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Congratulations, you made it this far. For some of you, this is the semifinals of your playoffs. For others, this is the first round. We hope you're ready because it's been a bumpy ride heading into Week 15.
The running back position was torn apart in Week 14 with injuries to Thomas Rawls (ankle), T.J. Yeldon (knee), LeGarrette Blount (hip) and Jonathan Stewart (foot), and this was one week after we lost Mark Ingram (shoulder) for the season. As you'll read below, I like the outlooks for a lot of the replacement running backs, with Denard Robinson and Tim Hightower my favorite options this week.
Fantasy owners also could be looking for a quarterback if you lost Andy Dalton (thumb) and still advanced. He was a standout Fantasy option this season, but hopefully you have a quality replacement on your bench. If not, some guys off the waiver wire this week could be Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins or even T.J. Yates. It's not pretty, but these might the best bets to help you win.
We know injuries have played a role all season, so winning a title this year could be the owner who survives with the healthiest roster. It's a headache, but this is also the fun of managing your Fantasy team. And we hope it works out for you in a big way over the next couple of weeks.
There's nothing about this season that feels good for Drew Brees. From when Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle to his shoulder injury in Week 2 and just an overall lack of play for himself and the Saints, it was a lost year. And plenty of changes could be coming in the offseason, most notably if coach Sean Payton leaves New Orleans.
We have a few weeks before we have to worry about that. For now, Brees and Payton are still married on the field, and they might be able to help Fantasy owners bring home a playoff victory in Week 15 and potentially a championship with a favorable schedule ahead against Detroit, Jacksonville and at Atlanta to close the season.
We'll start with the Lions game, and Fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting Brees after two surprising performances the past two weeks against Carolina and at Tampa Bay. Brees is always a strong play at home, but he became just the third quarterback all season to score 20 Fantasy points against the Panthers when he had 28 in Week 13. He then scored 24 Fantasy points against the Buccaneers in Week 14, and that was the first time he had at least 20 points outdoors all season.
He won't play outside again until next season, and in five home games this season where he's been 100 percent (he hurt his shoulder in Week 2 vs. Tampa Bay) he's scored at least 26 Fantasy points in four of them, with his high 58 points vs. the Giants in Week 8 and his low just 18 points vs. Atlanta in Week 6.
And it's a good thing this game is Monday night because Brees loves his prime-time games at home. In the last 17 games the Saints have played host to a prime-time game, including the playoffs, Brees has passed for 5,671 yards, 52 touchdowns and only five interceptions. That's an average of 333.6 yards, 3.1 touchdowns and 0.3 interceptions per game.
Now, the matchup with Detroit won't be easy. The Lions have allowed nine quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points this season, but only Aaron Rodgers has scored more than 17 points since Week 10. Those stats are a little misleading because Detroit has faced Derek Carr, Mark Sanchez and Case Keenum in the other three games, but the Lions deserve credit for being more competent on defense then they showed earlier in the season.
Brees should be able to pick apart this defense, and his main weapons in Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Benjamin Watson are all worth starting this week. Marques Colston even showed up last week with two touchdowns against Tampa Bay, so this could be a big outing for the entire Saints offense.
We know this has been a down year for Brees and the Saints, but he has the chance to finish strong, which should benefit Fantasy owners. You should have confidence starting him this week, especially with a prime-time game at home.
I'm starting Brees over: Aaron Rodgers (at OAK), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. DEN) and Blake Bortles (vs. ATL)
Bortles delivered as our Start of the Week in Week 14 against the Colts with 31 Fantasy points, and he has now scored at least 26 points in three games in a row. He also has at least 24 Fantasy points in four of his past five home games, with the lone exception a Thursday night game against Tennessee in Week 11. The Falcons have only allowed five quarterbacks this season to score at least 20 Fantasy points, but two have come in the past two games against Jameis Winston and Cam Newton. Bortles is clicking right now with his three main weapons in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas, and he might have to do more heavy lifting with Yeldon likely out. This should be another good outing for Bortles at home.
The concern for Stafford this week would be his performance on the road this season since he's only scored 20 Fantasy points once in six games, which was Week 2 at Minnesota. To be fair, he's faced some tough defenses away from home in Green Bay, Kansas City and Seattle, and this should be a much easier opponent. Now, the Saints have been better under new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen the past three games than at any point for Rob Ryan earlier this season, with Brian Hoyer and Winston held under 20 Fantasy points over that span. But we anticipate this game being a shootout, and Stafford could be chasing points. He had 19 Fantasy points against the Saints last year, and we would consider that number his floor this week in a standard league.
The Broncos have arguably the best defense in the NFL, and statistically they have allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. So why is Roethlisberger in this category? We expect him to still find success against this defense, especially at home. He's scored at least 25 Fantasy points in his past three home games, and he's averaging 29.9 Fantasy points in his past 12 games in Pittsburgh, with just two games under 20 points in a standard league over that span. The two quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points against Denver this season are Andrew Luck and Tom Brady, and both attacked the Broncos with a variety of weapons, something Roethlisberger definitely has at his disposal. It won't be easy, but we expect Roethlisberger to have another game with at least 20 Fantasy points at home.
Taylor didn't have the big game we were expecting last week at Philadelphia, but he still managed 19 Fantasy points in a standard league, which should be his floor this week. One concern with him could be this is now three games on the road with less than 20 Fantasy points, but he's starting to run more with at least 28 rushing yards in each of his past three games. We hope that continues this week against the Redskins, who have allowed seven quarterbacks to score at least 20 Fantasy points this season, including last week when Cutler scored 22. The Redskins also have allowed multiple touchdown passes in four of their past five home games. Taylor should be considered a safe starting option this week with the chance for 30-plus points like we saw in the two games prior to Week 14.
Smith is risky because even in good matchup he hasn't posted great Fantasy stats, including last week against San Diego when he scored just 15 points. But nearly every quarterback has done well against the Ravens this year, and Baltimore has allowed at least 20 Fantasy points to quarterbacks in eight games. For the season, Baltimore allows 23.5 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and Smith did just score at least 25 Fantasy points in two of his past three games. If you just lost Dalton and can find Smith on waivers this is a good week to trust him given the matchup.
Jay Cutler (at MIN): He had 21 Fantasy points vs MIN in Week 8.
Kirk Cousins (vs. BUF): He's been a quality starting option at home.
Philip Rivers (vs. MIA): This could be his last game in San Diego.
I don't expect Manning to be awful this week, but he should have a steep decline from his monster performance in Week 14 at Miami when he had 35 Fantasy points. That was just the second time Manning has scored more than 18 Fantasy points in his past five games, and the Panthers are clearly a much tougher opponent than the Dolphins. Only three quarterbacks have scored at least 20 Fantasy points against Carolina, and the Panthers have allowed 16 touchdowns compared to 21 interceptions. In his past two meetings with Ron Rivera's defense, Manning has averaged 203.5 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. He's only worth starting in two-quarterback leagues.
Everything logically should suggest Ryan playing well this week, and I hope he does. I'm just not optimistic given his track record of late. The Jaguars are terrible in pass defense with eight quarterbacks scoring at least 20 Fantasy points, but Ryan hasn't scored more than 14 points in three consecutive games, including a favorable matchup at Tampa Bay in Week 13. Ryan also has scored 20 Fantasy points outdoors just once, which was Week 2 at the Giants. It's been a frustrating season for Ryan, and Fantasy owners can't trust him this week. He might play well given the matchup with the Jaguars, but he's too risky to consider a starter in anything but a two-quarterback league.
It's been a terrible year for Tannehill and the Dolphins, and there's no reason to trust him this week even with a favorable matchup. You have to wonder about Miami's motivation this week going on a long road trip to the West Coast after losing Monday night at home to the Giants, which officially knocked them out of playoff contention. Tannehill has had two favorable matchups in the past two games against the Ravens and Giants, and he combined for 27 Fantasy points in a standard league. And those games were at home. Lamar Miller should get more work this week after his workload was questioned against the Giants despite having a good game. The Chargers also could be fired up in potentially their last game in San Diego, and Tannehill is only worth starting in two-quarterback leagues in Week 15.
Winston had his golden opportunity to help Fantasy owners in Week 14 with a home matchup against the Saints, and he failed with just 15 Fantasy points. There's no way you can trust him on the road at St. Louis with the game Thursday night. Winston has now scored 17 Fantasy points or less in three of his past five games, and he's thrown for multiple touchdowns just once since Week 7. The Rams have struggled of late against opposing quarterbacks with three guys scoring at least 25 Fantasy points in the past five games, but with the short week and Winston on the road he should struggle. He also will be without receiver Vincent Jackson (knee) in this matchup.
Kudos to Mariota for scoring 20 Fantasy points last week at the Jets, but he relied on a 41-yard touchdown catch from Antonio Andrews for that to happen. I doubt he's getting 10 Fantasy points on a scoring reception this week. Mariota has scored at least 20 Fantasy points in four of his past six games, including three in a row, but the last quarterback to score more than 16 Fantasy points in New England was Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 7. There could be a scenario here of him chasing points, but I can't trust that given that all of Mariota's good games have come against weak opponents in New Orleans, Oakland and Jacksonville. He's only worth using in two-quarterback leagues.
I don't have a problem if you start Fitzpatrick this week, and he should be able to score two touchdowns, which he's done in all but one game this season that he's played all four quarters (he hurt his thumb in Week 8 at Oakland). He's been great lately with at least 29 Fantasy points in three games in a row, and he hasn't thrown an interception in any of those outings. But all three of those games have been at home (he played the Giants as the road team in Week 13), and in four complete road games he's averaged just 18.5 Fantasy points, with only one game over 20 points in Week 7 at New England. The Cowboys also have allowed just one quarterback to score more than 18 Fantasy points against them in the past eight games, which was Rodgers last week. That includes games with Eli Manning, Wilson and Newton over that span. Fitzpatrick is just a low-end starting option at best this week.
Robinson is expected to start for Yeldon this week, and he should get a heavy workload in a favorable matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in four games in a row, with five rushing touchdowns over that span. Last year, Robinson had four games with at least 15 carries, and he scored at least 11 Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing. He had 14 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 against the Colts after Yeldon got hurt, and he should have the chance for double digits in Fantasy points again this week.
Tim Hightower (vs. DET)
SportsLine Projection: 11.4 Fantasy points
I'm all in on the Saints this week, and that includes Hightower, who clearly was the guy New Orleans leaned on to replace the Ingram last week. He had 28 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 10 yards at Tampa Bay, and C.J. Spiller was an afterthought (three carries for 2 yards and three catches for 7 yards). The Lions have done a nice job in run defense of late, but last week Todd Gurley had a big game with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns. And in their previous game on the road in Week 8 against Kansas City the Chiefs had three rushing touchdowns. Hightower has the chance to score and kill the clock late if the Saints are ahead, and he could post a similar stat line to what he had against the Bucs.
It would make sense for the Bengals to lean on Hill this week now that Dalton is out for the season. He was running well prior to last week's game at Pittsburgh when everything fell apart after the first drive when Dalton got hurt. He had at least nine Fantasy points in the three games prior to Week 14, and the 49ers have struggled in run defense all season. There have been nine running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points against the 49ers, although seven of them have come on the road. Still, with AJ McCarron under center, the Bengals should give Hill plenty of work, and he's done well every time he's had at least 16 carries, which has happened four times this season. He's scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league every time that's happened.
Blount is now out for the season, but the Patriots should still be in good shape with Bolden and White. They have both scored touchdowns over the past four games, while Blount was left out of the end zone. White has the higher ceiling because he's been the one working at the goal line with a short-area touchdown against Buffalo in Week 11 and against Houston in Week 14, and he caught a touchdown against Philadelphia in Week 13. Bolden also caught a touchdown in Week 12 at Denver, and he took over for Blount last week against the Texans with 16 carries for 51 yards. New England should win this game easily at home, which should mean the chance for Bolden to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. And both running backs should take advantage of this matchup at home to be considered No. 2 Fantasy running backs in the majority of leagues.
It's risky to trust Jones since he hasn't scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league since Week 10, which was the last time he scored a touchdown. He also continues to share work with Alfred Morris, who scored a touchdown last week at Chicago. But Jones has dominated the workload of late with consecutive games with at least 19 touches, and Morris was held to 17 touches combined in each of the past two games. This is actually a favorable matchup for Jones against the Bills, who have allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in nine games in a row. If there's a running back to make it 10 games in a row then Jones should be that guy, and I would use him as at least a flex option in the majority of leagues.
Bryce Brown (vs. CLE): He should be the best RB in SEA this week.
Fozzy Whittaker (at NYG): He's expected to start with Stewart out.
Melvin Gordon (vs. MIA): This should be his best game of the season.
Bilal Powell (at DAL): He has at least five catches in 3 of his past 5 games.
Charcandrick West (at BAL): He should be great if Spencer Ware is out.
Crowell was someone I liked last week with his matchup against the 49ers at home, and he delivered in a big way with 20 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns and one catch for 9 yards for a season-high 26 Fantasy points. But that was a great situation against San Francisco, and don't go chasing points this week. This is going to be a terrible outlook for him against the Seahawks on the road. Seattle has only allowed three running backs to score touchdowns this season, and no running back has gone over 100 rushing yards. Prior to facing the 49ers, Crowell combined for 16 Fantasy points in his past seven games, and he will almost definitely be in single digits in points this week.
I was let down by Gore last week with his matchup with the Jaguars because he had the chance to play well with Paul Posluszny (broken hand) out. Instead, he was again mediocre with 16 carries for 60 yards and one catch for minus-1 yard. He's now scored double digits in Fantasy points once in his past four games, and the reason he did that was his lone touchdown reception of the season in Week 13 at Pittsburgh. He hasn't scored a rushing touchdown since Week 9, and it's hard to trust him with Luck still out and Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) banged up. The Texans have done a nice job in run defense of late with only LeSean McCoy scoring double digits in Fantasy points in the past six games, including matchups with Ingram, Hill and Chris Ivory. Gore is someone to avoid if possible in Week 15.
We'll find out if Murray will get more work this week after his recent demotion from Chip Kelly, but it's more likely the Eagles continue to rotate backs with Murray, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. In Week 14 against Buffalo, Sproles had seven carries for 41 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 4 yards, Mathews had 13 carries for 38 yards and two catches for 4 yards and Murray finished with 11 carries for 34 yards and two catches for 3 yards. We would anticipate a similar split against the Cardinals, and Murray is too risky to trust. Sproles can be considered a flex option since he's scored in consecutive games, but Mathews and Murray should be left on your bench in most formats.
Shaun Draughn (vs. CIN)
SportsLine Projection: 10.9 Fantasy points
We'll see if Draughn can rebound from last week's awful game against the Browns when he was limited to 11 carries for 43 yards and two catches for 8 yards for four Fantasy points. It was his lowest total since taking over for the injured Carlos Hyde (foot). I'm still OK with Draughn in a PPR league, and prior to last week he had at least five catches in three games in a row. But he's scored just one touchdown in his five games as a starter, and the Bengals haven't allowed a running back to score on the ground in their past seven games. Now, two running backs have caught touchdowns against Cincinnati over that span, which bodes well for Draughn, but the Bengals will likely try to eliminate Draughn and force Blaine Gabbert to make plays. It worked for Cleveland last week and should be the plan Cincinnati tries to utilize in this matchup.
We saw what could happen to Allen last week against Seattle when he faces a good defense after feasting on Cleveland and Miami in the previous two games. Allen had eight carries for 14 yards and five catches for 44 yards with a lost fumble. He should improve this week, especially if Matt Schaub (chest) is back under center instead of Jimmy Clausen, but it's still a tough matchup for him. Allen is worth using in PPR leagues because he has at least four catches in four games in a row, but the Chiefs have only allowed one rushing touchdown to a running back in the past four games. This offense is lacking weapons, so loading up to stop the run makes sense for the Chiefs, and it could be another long game for Allen in Week 15.
We'll see if C.J. Anderson (ankle) is able to return this week, and if he's back that could really hinder Hillman. His Fantasy production has been better than expected this season with double digits in Fantasy points in six games, including three in his past five outings. But he's really become touchdown dependent of late with 60 rushing yards or less in three games in a row. He finally got involved as a receiver last week with seven catches for 41 yards against Oakland, but he hasn't scored in consecutive games against the Chargers and Raiders and has combined for 11 Fantasy points over that span. The Steelers have only allowed three rushing touchdowns this season and are third in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs, so Hillman could have a tough day. And if Anderson plays then his workload will be reduced, so it will be hard to trust him in the majority of leagues.
Cooks had a bad game last week at Tampa Bay with three catches for 29 yards on five targets, but he should rebound this week against the Lions at home. In his past three home games against the Giants, Titans and Panthers, Cooks had 16 catches for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Prior to facing the Buccaneers, Cooks had six games in a row with at least six targets, and he scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in five of them. We would expect at least six targets this week. As for Snead, we hope he gets eight targets. In the four times this year Snead got eight targets he scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league. In deeper leagues, you can take a flier on Colston or even Brandon Coleman with the upside of the New Orleans passing attack this week.
I'm sticking with both Cardinals receivers again this week after they delivered last week against the Vikings. Floyd had five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, and Brown had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown on five targets. This is now two games in a row where both receivers scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, and they should have success again this week. The Eagles are second in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers with 21 touchdowns, and Floyd, Brown and Larry Fitzgerald all have the chance to make plays. I rank them Floyd, Brown and Fitzgerald in all leagues, but all three are worth starting in the majority of formats.
Hurns came back from his one-game absence with a concussion and played well against the Colts with three catches for 105 yards and a touchdown on four targets. He has now scored in eight of his past 10 games, and he should have the chance to make some plays this week at home. The Falcons have allowed three touchdowns to opposing receivers in the past two games, and Bortles should have success in this matchup with his loaded receiving corps of Hurns, Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas. We expect Denard Robinson to have success running the ball this week, but that won't slow down Bortles and his receivers, including Hurns. He's a No. 2 Fantasy receiver with upside in Week 15.
I liked Lockett last week, but he exceeded my expectations with six catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets at Baltimore. This was after he had seven catches for 90 yards on seven targets at Minnesota, and he's scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in three of his past four games. Wilson is on fire now, which makes Doug Baldwin an obvious starter, and Lockett should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy option. Jermaine Kearse also has the chance to help Fantasy owners this week as a No. 3 receiver since Cleveland has allowed 16 receivers to score touchdowns and 14 have scored double digits in Fantasy points this year. It's fun watching Lockett develop into a quality Fantasy option over the past few weeks, and Wilson continues to get him the ball. We don't see him slowing down in this matchup.
I'm usually hesitant to use Maclin in games where I don't expect the Chiefs to chase points. And that might not happen here given how bad Baltimore's offense has been of late under Schaub and Clausen. But the Ravens have a terrible secondary, and they lead the NFL in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers with 24 touchdowns scored by the position. Last week, Baldwin and Lockett combined for five touchdowns, and Baltimore has allowed a receiver to score a touchdown in seven of the past eight games. We could see Albert Wilson find the end zone this week, so consider him a sleeper in the majority of leagues, but Maclin is worth trusting this week as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver given the matchup.
James Jones (at OAK): This is a homecoming game vs. his former team.
Ted Ginn (at NYG): He's scored five touchdowns in his past four games.
Robert Woods (at WAS): He could be more involved if Clay is out.
Golden Tate (at NO): He has at least seven catches in four straight games.
Malcom Floyd (vs. MIA): MIA is still trying to tackle Odell Beckham.
Targets have been an issue for Bryant, and his production is clearly suffering as a result. He hasn't had double digits in targets in four games in a row, and last week he had just one catch for 9 yards on seven targets, including several drops. He hasn't scored a touchdown or gone over 62 receiving yards in three games in a row, and it's hard to trust him with Matt Cassel, especially in a matchup with Darrelle Revis this week. While Revis hasn't been the same elite cornerback we're used to seeing this season, he should still be able to limit Bryant in this matchup with the lack of targets and lack of efficiency from Cassel.
This is more of a bust alert than a must-sit suggestion because we know how great of a player Hilton is. But this has more to do with his quarterback situation than him. Luck isn't going to play, and Matt Hasselbeck is banged up and dealing with bruised ribs. If he plays this week he'll be doing so at less than 100 percent, and if he's out then Hilton will be left with Charlie Whitehurst. He could still post a quality stat line, but Hilton has scored double digits in Fantasy points just twice in his past six games. And the Texans have only allowed one receiver to score double digits in Fantasy points in their past three games, which was Sammy Watkins in Week 13. You should still plan to start Hilton as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week, but he gets a downgrade in potential with an injured Hasselbeck of Whitehurst starting for the Colts this week.
There was some glimmer of hope for Matthews last week against Buffalo because he scored in consecutive games prior to Week 14 against Detroit and New England, but he had just three catches for 19 yards on five targets against the Bills. He also hasn't had more than 60 yards receiving in each of his past five games, so his production is really limited when he doesn't score. The Cardinals could put Patrick Peterson on Matthews, which would completely negate any chance he has of a good game, and Arizona has only allowed one receiver to score in the past four games. It's not worth trusting Matthews this week even in three-receiver leagues.
Parker let down a lot of Fantasy owners in Week 14 with his matchup against the Giants, and he could be back to No. 3 on the depth chart this week if Rishard Matthews (ribs) is healthy. Parker did score in consecutive games prior to facing the Giants, but he was held to two catches for 16 yards on five targets in Week 14. His playing time and targets could be limited if Matthews plays, and he's already competing with Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills for touches. San Diego has allowed nine touchdowns to receivers this year, and Parker can easily make a big play in this matchup on the road. But if his targets are minimized because of Matthews then he's not worth the risk, and he should only be considered a No. 3 receiver at best in deep leagues.
Boldin had a tough couple of games the past two weeks against Chicago and Cleveland with seven catches for 59 yards combined on 16 targets. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5 and has just two touchdowns on the season, and this is a brutal matchup for him. The Bengals haven't allowed a receiver to score in the past three games, and since Week 9 the only receivers to find the end zone against Cincinnati are DeAndre Hopkins, John Brown and J.J. Nelson. Boldin could still be used as a PPR option in three-receiver leagues because prior to Week 13 he had consecutive games with at least five catches and 93 yards. But the Bengals will likely try to keep him out of the gameplan like the Bears and Browns did the past two weeks, and he could have a difficult time making plays.
Evans could be in a good situation to soak up targets this week with Jackson out, or he could struggle in a tough matchup with Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who last week helped limit Calvin Johnson to one catch for 16 yards on five targets. Evans has been a frustrating Fantasy option this year. In the five games he's had double digits in targets he's scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league four times. Two of those games came when Jackson was previously out with a knee injury in Week 9 against the Giants and Week 10 against Dallas. I'd still use Evans as a No. 3 receiver in the majority of leagues, but keep in mind he's scored six Fantasy points or less twice in the past three games as well. I hope he plays well in this matchup Thursday night, but I'm skeptical of him having a big game.
The Raiders are due to allow a tight end to score since it's been two games without one, and that's the longest streak of the season for Oakland. Rodgers will hopefully help end that streak since he's scored in consecutive games, and it's clear Aaron Rodgers is leaning on him. Richard Rodgers only had one catch for 3 yards in Week 14 against Dallas, but it was for a touchdown. And he obviously was great in Week 13 against the Lions with seven catches for 85 yards before coming down with a 61-yard Hail Mary touchdown to win the game. He should be considered a No. 1 Fantasy tight end this week.
The Lions are almost as bad at defending tight ends as the Raiders, so Watson should have the chance for a big game this week. He has at least eight targets in each of his past three games, and he's scored a touchdown in three of his past four home games. The Lions have allowed 10 touchdowns to tight ends this year, including four in the past five games. There have nine tight ends with at least five targets against Detroit, and seven of them have scored a touchdown. That bodes well for Watson with his recent workload.
Given his matchup last week at Kansas City, Gates actually played great with six catches for 76 yards on eight targets. You know Philip Rivers is going to lean on him with the lack of quality receivers on the roster, and Gates has at least six targets in each of his past three games. Miami just allowed a touchdown to Will Tye in Week 14, and there have been six tight ends to get at least five targets against the Dolphins this year, with five scoring at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league. The lone tight end with at least five targets who had fewer than nine points was Zach Ertz, who still managed seven catches for 68 yards in the same game where Brent Celek had four catches for 134 yards on four targets. Gates should have the chance for a big game this week.
Zach Miller (at MIN): He's a go-to guy now for Cutler and playing well.
Eric Ebron (at NO): NO allows the most Fantasy points to tight ends.
Heath Miller (vs. DEN): He should play well if T.J. Ward remains out.
Maybe this is the week Seferian-Jenkins rewards us with a big game, but it will happen on the bench or waiver wire in my leagues because I can't trust him. He had a great matchup last week against the Saints at home, and he finished with three catches for 31 yards on six targets, which happened to be his exact stat line from Week 13 against the Falcons. The Rams have allowed three tight ends to score double digits in Fantasy points in the past five games, so you can invest in Seferian-Jenkins this week if so inclined, and he gets a boost with Jackson out. But I can't rely on him as a starting option at this point in the season in the majority of leagues.
The Bears struggled with Jordan Reed last week when he had nine catches for 120 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, but he was just the first tight end to score against Chicago and reach double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league since Week 2. It's been a tough year for tight ends against the Bears, including Rudolph in Week 8 when he had two catches for 22 yards on two targets. Rudolph has played better of late and has been more involved with at least six targets in three of his past four games, but he's only scored one touchdown since Week 7 and has one game this season with double digits in Fantasy points. He's a No. 2 tight end at best in this matchup.
I hope the majority of Fantasy owners who still have Witten in their lineup have been knocked out of the playoffs and just haven't checked their rosters because he's still being started in 43 percent of leagues on CBS Sports. If you are still using Witten please drop him and find someone else with more upside since he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1 and hasn't topped four Fantasy points since Week 7. It's been a lost year for the Cowboys passing game with Tony Romo (collarbone) out, and Witten isn't going to magically turn things around with Cassel. He should not be owned in the majority of leagues let alone started, so ignore him in Week 15 against the Jets.
One of the biggest disappointments for me this year has been Kelce, who was supposed to break out as an elite tight end. Instead, he regressed and has been terrible for the majority of Fantasy owners in all leagues. He only has four games this season with double digits in Fantasy points in the majority of leagues, including once in his past five games. Last week was a colossal disaster with three catches for 18 yards on five targets against the Chargers, and he was playing through a minor groin injury. It's tough that he's not 100 percent, but if he's active he should produce at a higher level when he has a favorable matchup. That's not the case this week against the Ravens, who have allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends this year. If you can afford to bench Kelce in the Fantasy playoffs that's the right move to make.
Patriots (vs. TEN): The Titans come into this game allowing the second-most Fantasy points to opposing DST units. They have allowed at least 12 Fantasy points in a standard league in 10 of 13 games, and they have at least one interception in three games in a row and 13 points scored in three of their past five games. The Patriots are banged up defensively, but they still managed to score 22 Fantasy points last week at Houston. They have scored double digits in Fantasy points in three of their past four home games this season and should be successful this week.
Texans (at IND): IND has allowed eight sacks in the past two games.
Steelers (vs. DEN): PIT has 11 sacks in their past two home games.
Bengals (at SF): CLE sacked Gabbert nine times in Week 14.
Broncos (vs. PIT): The Broncos DST is obviously among the best in the league, and they have been dominant the past two games with 26 Fantasy points at San Diego and 15 points against Oakland. But this could be a tough week to trust them in the majority of leagues given the matchup with the Steelers. Pittsburgh has scored at least 30 points as a team in the past five games, and the Seahawks are the only DST unit with more than five Fantasy points against the Steelers over that span with just 10. No DST has scored a touchdown against Pittsburgh this year, and we've seen the Broncos DST score fewer than 10 points in three of their past six games. If you can afford to bench the Broncos DST this week that's the right move to make.
Chris Boswell (vs. DEN): Boswell has been among the best Fantasy kickers this season, and he's been great of late with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in five games in a row. He's made at least three field goals in every game over that span, and he's coming off consecutive games with 15 points. The Broncos have been stingy to opposing kickers this season, but three kickers have scored at least nine Fantasy points in the past six games. With the way Boswell is going now, and if Pittsburgh has trouble converting touchdowns, we could see another game with double digits in Fantasy points this week.
Matt Prater (at NO): He has yet to miss a field goal this season.
Jason Myers (vs. ATL): If he could make extra points he'd be an elite K.
Dustin Hopkins (vs. BUF): BUF has allowed eight FGs in the past four games.
Justin Tucker (vs. KC): The Chiefs have been among the best teams at limiting production to opposing kickers, and Tucker should again struggle this week. He's averaged just over seven Fantasy points in a standard league the past three weeks, and he has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five outings. With the Ravens offense banged up and struggling, it's tough to trust Tucker in the majority of leagues, especially with the way Kansas City has played on defense for the majority of the season.
Full Disclosure from Week 14
Personally, Week 14 was a disaster. I had a lot invested in Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert and Thomas Rawls, and I lost all seven of the playoff games I was involved in. If Dalton played a full game against the Steelers and scored his average Fantasy production, I easily would have won four of those games. I'm now down to the five teams I had on a bye, so hopefully injuries won't ruin those teams as well.
Professionally, I'm not sure if I've had a better week for this column. Blake Bortles was great as the Start of the Week, we hit on many of the top guys as starts and I struggled to find recommended sits who made us look bad.
Including sleepers, we had the top four quarterbacks with Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick. We had three top five running backs in Isaiah Crowell, Eddie Lacy and Lamar Miller. I went all in on the Seahawks, and Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett were top five receivers, and we also had Allen Hurns, Michael Floyd and John Brown play well, as well as Jarvis Landry in PPR leagues. And Zach Miller and Julius Thomas were top five tight ends.
As for the correct sit calls, we had DeMarco Murray, Latavius Murray, Javorius Allen, Amari Cooper, Dez Bryant and Antonio Gates, among others. And the only guys we missed on as sit suggestions of note were Drew Brees, Marcus Mariota and Kamar Aiken, who wasn't even a top 24 receiver in standard leagues. About the only negative was guys like Jameis Winston, Shaun Draughn and Austin Seferian-Jenkins playing poorly despite being start suggestions, but it's hard to be mistake free in this business.
It was frustrating to lose all those playoff matchups, especially with the bad luck of Dalton getting hurt. But I'll take the tradeoff of helping you guys any time, and hopefully our Week 14 column is a sign of things to come for a strong finish.
| Full Disclosure from Week 14 |
| Start of the Week |
| Player || Sportsline projected Pts. || Actual Fantasy Pts. || Start % || Pos. rank |
| Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars || 19.0 || 31 || 57 || 3 |
| Recommended starts who made us look good |
| Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks || 21.9 || 41 || 73 || 1 |
| Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers || 10.3 || 20 || 69 || 4 |
| Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks || 9.2 || 26 || 77 || 2 |
| Recommended sits who made us look good |
| Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens || 9.9 || 3 || 65 || 53 |
| Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders || 9.9 || 2 || 63 || 60 |
| Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders || 7.1 || 0 || 57 || 102 |
| Recommended starts who made us look bad |
| Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers || 23.5 || 15 || 53 || 19 |
| Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers || 11.9 || 4 || 81 || 45 |
| Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers || 7.3 || 3 || 44 || 25 |
| Recommended sits who made us look bad |
| Drew Brees, QB, Saints || 18.9 || 24 || 52 || 7 |
| Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans || 15.4 || 20 || 18 || 12 |
| Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens || 5.2 || 9 || 24 || 25 |