The end of the road for most fantasy teams is this week's championship game. Listening to the right advice can make or break your team and I'd like to try to help you across the finish line by providing you with a few great plays for Week 16. As always, quite a few guys that may have been helping you throughout the season are probably headed to IR or underperforming at this point in the season. So who do we turn to? Let's find out..
The drop-off for QB ownership is a steep one. Right around Andy Dalton, QBs are either quite a bit better or quite a bit worse. Actually, let's include Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez in that.. we can call it the 'QB Triangle'. If one of these guys is your starter (in 1, or 2 QB leagues), you've got serious problems to address. Although I think that Johnny Manziel (37% owned) will have a good performance eventually, he looked sufficiently bad for me to avoid him for the remainder of the season at least. Alex Smith (37% owned) on the other hand, had a great game with 297 yards and 2 TDs against the Raiders. Smith has been a consistent member of the drinkfive waiver wire list and should continue to do well against the Steelers pass defense which is still susceptible to big plays on the outside. Smith has more points this season than Kaepernick or Dalton and almost as many as Newton and Romo. If you need help at the position, don't sleep on him.
Much like the 'QB' triangle, we have a similar collection of players that should not be owned in Cordarelle Patterson, Denard Robinson and We Welker all hovering around the 50% mark. But can we find some real talent at the position if we dig a little deeper? Well, once more, Charles Johnson (32% owned) had a good game and put up 5 receptions for 72 yards against the great Lions pass defense. Remember that he's a rookie, but with this year's draft class.. why not another standout receiver? Clearly the Vikes' #1 guy at this point, look for a similar performance but with a great chance of a TD against a slipping Dolphins pass defense this week. Harry Douglas (27% owned) is an interesting pickup if he's still available in your league, because he had a great game and Julio Jones may be out again this week. Although Coach Mike Smith says he expects him to suit up - he is not to be trusted. I keep hearing Cecil Shorts (41% owned) and Stedman Bailey (14% owned) but I don't believe it and you shouldn't either. Both guys are too unpredictable this year and on teams that are equally difficult to predict.
Now that we're comparing what players exist around that 50% mark at each position, let's look at RBs. Got any guesses? Due to dual-eligibility, Denard Robinson is here again of course, but not including Robinson we have Doug Martin, Ben Tate and Terrance West. What a great collection of running backs that is! The decline in ownership is much less steep but we can definitely pull some talent out of the pool here. Carlos Hyde (35% owned) was running very well last week before hurting his back on a play. Looks like he'll play ahead of Gore at this point, though. He is worth a pickup in every league, even if you're not going to start him.. just so your opponent can't start him against you. With Gore likely out with a concussion, Hyde will monopolize the carries if he plays. Kerwynn Williams (18% owned) was an unlikely candidate to perform well last week due to a committee backfield and good Rams' rushing defense, but he still went off for 75 yards on 15 carries and caught 2 passes for 11 yards. Grice looks to be a non-factor and Stepfan Taylor will split the carries but Williams is the better bet for a TD. Bad news? Seattle. And they've been playing well. I like Williams but would stay away from this situation unless you're desperate.
Yeah I know, you just can't wait.. ok, I'll tell you. The 50%'ers at TE this season are Jordan Cameron, Kyle Rudolph and Charles Clay. Wow, a couple of those guys were definitely taken pretty high up in drafts this preseason. Moving on, Mychal Rivera (26% owned) is still not owned in many leagues this year and presents a good option about 1/2 of the time. Better in PPR leagues because of the volume he gets, Rivera is still a good bit better than the TEs owned less than him. Jermaine Gresham (9% owned) just scored a TD last week and has been getting consistent targets all year. Also, he plays against Denver who has given up quite a few points to opposing TEs. Unfortunately, he was inactive for last week's game against the Browns even though he was warming up on the field. Apparently some kind of toe injury, reports say that Gresham should be starting again against the Broncos in Week 16. I actually like him a lot here if you think he'll be a go.
Defense / Special Teams:
Here I like Carolina (vs. CLE), Miami (vs. MIN), Green Bay (@TB) and Jacksonville (vs. TEN)
It is no wonder the NFL is the most popular sport in America. Week 1 is fresh in the books and the drama and excitement is still a buzz around the water cooler. Seattle goes down in St. Louis where we are never surprised to see a shootout, Indianapolis was the first casualty of the stout Rex Ryan coached Bills Defense and Peyton Manning has to be wondering “why he came back one more year” (read to the jingle of his Nationwide commercials). Fantasy owners are already feeling the pain too after injuries brought down players like T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant, Andre Ellington and Ladarius Green. Fear not fellow fantasy family! The early weeks of the football season bring with them a wealth of waiver wire potential.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF – The Bills shocked the heartland with a week 1 win over the visiting Colts. At the helm was first year starter Tyrod Taylor. He went 14-19 for 195 yards and a touchdown while adding 41 yards on the ground. The Bills were obviously cautious with Taylor only having 19 passing attempts; however he showed confidence with a 51 yard bomb to Percy Harvin. Taylor is only owned in 10% of leagues. Next week he has a favorable match-up against a questionable New England secondary. His dual threat talents reduce the risk associated with his lack of passing attempts.
Alex Smith, KC – Alex Smith is only owned in 20% of leagues right now. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 243 yards with 3 touchdowns in week 1. Alex Smith’s value is increased this year with an upgrade in weapons like Jeremy Maclin and the return of Travis Kelce. Kelce was on full display in week 1 with huge yards and 2 of the 3 Smith touchdown passes. Smith has a good week 2 match-up hosting Denver on Thursday night. Thursday games tend to be sloppy; however Alex Smith excels at protecting the football so he offers limited risk.
Other players to consider are Andy Dalton (owned in 26%) who, like Alex Smith, has a big Tight End target in Tyler Eifert. Nick Foles (owned in 13%) with an average of 11 yards per pass in week 1 and favorable match-ups against Washington, Pittsburgh and Green Bay in 3 of his next 4 games.
DeAngelo Williams, PIT – The Pittsburgh at New England season opener feels like it was a long time ago after the excitement of Sunday. One of the standouts I remember from that game was DeAngelo Williams. He gained 127 yards on 21 attempts and looked very fresh with surprising bursts of speed. Andre Ellington owners should look to Williams for a week 2 start against San Francisco. It’ll be his last game with any value as LeVeon Bell is due back in week 3, but featured backs are limited in the NFL these days. Williams is only owned in 37% of leagues.
Chris Johnson, ARI – Andre Ellington didn’t even make it through one game before making his fantasy owners pay the price. While it appears to be good news that he isn’t lost for the season his owners will be looking for a replacement for a few weeks. Owners don’t have to look far as Chris Johnson will be the guy stepping in. Bruce Arians is likely to lean on the veteran over the rookie David Johnson. Chris Johnson is long removed from his CJ2K season but he does have a favorable match-up against Chicago in week 2.
Other players to consider Bishop Sankey (owned in 47%) because of his ownership percentage he wasn’t a featured waiver pick up but if he is available in your league you should jump on that immediately. Danny Woodhead (owned in 50%) is another guy who doesn’t make the cut as a waiver feature but should be owned, proving to be the touchdown vulture in week 1.
Donte Moncrief, IND – The Colts got some positive news today regarding T.Y. Hilton however he is still likely to miss at least week 2. Moncrief proved to be a highly targeted option for Andrew Luck in the week 1 disappointment. He had 6 receptions on 11 targets for 46 yards with a touchdown. The week 2 match-up is tough against the Jets secondary but the Colts offense is designed to be high flying. The fact that Moncrief had so many targets points to a trust between him and Luck. In week 2 Moncrief will have more opportunities to make an impact. He is only owned in 11% of leagues.
James Jones, GB – When Jordy Nelson went down for the season there were question marks regarding who would step up. The late James Jones signing only added intrigue but week 1 answered any questions as to who would complete the Packers receiving core. Jones caught 2 touchdowns against the Bears in week one and caught all of his four targets for 51 yards. I expect to see Cobb and Adams seeing a bulk of the targets, but Jones proved his worth in the red zone and that simply cannot be ignored in fantasy formats. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay are also known to spread the ball around so Jones solidifying that WR3 role on the team makes him a legit WR3 in fantasy too. He is only owned in 31% of leagues.
Terrance Williams, DAL – Dez Bryant is lost for 4-6 weeks and Terrance Williams will step up as the #1 in Dallas. In week 1 Williams saw 8 targets coming down with 5 of them for 60 yards. He had a chance at a TD too but dropped it. Williams is my favorite WR pick up this week simply because of the role he is moving into. He is owned in 57% of leagues so if he is available you need to act fast prioritize him high. Terrance Williams and Dallas has a very friendly next four weeks as they face Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans and New England; All with suspect pass defenses.
Other players to keep an eye on are Percy Harvin (owned in 41%) who caught all 5 of his targets in week 1. Tyler Lockett (owned in 30%) has more to prove before being used regularly but his special teams play this week makes him a good pick up for teams looking to add depth early in the season.
Heath Miller, PIT – Play-making tight ends are very limited but week 1 proved just how valuable they can be in fantasy football. See Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert or Rob Gronkowski for proof. If you are finding yourself in a disappointing jam heading into week 2 look at Heath Miller. He caught 8 of his 11 targets in week 1 for 84 yards. Miller was a chain mover for Roethlisberger and will see an increased roll while Martavis Bryant finishes his suspension. Miller is only owned in 49% of leagues.
Other players to look for are Ladarius Green (owned in 20%). If you have the room on your roster you might want to make this move as he looked great in week 1 with 5 receptions for 74 yards and touchdown.
Brandon McManus, DEN – It is tough to go wrong with a Denver kicker in the thin air. McManus nailed two 50+ yarders in week 1 on top of a 40+ and 30+. A good start for a guy with accuracy concerns. Next week Denver leaves the thin air for KC on Thursday night. I expect to see the Denver offense bounce back and move the ball, but Thursday night games are interesting as shorter prep time can often lead to stalled drives. Good for kickers. At the very least you’re picking up a guy who has 7 more games in Denver. He is only owned in 19% of leagues.
Josh Brown, NYG – Fantasy strategy allows for the kicker position to often time be shifted by match up. If you follow such strategy than Josh Brown is your guy to pick up this week. He was perfect in week 1 that included 40+ and 50+ field goals. His upcoming schedule is favorable against the weak defenses of Atlanta and Washington. He is owned in 14% of leagues.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens defense kept Peyton Manning and the Bronco’s out of the end zone all day. They pressured Manning all day sacking him 4 times and disrupting 6 more pass attempts. Losing Suggs is going to hurt a little bit but as a unit the Ravens looked good and should manage to overcome the loss. They have a very favorable week 2 against Oakland with favorable match-ups in weeks 3 and 4 against Cincinnati and Cleveland too.
Week 2 was full of successes and missteps, as it always is. It was also a week that included tons of unexpected wins or losses for teams with different expectations (here's looking at you, Eagles). It's important to remember that the first few weeks of every NFL season are filled with turmoil, and should be treated as such. Don't make any rash moves by dropping under-performing players just yet, but absolutely scoop up and stash a few of our weekly waiver picks while they are still available. The trick is to get these guys while the getting is good. Good luck!
Tyrod Taylor, BUF – (owned in 15% of leagues) Taylor impressed in week 1 and was included in our initial waiver wire picks. Week 2 only brought more production from the rookie QB as he ended the day with 3 passing TDs and ran one in himself as well. There are downsides still, though, and Taylor did have 3 INTs in week 2. As he gains experience those mistakes should be tempered but the upside is what we're looking for here. Taylor likely won't be available in most leagues after this week.
Andy Dalton, CIN – (owned in 30% of leagues) Dalton is the line by which we generally measure all of the other QBs in the NFL. The 'Andy Dalton Line' determines whether a QB is above or below average. This year may change that, though, as Dalton has thrown 5 TD passes and no INTs over 2 games and the Bengals' passing offense looks to be running on all cylinders in 2015. Barring injuries to guys like Green, Kelce, Jones and Bernard, Dalton could make a case to be started on a week-to-week basis going forward.
Other players to consider are Blake Bortles (owned in 9%) who has developed great chemistry with Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas's impending return to the field will also add value. Derek Carr (owned in 14%) will likely be throwing passes from behind for most of the season and that generally bodes well for some garbage time touchdowns. Amari Cooper is also coming into his own on the Raiders.
Matt Jones, WAS – (owned in 23% of leagues) Jones was drafted to be the passing down complement to Alfred Morris's early down role, but his current trajectory has him on course to eclipse Morris's touches eventually. In week 2, Jones was just a few touches shy of Morris and he continues to impress not only in 3rd down situations but also in early down use, spelling Morris. A pickup on the waiver wire now may be the only time that Jones is available for the rest of the season.
David Johnson, ARI – (owned in 34% of leagues) Johnson was billed as the bigger, faster version of Andre Ellington and he has certainly proved to be a valuable commodity on the Cardinals so far this season. Johnson has the highest points per touch in the NFL so far this year and the only issue is how much production Bruce Arians will allow him to have on a weekly basis. If there is any time to play him, though, it's now - when Johnson needs to prove his worth while Ellington is out.
Other players to consider are James Starks (owned in 11%) because Eddie Lacy exited the game in week 2 with an ankle injury and is not a lock to play in week 3. If Lacy should be inactive this week, Starks is immediately a RB2. Ronnie Hillman (owned in 36%) could take over the lead back role in Denver if C.J. Anderson continues to struggle after his week 1 injury. He's worth a pickup because whoever ends up with that job will get enough work to be an every week starter.
Travis Benjamin, CLE – (owned in 14% of leagues) Benjamin has scored 3 TDs on only 6 receptions over the past two weeks. His stats are gaudy and he is worthy of a pickup in every league, but you must be wary with this sort of situation: not only does Benjamin seem like a boom or bust player, but the Cleveland offense is very much not locked in to any kind of rhythm. Still, even if you're not starting Benjamin you need to put in a claim for him if you are needy at wide receiver.
Michael Crabtree, OAK – (owned in 23% of leagues) As I mentioned earlier, Derek Carr is definitely an up and coming QB in the league and his main weapons (Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree) will enjoy a high amount of targets in most games this season. Crabtree is a talented receiver with a good pedigree who only really broke out in 2012 while playing for the 49ers. He has the opportunity in 2015 to become fantasy relevant once more, now that he is playing across from the newly drafted Amari Cooper, who should draw the coverage away.
Marvin Jones, CIN – Jones had more snaps than Mohamed Sanu this past week, and things look good for Jones to finally make an impact. Remember, Jones was playing out of his mind in 2013 and scored 10 TDs before being lost for the entire 2014 season due to the same kind of injury that Dez Bryant suffered in week 1. With all of the weapons that Dalton has, Jones should have the opportunity to get free downfield on a regular basis and turn that into fantasy points.
Other players to keep an eye on are Dorial Green-Beckham (owned in 19%) who has monster size, speed and potential, and Rishard Matthews (owned in 2%) who is becoming a favorite of Ryan Tannehill's when he can't find Landry downfield.
Crockett Gillmore, BAL – (owned in 4% of leagues) Gillmore is a big target that didn't get much of an opportunity to produce last year, but is being leaned on big time in 2015 with Breshad Perriman sidelined until next month. Here is a guy that could solve your TE woes, at least until the Ravens get Perriman back from injury. I'm betting that Gillmore will still have a fantasy impact as a high end TE2 even afterwards, though.
Other players to look for are Richard Rodgers (owned in 8%). The appeal of "Rodgers to Rodgers" is just too seductive. But seriously, Rodgers impressed me with his physicality in his week 2 start against Seattle.
Josh Brown, NYG – (owned in 25% of leagues) Brown performed well last week, and the Giants will be facing the Redskins in week 3 who have a fairly formidable rushing and passing defense so far in 2015. This translates to more field goal opportunities for a Giants team that can move the football downfield but may have trouble getting it into the end zone this week.
Josh Lambo, SD – (owned in 3% of leagues)
Cincinnati Bengals – (owned in 13% of leagues) The Bengals are among the top 10 defensive units in fantasy right now but are only owned by 13% of teams. This week, they play the Baltimore Ravens, who have provided a ton of fantasy points to defenses so far in 2015.
The injury bug continues to sting the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger and Marshawn Lynch highlight the week 3 injury report. We are already starting to see the waiver wire slim as sleepers are at a premium by this point in the season. Streaming plays is still important so continue to look for favorable matchups on a weekly basis.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF – The Buffalo Bills were largely ignored from a fantasy stand point heading into this season. You’ll notice a heavy contingent of Bills players in this week’s waiver picks. It all starts with quarterback and Tyrod Taylor has been impressive through 3 weeks. It really is hard to believe he is only owned in 38% of leagues. The caution surrounding him is clearly over as he has been let loose to make 59 attempts in his last two games. He’s out scoring guys like Andrew Luck, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. There really is no reason for fantasy owners not to snatch him up this week.
Derek Carr, OAK – Oakland is 2-1 on the season and while that means little to fantasy owners it should be noted that Derek Carr has had 2 great fantasy days in those victories. Unlike Tyrod Taylor I don’t see Carr being a guy that you’ll roll with the rest of the season. What I do like about Derek Carr heading into week 4 is his matchup with the Chicago Bears. The Bears are 0-3 with little hope of being relevant and have questionable corner backs. Carr is a great streaming option this week and maybe a guy you want to stash if you drafted guys like Matt Stafford or Colin Kaepernick.
Karlos Williams, BUF – LeSean McCoy owners were feeling the frustration before news came out that Shady might grab some pine to get his hamstring healed in week 4. Karlos Williams has a touchdown in each of the first 3 games of the season. Last week he made the most of his 12 attempts with 110 yards. The increased roll plus the news that Shady may be used sparingly makes Williams a no brainer pick up this week. He is only owned in 25% of leagues.
Thomas Rawls, SEA – One man’s loss is another man’s gain. Thomas Rawls stepped up when Marshawn Lynch left the game with a hamstring injury. It’s a wait-and-see situation with Lynch, but if you own Marshawn or could use a plug and play RB in week 4 then Rawls is easy pickings. His matchup with Detroit is favorable and he has clearly beaten out Fred Jackson.
Alfred Blue, HOU – The Texans must have finally realized their quarterback situation is futile. Alfred Blue was given the rock 31 times in week 3 as Houston looked to get some sort of spark going on offense. Blue did not disappoint with 139 yards and a touchdown. Arian Foster will be back soon, but Blue’s performance makes him worth a pickup in case Foster takes another week healing his groin.
Rishard Matthews, MIA – It’s ok if you didn’t hear about Rishard Matthews before the season started. He has come out of nowhere with 262 yards and 3 touchdowns on this young season. He saw 10 targets in week 3 and is clearly going to continue to be involved in the Miami offense. We aren’t talking about an Odell Beckham here, but there are plenty of WR2’s and WR3’s that have disappointed to this point. Matthews is available in 77% of leagues.
Marvin Jones, CIN – Heading into this season I was way up on Marvin Jones. Week 1 was unsettling but Jones has proven that going with your gut is sometimes more important than one week’s worth of stats. In weeks 2 and 3 his role has increased with 13 targets. More important from a fantasy stand point are his two consecutive weeks finding the end zone. He is the #2 receiver in Cincinnati at this point and a strong WR3 option moving forward.
Ted Ginn Jr., CAR – The Panthers have a serious lack of targets this season. Ted Ginn Jr. is the wide receiver that appears to be the best target behind Greg Olson. He has a promising 22 targets through 3 weeks and if that completion percentage can come up he will be dangerous. I like him this week against the Tampa Bay defense and you can stash him on the bench to play match ups as the season goes on.
Charles Clay, BUF – The tight end position is one where it’s rare to find lightening in a bottle. Charles Clay is certainly not going to be a game changer, at least not at this point. I like Clay because the Bills are a hot team right now and he is playing a role. He has two consecutive games with a touchdown and a good matchup against the Giants in week 4.
Chandler Catanzaro, ARI – The Cardinals have a very good defense to this point this season. That has hurt Chandler Catanzaro to this point as he only has 2 field goals on the year. I still like having kickers on an offense that moves the ball over a guy like Robbie Gould, who is accurate but was blanked in week 3. If you are streaming kickers Catanzaro is my pick this week as the Rams present the toughest defensive match up Arizona has seen all season
Indianapolis Colts – Week 4 is a rough week if you are streaming your defenses. Indianapolis is best available mostly due to a favorable match up with the Jaguars. The Colts have a tough start to the season defensively, but they have had some pretty good talent going against them too. They have a lot to prove and a coach’s job in their hands.
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!