- Mark Sanchez played badly last week despite his fantasy production being more than serviceable, but he'll bounce back next week at home against the Titans. The Eagles have quite a few weapons available to them and they are not afraid to go for those risky plays! I still believe that Sanchez is better than Foles and his struggles in New York were just as much a product of the lack of offensive talent and poor playcalling as anything else. We should see better chemistry and decision-making from Sanchez over the next few weeks.
- Brian Hoyer has been playing well enough so far this season to rebuke advances from newly drafted rookie QB Johnny Manziel. Sorry, Johnny.. your time has yet to come. It IS time for Josh Gordon's return, though.. and apparently heralded by choirs of angels based on some reactions that I've read today! Anyway, Hoyer could show QB1 upside down the stretch with a weapon like Josh Gordon catching his passes.
- Kyle Orton put together a string of quality games but more recently has been delivering up some poor performances. This should change pretty quickly as he goes up against the poor passing defense of the New York Jets in week 12. I would expect nothing less than 200 yards and 2 TDs for Orton when he and the Bills try to jumpstart their offense this week.
- Zach Mettenberger still stands like a statue in the pocket, but we've seen him make some huge plays since taking over the starting job in Tennessee including the 80-yard touchdown bomb to Nate Washington last night against the Steelers. The Titans are certainly a rebuilding team but Mettenberger deserves a look with the right match-up and QBs playing the Eagles have had a good time of it in general.
It's just not going to happen for ya: Robert Griffin III has all of the upside in the world and some great talents at multiple positions on his team, but it was long ago time to throw in the towel. Stop picking him up, people! Honestly, you'd probably be better off with Andy Dalton!
- C.J. Andersonis the man now in Denver.. mostly because he HAS to be! Clearly the feature back, the competition that he would have faced going forward includes such injured players as Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman. Look for Anderson to settle in to his new role (at least for the next few weeks) and start to score some TDs as he gets more comfortable with his situation.
-Tre Mason was slowly being eased into the lead role in St. Louis but had a difficult schedule to contend with. His production suffered because of the struggles that the Rams were having on offense and the opponents that were put in front of them. Playing the Chargers, Raiders and Redskins over the next few weeks should take a little of the pressure from Mason and I would consider him a startable RB2 candidate for the rest of the season.
- Isaiah Crowell continues to do-si-do with Terrance West for the #1 RB job in Cleveland, but at least there is one less dance partner going forward after the Browns dropped the constantly under-performing Ben Tate today. I have a hard time recommending a situation where there is not a clear lead back, however I think we are likely to see Crowell field the majority of the carries. In a game against Atlanta, it would not be surprising to see both Crowell and West play a part once again, though.
- Jonas Gray was explosive and violent last week, running like Beast Mode and racking up 199 yards on 38 touches for a staggering 4 TDs. Gray has now fully captured the Stevan Ridley role in the Patriots' offense, but with that comes a caveat: namely, the Belichick will play who the Belichik wants to play (and generally not who you are expecting). Those who want to chase numbers will likely see low usage of Gray this coming week just because, though surely he has not scored his last TD.
It's finally time for this guy: Charles Sims may break out in a big way this week against the Bears. Looking like the lead back for the Bucs, Sims took the most snaps and had the most production against the Redskins in week 11. Sims looks healthy and is trending up over the other RB candidates, but there is always the chance that Doug Martin comes back this week and sucks up some of the available touches - turning this into a 3-headed monster of a situation that you'll want to stay away from. Still, I'm betting that Sims ends up being productive this week against Chicago.. predicting at least 60 all-purpose yards and 1 TD.
- Josh Gordon is included in this list because there are some leagues out there that still don't have him rostered. Say what you will about Gordon, but he's an absolute beast on the field and should put up WR1 numbers in every match-up.
- Jordan Matthews had another great game last week, putting up 5 receptions for 107 and a TD. His chemistry with Sanchez has been beneficial for both players, and although Sanchez didn't have a great game (stats aside) last week, he should be able to perform much better at home against the Titans. It's a travesty that Matthews is still not owned in every league at this point.
- Cecil Shorts is a name much-mentioned around drinkfive, but this year his performance has been hampered by the success of Allen Robinson and Robinson's chemistry with new QB Bortles. Now that Robinson is out for the rest of the season with a broken foot, however, Shorts is once again thrust into the 'garbage-time' spotlight and should put up solid numbers from here on out.
- Doug Baldwin looked good last weekagainst the Chiefs, but he's just not fast enough, big enough or strong enough to really break out with consistency. He'll continue to put up numbers like 4 or 5 receptions for 50 yards and a 20-25% chance of a TD. Pick him up if you're desperate for a low-end starter or bench depth in a PPR league.
- Malcolm Floyd has been playing well this season, and his production looks to continue as Rivers and Co. get their heads out of their asses and back into the game. Mathews' return should bolster the offense and give the Chargers a believeable threat on the ground again which will keep Rivers upright and his receivers productive. Floyd is a better option in a standard league than Baldwin or Landry, but Matthews, Stills and Shorts are the superior plays here if they are available.. Consider Floyd the 'Andy Dalton' of WR free agents at this point in the season. You should not go with anyone ranked lower unless desparate.
- Jarvis Landry is going to give similar production as Doug Baldwin, but is not owned in as many leagues. He also has a better track record of getting in for TDs this season, scoring 3 over the last 6 weeks. A high-floor, low-ceiling PPR league play, Landry will generally score you between 8 and 14 points per week. Would consider other options in standard leagues, as his production is too dependent on touchdowns.
- Brandin Cooks has been sidelined for the rest of the season with an injury to his thumb, and meanwhile all-important fantasy games leading up to the playoffs are being played. What can Cooks owners (or those just trying to get a leg up) do to offset this inury? Pick up Kenny Stills, who has been averaging 4 receptions a game and has scored 2 TDs over the past 5 weeks. His production should only increase while Cooks is recovering.
Don't pick him up, he's a BUST: Kenny Britt (16% owned) had a huge game last week but can't be trusted for these important games leading up to the playoffs.
-Coby Fleener filled in for Dwayne Allen after he went down with an ankle injury in week 11 and ended up having an outstanding game, catching 7 passes for 144 yards. Fleener and Allen are both talented and share the load on a weekly basis so when either one goes down, the other should have a big boost in production. The Colts play the Jaguars in week 12 which is never bad news.
- Jacob Tamme is worth a look this week since Julius Thomas went down with an ankle injury against the Rams in week 11. He has proven chemistry with Peyton Manning and should be targeted at least 3 or 4 times if he starts. With Sanders and Thomas both questionable for the week 12 match-up against the Dolphins, Tamme might even end up with a TD.
Each week we discuss the best waiver moves to make on teams that need a leg up, positional depth or just to pick up that guy that fell through the cracks for no apparent reason. Heading into Week 13, this is the time to go for all upside plays and scratch anyone from your team that you haven't, or won't play on a weekly basis. Points, people! It's all that matters now. You don't need to carry handcuffs or roster 3 QBs in a one QB league. Listen up for some big tips on players that are not owned by the majority of teams out there (50% owned or less).
Alex Smith (vs. DEN, 36% owned) Denver is currently giving up almsot 20 points per game to QBs in standard scoring leagues. Yes, this is mostly because they get up to a big lead against teams who are then forced to throw the ball - but regardless of the circumstance we're just interested in the points! Smith had some bad weeks against BUF and SEA but those are some of the best defenses against the pass. Last week vs. OAK Smith put up 234 yards and 2 TDs. In what could be a high-scoring game against the Broncos, Smith is a good QB2 and a possible spot start if your current guy has a bad match-up (here's looking at you, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick) or is just bad in general (Michael Vick, RG3).
Malcolm Floyd (@BAL, 40% owned) Floyd has caught at least 4 balls in the past 4 games and Rivers has been targeting him a lot in the passing game. Although he didn't capitalize on those targets last week, Floyd faces a Ravens' secondary this week that has had trouble with recent passing attacks (can you say Ben Roethlisberger?) so if Rivers can get in a good rhythm with his offensive line and receivers we may see on of Floyd's best games this season.
Jarvis Landry (@NYJ, 22% owned) After talking about Landry for the past few weeks, he's still owned by less than 1/4 of Yahoo leagues. Sucking up receptions in the slot like usual, Landry garnered 7 receptions for 50 yards and 2 TDs against Denver. He, along with QB Tannehill, has been performing at a high level for ther past few weeks now and both look to continue this trend against a Jets' team that is playing for increasingly less each week.
Andre Williams (@JAX, 38% owned) Rashad Jennings is back and taking most of the carries in the Giants' running game, but two important things have happened: first, the Giants have started to realize that Jennings is better (and healthier) when spaced out and avoiding too much short yardage work and second, the Giants have Odell Beckham Jr. That's probably the more important thing.. whereas earlier in the season the Giants were having trouble moving the football downfield and thus Williams did not get the opportunity to capitalize on the limited touches he received, the revitalized Giants' passing game should create more redzone touches here. Around 10 touches a game plus some goalline work is just fine for a flex play at RB.
LeGarrette Blount (@GB, 33% owned) Less than a week removed from being fired by the Steelers, Blount was resigned by his former team (NE) and marched downfield for an impressive 78 yards on 12 touches, including 2 TDs. Yes, Jonas Gray was even more impressive the previous week but that is the mystery of the Belichick. In my humble opinion, Blount will remain the short yardage and goalline back for the Patriots - he had the same role last season and played well there. This is a dicey pick, but could pay off dividends throughout the playoffs.
Jordan Cameron (@BUF, 47% owned) Cameron was outstanding last year but has only had 1 impressive game so far this season. He is an excellent candidate to break out in the next few weeks, though, since the Browns have been playing really well and he gets a lot of space given back to him on the field now that Josh Gordon is back out there. A tough matchup against BUF this week may not get him on any leaderboards, but the Colts and the Bengals (which he plays in weeks 14 and 15, respectively), are giving a lot of points to TEs. Don't sleep on Cameron - he'll be instrumental in someone's playoff run.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. CAR, 47% owned)
If Cameron is not available, Rudolph is an excellent choice. Injured for most of the year and on a team with a rookie QB, he is flying under the radar in some leagues after being eased back into an every-down role in MIN. Playing on almost every snap last week and grabbing 3 receptions for 50 yards on 5 targets, it looks like he's back on his feet for real. The 6'6" Rudolph is also arguably the best redzone target that the Vikings currently have rostered.
Defense / Special Teams:
MIA (@NYJ), DET (vs. CHI), IND (vs. WAS), BUF (vs. CLE), AZ (@ATL)
Each week we discuss the best waiver moves to make on teams that need a leg up, positional depth or just to pick up that guy that fell through the cracks for no apparent reason. Moving into the playoffs now (in most fantasy leagues), it's important to balance consistency and upside on your roster as well as looking ahead to the match-ups over the next few weeks. Listen up for some big tips on players that are not owned by the majority of teams out there (50% owned or less).
Johnny Manziel (vs. IND, 13% owned) First, understand that you should not be switching up your QB in most situations: this is only really a viable strategy if you have been streaming QBs in a deep league, or some catastrophic injury has occured to your #1 guy. Second, there is not yet a guarantee that Manziel starts over Hoyer or that - even if he does - he plays the whole game. Yes, you should be starting at least 15 or 16 guys over Manziel including such stunners as Cam Newton, Eli Manning and Andy Dalton. All of that said, Manziel is the type of player that can score multiple touchdowns while still racking up the rushing and passing yardage. Like him or not, that means fantasy points. Ryan Fitzpatrick (@JAX, 8% owned) Fitzpatrick could be the smartest guy in football, but I don't believe that he has suddenly figured it all out. His success last week (358yds, 6TDs) had a lot to do with momentum and timing but you can't discount such a good performance with out wondering what happens next. Personally, I feel like Fitzpatrick can make some good throws but his team has never really clicked on all levels before like Houston is starting to. We all know about J.J. Watt's sudden emergence as a pass-catcher and have seen Hopkins break out this year the way he was supposed to in 2013. Not to mention such targets as Arian Foster and Andre Johnson are still very much Houston Texans. I don't think Fitz will be able to keep up the numbers, but I do think he'll throw for 200+ and at least 2 TDs against the Jaguars this week.
Charles Johnson (vs. NYJ, 18% owned) We've been patiently waiting for someone on the Vikings to develop as the #1 WR and supplant Greg Jennings. It looked for a little while that Jarius Wright would be the guy and while he did perform well for a time, he never really developed a great sense of chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater and was too undersized (5'10") to succeed in some match-ups. The 6'2" Johnson runs a 4.39 40 and his other measurables are up to par as one of the new prototypical WRs in the NFL. He has played almost every snap over the last two weeks and has led the Vikings in targets. He hasn't had a true breakout game yet (best was 6 receptions for 87 yards in Week 11 @CHI), but I can see one coming with week against the Jets. Stick him in your lineup as a WR3! This is probably a one-game production, though, since the Vikings next two games are against Detroit and Miami. Stedman Bailey (@WAS, 2% owned) Another player trending up toward the end of the season is Stedman Bailey. Here is a deep sleeper that has woken up over the past three games with 15 receptions for over 200 yards and a TD when he had only caught the football 5 times prior to that in the season. With fellow Rams Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin only catching 2 or 3 balls per game, Bailey has no signs of slowing down against a Redskins' defense that gives up almost 24 points per game to WRs. Keep in mind that the #1 WR on the Rams this year has switched as many times as their QBs, but obviously this pick does not come without risk. In a standard scoring league this week I would rank Johnson over Bailey in Week 14, but Bailey higher over the rest of the season.
Daniel Herron (@CLE, 48% owned) Trent Richardson has been treading water since late last year - this season he has scored a few TDs but has never rushed for more than 79 yards, despite enjoying two games with upwards of 20 carries. With Ahmad Bradshaw out for the season, Daniel "Boom" Herron moved in and has already outshined Richardson in his performances over the past two weeks. Look for Herron to continue starting at RB with a good chance to score each week. The Trent Richardson situation is an unfortunate one, but now is the time to jump on Herron for the rest of the year - as we have learned from Denver, a decent RB in a great offense will produce fantasy points, more often than not.
Johnathan Stewart (@NO, 27% owned) The latest news is that DeAngelo Williams may not play this week with a fratured finger, and if so Johnathan Stewart should get the majority of the carries for the Panthers against the Saints. With the Saints giving up over 21 points per game to opposing RBs, this match-up looks pretty attractive on paper. Stewart has been almost flexworthy in the past 3 games, averaging almost 10 points per game in standard scoring leagues. If ever was the time to roll the dice on Stewart, it would be this week. As long as Williams doesn't play this week, Stewart is looking at between 12 and 15 carries, several receptions and a high possibility of a TD.
Jordan Reed (vs. STL, 50% owned) At the upper end of our spectrum, Reed is owned by 50% of Yahoo leagues mostly because of the people that help onto him after drafting him high at the beginning of the season. A physically gifted TE, Reed has shown last season that he is great when healthy and being targeted by his QB. Finally, he showed up again in Week 13 @IND, putting up 9 receptions for 123 yards. Reed hasn't hit paydirt yet, but the situation is likely with McCoy targeting him heavily and the Redkins going up against a Rams' defense that can stick it to the QB. Look for at least 7 or 8 receptions again in this one.
Tim Wright (@SD, 34% owned) This one is a special mention - it's undeniably difficult to predict when some of the talented offensive players on the Patriots will have big games. The Patriots play the Chargers in Week 14, who are one of the best teams against TEs in the entire league.. but because I think most of the coverage will be centered around Gronkowski, I'm betting that Wright has several receptions and a sneaky TD. This is a dicey play though, make no mistake - Wright either scores more than 10, or less than 2.
Each week we discuss the best waiver moves to make on teams that need a leg up, positional depth or just to pick up that guy that fell through the cracks for no apparent reason. Now that we're in the midst of the 2014 fantasy playoffs, every point counts. This week's edition of waiver wire pickups will offer up a few of the players that have the most upside possible while hoping to avoid any fantasy fool's gold.
Johnny Manziel (vs. CIN, 23% owned)
Once again, it is really only in deep leagues, 2 QB leagues and/or dynasty/keeper leagues that we need to talk about picking up QBs on the wire - and in order to get to this point, you must have had at least a serviceable QB for most of the way. Anyway, Manziel finally looks to be getting a crack at the starting QB gig in Cleveland and for what could be a very tough divisional game with the Bengals no less. Normally I would avoid playing a QB against the Cincy defense here, who have not given up many points to opposing signal callers this year.. I love new, unpredictable QBs, however.. and the Bengals have not had much success keeping opposing RBs under control. The gameplan here will probably be to maintain a run-heavy offense and keep the defense on their toes with a mobile QB and Josh Gordon, to boot. I can see the Bengals winning this game, but not without getting burned 2 or 3 times by JFF.
Alex Smith (vs. OAK, 36% owned)
I was wrong about Fitzpatrick last week, I'll admit - sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in the implied momentum that a player may have.. generally I'll call that Fantasy Fool's Gold - that is, where a player performs very well for 1 or 2 games in a row and then falls flat on their face. Andre Holmes, Allen Hurns and in some respects Branden Oliver all belong to that category of player this year as well as many others. There's a reason why we talk about and dig into trends on the show - and that is players are much less likely to disappoint when you need them to perform if they are on a longer trajectory of successful production. Alex Smith has put up consistent, above average points over the past 3 weeks and the Chiefs visit to Oakland should provide more of the same. That's right, Alex Smith is officially above the Andy Dalton line (which is about 15 points, I think. Jason?) for the remainder of the season.
Charles Johnson (@DET, 20% owned)
We recommended Johnson last week and he certainly paid off for those of you that may have slotted him into Week 14 lineups. 4 receptions for 103 yards and 1 TD on 8 targets tells us that Johnson is going to stay the WR1 on the Vikings (over Jennings and Patterson), and enjoy the lion's share of the work each week. Here's a guy who has great measurables and would have had his breakout game last week but fumbled a 2nd possible TD at the goal-line. The tough question becomes, do you play him against the Lions? Minnesota has looked better recently but even far more prepared NFL clubs have been made to look silly by the Detroit defense. That said, he's still going to get the most targets in this game, and is still playable as a WR3 or FLEX against the Lions.
Marqise Lee (@BAL, 4% owned)
With Cecil Shorts generally unproductive and the impressive rookie Allen Robinson on injured reserve, the bright spots in the Jags' receiving core are some combination of Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. Of those two, Lee has been more productive recently. Over the past 3 games, he has put up 14 receptions for 194 yards and 1 TD. The Ravens are actually giving up the most points of any team to opposing WRs due to some major injuries in their secondary, so I would advise Lee as the sneakiest play out there this week. Almost guaranteed to be available in redraft leagues, Lee could easily put up great numbers in garbage time.
Donte Moncrief, Stedman Bailey
Chris Johnson (@TEN, 48% owned)
What is this, 2009? With Jonathan Stewart and Chris Johnson both performing at a higher level than normal, it's easy to forget that they have too often been a fantasy wasteland in the past. Still, all that matters in these last few games of the season is their production NOW. Johnson meets back up with his previous team and may have a little more motivation than normal to perform well. We've been watching him climb back up to a full split with Chris Ivory and a couple of his runs over the past two weeks looked really nice. I'm tempted to call Fool's Gold on Johnson but I won't - I think he continues his recent production for one more game against the Titans' awful rushing defense. Mark him down this week for what will only be his 3rd TD of 2014.
Jonathan Stewart (@TB, 41% owned)
Talk about trending up - Stewart is one guy (along with Daniel "Boom" Herron) that we were really pushing in Week 14. Really the only thing that could get in his way at this point is if DeAngelo Williams does end up playing - Rivera doesn't care what Stewart's statline looks like and [as we all should know by now] you don't play a RB if they're part of an active 3-headed monster. But they do play Tampa Bay this week and Cam Newton may or may not be playing depending on the speed of his recovery from a car accident earlier today.. both things that slightly tilt the scale in Stewart's favor.
James Starks, Montee Ball
Mychal Rivera (@KC, 24% owned)
After the top few tight ends, it just gets messy. At this point, you really need to take a look at the scheme that you're going up against in order to pick the right guy. Guys like Coby Fleener, Delanie Walker and Travis Kelce have really taken a step up in consistency but if you're reading this section of the waiver wire pickups.. you probably can't get one of those guys from the wire. Mychal Rivera has not been consistent but the Raiders play the Chiefs in Week 15, who have one of the league's best passing defenses. What does this mean? Derek Carr is going to dink and dunk his way to a good game this week for Rivera. Definitely more valuable in PPR leagues, though.
Defense / Special Teams:
BAL (vs. JAX), KC (vs. OAK), CAR (vs. TAM), NYG (vs. WAS), NYJ (@TEN)
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!