year a quarterback you never expected becomes a relevant Fantasy option, at least for a stretch of the season. Last year it was Tim Tebow. In 2010 it was Michael Vick. Go back to 2007 when Derek Anderson was a standout for the Browns.
This year, Russell Wilson could be that quarterback.
|Matthew Stafford||vs. CHI|
|Ben Roethlisberger||vs. CLE|
|Matt Ryan||vs. TB|
|Colin Kaepernick||vs. ARI|
|Matt Schaub||at IND|
Fantasy owners haven't really bought into Wilson in the majority of leagues. His ownership (67 percent) and start percentage (16 percent) is at a high this week against St. Louis. But for the past several weeks Fantasy owners have been missing out because Wilson has been a star.
Drew Brees (88 points), Matt Ryan (88) and Cam Newton (83) are the only quarterbacks over the past three weeks with more Fantasy production than Wilson, who has 81 points over that span. Had he done more in a blowout victory against the Cardinals in Week 14 when he had just 10 Fantasy points he could easily be No. 1. He has at least 19 points in seven of his past eight games with five games of at least 23 points coming into this matchup with the Rams.
Now, this is no easy matchup for him. St. Louis has held each of the past six opposing quarterbacks to 14 Fantasy points or less, but the Rams have faced some of the worst passing attacks in the NFL over that stretch, including the Jets, Cardinals, Bills and Vikings. Wilson just destroyed an elite-level defense in the 49ers at home with 30 Fantasy points, and he's been a star in Seattle with at least 20 Fantasy points in four of his past five starts. We expect him to play well once again in his final matchup before his first NFL playoff appearance.
There have been few quarterbacks who have been more consistent than Wilson since Week 7. In his past eight games he has been a Top 12 quarterback seven times with two Top 5 finishes, and he was the No. 5 quarterback last week.
If he plays as expected this week and finishes the season strong, he could end up as a Top 12 quarterback for the year. He is currently No. 10 in standard leagues at 284 points, but he's only seven points behind Andrew Luck. Heading into next year, we can see Wilson as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy quarterback. He has a chance to be drafted as a starter depending on how some things shake out to end this year and the offseason.
My early Top 12 quarterbacks next year will be as follows:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Drew Brees, Saints
3. Tom Brady, Patriots
4. Cam Newton, Panthers
5. Peyton Manning, Broncos
6. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons
8. Matthew Stafford, Lions
9. Andrew Luck, Colts
10. Tony Romo, Cowboys
11. Eli Manning, Giants
12. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
You can argue that Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton or Josh Freeman can all crack the Top 12. But for now that's the early projection, and Wilson would likely be drafted with a mid-round pick. Wilson has proven this year that he can be a starter for your Fantasy team. The problem is that few owners have trusted him -- until now.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys||25||40||70||1|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||21||30||15||5|
|Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins||11||28||61||1|
|Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos||13||11||75||14|
|Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers||18||13||33||22|
|Josh Gordon, WR, Browns||7||0||39||100|
|Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals||9||minus-2||21||68|
|Matt Schaub, QB, Texans||21||7||45||28|
|Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders||13||4||58||37|
|Danny Amendola, WR, Rams||12||minus-2||39||101|
|Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens||17||30||16||6|
|Mark Ingram, RB, Saints||7||11||12||15|
|Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers||7||12||46||19|
Tony Romo (at WAS): Romo was amazing in Week 16 when he had his best performance of the season with 40 Fantasy points. He now has 757 passing yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in his past two games against the Steelers and Saints, and he is ready for his rematch with the Redskins. In Week 12 against Washington, Romo passed for 441 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, which was good for 33 Fantasy points -- one of nine times the Redskins have allowed at least 20 points by an opposing quarterback this year. Look for Romo to finish the year on a high note, and he's just 315 passing yards short of 5,000 yards.
Andrew Luck (vs. HOU): It's risky to trust Luck for a couple of reasons. First, he's struggled of late. He has two games with at least 20 Fantasy points since Week 9, both on the road, and has just 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his past seven games. He also might not play a full game if the Colts decide to rest their starters since they are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. But one of those 20-point games was against the Texans in Week 15, and Houston has struggled of late with four quarterbacks scoring at least 20 points in the past six games. Reggie Wayne has asked for the Colts to play a full game in Week 17, and we agree with him. As long as Luck plays the majority of the game he should do well.
Robert Griffin III (vs. DAL): The last big game Griffin had was Week 12 at Dallas with 36 Fantasy points. Since then he has been at 19 points or less, including hurting his knee, which forced him to sit in Week 15. Still, he is capable of a big outing each week, and we like his chances in the rematch with the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed 785 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception the past two games against Roethlisberger and Brees the past two weeks, and we've seen Griffin play big in big spots. With a playoff spot on the line, we're expecting fireworks from Romo and Griffin, and the rookie should have another dominant performance.
Michael Vick (at NYG): We can understand the hesitation to trust Vick. He's been out since Week 10 with a concussion, and he was struggling before he left with just two games with more than 19 Fantasy points. But this is one of the biggest job auditions of Vick's life. He is trying to show the coach who will eventually replace Andy Reid (Chip Kelly maybe?) that he can still start for the Eagles, and he's also hoping to put on a show for the 31 other teams. He's facing a reeling Giants defense that has allowed 579 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions to Ryan and Joe Flacco the past two games, and Vick did have 19 Fantasy points against the Giants in Week 4.
Eli Manning (vs. PHI): Manning is starting to get road-itis with his performance away from New York this year. He has one game this season with more than 17 Fantasy points on the road, which was Week 4 at Philadelphia when he scored 22. At home, however, Manning has been the quarterback we expected. He has four games with at least three touchdowns at home, including his past two against the Packers and Saints. This week he's facing an Eagles defense that has allowed multiple touchdowns to the past nine quarterbacks they have played with only one interception over that span. Six of those quarterbacks have at least 20 Fantasy points, and we expect Manning to end his disappointing season on a high note.
|Jay Cutler||(at DET)||DET has allowed nine quarterbacks to score at least 18 Fantasy points this year.|
|Colin Kaepernick||(vs. ARI)||Should bounce back at home after last week's tough loss at SEA.|
|Philip Rivers||(vs. OAK)||OAK has allowed eight quarterbacks to score at least 21 Fantasy points this year.|
Joe Flacco (at CIN): Flacco deserves plenty of credit for finishing the season on a high note. He has at least 18 Fantasy points in five of his past seven games, with the two poor outings against the Steelers. Since Jim Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator, Flacco has 563 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception against Denver and the Giants. He also has done well on the road with 20 Fantasy points at San Diego and 21 points at Washington. But facing the Bengals is tough. The last seven quarterbacks they have faced have all been at 14 Fantasy points or less, including Eli Manning (two points), Carson Palmer (seven points), Philip Rivers (nine points), Romo (14 points) and Roethlisberger (10 points). Even though Cincinnati might rest some starters we'd still count on Flacco struggling on the road here.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CLE): Roethlisberger missed the first game with the Browns in Week 12 with a shoulder injury, but Fantasy owners might want to bench him for the rematch. He is coming off a miserable performance against the Bengals with 220 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and he is expected to be without top targets in Heath Miller (knee) and Mike Wallace (hip). The Browns have allowed 668 passing yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions the past two games against Kirk Cousins and Peyton Manning, but this should be a game where the Steelers can rely on their running game with a banged up receiving corps.
Andy Dalton (vs. BAL): Dalton was held to five Fantasy points in the first meeting with the Ravens in Week 1, but that game seems like a year ago. Dalton has definitely improved since then, but he's struggling to the finish line. He has 16 Fantasy points or less in each of his past four games with three touchdowns and five interceptions over that span. The Ravens have only allowed five quarterbacks to score 20 Fantasy points this season, and in the past two weeks have shut down both Manning brothers to 354 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for 26 combined Fantasy points. Since there's a chance the Bengals could rest their starters with their playoff seed locked into No. 6 in the AFC, there's no need to risk starting Dalton, especially with how he's struggled.
Josh Freeman (at ATL): Even though the Falcons might not play their starters a full game this week with the No. 1 seed in the NFC locked up, we'd still be wary of using Freeman because he's struggled against the Falcons in his career. In his past six meetings with Atlanta, Freeman is averaging fewer than 13 Fantasy points a game with seven total touchdowns and 11 total turnovers over that span. The Falcons have also done well against opposing quarterbacks with Brees and Newton the only quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns against Atlanta this year, including matchups with Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Palmer, Vick, Romo and Stafford. Freeman also has 14 combined Fantasy points in his past two games against the Saints and Rams with eight interceptions over that span.
Sam Bradford (at SEA): Bradford had a dream matchup in Week 16 at Tampa Bay, and he failed to take advantage of it with just 17 Fantasy points. He now has just one game with more than 18 points since Week 10. Against division foes this year, Bradford is averaging just 15 Fantasy points, and he was held to six points in Week 4 against the Seahawks at home. So far, the only quarterback to come into Seattle and have more than 14 Fantasy points was Brady, including matchups with Romo, Rodgers and Kaepernick, and we don't expect Bradford to play at Brady's level this week.
Bust alert: Matt Ryan (vs. TB): The only reason Ryan is listed here is the chance he doesn't play a full game against the Bucs because the Falcons have nothing to play for after clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Ryan can still post quality stats against Tampa Bay even if he plays just a half, so you have to weigh the risk/reward in starting him. In my projections, I have Ryan throwing two touchdowns on 18 pass attempts, and he can definitely do more against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed at least 25 Fantasy points in three of this past four games against Peyton Manning, Nick Foles and Brees, but we just don't expect Ryan to be out there for four quarters in a meaningless game.
Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram (vs. CAR): For the past two games we've seen Sproles and Ingram both shine. Ingram has 27 Fantasy points over that span with two touchdowns against Tampa Bay and Dallas, and he now has three touchdowns in his past four games. Sproles has 24 Fantasy points in those same outings, mostly because of his receiving skills with 12 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. He has double digits in Fantasy points in three games in a row. The last time the Saints faced the Panthers in Week 2 both played well as Ingram had 16 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, and Sproles had 13 catches for 128 yards. We're counting on a similar performance in the season finale.
Reggie Bush (at NE): Bush is definitely doing a good job to earn a big paycheck in 2013 as an impending free agent. He had 28 Fantasy points in Week 16 against Buffalo, and he now has at least nine Fantasy points in four of his past five games. The lone exception during that stretch was Week 13 against New England when he had just six points, but the Patriots have allowed three running backs in a row to reach double digits in Fantasy points after that game in Arian Foster, Frank Gore and Montell Owens. One change for Bush since then is his workload since he has 40 carries the past two games against the Jaguars and Bills, and he should dominate the touches again in Week 17.
Shonn Greene (at BUF): Despite his team falling apart around him, Greene continues to post solid stat lines. It wasn't pretty in Week 16 against San Diego with 14 carries for 38 yards, but he scored two touchdowns to finish with 19 Fantasy points. He now has double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games. He played well against the Bills in Week 1 with 27 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, and Buffalo has allowed a running back to score in each of the past three games with Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch and Bush. Greene should have the chance for another quality outing as the lone Jets offensive player to trust.
Knowshon Moreno (vs. KC): Moreno just continues to dominate week after week, and he's a Top 10 running back for me this week. He's helping the Broncos roll into the playoffs with double digits in Fantasy points in four of the past five games, including 49 points the past three weeks. He faces the Chiefs again for the second time since Week 12, and he had 20 carries for 85 yards and four catches for 26 yards the first time around. He is also a star in PPR leagues with at least four catches in four of five starts, and we've been completely impressed with his dominance since taking over for the injured Willis McGahee (knee).
LeSean McCoy (at NYG): Welcome back, LeSean. We missed you. McCoy returned in Week 16 against Washington after being out for four games with a concussion and played well with 13 carries for 45 yards and nine catches for 77 yards. He now has double digits in Fantasy points in nine of 11 games, including Week 4 against the Giants when he had 23 carries for 123 yards and three catches for 17 yards. The Giants have been struggling with opposing running backs of late with Alfred Morris, Sproles, Michael Turner, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce all reaching double digits in Fantasy points in the past four games. We expect McCoy to add his name to that list.
|Montell Owens||(at TEN)||Has double digits in Fantasy points in two of his past three games.|
|Jackie Battle||(vs. OAK)||OAK has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns to running backs this year.|
|Joique Bell||(vs. CHI)||Has at least eight Fantasy points in four of his past five outings.|
|Bernard Pierce||(at CIN)||Could see increased action if BAL decides to rest Ray Rice.|
|Rashard Mendenhall||(vs. CLE)||CLE has allowed five rushing touchdowns in past three games.|
Michael Turner (vs. TB): Like we said about Ryan, this also could be a short week of work for Turner with the Falcons having nothing to play for. The Falcons will likely use a lot of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling in this matchup, and Turner might not even see the field. For statistical purposes, Turner did snap his five-game touchdown streak last week at Detroit, and he was held to eight Fantasy points against the Bucs in their previous meeting in Week 12 despite scoring a touchdown. There's little upside in playing Turner this week even if he starts in Week 17 because he might not play all four quarters.
Vick Ballard (vs. HOU): Ballard was a tremendous letdown in Week 16 at Kansas City with 20 carries for 69 yards. This was after three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points, including Week 15 at Houston when he had 18 carries for 105 yards. But that game was without Texans linebacker Brooks Reed (groin), but he's expected to play in Week 17. He was active for Week 16 against Minnesota and helped hold Adrian Peterson to 25 carries for 86 yards before hurting himself again. Still, having Reed in the lineup is a bonus for the Texans, and the inconsistent Ballard could be a failure again. We still consider him a flex option in standard formats, but his performance against the lowly Chiefs left a bad taste in our mouth for the final game of the season.
Beanie Wells (at SF): We expected Wells to struggle in Week 16 against Chicago, but we didn't anticipate minus-2 Fantasy points with four carries for 3 yards and a fumble. He now expects to leave Arizona in 2013, and he considers Week 17 at the 49ers his audition. Good luck. San Francisco hasn't been as dominant this season in run defense as in years past since seven times a running back has reached double digits in Fantasy points this year. But they will definitely be able to stifle Wells and his paltry 2.7 yards per carry.
Montario Hardesty (at PIT): There could be an owner looking for a sleeper this week with Matt Forte (ankle) and Trent Richardson (ankle) injured, but we're not expecting much from Hardesty as a spot starter. He has just one touchdown in two years of limited action, and Richardson has been getting by with his touchdowns since he hasn't run for more than 53 yards since Week 13. The Steelers also have allowed one running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in their past three games, including shutting down BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week to one point. We'd look for other alternatives to Hardesty even though he's starting for Richardson.
Ryan Grant (at MIN): Grant was great in a blowout effort against the Titans in Week 16. He had 20 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns, with both coming in the fourth quarter, and he added one catch for 34 yards. Maybe he scores again in Week 17 against the Vikings, but there's no reason to trust Grant. Minnesota hasn't allowed a running back to score in the past three games, including matchups with Forte, Steven Jackson and Arian Foster. Grant is still sharing carries with DuJuan Harris, who also scored against the Titans, and there's a chance Alex Green (concussion) could return this week. There's more risk than reward in trusting Grant, and we expect him to go back to posting pedestrian stats in this matchup.
Bust alert: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. BAL): Green-Ellis falls into the same category as Turner since the Bengals have nothing to play for as the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and he could have minimal playing time. The Bengals need Green-Ellis healthy for the playoffs, and they might lean on Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard this week against the Ravens. We would like Green-Ellis if this was a meaningful game for the Bengals since the Ravens have struggled against opposing running backs of late, but look for Green-Ellis to spend plenty of time on the sidelines in Week 17.
Danario Alexander (vs. OAK): Alexander has burned us each of the past two weeks. We liked him against Carolina in Week 15, and he finished with no catches on three targets. We didn't like him in Week 16 with a matchup against Antonio Cromartie and the Jets, and he had three catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on six targets. That gives Alexander six touchdowns since Week 10 and five games with double digits in Fantasy points over that span. He should finish the season strong against the Raiders, who have allowed 11 No. 1 receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points this year, including Steve Smith last week.
James Jones (at MIN): Based on Average Draft Position, Greg Jennings was a second-round pick in the majority of leagues on CBSSports.com, and Jordy Nelson was taken in Round 3. Randall Cobb was the next Packers receiver selected in Round 14, and Jones was finally drafted in Round 18. You can see where we're going with this since Jones has been the best Fantasy receiver in Green Bay this year at 146 points, which is two points better than Cobb. Nelson is third at 100 points, and Jennings has just 33. We expect another solid outing from Jones this week, especially if Cobb (ankle) and Nelson (hamstring) are out. Jones has scored a touchdown in three of his past four games, including Week 12 against the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed a receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points in seven of the past nine games, and Jones has three games with double digits in Fantasy points against the Vikings in their past five meetings.
Michael Crabtree (vs. ARI): Crabtree, as expected, struggled in Week 16 at Seattle once it was determined Richard Sherman would remain active. He held Crabtree to four catches for 65 yards on nine targets, which was his worst game since Week 12. But we expect Crabtree to bounce back at home. He has at least nine Fantasy points in six of his past eight games, including Week 8 at Arizona when he had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. He has at least nine targets in his past four games, and he should see even more action with Mario Manningham (knee) and Vernon Davis (concussion) banged up. Arizona has allowed a receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points in seven of the past nine games, and Crabtree has three games with double digits in Fantasy points against the Cardinals in their past five meetings.
Kenny Britt (vs. JAC): You have to like the way Britt is closing the season. He has double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past four games, and the game he struggled was Week 15 against Cromartie. He was able to score last week at Green Bay despite a blowout loss, and we expect him to finish strong against the Jaguars. He already scored against Jacksonville in Week 12 with three catches for 25 yards, and the Jaguars have allowed a receiver to score in four of the past six games. Britt also has a good history against Jacksonville with four touchdowns in his past three meetings and two games with at least 105 yards in his past five outings against the Jaguars.
Pierre Garcon (vs. DAL): Garcon has done a solid job to close the season with 30 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns in his past five games. That stretch started in Week 12 at Dallas with four catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. He hasn't scored in the past two games, but the encouraging thing is he has 21 targets in those outings. Since the Cowboys have allowed six receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points in their past five games with seven touchdowns over that span, we expect Garcon to finish the regular season on a high note in what should be a fun game to decide the NFC East.
|Justin Blackmon||(at TEN)||TEN has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing receivers since Week 12.|
|Miles Austin||(at WAS)||Has at least seven Fantasy points in three of his past four games.|
|Randy Moss||(vs. ARI)||Playing time will increase dramatically with Mario Manningham (knee) out.|
|Santana Moss||(vs. DAL)||Has at least seven Fantasy points in each of his past five meetings with DAL.|
|Brandon LaFell||(at NO)||No. 2 receivers have a good track record vs. NO this season.|
Steve Johnson (vs. NYJ): It's hard to trust Johnson because every time he has a bad matchup he tends to play well, but he also disappears at times, which is what happened the past two games. He had 17 Fantasy points against Seattle in Week 15 despite a matchup with Sherman, but he was held to two Fantasy points last week at Miami. In his past four games he has one with more than seven Fantasy points, and this week he will face Cromartie. Trust him if you want in Week 17, but I expect Cromartie to rebound after getting beat by Alexander last week.
Brandon Lloyd (vs. MIA): Lloyd could have the chance for a big game this week if Rob Gronkowski (forearm) remains out and Dolphins corner Sean Smith (knee) is out or limited. The last time Lloyd faced the Dolphins in Week 13 he was held to one catch for 10 yards on one target, mostly because of Smith, who was injured last week but has the chance to play. Since then, Lloyd took off with a great three-game stretch with 39 Fantasy points against Houston, San Francisco and Jacksonville, but he has just one touchdown over that span. And it's unlikely the Patriots will be playing in a comeback effort, which could limit Lloyd's targets. If Gronkowski plays, we would avoid Lloyd altogether because he would drop to No. 4 on the pecking order behind Wes Welker and both tight ends.
Larry Fitzgerald (at SF): So far this season there have been two outside receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points against the 49ers. The first was James Jones in Week 1, and then Lloyd did it in Week 15. Only three other receivers have reached double digits as well in Victor Cruz, Danny Amendola and Doug Baldwin, and Fitzgerald was held to five catches for 52 yards against the 49ers in Week 8. We like that Fitzgerald played well against the Bears in Week 16 with eight catches for 111 yards on 12 targets, and the addition of Brian Hoyer at quarterback should help. But the last time Fitzgerald reached double digits on the road was Week 9 at Green Bay, which is his lone game with double digits on the road this season. With the 49ers in a must-win game they will focus on stopping Fitzgerald this week.
Denarius Moore (at SD): I wish these were lottery numbers I was about to rattle off, but instead this is Moore's Fantasy production from the past six games: 0, 8, 3, 4, 4, 1. The troubling part is he's had at least six targets in five of those games, and now he goes from Palmer (ribs) to Matt Leinart at quarterback. The Chargers have allowed 19 touchdowns to opposing receivers this year, but we can't trust Moore based on his recent production and the quarterback change. All the Raiders receivers are risky options, especially with Oakland also expected to use Terrelle Pryor in special packages.
Josh Gordon (at PIT): We expected Gordon to struggle in Week 16 with a matchup with Champ Bailey, and he finished with just one catch for 7 yards on three targets. His outlook isn't much better against the Steelers, and this has little to do with his defensive opponent. The Browns are expected to be without Brandon Weeden (shoulder), but Colt McCoy (shoulder) is also hurt. That could leave No. 3 quarterback Thaddeus Lewis as the starter at Pittsburgh, and we would avoid Gordon at all costs then. He had just four catches for 60 yards against the Steelers in Week 12, and he has combined for just 10 Fantasy points in his past three games overall.
Bust alert: Antonio Brown (vs. CLE): Brown is closing the season like the breakout player we expected. He has a touchdown in three games in a row, and he's scored at least nine Fantasy points in each outing. This week, though, Brown could struggle. With Wallace and Miller out, Brown will likely match up with Joe Haden, which could be a problem. Now, the Broncos ripped through the Browns secondary last week with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker combining for 15 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, but Haden previously has limited Pierre Garcon, Dwayne Bowe, Moore and Wallace to seven Fantasy points or less. Brown missed the previous Browns game in Week 12 with an ankle injury, but we could see him struggle in this matchup. He should be considered just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Antonio Gates (vs. OAK): It's nice to see Gates finish the season strong with his performance the past two games. He has six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina and the Jets, and he should do well again this week. The Raiders have allowed a tight end to score at least eight Fantasy points in five of their past seven games, and Gates has double digits in Fantasy points in three of his past five meetings with Oakland.
Greg Olsen (at NO): Olsen has struggled of late with five Fantasy points in each of his past two games against San Diego and Oakland, but the encouraging thing is he's still getting plenty of targets. He has 16 targets over that span, and he should continue to get a hefty amount of work this week. He only had one catch for 13 yards in Week 2 against New Orleans, but the Saints have allowed a tight end to score at least eight Fantasy points in five of their past seven games. Olsen also scored against the Saints in one of two meetings last year, and we like the matchup for him in what should be a high-scoring affair.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. GB): Rudolph was back in the end zone again in Week 16 at Houston following a two-game absence, and we like his chances to score against the Packers. He had a touchdown in Week 13 against Green Bay with six catches for 51 yards, and the Packers have allowed a tight end to score in two of their past three outings. The key for Rudolph is targets. He has eight games this season with at least six targets, and he's scored in seven of those games, including seven in a row. So our message to Christian Ponder and the Vikings is this: keep Rudolph involved and we'll all benefit.
|Delanie Walker||(vs. ARI)||Could be a No. 1 option if Vernon Davis (concussion) is out.|
|Dwayne Allen||(vs. HOU)||Scored against HOU in Week 15 and has chance to score again.|
|Jacob Tamme||(vs. KC)||Scored against KC in Week 12 and has chance to score again.|
Jermaine Gresham (vs. BAL): The Ravens have been solid against tight ends all season. Only Heath Miller and Owen Daniels have scored against Baltimore this year, including matchups with Jason Witten, Gates, Brandon Myers and Gresham, who was held to three catches for 30 yards on eight targets in Week 1. Gresham has limped to the finish line with 20 Fantasy points combined in his past four games. And with the chance he could see minimal action in the season finale we would not risk playing him this week.
Dallas Clark (at ATL): Clark is another tight end struggling to the finish line. He has eight Fantasy points in his past three games despite getting 25 targets over that span. He did have four catches for 65 yards against the Falcons at home in Week 12, but we just can't trust Clark this week. Atlanta has allowed just three tight ends to score this season, which were Olsen, Jimmy Graham and Kevin Boss, and have shut down Gates, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Myers, Witten and Martellus Bennett. We expect them to contain Clark as well in this rematch.
Brandon Myers (at SD): Myers had a great stretch run for Fantasy owners from Week 9 thru Week 13, but he's come up empty since then, combining for two Fantasy points in his past three games against Denver, Kansas City and Carolina. We're not expecting much more from him this week with Leinart under center for the Raiders. Myers also might be asked to block after the Chargers had 11 sacks last week against the Jets, and he had just five catches for 65 yards in Week 1 against San Diego at home.
Bust alert: Tony Gonzalez (vs. TB): We'll continue what we've been saying all along about the Falcons: there's a strong chance they don't play much this week. They have locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and there's no reason to risk injury against Tampa Bay. Gonzalez let a lot of Fantasy owners down in Week 16 with one catch for 9 yards at Detroit, but he's been amazing this season. He did have a down game against the Bucs in Week 12 with five catches for 62 yards, but we would start him this week with confidence if we expected him to play a full game. Since that's unlikely you should prepare to start another tight end if you're still alive in Week 17.
Chargers (vs. OAK): The Chargers DST put on an amazing performance in Week 16 at the Jets with a punt return for a touchdown, 11 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. As a reward, they get to face Leinart in the season finale with Palmer out. The Chargers defense has actually played well all year, and the DST has at least 14 Fantasy points in three of the past four games. The Raiders have allowed the opposing DST to reach double digits in Fantasy points in five of the past seven games, including last week when the Panthers got 17 points thanks, in part, to a Leinart interception.
Cowboys (at WAS): It's hard for a DST to post a zero Fantasy total in standard leagues because all you need is one sack to record at least one point. Well, the Cowboys DST had a zero in Week 16 against New Orleans, which snapped a streak of two games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points. The Saints had no turnovers despite two forced fumbles, and Brees wasn't sacked while helping New Orleans score 34 points. This week, the Cowboys will face an efficient Redskins team, and they had just five Fantasy points against Washington in Week 12. The Redskins have just three interceptions and two lost fumbles since Week 8, and the past six DSTs against Washington have combined for only 27 Fantasy points.
|Nick Novak||vs. OAK|
|Kai Forbath||vs. DAL|
|Rob Bironas||vs. JAC|
Shayne Graham (at IND): The last time Graham faced the Colts in Week 15 he had a monster game with 17 Fantasy points. He made 5 of 6 field goals with two extra points, and we expect Graham to play well again in the rematch. Since Week 12, the Colts have allowed 16 field goals on 19 attempts with nine extra points. Three kickers over that span -- Jason Hanson, Rob Bironas and Graham -- have at least 11 Fantasy points, and Rian Lindell and Ryan Succop each fell a field goal short of double digits with seven points each. Graham has six games with double digits in Fantasy points this season, including two on the road, and we expect him to finish the season strong as the Texans try to lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC.
Greg Zuerlein (at SEA): Zuerlein has had a great rookie season, which was highlighted by his performance against the Seahawks in Week 4 at home. He made all four of his field goal attempts, including one from 58 yards and another from 60. That helped earn him the nicknames "Greg the Leg" and "Legatron," but since then he has struggled. He has just two games with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 4, and he has combined for just seven points in his final three outings with no field goals over that span. The Seahawks have also improved against opposing kickers since Week 4 as Stephen Gostkowki is the only other kicker to reach double digits in Fantasy points against them this year. At home, Seattle has allowed an average of 4.6 Fantasy points to opposing kickers with Dan Bailey, Nick Folk and Jay Feely each getting one point or less in all three games.