Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve arrived at week 17. For most of us, this means the fantasy season is over, and for good reason. Week 17 is typically a fantasy bloodbath. So many teams have so little to play for this week that it’s hard to predict which teams will treat it like a normal week and which won’t. To have a fantasy championship be decided in week 17 is just cruel; and yet, some leagues do it. This year, there are exactly 11 teams that can have their playoff positioning altered in week 17, and at least one of those (the Rams) has already decided to sit many of their starters.
With that in mind, this week’s breakdown will be a little different than usual. I’ll still break the players down by guys you should start, borderline guys, guys you should sit, and some sleepers, but these lists will look a little different than usual. You’re going to see some guys in the ‘Borderline’ and ‘Rookies to Sit’ sections that you aren’t used to. The Sleeper section will also be entirely made up of guys worth a dart throw this week in DFS lineups. There aren’t a ton of them though. Let’s dive in and see who has something to play for in the season’s final week…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 17: @TB): Trusting Kamara this week is an easy decision. The Saints need to win this game to lock up the division title, and AK-41 totaled over 150 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs in the first meeting with Tampa. He’s scored over 15 PPR points in every game he’s been healthy for since week 7, and the matchup here is a good one. Only two teams have allowed more running back touchdowns than the Bucs this season. Kamara should be a cash game staple this week and should be in every season-long lineup still going.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 17: @Atl.): McCaffrey’s receiving production took a bit of a hit last week with just 2 catches for 19 yards, but I like his chances of bouncing back this week in what should be a pretty good game. Atlanta needs to win to secure a playoff spot, and Carolina needs to win to have a shot at the division title. The Falcons have allowed the 14th-fewest RB fantasy points per game, but they’ve also allowed 101 running back receptions on the year, 7 more than any other team in the league. With the WR group ailing (Funchess shoulder issue, Damiere Byrd back on IR), I expect the Panthers to lean on CMC in the passing game a bit more than usual. He’s an excellent play in PPR formats and should be a great DFS option as well this week.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 17: @Det.): It appears that Williams will be the workhorse back in this game for Green Bay, and the matchups don’t get much better than this. The Lions have been bleeding points to RBs over the past couple months, giving up 29.3 PPR points per game to the position in the 10 games since they lost Haloti Ngata for the year. They’ve given up 112 rushing yards (4.53 ypc) and 1.2 rushing scores per game in that stretch. The only concern for Williams here is that he might be dealing with a negative game script with Detroit a 7-point favorite. As long as Aaron Jones sits, I’d expect him to see enough receiving work that it shouldn’t be a problem. Williams should be a strong option in most formats this week.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 17: @NYG): The efficiency for Perine has been miserable, but the usage has been there and should be again this week. The Giants have allowed the 9th-most running back points per game and rank 24th in run defense DVOA. Samaje got the start last week despite battling a groin injury, and he handled 20 touches on just 34 offensive snaps. He did suffer an Achilles injury (which is why he only played 34 snaps), but he’s practicing in full for week 17 and should see his touches go up as long as he doesn’t get hurt again. There isn’t a ton of ceiling with Perine, but the matchup and volume should make him a very likely top-20 option at RB.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Was.): The Giants’ season has been over for a long time, but they insist on trying to win more football games. They’ll be a little short-handed with Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard sidelined in week 17, so they are likely to lean on Wayne Gallman in the passing game once again. Gallman has averaged 16.3 touches and 80 scrimmage yards per game in the past 3 weeks, and more importantly for PPR formats, he’s averaged 8 targets and 6.7 catches per game in that stretch. Washington has done a pretty good job of limiting RB receiving production, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about it given what a big role Gallman should play in the passing game this week. Washington has also been getting gashed in the run game, giving up 130 yards per game and 6 rushing scores in the past 7 weeks. I’d view Gallman as a decent RB2 option in PPR formats and a great DFS option at just $4,200 on DraftKings.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): Breida nearly matched Carlos Hyde last week in fantasy points despite playing about half as many snaps and handling half as many touches. I’d expect him to see at least a slightly bigger share of the work this week, and the Rams have allowed the 5th-most RB points per game this season. If he sees any bump in volume, he’ll find himself likely pushing for a top-25 RB performance this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 17: vs. Cle.): I would be all in on JuJu if the Steelers had any interest in treating this like a game they should try to win. Instead, it sounds like it will be Landry Jones under center and Stevan Ridley as the team’s lead back. I’d still expect JuJu to play much of the game with Antonio Brown sidelined again, but there is still a risk that he’s pulled early. If Big Ben does end up getting the start, JJSS is a no-brainer start, but if not, he falls more into WR3 territory. It is a pretty enticing matchup though, with the Browns ranking 29th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA.
WRs Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 17: @Ten.): Allen Hurns is expected back this week, but Marqise Lee isn’t, and with the way these two are playing, I’d be shocked if Hurns plays a huge number of snaps. The Jaguars are in an interesting spot with head coach Doug Marrone saying they will treat this as a normal game, but their seeding is already decided. It wouldn’t be a shock if we see some Chad Henne in this one, which would likely lower the ceiling for each guy a bit. The matchup is a pretty good one, with the Titans allowing the 7th-most WR points per game, but if either guy plays limited snaps or spends a lot of time with Henne under center, they will likely find themselves as borderline WR3 options.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 17: vs. Jax.): Davis finally got on track in week 16, posting his best fantasy game of the season. He caught 6 passes on 9 targets for 91 yards. This week he gets to face off with one of the toughest WR defenses in the league, but as I mentioned above, the Jaguars don’t have anything to gain by winning this one. I’d expect some of their key defenders to play limited snaps, and the Titans will still be playing for a possible playoff berth. Even through his struggles, Davis hasn’t seen fewer than 4 targets in any game since recovering from his hamstring injury 2 months ago, and he’s seen 7+ targets in 4 of the 9 games he’s played. I think 5-60 would be a reasonable expectation this week for Corey, and maybe he finds his first career TD.
WR Mack Hollins, PHI (Wk. 17: vs. Dal.): The Eagles aren’t expected to play their starters for too long in the finale, and Hollins should see plenty of run in this game. The Cowboys’ pass defense is nothing to write home about, and Hollins has managed to produce whenever the ball comes his way. For the season he’s caught more than 76% of the targets to come his way and has averaged 15.5 yards per catch. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t see at least 5+ targets.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): Garrett Celek played limited snaps in week 16 and wasn’t targeted once while Kittle managed to score his second TD of the season. Celek isn’t listed on the injury report this week, so there’s a chance he goes back to his regular role as the lead tight end, but I think Kittle will still lead the team in snaps there. Jimmy Garoppolo has made the 49ers TEs fantasy relevant, and this week Kittle gets to face a defense that has given up 4 tight end TDs in the last 3 games and is also resting a number of their starters.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): If the Vikings officially had the number 2 seed wrapped up, I’d like Trubisky as a sleeper with the Vikes likely to sit most of their important starters. Unfortunately for Chicago, there is still a scenario where the Vikings could lose the first round bye. It is a really specific scenario: the Saints would have to lose to Tampa Bay, the Panthers would have to beat the Falcons, and the Vikings would have to lose. I think it’s really unlikely that New Orleans will lose to Tampa with the division title at stake, but I don’t expect Minnesota to chance it, especially since they play in the early slate while the other two games are both in the late afternoon. If Minnesota plays to win, their suffocating defense should shut down the Bears’ offense without much trouble.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 17: @Pit.): Kizer has totaled 7.4 fantasy points in the last 2 games combined, and the Steelers can still potentially win homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and should be at least a little motivated to win. No thank you.
QB Davis Webb, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Was.): Webb will be active in the season finale, but it appears it will be Eli Manning who gets the start. Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo has already said that the plan is for Eli to play every snap, and I believe him. Webb might not play at all, which is kind of ridiculous given that the Giants ended Eli’s start streak to get Geno Smith 1 start.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 17: @Den.): The Chiefs have absolutely nothing to gain by running their workhorse out there for a big snap number. They’re locked into the 4-seed already, so if Hunt is active at all, I’d only expect him to play a few series to make sure he doesn’t build up any rust before the wild card weekend. He shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 17: @Ten.): Just as Kansas City is locked into the 4th seed, Jacksonville has the 3-seed wrapped up and has nothing to gain with a victory. Like Hunt, if Fournette plays at all it will just be a few series early on. There’s no way you can rely on him this week despite claims from Doug Marrone that the Jaguars will treat this like any other game.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 17: @Bal.): Mixon is practicing as of Thursday, but there’s still no guarantee that he’ll suit up this weekend for the finale. He’s left each of the last two games he’s played with injury early on, and Gio Bernard has played well. If the Bengals are going to go all-out in an effort to play spoiler to Baltimore, I’d expect a pretty even split of work between Mixon and Gio if both are active. The Ravens aren’t exactly a defense to fear (they’ve allowed the 13th-most RB points per game), but the Bengals’ offense remains mediocre at best and a split in volume would make both guys tough to trust.
RBs Aaron Jones & Devante Mays, GB (Wk. 17: @Det.): Jones looks like a longshot to even play this week, and we haven’t seen anything from Mays yet this season. Mays has totaled negative-1 yards on 3 carries and lost a fumble this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Devante’s out-touched by FB Aaron Ripkowski in this one. If you’re looking for a guy to play from the GB backfield against the Lions’ awful run defense this week, the choice is Jamaal Williams.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 17: vs. Dal.): I was thinking that Clement might be a strong option for this week with the Eagles having nothing to play for and resting Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, but there’s a strong possibility they rest Clement as well. It’s looking likely that it will be mostly Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner handling the running back snaps for Philadelphia this Sunday. They may mix in their main RBs early on, but there won’t be enough work for any of those backs to be trusted this week. The best DFS play of the group is probably Smallwood. I’m not sure that they will have 5 running backs active, so if one of Smallwood or Barner is inactive, the other is the best DFS play.
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 17: vs. GB): The Lions have a pretty good matchup this week with the Packers, who have allowed the 7th-most RB points per game this season (and at least 27 PPR points to RBs in 5 of their past 6), but Green will continue to play second fiddle to Riddick and the matchup actually seems to suit him better. While the Packers have given up 160.5 points to running backs in the past 6 contests, just 43% of those points have been put up on the ground. The rest have been receiving points. Tion Green has not caught a pass all year. While you may be tempted to trot him out this week after his 10-point showing in Cincy, I think he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate it.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): No team allows fewer running back points per game than the Vikings, and as mentioned above with Trubisky, Minnesota still needs to take care of business here and should be playing their starters. Cohen is usually a boom-or-bust flex option anyway. So facing the toughest RB defense in the league makes using him a bad idea. Only 2 teams have allowed fewer RB receiving yards than the Vikings.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 17: vs. Hou.): With the season already long over for the Colts, Mack still hasn’t seen much of a bump in playing time. He played just 15 offensive snaps in last week’s loss to Baltimore, and there isn’t much guarantee he plays more this week. There are better options out there than Mack in his limited role.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 17: vs. Oak.): The Chargers are still fighting for a playoff spot, but that’s actually a bad thing for Ekeler this week. Melvin Gordon is fighting through an ankle sprain, but I would expect him to suit up in this game with the season on the line. Ekeler has been dealing with a hand injury of his own, and was limited to just special teams last week. He’s got his hand in a cast and will be unable to catch passes out of the backfield. Because of this, Branden Oliver would get the start if Melvin Gordon is unable to play. I’d avoid Ekeler even in that scenario.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 17: @NE): It would be nice if the Jets were able to give McGuire some extended run in the regular season finale, but they could have done that at any point in the last several weeks and haven’t. He has just 19 touches in the past 5 weeks, and expecting any more out of him this week would likely be a mistake.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 17: vs. NO): Godwin posted another strong performance last week in a starting opportunity as DeSean Jackson sat with an ankle injury, but Godwin sustained an ankle injury of his own in that game. He’s not practicing as of Thursday, so there is a real chance he sits this week. DeSean Jackson, on the other hand, is practicing and looks like he’ll be able to play. Even if he suits up, Godwin likely won’t play nearly as many snaps as he did last week and may even lose some work to Adam Humphries if the Bucs don’t want to overdo it with Godwin.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 17: @Mia.): There is a chance Zay gets more involved this week, but he shouldn’t be doing so from any of your lineups. He has zero catches in the last 3 weeks despite playing 70% or more of the offensive snaps in each of the last 2. The fact that he costs more than the minimum in DraftKings is a joke.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 17: vs. Oak.): As mentioned with Ekeler, the fact that the Chargers are still fighting for a playoff spot likely means the reserves aren’t going to see extended opportunities in week 17. Williams has seen just 6 targets in the past 5 weeks. There is no reason to fire him up against the Raiders.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 17: @Sea.): RSJ has faced two of the worst TE defenses in the league in the past 2 weeks and has just 2 catches for 11 yards to show for it. He played a season-high 54% of the offensive snaps in week 16 and didn’t record a catch. Clearly he doesn’t have the same connection with Drew Stanton that he does with Blaine Gabbert. There are better options is you’re looking for a sleeper tight end this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 17: @Pit.): Njoku has done next to nothing since his breakout game against the Chargers in week 13, and there is no reason to expect that to change this week. The Steelers have allowed the 2nd fewest TE points per game in the league.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): The Vikings don’t have much to play for, but Shaheen has missed the last two games with a chest injury and appears iffy at best for this one. Minnesota has allowed the 3rd-fewest TE points per game, so even if Shaheen is able to play there isn’t really a good reason to try him in any format.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 17: vs. Jax.): As long as Delanie Walker is playing, there’s no reason to trust Jonnu Smith in fantasy. He has just 4 catches for 38 yards total in the past 8 weeks, and the Titans are still alive for a playoff spot, so they have no reason to sit Delanie now.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Patrick Mahomes, KC (Wk. 17: @Den.): The matchup isn’t a great one for Mahomes’ first NFL start, but the Broncos’ defense isn’t what it once was. Denver has allowed the 15th-fewest QB points for the year, and may be throwing in the towel on this season. They let Kirk Cousins throw for 299 yards and 3 scores last week. They’ve given up 12+ points to the opposing QB in 13 of the 15 games they’ve played this year, and 15+ in 9 of them. Mahomes makes for an interesting streamer in 2-QB leagues, and would be a fun play in a limited slate DFS tournament. He probably won’t be playing with a full complement of weapons, but he should be comfortable with the 2nd-stringers that he typically works with in practice.
RB Brian Hill, CIN (Wk. 17: @Bal.): I mentioned above that I could see an even split of the work between Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon out of the Bengals’ backfield this week if both guys are active, but if one or both sits out, Hill should see some extended run. The Bengals’ season has been over for a while now, so it might make sense to see what Hill can give them. Keep an eye on the updates throughout the week. Hill would be worth a dart throw in limited slate DFS tournaments if it looks like one of those two will be out.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 17: vs. GB): Fresh off an 8-target game, Golladay gets to square off with a Green Bay defense that has allowed the 8th-most WR points per game. The Packers have been more vulnerable to short throws, so Golden Tate is the best play in the Lions WR group this week, but Golladay costs just $3,300 on DraftKings and played 95% of the offensive snaps last Sunday. He’s got a chance to end his season on a high note this week.
WRs Trent Taylor & Kendrick Bourne, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): The 49ers didn’t just go on a 4-game winning streak to take week 17 off. Look for them to go all-out in an effort to get to 6-10 and 5-0 in the Jimmy Garoppolo era. That means Taylor and Bourne will play their normal roles against a team that is sitting a lot of their key players. For Taylor that has meant 8+ PPR points in 3 of the last 4 games. Bourne hasn’t been quite as consistent, but he did put up a 4-85 line against Tennessee and has been targeted 11 times in the past 2 weeks. Both are worth considering as a dart throw in limited DFS slates. Marquise Goodwin remains the best option in this passing attack though.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 17: vs. SF): The Rams have already ruled out Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley for their week 17 tilt with the 49ers. I’d be surprised if Sammy Watkins or Robert Woods play more than a couple series. That should give Reynolds plenty of playing time in a game where the 49ers are actually favored to win in Los Angeles. The Rams should be throwing it a decent amount. Sean Mannion isn’t the best QB out there, but Sean McVay’s offense has proven to be a pretty good one so far this season. Reynolds is nothing more than a dart throw in DFS tournaments, but he’s one that has already posted 2 6-target games in weeks where Watkins and Kupp were active. I’d expect him to lead the Rams in targets this week (if it isn’t backup RB Malcolm Brown).
WR Ryan Switzer, DAL (Wk. 17: @Phi.): The Cowboys don’t really have much to play for this week, and Cole Beasley is listed as questionable with an illness as of Friday. Switzer is the most likely option to take over in the slot, and in a game where Dez and Terrance Williams might get pulled before it’s over, Switzer might be the best bet on the team to play a full complement of snaps if Beasley sits. Beasley has drawn 13 targets in the last 3 weeks.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 17: vs. SF): The Rams will have to throw the ball somewhere, and Everett is one of the few guys who should get extended run this week that has some production under his belt already. I’d expect the leading weapons this week for LA will be Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Pharoh Cooper, Tavon Austin and Everett (maybe Tyler Higbee as well). Among those players listed, only Higbee and Everett have more than 100 receiving yards for the year. I’d expect the number 2 TE Everett to have a better connection with backup QB Sean Mannion. The 49ers have allowed 14-113-2 to tight ends in the last 2 weeks. This is as good a week as any to take a shot on Everett.
That’s all I’ve got for this season. Hopefully I’ve helped you navigate some tough weeks this year with your rookies. If I did, make sure to come back next year when I start covering the 2018 rookie crop. As usual, if you do have to set a lineup this week or play any DFS lineups, keep an eye on the injury reports and weather reports throughout the week, and most importantly keep an eye on any updates about players who will be rested. 21 teams have nothing to gain with a win this week. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about any of the info above, feel free to hit me up on twitter to do so (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve finally made it. It’s championship week! All of the weeks of agonizing over lineup decisions and waiver wire pickups have come down to this. The key to this week is avoiding landmines. In most of the tough decisions you have this week, the rule of thumb should be to play the guy whose volume you feel the most confident in. You don’t want to get stuck with LeGarrette Blount getting 6 touches, or Sammy Watkins getting 4 targets. This week it’s all about trust. I’ll still list a few players who are mostly worth DFS consideration, but I’ll try to be as definitive as possible with my opinions on most of the rookies for this week. Remember, players that are under the same header and at the same position are listed in the order I like them for this week. Let’s dive in and look at what to expect in week 16…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 16: vs. Atl.): While Kamara wasn’t quite as studly in his return from a concussion last week as he had been the 5 weeks prior to sustaining the injury, he still topped 20 PPR points and finished as the RB10 for the week. The Falcons seem like a tougher matchup on paper, allowing the 12th-fewest RB points per game this season, but they’ve been vulnerable to receiving backs all year. No team has allowed more than the 91 RB receptions that Atlanta has given up, and only 4 teams have given up more receiving TDs to running backs. Kamara is averaging over 28 PPR points per game in his last 6 healthy games with at least 20 in each. You have to play him this week if you’ve got him, and his high-end DFS price might actually be worth it to have him in your lineup. He should be a cash game staple this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 16: vs. Mia.): Good Kareem Hunt has finally returned! Hopefully it was in time to keep your season alive. As I said last week, you have to play him if you’ve got him. The upside is tremendous. Miami is a great matchup for Hunt this week. They’ve given up the 3rd-most RB points in the league, and game script should be heavily in Hunt’s favor with the Chiefs a 10-point home favorite. In the past 2 weeks, both comfortable wins where the Chiefs played mostly from ahead, Hunt handled 29.5 touches per game. Strong volume should be there again this week, and Hunt should be right there with Alvin Kamara as the premier running back plays of the week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): It was a surprise that Fournette missed last week’s game, but he should be ready to go this week. A win this week would clinch the division for Jacksonville, so don’t look for them to rest any starters or limit their snaps just because they clinched a playoff spot. When healthy, Fournette’s volume is consistent enough that you could set your watch by it. He’s handled at least 15 touches in every game he’s been healthy and 20+ in 8 out of those 11 games. The 49ers have been much improved against running backs since Reuben Foster got fully healthy in week 9. In the first 8 weeks, the 49ers were coughing up 31.7 RB points per game, and at least 23 points in 7 of them. In the 5 games since, no opponent has reached 23 RB points and they’ve allowed an average of just 16.5 per game. Despite that improved play by the 49ers D, Fournette’s volume should carry him to a low-end RB1 day. I’d prefer Kamara or Hunt for DFS purposes, but Fournette should be in your championship week lineups in season-long leagues.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 16: vs. TB): McCaffrey returned to the RB1 ranks last week with his 3rd 60+ yard rushing day and his 7th touchdown of the season. This week he gets to square off with a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the 7th-most RB points per game and ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. It should be another great opportunity for CMC to finish as a top-15 running back. He’s shown an incredibly stable floor with at least 8.3 PPR points and 4 targets in every game this year. He’s a reliably safe RB2 option this week in a plus matchup.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 16: vs. Det.): It’s still not a done deal that Mixon returns this week, but if he does, he comes back to an ideal matchup. The Lions have allowed the 3rd-most RB points per game for the season, but since Haloti Ngata went on IR they’ve been coughing up 28 points per game to the position, and a large chunk of that has come on the ground. Detroit is giving up 109 rushing yards per game and has surrendered 11 rushing scores in the 9 games Ngata has missed. They’ve also allowed the 7th-most RB catches and 11th-most RB receiving yards for the season. The Lions are bad in every aspect of defending the opposing backs. If Mixon is a full go, he should be slated as an RB2 this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 16: @Hou.): This week could be as good an opportunity as JuJu has had all year to shine. The Steelers will be without leading receiver Antonio Brown and his absurd 11.6 targets per game (12.2 if you don’t include his shortened outing against the Pats). That volume has to go somewhere. There is a chance the Steelers will lean more on Le’Veon Bell and the run game to make up the difference, but the Texans rank 6th in run defense DVOA and might force the issue. Houston ranks 23rd in pass defense DVOA, and has allowed the 5th-most WR points per game. This is a golden opportunity for JuJu, and you should treat him as a WR2 this week. He should pretty much be chalk in DFS lineups, especially at his $5,400 price tag on DraftKings.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): The Cardinals have been fairly stingy to opposing tight ends of late, allowing just 17-155-1 total to the position in their past 5 games (7.3 PPR points per game), but the Giants entire passing game revolves around Engram and Sterling Shepard, and there is a good chance Shepard is going to be chased around by Patrick Peterson in this one. Engram may not be an ideal choice for DFS lineups in this tougher matchup, but he should remain a top-5 or 6 option for season-long leagues. The Giants have to throw it to someone, and all year long Engram has consistently been that someone.
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Trubisky has thrown for 585 yards in the last 2 weeks, and the Browns have allowed at least 17 fantasy points to 6 of the last 7 quarterbacks they’ve faced. There’s always a concern that the volume dries up on Mitch if the Bears play from ahead (and they are a 6.5-point home favorite), but the Browns have given up at least 19 fantasy points to all 4 QBs that have attempted fewer than 30 passes against them. That list of QBs includes Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton. Mitch is far from a sure thing despite the great matchup, but he is an intriguing streaming option for 2-QB leagues or leagues with 14+ teams.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): With Eli Manning having a shortage of WRs, he’s been leaning on the running backs in the passing game over the past couple of weeks, and Gallman has been a primary benefactor. Shane Vereen has still been involved with 9 targets in the past 2 games, but Gallman has seen 16 targets to go along with 20 carries in those 2 contests. He’s failed to find the end zone, but he’s finished as the RB15 and RB18 in those games. The Cardinals pose a tough test for most running backs, allowing the 9th-fewest points per game to the position, but they’ve also given up the 10th-most RB receptions and 11th-most RB receiving yards. If Gallman’s usage remains the same, he should finish as a low end RB2 or high-end flex again. He’s definitely an option who could be available if you are trying to avoid using either Green Bay running back.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 16: @Ten.): Kupp’s numbers took a big hit last week with the return of Robert Woods and the game script getting away from the passing game. The Rams built an insurmountable lead early and didn’t need to throw much in the 2nd half, but I don’t expect this week’s game to be 34-0 by halftime, so Goff should be throwing at least a little more than the 21 times he threw last week. The Titans are vulnerable to WRs. Tennessee has allowed the 9th-most WR points per game, and has been especially vulnerable over the middle, where slot receivers like Kupp do a big chunk of their damage. The Titans rank dead last in the league in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle. Kupp has a chance to eat them up. He’s back in play as a WR3 option this week.
WRs Keelan Cole & Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): I was fully bought in on Westbrook last week, but it was Cole came up big, finishing as the WR1 for the week in a stunning turn of events. If he’s not already owned in your dynasty leagues, he should be a priority stash right now with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee both hitting free agency this offseason. While Westbrook has been getting all of the attention as the snaps and targets headed his way have piled up, it’s been Cole who has been the better fantasy player. Cole has scored a TD in each of the past 3 games, and now has put up 18-388-3 on 28 targets (5.6 per game) over the past 5 games while Westbrook has tallied 22-256-1 on 35 targets (7 per game). With Marqise Lee already ruled out for this week, both Cole and Westbrook are intriguing flex options in a decent matchup as the 49ers rank 31st in pass defense DVOA. The fact that Jaydon Mickens caught 2 TDs last week is a little concerning, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance this week. I’d expect Mickens to be mostly in the slot, and the 49ers rank 4th in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle, and 30th or worse on throws to both the left side and right side of the field. Cole has shown a higher ceiling, but Westbrook has shown the safer volume.
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): This week should present a legitimate opportunity for the Browns to get their first win of the season, but to get it Kizer will have to manage to limit the turnovers, something he’s failed to do all season. He’s turned the ball over 7 times in the past 3 weeks and 25 times on the year. Being yo-yo’d in and out of the lineup by coach Hue Jackson has clearly stunted his development and hurt his confidence level. The Bears have the 3rd-fewest interceptions in the league as a defense, but they also allow the 8th-fewest QB fantasy points. Given how poorly Kizer played last week, you’d have to be much braver than I am to trust him in any lineups this week.
RBs Jamaal Williams & Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 16: vs. Min.): This is a situation best avoided. Green Bay is eliminated from playoff contention, and the Vikings are still alive in the race for the number 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The motivation in this one could be pretty one-sided. Shutting Aaron Rodgers back down will probably increase Green Bay’s rushing volume, but it’s hard to be confident that Williams will still see the vast majority of the work, and the Vikings allow the fewest RB points per game in the league. Green Bay will also be without Hundley’s favorite passing target, Davante Adams in this one, giving Minnesota one less weapon to worry about defending. If you want to take a shot at one of these guys in a DFS tournament, go ahead. There’s a chance that one of them has a nice game. I’d be more inclined to try Aaron Jones than Williams thanks to the discounted price tag, but there is nothing certain about either of these two this week.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 16: vs. Den.): Perine has gone in the tank the past 3 weeks while the Broncos’ defense appears to have righted the ship in the past 2 after struggling mightily for a 5-game stretch. Denver has allowed 90 rushing yards total to opposing backs in the past 2 weeks and held the Jets’ and Colts’ offenses to a combined 13 points in 2 convincing wins. Perine posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games a month ago, but he’s totaled just 120 rushing yards in the 3 games since, finishing as the RB33, RB33, and RB36 in those games. Denver is a tougher matchup than any of the 3 teams he just faced, and he also tweaked his groin in practice on Thursday. If Perine is able to play, he shouldn’t find his way into your lineup.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): Ekeler has just 7 touches in the last 2 weeks and managed to lose a fumble on one of those touches, and this week he might not even play. As of Thursday he looks like a true game-time decision, and there is no way to trust him even if he does play. I’d stay away in all formats.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 16: vs. Oak.): Clement played just 15% of the offensive snaps last week in Nick Foles’ first start for Philly, reversing a trend that had him playing ahead of LeGarrette Blount in week 14. He hasn’t seen more than 7 touches in any of the past 5 games, and hasn’t reached 7 PPR points in any of the past 4. Oakland’s defense isn’t anything impressive, but Clement hasn’t been receiving the kind of volume you can bet on, even against a bad defense.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 16: vs. LAC): If I believed Matt Forte was actually going to miss this game, I would probably have snuck McGuire into the ‘Sleeper’ section below, but I don’t think he will. If the running back role stays a 3 person committee, it’ll be too muddled to rely on McGuire. The Chargers have been vulnerable to the run, allowing the 10th-most RB points per game and ranking 29th in run defense DVOA, but McGuire has seen just 19 touches total in the last 4 weeks. He needs an injury ahead of him to see the field enough to be useful.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 16: @Bal.): Mack is averaging about 40 yards on 7 touches per game in the past 3 weeks, and this week the Colts’ implied point total is around 14 points. You can do better than Mack this week. He’s nothing more than a punt option for DFS tournaments, but one who hasn’t produced in weeks and costs $1,000 more than the minimum in DraftKings.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Golladay’s opportunities will increase with TJ Jones now on IR. Over the past 3 weeks Golladay has out-snapped Jones 154-32, and in that time he’s posted just 9 catches for 90 yards on 12 targets. The deep balls are fun when they happen for Kenny G, but they’ve dried up of late, and the Bengals allow the 3rd-fewest WR points per game. There are better places to look for an upside DFS punt play.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 16: vs. LAR): In case the pedestrian stat lines Davis has been putting up aren’t enough to convince you to bench him this week, the Rams have allowed the 8th-fewest WR points per game so far this year. Davis hasn’t reached double-digit fantasy points since week 1. I still believe in Corey long-term, but if you don’t you should be able to find a buyer who will still be willing to pay a pretty penny for him this offseason in dynasty leagues. I think a coaching change in Tennessee would help that entire offense a great deal.
WRs Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): As well as Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing, I have a simple rule of thumb here…don’t trust fringe fantasy WRs against the Jaguars. They haven’t been quite as impenetrable over the past few weeks as they were for most of the year, but they’ve still only allowed 4 receivers all year to reach 80 receiving yards: Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Corey Coleman, and Tyler Lockett. Taylor and Bourne don’t belong in that group. If you wanted to buy into one of these guys as a contrarian play, I’d go with Bourne. The Jags have allowed 10 passing TDs in the last 6 weeks, and all of them have traveled over 20 yards. Nine of them went 25+ yards, and 4 of them went 40+ yards. Only Marquise Goodwin averages more yards per catch for San Francisco than Bourne’s 16.7. Taylor averages 10.1.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 16: @NE): Zay saw just 2 targets last week while playing 70% of the offensive snaps. This has pretty much been a lost season for him, and I wouldn’t count on him getting it turned around this week. The Pats have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game, but Jones has just 25 catches on 70 targets for the season. Steer clear.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): Kittle had his best showing since week 5 last Sunday, but he finished as just the TE18 for the week, and I wouldn’t count on a repeat performance. He was still comfortably out-snapped and out-produced by teammate Garrett Celek, and he goes from facing off with the team allowing the 8th-most TE points per game to the team allowing the 3rd-fewest. There’s no reason to test out Kittle in any format this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): Njoku has just 1 catch for 3 yards on 5 targets in the last 2 weeks, and the Bears are in the top half of the league at limiting TE points. There’s no reason to chase a TD that is unlikely to happen. There are better dart throws out there this week. See below for two specific ones.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Green has seen 10+ carries in 2 of the 3 games he’s been active for, and this week Detroit faces a Bengals team that has allowed a league-worst 131.5 rushing yards per game. Theo Riddick was questionable earlier this week, but it looks like he’ll be able to play. If Detroit manages to get out in front in this game, they may rest Riddick and give Green extended run. With Riddick playing, Green will be no more than a DFS punt option (a better option in formats that aren’t full PPR), but he could have a really nice day if he finds his way to 15+ carries.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Cohen’s touches have been up and down of late, but his snap share has been fairly consistent over the past month or so. He’s played at least 35% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 5 games, and pushed up near 50% in two of them. This week’s matchup plays more into Cohen’s strengths than Jordan Howard’s. The Browns rank 1st in run defense DVOA and allow a league-low 3.3 yards per carry, but they rank 30th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. Cohen has twice as many catches as Howard on the year. I like Cohen if you are looking for a cheap DFS option at running back this week. He’ll cost just $3,700 on DraftKings.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 16: @Car.): Godwin could be a DFS tournament winner this week. DeSean Jackson looks unlikely to play Sunday (he’s not practicing as of Thursday), and Godwin costs the minimum on DraftKings. He posted a 5-68 line the last time a Tampa starting WR was out, and he’s played over 50% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 2 games. Tampa has also started to throw the ball with a little more success, putting up at least 270 passing yards & 2 TDs through the air in each of the last 3 games. The Panthers have allowed the 7th-most WR points per game for the season, and over the past 6 games they’ve been especially bad, coughing up 44.4 points per game to the position. The Bucs are the worst team in the league at defending WRs, and they allow 40.7 per game. Godwin also may benefit from OJ Howard being on IR, as the Bucs could use another big, physical playmaker in his place. If Jackson is out, Godwin has serious upside this week.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): I mention Williams here solely as a stash option for dynasty leagues. If by some chance he’s landed on your waiver wire as he’s scuffled along to just 10 catches for 87 yards on 19 targets, you should be scooping him up before we hit the offseason and rosters lock. Tyrell Williams will be a restricted free agent this offseason, so there may be some targets that open up in the Chargers’ offense, and top-10 draft pick rookie WRs rarely are available on the wire.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 16: vs. NYG): If you’re looking for a DFS dart throw at TE this week, you’re not going to find one much better than Seals-Jones. The Giants have allowed 50+ receiving yards to the tight end position in 11 of their 14 games this year, and have allowed a tight end score in 11 as well. There is a little concern since RSJ’s connection seemed to be with Blaine Gabbert who was benched, and his snaps have been limited, but he’s clearly shown himself to be the best receiving tight end in the desert. If you’re throwing a dart at any Cardinals’ TE against the worst TE defense in the league, it should be Seals-jones.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): I mentioned under Ricky Seals-Jones that the Giants are the worst TE defense in the league. The Browns are the 2nd-worst. Shaheen was inactive last week with a chest injury, but he was starting to show a nice rapport with Mitch Trubisky prior to that. You’ll need to monitor his health situation and make sure he plays this Sunday, but Shaheen is a great DFS dart throw option just like RSJ, and he’s $300 cheaper on DraftKings than Seals-Jones.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you parse through your toughest lineup decisions this week. I’ll be back next week for a quick look at the rookies for the week 17 slate. Most leagues will be over with by then, but there are a few outliers that continue through the final week of the season, and DFS will of course continue. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. DeSean Jackson, Allen Hurns, Theo Riddick and Leonard Fournette’s health situations could all have a major impact on some of the players included above, so keep an eye on this throughout the week. If you have any specific questions, or want to yell at me about anything above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’re one step closer to championship week after an intense slate of action in week 14. Hopefully your team is still alive and kicking. If your game last week wasn’t impacted by a rookie, it was one of the few. Week 14 saw 2 rookie QBs finish in the top-12, (Trubisky & Kizer), 4 rookie running backs in the top-15, 3 rookie wide receivers in the top-16, and 3 rookie tight ends in the top-13. There were some guys in these groups that you certainly didn’t start: Trubisky, Wayne Gallman, Keelan Cole, and Adam Shaheen probably weren’t in many lineups, but Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, Leonard Fournette, Cooper Kupp and Dede Westbrook might be carrying you through for an extra week. There were some rookie letdowns last week as well (McCaffrey) and injuries (Kamara), but hopefully those landmines didn’t knock you out. The rookies should continue to have a huge impact on fantasy outcomes again this week, so let’s dive in and see what to expect from them in week 15:
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 15: vs. NYJ): It’s very possible Kamara’s early exit in week 14 knocked you out of the playoffs. It was a tough blow to overcome. If you were lucky enough to survive it, and Kamara plays this week, you have to go back to the well again. The Jets have been reasonably stout against running backs this season, allowing the 6th-fewest points per game to the position, but last Sunday against Denver they coughed up the most points they’ve allowed to RBs since week 5. They also rank a less than daunting 13th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, and a miserable 26th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. Game script should also be in the Saints’ favor as 15-point home favorites. There’s no way you can sit Kamara if he suits up. He’s shredded every defense he’s been healthy enough to face in the last 6 weeks, and is likely to do so again.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 15: vs. Hou.): This should be a great spot for a big Fournette game. The Texans are onto their 3rd-string QB TJ Yates, and Jacksonville is an 11-point favorite. We know the kind of volume Fournette has piled up this season. In the 11 games he’s played, he’s had at least 15 touches in all of them, and he’s fallen short of 20 just 3 times. He’s also cleared 13.5 fantasy points in 9 of those 11 games. The Texans look like a difficult matchup, allowing the 3rd-fewest RB points per game and ranking 6th in run defense DVOA, but they’ve shown cracks of late. In the past 3 weeks, they’ve allowed 126 rush yards per game and 4 rushing TDs to opposing backs, which works out to 27.9 fantasy points per game in that stretch. The Buffalo Bills are the worst in the league with 27.8 allowed per game for the year. The Jaguars should play from ahead in this one and ride Fournette to victory.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 15: vs. GB): It was tough sledding for McCaffrey last week in a tough matchup with the Vikings. The matchup gets considerably easier this week, and he should be a week healthier in recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in week 13. Green Bay has yielded the 8th-most RB points per game, and has been especially vulnerable to receiving backs. They’ve allowed the 3rd-most running back catches and 6th-most RB receiving yards per game. This is an excellent spot for McCaffrey to bounce back into the RB2 ranks. With the way the Packers have been playing on defense, there is a lot of upside here for DFS lineups as well. Green Bay has allowed 3 top-11 RB finishers in the past 4 weeks. The one week they didn’t let someone crack the top-11, they allowed finishes of RB17 & RB21 to a pair of teammates. Get McCaffrey back in there.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 15: vs. LAC): Last week we FINALLY saw Kareem Hunt get back in the end zone and top 100 yards again, but is he really back on track? The performance against the Raiders was certainly promising, but Kareem isn’t out of the woods just yet. The Chargers’ defense has looked rejuvenated against the run of late. They’ve held their last 3 opponents to a combined 36.5 fantasy points from the RBs (12.2 per game). There is reason for optimism though for Hunt. The opponents they’ve faced consisted of a Zeke-less Cowboys’ team, Cleveland, and Washington. Hardly a murderer’s row of good run offenses, and they still rank just 26th in run defense DVOA. There’s still reason to be nervous with Hunt too, but after last week you should still be firing him up. His early season surge probably got you the cushion you needed to make the playoffs. It’s time to repay him with a little faith now.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 15: vs. NE): I know, this is a big leap to say you should start JuJu this week. He has a total of 8-64-0 in the last 4 weeks (granted, only 2 games he actually played in). This projection is about how the Patriots will try to defend the Steelers. Bill Belichick makes it a point to take away the other team’s best player in the passing game and make someone else beat them. For Pittsburgh, that means Antonio Brown. In those same 4 weeks that JuJu put up the above stat line, AB has tallied 39-627-6. There’s no guarantee that the Pats will be able to stop him, but I expect them to double-team him to try. I’d also expect Stephon Gilmore, graded as the #21 corner in the league this year by Pro Football Focus, to be matched up on Martavis Bryant. This should open the door for a big week from JuJu. It would be a big step to plug him in for a semifinal game, so I can understand if you don’t pull the trigger, but I’m in for this week. Big Ben is averaging over 360 yards and 2.5 TDs in the past 4 weeks. JuJu should be a great DFS option with a reasonable price tag, and should make for a fine WR3 this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Phi.): Unless you have Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or Rob Gronkowski, you probably don’t have a safer TE play than Engram. He’s put up at least 6 targets all 8 games since Beckham and Marshall were hurt, hauled in 4+ catches in 6 of them, 50+ yards in 5 of them, and scored a TD in 5 of them as well. The Eagles aren’t a defense to run away from. They rank just 19th in pass defense DVOA on throws to tight ends, and Eli Manning will continue to feature the rookie.
QB Deshone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 15: vs. Bal.): Kizer had one of his best games of the season last week against a decimated Packers’ defense, and this week gets to face a Ravens’ defense that lost top CB Jimmy Smith for the season and then promptly surrendered a 500-yard passing game to Ben Roethlisberger. He’s started to show what he can do now that he has some legit weapons. The turnovers will continue to be a problem, but this is another great spot where Kizer could perform as a top-15 QB.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 15: @Car.): There should be no question at this point that Jamaal is the lead back in Green Bay. He’s been playing well in every phase of the game while Aaron Jones mostly watches from the sidelines. The Panthers are the toughest matchup Williams has faced yet, but there are reasons for optimism. Aaron Rodgers will return this week, which should give the entire offense a boost, and over the past 3 weeks Jamaal has been the RB2, RB9, and RB3 against defenses that rank 14th, 17th, and 22nd at limiting RB points. The Panthers rank 5th, so the sledding will be tougher, but from what we’ve seen I think you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s risk here, but I see Jamaal as a strong low-end RB2 option.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 15: vs. Ari.): Perine seems to have turned back into a pumpkin the past couple weeks with just 83 rushing yards on 29 carries (2.86 ypc) since his back-to-back 100-yard games. The Cardinals allow just the 8th-fewest RB points per game, but the volume will be there for Perine as long Washington doesn’t get routed again. The Cardinals have 6 wins on the year, and only one of them was by more than 5 points. Volume alone puts Samaje in play as a flex option. With Byron Marshall on IR now, Perine should see a few passing targets as well, so don’t write him off in PPR leagues.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 15: @Min.): I’d probably lean on the side of not playing Mixon this week, but he had been playing at a high level prior to being concussed in the slugfest with Pittsburgh. There is reason for optimism for Mixon since he may not have any competition for backfield touches (Gio Bernard is questionable), but he still has to clear the concussion protocol himself. The matchup this week is a brutal one. The Vikings allow the fewest running back points per game, and are a 10.5-point favorite. If Mixon is able to play, I’d view him as a low-end flex option.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 15: vs. Hou.): Westbrook has quickly established himself as a major target in the Jacksonville passing attack. After seeing 6 targets in his season debut, he’s averaged 9 targets per game and posted 5.7 catches and 67 yards per game in the 3 games since, finally scoring his first TD last weekend. The Texans have allowed the 9th-most WR points per game this year, and have coughed up 37.7 per game since their bye in week 7. Game script may lean towards the run in this one, but Westbrook has a 28.4% target share in the past 3 games, and Bortles has averaged about 28 attempts per game in contests the Jaguars have won by multiple scores. If Dede’s target share holds up, 28 attempts would mean about 8 targets against a pretty bad secondary. It’s a great opportunity to get Dede in there as a WR3.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 15: @Sea.): Robert Woods is set to return this week, and that will likely put a damper on Kupp’s overall outlook. Kupp has been fantastic with Woods out, averaging 6 catches, 8 targets, and 100 receiving yards per game in the past 3 weeks. With a healthy Robert Woods in the lineup, Kupp has reached 6 catches just once, 8 targets twice, and has topped 70 receiving yards just once. I’d still view Kupp as a WR3 option thanks to what now appears to be a juicy matchup with the Seahawks. Since losing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor 3 weeks ago, Seattle has given up 43.1 WR points per game. Kupp’s floor has fallen back to that 3-4 catches for 40-50 yards range, but it’s not out of the question that his stat line winds up closer to the way he’s produced the past 3 weeks.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 15: @Det.): The Lions have given up 5 tight end scores in the past 4 weeks, and in the past 5 they’ve allowed 16.2 points per game to the position. Shaheen has emerged as a popular target for Mitch Trubisky, especially in the red zone. Mitch has thrown 3 TDs in the past 4 games, and 2 of them went to Shaheen. He’s posted at least 4-40-1 twice in those 4 games, including once against these same Lions in week 11. He’s still not playing as many snaps as I would like for a fantasy starter, but the matchup is right if you need a streamer.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Nathan Peterman, BUF (Wk. 15: vs. Mia.): Peterman seems less likely to play this week than Tyrod Taylor, but if he does manage to get the start I’d still steer clear. The Dolphins’ defense has been solid over the past 2 weeks, dominating Trevor Siemian and then shutting down Tom Brady for an encore. Those two passers combined for 12.9 fantasy points and 5 interceptions. While I’m not sure I buy into this as being the real Miami defense, I certainly wouldn’t count on Nathan Peterman to be the guy to break the trend.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 15: @NYG): This would be an intriguing spot to use Clement in DFS tournaments if not for the Carson Wentz injury. Clement seems to have passed up LeGarrette Blount on the depth chart, out-snapping him 27-15 last Sunday, but with Wentz sidelined, the whole offense should take a step back. The Giants are a great matchup, allowing 29.8 fantasy points per game to RBs since their week 8 bye. Clement has topped 6 fantasy points in 5 of the past 7 games, but has only reached double-digits twice. The matchup here is right for him to get garbage time work if the offense doesn’t miss a beat without Wentz. If you believe Nick Foles keeps the Eagles humming, there’s decent upside here for Clement as a DFS punt play. I for one do not believe in Foles.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 15: @KC): Ekeler has totaled just 10 touches in the last 2 weeks, both multiple score wins for the Chargers. If he’s not seeing more opportunity than that in games the Chargers win comfortably, I’m not sure how you can expect him to play more in a game that’s expected to be more competitive. The Chargers are just a 1-point favorite. Ekeler has done more of his damage as a receiver than as a runner (273 yards and 3 TDs as a receiver vs 247 & 2 as a runner), and the Chiefs allow the fewest RB receiving yards in the league. This isn’t the best spot to use Ekeler as a DFS tournament dart throw.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 15: @Car.): The last 2 weeks have made it clear that Jamaal Williams will be the starter in Green Bay going forward. Jones has touched the ball just 5 times in the past 2 weeks compared with 45 times for Williams. This is Jamaal’s backfield for now. You can’t start Jones in hopes of ineffectiveness or injury for Williams, especially in a tougher matchup. As mentioned with Williams above, the Panthers allow the 5th-fewest RB points per game.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 15: vs. Den.): Mack has failed to reach 7 PPR points in any game since week 8, and this week he faces a Broncos’ team that allows the 7th-fewest RB points per game and looked rejuvenated last week against the Jets. There’s probably a big game coming for Mack at some point, but nothing in his recent usage or the matchup suggests this will be it. With the team playing on a short week after a bruising OT game on Sunday, I’d expect the whole offense to be lackluster.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 15: vs. Ten.): Breida has seen his role increase in the two games that Jimmy Garoppolo has started, but he’s still being considerably out-snapped and out-produced by Carlos Hyde. Despite seeing 12 carries in each of the past 2 games, Breida has totaled just 8.6 PPR points in those contests. Hyde has nearly triple that amount with just 9 more touches. The Titans allow the 10th-fewest RB points per game, so it would be tough to expect this to be the week that Brieda starts producing.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 15: @SF): Davis gets a golden opportunity this week against a bad 49ers’ defense, but nothing we’ve seen from Davis in the past few weeks suggests he’ll take advantage of it. The Titans have leaned heavily on the run of late. Marcus Mariota has averaged just 26 pass attempts and 16 completions per game in the past 3 weeks, and Davis has just 9 catches on 14 targets in that span, with a troubling 8.9 yards per catch. Running backs Alvin Kamara, Gio Bernard, and Austin Ekeler all average more yards per catch on the year than Davis. You could take a shot at Davis in DFS tournaments, but you’d probably be wasting your money at this point.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 15: vs. Chi.): Golladay finally caught more than 2 passes last weekend, but he also put up just 17 yards on his 3 catches. He’d put up at least 44 in each of the previous 4 contests on exactly 2 receptions. He remains too much of a feast or famine kind of player to trust, even in DFS formats. The Bears are just a middle of the pack defense against WRs and Golladay put up 2-52 against them in Chicago, but he hasn’t shown a much higher ceiling than that since week 1.
WR Keelan Cole, JAX (Wk. 15: vs. Hou.): Cole has managed to produce back-to-back quality games the last 2 weeks and gets a pretty good matchup this week, but I would stay away. The target share has been bad and the game script should allow the Jaguars to run the ball a bunch. Cole has posted 3 catches and a score in each of the past two games, but he’s was targeted just 6 times total in those contests. Compare that to 17 for Dede Westbrook and 16 for Marqise Lee. Even with the Texans allowing the 9th-most WR points per game, I don’t like Cole’s chances of continuing to produce usable stat lines with such a small portion of the targets.
WR Trent Taylor, SF (Wk. 15: vs. Ten.): After a sparkling performance in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start, Taylor showed his floor in the 2nd one, putting up just 2 catches on 3 targets for 11 yards. I’d expect him to be more involved this week, but the Titans have been tough on slot receivers. The only WRs who play predominately in the slot to reach 50 receiving yards against Tennessee were Doug Baldwin back in week 3 and Jeremy Maclin in week 9. They also haven’t allowed a TD to a slot WR since week 5. Taylor hasn’t put enough good weeks together this year to warrant the benefit of the doubt.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 15: vs. Atl.): Godwin surprisingly played the 2nd-most snaps of any Tampa WR last week and finished with a decent 5-68 line. It was the 4th time in the past 5 games that he’s tallied multiple catches. While he’s certainly trending in the right direction, I don’t think he’s supplanted DeSean Jackson or Adam Humphries just yet. I’d view last week as more of a blip than something that will become the norm going forward. If he’s available in your dynasty leagues, he’s probably worth a stash though.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 15: vs. Mia.): The QB situation is still in flux with both Nathan Peterman and Tyrod Taylor questionable for this game, and the matchup isn’t great. The Dolphins allow the 6th-fewest WR points per game. Zay has also fallen well off the fantasy radar lately with just 5-55-1 in his last 3 games combined. Last week’s goose egg is understandable given the weather, but the production just hasn’t been there for Zay to be relied on.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 15: @Sea.): It looks like Robert Woods is on track to play this week, which would push Reynolds back to the bench. Even if Woods remains sidelined, J-Rey has 4 catches for 23 yards in the past 2 weeks in matchups more favorable than this one. It’s best to avoid him here.
WR Tommylee Lewis, NO (Wk. 15: vs. NYJ): Lewis has some intriguing potential in dynasty leagues that give points for return yardage, but don’t be drawn in by the TD he scored last week. At 5’7” it’ll be an uphill battle for him to become fantasy relevant at any point without the added bonus for return yards or use as more of a gadget player.
TE OJ Howard, TB (Wk. 15: vs. Atl.): It appears that Howard has fully overtaken Cam Brate for the lead TE job in Tampa after out-snapping Brate 56-25 in week 14. I’d expect those numbers to be a little closer together this week. The Bucs were down all day against Detroit, and were throwing often. They are underdogs against Atlanta, but I expect them to stay in this game at home and keep game script fairly neutral. The Falcons have been reasonable against TEs, allowing the 12th-fewest points per game to them. Howard himself tallied 3-52 on 4 targets the last time around. I think something like that is what I would expect in this one. You can chase the TD, but Atlanta has given up just 3 of them to TEs so far this year. There are other streamers I like more than Howard this week.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 15: vs. Ten.): This should be fairly obvious at this point. Kittle still hasn’t topped 30 receiving yards since week 6. The Titans have struggled to defend tight ends lately, giving up an average of 6 catches and 81 yards to the position in the past 3 weeks, but if any 49er TE will take advantage it’s likely to be Garrett Celek.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 15: @Det.): The Bears have finally started to let Trubisky throw the ball a bit, and they’ve had some reasonable results. The Lions’ defense has been good at forcing turnovers for much of the year, but they’ve also been pretty good at letting lower-end QBs post strong fantasy games against them. They allowed Deshone Kizer to finish as the QB6 without Corey Coleman or Josh Gordon. They let Brett Hundley finish as the QB13; they let Case Keenum finish as the QB3, and they let Joe Flacco finish as the QB7. All of those performances have come in the past 6 weeks. There’s considerable downside here as Fox may suddenly decide to lean on Jordan Howard and the ground game again. If he doesn’t, Trubisky is an interesting streaming option in 2-QB leagues and costs just $4,600 on DraftKings.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 15: @Det.): We’ve now seen Tarik Cohen play more than 40% of the team’s offensive snaps in 3 of the last 4 games, reaching 49% twice. He’s scored at least 10 fantasy points in all 3 of the games where he topped 40%, including 15.9 against these Lions in Chicago week 11. Detroit has been bleeding points to running backs since losing Haloti Ngata for the year in week 5. Since then, Detroit has allowed 27.8 RB points per game with at least one rushing score in each contest (11 rushing TDs in 8 games total). They’ve also allowed at least 100 yards rushing in each of the last 5 games. There’s always a chance that the Bears make like Lucy and pull away the football on us, but the recent usage and matchup put Cohen in play as an upside flex in deeper leagues. He’s a great dart throw in DFS lineups with just a $3,700 price tag in DraftKings.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 15: vs. Phi.): You could make a case for Gallman as a DFS punt play, and possibly even a sneaky PPR flex for deeper leagues. There is no guarantee that his usage carries over to this week, but Orleans Darkwa fumbled early in the game, and it was mostly Gallman the rest of the way last Sunday. Wayne totaled 99 yards on 19 touches, including 7 receptions. There is a chance that the Giants go back to Darkwa more this week, and even if they don’t, Gallman gets to face a defense that has allowed the 2nd-fewest RB points per game thus far. It’s not a great matchup, but the Eagles have allowed 71 receptions to opposing RBs. With McAdoo gone, the new coach may want to see what they have in Gallman. At the very least, he’s earned a bigger share of the work going forward.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 15: @Was.): The snap count just isn’t high enough to list Seals-Jones as a ‘borderline’ option this week. It seemed like his role had been growing, but he played just 18 offensive snaps on his way to a 1-20 line on Sunday. He did still see 3 targets, but his PPR upside isn’t great. He needs a score to really return value. Luckily this week he gets to face Washington, who has given up a tight end score in 8 of their 13 games. RSJ has 3 TDs in the last 4. This is as good a spot as any to take a shot on him in DFS tournaments. Washington has allowed the 3rd-most TE points per game on the year.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 15: vs. Bal.): The Ravens have allowed 70+ receiving yards to opposing TEs in 3 of their past 5 games and they rank 31st in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing TEs. Njoku was a big letdown last week with just 1 catch for 3 yards to follow his breakout 4-74-1 game from the week before. I think the improved matchup will help. Despite the lack of production last week, Njoku was still on the field for 34 offensive snaps. That’s a promising sign with a plus matchup coming up. He’s in play as a cheap DFS option.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you get through to the fantasy finals. Keep a close eye on the weather and injury reports for this weekend. Things look clear right now for most games, but situations like that Buffalo-Indy game can have huge fantasy implications. There are plenty of things still up in the air this week, so keep your finger on the pulse of the news that comes out. Remember, there are 2 Saturday games this week, so make sure your lineup is set in time and you don’t give away points because you weren’t aware. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything written above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! Hopefully the regular season has been good to you and you’ve managed to find yourself in the fantasy playoffs. This is what the last 13 weeks have been for…making the playoffs and setting yourself up for an extremely gratifying victory or a soul-crushing defeat, at least if you weren’t able to secure a bye. If you do have a playoff game this week, you’ve likely been aided by a rookie or 2 at some point to get here. If you have Alvin Kamara and didn’t make the playoffs, you should maybe give up at this fantasy football thing.
Plenty of rookies have made a big impact this season: Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Evan Engram, and plenty more. Plenty of those rookies will continue to make an impact in the fantasy postseason as well. As usual, I’ll tell you which guys you should be starting, which you should be sitting, and provide some insight into some of the borderline options as well. If you have a bye or missed the playoffs, there will be some DFS tidbits along the way as well. There are plenty of sleepers this week for DFS tournaments. Alright, that’s enough chit chat, let’s dive into week 14…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk 14: @Atl.): If you own Kamara, the Mark Ingram injury probably feels like Christmas come early (unless you own Ingram too). While it’s true the Ingram injury certainly helps Kamara’s outlook for this week, I wouldn’t expect him to suddenly handle a workhorse load. Ingram has averaged 20.6 touches per game since Adrian Peterson was traded, and Kamara has averaged 13.9 and hasn’t handled more than 18 in any game. I think he’ll end up somewhere around 20 this week if Ingram is out. Ultimately, that doesn’t matter when it comes to your fantasy lineups. He’s still an obvious start in season-long leagues, and should be in just about every DFS cash game lineup imaginable. He’s been the overall RB1 in 4 of the past 5 weeks, and was tied for 4th in the other week. The Falcons rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat, and rank 23rd in pass defense DVOA on throws to opposing RBs. The hot streak should continue for Kamara with no problem.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): This is a tough spot for Fournette this week. The Seahawks allow the 4th-fewest RB points per game, rank 7th in run defense DVOA, and Fournette has averaged just 50.5 rushing yards per game since returning from injury (and a disciplinary benching) 4 weeks ago. Before being injured, he was only held below 59 yards rushing once in 6 games. The volume and TD upside keep Fournette a must-start this week, but you should probably treat him as a fade or at most a contrarian play in DFS lineups. He should be treated as an RB2 this week in season-long leagues.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 14: @Cle.): I believe that Williams’ production over the past few weeks has bought him at least one more week as the lead back. The Browns are actually a pretty tough matchup, allowing just the 9th-fewest RB points per game, but the game script should be at least neutral in this one, and the Packers have been leaning more on the run game with Brett Hundley under center. Aaron Jones will likely play a little bit more this week, and should cut into Williams receiving work at the very least, but I still like Jamaal to return starting value at least one more time.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 14: vs. Phi.): Kupp is averaging 6.25 catches and 73.8 yards per game in past 4 games, and he’s seen 17 targets in the 2 games that Robert Woods has missed. Woods isn’t practicing as of Wednesday. The Eagles have been a middling defense against WRs, allowing the 16th-fewest points per game to the position. Kupp’s floor has been rock solid of late, and the Eagles aren’t a defense to shy away from. Cooper should be a solid WR3 this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 14: vs. Dal.): Engram got back on track last weekend with a 7-99-1 game catching passes from Geno Smith, and this week he gets back Eli Manning. Despite his struggles over the past couple weeks, the targets never went away for Engram. He’s still seen at least 6 of them in every single game since Odell Beckham was lost for the year. The Cowboys rank 25th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the tight end. Get Engram in there if you’ve got him.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. GB): It may feel reckless to even consider starting Kizer in a fantasy playoff game, but he’s quietly been a QB1 in 3 of his past 5 games and gets a great matchup this week against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed over 270 passing yards in 5 of their past 6 games, and the other was against Joe Flacco. They also placed starting CB Kevin King on IR this week. King was their top pick in the draft last April. With Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon back and looking good, and David Njoku coming on, this could quickly turn into a dangerous passing attack if Kizer can limit the turnovers and get them the ball. Kizer is actually a pretty good play this week in 2-QB formats, and his a ton of upside this week. The concern is that you know what kind of floor comes with it.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 14: vs. Min.): The matchup is a tough one this week for McCaffrey. The Vikings rank 6th in run defense DVOA and 6th in pass defense DVOA on throws to the running backs. McCaffrey’s rushing production wasn’t there last week, but he’s been a pretty steady RB2 or better just about every week. I’d still lean towards getting him in there this week, especially in PPR formats, but I would temper expectations a bit and probably avoid him in DFS formats.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 14: @LAC): Last week was a bit of a letdown in what appeared to be a good matchup on paper. Washington shot themselves in the foot early in the game and got in a negative game script, and Byron Marshall starting cutting into Perine’s receiving workload. The end result was Perine finishing as the RB33 for the week. He gets another solid matchup this week, but Washington needs to stay in a positive game script for him to really hit his ceiling. Playing from behind last week, Byron Marshall handled 43% of the running back snaps. The Chargers rank 28th in run defense DVOA, and have allowed the 3rd-most RB rushing yards and 6th-most RB fantasy points. The ingredients are there for Perine. If Washington sticks to the recipe, he should be a strong flex play in non-PPR leagues, and at least a passable one in PPR formats.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 14: vs. Oak.): I’m sure there are plenty of Hunt owners who don’t want to go to this well again. It feels as though Hunt should have ‘missing person’ posters up around Kansas City at this point, but it hasn’t been quite as bad as it feels. Aside from one real clunker against the Bills, Hunt’s floor has still been pretty stable. He’s topped 60 yards from scrimmage in every other game this year, and had at least 3 catches in all but that game and the one against the Chargers in week 3. Nobody was complaining about his lack of catches that week though. The problem is that his ceiling disappeared after the hot start. He’s topped 9 points in 4 of his past 5 games, but he didn’t get to 11 in any of them. There is some hope for this week. The Chiefs turned over play-calling duties to the offensive coordinator last week, and had their best offensive game in at least a month, and Hunt also put up 117 scrimmage yards in his first meeting with the Raiders. I’d probably lean towards playing Hunt, but I’d understand if you couldn’t do it. I’d certainly be afraid to go to Hunt in DFS lineups.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 14: vs. Chi.): It seems unlikely that Mixon will play this week after suffering a concussion on Monday night, but he would be a decent option if he does. Mixon has looked great when he’s been on the field the past 2 weeks, and the Bengals should be in a positive game script as a 6-point favorite. The Bears’ defense has been decent against RBs, but not really imposing. They rank 12th in run defense DVOA. If Mixon is able to clear the protocol, he should be an RB2 this week. Keep an eye on the situation and make sure he’s really good to go before plugging him in.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): Westbrook’s fantasy star is on the rise right now. He played more snaps than Keelan Cole for the first time last weekend, and he’s now handled 19 targets in the past 2 weeks. The Seahawks’ defense had shown vulnerability against WRs even before Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were injured, and it’s gotten a little worse since. Seattle has allowed 37 fantasy points per game to WRs in the 3 games the duo missed. That number would rank as the 4th-most in the league over the full season. Westbrook is in the mix for WR3 or WR4 status for the week.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 14: vs. Ten.): The numbers RSJ has been putting up on the number of snaps he’s been playing is ridiculous. In the past 3 weeks, his snap count has gone from 8 to 17 to 15, and he’s handled 5, 6, and 5 targets in those games. Blaine Gabbert has targeted him on an absurd 53% of the routes he’s run in the past 3 weeks. I can’t imagine the Cardinals don’t get him more involved down the stretch. The matchup this week is pretty good, with the Titans allowing the 12th-most TE points per game. He’s got a floor that won’t kill you, and a ceiling worth chasing. If you don’t have a starting tight end you believe in right now (Vernon Davis, Jared Cook, injured Zach Ertz), Seals-Jones is a solid replacement option.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 14: vs. GB): Njoku has been enjoying a mini breakout of sorts in the past 2 weeks, but the Packers pose a tough matchup. Green Bay has allowed the 4th-fewest TE points per game on the year, but they have shown cracks lately. They’ve given up 3 TDs to the position in the past 2 weeks. Defenses aren’t able to focus on Njoku now that Coleman and Gordon are back, and he’s seen 6+ targets in 3 of his past 5 games. His floor is lower than Ricky Seals-Jones, but his ceiling is similar.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 14: @Cin.): This is a pretty easy call, even for 2-QB leagues. John Fox refuses to take the training wheels off Mitch and let him throw. He threw fewer than 20 times for the third time this season last Sunday, and the Bears want him throwing as little as possible. He’s topped 150 passing yards just 3 times in 8 starts, and has yet to throw for more than 1 score in a game. The Bengals aren’t the team that’s going to let him break those trends. They’ve allowed the 12th-fewest QB points per game. Trubisky could be next year’s version of Jared Goff, who got an innovative offensive head coach in his second year and looked like a different player.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 14: @Cle.): As I mentioned earlier, I like Jamaal Williams this week, and with the Browns allowing the 9th-fewest RB points I just don’t think there’s enough to go around for both guys to have a productive week if Williams plays as much as I expect. Jones looked good on his one carry last week, but I don’t think the Packers are going to put him back in the lead back role after playing just 1 snap a week ago. Track this status throughout the week though, because the Packers’ coaches might not be on the same page as me here. If they make an announcement that Jones will start, both guys become flex options.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 14: vs. Was.): You could make a case for Ekeler as a flex option in deeper leagues, but I’m not going to this week. He had just 6 touches last week, his lowest total since October. He does more damage as a receiver than a runner, putting up 58% of his scrimmage yards through the air, and Washington has allowed the 8th-fewest receiving yards to backs. I think there are better options to be had this week.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 14: @LAR): The Rams are a prime matchup for running backs, but touches for Clement are far from a sure thing. He’s totaled just 17 of them in the past 3 games, and his biggest performances have come in blowout wins. The Eagles are actually a 2-point underdog in this game. I’d stay away from CC.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): Don’t chase last week’s carries for Breida. He handled 12 carries last week, but played just a third of the offensive snaps. This is still Carlos Hyde’s backfield, and the matchup this week is a tough one. The Texans allow the 3rd-fewest RB points per game and rank 10th in run defense DVOA.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): This could have been excellent spot to try Zay Jones. The Colts allow the 6th-most WR points per game and just coughed up nearly 50 points to the Jaguars’ WRs last Sunday (49.3). The problems for Zay are that his inefficiency problem has come back, and Kelvin Benjamin should be active again. Zay has just 5 catches for 55 yards on 17 targets in the past 2 weeks, and he likely gets Nathan Peterman at QB this week with Tyrod battling injuries. The situation is too volatile to trust the rookie as anything more than a DFS punt, even in a great spot.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 14: @Ari.): There is some upside for Davis if Patrick Peterson chases around Rishard Matthews this week, but you can’t rely on him in a fantasy playoff matchup with the way he’s been producing. Davis is yet to reach 8 fantasy points in the 5 games he’s played since returning from his hamstring injury. The Cardinals have also been improving against WRs as the season has gone on. They’ve allowed 8 fewer points per game to the position after their bye week than they did before it. Davis could be worth a shot in DFS tournaments, but I can’t advocate playing him in the fantasy playoffs.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 14: vs. Phi.): Reynolds played 72% of the snaps and had a second straight 6-target game last weekend, but he tallied just 2 catches for 6 yards. Robert Woods looks likely to miss another game, so there should be a solid target share again, but he should be just a DFS option. There’s too much risk involved to play him with the season on the line. The Eagles are a tougher matchup than the Cardinals, who he had the aforementioned 2-6 line against.
WR Keelan Cole, JAX (Wk. 14: vs. Sea.): Cole is still playing a healthy snap count, but he’s been jumped on the depth chart by Dede Westbrook. He was out-targeted by Dede 9 to 3 last week, and that kind of volume isn’t going to make him usable this week despite his 3-49-1 line last week. Seattle may be vulnerable, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the Colts.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): The Texans allow the 6th-most TE points per game, but Kittle was targeted just 3 times last week and hasn’t reached 30 receiving yards since week 6. There are better streamers available.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 14: vs.Phi.): Don’t chase last week’s touchdown here. Everett hasn’t reached 10 receiving yards in any of the past 4 games.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Nathan Peterman, BUF (Wk. 14: vs. Ind.): Peterman’s second NFL start should go MUCH better than his first one assuming Taylor misses this game. The Colts have been abysmal at defending the pass. Indy allows a league-worst 271 passing yards per game, and has coughed up 53 pass plays of 20+ yards (also league-worst). They had finally started showing signs of improving when they sat Vontae Davis and made Rashaan Melvin their top corner, but they went back in the tank with his injury. After Peterman’s 1st start, it would be crazy to tell you to play him with your season on the line, but at just $4,400 in DraftKings, he’s an appealing cheap DFS play in a fantastic matchup.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 14: @Cin.): Cohen’s usage seemed to take a step back last week when he played just 16 offensive snaps, but the Bears’ ran just 37 offensive plays all game. He actually played 43% of the snaps. He’s now played 49%, 35% and 43% in the last 3 weeks after clocking in below 30% for the 3 games before those. Cohen still handled 6 touches in those 16 snaps and showed his playmaking ability with a punt return TD and another long return that was called back by penalty. The Bengals have allowed the 4th most RB receptions and the 5th most RB receiving yards for the year. Tarik has some nice upside if his usage holds.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 14: @Buf.): The Bills are allowing 37.3 running back points per game over the last 6 games. That number is nearly 10 more per game than the 49ers allow. The 49ers are the 2nd-worst RB defense. The Colts were finally in a negative game script early last week, and Mack was a beneficiary. It didn’t translate to a big fantasy day, but Mack out-snapped Frank Gore 30-22 and put up 54 scrimmage yards on just 7 touches. Facing one of the worst RB defenses in the league, Mack is worth considering in the deepest of leagues or as a cheap DFS option.
RB Trey Edmunds, NO (Wk. 14: @Atl.): As I mentioned at the beginning of this article with Kamara, I don’t expect all of Mark Ingram’s work to go to AK-41 if Ingram is out. The guy who would pick up that slack is Edmunds. Edmunds got extended run against the Bills in a blowout win a few weeks ago, and he put up 48 yards and a score on just 9 carries. I’d expect him to reach double-digit touches if Ingram is out, and as I mentioned earlier the Falcons are 31st in run defense DVOA. Edmunds has some value as a flex for really deep non-PPR leagues, and also as a cheap DFS play. He costs the minimum this week on DraftKings.
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 14: @TB): Green was active for the first time in his NFL career last Sunday, and he flashed his talents when given the opportunity. He finished the game with 11 carries for 51 yards and a TD, and nearly scored a second one. He showed burst and overall looked better than Ameer Abdullah has for much of the season. Abdullah has been limited again this week, and if he sits out there is solid upside for Green. The Bucs rank 22nd in run defense DVOA and allow the 11th most RB points per game. Considering how long the Lions run game has been a problem, Green is an intriguing dynasty stash as well.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 14: @TB): The matchup couldn’t be much better for Golladay this week. Tampa has allowed the most WR points per game (by a margin of nearly 3 points per game over everyone else), and they’ve also struggled to limit big plays. Tampa has allowed the 5th-most pass plays of 20+ yards, and is tied for the 3rd-most 40+ yard passes allowed. Golladay hasn’t caught more or less than 2 balls in any game since he returned from a hamstring injury, but he’s averaging 55 yards per game in those contests (27.5 yards per catch) and he played 76% of the snaps last Sunday. This is a real chance for Golladay to post his best game since week 1. He’s intriguing as a flex for deep non-PPR leagues.
WR Travis Taylor, SF (Wk. 14: @Hou.): The Texans have allowed the 9th-most points per game to WRs, and Taylor posted his best day of the year in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first start with the 49ers. Taylor caught all 6 of his targets for 92 yards, and made a crucial play that helped set up their game-winning field goal. I expected last week that Taylor would see a bump in usage with Jimmy G inserted, and that has proven true. I don’t see why it will stop this week. Taylor should handle another 6-7 targets this week and should develop into a nice PPR asset with Garoppolo in town.
TE O.J. Howard, TB (Wk. 14: vs. Det.): As I expected, with Jameis back under center Howard went back to playing second fiddle to Cam Brate. Brate was targeted 6 times and scored 2 touchdowns while OJ posted 1-17 on 2 targets. I don’t expect OJ to go back to being the top tight end for the Bucs this week, but he has shown to be a better big-play receiver than Brate this year, and the Lions have allowed 6 catches of 30+ yards to opposing tight ends this year, and they’ve given up 3 tight end scores in the past 2 weeks. Brate will likely see more targets than Howard this week, but I like Howard as a shoot-the-moon option for DFS tournaments.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps enough that you’re coming back next week to see what to do for the semifinals. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. Mark Ingram, Robert Woods, Ameer Abdullah, Matt Stafford, Joe Mixon, and Tyrod Taylor all could change the fantasy landscape depending on their status. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about anything written above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) and let me know. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
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!