Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 17
It's the last week of the regular season -- is your lineup loaded? Dave Richard sets you straight with his best picks of the week in Winning Fantasy Calls.
Texans at Titans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
We haven't seen a great effort from the Texans in a while, so don't expect to see one here. The Titans, on the other hand, have played fairly strong football in their past couple of games and might aim to finish strong for their coach, Mike Munchak, who could be fired the day after. Outside of J.J. Watt there really isn't a dangerous guy for the Titans to be wary of.
Jonathan Grimes, RB, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
We tried to make the case for Dennis Johnson last week that he'd be an effective rusher for the Texans because he'd be "the guy." He was ineffective before getting hurt. His backup, Deji Karim, also got hurt, leaving Grimes with a nice opportunity to put his game on film for coaches to see. He had a couple of nice preseason runs before getting cut and really isn't a player worth getting excited about, even if he's got a fantastic matchup against a Titans team that just figured out how to slow down the run last week against the Jaguars.
I'd rather start: Edwin Baker, Mike Tolbert
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Johnson hasn't scored in six straight games and has under 70 yards in four of his last seven (and three over 110 yards in the other three). The Titans pass defense was rocked by the Broncos back in Week 14 but in the two games since against the Cardinals and Jaguars have allowed one touchdown and 188 total yards to receivers. I'd expect the Titans pass defense to end the year with a solid effort against Johnson, who held him to 76 yards on eight catches from Matt Schaub back in Week 2.
Flow chart: Riley Cooper > Cordarrelle Patterson > Andre Johnson > T.Y. Hilton > Torrey Smith
Ryan Griffin, TE, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The rookie has caught all 11 of his targets over the last two weeks for 128 yards and six Fantasy points per game in standard leagues (11 in PPR). That puts him close to being a useful option in deeper leagues. One problem is that he hasn't been used in the red zone at all. A bigger problem is that the Texans have had two red zone trips in their last two games. Hard to score touchdowns and contribute to Fantasy when the offense is so stagnant.
Flow chart: Joseph Fauria > Antonio Gates > Ryan Griffin > Timothy Wright > Coby Fleener
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Titans: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Each of the last four cornerbacks to play the Texans have put up a minimum of 19 Fantasy points, a sign that the unit is breaking down. They'll be without top cornerback Johnathan Joseph for this one, making them an even easier matchup for Fitzpatrick. In their last four games the Texans have allowed 10 passing touchdowns vs. two interceptions. This should be favorable for Fitzpatrick, though there's no telling how much he'll have to actually throw. He's scored 17 points or fewer in three of his last four, the lone exception being the come-from-behind win vs. Arizona in Week 15.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton, Kyle Orton
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Shonn Greene, RB, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I'd expect Johnson and Greene to end their seasons strong. Last week was the first time the Texans didn't allow a touchdown to a running back in six games. But in their last five Houston has still yielded five total scores, 106.4 rush yards per game and another 46.8 receiving yards per game just to running backs. Every rusher with at least 15 carries has amassed a minimum of 90 total yards against the Texans this year. That bodes especially well for Johnson. Greene should be a candidate to score.
I'd start Johnson over: Giovani Bernard, Chris Ivory
I'd start Greene over: Daniel Thomas, Knile Davis
Nate Washington, WR, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
We've seen Washington begin to come on strong for Tennessee over the past few weeks, reeling in at least 80 yards in three of his last four including each of his last two with a touchdown last week. A surge in targets over his last two games has also helped. Wright was huge two weeks ago when the Titans played from behind but not so much last week against Jacksonville. The Texans have allowed 206.0 yards per game and four touchdowns to receivers over their last two, so there could be chances for these guys to give at least an efficient effort.
Flow chart: James Jones > Nate Washington > Griff Whalen > Kendall Wright > Danny Amendola
Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Walker disappointed last week but at least he had targets -- seven of them. It's still his second-fewest in six weeks, which is saying something since a lot of tight ends wish they could get seven passes thrown their way. The Texans have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in five of their last seven games, each one of them getting at least 40 yards with the score. Might as well chance it one last time with Walker.
I'd start him over: Marcedes Lewis, Greg Olsen
Lions at Vikings, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The downfall of the Lions this month has been nothing short of depressing, especially if you're a Calvin Johnson owner. Over his last three games Megatron has caught half of his 24 targets for 193 yards and no touchdowns. It's enough to make you think he's not even close to 100 percent. I don't love him if he plays, which means I don't love the Lions passing offense.
No-brainers: Reggie Bush
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Enough excuses -- Stafford hasn't been a stat machine of late and a big reason for it has definitely been the lack of contributions from Calvin Johnson. He hasn't scored in three straight and as a result Stafford has been a wreck in three straight. You can give him a pass for the blizzard in Week 15 but the last two weeks have cost the Lions everything. I want to like him -- the Vikings have allowed pretty much every single quarterback they've faced to put up a monster game against them -- but trusting him isn't going to be so easy, even if Calvin Johnson is active. Try to get away from him.
I'd rather start: Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton
Joique Bell, RB, Lions: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Whenever Bell's been given an opportunity he has come through -- but how many carries will he get? The matchup isn't perfect as over the Vikings' last five games they have allowed 144.8 total yards per game and just two rushing touchdowns to running backs. Bell has scored in three of his last four and has 110 total yards in three of his last four. If the Lions opt to take it easy with Reggie Bush and give Bell some work you have to like his chances to help you out.
I'd start him over: Chris Ivory, Dolphins RBs
Joseph Fauria, TE, Lions: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's a big opportunity for Fauria as he's the best tight end left on the Lions. The Vikings have allowed 13 touchdowns to tight ends this year including four in their last three games. With a big bump in playing time and a major size advantage over the Vikings secondary we should see Fauria get some chances to score.
I'd start him over: Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's jarring to see Johnson projected so low but considering his knee and the past three weeks it makes sense. Johnson has produced single-digit Fantasy points in each of his last three games. Listed as questionable and not practicing this week it might even come to pass that Johnson doesn't even play on Sunday.
I'd rather start: Riley Cooper, Cordarrelle Patterson
Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Lions' run defense remains one of the best in football: Take away the Blizzard Bowl in Philadelphia where field conditions played a role and the Lions haven't allowed a running back to run for a touchdown in 10 games. And aside from that game no running back has had 100-plus rush yards against the Lions this season. Despite his three-touchdown game versus Philadelphia back in Week 15 it's a stretch to call Asiata a solid Fantasy play this time around.
I'd rather start: Mike Tolbert, Daniel Thomas
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Patterson has accounted for a touchdown in each of his last four games and has the look of a receiver who can build off a strong finish this season and explode next season. He has six or more touches and at least 50 yards in each of his last three. Jennings was a major disappointment last week but the matchup isn't bad for him either. The Lions have allowed 165.0 yards and two touchdowns to receivers in their last three games.
I'd start Patterson over: Andre Johnson, 49ers WRs
Low-end WR Flow chart: Jarrett Boykin > T.Y. Hilton > Greg Jennings > Jerrel Jernigan > Danny Amendola
Redskins at Giants, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Eli Manning has nine interceptions in his last four games and is probably more ready than anyone for the offseason. The honeymoon ended for Kirk Cousins last week as he only mustered up one score against the weak Cowboys defense last week and threw his third interception in two games. Whichever quarterback makes the fewest mistakes will win this one for his team.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Cousins' attempts, completions and average all took a dive last week against the worst team statistically against quarterbacks. The Giants happen to be pretty solid against passers, doing a number on Matthew Stafford last week and holding seven of their last nine opposing passers to under 20 Fantasy points. The Giants have enough ammo in their secondary to hang with the Redskins receivers, making it tough on Cousins to have the kind of success he had two weeks ago.
I'd rather start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, Kyle Orton
Andre Brown, RB, Giants: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Running backs in each of the last four games against the Redskins have scored at least one touchdown and posted at least 15 Fantasy points. With Brown over his concussion last week and in a very favorable matchup this week it's hard not to love him. Brown was one of the backs who scored two touchdowns against the Redskins back in Week 13 and should get his normal workload.
I'd start him over: Donald Brown, Chris Johnson
Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Giants: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Over the last two weeks Jernigan has caught 13 of 20 targets for 147 yards and a touchdown. Not bad. The workload is impressive and there's a good chance Manning keeps him in his sights since the Giants could struggle to get a foothold running the ball. That could also help Nicks out as he has just five catches on 12 targets in his last two games and is still looking for his first touchdown of the year. Over their last five games the Redskins have allowed receivers to rack up 137.0 yards per game and four scores. Trusting Jernigan seems easier than trusting Nicks at this point.
Flow chart: Doug Baldwin > Jerrel Jernigan > Brian Hartline > Hakeem Nicks > Panthers WRs
Brandon Myers, TE, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The last four games have been pretty good to Myers, who has 16 catches for 177 yards and two scores. The Redskins have allowed three tight end touchdowns in their last five games, one of them by Myers. I'd consider him a low-end lineup choice.
Flow chart: Martellus Bennett > Ryan Griffin > Brandon Myers > Timothy Wright > Dennis Pitta
Ravens at Bengals, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Ravens need a win to greatly improve their chances at the sixth seed in the AFC. The Bengals need a win to have a chance at a bye week, so don't expect their starters to rest much if at all. We keep discounting the Cincinnati defense after each injury it incurs but it bounces back every time. That's bad news for a Ravens offense lacking on the ground and in pass protection. Joe Flacco's knee could be giving him more trouble than they're letting on. This could be an easy one for the Bengals.
No-brainers: A.J. Green
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Last week Flacco completed under 60 percent of his passes for the 10th time this year and third straight game. He has one touchdown or less in five of his last six games, only breaking the two-score barrier in a wild finish vs. the Vikings. Flacco had just 140 yards and two interceptions to go with two scores against Cincinnati back in Week 10. That game was one of seven in the Bengals' last eight where the opposing quarterback did not get to 20 Fantasy points. This matchup is tough for Flacco.
I'd rather start: Kyle Orton, Terrelle Pryor
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 5 FPTS
We're talking about one of the most frustrating running backs this season going up against a run defense that has allowed just three rushing touchdowns and four scores total to backs in 2013. Rice had 56 total yards against Cincy back in Week 10. He has a chance at a little bit more but the Bengals have let up 90 total yards per game to running backs in their last five.
I'd rather start: Edwin Baker, Jonathan Grimes
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Of the 13 touchdowns the Bengals have allowed to receivers this year six have come within their last three games! But four were in a sloppy effort vs. the Colts while one counted against them in Weeks 15 (Antonio Brown) and 16 (Jarius Wright on a 36-yard bomb). That all sounds great for Smith but his play lately has been brutal. Smith has one touchdown and one game with 80-plus yards in his last five. His targets have become more inconsistent compared to the big amount of work he had in the first half of the season.
Flow chart: Michael Crabtree > T.Y. Hilton > Torrey Smith > Greg Jennings > Hakeem Nicks
Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens: My Projection: 4 FPTS
The Bengals have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends all year and 40.7 yards per game. Pitta really underwhelmed over the last two weeks -- after catching six passes on 11 targets in his return Week 14 he's racked up six catches on 11 targets in his last two games for just 58 yards and no touchdowns. Tough to trust Pitta, particularly if he's still not playing even half of the Ravens' offensive snaps.
I'd rather start: Joseph Fauria, Ryan Griffin
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 18 FPTS
We've seen Dalton crash back to earth after three straight big games before, and he's coming off of three consecutive games with at least 23 Fantasy points. We've also seen Dalton never get the best of the Ravens, failing to post 20 Fantasy points in any of his five career meetings with them. Only four of the 15 quarterbacks the Ravens have faced this season have posted 20-plus Fantasy points. Feels like the odds are against Dalton.
Flow chart: Colin Kaepernick > Russell Wilson > Andy Dalton > Carson Palmer > Ryan Tannehill
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 10 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 10 FPTS
After holding running backs to one rushing touchdown through the first 11 weeks of the year the Ravens have allowed five rushing touchdowns in their last four games. They've also yielded 106.7 rush yards per game and 32.8 receiving yards per game in that four-week span. I like the opportunities for both backs to continue on the trends we've seen from them lately: Bernard has at least 15 touches in each of his last four games with 10-plus Fantasy points in two of his last three. Green-Ellis has a touchdown in three of his last four (four total).
Flow chart: Donald Brown > Giovani Bernard > DeAngelo Williams > BenJarvus Green-Ellis > Dolphins and Saints RBs
Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Jones has seen his Fantasy numbers decline in three consecutive weeks, but they were all pretty good to begin with. He's gone from 12 to 10 to 8 last week. This downswing could fit right in with how the Ravens have fared versus non-No. 1 receivers, allowing just two scores to them over their last seven games. Cordarrelle Patterson is the only non-No. 1 wideout to get over 85 yards against the Ravens in that span; Jones had 2 yards against the Ravens in Week 10. Move on.
I'd rather start: Jerrel Jernigan, Mike Brown
Jaguars at Colts, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Colts offense continues to evolve, slowly but surely, with slot receiver Griff Whalen stepping up last week. If Andrew Luck has another weapon to lean on with defenses still tilting coverage toward T.Y. Hilton then it'll only help them with their playoff push. Expect them to keep experimenting with their offense this week -- potentially leaning on Whalen while trying to get Da'Rick Rogers more comfortable and Hilton in favorable matchups. There's a decent chance the Colts pull back their starters if they build a big lead.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Over the last three weeks the Colts have allowed three rushing touchdowns and 159.0 total yards per game to running backs, a sign that MJD could finish his season strong against a depleted unit. Last week Jamaal Charles gashed them for over 100 rush yards and a touchdown and two weeks earlier the Bengals' duo had nearly 200 total yards of offense with two touchdowns. Hard to not like Jones-Drew this week, even if he whiffed on a dream matchup in Week 16.
I'd start him over: Knowshon Moreno, Chris Ivory
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Colts have been very solid against tight ends this year -- only three have scored on them -- but Lewis is just too big a part of the Jaguars offense to ignore. Jacksonville's receiving corps has been smashed by injuries and you can tell the team is leaning on him more as a receiver now than at any point earlier in the year. He's scored in four straight and has 13 catches on 21 targets for 172 yards in that four-game span. If you're scraping by at tight end he's just as good as anyone else to take a chance on.
I'd start him over: Greg Olsen, Antonio Gates
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Ten of 15 quarterbacks to take on the Jaguars have posted 20-plus Fantasy points including Andrew Luck in Jacksonville back in Week 4. But Luck has under 20 Fantasy points in six of his last seven games. For what it's worth the Jaguars defense seems to be on fumes as two more defensive linemen and a starting cornerback are out for the finale, likely making it easier on Luck to have time in the pocket and throw downfield.
Flow chart: Aaron Rodgers > Ben Roethlisberger > Andrew Luck > Tom Brady > Russell Wilson
Donald Brown, RB, Colts: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The Jaguars' run defense has been declawed over the past couple of weeks, giving up 187.0 total yards per game and a pair of touchdowns to running backs in its last two. Losing defensive tackle Roy Miller will sting Jacksonville, though Sen'Derrick Marks is still there to cause trouble up front. Brown's numbers last week were his best of the year but pretty much all of his production came on two plays when a good defense broke down. The good news is that Jacksonville's defense isn't very good and breaks down plenty often. I like Brown to continue his strong play in favorable matchups.
I'd start him over: Bengals RBs, Steven Jackson
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Griff Whalen, WR, Colts: My Projection: 8 FPTS
At this point we should accept Hilton for what he is: A fast but not polished receiver who didn't make the impact we thought he would. His last six games have gone scoreless with under 80 yards in every one. Even with a nice matchup against a bad Jacksonville secondary that sports one of his collegiate teammates (safety Jonathan Cyprien) it's hard to trust Hilton for even 10 Fantasy points. Whalen has emerged as a slot, short-area receiver for the Colts, picking up 13 targets in his two games since re-joining the Colts for 11 catches, 125 yards and a touchdown. The more Luck does to establish Whalen as a short-range threat, the more he'll open up the rest of the Indianapolis offense.
Flow chart: Nate Washington > T.Y. Hilton > Anquan Boldin > Griff Whalen > Kendall Wright
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: My Projection: 3 FPTS
Can't trust him. Even if the Jaguars have allowed nine touchdowns to tight ends this year including one to Fleener back in Week 4, Fleener doesn't get enough work these days to warrant Fantasy use. He has 17 targets in his last four games, totaling 10 catches for 89 yards. In games where the Colts don't throw a lot he doesn't get a lot of work. This shapes up to be one of those kinds of games.
I'd rather start: Joseph Fauria, Ryan Griffin, Brandon Myers
Browns at Steelers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Steelers have dim playoff hopes but a win keeps them alive in case the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers all lose. Expect the Steelers to be adamant against Josh Gordon after he lit them up for 237 yards and a touchdown on 14 catches back in Week 12. Other teams have done the same of late and it's actually opened up the Browns run game, led by Edwin Baker. Pittsburgh's defense has been up and down all season and needs to be at its best in order to bring home the win.
Edwin Baker, RB, Browns: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Baker's production over the last two weeks has been tied mainly to scoring touchdowns. Otherwise he has a good 4.1 rushing average on 25 carries for 102 yards with six catches for another 58 yards. It's nothing to sneeze at -- and perhaps is a commentary on how easy it is to find a running back in the NFL these days -- but it'll take Baker scoring for him to notch a third-straight game with at least 10 Fantasy points. That might not be such a problem as the Steelers have allowed five rushing touchdowns, 4.5 yards per carry and 101.7 rush yards per game to running backs in their last three games. If the Steelers overcompensate for covering Gordon then you will see Baker have a chance at some numbers. I might consider him as a No. 2 running back.
Flow chart: Bobby Rainey > DeAngelo Williams > Edwin Baker > Knile Davis > Mike Tolbert
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
The Browns have allowed a quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns in 10 straight games. Of those quarterbacks eight have locked up 20-plus Fantasy points. Roethlisberger did it in Week 12 against them and with the defense depleted he should be in position to do it again, particularly with the Steelers still having something to play for in the season finale at home.
I'd start him over: Andrew Luck, Tom Brady
Jets at Dolphins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Dolphins need a win and some help in order to clinch the last playoff spot. Doing so against a division rival they ripped apart back in Week 13 seems likely. We've seen the Jets defense take a big step back over the past couple of weeks, particularly against the run. The Dolphins were humiliated last week and couldn't do much of anything -- Bryant McKinnie thought the Bills were tipped off. Many plays were dominated at the line of scrimmage. You might expect Miami to tweak things on both sides of the ball in an attempt to hopefully claim a playoff spot.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Dolphins got ripped apart by the Bills last week (195 total rush yards by running backs with a rush score) but it's the first time they've been smacked like that in a while. It also came in a game where the Bills ran it 41 times with their backs. It's going to take a similar effort where the Jets run a ton for Ivory to be effective. Even with that rough outing last week the Dolphins have allowed 138.0 total yards per game and the lone touchdown to running backs over their last five games, a huge improvement from where they were earlier this year. I can't help but think the Dolphins defense will step it up for this one.
I'd rather start: Edwin Baker, Joique Bell
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Tannehill was humbled last week in a tough matchup at Buffalo following a stretch where he was fantastic. That stretch kicked off against the Jets when he threw for 331 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with 22 rush yards. The Jets defense has been unpredictable since then, rolling over against the Raiders passing attack before getting hurt more on the ground than through the air against the Panthers, then knocking the Browns into submission last week. I'd expect the Jets to try and come after Tannehill after the Bills sacked him seven times, though they weren't as successful in that endeavor last time against Miami. But the Jets have racked up five sacks and 12 quarterback hurries in their last two games, an improvement. Tannehill will beat this defense deep if given the chance but because I'm not certain he'll do it, especially after last week, I probably wouldn't risk him in a lineup.
I'd rather start: Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I'd count on the Dolphins to try attacking with the run. That's because the once-tough Jets run defense has been knocked around over the last three weeks, allowing an average of 99.0 rush yards per game and three touchdowns by running backs. That doesn't include a very long touchdown catch by Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams a couple of weeks ago. Miami's run game couldn't get going last week but should have a chance to this week. If they stick with their typical rotation then Miller is the favorite to rack up yardage while Thomas could pop in and vulture a short-yardage score. Neither are Top 20 options.
Flow chart: Shonn Greene > Lamar Miller > Shane Vereen > Daniel Thomas > Jonathan Grimes
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Jets' weakness against deep-ball receivers has seemingly passed as they've held their own over the last two weeks including holding Josh Gordon to 97 yards on six catches (and 16 targets) in Week 16. That's not the news the Dolphins want to see as they get ready for the Jets -- back in Week 13 both Wallace and Hartline went off for huge games against them, scoring in the process. Those two scores are part of four the Jets have allowed in their last five games. The pass defense is getting better, so don't be in a hurry to get either Dolphin in your lineup.
Flow chart: Michael Floyd > Mike Wallace > Kendall Wright > Brian Hartline > Marvin Jones
Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 4 FPTS
The last time around against the Jets we saw Clay cash in 10 targets for seven catches and 80 yards, debilitating the Jets defense and forcing them to mix coverages. It opened the door for other Dolphins receivers to do well. The Jets might react this time by coming up with a plan for Clay from the jump, much like other teams have done. In the last two weeks Clay has caught five of nine targets for a paltry 38 yards and no scores. This is about the time you'd turn your back on Clay for another tight end, and with the Jets defense holding tight ends to one touchdown and 59.8 yards per game over its last five I wouldn't blame you.
I'd rather start: Jermaine Gresham, Timothy Wright
Panthers at Falcons, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Hold off on calling the Falcons the mail-in team of the season! Last week's effort against San Francisco was impressive -- there's no quit in them at all, at least not until an opponent puts them away early on. Historically Cam Newton has found ways to put up numbers on the Falcons and this week should be no different given their weak pass defense. It's going to take the Falcons offense putting together one last big game, perhaps with Tony Gonzalez as the centerpiece in his last game. It might not be enough since the Panthers will be determined to clinch a top seed and get a bye through the first round of the playoffs with a win.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 23 FPTS
The good news: Newton has two-plus touchdowns in each of his last four against the Falcons. The better news: The Falcons have allowed multiple touchdowns to 14 of the 15 quarterbacks they've faced this year. Eleven of them have 20-plus Fantasy points, though Cam isn't one of them (he had 19 back in Week 9). You might be nervous to use Newton without Steve Smith but it's not like Smith was a huge factor in Newton's big performances week after week anyway. I'd count on Newton finding the end zone twice to help put points on the board and play a solid game to finish the year strong.
I'd start him over: Everyone not named Peyton Manning, Nick Foles and Drew Brees
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
I expect both of these guys go get involved in the matchup. Over the Falcons' last five games they've allowed 127.2 rush yards per game with four rushing touchdowns. Six of the last seven starting running backs have posted 12 or more Fantasy points against Atlanta, a good omen for Williams. Carolina should be content with building a lead and then sitting on it with their ground game shouldering the load.
Flow chart: Rashad Jennings > DeAngelo Williams > BenJarvus Green-Ellis > Mike Tolbert > Pierre Thomas
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
If there's a receiver to trust in Carolina in the wake of the injury to Steve Smith, it's LaFell. Domenik Hixon might see more playing time with Smith sidelined than Ted Ginn but neither one can be considered reliable. Problem is, LaFell had just two targets last week, the lowest he's had in a game since Week 1, and that's with Smith out for all but eight plays. I wouldn't trust any Panthers receiver.
I'd rather start: Harry Douglas, Denarius Moore
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I know I should give credit to the Falcons for slowing down Vernon Davis last week but he was poked in the eye and had only three targets. Even with Davis' donut the Falcons have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in their last five games with just over 60 yards per game to the position. Olsen scored on them back in Week 9 and should amount to the most reliable receiver Newton has to throw to in this game.
I'd start him over: Dennis Pitta, Coby Fleener
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 13 FPTS
How many times have we seen the Panthers defense come up big against a good quarterback? It happened last week against Drew Brees, it happened earlier in the year against Tom Brady and it happened in Week 9 against Ryan. I'm sure we'll see a strong effort from Ryan but with just one game over 20 Fantasy points in his last nine games he should be a pretty easy sit this week.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton, Kyle Orton
Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Take away Jackson's goal-line touchdown at San Francisco last week (set up by a long catch-and run and a penalty) and he had a pedestrian 53 rush yards and predictable 3.3-yard rushing average. He'll need something similar to that in order to be successful against the Panthers, who have been tough against the run all year. They've allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season and have given up an average of 72.6 rush yards per game in their last five. You're on your own with Jackson.
I'd rather start: LeGarrette Blount, Edwin Baker
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 9 FPTS
When he's given lots (and lots) of chances we've seen White look great. But only six times this year has a receiver had 10 or more targets against the Panthers, and of those six times a wideout has posted 10-plus Fantasy points three times (way over 10 points). Only one other receiver has posted 10 Fantasy points against the Panthers without 10 targets. Ryan's going to have to throw a bunch in this game and he clearly has eyes for White. I might gamble on him.
Flow chart: Cardinals WRs > James Jones > Roddy White > 49ers WRs > Torrey Smith
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: My Projection: 12 FPTS
If this is Gonzalez's last game, he'll have a chance to go out with a bang. Carolina has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in its last three games, allowing 79.7 yards per game to the position. You should expect to see Gonzalez used early and often.
I'd start him over: Everyone except Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis
Buccaneers at Saints, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
A Saints win gets them into the playoffs but a win coupled with a Panthers loss would land them a bye week. Plenty to play for, and just the right opponent to do it against. Tampa Bay's pass defense remains a major problem and the Saints won't hesitate to attack it. Drew Brees has multiple touchdowns and 250-plus yards in three of his last four against the Bucs. Expect the Saints to lean on Brees to clinch a playoff berth.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
You have to like the matchup for Rainey, at least until the game gets out of hand for the Bucs. Over their last two games the Saints have allowed 170.0 total yards per game and a pair of rushing touchdowns to running backs. The Bucs even had a good day running the ball with Doug Martin back in Week 2. I think Rainey is a sneaky good play this week as the Bucs will lean on him until they have to throw.
I'd start him over: Rashad Jennings, Bengals RBs
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Jackson will take on a Saints pass defense that has yielded two touchdowns and 105.0 yards per game to receivers in its last three. That's not exactly a favorable matchup but if the Saints defense plays the Bucs like they did the Cowboys (double-team the dominant receiver) then it's going to look like an impossible matchup for Jackson by the time the game is over. I think he has a chance to play fairly well because ultimately the Saints will throw a bunch but he'll be the guy New Orleans will be draped all over in obvious passing situations.
I'd start him over: Alshon Jeffery, Marques Colston
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Darren Sproles, RB, Saints: My Projection: 3 FPTS
It's yet another tough opponent for the Saints run game as the Bucs have allowed just one 100-yard rusher and one rushing touchdown to a back in their last five games. It happened to be last week when Zac Stacy lit into them for 104 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. I don't think Thomas or Sproles will get that kind of work against the Bucs -- Thomas might get around 15 touches. With Tampa Bay's run defense still the unit's strong suit, this isn't the matchup to get excited about the Saints run game.
I'd rather start: Shonn Greene, Joique Bell
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: My Projection: 10 FPTS
If it's a must-win for the Saints and it's in the Superdome then you better believe Colston will get some targets. Tampa Bay has allowed four touchdowns and 129.8 yards per game to receivers over its last five. I'd expect Colston to see a lot of single coverage, which means a lot of targets from Brees -- even if Darrelle Revis covers him a decent amount.
I'd start him over: Mike Wallace, Andre Johnson
Bills at Patriots, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
With first-year coach Doug Marrone calling the shots and demanding his team finish strong I would expect the Bills to give the Patriots a game. New England needs a win to clinch a first-round bye and would pick up home-field advantage if the Raiders can beat the Broncos ... man I can't even type that with a straight face. If the Bills can run as effectively as they did last week then they could pull off the upset.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: My Projection: 13 FPTS
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Since giving Ben Tate the game of his career in Week 13 the Patriots have done a nice job against the run, allowing 101.3 total yards per game and one receiving touchdown to running backs in their last three. But the toughest challenge they had during that span was Lamar Miller, who had only 15 carries for 61 yards. The Bills come off the bus running as illustrated in their work last week against the Dolphins when Jackson and Spiller totaled 39 carries. Seven of the eight running backs to land 16-plus carries against the Patriots this season have had 10 or more Fantasy points. Oddly enough, the one who didn't was Spiller back in Week 1. Jackson had fewer carries but still totaled over 100 yards.
Flow chart: Andre Brown > Fred Jackson > Bobby Rainey > Bengals RBs > C.J. Spiller > Danny Woodhead
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 19 FPTS
Brady's track record against the Bills is incredible and even with the Bills' impressive turnaround against the pass I suspect Brady will find a way to score twice. Buffalo hasn't allowed a quarterback to 20-plus Fantasy points in seven straight games, partially because of the play of cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd and partially because the Bills run defense has been so bad that teams haven't needed to always throw against them. I don't think this will be a great game for Brady but he should piece together enough to finish as a Top 12 quarterback.
Flow chart: Philip Rivers > Colin Kaepernick > Tom Brady > Russell Wilson > Andy Dalton
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Back in Week 1 it was Vereen who posted the best numbers among the Pats running backs but this time around Blount might get the most work. Three of the last four primary rushers to face the Bills have posted over 80 rush yards and at least 14 Fantasy points each, evidence that this run defense isn't as good as the Dolphins made them out to be last week (Miami running backs had 12 total carries). I'd expect Blount to get a heavy dose of work with Vereen filling in on passing downs.
I'd start Blount over: Giovani Bernard, Rashad Jennings
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
In the Bills last seven games they've allowed receivers to get just two touchdowns, three 10-plus Fantasy point outings and 115.4 yards per game. That can't be ignored. They've done a nice job containing some quality wideouts but it's been the better quarterbacks who have helped their top receivers put up numbers on Buffalo. That's why I'll give Edelman a chance here over Amendola.
Flow chart: Pierre Thomas > Steven Jackson > Shane Vereen > Andre Ellington > Stevan Ridley
Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, Patriots: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Taking a stab on him this week as the Bills have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in four of their last five games. He's the kind of guy you chance it with if you're desperate for six points.
I'd start him over: Brent Celek, Jared Cook, Andrew Quarless
Rams at Seahawks, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The Seahawks offensive line has to play better than they did last week against the Cardinals in order for the offense to have a chance. That's tough because the Rams defensive line is not bad at all -- they wreaked havoc on Drew Brees two weeks ago and on Mike Glennon last week. It starts and ends there for the Seahawks -- if they can create room for Marshawn Lynch and protect Russell Wilson then they'll be fine. If not the Rams will definitely keep it close -- something the Seahawks don't need with the top seed in the NFC at stake.
No-brainers: Marshawn Lynch
Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: My Projection: 12 FPTS
The guy's been awesome, even in tough matchups, but this is the toughest of them all. The Seahawks haven't allowed a running back to score in eight straight games. In that span they have given up over 110 rush yards to three players including Stacy back in Week 8. But two of those three backs (including Stacy) needed at least 25 carries. Stacy will need that kind of workload to deliver double digits. He's had the big amount of carries in each of the last two weeks, both Rams victories. I'd start him given the circumstances but I wouldn't expect a huge game from him, especially with left tackle Jake Long out for the year and the Seahawks clearly focused on stopping Stacy to force the Rams to throw.
I'd start him over: Donald Brown, Bobby Rainey
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The last three weeks have been absolutely scary for Wilson -- no more than 17 Fantasy points in each game. He's been turning the ball over more and hasn't quite put up as many yards as when he was on his hot streak. Only one quarterback has thrown multiple touchdowns against the Rams in their last seven games and only two have posted two touchdowns total. During that span the Rams have picked off nine passes and have allowed just two 20-point Fantasy games (21 points to Drew Brees, 22 to Josh McCown). They've done a nice job on the road against divisional opponents over the last two weeks and should be in a position to limit Wilson this week.
Flow chart: Philip Rivers > Colin Kaepernick > Russell Wilson > Andy Dalton > Ryan Tannehill
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 8 FPTS
It's been No. 1 receivers who have downed the Rams all season long and Baldwin figures to be the Seahawks' most reliable wideout. One problem is that he doesn't get targeted as much as most of the receivers who have been solid against St. Louis: Each of the last five receivers to post at least nine Fantasy points on the Rams have done so with 10-plus targets. Baldwin has one game with 10 targets this season and has six or fewer targets in four of his last five. I like him as a third receiver but can't trust him any further than that.
Flow chart: Griff Whalen > Kendall Wright > Doug Baldwin > Giants WRs > Robert Woods
Broncos at Raiders, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
I'd call it the upset of the century if the Raiders knocked off the Broncos in a game where Denver needs a win to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Oakland just doesn't have enough talent on both sides of the ball to present a legit challenge. Now that he has the single-season touchdown record expect Peyton Manning to put up plenty of yards (at least 266 to break Drew Brees' single-season yardage record) and points (at least 18 to break New England's single-season team scoring record) before getting off the field sometime in the fourth quarter once the game appears to be in hand.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 12 FPTS
In a blowout win last week he did great on the 11 carries and two catches he had but it's the second game in a row he had less than 15 touches. I wouldn't worry -- Peyton was chasing a record last week and chasing points while playing from behind two weeks ago. Moreno's wheelhouse is probably still 20 touches, which is right about what he had in each of the last two games before this grim two-week spell where Moreno didn't deliver huge numbers. Over the last three weeks running backs against the Raiders have totaled eight touchdowns (five by Jamaal Charles) and averaged an even 200 yards per game. Twelve of the last 13 starting running backs vs. Oakland have posted 10-plus Fantasy points. In Knowshon we trust; Montee Ball is backup material.
I'd start him over: Rashad Jennings, Donald Brown
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Pryor closes out the season against a Broncos pass defense that has not allowed a 20-point Fantasy passer in the last three weeks. This includes Philip Rivers' two-score, 166-yard performance in Week 15. There's no Von Miller to pressure Pryor but he had a hard time accumulating 250 yards or two touchdowns when he was starting in the first place. The Broncos will likely key in on keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to make throws (and mistakes). Pryor did notch 20 Fantasy points against Denver back in Week 3 thanks to 281 pass yards and no turnovers. Not sure he can do that again.
I'd rather start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill
Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Jennings disappointed last week with only 72 total yards on 13 touches, snapping a six-game streak of at least nine Fantasy points per game. The hunch is that the Raiders get Jennings more involved this week in an attempt to keep the ball in their possession rather than Peyton's. The depleted Broncos front seven should be conducive to that. The Broncos have allowed 106.3 rush yards per game and four touchdowns to running backs over its last three contests.
I'd start him over: Steven Jackson, Frank Gore
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Rod Streater, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Streater had cooled off with Matt McGloin under center but for a while he was the Raiders' top target. With Pryor back we could see Oakland take more deep shots, which isn't always Streater's top role, especially with Denarius Moore back. With Pryor, Streater had just one touchdown and one game with 10-plus Fantasy points. He also had four catches or less in six of eight games. Moore, meanwhile, had four touchdowns and five games with five-plus catches with Pryor. The Broncos have allowed four touchdowns to receivers over their last three games. Based on the track record with Pryor I'd gamble on Moore over Streater.
I'd rather start: Danny Amendola, Greg Jennings, Brian Hartline
Chiefs at Chargers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
Kansas City is locked into the AFC's No. 5 seed. If history means anything then coach Andy Reid will not play his starters for most or all of the game. Dwayne Bowe is already ruled out with a concussion. It also means the Chargers can end their season with some nice numbers against a defense made up of many second-stringers. While the Bolts will likely know their playoff situation by the time they kick off (the Ravens and Dolphins both have to lose for the Chargers to have a chance), it is expected that they'll play to win with their starters regardless.
No-brainers: Ryan Mathews
Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Davis is the only Chiefs player I'd feel okay starting, though there's no guarantee he'll be the only back they use. Davis also fumbled the ball twice on four touches last week, turning it over once. Maybe giving him a chance to get used to the NFL game is worth force-feeding him the ball. For what it's worth the Chargers haven't allowed a back to get 10 Fantasy points in three straight weeks.
Flow chart: Chris Ivory > Lamar Miller > Knile Davis > Mike Tolbert > Pierre Thomas
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 20 FPTS
If the Chiefs hold out their starters as expected then that could mean he'll take on a pass defense minus rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, both of whom are dealing with injuries. This Chiefs defense is already different without one of these guys on the field but throw in a couple of other starters sitting and Rivers should have a field day -- so long as the Chargers coaches let him. Rivers is one touchdown away from his third season with at least 30 and 251 yards away from a 4,500-yard season (462 yards from setting a career-high). Rivers has attempted less than 30 passes in each of his last three games.
I'd start him over: Tom Brady, Russell Wilson
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
When the Chargers have a lead they stick the ball in Mathews' belly and let him run. It doesn't leave much for Woodhead, who has averaged just under 10 touches per game in his last seven. In that stretch he's scored four times and had two games with 10-plus Fantasy points. He's tough to trust.
I'd rather start: C.J. Spiller, Shonn Greene
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
It came out earlier this week that Allen contemplated quitting football once the season got started and he was on the bench. Fantasy owners and Chargers fans alike are glad he stuck around. Allen has five touchdowns on eight catches over his last three games and should continue his red-hot streak Sunday against a Chiefs defense likely looking past the Bolts and toward the playoffs. He has either 100 yards or a touchdown in five straight. There's no way you should sit him.
I'd start him over: Julian Edelman, Andre Johnson
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
If Eric Berry doesn't play (or play much) then the door is open for Gates to finish the season with a touchdown. He has only three this year -- forcing one into him could be in the Chargers' plans if they have a lead and a red-zone opportunity. Gates has scored in two straight season finales, though both were against the Raiders.
Flow chart: Martellus Bennett > Marcedes Lewis > Antonio Gates > Brandon Myers > Jermaine Gresham
49ers at Cardinals, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
With a win and a Seahawks loss the Niners will win the NFC West. Throw in a Panthers loss and the Niners will get the top seed. Arizona needs to win and have the Saints lose to the Bucs in order to clinch a wild-card berth. Because the Bucs and Saints play at the same time as the Cardinals, Bruce Arians' bunch will have no choice but to play as hard as possible to have a chance at the playoffs. I'd bank on a low-scoring game here. The game features two of the top defenses in the league -- the Cardinals rank sixth and the Niners rank third in yards allowed per game (they're separated by eight yards per game). Both teams are outstanding against the run and gritty against the pass. I'd give an edge to the Niners based on their offensive line and pass rush.
No-brainers: Vernon Davis
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers: My projection: 19 FPTS
At first glance the matchup for Kaepernick isn't so bad as the Cardinals have allowed Nick Foles and Ryan Fitzpatrick to have outstanding stat lines against them. But they're the only ones to do so in the last six weeks with every other passer including Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson to get 15 or fewer Fantasy points. Kaepernick has a solid offensive line protecting him, something Wilson didn't have last week against these Cardinals last week. He also has a great weapon in Vernon Davis and he's someone the Niners should lean on in a game against a pass defense that's been awful against tight ends over the course of the year.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: My projection: 7 FPTS
The Niners are sure to try and get Gore established on the ground but the Cardinals have been outstanding versus the run. They've held opposing rushers to two touchdowns, 74.0 total yards per game and a weak 3.2 yard per carry average over their last five games. Gore has been better over his past few games, totaling over 110 yards against the Seahawks three weeks ago and puncturing the Falcons for over 100 total yards and a touchdown last week, but the Cardinals should be able to contain him.
I'd rather start: Edwin Baker, Joique Bell, Panthers RBs
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Before you rule Crabtree out of your lineup this week, know this: He scored two touchdowns in each game against Arizona last season and three of them came directly on Cardinals top cornerback Patrick Peterson. He caught scores from 3, 7 and 9 yards out where Peterson was directly responsible and another one from 49 yards out where Peterson snoozed in zone coverage. Crabtree had even beaten Peterson on the play before for a 31-yard gain. I won't say Crabtree has all of his speed back but he's running pretty well overall and could surprise since the Niners won't be shy to use him in single coverage against Peterson. Boldin could too -- it really depends on how effective Kaepernick is -- but the veteran had nine points or less in three of his last four games. The Cardinals have not allowed a touchdown to a receiver in six straight games and only Kendall Wright (20 targets, 12 catches) has posted 10-plus Fantasy points on the Cards since Week 10.
Flow chart: Mike Wallace > Michael Crabtree > T.Y. Hilton > Anquan Boldin > Torrey Smith
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Expect Palmer to get blitzed a ton. Negating that with a lot of quick passes will go a long way in helping him stay clean in the pocket but not put up a ton of stats. He wound up with a pretty decent game against the Niners back in Week 6 (nearly 300 yards, two touchdowns, two turnovers) but has one touchdown in each of his last three and San Francisco has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in just five games this season.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton, Kyle Orton
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 3 FPTS
The Niners have allowed just four rushing touchdowns in their last nine games, giving up an average of 101.8 total yards per game to running backs in that span. It's a tough draw for Ellington and Mendenhall, both of whom are coming off of poor games against another tough run defense last week in the Seahawks, totaling 127 rush yards on 36 carries.
I'd rather start: Shane Vereen, Lamar Miller, Jonathan Grimes
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Fitzgerald had a monster game against the Niners in Week 6 because of busted coverage by San Fran that helped him notch a 75-yard touchdown. Floyd also scored in that game, a 32-30 win. Since that upset victory the Niners have allowed four touchdowns and 156.7 yards per game to receivers over nine games. The Cardinals might have to throw a good amount, and that could be the impetus to make them good Fantasy choices. Fitzgerald has scored in three of his last four at home with at least 15 Fantasy points in two of them.
Flow chart: Marques Colston > Cordarrelle Patterson > Cardinals WRs > Andre Johnson > Roddy White
Packers at Bears, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The winner of this one is the NFC North champ and hosts a playoff game next week. Rodgers' return will do wonders for the offense against a Bears defense that can't stop the run and will be scared to death of the Packers passing game. I'd argue the Packers don't even need to throw it that much, just threaten enough with the pass to keep the Bears' safeties back. That would open up plenty of room for Eddie Lacy and even James Starks to hack away on this defense. Lacy and Starks totaled 190 rush yards and two touchdowns on the Bears and all but 20 yards of it came with Rodgers sidelined.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
The Bears have allowed Tony Romo and Nick Foles to post plus-20 point games on them over the last three weeks. Rodgers should follow suit, particularly in a game where a playoff berth is on the line against his division rival. But the truth is that if the Packers find success running the ball early on, Rodgers won't have to do all the work in this game. The Packers would probably prefer that. Rodgers is good enough to start but I might not look for 30 points from him.
I'd start him over: Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
James Jones, WR, Packers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
You have to like these guys better simply because Rodgers is back. With Matt Flynn their numbers were tepid; Rodgers is such a better passer that these guys will get quality opportunities to make plays. In seven games with Rodgers, Nelson had 39 catches for 649 yards and seven scores, so he's the top dog. Jones had some huge games with Rodgers until he got hurt before Rodgers' injury but they're obviously familiar with each other. Boykin had at least 89 yards in each of the two starts he had with Rodgers. The Bears can't cover all of these guys so when Rodgers does throw he'll make an impact.
I'd start Nelson over: Alshon Jeffery, Cardinals WRs
I'd start Jones over: Andre Johnson, Roddy White
I'd start Boykin over: Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Cutler's got a great matchup. Over the Packers last eight games they've allowed a quarterback to get over 22 Fantasy points five times with six of the eight quarterbacks notching two-plus touchdowns. Not having to deal with Clay Matthews will also help. There is a history of Cutler playing poorly against the Packers -- he has achieved 20 or more Fantasy points in one of eight career meetings against the Packers as a member of the Bears (including the postseason). But to be fair, this is the first time he'll take them on with such a talented receiving corps and with the Packers so toothless defensively. Despite the track record I'd still consider Cutler a good start this week.
I'd start him over: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Jeffery had his touchdown streak snapped last week against the Eagles and will aim to get it going again vs. the Packers. His targets are down by a smidge since Cutler took over under center, lending evidence to the idea that Josh McCown helped push Jeffery's numbers higher. Over the last five weeks the Packers have allowed five receivers to score, giving up an average of 166.0 yards per game to the position in that time frame. Three of those five scores and 10 of the 18 total they've allowed on the season have been made by non-No. 1 wideouts. Jeffery has a shot to match the numbers he had against the Packers back in Week 9: 60 yards and a score.
I'd start him over: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson
Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Two reasons why I like Bennett this week: One, the Packers have allowed four touchdowns to tight ends over their last five games. Two, Bennett's targets have ticked up since Cutler has been back under center and his numbers have gone up with them. He has 11 catches on 14 targets for 156 yards in his last two games with Cutler. Not bad. The Bears could find themselves throwing quite a bit this week which also helps Bennett's chances of putting up stats.
I'd start him over: Delanie Walker, Greg Olsen
Eagles at Cowboys, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
Everyone's making a big deal over the Cowboys quarterback situation but the Eagles' focus will be on exploiting their awful defense. They're allowing exactly 30.0 points per game over their last five (since the bye) and teams have run effectively against them. You can be sure that the Eagles are gearing up their run game for this one.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Both receivers should start for Fantasy owners. In the five games since the Cowboys' bye the defense has allowed six scores to receivers and 179.4 yards per game. The highest targeted receiver in each of the last four games has posted at least 12 Fantasy points and non-No. 1 receivers have scored in two of the last three against Dallas.
I'd start them over: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, 49ers WRs
Kyle Orton, QB, Cowboys: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Orton happens to be one of the best backup quarterbacks in football and he'll give Dallas a chance in this game. We've seen him play well and post big numbers when surrounded by a good receiving corps and the one he'll work with on Sunday surely qualifies. I'd expect Orton to spread it around and specifically utilize Jason Witten as a security blanket. Where things could go wrong is when the Eagles pass rush comes down on him, and it will behind the Dallas O-line. Three of the last five quarterbacks against Philadelphia posted 24-plus Fantasy points including Robert Griffin III, Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel. Orton is a suitable replacement for those owners lost without Romo and unable to get another quarterback off waivers.
Flow chart: Russell Wilson > Andy Dalton > Kyle Orton > Carson Palmer > Ryan Tannehill
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Eagles have allowed three tight ends to rack up at least eight Fantasy points in their last six games. It's not a great stat and it almost doesn't really matter because the Cowboys figure to find ways to move the ball through the air and Witten should be called upon to help that process. Philly's allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends on the season but Witten has eight and could tie his career-best with nine on Sunday. If the Cowboys end up throwing a good amount then you have to imagine Witten will be a regular target of Orton's. The two have worked together previously in garbage time over the last two seasons, connecting for a touchdown and 48 yards on four completions.
I'd start him over: Delanie Walker, Marcedes Lewis
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