It was trouble the minute Stevan Ridley fumbled in Week 12 against Denver. He was done, and with him went my chances for a great week in Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em.
Ridley was a co-Start of the Week with Shane Vereen, but Ridley was a dud with minus-1 Fantasy point because he was benched after fumbling in the first quarter against the Broncos. It was a good thing Vereen was solid and finished as a Top 20 Fantasy running back.
We had a plethora of good start calls in Week 12 with four Top 12 quarterbacks (Colin Kaepernick, Carson Palmer, Mike Glennon and Ben Roethlisberger), three Top 20 running backs (Andre Brown, Pierre Thomas and Rashad Jennings), two Top 15 receivers (Kendall Wright and Jarrett Boykin) and two Top 10 tight ends (Coby Fleener and Greg Olsen). Our biggest misses were bad sit calls in Philip Rivers and Alex Smith at quarterback, as both were Top 5 quarterbacks, and Antonio Brown was a Top 15 receiver despite his matchup with Joe Haden.
As usual, we also hit on several sleepers like Josh McCown, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews, Nate Burleson and Michael Floyd, and all of them were starting-caliber Fantasy options for the scoring period. We like McCown again this week, but this time he's more than just a sleeper.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots||11||9||65||18|
|Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots||13||minus-1||75||65|
|Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers||22||29||73||2|
|Kendall Wright, WR, Titans||8||16||61||8|
|Andre Brown, RB, Giants||14||15||89||8|
|Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins||18||5||63||27|
|Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers||8||3||63||44|
|Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers||9||2||85||34|
|Marques Colston, WR, Saints||11||4||92||42|
|Ben Tate, RB, Texans||15||2||85||45|
|Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots||10||1||83||69|
|Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers||17||33||31||1|
|Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs||17||27||18||4|
|Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers||8||15||88||13|
Start of the Week: Josh McCown, QB, Bears
Sunday at Minnesota might be Josh McCown's last game as a starting NFL quarterback. Hopefully he will make it memorable.
|Robert Griffin III||vs. NYG|
|Ben Roethlisberger||at BAL|
|Matt Ryan||at BUF|
|Andrew Luck||vs. TEN|
|Mike Glennon||at CAR|
McCown, 34, is a journeyman backup, having played 11 seasons with five different teams. He is starting now with Jay Cutler (ankle) out, but Cutler could return in Week 14.
There's always the chance Cutler gets hurt again, or McCown could leave Chicago as a free agent this offseason and possibly start somewhere else. But there's a realistic chance McCown might never start another game again. And he's playing like this is his last opportunity to prove his worth.
He's started three games and appeared in two others for Cutler, and he has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,106 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. His two best starts were on the road at Green Bay in Week 9 and last week at St. Louis, and he had at least 22 Fantasy points in both outings.
McCown seems like a perfect fit for Marc Trestman's system – some would argue he's played better than Cutler – and Chicago's receiving corps is amazing with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte. We like McCown for all those reasons, including his matchup at Minnesota.
The Vikings have allowed at least 22 Fantasy points to nine of 11 opposing quarterbacks this season, including Cutler in Week 2, with 25 total touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Teams are passing for an average of 295 yards against this defense, and McCown has the chance to be great.
In a week where many Fantasy owners need to win to secure a playoff spot or possibly a bye, we recommend starting McCown over expected starters like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. He has more upside this week, and McCown has the potential motivation to try and showcase his skills one final time.
Colin Kaepernick (vs. STL): The Kaepernick we saw in Week 12 at Washington is hopefully the one who will close the season, and he benefits with Michael Crabtree (Achilles) coming back this week. He was dominant against the Redskins with 235 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he now has multiple touchdowns in three of his past four games. He was adequate against the Rams in Week 4 with 17 Fantasy points, and a fumbled handoff exchange late in the game cost him two points. St. Louis has allowed seven of 11 quarterbacks this season to score multiple touchdowns, with four reaching at least 21 Fantasy points. Kaepernick should get rolling as the 49ers make their playoff push, and we expect him to close the season strong.
Nick Foles (vs. ARI): Let's hope the bye in Week 12 didn't slow down Foles, who was red hot in his previous three games, scoring at least 21 Fantasy points in all three outings with 11 total touchdowns and no interceptions over that span. He has yet to throw an interception in 162 attempts, and he's averaging 311 passing yards in his past three games. The Cardinals definitely have a tough pass defense, but five quarterbacks have scored at least 21 Fantasy points with six of 11 throwing multiple touchdowns. You have to buy into Foles until the next time he falters, and we hope it doesn't happen this week. His remaining schedule is favorable (vs. DET in Week 14, at MIN in Week 15, vs. CHI in Week 16 and at DAL in Week 17) so we hope he stays hot all the way through the Fantasy playoffs.
Alex Smith (vs. KC): Go figure, the game manager is turning into a Fantasy star. Smith has at least 25 Fantasy points in three of his past five games, including Week 11 at Denver when he passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos are mess on defense with multiple injuries, and Smith is getting quality production from his receiving corps, especially Dwayne Bowe and Anthony Fasano scoring in consecutive weeks. The Broncos should be able to score on the Chiefs, especially with Kansas City's defense banged up, which could leave Smith in his third-consecutive shootout. The first two worked out against Denver and San Diego, and we expect the rematch with the Broncos to go in a similar direction.
Philip Rivers (vs. CIN): Rivers was playing OK in Week 12 against the Chiefs before Kansas City lost standout pass rushers Tamba Hali (knee) and Justin Houston (elbow), but he skyrocketed after they went down. He had his first 30-point Fantasy outing since Week 4 and just his second 20-point outing since Week 5, and we expect him to carry that momentum into this matchup at home. The Chargers should have a healthy Ryan Mathews (hamstring) for this game, but finding running room could be tough, meaning Rivers could have to carry the offense. And the reason his stats have dipped of late is because Mathews was running well. This game could be high-scoring, and River has topped 30 Fantasy points in two of four home games this season. He's a low-end starting option in standard leagues and a must-start option in two-quarterback formats.
Carson Palmer (at PHI): I like the way Palmer has played of late, and you're starting to see him take advantage of this Bruce Arians offense. He has at least 24 Fantasy points in each of his past two games, and he's thrown multiple touchdowns in four consecutive outings. His receiving corps is making plays with Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd and Rob Housler all contributing in recent weeks, and we expect him to stay hot against the Eagles. Philadelphia's pass defense has improved of late with only Griffin scoring at least 20 Fantasy points in the past five outings, but the Eagles only faced one other legitimate quarterback over that span, which was Tony Romo in Week 7. Palmer should be able to attack this secondary, and he should remain a starting-caliber Fantasy option this week.
|Eli Manning||(at WAS)||Getting Hakeem Nicks back could help Manning finally top 20 Fantasy points.|
|Matt Flynn||(at DET)||The last six quarterbacks to face DET have thrown 16 touchdowns.|
|Andy Dalton||(at SD)||SD has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing passers in the past three games.|
Matt Ryan (at BUF): In the three games since the Bills were obliterated by Drew Brees for five touchdowns in Week 8, Buffalo has held the Chiefs, Steelers and Jets to two passing touchdowns and four interceptions. While those aren't dominating passing attacks, Buffalo is the lone team to slow down the red-hot Smith and Roethlisberger over their last four outings. Ryan benefits with this game being indoors in the Rogers Centre in Toronto, but he remains too risky to trust. He has five touchdowns and nine interceptions in his past five games while averaging 12.4 Fantasy points over that span. He's also been sacked 15 times in his past five outings, and the Bills have at least four sacks in three of their past four games.
Robert Griffin III (vs. NYG): You have to wonder if Griffin will make it through the game without being benched in favor of Kirk Cousins if he gets off to a slow start. He looks lost right now, and his performance against the 49ers in Week 12 was hard to watch as he passed for just 127 yards with an interception and had six carries for 22 yards and a fumble. He's been sacked four times in each of the past three games, and the Giants haven't allowed a quarterback to score 20 Fantasy points since Week 6 with only two passing touchdowns allowed over that span and eight interceptions. If Jordan Reed (concussion) can return this week then that would help Griffin's outlook, but even then we'd be hesitant to start him in most standard formats.
Andrew Luck (vs. TEN): It's starting to show the past three games how much Luck misses Reggie Wayne (ACL), and his Fantasy stock is starting to plummet. He has two passing touchdowns and four interceptions over that span, and he's averaging 16 Fantasy points a game in those three outings. His best game during that stretch was actually 18 Fantasy points at the Titans in Week 11, but that's probably the ceiling for Luck in this matchup. Tennessee has only allowed Matt Schaub of all quarterbacks in Week 2 to score multiple touchdowns against them this season, and he's the lone passer to reach 20-plus Fantasy points, including matchups with Roethlisberger, Rivers, Smith, Russell Wilson and Kaepernick. We just don't trust Luck enough right now to start him in standard formats, and he's a risky option in two-quarterback leagues based on his recent lack of production.
Mike Glennon (at CAR): This will be the second time Carolina has faced Glennon this season, so we'll see what adjustments the Panthers make for the rookie. If they just repeat their performance from the first matchup in Week 8 his Fantasy production will likely be limited again. Glennon was 30 of 51 passing against Carolina for 275 yards and one touchdown. His 17 Fantasy points in that matchup is actually the second-best outing against the Panthers this season behind Ryan Tannehill's 19 points in Week 12. Carolina just doesn't allow a lot of stats to opposing quarterbacks, including matchups with Wilson, Palmer, Kaepernick and Tom Brady. We doubt Glennon will become the first quarterback to score multiple touchdowns against this defense, and he should be benched this week despite consecutive games with 21 Fantasy points.
Case Keenum (vs. NE): After Keenum's first two starts against the Colts in Week 9 and at the Cardinals in Week 10, he looked like the potential quarterback of the future in Houston with 551 passing yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. But he's fallen apart since then, and now Texans fans might want Schaub back. OK, that's stretching it, but Keenum needs to play better in his remaining audition for the job next season. He can't struggle like he did last week against Jacksonville when he completed just 53 percent of his passes for 169 yards and an interception, and the Texans looked like they quit on this lost season. The Patriots pass defense is vulnerable, but you just can't trust Keenum right now, even in two-quarterback leagues.
Bust alert: Ben Roethlisberger (at BAL): Over the past three games, only Brees has more Fantasy points than Roethlisberger with 78 to 71. In his past four games, Roethlisberger has 11 touchdowns and three interceptions, and he's finally starting to click. But Baltimore has been his nemesis for years, and he struggled against the Ravens in Week 7 with 160 passing yards and one touchdown for 14 Fantasy points. In just his past five outings against Baltimore, Roethlisberger is averaging only 256 passing yards with five total touchdowns and six interceptions. He has not scored multiple touchdowns against the Ravens over that span, and Baltimore has allowed just Jason Campbell – of all quarterbacks – to score at least 20 Fantasy points since Week 1. We expect the Ravens will contain Roethlisberger like they have in the past, and he should only be considered a starter in two-quarterback leagues this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew (at CLE): Jones-Drew is finally starting to play like the running back we remember. He had his best game of the season in Week 12 at Houston with 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown and six catches for 60 yards. He has a touchdown in three consecutive games, and he's scored at least nine Fantasy points in four in a row. His production has coincided with his increased workload in the passing game since he has 20 catches in his past four outings compared to 10 catches in his first seven games. The Browns have allowed seven running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points with nine touchdowns, and Jones-Drew should again see plenty of work with the chance to succeed this week.
Giovani Bernard (at SD): Bernard comes off the bye week hoping to stay hot since he has at least eight Fantasy points in three consecutive games. He has 16 catches over that span, so he's a great option in PPR formats, and the Chargers have allowed four running backs to catch at least five passes this season. In total, San Diego has allowed eight running backs to score at least nine Fantasy points, including each of the past four games, and even BenJarvus Green-Ellis can be considered a sleeper this week.
Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller (vs. ATL): The Falcons should allow both Buffalo running backs to play well this week, especially coming off the bye. Atlanta has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including one in each of the past five games. Jackson is looking for his first game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 8, and Spiller is trying to hit that mark for the first time since Week 9. We hope this is the beginning of a good stretch run for the Bills running backs, especially Spiller, since Buffalo faces the Falcons, Bucs, Jaguars, Dolphins and Patriots to close the season. This could be the time where Spiller rewards you – and Jackson remains a factor – by starring in the Fantasy playoffs.
Shane Vereen (at HOU): The stats for Vereen look great in his first two games back from a broken wrist. He had 10 carries for 31 yards against Denver and eight catches for 60 yards on 11 targets. He now has 16 catches the past two weeks, and he's facing a vulnerable Houston defense with the chance to see his workload rise thanks to Ridley and LeGarrette Blount fumbling. Don't be surprised if Vereen and Brandon Bolden do most of the work in this matchup, which is fine for the Fantasy owners who have Vereen. Jones-Drew just caught six passes for 60 yards against the Texans, and eight running backs have scored at least nine Fantasy points against this defense. Vereen is a solid No. 2 running back in standard leagues and a must-start option in all PPR formats.
Danny Woodhead (vs. CIN): After a down performance in Week 11 at Miami with just three Fantasy points in a standard league, Woodhead rebounded in a big way at Kansas City with 18 points on two touchdowns. He had 10 total touches in the game, which is still a problem since it's the third game in a row with 10 or less, but his workload could increase this week even with Mathews expected to play. The Bengals don't give up a lot of rushing yards, but running backs still have success against Cincinnati in the passing game. The Bengals just gave up 13 catches to Cleveland's running backs in their last game in Week 11, and nine running backs have caught at least four passes against Cincinnati. We like Woodhead this week in a game where the Chargers should be pass happy, and he should be a significant contributor in this matchup.
|Chris Ivory||(vs. MIA)||If his ankle is OK he should be dominant against porous MIA run defense.|
|Montee Ball||(at KC)||He would be a Top 20 running back if Knowshon Moreno (ankle) is out.|
|Donald Brown||(vs. TEN)||He had 21 Fantasy points at TEN in Week 11 and could do it again.|
|Steven Jackson||(at BUF)||BUF has allowed a running back to score in back-to-back games.|
|Kendall Hunter||(vs. STL)||Seven backup running backs have scored rushing touchdowns vs. STL.|
Lamar Miller (at NYJ): We'll find out what to make of the stats this week with Miller because he's been productive when he's gotten the work, but the matchup here is tough. Miller has four games this season with at least 11 carries, and each time he's reached double digits in Fantasy points. Daniel Thomas (ankle) is now out this week, which means Miller should get at least 11 carries for the first time since Week 9. But he's facing a Jets defense that hasn't allowed a running back to rush for more than 72 yards, which was Fred Jackson in Week 3, and only four running backs have scored double digits in Fantasy points. We hope Miller can step up with Thomas out, but this isn't the week to start him because he should struggle.
DeAngelo Williams (vs. TB): Williams is dealing with a quad injury, which could keep him out against Tampa Bay. He scored against the Buccaneers the last time these teams met in Week 8, and Williams also scored in Week 10 at San Francisco, which was the last time he reached double digits in Fantasy points. He has just six Fantasy points in his last two games, and we'd rank him third of the Carolina running backs this week behind Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart. If Williams was 100 percent he'd have some value as a flex option, but the injury makes him a risky starting option even in the deepest of leagues. As long as Stewart and Tolbert are healthy then Williams won't be worth starting in most standard formats.
Ryan Mathews (vs. CIN): Mathews is expected to play this week despite hurting his hamstring in Week 12 at Kansas City. It's risky to trust someone like him given his injury history, but his production has been fantastic of late with three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points. He's also hit that mark in five of his past six games, but the Bengals don't allow much rushing room – it's more receiving yards for running backs, which is why we like Woodhead. Only four running backs have scored double digits in Fantasy points with two touchdowns allowed, and only Miller and Johnathan Franklin have run for more than 70 yards. They are obviously missing key interior defensive lineman Geno Atkins (knee), but in the last two games against Baltimore and Cleveland the Bengals have allowed just 82.5 rushing yards per game. Mathews should be used as just a flex option in this matchup since he'll be running at less than 100 percent.
Bobby Rainey (at CAR): As expected, Rainey struggled last week at Detroit, and this week could be more of the same. He was amazing the previous two games against weak opponents in Miami and Atlanta with a combined 45 Fantasy points, but the Lions held him to 18 carries for 35 yards. Carolina has allowed five running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points this season, but the Panthers have allowed just four touchdowns to running backs, with Spiller the only one to gain more than 100 yards. Rainey is worth stashing when he has a more favorable matchup, but this week he's just a risky flex option at Carolina.
Pierre Thomas (at SEA): I would still start Thomas in PPR leagues as at least a flex option because he has five or more catches in four-consecutive games. But Darren Sproles (ankle) should return for this game, which will hurt Thomas' value in the passing game. And this is a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have only allowed four running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including two at home. Seattle has not allowed a running back to score in the past four games, and Thomas only has one rushing touchdown on the season. He's more of a bust alert then a must-sit option, but he's not a slam dunk starter like he was in Week 12 against a weak Atlanta defense.
Bust alert: Le'Veon Bell (at BAL): Bell has been consistent at eight or more Fantasy points in each of his past six games, including Week 7 against Baltimore when he had 19 carries for 93 yards. I would still trust Bell as a flex option this week, but the Ravens should make things tough on him in the rematch. Baltimore has allowed just one rushing touchdown on the season, and Bell has only two rushing touchdowns in his past seven games. Only four running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points against Baltimore this season, and we expect Bell to be at about eight points or less.
Keenan Allen (vs. CIN): Allen showed in Week 12 at Kansas City that he's back as a must-start Fantasy receiver, and hopefully owners will keep him active the rest of the season. He had nine catches for 124 yards on 12 targets against the Chiefs, and he should stay hot against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed a receiver to score at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in each of the past six games, including No. 1 receivers Calvin Johnson, Torrey Smith and Josh Gordon scoring four touchdowns over that span. Allen also has 28 Fantasy points in his past three home games.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. DEN): Bowe has come alive the past two games with the Chiefs having to throw the ball in comeback efforts. He had four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown at Denver in Week 11 and then five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown against San Diego last week. He now has 33 targets the past three games, and we're expecting another pass-happy outing from the Kansas City offense in the rematch with the Broncos at home. Denver is dealing with plenty of injuries in the secondary, and Bowe has at least nine Fantasy points in two of his past three games against the Broncos. Denver also has now allowed 12 receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points this season.
Anquan Boldin (vs. STL): Boldin is heating up with two games in a row with at least 11 Fantasy points, and he could make it three straight against the Rams this week. No. 1 receivers have dominated St. Louis with Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Boldin, Justin Blackmon, Steve Smith, Golden Tate, T.Y. Hilton and Brandon Marshall all scoring touchdowns or gaining 100 receiving yards. Boldin had five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, and he should remain the No. 1 option this week even with Crabtree back. It seems like the better Boldin plays the better Kaepernick does, so we hope he continues to feature his top receiver this week in a great matchup.
Jarrett Boykin (at DET): Boykin played better than expected in Week 12 against Minnesota with five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He now has at least nine Fantasy points in three games in a row, and he should continue to play at a high level, especially this week in a favorable matchup against the Lions. Detroit has allowed 13 receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past eight games, including Randall Cobb in Week 5. Now, Cobb needed two carries for 72 yards to hit 10 Fantasy points, but Boykin will likely do it in a more traditional manner for a receiver. Secondary receivers have also done well against Detroit of late with Marvin Jones, Terrance Williams, Alshon Jeffery, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood all scoring touchdowns or getting 100 receiving yards. We expect Boykin to have another quality outing on Thanksgiving.
Michael Floyd (at PHI): The breakout performance is happening, and it's fun to watch Floyd the past two games. He actually has at least nine Fantasy points in three of his past four games, but the past two weeks against Jacksonville and Indianapolis have been special with 18 targets for 13 catches, 297 yards and a touchdown. He should keep it going against the Eagles, who have allowed 13 receivers to score double digits in Fantasy points with 15 touchdowns. Secondary receivers like Leonard Hankerson, Eddie Royal, Rueben Randle, Terrance Williams and Aldrick Robinson have scored touchdowns against Philadelphia, so both Fitzgerald and Floyd can have success this week. It's getting to the point where Floyd is a must-start Fantasy option every week if he has another big game based on his recent level of play.
|Nate Burleson||(vs. GB)||He has at least seven Fantasy points in three of four games played this year.|
|Rod Streater||(at DAL)||He already has 18 targets in two games with new quarterback Matt McGloin.|
|Brandon LaFell||(vs. TB)||Non No. 1 receivers have scored six touchdowns vs. TB in past four games.|
|Julian Edelman||(at HOU)||Tom Brady's most experienced receiver could be ready to take off.|
|Riley Cooper||(vs. ARI)||Don't forget he had 57 Fantasy points in three games before the bye.|
Cecil Shorts (at CLE): Shorts got what he wanted last week at Houston. After complaining about a lack of targets from the previous two weeks, Shorts was rewarded with 11 targets, and he finished with eight catches for 71 yards. He's a solid No. 2 receiver in PPR leagues, but he's just a No. 3 option at best in standard formats. He only has one touchdown on the season, and he hasn't reached double digits in Fantasy points since Week 5. This week he'll match up with Haden, who should be saucy after getting burned by Antonio Brown last week. Look for Shorts to again come away frustrated with his performance, and we'd expect single digits in Fantasy points in a standard format.
Tavon Austin (at SF): Austin has been explosive the past two games with 40 Fantasy points combined against the Colts and Bears. He's scored on three offensive plays of 50-plus yards in those outings, but his touches have been minimal with four catches and two carries. We'd love to see him get more work, which might happen this week as his playing time increases, but the 49ers should be able to contain him. Only five receivers have scored double digits in Fantasy points against San Francisco, and this will be just the second outdoor game for the Rams this season. Their road games have been at Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Carolina and Indianapolis, so only the Panthers game was outside of a dome. We'll see how the elements impact this offense, but just keep in mind if Austin doesn't score he might not top five Fantasy points in a standard league.
Mike Wallace (at NYJ): Wallace is coming off his best game of the season in Week 12 against Carolina, which was a huge surprise since the Panthers have been tough in pass defense all season. But Wallace got behind the secondary routinely and finished with five catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, and he might have scored two more touchdowns if he and Ryan Tannehill had a better connection. Even though the Jets have struggled with deep receivers – 11 receivers have scored double digits in Fantasy points with 13 touchdowns – Wallace has been bad on the road, averaging just five Fantasy points in five games. I'd consider Wallace just a boom or bust No. 3 Fantasy option this week.
T.Y. Hilton (vs. TEN): Hilton is hurt and struggling right now, and this matchup should make most Fantasy owners hesitant to trust him. He's dealing with a shoulder injury, and although he's expected to play he could be limited with his production. Hilton has combined for seven Fantasy points in his past two games, including a four-point outing at Tennessee in Week 11. The Titans have only allowed one receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points and only two have scored touchdowns, none since Week 2. Hilton had just five catches for 44 yards in the first meeting, and even though he should improve since he's better at home than on the road, we'd still be nervous starting him since he's at less than 100 percent with his shoulder.
Marques Colston (at SEA): It will be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with Richard Sherman in matching him up with Colston or Jimmy Graham. If he faces Colston then it will be a long night, but even if Colston avoids Sherman he could struggle, including Seattle being without suspended defensive backs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond. Colston only has two games with double digits in Fantasy points, and both were at home. He has 12 Fantasy points combined in four road games, and he doesn't look explosive in his routes. Seattle has also allowed just five receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points, but only one since Week 5. Colston hasn't played well enough this season to warrant starting in a tough matchup on the road.
Bust alert: Eric Decker (at KC): The thing Fantasy owners feared with Decker has happened. The addition of Wes Welker has hurt Decker's value, and he has just three touchdowns and three games with double digits in Fantasy points this season. He's now gone four games in a row without scoring or going over 75 receiving yards, so he's due. But do you really want to trust him even in a favorable matchup? He had five catches for 71 yards on six targets in Week 11 against the Chiefs, and that's about what you can expect in the rematch. In three career games at Kansas City, Decker has six catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. He's just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week based on his recent struggles, and hopefully he will snap out of this funk soon.
Jordan Cameron (vs. JAC): Cameron should benefit with Brandon Weeden taking over for the injured Campbell (concussion) since the two played well together this season. In the four previous games where Weeden started against Miami, Baltimore, Detroit and Green Bay, Cameron has 26 catches, 322 yards and two touchdowns, with at least nine Fantasy points in three of those outings. The Jaguars have allowed eight tight ends to score at least seven Fantasy points this season, including three in the past four games.
Delanie Walker (at IND): Walker beat up the Colts in their first meeting in Week 11 with 10 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets, and we can see him playing well again. He had a down game in Week 12 at Oakland compared to his recent performances with just five catches for 46 yards, but the targets were there with nine, giving him 27 in his past three games. The key for tight ends having success against the Colts this year is volume. Five tight ends have six or more targets against Indianapolis this season, and three have reached double digits in Fantasy points when that has happened. Based on how much work Walker has seen of late, we expect him to have a chance to shine.
Timothy Wright (at CAR): The key for Wright all season has been targets, and he's done a nice job when the Bucs have involved him in the game plan. There have been five times this season where he has at least five targets, and he has at least seven Fantasy points in four of those outings, including last week at Detroit and Week 8 against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed three tight ends to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past five games, and we expect the Bucs to be trailing in this game, meaning Wright should get the workload he needs. He should be considered a low-end starting option for this matchup.
|Anthony Fasano||(vs. DEN)||He scored in two straight games, including vs. DEN in Week 11.|
|Brent Celek||(vs. ARI)||ARI has allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year.|
|Jeff Cumberland||(vs. MIA)||MIA has allowed 29 Fantasy points to tight ends the past two weeks.|
Antonio Gates (vs. CIN): Gates is struggling of late with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 4. The workload has been there with at least six catches in three of his past seven games, and he has at least six targets in every game since Week 1. But he hasn't topped 65 receiving yards in his past six outings, and now he's getting outplayed by No. 2 tight end Ladarius Green. Over the past four games, Green has 25 Fantasy points compared to 24 for Gates. The Bengals haven't allowed a tight end to score double digits in Fantasy points since Week 6, and Gates should only be considered a low-end starting option at best in standard leagues.
Jared Cook (at SF): Cook is back on the radar after scoring a touchdown in two of his past four games, but that doesn't mean we're ready to trust him again. He's already faced the 49ers once this season and finished with four catches for 45 yards on eight targets. San Francisco has allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but only two have reached double digits in Fantasy points. And of Cook's three games this season with nine or more Fantasy points, all have been at home. We're glad Cook is playing better of late after being such a disappointment following Week 1, but don't consider him a starting option this week.
Heath Miller (at BAL): Miller had one of the strangest stat lines you'll find in his first matchup with the Ravens in Week 7 when he scored a touchdown but finished with just five Fantasy points. He had two catches for 17 yards and a fumble, which hurt his production, and we expect him to struggle again this week. The Ravens have only allowed four tight ends to score more than seven Fantasy points this season but none since Week 6. Miller does have touchdowns in consecutive games against Baltimore, but he also has three games with fewer than 45 receiving yards in his past five meetings overall. And in his past five trips to Baltimore he is averaging three catches and 35 yards with one total touchdown.
Bust alert: Tony Gonzalez (at BUF): Gonzalez is struggling of late with only 14 Fantasy points in his past three outings. He has just three games this season with a touchdown, and he's scored just once in his past seven outings. The Bills have given up two huge games to Greg Olsen and Graham this year, but those are the only tight ends to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including matchups with Cameron, Charles Clay and Miller. Olsen is also the lone tight end to have more than 50 receiving yards against Buffalo, and that was in Week 2. It's hard to bench Gonzalez in the majority of leagues based on his potential, but he's been a letdown of late. If you can find another option, it might be a good idea to keep Gonzalez reserved in this matchup.
Patriots (at HOU): The three teams that have allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing DSTs this season are Jacksonville, the Giants and Houston. For the Texans, a good portion of that was because of Schaub and his four-game run with a pick-six, but last week they got blasted at home by the Jaguars. And only the Chargers DST in Week 1, the Colts in Week 9 and the Raiders in Week 10 failed to score at least 12 Fantasy points in a standard league against Houston. The Texans appear to have checked out on this lost season, and the Patriots are starting to make their playoff push. They have 16 sacks in their past four games with seven forced turnovers over that span, and we expect them to add to the Texans' misery in this matchup.
Chiefs (vs. DEN): Telling you to sit the Chiefs DST this week is obvious, even at home. We want to lay out a plan for how to use the Chiefs DST moving forward. First off, they won't be good if Hali and Houston are out for an extended period of time, so monitor those injuries closely. If both are healthy by Week 14 at Washington then you can start the Chiefs DST that week against a sputtering Redskins offense. The Chiefs DST should also do well at Oakland in Week 15 and vs. Indianapolis in Week 16. But for this week, keep them reserved because they have combined for just five Fantasy points the past two games, including four points at Denver in Week 11. They have just one sack in their past three games, and the key to their success is attacking the quarterback, which is why having Hali and Houston healthy is so important.
|Robbie Gould||at MIN|
|Justin Tucker||vs. PIT|
|Caleb Sturgis||at NYJ|
Dan Carpenter (vs. ATL): The timing could be right for this matchup because Carpenter is coming off his best game of the season in Week 11 against the Jets when he kicked three field goals and made four extra points. He has five games this season with double digits in Fantasy points, and the Falcons have allowed seven kickers to score at least 10 points, including three of their past four opponents. This game is indoors in Toronto, so the elements of Buffalo shouldn't be an issue. And if the Bills can move the ball against the Falcons like most teams have all season then Carpenter should have plenty of chances to produce at a high level.
Greg Zuerlein (at SF): There is only one kicker to score double digits in Fantasy points against the 49ers this season, which was Garrett Hartley in Week 11, including a matchup with Zuerlein in Week 4 when he made his lone attempt and no extra points. Zuerlein did just score 10 Fantasy points in Week 12 against Chicago, but that's just the third time he's done it all season and first since Week 5. In three career meetings with San Francisco, Zuerlein is 4 of 7 on field goals with an average of five Fantasy points in those meetings. Last year at San Francisco, Zuerlein was 1 of 2 on field goals and three extra points for six Fantasy points, and we'd be surprised if he topped that total this week.
Disclaimer ... Please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you with the tough decisions.