Wow, that was a scorcher on Monday Night Football with Cam Newton just running some scores up - hope you escaped the week without getting burned too badly! We're looking into Week 11 with a positive outlook on several teams and players and there are some openings for guys that were deeper on the depth chart. Make sure to be scooping up guys like Greg Olsen and Danny Woodhead if they are still available on the wire. Players that should outperform expectations this week include: Blake Bortles, Chris Thompson, Jamaal Williams, Samaje Perine, Emmanuel Sanders, Robert Woods, and Austin Hooper. Good luck!
It's the end of another exciting week of football which means it's time to put your claims in for available free agents in your fantasy league to strengthen your team. I'll be going over who I think are the top five picks for you to target this week so don't miss out on them. Good luck!
Note: %owned is based on Yahoo! leagues at the time of publication.
5) Marquise Goodwin (SF) - 15% owned - Goodwin has proven to be a big play threat this season and due to injuries to the 49ers receivers he should continue to see high target volumes to make him better than the usual WR3 boom or bust dart throw.
4) Dontrelle Inman (CHI) - 2% owned - Inman had a productive game in his Bears debut catching 6 of 8 for 88 yards. Since there is not much pass catching talent on the team, Inman should be the go to receiver the rest of the season.
3) Rex Burkhead (NE) - 11% owned - Burkhead has seen his workload increase each of the last three weeks after returning from a rib injury. Patriots running backs can be dangerous to predict for fantasy purposes, but Burkhead is worth an add as a player on the rise.
2) Latavius Murray (MIN) - 44% owned - Murray continues to get consistent double digit touches each week despite splitting time with Jerrick McKinnon. His production has unfortunately been hit or miss, but his volume should at least put him in the flex conversation each week.
1) Jamaal Williams (GB) - 7% owned - Williams was forced into action this week after Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery were both knocked out with injuries. Jones is expected to miss multiple weeks with a knee injury and Montgomery appeared to reinjure his ribs; this means Williams should see plenty of work as the Packers primary running back.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! For most of you, this is the final week of the fantasy regular season. Your whole season could be riding on the outcome of this week’s matchup. Make sure you know what your scenario looks like. Do you need to win and make up a point differential? Do you need to just win? If you’re out of the playoffs, are there any side pots you can win this week? If you are in a dire spot, look for ceiling instead of floor. I’ll do my best to point out who has more of which in the breakdowns below. If you see two players at the same position listed under the same header, the player I like more this week will be listed first. Let’s dive in to what to expect from the rookies in week 13…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 13: vs. Car.): To put it as simply as I can, you can’t sit a guy who has been the RB1 in 3 of the last 4 games (and the RB4 in the other). The matchup this week isn’t an easy one, but Kamara has been on a crazy run. Carolina allows the 4th-fewest RB points per game, and rank 5th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. Given the matchup, I’d probably fade Alvin in DFS lineups, or view him as more of a contrarian play, but you have to trust him in season-long leagues. In the past 4 weeks, Kamara has scored an astonishing 43 more PPR points than any other running back, and he’s done it with fewer than 15 touches per game.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 13: vs. Ind.): Fournette was a disappointment in week 12, as he handled a season-low 12 carries and posted fewer than 8 PPR points, but unless the ankle is an issue I’d expect both the carries and the points to go up this week. The Jaguars played from behind last week, but they’re 9.5-point favorites in this one and the Colts allow the 6th-most RB points per game. There is a little worry since Fournette has posted 2 down games in 3 chances since returning from the ankle issue, but he’s practicing in full as of Wednesday and looks like he should be back to normal this week. I’d understand if you were hesitant to pull the trigger in DFS with his recent results and the price tag, but he should be at least a borderline RB1 in season-long leagues.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 13: vs. TB): As long as Williams has the backfield to himself, he’s a strong RB2 option and a huge value in DFS lineups. He was the RB2 last Sunday against a stout Steeler defense, and even managed to finish in the top-20 backs the week before when Green Bay was shut out by Baltimore. Williams has consistently been able to produce when given the opportunity, and he should have plenty of opportunity in this one as long as Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery remain sidelined. Tampa Bay allows the 14th most RB points per game, and ranks 20th in run defense DVOA.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 13: @NO): McCaffrey didn’t have a great game against the Jets last week. He was held to a season-low 2 catches, but still managed to finish as the RB22 in a tough matchup. He basically has a top-25 floor at this point. The Saints allow the 9th-most RB receptions and 7th-most RB receiving yards, and McCaffrey finished as the RB10 with 20.7 PPR points in his first go-round with New Orleans in week 3. That was before he started to consistently produce on the ground. CMC totaled just 117 rushing yards in the first 8 games of the year (70 in games 2-8), but has managed to tally 151 yards on the ground in Carolina’s past 3 contests. That balance has made McCaffrey an even safer RB2 option.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 13: @Dal.): Perine has now posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for Washington, and he had 4 targets last week that led to a 3-30 receiving line as well. The receiving production is new here. Perine is known as a non-factor in the passing game, so the new usage boosts both his ceiling and his floor. This week he gets to face a Dallas defensive front that is still without Sean Lee, allows the 12th-most RB points per game, and ranks 28th in run defense DVOA. The receiving work might not carry over as Byron Marshall gets more up to speed as the receiving back, but Perine remains a strong RB2 option this week. Think Alex Collins on a team that actually scores offensive touchdowns. (Washington has scored 10 more offensive TDs than Baltimore).
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 13: @Ari.): Kupp saw a whopping 11 targets last week, and he should approach that number again this week with Patrick Peterson likely to shadow Sammy Watkins for much of the day. The Cardinals allow the 9th-most points per game to WRs despite stellar coverage from Peterson. Kupp posted 4-51-1 in the first meeting with Arizona when Robert Woods was healthy and in the lineup. Woods is going to miss this one. Cooper should be worth his price in DFS cash games and is a solid WR3 this week.
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 13: vs. SF): Before you freak out about Trubisky being listed here, let me explain that this is for 2-QB leagues (or crazy leagues with 16+ teams). Trubisky had been showing signs of improvement before taking a big step back against the Eagles last week. I’m willing to chalk it up as a down week in a brutal matchup. The matchups don’t get better than the one he has this week. The 49ers have allowed the most QB points in the league and have coughed up multiple passing TDs in 6 straight games. Mitchy T was the QB14 and QB18 in the games before being eviscerated by Philly. He has some solid upside this week and is a decent play in DFS lineups as well.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 13: @NYJ): Hunt has been struggling for a little while now, but last week was especially bad. For the first time all year he was held under 60 scrimmage yards, and it was way under (26). He gets a brutal matchup this week with the Jets allowing fewer than 16 RB points per game over their past 5 games. To explain how good that is, the Vikings are the best RB defense in the league with 17.3 points per game allowed. There is still some upside. The Jets do rank just 17th in run defense DVOA for the year, and Hunt still has the backfield touches mostly to himself, but the QB and coaching staff aren’t helping. Defenses have been stacking the box, and Alex Smith isn’t beating them downfield to keep them honest. I’d still lean toward starting him if I have him, but would understand if you didn’t. I don’t know if I’d have the stones to sit him for Perine or Jamaal Williams, but the matchups and recent production suggest you should. Hunt would make a great contrarian play in DFS tournaments if you had any faith a bounce-back was coming. No one will be on him this week in DFS.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 13: vs. Pit.): I’m not quite ready to buy into last week’s breakout game from Mixon as the new normal for him, but it was very promising to see. Mixon punished the Browns consistently all game, piling up 114 yards on the ground without the benefit of any 20+ yard carries. He gets a much stiffer test this week. The Steelers may have been carved up by Jamaal Williams on Sunday night, but it was the first time they’ve allowed the opposing backs to total 20 PPR points or more since week 5. Pittsburgh ranks 6th in run defense DVOA and has allowed the 9th-fewest RB points per game on the year. Mixon himself failed to reach 10 points in Cincy’s first meeting with the Steelers. The volume should still be there for Mixon this week, which keeps him in the RB2/flex discussion, but I doubt the ceiling that he showed last week will repeat itself on Monday night. Joe’s back to being a floor option in this one.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 13: vs. NE): The Patriots have managed to cut down on how many points they’ve been giving up to opposing teams after an atrocious first 4 games (32 ppg allowed first 4 weeks, 13 ppg since), but they’ve continued to bleed fantasy points to WRs. Miami was the first opponent they’ve faced all year that didn’t reach 32 PPR points from their WR group. Zay is the clear WR1 for the Bills with Kelvin Benjamin sidelined, as evidenced by the 24 targets he’s seen in the past 3 weeks. The bouts of inefficiency he dealt with early in the year crept back in last Sunday against KC as he caught just 3 of 10 targets, but he also found the end zone in that game. He’s posted his 3 best fantasy games of the year in his last 3 played, and his target share should be strong again in a great matchup. He’s an excellent cheap DFS option and a solid flex option in deeper PPR leagues.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 13: vs. Hou.): Davis’s play and stat lines have been disappointing so far, but I’m still holding out hope for him this week. 4 of the 6 games that Davis has suited up for have been against teams that rank in the top-5 in the league at limiting WR points. In the other 2 games, he’s averaged 7 targets, 5 catches and 54 yards. The Texans allow the 6th-most WR points per game and rank outside of the top-20 in pass defense DVOA on throws to any WR. Literally…Football Outsiders tracks DVOA on throws to WR1s, WR2s, and other WRs, and the Texans rank outside of the top-20 in all 3 categories. With Rishard Matthews possibly out again, this is a second chance for Davis to post his breakout game. I would treat last week’s production as his floor against Houston, and hope that he moves closer to his ceiling this week.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 13: vs. Ind.): The Colts allow the 8th-most WR points per game, and Dede has seen 16 targets in his first 2 games of the year, including 10 in week 12. Some of that target share was likely due to Marqise Lee getting the Patrick Peterson treatment, and Dede was still out-snapped by Keelan Cole in that game, but I expect the target share to remain solid moving forward. The Colts have been bad against the pass all year, and their secondary will be without its lone bright spot Rashaan Melvin in this one. Westbrook is a big-time value at his $4,100 DraftKings price tag, and he’s an intriguing borderline flex option for season-long leagues.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 13: @Cin.): JuJu looks like a game-time decision this week, and if he does suit up he’ll get a tough matchup and may see limited snaps. The Bengals have allowed the 2nd-fewest WR points per game in the league and rank #11 in pass defense DVOA on throws to #2 WRs. For reference, Smith-Schuster put up 2-39-1 in the first meeting between these teams, but that was before he’d overtaken Martavis on the depth chart. The upside that JuJu showed before his injury keeps him in the flex conversation if he’s able to play, but I’d be hard-pressed to plug him into lineups this week. Big Ben’s normal home/road splits seemed to be a thing of the past early on this year, but when you crunch the numbers they still show up. Ben is averaging 13.75 fantasy points per game on the road, and 19.26 points per game at home, and that’s even with the 2.6 he tallied at home against the Jaguars factored in. Ben’s poor play on the road should temper expectations across the entire Steelers’ passing attack despite how hot they’ve been of late.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 13: @Oak.): Coming off 2 consecutive poor outings, Engram now gets a quarterback change to contend with. The targets have still been there for Evan (13 in the last 2 weeks), and the matchup is a good one (Oakland allows the 7th-most TE points), but I wouldn’t fault you if you went with a more stable option like Kyle Rudolph or Jack Doyle instead. Engram is likely still your best option, but there are definitely some reasons for concern with the Eli Manning era over, and his price tag in DFS is certainly too rich for me.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 13: @LAC): The matchup is daunting on paper for Njoku (Chargers allow 2nd-fewest TE points), and he hasn’t exactly been a key fantasy contributor so far, but the return of Josh Gordon to pair with Corey Coleman could really open things up in the middle for Njoku. He saw his biggest playing time share of the season last week, out-snapping Seth DeValve 41-24, and posted a season-high 4 catches for 47 yards. If the increased playing time continues this week, he’s on the radar as a tight end streamer for deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 13: @LAC): Kizer has quietly been stringing some pretty solid fantasy performances together over the past couple weeks, but this matchup isn’t one to target. The Chargers allow the 3rd-fewest QB points per game, and have kept 4 of the past 6 QBs they’ve faced out of the top-25 weekly finishers, including a QB31 performance from Dak Prescott on Thanksgiving. The return of Josh Gordon should make the Browns’ offense more dynamic, and week 14 against the Pack should be a prime spot to stream Kizer in 2-QB leagues, but I’d still avoid him this week.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 13: @Oak.): Gallman saw a surprisingly high amount of work on Thanksgiving, but the Giants’ offense is going to be unpredictable with Geno Smith under center, and the 6.3 PPR points Gallman scored on Thanksgiving were the most he’s tallied since week 5. It’s hard to rely on any more than that with this offense in flux, especially if your season is on the line.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 13: @Sea.): The Eagles did win in a rout for the 4th consecutive game last Sunday, but Clement’s garbage time bonanza came to an end. Week 12 marked the first time during the streak that Clement failed to rush for 50 yards, and he played on just 18% of the offensive snaps. This week’s game should be a much closer contest. I’d expect the Eagles to rely more on LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi to carry the load than they have in recent weeks, making Clement’s volume too shaky to trust as anything more than a DFS tournament dart throw.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 13: @Jax.): Mack handled the fewest touches he’s seen since week 6 on Sunday as the Colts came out of their bye. He posted 10.6 PPR points in the Colts’ previous meeting with Jacksonville, but nothing in his recent performance suggests a repeat is coming. Gore has re-established himself as the clear lead back in Indy over the past few weeks, and Mack is best left seated for now.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 13: @Chi.): Breida played just 7 snaps and handled 2 touches against Seattle last week. Carlos Hyde has taken a stranglehold on the lead back job in San Francisco. The only way Breida sees extended work this week is if the 49ers manage to build a comfortable lead or Hyde gets hurt. Neither scenario is something to bank on.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN (Wk. 13: @Chi.): There is some upside here as a DFS punt option if Rishard Matthews misses another game since the Texans are so bad against WRs, but with Matthews sidelined in week 12 Taylor ran just 7 pass routes. The Titans don’t employ enough 3-WR sets to give Taywan the upside you’d need to be able to consider him in season-long leagues.
WR Chad Williams, ARI (Wk. 13: vs. LAR): Williams didn’t show enough or see enough targets in his debut to warrant consideration in an only slightly easier matchup this week. The Rams allow the 8th-fewest WR points per game. The floor is too low to take the risk here in any format.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 13: @GB): With the news that Jameis Winston will be back for this game, I’d be hesitant to trust OJ Howard if I need a win this week. Green Bay allows the fewest TE points per game and has only allowed 1 TD to the position all year, and Jameis tends to favor Cameron Brate much more than Ryan Fitzpatrick does. With Fitz at QB, Howard has been featured more prominently in the offense than Brate. OJ has 4 games all year with more than 50 receiving yards, and 2 of them have come in the 3 games that Fitzpatrick started. If you need to make up points this week, there are few streaming TEs with more upside than Howard, but there is a considerable downside this week as well.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 13: @Chi.): The Bears are just a middling defense when it comes to stopping TEs, and the QB change could spark Kittle, but he has just 7 catches for 79 yards total in the past 4 games with his college QB throwing him the ball. I’m not optimistic he suddenly starts producing now that he gets a QB he’s less familiar with.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 13: vs. SF): With Dion Sims back in the lineup last Sunday, Shaheen played just 17 offensive snaps and was targeted just once in a game where the Bears threw 33 passes. There isn’t enough usage to consider him with Sims healthy.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Patrick Mahomes, KC (Wk. 13: @NYJ): Mahomes hasn’t played at all so far this year and isn’t slated to start this week, but he’s still worth a stash in 2-QB leagues. If the Chiefs fall flat again this week and drop to 6-6 with their 5th consecutive loss, they’ll have to do something drastic to try and turn it around. Alex Smith has turned back into the dinking and dunking QB he’s been for years as the offense has fallen apart. Mahomes could be the spark they need. He showed throughout his college career that he isn’t afraid to push the ball downfield, and he has the weapons for a breakout if he gets the chance in Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs face Oakland and Miami in the fantasy playoffs. They both rank in the bottom-10 in the league at limiting QB points. Mahomes is a much better stash than Giants’ rookie Davis Webb even though it’s already been confirmed by the Giants that Webb will play at some point. The ceiling is much higher for Mahomes.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 13: vs. Cle.): Ekeler has been a big factor in fantasy when games get out of hand for the Chargers, and LA is a 2-touchdown favorite this week. The Browns have allowed 28 or more PPR points to opposing RBs in 3 of their past 4 games, and Ekeler has scored 10+ in 4 of 5 and has 58 or more scrimmage yards in each of the past 3. He makes for a decent PPR flex option in deeper leagues, and is a solid bet for another double-digit performance.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 13: vs. SF): Cohen’s weekly usage remains an enigma, but he’s worth a dart throw in DFS tournaments this week. The 49ers allow the most RB points per game and nearly half of the points they allow to the position have been receiving points. They’ve allowed the most RB receiving yards by a 77-yard margin over 2nd (New England), and have allowed the 2nd-most RB receiving TDs. Despite the ups and downs Cohen has had this year, he’s still the PPR RB24 for the season and gets the best matchup possible this week.
RB Chris Carson, SEA (Wk. 13: vs. Phi.): Like Mahomes, Carson isn’t expected to play this week, but is an intriguing stash for the fantasy playoffs. No one has taken the reigns in the Seattle backfield since Carson went on IR, and he’s expected to start practicing again this week. Carson still leads the Seattle RBs in rushing yards for the year despite playing in just 4 games. The Seahawks face the Rams and Cowboys in weeks 15 & 16 (they currently allow the 2nd-most and 12th-most RB points per game respectively). Don’t waste the roster spot if you aren’t in solid playoff position yet, but if you are, you could be getting a fresh starting RB for fantasy’s most critical weeks.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 13: @Ari.): With Patrick Peterson matched up on Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods out again, this could be a great spot for Reynolds to have a breakthrough game. He was solid last week with 4-37-1 on 6 targets on a surprising 61 snaps (the same number of snaps Cooper Kupp played). Watkins was targeted 9 times in that game, and Kupp was targeted 11 times. I don’t see much room for Kupp’s number to increase, and I expect the number of Sammy targets to come down thanks to P-squared. No QB throws fewer passes into tight windows than Jared Goff. Per NFL.com, he’s thrown just 12.2% of his passes this year to WRs with less than a yard of separation, the lowest rate of any qualified QB. Patrick Peterson will create tight windows for Sammy. I’ve liked Reynolds since he was drafted, and this is a great spot for him to shine. He’s could be a week-winning DFS tournament play.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 13: @Bal.): Although Marvin Jones is the one garnering the attention lately, Golladay has quietly put together 3 straight games with 50+ yards while seeing his snap count increase from 11 to 35 to 40 as he’s worked his way back from injury. He’s almost pushed TJ Jones completely out of the lineup. The Ravens are a tough matchup, but at $3,900, he’s a reasonable dart throw for DFS tournaments, and could even make for a reasonable flex option in deeper non-PPR leagues.
WR Travis Taylor, SF (Wk. 13: @Chi.): Taylor played two-thirds of the team’s offensive snaps in his first game back from injury, and Jimmy Garoppolo showed a penchant for leaning on his possession receivers in his starts for New England last season. In his 2 career starts, 20 of his 42 completions went to either Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman, and 2 of his 4 TDs went to Amendola. The Bears rank 25th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the WR3 or lower and Taylor costs the minimum in DraftKings. There’s a non-zero chance that Jimmy G leans on easy completions to Taylor to move the sticks, and that gives Taylor some upside in DFS tournaments.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 13: vs. LAR): There still isn’t enough track record to tell you to start him in season-long leagues, but Gabbert clearly likes him. He’s only played 25 snaps in the last 2 weeks, and he’s managed to post 7-126-3 on 11 targets. The Rams allow just the 6th-fewest TE points per game, but with the target share he’s seeing from Gabbert, he’s worth consideration in DFS tournaments despite the matchup.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make the lineup decisions that secure your much needed playoff berth or 1st round bye. Make sure to stay on top of the injury updates throughout the week, and always check in before kickoff to make sure there are no surprise inactives. If you have any specific questions, or if you just want to yell at me about any of the information included above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully the regular season has been good to you and you’ve managed to find yourself in the fantasy playoffs. This is what the last 13 weeks have been for…making the playoffs and setting yourself up for an extremely gratifying victory or a soul-crushing defeat, at least if you weren’t able to secure a bye. If you do have a playoff game this week, you’ve likely been aided by a rookie or 2 at some point to get here. If you have Alvin Kamara and didn’t make the playoffs, you should maybe give up at this fantasy football thing.
Plenty of rookies have made a big impact this season: Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Evan Engram, and plenty more. Plenty of those rookies will continue to make an impact in the fantasy postseason as well. As usual, I’ll tell you which guys you should be starting, which you should be sitting, and provide some insight into some of the borderline options as well. If you have a bye or missed the playoffs, there will be some DFS tidbits along the way as well. There are plenty of sleepers this week for DFS tournaments. Alright, that’s enough chit chat, let’s dive into week 14…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk 14: @Atl.): If you own Kamara, the Mark Ingram injury probably feels like Christmas come early (unless you own Ingram too). While it’s true the Ingram injury certainly helps Kamara’s outlook for this week, I wouldn’t expect him to suddenly handle a workhorse load. Ingram has averaged 20.6 touches per game since Adrian Peterson was traded, and Kamara has averaged 13.9 and hasn’t handled more than 18 in any game. I think he’ll end up somewhere around 20 this week if Ingram is out. Ultimately, that doesn’t matter when it comes to your fantasy lineups. He’s still an obvious start in season-long leagues, and should be in just about every DFS cash game lineup imaginable. He’s been the overall RB1 in 4 of the past 5 weeks, and was tied for 4th in the other week. The Falcons rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, and rank 23rd in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing RBs. The hot streak should continue for Kamara with no problem.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): This is a tough spot for Fournette this week. The Seahawks allow the 4th-fewest RB points per game, rank 7th in run defense DVOA, and Fournette has averaged just 50.5 rushing yards per game since returning from injury (and a disciplinary benching) 4 weeks ago. Before being injured, he was only held below 59 yards rushing once in 6 games. The volume and TD upside keep Fournette a must-start this week, but you should probably treat him as a fade or at most a contrarian play in DFS lineups. He should be treated as an RB2 this week in season-long leagues.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 14: @Cle.): I believe that Williams’ production over the past few weeks has bought him at least one more week as the lead back. The Browns are actually a pretty tough matchup, allowing just the 9th-fewest RB points per game, but the game script should be at least neutral in this one, and the Packers have been leaning more on the run game with Brett Hundley under center. Aaron Jones will likely play a little bit more this week, and should cut into Williams receiving work at the very least, but I still like Jamaal to return starting value at least one more time.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 14: vs. Phi.): Kupp is averaging 6.25 catches and 73.8 yards per game in past 4 games, and he’s seen 17 targets in the 2 games that Robert Woods has missed. Woods isn’t practicing as of Wednesday. The Eagles have been a middling defense against WRs, allowing the 16th-fewest points per game to the position. Kupp’s floor has been rock solid of late, and the Eagles aren’t a defense to shy away from. Cooper should be a solid WR3 this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 14: vs. Dal.): Engram got back on track last weekend with a 7-99-1 game catching passes from Geno Smith, and this week he gets back Eli Manning. Despite his struggles over the past couple weeks, the targets never went away for Engram. He’s still seen at least 6 of them in every single game since Odell Beckham was lost for the year. The Cowboys rank 25th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the tight end. Get Engram in there if you’ve got him.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. GB): It may feel reckless to even consider starting Kizer in a fantasy playoff game, but he’s quietly been a QB1 in 3 of his past 5 games and gets a great matchup this week against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed over 270 passing yards in 5 of their past 6 games, and the other was against Joe Flacco. They also placed starting CB Kevin King on IR this week. King was their top pick in the draft last April. With Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon back and looking good, and David Njoku coming on, this could quickly turn into a dangerous passing attack if Kizer can limit the turnovers and get them the ball. Kizer is actually a pretty good play this week in 2-QB formats, and his a ton of upside this week. The concern is that you know what kind of floor comes with it.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 14: vs. Min.): The matchup is a tough one this week for McCaffrey. The Vikings rank 6th in run defense DVOA and 6th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the running backs. McCaffrey’s rushing production wasn’t there last week, but he’s been a pretty steady RB2 or better just about every week. I’d still lean towards getting him in there this week, especially in PPR formats, but I would temper expectations a bit and probably avoid him in DFS formats.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 14: @LAC): Last week was a bit of a letdown in what appeared to be a good matchup on paper. Washington shot themselves in the foot early in the game and got in a negative game script, and Byron Marshall starting cutting into Perine’s receiving workload. The end result was Perine finishing as the RB33 for the week. He gets another solid matchup this week, but Washington needs to stay in a positive game script for him to really hit his ceiling. Playing from behind last week, Byron Marshall handled 43% of the running back snaps. The Chargers rank 28th in run defense DVOA, and have allowed the 3rd-most RB rushing yards and 6th-most RB fantasy points. The ingredients are there for Perine. If Washington sticks to the recipe, he should be a strong flex play in non-PPR leagues, and at least a passable one in PPR formats.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 14: vs. Oak.): I’m sure there are plenty of Hunt owners who don’t want to go to this well again. It feels as though Hunt should have ‘missing person’ posters up around Kansas City at this point, but it hasn’t been quite as bad as it feels. Aside from one real clunker against the Bills, Hunt’s floor has still been pretty stable. He’s topped 60 yards from scrimmage in every other game this year, and had at least 3 catches in all but that game and the one against the Chargers in week 3. Nobody was complaining about his lack of catches that week though. The problem is that his ceiling disappeared after the hot start. He’s topped 9 points in 4 of his past 5 games, but he didn’t get to 11 in any of them. There is some hope for this week. The Chiefs turned over play-calling duties to the offensive coordinator last week, and had their best offensive game in at least a month, and Hunt also put up 117 scrimmage yards in his first meeting with the Raiders. I’d probably lean towards playing Hunt, but I’d understand if you couldn’t do it. I’d certainly be afraid to go to Hunt in DFS lineups.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 14: vs. Chi.): It seems unlikely that Mixon will play this week after suffering a concussion on Monday night, but he would be a decent option if he does. Mixon has looked great when he’s been on the field the past 2 weeks, and the Bengals should be in a positive game script as a 6-point favorite. The Bears’ defense has been decent against RBs, but not really imposing. They rank 12th in run defense DVOA. If Mixon is able to clear the protocol, he should be an RB2 this week. Keep an eye on the situation and make sure he’s really good to go before plugging him in.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): Westbrook’s fantasy star is on the rise right now. He played more snaps than Keelan Cole for the first time last weekend, and he’s now handled 19 targets in the past 2 weeks. The Seahawks’ defense had shown vulnerability against WRs even before Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were injured, and it’s gotten a little worse since. Seattle has allowed 37 fantasy points per game to WRs in the 3 games the duo missed. That number would rank as the 4th-most in the league over the full season. Westbrook is in the mix for WR3 or WR4 status for the week.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. Ten.): The numbers RSJ has been putting up on the number of snaps he’s been playing is ridiculous. In the past 3 weeks, his snap count has gone from 8 to 17 to 15, and he’s handled 5, 6, and 5 targets in those games. Blaine Gabbert has targeted him on an absurd 53% of the routes he’s run in the past 3 weeks. I can’t imagine the Cardinals don’t get him more involved down the stretch. The matchup this week is pretty good, with the Titans allowing the 12th-most TE points per game. He’s got a floor that won’t kill you, and a ceiling worth chasing. If you don’t have a starting tight end you believe in right now (Vernon Davis, Jared Cook, injured Zach Ertz), Seals-Jones is a solid replacement option.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. GB): Njoku has been enjoying a mini breakout of sorts in the past 2 weeks, but the Packers pose a tough matchup. Green Bay has allowed the 4th-fewest TE points per game on the year, but they have shown cracks lately. They’ve given up 3 TDs to the position in the past 2 weeks. Defenses aren’t able to focus on Njoku now that Coleman and Gordon are back, and he’s seen 6+ targets in 3 of his past 5 games. His floor is lower than Ricky Seals-Jones, but his ceiling is similar.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 14: @Cin.): This is a pretty easy call, even for 2-QB leagues. John Fox refuses to take the training wheels off Mitch and let him throw. He threw fewer than 20 times for the third time this season last Sunday, and the Bears want him throwing as little as possible. He’s topped 150 passing yards just 3 times in 8 starts, and has yet to throw for more than 1 score in a game. The Bengals aren’t the team that’s going to let him break those trends. They’ve allowed the 12th-fewest QB points per game. Trubisky could be next year’s version of Jared Goff, who got an innovative offensive head coach in his second year and looked like a different player.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 14: @Cle.): As I mentioned earlier, I like Jamaal Williams this week, and with the Browns allowing the 9th-fewest RB points I just don’t think there’s enough to go around for both guys to have a productive week if Williams plays as much as I expect. Jones looked good on his one carry last week, but I don’t think the Packers are going to put him back in the lead back role after playing just 1 snap a week ago. Track this status throughout the week though, because the Packers’ coaches might not be on the same page as me here. If they make an announcement that Jones will start, both guys become flex options.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 14: vs. Was.): You could make a case for Ekeler as a flex option in deeper leagues, but I’m not going to this week. He had just 6 touches last week, his lowest total since October. He does more damage as a receiver than a runner, putting up 58% of his scrimmage yards through the air, and Washington has allowed the 8th-fewest receiving yards to backs. I think there are better options to be had this week.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 14: @LAR): The Rams are a prime matchup for running backs, but touches for Clement are far from a sure thing. He’s totaled just 17 of them in the past 3 games, and his biggest performances have come in blowout wins. The Eagles are actually a 2-point underdog in this game. I’d stay away from CC.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): Don’t chase last week’s carries for Breida. He handled 12 carries last week, but played just a third of the offensive snaps. This is still Carlos Hyde’s backfield, and the matchup this week is a tough one. The Texans allow the 3rd-fewest RB points per game and rank 10th in run defense DVOA.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): This could have been excellent spot to try Zay Jones. The Colts allow the 6th-most WR points per game and just coughed up nearly 50 points to the Jaguars’ WRs last Sunday (49.3). The problems for Zay are that his inefficiency problem has come back, and Kelvin Benjamin should be active again. Zay has just 5 catches for 55 yards on 17 targets in the past 2 weeks, and he likely gets Nathan Peterman at QB this week with Tyrod battling injuries. The situation is too volatile to trust the rookie as anything more than a DFS punt, even in a great spot.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 14: @Ari.): There is some upside for Davis if Patrick Peterson chases around Rishard Matthews this week, but you can’t rely on him in a fantasy playoff matchup with the way he’s been producing. Davis is yet to reach 8 fantasy points in the 5 games he’s played since returning from his hamstring injury. The Cardinals have also been improving against WRs as the season has gone on. They’ve allowed 8 fewer points per game to the position after their bye week than they did before it. Davis could be worth a shot in DFS tournaments, but I can’t advocate playing him in the fantasy playoffs.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 14: vs. Phi.): Reynolds played 72% of the snaps and had a second straight 6-target game last weekend, but he tallied just 2 catches for 6 yards. Robert Woods looks likely to miss another game, so there should be a solid target share again, but he should be just a DFS option. There’s too much risk involved to play him with the season on the line. The Eagles are a tougher matchup than the Cardinals, who he had the aforementioned 2-6 line against.
WR Keelan Cole, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): Cole is still playing a healthy snap count, but he’s been jumped on the depth chart by Dede Westbrook. He was out-targeted by Dede 9 to 3 last week, and that kind of volume isn’t going to make him usable this week despite his 3-49-1 line last week. Seattle may be vulnerable, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the Colts.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): The Texans allow the 6th-most TE points per game, but Kittle was targeted just 3 times last week and hasn’t reached 30 receiving yards since week 6. There are better streamers available.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 14: vs.Phi.): Don’t chase last week’s touchdown here. Everett hasn’t reached 10 receiving yards in any of the past 4 games.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Nathan Peterman, BUF (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): Peterman’s second NFL start should go MUCH better than his first one assuming Taylor misses this game. The Colts have been abysmal at defending the pass. Indy allows a league-worst 271 passing yards per game, and has coughed up 53 pass plays of 20+ yards (also league-worst). They had finally started showing signs of improving when they sat Vontae Davis and made Rashaan Melvin their top corner, but they went back in the tank with his injury. After Peterman’s 1st start, it would be crazy to tell you to play him with your season on the line, but at just $4,400 in DraftKings, he’s an appealing cheap DFS play in a fantastic matchup.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 14: @Cin.): Cohen’s usage seemed to take a step back last week when he played just 16 offensive snaps, but the Bears’ ran just 37 offensive plays all game. He actually played 43% of the snaps. He’s now played 49%, 35% and 43% in the last 3 weeks after clocking in below 30% for the 3 games before those. Cohen still handled 6 touches in those 16 snaps and showed his playmaking ability with a punt return TD and another long return that was called back by penalty. The Bengals have allowed the 4th most RB receptions and the 5th most RB receiving yards for the year. Tarik has some nice upside if his usage holds.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 14: @Buf.): The Bills are allowing 37.3 running back points per game over the last 6 games. That number is nearly 10 more per game than the 49ers allow. The 49ers are the 2nd-worst RB defense. The Colts were finally in a negative game script early last week, and Mack was a beneficiary. It didn’t translate to a big fantasy day, but Mack out-snapped Frank Gore 30-22 and put up 54 scrimmage yards on just 7 touches. Facing one of the worst RB defenses in the league, Mack is worth considering in the deepest of leagues or as a cheap DFS option.
RB Trey Edmunds, NO (Wk. 14: @Atl.): As I mentioned at the beginning of this article with Kamara, I don’t expect all of Mark Ingram’s work to go to AK-41 if Ingram is out. The guy who would pick up that slack is Edmunds. Edmunds got extended run against the Bills in a blowout win a few weeks ago, and he put up 48 yards and a score on just 9 carries. I’d expect him to reach double-digit touches if Ingram is out, and as I mentioned earlier the Falcons are 31st in run defense DVOA. Edmunds has some value as a flex for really deep non-PPR leagues, and also as a cheap DFS play. He costs the minimum this week on DraftKings.
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 14: @TB): Green was active for the first time in his NFL career last Sunday, and he flashed his talents when given the opportunity. He finished the game with 11 carries for 51 yards and a TD, and nearly scored a second one. He showed burst and overall looked better than Ameer Abdullah has for much of the season. Abdullah has been limited again this week, and if he sits out there is solid upside for Green. The Bucs rank 22nd in run defense DVOA and allow the 11th most RB points per game. Considering how long the Lions run game has been a problem, Green is an intriguing dynasty stash as well.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 14: @TB): The matchup couldn’t be much better for Golladay this week. Tampa has allowed the most WR points per game (by a margin of nearly 3 points per game over everyone else), and they’ve also struggled to limit big plays. Tampa has allowed the 5th-most pass plays of 20+ yards, and is tied for the 3rd-most 40+ yard passes allowed. Golladay hasn’t caught more or less than 2 balls in any game since he returned from a hamstring injury, but he’s averaging 55 yards per game in those contests (27.5 yards per catch) and he played 76% of the snaps last Sunday. This is a real chance for Golladay to post his best game since week 1. He’s intriguing as a flex for deep non-PPR leagues.
WR Travis Taylor, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): The Texans have allowed the 9th-most points per game to WRs, and Taylor posted his best day of the year in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start with the 49ers. Taylor caught all 6 of his targets for 92 yards, and made a crucial play that helped set up their game-winning field goal. I expected last week that Taylor would see a bump in usage with Jimmy G inserted, and that has proven true. I don’t see why it will stop this week. Taylor should handle another 6-7 targets this week and should develop into a nice PPR asset with Garoppolo in town.
TE O.J. Howard, TB (Wk. 14: vs. Det.): As I expected, with Jameis back under center Howard went back to playing second fiddle to Cam Brate. Brate was targeted 6 times and scored 2 touchdowns while OJ posted 1-17 on 2 targets. I don’t expect OJ to go back to being the top tight end for the Bucs this week, but he has shown to be a better big-play receiver than Brate this year, and the Lions have allowed 6 catches of 30+ yards to opposing tight ends this year, and they’ve given up 3 tight end scores in the past 2 weeks. Brate will likely see more targets than Howard this week, but I like Howard as a shoot-the-moon option for DFS tournaments.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps enough that you’re coming back next week to see what to do for the semifinals. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. Mark Ingram, Robert Woods, Ameer Abdullah, Matt Stafford, Joe Mixon, and Tyrod Taylor all could change the fantasy landscape depending on their status. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything written above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) and let me know. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!
Peterman completed 6-of-14 passes for 66 yards with five interceptions. Wow, Buffalo. Nice work. In this episode, we'll be touching on the Bills' and NFL fantasy players going forward as well as the other highs and lows of Week 11 and what they mean to your fantasy squad.