It was definitely one of the most entertaining Monday Night Football games that I've seen in a while, with the Russell Wilson and the Seahawks struggling to keep up offensively with the Falcons throughout the game, and almost coming through at the very end with a Blair Walsh field goal to send it to overtime. Looks like Seattle's defensive woes are not going to bode well going into the rest of the season's match-ups - after what should not be a difficult win against the 49ers this week they have some tough games ahead against the Eagles, Jaguars, Rams, and Cowboys (with Zeke returning). Anyway, onto the rankings for Week 12 and to pick a few players out of the bunch that I think will outperform expectations: Alex Smith, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Devin Funchess, Sammy Watkins, Corey Davis, and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Good luck!
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve now passed the halfway point of the regular season. Hopefully your teams are doing pretty well, because things are about to get a little dicey in the next 2 weeks. There are 6 teams off each week, the most we’ll see in any weeks this year. It’s going to create some holes in your lineups, and finding the right guys to fill those gaps will be critical. At least a few rookies may be peaking at the right time to help out. OJ Howard was the TE1 last weekend. David Njoku had the longest catch of his career so far. Aaron Jones clearly took over as the lead back in Green Bay, and Marlon Mack out-snapped Frank Gore for the first time this year. There are plenty of other rookies who are poised to play bigger roles as the season wears on like Corey Davis (pick him up this week if you have the roster spot to do it), Kenny Golladay, Austin Ekeler and John Ross among others. Let’s dive in and discuss what to expect for week 8…
Rookies to Start:
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 8: vs. Den.): Denver has allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points per game (all scoring stats in PPR scoring unless otherwise noted) and ranks 1st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, and Hunt hasn’t finished higher than the RB10 in the past 4 weeks despite a couple of good matchups. You still have to start him. He’s been at least an RB2 every week, and the daunting matchup isn’t enough to make me act crazy and bench him. He’s a contrarian play for DFS tournaments this week.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 8: vs. Ind.): The Colts were stingy against the run to start the year, allowing just 67 RB rush yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry in the first 3 weeks. They’ve allowed 136.5 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry since. Mixon voiced some displeasure after last week’s game about getting zero carries in the 2nd half after piling up 48 yards on 7 first half carries. Head Coach Marvin Lewis called the comments immature, but I think he got the message. Even if he didn’t, with the Bengals a 10-point favorite in this game, they might not have any choice but to run in the 2nd half. The Colts have coughed up the 2nd-most RB points per game so far, and I expect Mixon to still be the lead back despite the Lewis’s comments. Mixon has RB1 upside this week and should be a staple in DFS lineups at just $4,700 in DraftKings.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 8: vs. Chi.): While the biggest beneficiary of the Saints’ Adrian Peterson trade has been Mark Ingram, it’s also given a boost to Kamara. He’s played 42% and 49% of the snaps in the two games since Peterson was jettisoned, the highest rates since he cracked 50% in week 1. He’s put up 87 scrimmage yards on 13 touches and 107 scrimmage yards on 14 touches in those two games. Kamara has now scored double-digit points in PPR formats in 4 straight games, and what’s been most impressive is the ability he’s shown as a runner. His receiving upside could be somewhat limited by the Bears, who have allowed the 6th-fewest RB receiving yards in the league, but I don’t expect that to hold him back. The Bears rank 16th in run defense DVOA, have been banged up at linebacker (Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman on IR), and the Saints are a 9-point favorite this week. The positive game script and decent matchup should make Kamara a solid RB2 this weekend.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 8: @TB): Another NFL week, another week where McCaffrey looks to be a solid RB2, but he may have some upside for more this week. The Bucs have really been scuffling against RBs in the past 3 weeks. They’ve allowed 28.9 points per game to running backs in the past 3, which would be 3rd-most in the league if they averaged that for the year. Tampa Bay has been more vulnerable in the red zone to running backs running the ball rather than catching it out of the backfield, allowing 5 rushing TDs to backs compared to just 1 receiving score, but they’ve still allowed 6 catches and 45.5 receiving yards per game to them. Tampa ranks in the bottom half of the league in receiving points allowed to RBs per game. That’s should suit McCaffrey just fine. CMC has established himself as the lead back for the Panthers after playing 74% of the offensive snaps last week compared to 39% for J-Stew, and he may finally hit that ceiling we’ve all been waiting for. It should be a great week to fire up McCaffrey, and he’ll be could be a nice piece in DFS lineups if he makes good on his potential in this plus matchup.
QB Deshaun Watson, HOU (Wk. 8: @Sea.): Watson has been a tremendous fantasy QB so far, but this week he gets his toughest test to-date. If you are in a 1-QB league, I would certainly be considering other options if decent ones are available. No quarterback has scored 20 points against the Seahawks this year, and only Aaron Rodgers and Marcus Mariota have topped 10. Seattle allows the 4th-fewest QB points per game, ranks 5th in pass defense DVOA, and has allowed the 2nd-lowest QB rating against. Watson’s rushing ability adds a little bit of a boost to his floor, but this isn’t a great spot to trot him out there. Watson is averaging nearly 23 fantasy points per game, so it isn’t like he’s going to suddenly be held to 5 points. He’s still a fine play in 2-QB formats. I’m just pointing out that he’s far from an automatic start in 1-QB formats thanks to the difficult matchup.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): With so many running backs on bye this week, Cohen is worth considering, especially if Benny Cunningham sits again. Cohen only played 18% of the snaps last weekend and handled just 1 touch (a 70-yard reception), but the game script worked against him. The Bears were ahead for much of that game. I’d expect a reversal of fortunes this week against the red-hot Saints. New Orleans has allowed the most RB catches per game and most RB receiving yards per game, and that’s where Cohen’s bread is buttered. The Bears will still likely try and limit Trubisky’s passing volume, but there might not be any way to avoid throwing when they fall behind. Cohen is back in play as a PPR flex option.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 8: @Cin.): It was exciting for Mack owners to see him out-snap Frank Gore for the first time last weekend, but much of that had to do with game script. The Colts trailed 14-0 in the first quarter, and never got themselves into the game. The good news for Mack: This week’s game script is likely to set up the same way. The Bengals haven’t played great so far, but even they are a 10-point favorite this week. Gore will still factor in here and the Bengals have allowed the 12th-fewest RB points per game, so it isn’t all roses for Mack, but Cincy also allows 6.5 receptions per game to running backs. With the limited slate of games, Mack is certainly in play as a flex option, and an enticing DFS tournament play at just $4,000 in DraftKings.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 8: @Det.): I can’t imagine all of the Martavis drama results in more playing time from Bryant, and at least for week 8 it’s got him benched completely. JuJu was already an intriguing option this week before the announcement came about Martavis. There was some worry about JuJu being in the concussion protocol, but he practiced in full Wednesday. With Bryant out, JJSS may get to move to the outside a bit and will likely avoid both Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay, who have been Detroit’s two best corners. The Lions allow the 11th-most WR points per game. Smith-Schuster has a great opportunity to post a WR3 game this week.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 8: vs. Pit.): Golladay is back at practice this week and should be good to go for Sunday night. Golden Tate is expected to miss this game (monitor the situation, Tate got in a limited practice Wed.), and the Lions are going to need someone to pick up the slack of the 8 targets per game that he averages. The Steelers have allowed the fewest WR points per game, but among the teams they’ve played, only Cleveland throws the ball nearly as much as Detroit does, and the Browns don’t really have a QB or WRs. The Browns throw it on 63.97% of their offensive plays, while the Lions throw on 63.43%. No other Pittsburgh opponent throws even 59% of the time. If Tate does sit, the volume should be there for Golladay to be an upside flex option in a week with so many byes. He’s worth grabbing as a fallback if you’re waiting on the status of another WR who’s questionable to suit up.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Kittle was targeted just twice in a 30-point loss to the Cowboys last week in which CJ Beathard threw 38 times. I believed in the Iowa connection, but those results weren’t promising. I still might be willing to go back to the well this week. The Eagles aren’t exactly a great matchup for TEs, or at least they weren’t. With the injury to Jordan Hicks, that may change. Hicks had a 90.0 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus last year and was at 71.5 so far this season. The Eagles were shredded by Jordan Reed after the injury occurred on Monday. Of course Kittle isn’t Reed, but I like his chances at a bounce back in another game where the 49ers should be throwing a ton. He’s a decent streamer option or bye week filler for deeper leagues.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): The Bears have been running the ball on 68.9% of their offensive snaps with Trubisky as starter (per PFF’s Scott Barrett), and he’s attempted 23 passes in the past 2 weeks combined. They’re likely to have to throw a bit more to keep pace with New Orleans, but the Saints have actually been pretty stingy to opposing QBs during their 4-game win streak. They’ve allowed just 10.2 fantasy points per game and 187 passing yards per game to opposing QBs in that 4-game span. Couple that with the fact the Bears will still try to limit his volume, and it’s easy to see Trubisky should be avoided this week.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. Min.): The Browns have decided to go back to Kizer once again this week, but the in-game benchings can’t be good for this kid’s development. He gets a brutal matchup this week across the pond against a Viking defense that has allowed the 5th-fewest QB points per game. I’d expect more of the same from Kizer in this one – turnovers. He’s failed to reach 4 fantasy points in each of his last 3 starts, and I wouldn’t be stunned if that happens again Sunday.
RB D’Onta Foreman, HOU (Wk. 8: @Sea.): Foreman has 3 games this season with 12 or more carries, but all 3 were wins, and 2 were blowouts. He has 13 carries combined in the Texans’ 3 losses. Seattle is a 6-point favorite and allows the 4th-fewest running back points per game. You have to pick your spots with a lower volume player like Foreman, and this isn’t a good spot to use him.
RB Matt Brieda, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Brieda has played just 32 offensive snaps and handled 9 touches total in the past 2 weeks after Kyle Shanahan proclaimed that he is on equal footing with Carlos Hyde. They may be showcasing Hyde for a trade, but as long as Carlos is on the roster it’ll be hard to trust Brieda. His limited role certainly isn’t a recipe for fantasy success against an Eagles team that allows the 8th-fewest running back points per game.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 8: vs. Atl.): With Bilal Powell and Matt Forte both healthy last weekend, McGuire played just 7 offensive snaps and saw just 3 touches. He’ll go back into obscurity for now until one of those top 2 backs comes down with another ailment or the Jets nosedive out of playoff contention. We know they aren’t going to the playoffs, but at the moment they are just a game and a half out of the last wild card spot.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 8: vs. Dal.): Perine played zero offensive snaps last week, yet somehow has a higher price tag in DraftKings than teammate Rob Kelley, who starts. That is absurd to me. Avoid Perine in all formats.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Taylor showed a connection with QB CJ Beathard last week with 5 catches, and the Eagles have been torched by slot WRs Sterling Shepard and Keenan Allen (runs about 55% of snaps from slot), but those guys were outliers. Outside of those two weeks, the Eagles have actually defended the slot pretty well, and Taylor is nowhere near as good as Shep or Allen. Taylor probably shouldn’t be a consideration for your lineup.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 8: @NE): Williams draws a great matchup with the Pats allowing the 3rd-most WR points per game, but Williams played just 24% of the snaps last week and was targeted only twice. He’s essentially splitting WR3 reps with Travis Benjamin, which puts a pretty big damper on his upside. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks, but I can’t make a compelling argument for why you should expect it to change this week. There’s upside here, but also a floor of zero points that seems more likely than him making good on that upside.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 8: vs. Oak.): Zay was targeted a season-high 9 times last Sunday, and he caught just 2 of them for 17 yards. He now had 7 catches for 83 yards on the season on 32 targets. His inefficiency and 22% catch rate are quickly becoming the stuff of legend. I wonder how much longer the Bills can keep forcing that kind of volume his way. There’s no reason to expect a positive change this week.
WR John Ross, CIN (Wk. 8: vs. Ind.): It’s really disappointing that Ross didn’t manage to get healthy for last week’s game and get some reps in. You can’t throw him into lineups without seeing what his usage is going to look like first, but this would’ve been a great spot for him. Ross has exceptional deep speed and the Colts have allowed 40 passes of 20 or more yards this season. While it’s a bummer for Ross that he won’t be up to speed for this one, AJ Green may be the premiere WR play of the week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 8: vs. Min.): I would actually like Njoku as a sleeper this week if Cody Kessler had gotten the starting nod. Njoku’s snap rates are still troubling, as he played under 40% of the offensive snaps last week, but Kessler seemed to seek him out. 4 of Kessler’s 19 pass attempts went in Njoku’s direction, and he hauled in 2 of them for 31- and 27-yard gains. They were the two longest catches of his young career. Minnesota is right square in the middle of the pack when it comes to defending tight ends (16th-most points allowed per game), but they rank just 26th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the position. There would be a case to be made for Njoku in deep enough leagues if Kessler were back under center.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 8: vs. Car.): Don’t chase last week’s points with Howard. Hopefully the increased targets are a sign of things to come for him, but Cameron Brate still ran more pass routes and was targeted more often last Sunday. 47% of Howard’s PPR production has come on 2 TDs against broken coverages where the defense let him get wide open. It’s hard to bank on that happening again this week, especially with the Panthers allowing the 7th-fewest tight end points per game.
Rookies on Byes: RB Leonard Fournette, JAX, RB Aaron Jones, GB, RB Wayne Gallman, NYG, WR Corey Davis, TEN, WR Taywan Taylor, TEN, WR Cooper Kupp, LAR, TE Evan Engram, NYG, TE Jonnu Smith, TEN
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB CJ Beathard, SF (Wk. 8: @Phi.): Beathard didn’t exactly set the world on fire in a favorable matchup last week, but he did manage to tally 14.4 fantasy points thanks to a garbage time rushing TD, and he gets a favorable draw again this week. Philly has been allowing a lot of garbage time passing stats this year. They’ve been ahead entering the 4th quarter in all 6 games they’ve won, and had a 2-score advantage in 3 of them. I’d expect them to be up double-digits entering the 4th this week. There should be plenty of time for Beathard to pad stats. Philly allows the 4th-most passing yards and 9th-most QB fantasy points per game. CJ is an intriguing streamer in 2-QB formats thanks to the byes.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 8: @NE): Ekeler found his way to a surprising 11 touches last week and was pretty effective with them, finishing as the PPR RB13 for the week. This may be point chasing, but he might be in play for you if you’re scrambling for a running back in deep PPR leagues. The Patriots have allowed the 5th-most RB points per game and the 2nd-most receptions and receiving yards to backs. The bulk of that will go to Melvin Gordon, but Ekeler clearly has established a role.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 8: vs. SF): Clement may get a chance to pile up garbage time carries in a game where the Iggles are 13-point favorites. The 49ers allow the most running back points per game in the league, and they just let Rod Smith find his way to be the RB35 last week without even finding the end zone. That was with just 2 teams on bye. There are 6 this week. Clement’s usage makes him no more than a DFS tournament punt play this week. He was on the field for just 12 offensive snaps on Monday night.
WR Mack Hollins, PHI (Wk. 8: vs. SF): Hollins is a guy worth stashing in dynasty leagues. The Eagles have been raving about him since training camp, and for the season he’s been targeted 6 times, and has a 6-134-1 line to show for it. It’s only a matter of time before he overtakes Torrey Smith and starts to get more playing time. Smith signed a 3-year contract with Philly last offseason, but the last 2 years are both club options. Also worth noting: Alshon Jeffrey signed just a 1-year deal with Philadelphia. Hollins should be a prominent part of the passing game next year, one way or another.
WR Tanner Gentry, CHI (Wk. 8: @NO): The Bears passing volume has been a bit of a joke the past couple weeks, but Gentry has been on the field for 109 out of a possible 118 offensive snaps in the past 2 weeks. He only has one catch to show for all of that playing time, but that’s due to there being just 12 passing completions in those games. I’d expect quite a bit more volume against the high-powered Saints. New Orleans allows the 9th-most WR points per game. Gentry has displayed big play ability (had a 45-yard TD catch in preseason), and the Saints have allowed the 4th-most pass plays of 20 or more yards. Gentry could surprise this week as a DFS punt option. The Bears did just acquire Dontrelle Inman on Wednesday, so the snap share could be a bit in jeopardy for Tanner, but I don’t expect Dontrelle to be fully up to speed by Sunday.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps with your tough lineup decisions. If you see two players at the same position with the same designation, the one listed first is the one I like better this week. Make sure to keep an eye on the injury reports throughout the week and always do a final check before kickoff to make sure your guys are active. If you want to yell at me about anything above or have any questions, 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! We’ve finally made it. It’s championship week! All of the weeks of agonizing over lineup decisions and waiver wire pickups have come down to this. The key to this week is avoiding landmines. In most of the tough decisions you have this week, the rule of thumb should be to play the guy whose volume you feel the most confident in. You don’t want to get stuck with LeGarrette Blount getting 6 touches, or Sammy Watkins getting 4 targets. This week it’s all about trust. I’ll still list a few players who are mostly worth DFS consideration, but I’ll try to be as definitive as possible with my opinions on most of the rookies for this week. Remember, players that are under the same header and at the same position are listed in the order I like them for this week. Let’s dive in and look at what to expect in week 16…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 16: vs. Atl.): While Kamara wasn’t quite as studly in his return from a concussion last week as he had been the 5 weeks prior to sustaining the injury, he still topped 20 PPR points and finished as the RB10 for the week. The Falcons seem like a tougher matchup on paper, allowing the 12th-fewest RB points per game this season, but they’ve been vulnerable to receiving backs all year. No team has allowed more than the 91 RB receptions that Atlanta has given up, and only 4 teams have given up more receiving TDs to running backs. Kamara is averaging over 28 PPR points per game in his last 6 healthy games with at least 20 in each. You have to play him this week if you’ve got him, and his high-end DFS price might actually be worth it to have him in your lineup. He should be a cash game staple this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 16: vs. Mia.): Good Kareem Hunt has finally returned! Hopefully it was in time to keep your season alive. As I said last week, you have to play him if you’ve got him. The upside is tremendous. Miami is a great matchup for Hunt this week. They’ve given up the 3rd-most RB points in the league, and game script should be heavily in Hunt’s favor with the Chiefs a 10-point home favorite. In the past 2 weeks, both comfortable wins where the Chiefs played mostly from ahead, Hunt handled 29.5 touches per game. Strong volume should be there again this week, and Hunt should be right there with Alvin Kamara as the premier running back plays of the week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): It was a surprise that Fournette missed last week’s game, but he should be ready to go this week. A win this week would clinch the division for Jacksonville, so don’t look for them to rest any starters or limit their snaps just because they clinched a playoff spot. When healthy, Fournette’s volume is consistent enough that you could set your watch by it. He’s handled at least 15 touches in every game he’s been healthy and 20+ in 8 out of those 11 games. The 49ers have been much improved against running backs since Reuben Foster got fully healthy in week 9. In the first 8 weeks, the 49ers were coughing up 31.7 RB points per game, and at least 23 points in 7 of them. In the 5 games since, no opponent has reached 23 RB points and they’ve allowed an average of just 16.5 per game. Despite that improved play by the 49ers D, Fournette’s volume should carry him to a low-end RB1 day. I’d prefer Kamara or Hunt for DFS purposes, but Fournette should be in your championship week lineups in season-long leagues.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 16: vs. TB): McCaffrey returned to the RB1 ranks last week with his 3rd 60+ yard rushing day and his 7th touchdown of the season. This week he gets to square off with a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the 7th-most RB points per game and ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. It should be another great opportunity for CMC to finish as a top-15 running back. He’s shown an incredibly stable floor with at least 8.3 PPR points and 4 targets in every game this year. He’s a reliably safe RB2 option this week in a plus matchup.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 16: vs. Det.): It’s still not a done deal that Mixon returns this week, but if he does, he comes back to an ideal matchup. The Lions have allowed the 3rd-most RB points per game for the season, but since Haloti Ngata went on IR they’ve been coughing up 28 points per game to the position, and a large chunk of that has come on the ground. Detroit is giving up 109 rushing yards per game and has surrendered 11 rushing scores in the 9 games Ngata has missed. They’ve also allowed the 7th-most RB catches and 11th-most RB receiving yards for the season. The Lions are bad in every aspect of defending the opposing backs. If Mixon is a full go, he should be slated as an RB2 this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 16: @Hou.): This week could be as good an opportunity as JuJu has had all year to shine. The Steelers will be without leading receiver Antonio Brown and his absurd 11.6 targets per game (12.2 if you don’t include his shortened outing against the Pats). That volume has to go somewhere. There is a chance the Steelers will lean more on Le’Veon Bell and the run game to make up the difference, but the Texans rank 6th in run defense DVOA and might force the issue. Houston ranks 23rd in pass defense DVOA, and has allowed the 5th-most WR points per game. This is a golden opportunity for JuJu, and you should treat him as a WR2 this week. He should pretty much be chalk in DFS lineups, especially at his $5,400 price tag on DraftKings.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): The Cardinals have been fairly stingy to opposing tight ends of late, allowing just 17-155-1 total to the position in their past 5 games (7.3 PPR points per game), but the Giants entire passing game revolves around Engram and Sterling Shepard, and there is a good chance Shepard is going to be chased around by Patrick Peterson in this one. Engram may not be an ideal choice for DFS lineups in this tougher matchup, but he should remain a top-5 or 6 option for season-long leagues. The Giants have to throw it to someone, and all year long Engram has consistently been that someone.
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Trubisky has thrown for 585 yards in the last 2 weeks, and the Browns have allowed at least 17 fantasy points to 6 of the last 7 quarterbacks they’ve faced. There’s always a concern that the volume dries up on Mitch if the Bears play from ahead (and they are a 6.5-point home favorite), but the Browns have given up at least 19 fantasy points to all 4 QBs that have attempted fewer than 30 passes against them. That list of QBs includes Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton. Mitch is far from a sure thing despite the great matchup, but he is an intriguing streaming option for 2-QB leagues or leagues with 14+ teams.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): With Eli Manning having a shortage of WRs, he’s been leaning on the running backs in the passing game over the past couple of weeks, and Gallman has been a primary benefactor. Shane Vereen has still been involved with 9 targets in the past 2 games, but Gallman has seen 16 targets to go along with 20 carries in those 2 contests. He’s failed to find the end zone, but he’s finished as the RB15 and RB18 in those games. The Cardinals pose a tough test for most running backs, allowing the 9th-fewest points per game to the position, but they’ve also given up the 10th-most RB receptions and 11th-most RB receiving yards. If Gallman’s usage remains the same, he should finish as a low end RB2 or high-end flex again. He’s definitely an option who could be available if you are trying to avoid using either Green Bay running back.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 16: @Ten.): Kupp’s numbers took a big hit last week with the return of Robert Woods and the game script getting away from the passing game. The Rams built an insurmountable lead early and didn’t need to throw much in the 2nd half, but I don’t expect this week’s game to be 34-0 by halftime, so Goff should be throwing at least a little more than the 21 times he threw last week. The Titans are vulnerable to WRs. Tennessee has allowed the 9th-most WR points per game, and has been especially vulnerable over the middle, where slot receivers like Kupp do a big chunk of their damage. The Titans rank dead last in the league in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle. Kupp has a chance to eat them up. He’s back in play as a WR3 option this week.
WRs Keelan Cole & Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): I was fully bought in on Westbrook last week, but it was Cole came up big, finishing as the WR1 for the week in a stunning turn of events. If he’s not already owned in your dynasty leagues, he should be a priority stash right now with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee both hitting free agency this offseason. While Westbrook has been getting all of the attention as the snaps and targets headed his way have piled up, it’s been Cole who has been the better fantasy player. Cole has scored a TD in each of the past 3 games, and now has put up 18-388-3 on 28 targets (5.6 per game) over the past 5 games while Westbrook has tallied 22-256-1 on 35 targets (7 per game). With Marqise Lee already ruled out for this week, both Cole and Westbrook are intriguing flex options in a decent matchup as the 49ers rank 31st in pass defense DVOA. The fact that Jaydon Mickens caught 2 TDs last week is a little concerning, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance this week. I’d expect Mickens to be mostly in the slot, and the 49ers rank 4th in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle, and 30th or worse on throws to both the left side and right side of the field. Cole has shown a higher ceiling, but Westbrook has shown the safer volume.
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): This week should present a legitimate opportunity for the Browns to get their first win of the season, but to get it Kizer will have to manage to limit the turnovers, something he’s failed to do all season. He’s turned the ball over 7 times in the past 3 weeks and 25 times on the year. Being yo-yo’d in and out of the lineup by coach Hue Jackson has clearly stunted his development and hurt his confidence level. The Bears have the 3rd-fewest interceptions in the league as a defense, but they also allow the 8th-fewest QB fantasy points. Given how poorly Kizer played last week, you’d have to be much braver than I am to trust him in any lineups this week.
RBs Jamaal Williams & Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 16: vs. Min.): This is a situation best avoided. Green Bay is eliminated from playoff contention, and the Vikings are still alive in the race for the number 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The motivation in this one could be pretty one-sided. Shutting Aaron Rodgers back down will probably increase Green Bay’s rushing volume, but it’s hard to be confident that Williams will still see the vast majority of the work, and the Vikings allow the fewest RB points per game in the league. Green Bay will also be without Hundley’s favorite passing target, Davante Adams in this one, giving Minnesota one less weapon to worry about defending. If you want to take a shot at one of these guys in a DFS tournament, go ahead. There’s a chance that one of them has a nice game. I’d be more inclined to try Aaron Jones than Williams thanks to the discounted price tag, but there is nothing certain about either of these two this week.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 16: vs. Den.): Perine has gone in the tank the past 3 weeks while the Broncos’ defense appears to have righted the ship in the past 2 after struggling mightily for a 5-game stretch. Denver has allowed 90 rushing yards total to opposing backs in the past 2 weeks and held the Jets’ and Colts’ offenses to a combined 13 points in 2 convincing wins. Perine posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games a month ago, but he’s totaled just 120 rushing yards in the 3 games since, finishing as the RB33, RB33, and RB36 in those games. Denver is a tougher matchup than any of the 3 teams he just faced, and he also tweaked his groin in practice on Thursday. If Perine is able to play, he shouldn’t find his way into your lineup.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): Ekeler has just 7 touches in the last 2 weeks and managed to lose a fumble on one of those touches, and this week he might not even play. As of Thursday he looks like a true game-time decision, and there is no way to trust him even if he does play. I’d stay away in all formats.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 16: vs. Oak.): Clement played just 15% of the offensive snaps last week in Nick Foles’ first start for Philly, reversing a trend that had him playing ahead of LeGarrette Blount in week 14. He hasn’t seen more than 7 touches in any of the past 5 games, and hasn’t reached 7 PPR points in any of the past 4. Oakland’s defense isn’t anything impressive, but Clement hasn’t been receiving the kind of volume you can bet on, even against a bad defense.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 16: vs. LAC): If I believed Matt Forte was actually going to miss this game, I would probably have snuck McGuire into the ‘Sleeper’ section below, but I don’t think he will. If the running back role stays a 3 person committee, it’ll be too muddled to rely on McGuire. The Chargers have been vulnerable to the run, allowing the 10th-most RB points per game and ranking 29th in run defense DVOA, but McGuire has seen just 19 touches total in the last 4 weeks. He needs an injury ahead of him to see the field enough to be useful.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 16: @Bal.): Mack is averaging about 40 yards on 7 touches per game in the past 3 weeks, and this week the Colts’ implied point total is around 14 points. You can do better than Mack this week. He’s nothing more than a punt option for DFS tournaments, but one who hasn’t produced in weeks and costs $1,000 more than the minimum in DraftKings.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Golladay’s opportunities will increase with TJ Jones now on IR. Over the past 3 weeks Golladay has out-snapped Jones 154-32, and in that time he’s posted just 9 catches for 90 yards on 12 targets. The deep balls are fun when they happen for Kenny G, but they’ve dried up of late, and the Bengals allow the 3rd-fewest WR points per game. There are better places to look for an upside DFS punt play.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 16: vs. LAR): In case the pedestrian stat lines Davis has been putting up aren’t enough to convince you to bench him this week, the Rams have allowed the 8th-fewest WR points per game so far this year. Davis hasn’t reached double-digit fantasy points since week 1. I still believe in Corey long-term, but if you don’t you should be able to find a buyer who will still be willing to pay a pretty penny for him this offseason in dynasty leagues. I think a coaching change in Tennessee would help that entire offense a great deal.
WRs Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): As well as Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing, I have a simple rule of thumb here…don’t trust fringe fantasy WRs against the Jaguars. They haven’t been quite as impenetrable over the past few weeks as they were for most of the year, but they’ve still only allowed 4 receivers all year to reach 80 receiving yards: Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Corey Coleman, and Tyler Lockett. Taylor and Bourne don’t belong in that group. If you wanted to buy into one of these guys as a contrarian play, I’d go with Bourne. The Jags have allowed 10 passing TDs in the last 6 weeks, and all of them have traveled over 20 yards. Nine of them went 25+ yards, and 4 of them went 40+ yards. Only Marquise Goodwin averages more yards per catch for San Francisco than Bourne’s 16.7. Taylor averages 10.1.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 16: @NE): Zay saw just 2 targets last week while playing 70% of the offensive snaps. This has pretty much been a lost season for him, and I wouldn’t count on him getting it turned around this week. The Pats have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game, but Jones has just 25 catches on 70 targets for the season. Steer clear.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): Kittle had his best showing since week 5 last Sunday, but he finished as just the TE18 for the week, and I wouldn’t count on a repeat performance. He was still comfortably out-snapped and out-produced by teammate Garrett Celek, and he goes from facing off with the team allowing the 8th-most TE points per game to the team allowing the 3rd-fewest. There’s no reason to test out Kittle in any format this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): Njoku has just 1 catch for 3 yards on 5 targets in the last 2 weeks, and the Bears are in the top half of the league at limiting TE points. There’s no reason to chase a TD that is unlikely to happen. There are better dart throws out there this week. See below for two specific ones.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Green has seen 10+ carries in 2 of the 3 games he’s been active for, and this week Detroit faces a Bengals team that has allowed a league-worst 131.5 rushing yards per game. Theo Riddick was questionable earlier this week, but it looks like he’ll be able to play. If Detroit manages to get out in front in this game, they may rest Riddick and give Green extended run. With Riddick playing, Green will be no more than a DFS punt option (a better option in formats that aren’t full PPR), but he could have a really nice day if he finds his way to 15+ carries.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Cohen’s touches have been up and down of late, but his snap share has been fairly consistent over the past month or so. He’s played at least 35% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 5 games, and pushed up near 50% in two of them. This week’s matchup plays more into Cohen’s strengths than Jordan Howard’s. The Browns rank 1st in run defense DVOA and allow a league-low 3.3 yards per carry, but they rank 30th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. Cohen has twice as many catches as Howard on the year. I like Cohen if you are looking for a cheap DFS option at running back this week. He’ll cost just $3,700 on DraftKings.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 16: @Car.): Godwin could be a DFS tournament winner this week. DeSean Jackson looks unlikely to play Sunday (he’s not practicing as of Thursday), and Godwin costs the minimum on DraftKings. He posted a 5-68 line the last time a Tampa starting WR was out, and he’s played over 50% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 2 games. Tampa has also started to throw the ball with a little more success, putting up at least 270 passing yards & 2 TDs through the air in each of the last 3 games. The Panthers have allowed the 7th-most WR points per game for the season, and over the past 6 games they’ve been especially bad, coughing up 44.4 points per game to the position. The Bucs are the worst team in the league at defending WRs, and they allow 40.7 per game. Godwin also may benefit from OJ Howard being on IR, as the Bucs could use another big, physical playmaker in his place. If Jackson is out, Godwin has serious upside this week.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): I mention Williams here solely as a stash option for dynasty leagues. If by some chance he’s landed on your waiver wire as he’s scuffled along to just 10 catches for 87 yards on 19 targets, you should be scooping him up before we hit the offseason and rosters lock. Tyrell Williams will be a restricted free agent this offseason, so there may be some targets that open up in the Chargers’ offense, and top-10 draft pick rookie WRs rarely are available on the wire.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 16: vs. NYG): If you’re looking for a DFS dart throw at TE this week, you’re not going to find one much better than Seals-Jones. The Giants have allowed 50+ receiving yards to the tight end position in 11 of their 14 games this year, and have allowed a tight end score in 11 as well. There is a little concern since RSJ’s connection seemed to be with Blaine Gabbert who was benched, and his snaps have been limited, but he’s clearly shown himself to be the best receiving tight end in the desert. If you’re throwing a dart at any Cardinals’ TE against the worst TE defense in the league, it should be Seals-jones.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): I mentioned under Ricky Seals-Jones that the Giants are the worst TE defense in the league. The Browns are the 2nd-worst. Shaheen was inactive last week with a chest injury, but he was starting to show a nice rapport with Mitch Trubisky prior to that. You’ll need to monitor his health situation and make sure he plays this Sunday, but Shaheen is a great DFS dart throw option just like RSJ, and he’s $300 cheaper on DraftKings than Seals-Jones.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you parse through your toughest lineup decisions this week. I’ll be back next week for a quick look at the rookies for the week 17 slate. Most leagues will be over with by then, but there are a few outliers that continue through the final week of the season, and DFS will of course continue. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. DeSean Jackson, Allen Hurns, Theo Riddick and Leonard Fournette’s health situations could all have a major impact on some of the players included above, so keep an eye on this throughout the week. If you have any specific questions, or want to yell at me about anything 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.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
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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!