Welcome back to the Rookie Report! I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day. Week 12 was another fun one, with things going pretty much according to plan for Thomas Rawls, Buck Allen, Mariota and Amari Cooper, but not so much for Todd Gurley or TJ Yeldon. In most fantasy leagues, week 13 is the last one before the playoffs start, so this week's matchup is likely crucial. If you're fighting to claim a playoff spot or improve your seed, you don't want to leave points on your bench. If you're out of the playoff race, it can be fun to take some chances with the lineup and play spoiler. If you're in contention, my strategy is always to not get too cute with the lineup at this point unless you're in a desperate situation due to injuries. That's why the 'Rookies to Sit' section will be a bit larger than usual this week. With that in mind, let's dive in to what we can expect from the rookies in this all-important week...
Rookies to Start:
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 13: @Min.): Rawls has a tough matchup on paper, but the Steelers were a tougher matchup last week and Rawls put up 14 points (ESPN standard scoring) on 21 touches against them. The Vikings rank 6th in the league in limiting RB points, but they have still allowed double-digit RB points in 8 of their 11 games and rank just 23rd in Football Outsiders' run DVOA defensive efficiency stat. Dominating touches out of the Seattle backfield, Rawls should be a strong RB2 this week despite the matchup.
RB Javorius 'Buck' Allen, BAL (Wk. 13: @Mia.): Allen did what was expected of him on Monday Night Football. He didn't dazzle anyone, but he was productive, picking up 55 yards on 12 carries and 29 and a TD on 4 catches. That's good for 13 points in ESPN leagues, which puts him in a 3-way tie as the RB10 for the week. This week he gets to face the Dolphins, who are hemorrhaging points to opposing RBs lately. The 'Fins have allowed at least 17 points to RBs in their last 6 games, and are giving up an average of 24 per game in that span. While it was a little concerning that Allen conceded some work to Terrence West and played only about 60% of the offensive snaps, if Buck is given the same 16 touches he got against Cleveland, he should be a fine RB2 once again.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 13: vs. KC): Cooper has been finding the consistency he lacked early in the season over the past few weeks. Despite his pathetic 1-4 line against Detroit, he's still reached 79 or more receiving yards in 3 of the last 4 games after failing to reach 50 yards in 4 of his first 7. Kansas City seemed like they had been righting the ship after a horrendous start to the year vs. WRs, but then they let Sammy Watkins go off last week for 6-158-2. KC still ranks second-to-last at limiting opposing WR fantasy points. Amari should be a solid WR2 in a very favorable matchup.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 13: vs. Jax.): Mariota failed to throw a TD pass when the Titans visited the Jags two weeks ago (the only QB to do so vs. Jacksonville this season), but he did tally 17 points in that game thanks to a rushing score, and he has Kendall Wright back in action for round 2. The Jaguars rank 30th in pass DVOA, and have allowed 9 TDs in the past 4 games. I look for Mariota to have a much better showing this time around and wind up right on the borderline of the top-10 QBs of the week.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 13: vs. Ari.): Obviously if you have Gurley, you probably are going to start him. I'm starting him in the league I have him in. If you were lucky enough to get 3 stud RBs, I just want to point out that Gurley shouldn't be an automatic start this week. Yes, he did gash the Cardinals for 161 total yards in his first start when they met in Arizona and the upside is huge again, but with no passing game to speak of, teams have increasingly been able to sell out to stop Gurley. The Cardinals are a team that already is comfortable leaving their CBs on an island and loading up against the run, so it should be 2nd nature to them this week. They rank 7th in run DVOA, and you may or may not have noticed that Gurley's point total has slipped for 5 consecutive weeks now. Last week might not just be a blip on the radar. I expect Gurley to bounce back a bit this week, but just know there is a lower floor than we thought.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 13: @StL): Johnson will get an opportunity to start this week for Arizona with CJ2K and Andre Ellington sidelined with a fractured tibia and turf toe, respectively. He's been a versatile playmaker for the Cardinals, finding his way to 8 TDs in 11 games despite very limited workloads. He should see a season-high in touches this week, and the Rams' once scary run defense has been slipping of late. They've allowed an average of 115 rushing yards and 20 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs over the past 4 games, and Johnson only has Stepfan Taylor to compete with for touches. He's a flex option with RB1 upside this week.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 13: vs. Cin.): Duke seemed to be getting going last week, but McCown's new injury likely won't help him going forward. It's still unclear whether it will be Manziel or Austin Davis who gets the start in week 13, but the matchup sets up pretty well for Duke. The Bengals are a touchdown favorite, so Cleveland will likely play from behind and be throwing plenty. The Bengals have allowed the 2nd most RB receptions in the league, and Johnson has been getting more touches as a runner as well, logging the most carries he's had since week 6 last Monday. Johnson sets up as a decent flex play in PPR, and one with higher upside than usual. Five catches and 60+ scrimmage yards is entirely possible.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 13: vs. Den.): San Diego looked committed to geting Gordon involved for the first time in a while last week. They even gave him a carry inside the 10-yard line. He still hasn't scored his first touchdown, but with the season essentially over for the Chargers, it can't hurt to get Gordon meaningful playing time and see what he can do. The Broncos are more vulnerable to the run than the pass, allowing an RB rushing TD in 4 of their last 5 games, and I don't expect Denver to blow the Bolts out and force them to throw non-stop. Denver has won by more than 7 just twice in 9 wins. That sets this up as a game where Gordon will have the opportunity to return RB2 value and should be considered as a possible upside flex play.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 13: vs. SF): Despite the return of Matt Forte last week, Langford still saw reasonable volume and turned in a decent fantasy day at Lambeau. Forte out-touched Langford 16-13, but the rookie matched him in yards (53) and managed to punch in a short touchdown run. Langford could have had an even better day if not for a couple drops in the passing game. If he approaches 15 touches again, that should be plenty to do damage against the 49ers run D that hasn't traveled well. The 49ers are 27th in the league in run DVOA, and in 5 road games they've allowed averages of 140 rush yards and 1.4 rush TDs to RBs, as well as 28 fantasy points per game (allow 15 per game at home). The only thing keeping me from calling Langford a must-start is the fact that he will split work with Forte.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 13: vs. Sea.): Diggs has continued to flash great talent, running crisp routes, catching what he can, and being an overall playmaker, but the Vikings' low pass volume is killing his upside. In Diggs's 4-game breakout, the team attempted an average of 34.25 passes per game, with a minimum of 30 in that stretch. In the 4 games since, they've averaged just 27 attempts per game, and have hit 30 or more just once in that period. The Seattle defense is stingy against both the run and the pass, but have allowed 39 WR points to Arizona and 44 to Pittsburgh in games this year. If you play Diggs, you're banking on Seattle forcing the Vikings to throw it more than 30 times. Diggs might make a nice contrarian play in DFS tournaments, but is a low floor WR3 with upside in season-long leagues.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 13: vs. Bal.): Rishard Matthews's broken ribs will open the door for Parker to start down the stretch. He hasn't had many chances to flash his potential this year, but he did pull in 4 passes for 80 yards and a score last weekend, even if most of that was in garbage time. The Baltimore defense has allowed 25+ fantasy points to opposing WRs in 4 of the past 5 games, and 4-60 should be a reasonable expectation for Parker in his first start.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 13: vs. Atl.): Winston has shown a safe floor, but he shouldn't be in play as anything more than a lower end QB2 this week. The Falcons' pass defense hasn't been great, ranking 22nd in pass DVOA, but teams haven't been throwing on them a ton lately. During Atlanta's tumble down the standings, teams are beating them by running the ball and playing keep away. In three of their past 4 games, the opposing team has had at least 29 running back carries, and in the past 5, the Falcons allowed more than 200 passing yards just once and more than 14 QB points just once. I wouldn't expect Tampa to deviate from that script. Doug Martin should carry it a bunch. Jameis put up 19 points the first time he faced Atlanta, and I think it would be a positive day if he even approaches that number again.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 13: @Ten.): I'm sure most of you that have Yeldon are at least considering starting him. He typically has a reasonable floor thanks to his volume, and he should again have a floor around 5 points this week, but there just isn't much upside for more. He fell flat in a very plus matchup last week, and at this point he's being pulled in the red zone as well, limiting his TD upside. Yeldon gets a much tougher matchup this week. The Titans allow the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing backs, and have allowed less than 10 points in 4 of the past 5. Yeldon is also unlikely to pad his numbers in the passing game since the Titans have allowed the fewest RB catches and receiving yards and are #1 in pass DVOA on throws to running backs. Yeldon put up 82 scrimmage yards in the first go-round, and I expect him to come up short of that amount in this one.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 13: vs. Dal.): Since posting his 2nd breakout game of the year, Jones has just 16 touches in 2 games, and he was out touched by Alfred Morris 24-9 in week 12. You simply can't count on him to have volume or to produce, even in plus matchups like the one he has this week. He's scored 70 fantasy points on the year, and 48 of them came in just 2 games. Outside of those games, he's cleared 5 points just once. That type of extreme boom-or-bust player isn't the type of guy you want to trust with the season on the line.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 13: vs. Bal.): Ajayi continued to contribute in week 13, chipping in over 50 receiving yards in the blowout loss to the Jets. He now has gained at least 36 yards from scrimmage in each game he's been active. He's still behind Lamar Miller on the depth chart, but he could be a league-winner down the stretch if anything happens to Miller. The Dolphins have a favorable schedule coming up with the Giants, Chargers and Colts during the fantasy playoffs. The Ravens, however, are not a favorable matchup. Baltimore is tied for 6th in fewest RB points allowed. Ajayi shouldn't be started in this one.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 13: @TB): There isn't a ton of reasoning needed for this one. Freeman is expected to return from his concussion this week, and despite breaking the century mark in yards last week, Coleman made critical mistakes in a tough loss. He dropped his only two targets, and more importantly he coughed up the ball at the end of a 46-yard run. Freeman should step right back in as the starter. Even if Coleman does see a few extra carries as they ease Devonta back in, this isn't a good matchup. The Bucs are 2nd in run DVOA and allow the 8th fewest RB fantasy points.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 13: vs. Hou.): Rex Ryan didn't sound very optimistic about Karlos's chances of playing this week, but he should remain benched even if he does suit up. The Texans' defense has been red hot over the past 4 games, allowing averages of 57 rushing yards and 8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and they've faced a few good ones. They've squared off with the Titans, Bengals, Jets and Saints in those 4 games.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 13: vs. Jax.): Three carries for 8 yards is an improvement over 4 for negative-3, and interim coach Mike Mularkey keeps talking about wanting to get Cobb more involved, but we'll need to see it before we can believe it. He's still just a deep league stash right now at best.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 13: vs. Jax.): Dorial's chances to make an impact in 2015 are dwindling. He caught just 1-of-5 targets for 22 yards last weekend, and was called out publicly by his coach for not making enough plays, and not using his physical advantages as well as he should. The Jaguars are a favorable matchup for DGB, but he's fallen flat in several of those this season. I don't have any confidence that he bests the 3-40 line he put up when these clubs met in Jacksonville a couple weeks ago.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 13: vs. Dal.): While Crowder's share of snaps hasn't really dropped much with the return of DeSean Jackson, his share of the targets has. I was dead wrong in thinking he'd get back to the 5-50 type lines he was putting up earlier in the year, and his slide down the target pecking order has sapped much of his PPR usefulness. He may still find a decent game or two down the stretch in garbage time, but it'll be hard to count on him any week as a starter.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 13: @NE): Agholor has been a major disappointment this year, but we can attribute some of that to Jordan Matthews lining up pretty much exclusively in the slot. Most of the league's best cover corners don't venture into the slot, so Agholor has had to tangle with most of the top guys Philly has faced. This week, that means he should see a lot of Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. Butler has developed a swagger from that championship play last February, and he's used it to propel him into being one of the league's best corners this year. Agholor's terrible, awful, no-fun rookie season should continue this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 13: @Min.): With the recent emergence of Doug Baldwin, Lockett looks like he will continue to split the leftovers with Jermaine Kearse and Luke Willson. His role could increase a little with Jimmy Graham going down for the year, but I would expect the biggest bump in targets to go to Willson. The Vikings are a tough matchup this week, and Lockett is averaging just 3.3 catches and 39.6 yards per game over his past 5 outings. I love his talent and upside, but his role isn't where it needs to be yet for consistent fantasy production.
WRs Devin Smith & Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (Wk. 13: @NYG): Enunwa has emerged as the Jets' third WR, and Devin Smith found the end zone last week for the first time in his career and has seen a couple deep targets per game lately, but there isn't enough volume to go around after Marshall and Decker. Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed more than 22 passes just once this year, and the top 2 WRs average about 12 catches per game. That leaves the other WRs, the RBs and the TEs about 10 catches at most to fight over. Enunwa and Smith have combined for just 9 catches in the past 3 games. Both should remain on the waiver wire.
WR JJ Nelson, ARI (Wk. 13: @StL): Nelson had another nice game in week 12, but Michael Floyd should be close to full strength for this one, which should limit JJ's snaps. The Rams have allowed just 5 passes of 40 or more yards in 11 games, so the odds Nelson gets a long ball are not great. He's still a great dynasty stash, but he shouldn't be started this week.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 13: vs. KC): There are way too many reasonable TE options out there to consider Walford if your starting TE is hurt. Kansas City has allowed the fewest receptions and yards to opposing TEs all year, and just 2 TDs to them. They've allowed 7 TE fantasy points total over the past 5 games.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 13: vs. NYJ): Tye has played great the past 2 weeks, but this isn't the week to fire him up. It's too big a risk if you have anything at stake this week, especially with guys like Scott Chandler, Vance McDonald, Kyle Rudolph and Brent Celek recently emerging as realistic options. The Jets have allowed 50+ yards to an opposing TE just twice all year (Gronk and Charles Clay), and over the past 5 games they've allowed just 10 total TE points. It isn't quite as impressive as the Chiefs' 7, but still a miniscule number. Tye is yet to score a touchdown and has been getting by on volume over the past couple of weeks. That volume might not be there in such a difficult matchup.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 13: vs. GB): I'm sure most fantasy players are still gun-shy about firing up Abdullah, especially if you drafted him and have seen how bad it can get, but things have been turning around for the former Cornhusker. He's avoided fumbling the ball for 5 consecutive games now, and he had 30 combined touches in the last 2, averaging 60.5 scrimmage yards per game in those contests. The Packers' run D, while improved of late, is still just 18th in run DVOA, and I expect Abdullah to get right around 15 touches again and turn in a borderline RB3 effort. You could do worse if you're desperate.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 13: @NO): Philly Brown may return this week, but Funchess may have stolen his job while he's been out. It's true Funch caught just 2 passes on Turkey Day, but Cam completed just 16 passes in that game and did target Funchess in the end zone twice. The Saints' pass defense woes are well documented (19 pass TDs allowed in last 5 games), and Funchess is certainly a threat to find paydirt against that rag tag group. He should be on the WR3 radar in most non-PPR leagues.
WR Rashad Greene, JAX (Wk. 13: @Ten.): Hurns is out this week, and Greene caught 7 passes in week one on an absurd 13 targets. He missed a lot of time with injury, but has worked himself back into the mix over the past couple weeks. The Titans have really struggled to defend non-WR1s, ranking 31st in pass DVOA against WR2s and 30th against all other non-number 1's. The Titans are coming off a week where they just gave up 39 points to the Raiders' WRs, including 2 TDs to their 3rd WR Seth Roberts. Blake Bortles is a bit of a turnover machine, but he also throws for about 270 yards and 2 TDs per game. There is a lot of upside for Greene as a punt play in DFS.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make the right moves with your rookies to propel you to the playoffs or at least to a victory this week. If you have any specific start/sit questions or any other fantasy questions, or just want to yell at me and call me an idiot, feel free to reach out via twitter (@shawn_foss). As always, good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It's just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! The fantasy playoffs are upon us. Hopefully you've managed to survive this long and are ready to roll your way to another victory. The rookies are taking over lately. Jameis and Mariota look like legitimate future stars, and week 13's top 7 RBs included 4 rookie backs. If you want to work your way to the title, the rookies should play a big role. Let's take a look at what the rooks have on tap this week...
TJ Yeldon has actually been getting carries in the red zone!Rookies to Start:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 14: vs. NO): Jameis put on a show in leading the Bucs to victory over the Falcons last week, particularly on a long 3rd down conversion run where he 'truck-sticked' several Atlanta defenders. What does he win for his efforts? A showdown with the worst pass defense in the league. The Saints have allowed 23 or more points (all point totals in ESPN standard scoring) to opposing QBs in 5 of their past 6 games and 4+ passing TDs in 4 of their last 5. On the season, the Saints have allowed 7 more TD passes than any other team in the league (only the Eagles are closer than 10 behind). The only thing to fear here is the Bucs' run-happy offense if the Saints don't score enough to force a shootout. Jameis should be a top-10 QB this week.
RB Thomas Rawls, SEA (Wk. 14: @Bal.): Three straight starts, three straight games of at least 14 fantasy points and a touchdown. The Ravens are 14th in Football Outsiders' run DVOA stat (measures defensive efficiency), and in the two starts he's had vs. teams with a better ranking (Pittsburgh & Cincy), Rawls has tallied 230 yards and 2 TDs. You have to start him again this week, regardless of matchup. In his past 4 starts, he hasn't ranked lower than the RB8 in any week.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): Jacksonville finally started using Yeldon in the red zone last week, and it paid dividends for his owners as TJ found the end zone and finished as the RB2 overall for the week. He has a flex-worthy weekly floor based on volume alone, and there is still an outside shot that the Colts start Charlie Whitehurst this week at QB, which should give Yeldon a very positive game script to work with. Even if Hasselbeck is able to start, the Colts have allowed over 250 RB rush yards in the past two weeks and Yeldon should provide RB2 value against them.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. Min.): Johnson didn't disappoint in his first start, finishing right behind Yeldon as the RB3 for the week, and he faces a Vikings defense that ranks 25th in run DVOA and 27th in pass DVOA on throws to RBs. Minnesota is also struggling with injuries, as starting nose tackle Linval Joseph, starting linebacker Anthony Barr, and starting safety Harrison Smith will all miss this game. Johnson shouldn't struggle to finish as a top-20 RB this week.
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 14: @NYJ): Don't be afraid of the Jets' defense this week. On the year New York ranks 8th in pass defense DVOA and allows the 11th fewest QB points in the league, but Darrelle Revis might be out again and the Jets have allowed 330+ yards and 20+ points to QBs in 4 of their past 7 games. They've allowed those days to New England, Oakland, Jacksonville and Miami, not exactly all elite offenses. Mariota is really putting the pieces together lately, and the emergence of Dorial Green-Beckham will only help going forward. Don't expect another 87-yard TD run, but Mariota will be a solid QB2 this week and is a top-15 overall option at the position.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): The Seahawks are one of the toughest draws in the league for opposing RBs, allowing a league-low 10.8 fantasy points per game to them. With the way the Seahawks are scoring lately, this sets up as a game where the Ravens will be playing from behind, and Allen showed his pass game chops with 12 catches in week 13. The Seahawks allow 5.3 RB catches per game, and Allen should continue to see the heavy workload he's seen of late. That should be enough to get him into the lineup in leagues that have a flex spot rather than just 2 RBs, especially PPR leagues. In 2-RB leagues w/o a flex spot, you might have two safer options, but Allen should be in or near the top-20 PPR backs this week.
Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 14: @Chi.): I'm not going to pretend to know what to expect from Jones this week. Every time it seems like either Jones or Morris has taken a stranglehold of the early down role, the team seems to totally go the other direction the next week. It's about as frustrating as the Patriots' running backs from last season. This is a plus matchup, with the Bears ranking dead last in run DVOA and allowing at least 11 RB fantasy points in every single game this season, and Alfred Morris didn't play a snap for the last 3 quarters on Monday night. That points to Jones being a strong flex play this week, but there is always the risk that Morris gets right back in his way. Head coach Jay Gruden said Morris's disappearance was due to game-flow, and I doubt Jones sees 18 carries again, but he certainly has upside.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 14: vs. Det.): It's getting tough to trust Gurley as the offense crumbles around him. The Rams will go back to Case Keenum at QB this week, a move that brings with it the risk that the offense will implode once again. The Lions seem like an unimposing matchup on paper, ranking in the middle of the pack in both fantasy points allowed to RBs (15th most) and run DVOA (rank 13th), but over their past 4 games they've allowed just 48 RB rush yards per game. Gurley is probably best left on the bench this week despite the massive upside his talent brings with it. If you own him in dynasty, you should still be excited for the future.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 14: @StL): This is an interesting spot for Ameer. The Rams' run defense has been collapsing as his play has improved and his role has grown. Abdullah set a career-high in single-game rushing yards in each of the past 2 games, and the Rams have allowed at least 96 RB rush yards in each of the past 5 games, and 22 fantasy points per game in that stretch (they averaged allowing 14.6 prior to those games). The only concern here is that the Lions have a tendency to abandon the run even when the game script is positive and they are running well. They did it last week against GB, and hopefully they learned from that mistake. Abdullah is a flex option with solid upside this week.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 14: @NYJ): With Revis questionable for this week, Dorial has a chance to build on his breakout game from week 13. What was especially promising was that Green-Beckham bounced back beautifully after making an early mistake that resulted in an interception. He showed all of the skills that make him such a tantalizing talent in piling up 119 yards and a TD on 5 catches. The Jets' pass defense has been gashed for 28+ points by opposing WRs in 5 of their past 6 games (35+ in 4 of them). It's hard to rely on DGB just because he showed us what he was capable of for one game when he's regularly disappointed this season, but the ceiling this week is huge, especially if Revis sits again.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): Parker put up his second consecutive strong performance in place of the injured Rishard Matthews last week, and Matthews will be out again this week. The new offensive coordinator relied heavily on Lamar Miller and the run game against Baltimore, as Tannehill threw just 19 times, but 5 of them went in Parker's direction. That passing volume is scary low as a team, and you'd hope it comes up this week, but the matchup is a positive one. The G-Men have allowed the 2nd most WR yards in the league, and have given up 200+ yards to them in 4 of their past 5 games. There is a somewhat scary floor based on the pass game volume, but I think Parker is a strong bet to top 50 yards again and he should have WR2 upside this week.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 14: @Mia.): Tye has been extremely steady over the past 3 weeks with Larry Donnell out, averaging 67 yards on just under 5 catches per game in that stretch, and there is a good chance he posts a similar line again this week. He's a reasonable low-end TE1 this week and a name to know in case Eifert is out again or you have a starter you don't trust.
Bears' rookie Jeremy Langford is a sit for us this weekRookies to Sit:
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 14: vs. Was.): Langford was finally kept out of the end zone in week 13 after scoring in 4 straight games prior to that. What’s more concerning is that Langford was out-touched 26-14 by Matt Forte and even ceded some of the backup work to Ka’Deem Carey, who scored a 4th quarter TD. He managed just 5 fantasy points in a very good matchup on 14 touches and this week gets to face a Washington defense that has allowed 97 RB rushing yards total in the last 2 weeks. The uncertain volume and tougher matchup make Langford a tough guy to trust in playoff matchups this week.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 14: @KC): Gordon was benched after fumbling yet again last week, and he's still failed to score a touchdown or put up double-digit fantasy points in any game this year. The Chiefs rank 7th in run DVOA and have allowed the 7th fewest RB fantasy points on the year. This isn't the week that Gordon breaks the 10-point barrier.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. SF): Johnson has a great matchup this week with the 49ers, who have allowed the 2nd most receptions to opposing RBs in the league, and have been awful vs. RBs on the road (Allow 28.3 RB points per game on the road, 7.5 more than any other team averages for the season). The problem is that the quarterback merry-go-round in Cleveland is making the entire offense a wild card. Manziel gets the nod this week, and despite the great matchup there's a real chance that Duke doesn't hit 5 points. He's just too hard to trust for my liking in the playoffs.
RB David Cobb, TEN (Wk. 14: @NYJ): Cobb worked his way into a bigger role last week, garnering double-digit touches for the first time in his career, but he still averaged under 4 yards per carry and gets the best defense in the league in terms of run DVOA this week. Cobb is at best a TD dart throw this week.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL (Wk. 14: @Car.): Not much explanation necessary here. Coleman went right back to being a backup to Devonta Freeman last week. Feel free to avoid him again. He only really has value if something happens to Freeman.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 14: vs. NYG): With the new offensive coordinator in Miami, the team seems to have recommitted to Lamar Miller as the feature back. Ajayi played just 8 snaps last week, and while that number may go up this week, there's no reason to be confident it will. Ajayi is a Miller handcuff for now.
RB John Crockett, GB (Wk. 14: vs. Dal.): Crockett led the Packers in rushing yards last week. It won't happen again. Eddie Lacy was benched due to issues off the field, but coach Mike McCarthy has talked up Lacy as looking 'rejuvenated' in practice this week. Expect a bounce back from Lacy and a return to obscurity for Crockett.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 14: @Den.): Sitting Cooper might sound like a terrible idea if you've been starting him every week, but this really could be a rough week for him. The Broncos have held 4 of the last 6 opponents they've played to 3 or fewer points from their entire WR groups. Cooper has failed to find the end zone in the past 4 games, and Denver has allowed just 1 WR TD all season long. There is a much lower floor than we typically see from Cooper. When he lines up outside he should see a lot of Aqub Talib. If they move him into the slot he gets Chris Harris. Either way he's facing one of the league's elite cover corners. If he tops 50 yards it would be a win for him this week.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 14: @Ari.): Things aren't promising for Diggs right now. Even in a 31-point drubbing last week, the Vikings attempted just 28 passes. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson complained about not getting enough carries. I'd expect the Vikings to be committed to the run early, and the pass volume to be low again, even if they're playing from behind. Diggs has come up short of 50 receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 outings, and the Cardinals rank 3rd in the league in pass DVOA. It's hard to bet on Diggs to top that 50-yard mark this week.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 14: vs. Atl.): I was surprised to see Funchess pushed back to the bench with the return of Corey Brown. He failed to come up big in a game with a lot of passing volume for Carolina (despite a TD), so I'd be hard pressed to trust him in a game that sets up to have a lot less of it. Funchess would need to find the end zone to be productive this week, and the Falcons have allowed just 4 WR touchdowns in 12 games. Betting that Funchess scores one this week isn't something I'm prepared to do.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 14: @Chi.): Crowder made a few grabs and did a few positive things in an ugly Monday night loss for Washington, but 4-for-40 is pretty much his ceiling at this point with the Washington WRs all healthy. The Bears' real issue will be containing DeSean Jackson, not Crowder.
WRs Devin Smith & Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (Wk. 14: vs. Ten.): The Titans have been shredded for 7 WR TDs in the past two games, and the Jets' pass attack is humming right now. There is sneaky shootout potential in this game, and there should be enough passing action to go around for more than just Marshall and Decker. That means there is a chance for Smith or Enunwa to have a nice game, but good luck guessing which one it'll be. Smith has the better shot at a TD, but Enunwa's volume is slightly more consistent. Your best bet is to avoid both.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 14: @Den.): Walford set his career bests in catches and yards in week 13, but I wouldn't bank on a repeat this week. The Broncos have struggled to contain TEs the past two weeks, but they faced Gronk and Antonio Gates. Prior to those two games, no team had put up more than 6 TE catches against Denver. Walford is best left on the bench this week.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 14: @Phi.): There is a ton of volatility to Williams. I wouldn't trust him in the fantasy playoffs, but he has some DFS upside as a punt play this week. The Eagles stunned the Pats last week, but they'd been collapsing for weeks prior to that, and this is a good spot for a letdown game. Philly has been forking over 27.5 RB points per game over the past 4 games, and while this has been talked up as LeSean McCoy's revenge game, if the Bills get way up Williams could get some garbage time carries against a collapsing defense. He still has scored TDs in 6 of the 8 games he's played. Keep an eye on the injury report and make sure Williams is active before taking a shot on him, but there should be some opportunity for him and no one else is likely to be on him this week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 14: @Bal.): Lockett could wind up on the PPR WR3 radar this week. His role seemed to increase last week with Jimmy Graham out for the season, and the Ravens rank 26th in pass DVOA. His efficiency has been insane this year. He's hauled in 35 catches on just 40 targets, including 7-of-7 in week 13. If he continues to see 6-8 targets, he should return borderline WR3 value in PPR leagues the rest of the way.
WR JJ Nelson, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. Min.): As mentioned earlier, the Vikings' defense will likely struggle while missing an impact player at every level of the defense. The lack of Harrison Smith should make them more vulnerable to the deep ball than usual, and Arizona has been taking a couple deep shots to Nelson each week, even with the top 3 WRs healthy. Nelson has had at least 5 fantasy points in each of the past 4 games, and he could make an intriguing DFS punt play yet again this week.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you make some tough lineup decisions and advance in your playoffs. If you have any specific start/sit questions or feedback, or just want to yell at me about my opinions, 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're just a week away from Championship Week in most leagues, so hopefully your team is still standing (both literally and figuratively). Week 14 was a brutal one for injuries. I was bounced from 3 different league playoffs with teams that each started one of Andy Dalton or Thomas Rawls, and one of them also had Tyler Eifert. It didn't help that I got horrible efforts from Calvin Johnson, Travis Kelce, Mike Evans, Jeremy Maclin, Larry Fitzgerald and Brian Hoyer (2 separate 2-QB leagues), but that's neither here nor there. TJ Yeldon also went down in last week's carnage. After last week, the running back position is getting mighty thin, so expect a lot of RB insight in this week's write-up. There is only one rookie that I feel confident in telling you is a must-start this week, but plenty more who could and should make an impact. Let's dive in....
Rookies to Start:
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 15: @Phi.): Yes, David Johnson is the only rookie that I can say with total confidence that you should be starting this week. He's thrived in the starter's role the past two weeks, putting up 120+ scrimmage yards in in each contest and scoring a TD in one. The Eagles rank 21st in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA (measures defensive efficiency), and they've allowed 100 RB rushing yards and or a running back TD in 5 of the 6 games played since their bye. Arizona should control the game, which should keep Johnson running all day. He has an RB2 floor and RB1 ceiling.
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 15: vs. TB): Gurley had a monster bounce-back game last week, but that doesn't mean he's out of the woods just yet. He's still a boom-or-bust option, albeit one with overall RB1 upside when he booms. The key last week was that the Rams were able to play from ahead, keeping the run game in play long enough for Gurley to wear down the defensive front and start ripping off chunk plays in the 2nd half. That's been his MO all season, and keeping this game close will be critical to him having another big day. Tampa does rank 5th in run DVOA, and the Rams have almost no passing game to speak of, but I like the chances that the St. Louis defense keeps this game close and allows Gurley to return at least RB2 value. My only hesitation is the low floor we've seen if the Rams fall behind.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 15: vs. Buf.): Jones has finally appeared to emerge as the lead back in Washington, out-touching Alfred Morris 39-17 over the past 2 weeks. Buffalo ranks 28th in run DVOA, and every team that has had 17 RB carries against Buffalo has picked up at least 85 rushing yards on them. Jones has 18 carries on his own in each of the past two games. The Bills have also allowed 7 RB rushing scores in their past 8 games. Despite Jones's inefficiency, with RB so thin this week he's a decent flex play and boasts high RB2 upside.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET (Wk. 15: @NO): Ameer had his worst game in 3 weeks last Sunday, and still managed 44 scrimmage yards against a defense that ranks 12th in run DVOA. The Saints rank 27th. The Saints have been giving points to RBs almost as freely as they do to QBs, allowing the 2nd most RB points in the league. I expect Abdullah to get back to double-digit carries this week, and in this matchup that could make him an upside flex in leagues with 12 teams or more.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 15: vs. GB): Cooper will be happy to be rid of Aqib Talib this week after Talib held him catchless on 8 targets, but the Packers are no cakewalk either. They've allowed just one WR to reach 70 yards in the past 5 games (Alshon Jeffery), and they've allowed just 4 top-20 weekly WR finishes all year. The Raiders should funnel Cooper targets early to get him back on track, but he's definitely more of a WR3 option than locked in WR2. I'd feel much more comfortable starting him if Green Bay's top corner Sam Shields misses this game with the concussion he suffered last week.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 15: vs. Cle.): The bump in volume for Tyler Lockett in week 13 proved to not be a fluke. After seeing a season-high 7 targets in the first game after Jimmy Graham went down, he saw another 7 this past Sunday. With those 14 targets, he pulled in 13 of them for 194 yards and 2 TDs. He now boasts a ridiculous 41 catches on 47 targets for the year (87.2% catch rate, best of any WR targeted at least 10 times). As long as that volume holds up, and I expect it to, Lockett should remain a decent WR3 option.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 15: @NE): Dorial has flashed great potential at times this season, especially over the past 2 weeks, but he was back to being inconsistent last Sunday following his breakout game vs. Jacksonville. The good news...he was targeted 7 times and got open consistently. He'll remain a volitile weekly option, but his talent and role give him WR2 upside, even versus the emerging New England secondary.
TE Clive Walford, OAK (Wk. 15: vs. GB): Walford has finally started to see substantial volume over the past 2 weeks. He's got 8 catches for 100 yards on 12 targets over the past two games. The Packers are in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to TEs (all point numbers based on ESPN standard scoring) and have allowed a tight end touchdown in 5 of their past 6 games. Despite the presence of Mychal Rivera to steal some TE snaps, Walford is a solid streaming option this week.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Car.): The matchup is really imposing for Tye, but he's scored at least 5 fantasy points in each of his past 4 games and 7 in each of his past 3. With Josh Norman likely to match up with Odell Beckham a bunch (not sure if Norman will follow Odell to the slot), look for Tye to remain a key piece of the offense in situations where Norman is on Beckham. There isn't a huge ceiling here, but Tye should be a safe bet for 40-50 yards, which is better than taking a shot on someone who may goose egg if you're streaming at tight end. Tye has been returning borderline TE1 production over the past month.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (Wk. 15: @NE): Mariota has been playing excellent football lately, scoring 17+ points in every game except versus Carolina since he returned from injury in week 9. He's found a variety of ways to get to the end zone, even catching a 41-yard TD on trick play last week. He gets a real test this week though. The Patriots do a great job of erasing the opposition's top targets, so look for them to focus primarily on Delanie Walker, and secondarily on Dorial Green-Beckham. The Patriots' secondary has been really coming together of late, seeing standout play from both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler. New England has allowed 12 points or fewer to opposing QBs in 6 of their last 7 (Eli is the exception). I wouldn't be willing to try Mariota as anything more than a low level QB2 this week.
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 15: @StL): Jameis was a huge letdown last week in an excellent spot, and he gets much stiffer opposition this week. The Rams have allowed a QB to reach 20 fantasy points just twice all year, and the Bucs will be without Vincent Jackson. Mike Evans should spend most of his day squaring off with Trumaine Johnson, who just held Megatron to 1 catch for 16 yards on Sunday. Jameis has proven to have a usable floor in 2-QB leagues, scoring at least 12 points in every game this season, but he's not on the QB1 radar this week.
RB TJ Yeldon, JAX (Wk. 15: vs. Atl.): As of now, Yeldon appears to be a longshot to play with a sprained knee. The Jaguars signed Jonas Gray, and head coach Gus Bradley didn't update the media on Yeldon's status on Tuesday. Typically coaches are eager to share good news on the injury front. Even if Yeldon is able to go, I'd expect him to see a limited workload and split touches with Denard Robinson. Given that he's gotten by all year on volume, a split workload would make him a dicey flex play even in this plus matchup.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 15: vs. KC): Allen showed what his floor looks like last week w/o Matt Schaub in a tough matchup with the Seahawks, and it wasn't god awful (56 scoreless yards on 13 touches). That's not what you're hoping to get out of a starter though. This week he faces a Chiefs' defense that is arguably just as stingy as the Seahawks, and they also boast the best pass DVOA in the league on passes to running backs. If you're okay with about 5 points in standard scoring or 10 in PPR leagues, go ahead and play Allen. There isn't much more ceiling than that this week.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 15: @Min.): Since Matt Forte returned from injury, Langford has averaged just 14 touches and 57 scrimmage yards/game, and he's been held under 70 yards and without a TD in each of the last 2. Both were plus matchups (home against San Francisco and Washington). This week he faces a Vikings team that has allowed just 2 RB scores in 9 games since their bye, and over 16 RB points just once in that span. Given the time share with Forte, I doubt Langford gets enough volume to make a fantasy impact. He's best left on the pine.
RB Duke Johnson, CLE (Wk. 15: @Sea.): Don't expect a repeat of last week's rushing output for Duke. He still gets by on his passing game work, and he just doesn't get as much of it with Johnny Manziel starting. In the 5 games where Manziel has started or seen extended playing time, Duke has just 7 total catches. Even if you throw out the first 2 games of the year, which were before Johnson had established his passing game role, he's still averaged just 2.3 catches per game in the other 3. Facing an imposing matchup this week, Duke will be hard pressed to return RB3 value in any format.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 15: vs. Chi.): The passing volume was finally there last week for Minnesota, with Teddy Bridgewater throwing for nearly 340 yards on 25 completions, but just 11 of them were to wide receivers and only 2 were to Diggs. He still sees a healthy percenage of the Minnesota passing targets, but I don't expect that big volume again this week. Teddy B has thrown for under 200 yards in 5 of the past 7 games, and Minny should lean on AP this week facing a Bears' defense that ranks dead last in run DVOA. I'd be at least a little surprised if there's enough work for Diggs to top 50 yards.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (Wk. 15: @NYG): With the season on the line, now is not the time to play a low-floor touchdown dart throw wide receiver. In his best game without a TD, Funchess tallied just 4 points. Yikes.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 15: @SD): I can't trust Parker this week after his 2-16 line on Monday Night Football. He may bounce back this week, but I expect him to see quite a bit of Jason Verrett, who has been an elite cover corner. Verrett rarely ventures into the slot, so he likely won't shadow Jarvis Landry, and Parker struggled versus Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last week. This week shapes up for a heavy dose of Landry.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (Wk. 15: vs. Ari.): Don't chase last week's points. Agholor has done next to nothing all year, and outside of a 53-yard TD catch last week, he caught just 2-of-5 targets for 9 yards. You can't start him this week.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (Wk. 15: vs. Buf): Crowder has shown over the past few weeks that he should only be under consideration if DeSean Jackson misses this game. Even if Jackson is out, Crowder's ceiling has settled in around 5 catches for 50 yards. You should be aiming higher with the season at stake.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Melvin Gordon, SD (Wk. 15: vs. Mia.): Gordon continued his disappointing rookie campaign last week, adding a 13th straight game without a touchdown, but his role has been constant and even increasing down the stretch of the season. With this year a lost cause, the Chargers have started to lean on Gordon in situations where they used to go to Danny Woodhead. Gordon has had at least 13 touches in each of his past 6 games, and at least 49 scrimmage yards in each (over 60 in 4 of them). Of the 6 opponents he faced in that stretch, 5 were in the top-11 in run DVOA. Miami ranks 23rd. If he sees 15+ touches, Gordon is a decent bet to top 75 yards and just might find his way to his first TD of the year.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA (Wk. 15: @SD): On the other side of the Miami-San Diego game, Jay Ajayi isn't a consideration for the fantasy playoffs, but he could be an intriguing punt play in DFS tournaments. The Dolphins are now mathematically out of the playoff race, and Ajayi could see an expanded role down the stretch. San Diego is 31st in run DVOA and has allowed 100+ RB rushing yards in 10 of 13 games this year. There is really nice upside if Ajayi can find his way to double-digit touches.
WR Adam Humphries, TB (Wk. 15: @StL): Admittedly, Humphries would be a hard sell to play in just about any but the most insanely deep fantasy games, but I like this spot for him. He did only haul in one catch last week for a 6-yard touchdown, but with V-Jax out and Evans facing a tough matchup with Trumaine Johnson, the ball has to go somewhere. I still expect 7-10 targets to go to Evans, but Humphries should see a handful as well, and he's topped 50 yards twice this season. I like his chances to put up a career-high yardage day.
TE Tyler Kroft, CIN (Wk. 15: @SF): Ok, you can't trust a guy with just 4 catches on the season in your fantasy playoffs...I get it. But, there is some DFS punt play appeal. 2nd-string QBs tend to have a rapport with 2nd-string pass catchers, and Eifert's status is likely in doubt this week as he suffered a concussion in the week he returned from a neck stinger. Kroft pulled in 2 catches for 31 yards in relief of Eifert on Sunday, and he could see a bigger role in a game the Bengals should win easily. The 49ers rank 23rd in pass DVOA on throws to tight ends.
TE Blake Bell, SF (Wk. 15: vs. Cin.): The Belldozer has put up stat lines of 3-68 and 3-49 in two of his past 3 games, and is in line to start at TE again if Vance McDonald is out once more. Bell actually led the team in receiving last week against the Browns. He's a streaming option in super deep leagues as the starting tight end on a team that likes to utilize the position.
That's all I've got for this week. Hopefully it helps you advance to the title game (or to the semis if your league goes through week 17. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about something I wrote, 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! This week’s report will be a little bit different. For the most part, season-long leagues have already come to a close…at least if they have a reasonable commissioner. Week 17 is a nightmare to try to predict. It’s like trying to guess what will happen in the lesser bowl games in college. It’s all about which team is motivated to win, which team is motivated to play their starters, and which team is motivated to just get the year over with. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict what will happen in a lot of the games. The wackiness of week 17 will cause me to change things up just a little bit this week and put more of a focus on daily fantasy games. There won’t be a ‘Deep League Sleepers’ section or a ‘Rookies to Sit’ section this week. For those of you still in season-long leagues, I’ll still list which rookies I’d feel good about starting this week and which ones are borderline options, but I’m also going to list a few DFS punt play options at the end. These are low-priced options that not a lot of people are likely to own that can be difference makers in guaranteed prize pool tournaments if they happen to have a big game.
Before we dive in, here are some rookies that won’t come up in the sections below: QB Marcus Mariota (out with injury), RB TJ Yeldon (Likely out with injury), RB Ameer Abdullah (Not getting goal-line work and not trustworthy), RB Duke Johnson (hasn’t produced 15 PPR points since week 7), RB Jay Ajayi (llimited role and tough matchup), WR Devin Funchess (8 catches in his past 5 games), WR Nelson Agholor (hasn’t produced all year), WR Phillip Dorsett (might have liked him as a punt play, but will have either Ryan Lindley or Josh Freeman throwing him the ball), and TE Maxx Williams (brutal matchup).
Alright, let’s dive in to week 17…
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 17: @SF): Gurley has the best combination of role and matchup of any rookie this week. In the 6 games since their bye week, the 49ers have allowed 132.5 rushing yards and 24.3 fantasy points (all point totals are in ESPN standard scoring) per game to opposing RBs, as well as 10 total TDs to the position as well. Gurley put up 146 scrimmage yards and a TD in the first meeting with San Francisco, and it’s one of the few opponents he could face where game script is virtually guaranteed to be neutral or positive for him. He’s a locked in RB1 this week, and would be a chalk play in DFS.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 17: vs. Sea.): The Seahawks allow the fewest RB fantasy points in the league, so Johnson isn’t a great DFS target except as a contrarian play in tournaments, but his role has been too big to sit him in season-long leagues. If Arizona wins and Carolina loses, the Cardinals will secure homefield throughout the playoffs, and the games will occur simultaneously, so the Cards won’t know the Panthers’ outcome beforehand. That should keep them from resting starters. Johnson’s passing game usage gives him a floor that will keep him in the RB2 mix even in brutal matchups. He’s averaged just under 150 scrimmage yards with 5 TDs in his 4 starts, and hasn’t had fewer than 120 yards in any of them. Don’t shy away in championship week just because he faces Seattle.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 17: @KC): Cooper has been far more boom-or-bust than I expected this year, and he likely killed you last week if you played him with his 2-10 line. One thing that he has done consistently this year is bounce back from his worst outings. Cooper has scored 5 points or fewer 6 times this year including last weekend. In all 5 of the previous instances, he topped 10 points the following week, averaging a line of 6.4-113-1 in those 5 contests. It also doesn’t hurt that the Chiefs are 24th in Football Outsiders’ Pass DVOA (measures defensive efficiency) on throws to #1 WRs. Kansas City allows 98 yards per game to the opposing #1 wideout, and Cooper put up 4-69 in the first meeting. I like his chances to bounce back this week, and he would make a decent play in DFS and as a WR2 in season-long leagues.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 17: vs. NYJ): Karlos turned in a solid effort last week starting in place of injured LeSean McCoy, picking up 97 scrimmage yards and a TD, but there are a couple of concerns this week. First of all, the Jets are a brutal matchup. They allow the 3rd-fewest fantasy RB points in the league. Second, the recent success of Mike Gillislee as a runner could cause him to cut into Karlos’s workload a bit. Gillislee has gained 239 yards on 23 carries over the past 4 weeks (10.4 ypc), and has scored a TD in each of the past 3. With that said, Gillislee is more effective as a change of pace back and Karlos should continue to run as the lead back. He did manage 10 points against the Jets in a week 10 start, and the Bills still boast the best running game in the league (#1 in rush yards and yards per carry). Karlos might be a little lighter than you’d like on yards this week, but I’d still put him at better than a 50-50 bet to score a TD.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 17: @Cin.): Allen was surprisingly impressive against a stingy Steelers RB defense last Sunday. This week he gets to face a Bengals team that has allowed over 6 catches and about 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs this year, and also 17 or more fantasy points to the position in each of their past 3 games. Allen should be a solid PPR flex play this week, assuming he doesn’t fumble and get benched again.
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR (Wk. 17: vs. TB): At this point, it appears that Jonathan Stewart is likely to miss the week 17 game with Tampa and Fozzy Whitaker has already been ruled out. That would leave just Cam Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert as healthy RBs for the Panthers. Artis-Payne will likely cede goal line carries to Cam Newton and Tolbert, but he put up 49 yards on just 5 carries last week , and the volume should be much better in this one. Tampa has allowed at least one rushing TD to a running back in each of the past 3 weeks, and the backs have totaled at least 26 carries in each of those 3 games against them. I’d expect Artis-Payne to be in the 15 carry range, which puts him in the Flex discussion despite his lack of red zone opportunities.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 17: vs. Det,): I would probably avoid playing Langford this week if possible, but when the Lions & Bears get together, you can usually throw out the season numbers. Matt Forte was hampered by a back injury last week, and the Bears seem to be grooming Langford to be the lead back next year. Expect him to see the bulk of the RB volume this week. The Lions have been a tough matchup lately (11.8 RB points per game allowed since week 9 bye, 20.6 per game before the bye), and Ka’Deem Carey has been vulturing some goal-line work lately (2 short scores last week vs. Tampa), but Langford should be on the flex radar on volume alone with so few elite RB options right now.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 17: @Ari.): Lockett was a little bit of a disappointment in week 16, but his volume remained constant. He’s had exactly 7 targets in each of the 4 games since Jimmy Graham went down, and last week was the only game in that stretch where he had fewer than 5 catches and 9 fantasy points. The volume should be there again this week. The Cardinals are a tough matchup as they boast a versatile secondary, but the injury to Tyrann Mathieu improves the pass game outlook for Seattle. Lockett should be a high-risk/high-reward WR3 option this week.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 17: vs. NE): The matchup isn’t great this week for Parker, but it isn’t terrible either. The Patriots are middle of the pack in limiting WR fantasy points (allow 15th-most in the league), but their defensive focus is always on taking away the offense’s favorite options. The Pats should make it their goal to take away Jarvis Landry, which should help DeVante find some room to operate. Miami should also be playing from behind, which will keep them throwing, and Parker has 87 or more yards and/or a TD in 4 of the last 5 games. There’s risk that the ‘Fins phone it in with the season essentially over, but I like Parker’s chances at another solid day.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Phi.): I was surprised Tye didn’t do more with Odell suspended a week ago, but Beckham’s return should open things up for the whole offense. Tye scored 7 or more fantasy points in each of the 4 games leading up to last week’s game without Odell, and the Eagles have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 3 of their past 6 games, including 24 to Jordan Reed last Saturday. Tye should find himself in the lower half of the TE1 ranks once again.
DFS Punt Play Options:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 17: @Car.): You might call Winston more of a contrarian play than a punt play, but his price tag is just $300 more than the minimum for a QB on DraftKings, and with a matchup against the Panthers (allow the 4th-fewest QB points in the league), virtually no one will be using him. While the matchup isn’t good, the game script figures to keep Tampa throwing and the Panthers have been vulnerable to the pass over the past month. Carolina has allowed 22 points to Drew Brees, 23 points to Eli Manning, and 306 yards to Matt Ryan all within the last 4 weeks. Jameis is yet to tally fewer than 12 fantasy points in a game all year, and there is more ceiling in this matchup than you might think. He also remains a floor play QB2 in season-long leagues.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 17: @Dal.): This all depends on how healthy Jones is. Washington seems content to rest the majority of their starters this weekend to get ready for the playoffs, but someone has to carry the load at running back. They may look to use Jones more as he shakes off the rust of missing last week with a hip injury. This is a great matchup for the Washington backs, as Dallas ranks 27th in run DVOA on the season, and has allowed 29.3 running back fantasy points per game over the past 3 games. If the team rests Alf Morris and gives Jones enough work to get rolling, he could have really nice upside at a price tag of just $3,900 on DraftKings. Obviously this game is a bit of a wild card, with Washington having little to play for, but the situation is positive if Jones gets enough action to take advantage of it.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 17: @GB): While Diggs hasn’t done a whole lot since his 4-game breakout earlier in the season to convince you he’s a good fantasy option, Green Bay should force Minnesota to throw more than they like to. The Packers rank 26th in pass DVOA against #1 WRs, and Diggs went 6-66 against Green Bay in the first meeting between the teams in week 11. While Diggs is a little more expensive than I would have expected ($4,600 in DraftKings), the price isn’t ridiculous and no one will be on him after his 4-19 showing last week. I wouldn’t be stunned if he ends up in the 20-point range.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 17: @Ind.): With Zach Mettenberger at QB, trusting Dorial even in a reasonably good matchup is tough to do after last week’s goose egg. However, we’ve seen DGB’s ceiling, and it’s impressive. He’s topped 110 yards twice in the past 4 games, and he does have an exploitable matchup if he isn’t locked up with Vontae Davis all game. Indy has allowed the 3rd-most WR points on the year and Green-Beckham will cost just $3,800 in DraftKings.
That’s all I’ve got for this season. Hopefully it helps you set your championship and DFS lineups for this week. I’ll be back within the next couple of weeks with a 2015 rookie recap and will project the 2015 class to next year. If you have any specific questions or complaints, 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.
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.
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!