Wow, what a weekend. We had games decided by catches that referees decided were not catches. We had star players knocked out by illegal hits. We even had one game’s outcome determined by a folded index card. Week 15, 2017 will indeed be a week to live in infamy in the football world.
Saturday features two teams battling for playoff positioning facing two teams that have zero to play for except draft position. Despite the worst-efforts of their offense, Baltimore is in the playoff hunt. Joe Flacco and Mike Wallace are potential deep punt plays on this short slate. Indy is beatable through the air, but neither excites me to play them. Ben Watson might be the best tight end option on the docket. The best plays for Baltimore this week are Danny Woodhead and Alex Collins. Jacoby Brissett is a desperation play at best, so are his receivers (despite Baltimore’s secondary woes last week). Frank Gore needs to be in a galaxy far, far away from your starting lineup this week. If you are dead-set on starting a Colt, go with Jack Doyle. In game two, Green Bay has injuries all over their defense, placing the entire Minnesota offense in play. Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are all incredible starts. Kyle Rudolph is the only part of the Vikings’ passing offense that should be left off your radar. I also like both Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, with a slight lean towards Murray for likelihood of scoring. The Packers will be without Aaron Rodgers and (likely without) Davante Adams. They will also be facing one of the best defenses in the NFC. Leave all parts of this passing offense on your bench. I’m even hesitant to start either runner, since they will split carries and be going up against a Pro Bowl-stiffed Linval Joseph and Eric Kendricks.
Sunday Night features more of the same. One team targeting their playoff fate, the other team hoping to get all of their broken pieces back intact next season. Pittsburgh will be without their best wide receiver and the game is on the road, so Big Ben drops from must-start to better-than-average start. Both Martavis Bryant and Juju Smith-Schuster make premium starts against a bad pass defense. Even Eli Rogers deserves some consideration. Jesse James is also in play, and you know he wants to score a TD after last week’s debacle. As for LeVeon Bell, he will be 100% owned – and rightfully so. For Houston, the only player that should be on your radar is DeAndre Hopkins. I dare you to fade him. I won’t.
Monday night could actually feature some scoring. Even without Carson Wentz, Philadelphia will move the ball at will. Unfortunately, weather might hinder Nick Foles from having a second-straight monster game. Making matters shadier, Foles (along with key contributors: Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor) could also see some pine in this game, if it holds no bearing for the Eagles’ playoff positioning. That said, odds are this game will matter. That means that all four of them are solid plays. The Raiders can be beat on the ground, but deciding which Eagles’ back to play on a week-to-week basis requires a psychic. Philadelphia’s defense has gone from world-beating to woebegone in the last couple weeks. Oakland suddenly has a hope of keeping this game competitive. Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree and Marshawn Lynch are all safe plays. Amari Cooper has been unable to play the last few weeks, so don’t count on him. I also wouldn’t waste space on Cordarrelle Patterson or Seth Roberts. Even while Philly’s defense has gone into the crapper, they are still handling tight ends well. Use that as a reason to keep Jared Cook on your bench.
For those playing on FD, I will go with Robbie Gould for $4.7K or Josh Lambo for $4.8K as my kicker. As always, check the weather before locking in your kicker.
My top picks at defense this week are the Chargers and the Lions. Detroit is nearly $1K cheaper on DK but only $0.3K less on FD. So, odds are, that I will have more exposure to Detroit on DK and more exposure to the Chargers on FD.
There are four top quarterbacks I will target from Jared Goff, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford. I also have some interest in punting with either Mitchell Trubisky or Drew Stanton.
Kareem Hunt and Ezekiel Elliott have the highest upside. They also have very high prices. I will likely have one of those two in my lineups, but not both. My other favorites at the top of the salary charts are Christian McCaffrey, Kenyan Drake, Jordan Howard and Dion Lewis. I will do everything in my power to pair one of those four with one of the top two. If I need to save some money here, I can punt with: Jonathan Stewart, James White, Bilal Powell or whoever starts at RB for Arizona. Those lesser options will also likely constitute my DK-FLEX slot.
Keenan Allen is the only sure thing at WR. Even he comes with the caveat of a back issue. If I don’t roster him, I will probably choose Larry Fitzgerald as my WR1. My WR2 will come down to Robert Woods or one of the Detroit Lions. I’m currently leaning Kendall Wright at WR3, but I will also consider one of the Jaguars.
Travis Kelce is my favorite play. I will try to fit him into my lineups. For variance, I like Delanie Walker (On DK only due to salary). If I really want to punt here, I will start Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Kroft or Jeff Heuerman.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: $6.1K to $6.4K for my choice of Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford or Philip Rivers; up to $8.4K for either Ezekiel Elliott or Kareem Hunt; $6.4K or $7.1K for Christian McCaffrey or Kenyan Drake; up to $4.1K for your choice of cheap RB at DK-FLEX $7.7K for Keenan Allen; $6.5K for Robert Woods; $3.8K for Kendall Wright; $4.9K for Delanie Walker; and $2.9K for the Detroit defense.
At FD: up to $8.1K for one of the three above-listed QBs; $8.3K for either Zeke or Hunt; up to $7.3K for McCaffrey or Drake; $20K total for Keenan, Wright and Woods; $7K for Travis Kelce; and $10K or less for your kicker (leaning Robbie Gould) and defense (leaning Chargers).
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – My ownership will be split between Jared Goff, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford. Mitch Trubisky and Drew Stanton are my only punt options, but I shouldn’t need to go down that rabbit hole.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Philip Rivers, Chargers @ NYJ ($6400 DK, $8100 FD)
Philip Rivers had a down week last week. We should’ve seen it coming since he has historically struggled against Kansas City. Prior to that, Rivers averaged 366-2 over his previous three games. He is getting hot at the right time because the Jets have allowed the second most passing touchdowns this season.
Cam Newton, Panthers vs. TB ($6800 DK, $8300 FD)
Tampa Bay is approaching “worst defense in history” territory. Now they have to deal with a dual-threat quarterback, Cam Newton. Newton is coming off his second-best game of the season, and Carolina needs to win to stay in the running for a top seed in the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cam and the rest of this offense combine on nearly 250 total rushing yards.
Jared Goff, Rams @ TEN ($6100 DK, $7700 FD)
The Titans pass defense has gotten stiffer recently allowing only two passing touchdowns over the last four weeks. However, over that stretch, they also allowed Tom Savage and Jimmy Garoppolo to throw for a combined 746 yards against them. Jared Goff is better than those two, and he has all of his weapons back. Goff has also thrown for multiple touchdowns in six of his last seven games. He will again this week.
Matthew Stafford, Lions @ CIN ($6200 DK, $7900 FD)
The Cincinnati Bengals officially quit about 15 minutes into last week’s game. When Marvin Lewis decided to phone it in, so did his players. Some of his defenders are hurt. Some of them are just going through the motions. One thing is for sure, they have no desire to be out on the field. Matthew Stafford will humiliate the few Bengals’ fans that actually show up for this game. Making him a personal favorite for stacking purposes this week along with his receivers: Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate and/or Eric Ebron.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears vs. CLE ($4700 DK, $6800 FD)
Only one team has allowed more passing TDs than Cleveland. Meanwhile, Chicago has allowed Mitchell Trubisky to open up his playbook. Over the last two weeks, Trubisky is fifth in pass attempts, four in pass completions and sixth in passing yards. He actually leads or is tied with Tom Brady in each of those three categories, over that stint. Consider the punt-stack with him and Kendall Wright, if you want to afford both Kareem Hunt and Zeke.
Drew Stanton, Cardinals vs. NYG ($4500 DK, $6000 FD)
The only team to allow more passing touchdowns than Cleveland is the Giants. Drew Stanton has once again been handed the keys to the Cardinals’ offense. Stanton is not exciting, but even he should have success here. After all, the Giants just allowed seven touchdowns to Nick Foles and Dak Prescott. Worst-case scenario, at least Stanton doesn’t have to worry about inclement weather down in Arizona.
|Todd Gurley II||$9,100||$9,100|
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$4,500||$5,900|
Weekly strategy – All of my rosters will have two RBs from this list: Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, Christian McCaffrey, Dion Lewis, Kenyan Drake and Jordan Howard. On DK, I will roster my FLEX from this list: James White, Bilal Powell, Johnathan Stewart, Tarik Cohen or whoever starts for Arizona. I’m looking at about 39% of my budget spent here on DK and up to 27% on FD.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys vs. SEA ($8000 DK, $8300 FD)
Did you see what Todd Gurley just did to this once-great run defense? Now add to that a player (and a team) who has every reason to stick it to the league. This is the prescription for a day of epic proportions. We are talking about 225-4 type of days. We are talking about doing everything to make up for Ezekiel Elliott’s six-week absence. We are talking about Jerry Jones wanting to run up the score on one of the NFL’s “darling” teams. I’m not ready to guarantee 225-4 yet, but less than 150-2 would seem impossible. Zeke will be chalk this week, but there is ZERO chance that you make up the points if you don’t eat that chalk.
Kareem Hunt, Chiefs vs. MIA ($8400 DK, $8300 FD)
If I can finagle it financially, I will try to get both Zeke and Kareem Hunt in my lineups. I know that will be difficult, so Hunt becomes more of a pivot this week for me. The Dolphins are allowing 140 combo yards per game to opposing running backs this year. They also have allowed 15 running back scores over their 14 games. Hunt is back after posting 344-3 during the last two weeks. He will be golden once again here.
Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. ATL ($8300 DK, $8500 FD)
Atlanta is very good against the run, but they have allowed the most receptions to opposing running backs. That sets up nicely for Alvin Kamara, since he leads the league in both running back receiving yards and running back receiving TDs. Kamara is also third in receptions among running backs.
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars @ SF ($7500 DK, $8100 FD)
San Francisco hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last four weeks. However, prior to that, they were giving away 100-yard rushing games at a gifting rate that would make Oprah blush. Leonard Fournette has scored and/or topped 100 total yards in every game except two that he has played. He will do both this week.
James White, Patriots vs. BUF ($4100 DK, $4700 FD)
With Rex Burkhead out, James White should resurrect his pass-catching role in the Patriots’ offense. Buffalo has allowed the most total TDs to opposing running backs. So, scoring opportunities might fall into White’s lap as well.
Bilal Powell, Jets vs. LAC ($4000 DK, $5400 FD)
The Chargers have been brutalized by opposing RBs this season. This includes a 206-2 performance by Kareem Hunt last week. Bilal Powell hasn’t put up big yardage this season, but he has scored in two of his last three games.
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$6,400||$7,300|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$4,600||$5,500|
Weekly strategy – I’m not spreading my choices too wide this week. I love Keenan Allen, Robert Woods and Kendall Wright. Those three will be the primary three on most of my rosters. I will deviate here and there. At WR1, I will consider Larry Fitzgerald or Devin Funchess. At WR2, I will consider Dede Westbrook, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Jarvis Landry and Mike Evans. At WR3, I will consider Keelan Cole, Tavarres King and Damiere Byrd. Expect to spend 36% here on DK and 33% on FD.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Keenan Allen, Chargers @ NYJ ($7700 DK, $8300 FD)
Over the last four weeks, the Jets are allowing an average of 7.5-120-1 to opposing WR1s. Meanwhile Keenan Allen leads all receivers in receptions since Week 11. He also ranks second among WRs in both touchdowns and receiving yards during that span.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals vs. NYG ($6800 DK, $7500 FD)
Consider Larry Fitzgerald as a pivot, if you punt with Drew Stanton. Since Week 9, the Giants have allowed an average of 4.3-83 to an opponent’s top WR. They have also given up six TDs to those top receivers during that stretch. In Stanton’s two starts, Fitzgerald was targeted 23 times rolling up a 15-183 combined line.
Devin Funchess, Panthers vs. TB ($6600 DK, $7000 FD)
Devin Funchess is battling a shoulder issue, but all signs point to him playing Sunday. If he plays, he gets to take his turn torching Tampa. The Buccaneers have allowed far and away the most receptions and receiving yards to opposing WRs. They also have given up the third-most wide receiver touchdowns. Funchess sits in a tie for tenth in WR touchdowns, he will move up that ladder Sunday.
Robert Woods, Rams @ TEN ($6500 DK, $6600 FD)
Robert Woods returned to the active roster and immediately scored again. This gives him five touchdowns in his last four games. He is clearly the top receiving threat for the Rams. Tennessee has not allowed a WR to score in their last four games. That said, they have given up some huge games recently to opposing top WRs, including A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Goodwin.
Kendall Wright, Bears vs. CLE ($3800 DK, $5100 FD)
Over the last three weeks, Cleveland has allowed opposing WR1s to average 8.7-93-1. With 24 targets over the last two weeks, Kendall Wright is clearly the Bears top wide receiver option. Wright has turned those targets into a very respectable 17-188.
Keelan Cole, Jaguars @ SF ($4700 DK, $5300 FD)
Jacksonville will be without their top WR, Marqise Lee, for the next couple weeks. Last week, Keelan Cole picked up the slack posting 7-186-1. Cole will likely serve as a co-WR1 with Dede Westbrook while Lee is out. This means one of them will take on a secondary that allowed Rishard Matthews and DeAndre Hopkins to post 17-244-3 combined the last two weeks.
Weekly strategy – I’m going to throw a lot of money at Travis Kelce. He will be the tight end on most of my rosters. On DK, I will also have a fair amount of exposure to Delanie Walker. My punt options are: Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Kroft and Jeff Heuerman.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. MIA ($6900 DK, $7000 FD)
Travis Kelce is my top play this week at TE. Nine times this year, Miami has allowed either 60+ receiving yards and/or a touchdown to the position. Travis Kelce ranks first among tight ends in targets and receptions. He also ranks fourth in touchdowns and second in yards. He is also $1.4K cheaper than Gronk on FD.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. BUF ($7400 DK, $8400 FD)
Over seven career games in Buffalo, Rob Gronkowski has averaged 6.3-104-1 versus the Bills. Compare that to his home splits against the Bills. In five home games, Gronk is averaging only 3.4-46. He does have four scores in those five games, but you can see the clear dynamic in the splits. Tom Brady has also struggled at home versus the Bills, so Gronk’s struggles should not surprise us. I still think he scores and posts a solid line, just don’t expect a blowup performance.
Delanie Walker, Titans vs. LAR ($4900 DK, $6400 FD)
Delanie Walker has a nice matchup against a Rams’ defense that has allowed four tight end scores over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Walker is red hot, scoring in three of his last four.
Evan Engram, Giants @ ARI ($5600 DK, $6600 FD)
Arizona is middle of the pack against opposing tight ends. Twice this season, the Cardinals have allowed multiple TE touchdowns in a game. I certainly am not counting on Evan Engram scoring twice here, but I do like his odds of getting on the board. Engram has scored in five of his last nine games. He also ranks fifth in both tight end receptions and yards, and sixth in touchdowns.
Tyler Kroft, Bengals vs. DET ($2600 DK, $5300 FD)
Tyler Kroft doesn’t catch many passes, nor does he net a lot of yards. What he does is scores touchdowns. His five tight end scores are tied for ninth-best this year. Detroit has allowed five tight end scores over their last five games, so a touchdown is definitely in play here.
Jeff Heuerman, Broncos @ WAS ($2500 DK, $4500 FD)
Washington has allowed a tight end to score in eight of their last twelve games. Plus, only one team is allowing more yardage per game to the position. Jeff Heuerman is just a guy, but over the last two weeks, he has three targets while Austin Traylor and Virgil Green have combined for one target. He also scored a long TD last week. Heuerman received some play at the end of last year as well. Perhaps, he enjoys the holiday season?