EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Well, well, it was definitely a ridiculous week 12 in the world of fantasy football! So many buzzkills, so many unpredictable performances. It was just a weird week, and it was a bad time for it, as we are right on the cusp of the fantasy postseason! If you started Brandin Cooks, Eric Ebron, Antonio Gates, or Sterling Shepard, or even DeMarco Murray, you have to be crushed. On the other hand though, if you started Colin Kaepernick, Matt Barkley, Jared Goff, or Derrick Henry, you have to be celebrating big time. Of course, if you started the last two, you must be a gambling man, but hey, pat yourself on the back! Well, regardless of what happened, we have to put it behind us and continue on with week 13! This is a big week, as either your playoffs are starting or they will next week. So, you're either in must-win mode to make the playoffs or move on to the next playoff round, or maybe you have already made the playoffs and just want to improve your seeding. If it's none of those, then maybe you just want to play spoiler and stick it to someone, LOL! Oh, and by the way, it's the last bye week in the NFL, with Tennessee and Cleveland both off. So, let's get to it:
CHIEFS AT FALCONS -- 12:00 CST
This should be an interesting matchup, featuring a pretty tough-minded Chiefs' defense trying to hold down a dynamic Falcons' offense. Kansas City isn't a total shutdown 'D' in any one facet of the game, but Andy Reid's bunch will definitely give maximum effort. With the return of defensive end, Justin Houston, it's definitely helped the Chiefs' pass rush. I still like Matt Ryan in this one, to have a decent game. I don't see him going over 300 yards, but maybe a line more like the last couple weeks, around 260 yards and a touchdown or 2. By the numbers, Atlanta should have a little more success passing it than running it. You're obviously starting Ryan as your QB-1. Julio Jones is an obvious WR-1 start too. Both Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel have really come on the last month, and either one now warrants usage as a WR-3 or flex start. The tight ends have really fallen off here, so I don't trust either of them, in this important week. At running back, you're probably not sitting Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman, but they could find the sledding a little tough here. Although, you have to like what Freeman did last week against Arizona, who has one of the toughest run defenses in the NFL. I'd still use Freeman as a RB-1 and Coleman as a RB-2 or flex, because what he doesn't do on the ground, he's made up for in the passing game. The Falcons' defense is just average, and only use them if you can't find a better matchup.
For K.C., I really like running back Spencer Ware here! He has a great matchup by the numbers, and you know he's getting the carries, so there's nothing to worry about there! He'll even contribute a few catches to help boost his totals. Start him with confidence as your RB-1. As for others, I like tight end Travis Kelce, as he continues to be a focal point of this offense. Case in point, he's had back-to-back 100-yard games! Roll with him as your TE-1. You can't deny the excitement that WR Tyreek Hill has brought to this team! The speedster scored 3 touchdowns last week: 1 receiving, 1 rushing, and 1 return TD!! Gale Sayers was the last player to do that! Keep using Hill as a WR-3 or flex! Now, Jeremy Maclin has been practicing some this week, so he finally may come back from his groin injury. I'm not sure I'd use him though, in this critical week, because he hadn't been doing much before he got hurt! QB Alex Smith is just a guy who doesn't do anything spectacular for fantasy, so don't bother. The Chiefs' defense is a risky start, against Atlanta, so sit them.
LIONS AT SAINTS -- 12:00 CST
Well, this should be a doozy! This game, not surprisingly, has the highest over/under total by 4 points, at 53.5!! I fully expect it to live up to those expectations, making this a sure-fire fantasy bonanza! For Detroit, most of the skill guys are easy starts! You have to use Matthew Stafford here, as he's had past success, when these two have played. It's nice that the toughest part of Stafford's schedule, from a fantasy perspective, is behind him. Houston, Jacksonville, and Minnesota twice, was a tough run. Looking ahead now, he has this one, then Chicago, the Giants, and Dallas. The Giants are the only one of those with a scary pass defense. Stafford's a QB-1 in this one. The receivers should be fine here too, Marvin Jones showed life last week with 4 catches, and I think he could finally break out again here. Use him as a WR-2. Golden Tate should have a field day for PPR formats, and be fine in general. Use him as a WR-2. Anquan Boldin is even worthy of a WR-3 or flex start. I expect tight end Eric Ebron to return to prominence here. Ebron had a head-scratching 0 catches on 1 target last week, but I'm not worried. Forget that game and use him here in a juicy matchup as your starting tight end. Running back Theo Riddick is a perfect guy for a game like this. Even if he doesn't do it in the run game, he'll still get several targets out of the backfield if they're trailing and forced to throw like crazy. Heck, even if they keep up, they could be throwing like crazy! Use Riddick as a RB-2. The Lions' defense is not a good start in what should be a wild one.
For N'awlins, load up all your skill guys here! Let's hope that Brandin Cooks is not a forgotten man anymore!! That was ridiculous. The Saints scored 49 points last week, 49!! And how many points did Cooks get?? 0, nil, notta, nothin!!! That was just a killer for everyone who used him. So, what do we do? Well, we forget it. Just forget it and keep him in your lineup. I think that was a major fluke, as head coach Sean Payton said that the reason it happened, was that the Rams' coverage did everything to take him away. Well, they succeeded, but it was still amazing that Brees didn't even try to throw it to him...just amazing. Well, fire up Cooks this week, as a WR-1 or 2, because I think they will make it a point to throw it to him for sure! WRs Michael Thomas and Willie Snead are still viable obviously, with Thomas being the much bigger factor than Snead. Thomas is a WR-2, and Snead is a WR-3 or flex IF you need him. Snead hasn't been that reliable though, so I know he's been on a lot of people's benches and generally, that's been the right move. Tight end Coby Fleener had a measly 4 grabs for 59 yards last week. How bad has he been before that? That was his highest yardage total since week 6! I haven't trusted Fleener at all, but this could be a week to use him, if you need him. Use him at your own risk though. The running game has been good, but it's just frustrating, since Mark Ingram and Tim HIghtower are splitting the load. Fortunately, they've both been usable, for the most part. Ingram is a good RB-2 this week, while Hightower is a low-end RB-2 or flex. The Saints' defense shoudl be benched or left on the waiver wire for sure!
RAMS AT PATRIOTS -- 12:00 CST
For L.A., rookie Jared Goff had his best game, OBVIOUSLY, as a pro, with 3 TDs and over 210 yards passing. I'm not messing with him this week, against New England. Bill Belichick is not about to let Goff beat him. He could; however, find some room to throw, if Belichick decides to take away running back, Todd Gurley. Belichick is known to try to center his defense around taking away the opposing teams' best player. So, I wouldn't be surprised if they stack the box and dare Goff to beat them. Since Goff had a nice game last week, though, that may not be the strategy, and they may try to amp up the pass rush and pressure Goff into mistakes because quite frankly, Gurley hasn't been very impressive this year. If you need him, I'd use Gurley as a RB-2 this week, and get what you get. If you have two better options by now, then sit him down. WR Kenny Britt has been a steadying influence this season, so keep rolling with him, as a WR-2, 3, or flex. Lance Kendricks has had back-to-back 4-catch games, so he's a use-him-if-you-need-him tight end. I don't trust Tavon Austin or Brian Quick enough to use them in this critical week. You're playing to win this week! The Rams' defense should not be used against TB-12 and the Patriots!
The Pats have guys to obviously start every week, but boy they're a pain in the butt, when it comes to the injury report. Clearly, Tom Brady is a must-start at quarterback! Now, the main injury concern for New England is Gronk. Rob Gronkowski hurt his back last week at New York, and that's not good, because he's had a history of back problems. His availability is in doubt for sure, so you definitely have to keep an eye on his status this weekend. If he sits, it's Martellus Bennett, and he'll be a TE-1. Julian Edelman is a WR-2 start as usual, so keep rolling with him. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell has no doubt been a factor the past couple weeks, with 3 TDs and plenty of yards. He's still just a flex play for me, because there's just so many mouths to feed in this offense, that it's hard to tell who's going to produce each week. Heck even Chris Hogan had 4 for 70 yards last week! I wouldn't risk it with Hogan though. The running back situation is quite possibly the most maddening now, with Dion Lewis back in the fold. The roles are mostly defined here at least, but still it's a headache. LeGarrette Blount is still the workhorse for early downs, and he's still worth starting as a RB-2, because he will get at least 50% of the rushes, plus any goal line carries that arise. Lewis does mix in on occasion to spell Blount, and he also splits up passing work with James White. For instance, last week, he had 6 carries and 4 catches, and two weeks ago, he had 5 carries and 3 catches. White had no carries the last two weeks, but 6 catches and 4 catches the past two. So, I think both are merely flex starts for now. The Patriots' defense is fine to use, as they'll try to force Goff into mistakes as much as they can.
BRONCOS AT JAGUARS -- 12:00 CST
For Jacksonville, this is a bad matchup. I don't like any of the receivers here. Seriously, against this vaunted Denver pass defense, I'm sitting Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee, and Allen Hurns. Let's face it, Robinson is the only one you'd consider starting, and he's been disappointing and frustrating. With QB Blake Bortles playing awful, I just don't think there's any upside for Robinson, so bench him and the other two, unless you absolutely have no other choice. Hurns may not go anyway, as he's dinged up. I'm benching Bortles too here. The Broncos' pass rush will give him fits. Tight end Julius Thomas may sit again with his back injury. If you need Ben Koyack, he's a reach, but he could be a safety valve for Bortles and get some catches. As for the run game, can you really rely on them? Chris Ivory left last week with a hamstring injuiry, and T.J. Yeldon is still nursing a bad ankle. Don't go here. The Jags' defense should be avoided too. If the offense can't do anything, the defense can't last.
For Denver, Trevor Siemian is dealing with a foot injury, and he'll probably be able to play, but watch reports before Sunday. It's Paxton Lynch if he can't go. Obviously, DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are must-starts in the receiver world. They're both solid WR-2's. The Jags' defensive backs are pretty good against the pass, but I think Thomas and Sanders are better talents and will still make hay. Tight end A.J. Derby is someone to keep an eye on here. He's come on the last couple weeks, since coming over from New England, and he has 2 and 4 catches in those games. Don't use him yet, but just watch his progress, as he could be a sneaky play at some point. Running back Devontae Booker certainly hasn't been flashy, as he has yet to exploide with a big game. What he has been though is steady, and he's getting the bulk of the touches in this backfield, so keep using him as a RB-2. Hopefully this is the week, that he goes off, and it is a good matchup by the numbers, so maybe, just maybe, he'll finally crack 100 yards. The Broncos' defense is a must-start, and I'm anticipating a big game for them with turnover-prone Bortles at the helm.
TEXANS AT PACKERS -- 12:00 CST
Well you'd have to be crazy to bet against Aaron Rodgers and company in this one. Brock Osweiler has played mediocre, at best, for Houston, and I don't think they'll be able to keep up with Green Bay. You're obviously starting Rogers in this one, as I think he'll be fine and put up his usual big numbers. Receiver Davante Adams has been a revelation this season. He's the classic example of a wide receiver putting it all together in his third season. He's a solid WR-2 play. Jordy Nelson is also a solid start so plug him in your WR-1 spot! Randall Cobb looks fully healthy now, as he's contributed nicely the last couple weeks. I would use him as a third receiver in a PPR. You just can't trust tight end Jared Cook, and I knew that he wouldn't repeat the performance from 2 weeks ago! As for the running game, it's either James Starks or no one. Starks is a borderline RB-2/flex play for me. At this point you can't really start Ty Montgomery, theiR RB/WR. The Packers' defense isn't a horrible streaming option playing at home, and Osweiler has been known to make his share of mistakes.
For Houston, I would not start Osweiler, as he has just been very blasé. I wouldn't be surprised if Houston brings in another quarterback next year to challenge him for the starting job. At receiver, DeAndre Hopkins should be able to have a decent game, as the Packers' secondary is the weakness of their defense. The question is can Osweiler get him the ball! I'd start Hopkins as a WR-2. Will Fuller seems to be back to 100%, so I think you can use him as a WR-3. I wouldn't start Braxton Miller, but he's a nice player who could make some noise in the future. At tight end, CJ Fiedorowicz is second on the team in passing targets, so you're definitely using him here. Ryan Griffin has taken a few targets, but keep using Fiedorowicz, as Osweiler likes to throw it to the middle of the field. At running back, Lamar Miller should be able to give you enough production to at least warrant RB-2 status. The only problem he may have is that if Houston falls behind, they may have to throw it more than run it. Hopefully, Miller can get some dump-offs in the passing game though to boost his totals. As for the Texans' defense, I wouldn't touch them against the Packers!
EAGLES AT BENGALS -- 12:00 CST
Well we've had a chance to see what the Bengals did without AJ Green and Giovani Bernard. Predictably, Jeremy Hill was a big beneficiary of no Bernard. Hill was especially helpful in PPR leagues with his 6 catches. He likely would've been more productive on the ground, if not for the brutal matchup against Baltimore. I think he'll be much better this week on the ground, so with him getting the majority of the touches now in the backfield, you definitely should keep starting him. Rex Burkhead did mix in last week and was on the field quite a bit actually, but did not get many touches. At receiver, just as we thought, it was mainly Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. I think you can make a case to start both as WR-3's. Tyler Eifert is going to get plenty of targets as well, without Green, so keep rolling with him as your starting tight end. QB Andy Dalton is okay to use if you need him, for a fairly steady source of production--nothing terrible, nothing incredible. The Bengals' defense could make some plays against rookie Carson Wentz, but they're nothing special.
For Philly, the running back situation is one to watch. Ryan Mathews may or may not play this week, so keep an eye on his status over the weekend. If he does play, he's a RB-2 or flex. If not, it's more Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Those two shared the load last week, but neither was spectacular. If Mathews sits, then both our flex-worthy. If not, Sproles is just flex-worthy. At receiver, it sure has been ugly. Jordan Matthews is basically the #1 guy, but we've all seen him play like he's not sometimes. He's a little banged up, but head coach Doug Pederson expects him to play Sunday. As long as he does, he's worth a WR-3 slot. You can't trust Doriel Green-Beckham or Nelson Aguilar. Tight end Zach Ertz had a disappointing game last week, but before that he had been solid. Use him if you need him this week. Rookie Carson Wentz could be able to put up numbers against this Bengals' defense, but I would look for better options in this critical week. The Eagles' defense is a decent start this week, with Cincy missing two of its stars.
DOLPHINS AT RAVENS -- 12:00 CST
The Dolphins are definitely red hot, and it's helped their fantasy outlooks. Running back Jay Ajayi has been great since starting although he surprisingly had a down game last week. This week will be his toughest matchup yet against the Ravens' stout run defense. It's one of the best run defenses in the league, so I would actually consider sitting him if you have two other backs with better matchups. As for Ryan Tannehill, he's been up and down lately for fantasy, but I think he'll have to sling it a lot this week, especially if they can't get much going on the ground. The good thing is that Tannehill has been much better taking care of the football. He only has 1 interception in the last 4 games. I'd start him if you need to. At receiver, Davante Parker is a little banged up, so check his status before kickoff. If he does play, he's not a bad WR-3 if you need him because he's finally making plays. Jarvis Landry hasn't been 100%, and I think that's contributed to his lackluster numbers. He's still a decent WR-3 or flex, especially in a PPR. Kenny Stills will also make the occasional play, but I think he's too risky to use. As for the Miami 'D', I think they're a safe play this week because the Ravens don't put up a ton of points each week, and the Miami pass rush has been very good.
For Baltimore, I don't really like Joe Flacco this week. The Miami pass rush, as I just mentioned, is very good, and Flacco just hasn't been that good for fantasy. For the whole season, Flacco only has eclipsed 20 fantasy points three times. He's only thrown for over 300 yards twice, and he only has two multi-touchdown games. So I'd sit him. At running back, Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon continue to split the load. I'm leaning towards Dixon as the higher-upside play. They're both just flex plays though right now. At receiver we're only worrying about two guys: Steve Smith and Mike Wallace. Smith is the better play in a PPR, but either way he's a WR-2. Wallace is a better WR-2 or 3 in a standard format. Breshad Perriman has been better, but he's still only startable in 14-team leagues or higher. Tight end Dennis Pitta is a headache, and I can't recommend starting him. The Ravens' defense is a good start, though.
49ERS AT BEARS -- 12:00 CST
For 'Da Bears', it ain't pretty, but they're toughing it out. Jordan Howard seems to be like the last man standing, as far as notable fantasy options! Howard has a good matchup against a 49ers' defense that has given up big-time numbers in the run game most of the year. Now, they did surprisingly hold Miami's Jay Ajayi last week, but you're still starting Howard as your RB-1 or 2! As for the rest of the skill guys, quarterback Matt Barkley had a great game last week, and he has another great matchup this week. Dare I say if you need someone at quarterback, he could be a guy to roll the dice with. The receiving corps is a mess right now with Alshon Jeffery suspended and tight and Zach Miller out for the season. There are a couple of guys who could help you. Marquess Wilson and Cameron Meredith are the top options right now. Wilson had a huge game last week while Meredith disappointed. Meredith has had a couple big games though earlier in the year. It's very hard to say who will produce, especially when there's a couple other guys in the mix too. I'd stay away from this mess, unless you're desperate. The tight end situation is even uglier, and you should go elsewhere for a tight end this week! The Bears' defense is a risky proposition considering the 49ers are capable of scoring points.
For the 'Niners, I never thought I'd be saying this, but Colin Kaepernick is fantasy gold right now! Since the 49ers' bye week in week 8, the last 4 weeks, Kaepernick has thrown 8 touchdowns and scored no less than 23 fantasy points--incredible! If you've been starting him, good for you, and if he's still available on your waiver wire, pick him up and start him if you need to. The Bears defense can definitely be had. At running back, Carlos Hyde is back to receiving the bulk of the workload, so just based on that, he's a good RB-2 start. As for the receivers, it's hit or miss, and it's hard to trust anybody. Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, and others have made plays, but they've been so inconsistent, you can't start any of them. Tight end Vance McDonald has been the best pass-catcher over the last four weeks. If you have Delanie Walker, who's on a bye week, McDonald could be a decent fill-in. As for the 49ers' defense, forget it!!
BILLS AT RAIDERS -- 3:05 CST
For the Bills, they're the poster boys for the walking wounded. The receiving corps is an absolute mess. Robert Woods (knee), Percy Harvin (migraines), and Walter Powell are all likely to miss this one. Marquise Goodwin also left practice Thursday with a wrist injury so his status will be up in the air. The good news is that Sammy Watkins practiced in a limited fashion and should be able to play at least part of the game Sunday. Tight in Charles Clay should also be out there for what it's worth. I would use Watkins as a WR-3, but don't use Clay unless you're desperate. Also, receivers Justin Hunter and Brandon Tate will be asked to pick up the slack, but don't use them. LeSean McCoy is fine, and he's an RB-1 for sure! The Raiders can be run on, and really McCoy is matchup-proof. Mike Gilislee may return and serve as the backup once again. QB Tyrod Taylor will have a lot on his shoulders, and with his dual-threat capabilities, he's a good start if you have him in a regular league and especially 2-QB leagues. As for the defense, they're in a tough spot on the road, against a Raiders' offense that's rolling. I'd consider sitting them if you have a better option.
For Oakland, it's a tough matchup for them, and I'm not expecting a lot from the run game, against this tough Bills' run defense. I think Latavius Murray is a borderline RB-2/flex start. The one thing he does have going for him, is that he has been getting more volume lately. Jalen Richard will see a few touches and pass targets, but you can't play him. I would expect Oakland to lean on Derek Carr a little more this week, and he should be able to put up decent numbers. Now keep in mind that Bills' head coach Rex Ryan did call out his defensive backs a couple weeks ago, and they played better last week against Jacksonville. Of course, Oakland's is a much better offense, so I think Carr will be able to at least put up 250 yards and a TD or two. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper will have their hands full with the Bills' cornerbacks, but it's hard to sit either one. Just keep that in mind that neither may go off. Third receiver Seth Roberts could play a key role in this one, but he's a tough guy to use because he doesn't get the targets that Crabtree and Cooper do. Tight ends Clive Walford and Michael Rivera could make a play here, but you can't start them. The Raiders' defense is just average, and I wouldn't use them, as Buffalo is capable of putting up points.
GIANTS AT STEELERS -- 3:25 CST
This should be an interesting one and a fun one to watch! Ben Roethlisberger is back at home, so hopefully everyone can relax. I knew that Big Ben would be fine last week, even though he was on the road in Indy. Everyone has been worried about his home/road splits, which are bizarre, but sure enough Roethlisberger came through against a crummy Colts' defense. He had 3 TDs and over 220 yards. Once they got the lead, they were able to run it a lot, but at least Ben threw the TDs. He's a good start this week, back at home, despite the Giants' tough pass defense. Antonio Brown is a guy who helps make Ben's life easier. Brown is matchup proof, and his ability to get open gives Roethlisberger a reliable to throw to. LeVeon Bell is obviously in your lineup, and since he's so involved in the passing game, that helps him and Big Ben. Other than those three, it starts to get pretty tough to figure. Eli Rogers was playing well for a couple weeks, but he's fallen out of the spotlight again. Part of that is possibly because the Steelers didn't have to throw it a ton the past two weeks. He's at most a flex play in this one. Sammie Coates has been non-existent, but Ben did take a few downfield shots to him, he just didn't catch them. That could happen again, but he's a tough guy to gamble on. At tight end, LaDarius Green has the highest upside of the bunch. He's the only who's made any plays the past few weeks, but I would only use him if you're hurting. Hopefully, he'll become a bigger part of the offense. This week could be a week they lean on him, with the tough New York corners. The defense is not great, and they're not a great start against this potent Giants' offense.
For N.Y., Odell Beckham is an obvious start. Sterling Shepard was one of those disappointments, that we mentioned at the top of the article. It was bizarre that he didn't have a single target in last week's win, and actually, Eli Manning publicly apologized to him about it! I think with that, we're going to see a bit of an over-correction here, much like with Brandin Cooks. Expect Shepard to get his this week, and I'd still start him as a WR-3 or flex if you normally have been because I think Manning will make sure to find him. Victor Cruz is pretty much a non-factor at this point. Manning by the way is fine to start this week, if you normally use him. It's not a very scary matchup for him. In the backfield, Rashad Jennings has been much better the past 3 weeks, and well, it certainly helps, when he gets the volume doesn't it?? Expect that trend to continue much like it did in the latter part of last season, so I'd roll Jennings out as my RB-2, if I had him. Tight end Will Tye is not getting enough targets to worry about. The Giants' defense is tough, but they're up against Big Ben, so I'd lean towards sitting them this week if you can.
REDSKINS AT CARDINALS -- 3:25 CST
For Washington, this is not going to be easy! This Cards' defense is pretty darn tough all around. Running back Rob Kelley is a tough customer, but I think he's going to find the sledding pretty tough this week, against this Arizona front line. You probably have to use him as your RB-2 or flex, but if you have a way to sit him and roll with someone else, then that's the direction I'd go. At least, we know that Kelley is the unquestioned top back. Kirk Cousins and company may find things a little easier, but he may have to get creative to put up numbers. He's a low-end QB-1 this week. Of the receivers, I think Jamison Crowder has a chance to do some work this week, as the Redskins will often move him around the formation to get him open. He can catch those wide-receiver screen passes, run short in or out routes, or fly downfield. I'd use him as a WR-3 or flex. Pierre Garcon is just a flex this week for me, but I think he'll get some catches. DeSean Jackson may be shadowed by CB Patrick Peterson, so that could limit his production. D-Jax is still a WR-3 if you need him. Either Garcon or Crowder could see Tyronn Mathieu, or he could cover both some. Basically, the Redskins' passing game may not put up the type of numbers they have been. At tight end, Jordan Reed looks doubtful to play thanks to his grade-3 AC joint shoulder separation, so the next man up would be Vernon Davis. Davis could make some hay, if the receivers see the tougher matchups. He's been pretty darn good this season, especially when Reed has been out. The Washington defense has been okay at times, but this doesn't set up to be a good matchup for them.
For Arizona, I really David Johnson here, but heck when has there been a week when we haven't liked him, eh?!? The dude's been a beast all year! He's just ridiculous, and he's shown no signs of slowing down. He's your stud RB-1 as always. Quarterback Carson Palmer will be okay this week, so roll with him if you need him, and as always, he'll be looking for Larry Fitzgerald! Fitzy is a WR-1 or 2 for you, and I'm not worried about last week. Keep using him if you have been. A big reason is because no one else has been consistently putting up production in the receiving corp. Michael Floyd played last week despite his hamstring, so I would expect him to play, but you can't rely on him. John Brown is dealing with his sickle cell issue again, so he's a risky play, but we haven't been able to rely on him either! J.J. Nelson? Forget it. It's such a shame, because boy last year this passing offense was fantasy gold! Now, not so much, beyond Fitzgerald. Just think, what would the Cardinals do if they didn't have David Johnson?? Moving on, the defense should do okay here at home, so if you need them, go ahead and start them.
BUCCANEERS AT CHARGERS -- 3:25 CST
For San Diego, the main injury concern is receiver Tyrell Williams. He's dealing with a right labrum (shoulder area) injury, and it's something that plagued him in college. He didn't practice middle of the week, so you'll need to check on his status this weekend, if you plan on using him. If he can't go, expect more Dontrelle Inman and maybe Travis Benjamin, if he can get back to 100%. Benjamin did play last week, but just didn't see much action. Inman is probably a WR-3, and the surest bet to get the most targets out of all the other receivers, if Williams sits this one out. I wouldn't gamble on Benjamin yet. The tight end situation was bizarre last week, as Antonio Gates put up the big goose egg! That was unpredictable to say the least, and I would think that Philip Rivers would see to it, that Gates gets some catches this week. Gates is still just a few touchdowns away from breaking the all-time tight end TD record, so that's got to fall this year you would think. I would use Gates for sure this week, as it's a good matchup to boot! Hunter Henry is still there, and heck he's had TDs in two straight games, BUT only 4 total grabs. I wouldn't risk using him. Running back Melvin Gordon is still the lead dog in the backfield, and he has a pretty decent matchup here, so I'd use him as usual. Rivers is a QB-1 for sure, and he should have no problem shredding the Bucs' pass defense! The Chargers' 'D' is actually a sneaky play here, as they've been strong in the pass rush department, thanks to dynamic, but controversial rookie, Joey Bosa.
For Tampa, yes, they will have to deal with Bosa, but I don't think you should bail on everyone! Jameis Winston has been playing very well lately, and I think you still can start him. This could turn into a shootout, and I think he'll put up numbers. Receiver Mike Evans is one the most targeted, if not the most, receivers in the NFL. There's no way you're sitting him, ever. After him, we all know, it's just a bunch of guys. Tight end Cameron Brate is the next-most trusted passing option, and he's usable if you need him. He hasn't been going off, but he'll get you around 4-5 catches most weeks. After that, it's Adam Humphries and Russell Shepard, but they're both too inconsistent to rely on, when you need to get a win! Running back Doug Martin has been the man for sure, so keep using him, as he's been getting the volume and averaging around 10 fantasy points, since he returned to action. The backups haven't been seeing much action, but it's worth noting that Jacquizz Rodgers is healthy now, so he'll likely be the #2 and could get some reps now. The Bucs' defense is not a good start this week!
PANTHERS AT SEAHAWKS -- 7:30 SUNDAY NIGHT
For Carolina, this is a tough spot, on the road at Qwest Field! Obviously, we all know that Cam Newton and company have what it takes to put up numbers, but it surely won't be easy against this defense. It also won't help that Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett and safety Earl Thomas have practiced this week and appear to be back at full strength and ready to go. I would still use Newton here, just because he'll still be able to put up some numbers, between running and throwing. Kelvin Benjamin is dealing with a shoudler, but he's trending in the right direction, so use him if you need him, but most likely, cornerback Richard Sherman will cover him, so that won't be easy. But, hey, Mike Evans just lit up Sherman last week for 100+ yards and 2 TDs, so he's beatable. Benjamin is a WR-2. Ted Ginn has been pretty consistent this season, so use him if you need him as WR-3 or flex. Don't touch Devin Funchess or Philly Brown this week. Tight end Greg Olsen has really fallen off the last 5 weeks, so I don't know what's going on there. He's been healthy from what we can see, so maybe it's just an age thing? Who knows, but if you need him, use him. That's really all we can say here. He's been getting 4-5 catches per week, but only 1 touchdown the last 5 weeks. I'd shy away from running back Jonathan Stewart this week if at all possible, because I think he'll have a tough time finding room to run. If you have to use him, at least you know he WILL get 90% of the carries. The Carolina defense is not a good start this week at all!
For Seattle, I think Thomas Rawls could be in for another tough one here, as the Carolina front seven is the strength of the defense. Rawls, like Stewart above, will get most of the carries, but it just doesn't set up well to do much with them. Use him as a RB-2 if you have to though. I like Russell Wilson in this one for sure, as he'll definitely bounce back from last week's abberation in Tampa! Start him with confidence! Doug Baldwin will be fine, as your WR-1 or 2, and Jimmy Graham will be fine to start as usual at tight end. I wouldn't go any further down the line here, but Tyler Lockett is the better play over Jermaine Kearse if you're in a deep league. The Seahawks' defense should come out firing, so use them since they'll likely be back to full strength.
COLTS AT JETS -- MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
For the Colts, the big question is about the big dog, Andrew Luck! Will he be cleared from concussion protocol in time to play Monday? Well, all indications are that he will, but its's just a matter of wating and seeing for sure. Keep an eye on reports over the weekend, but it doesn't help that he plays on Monday night obviously. Hopefully sometime on Saturday or Sunday, we'll have a better indication. He has practiced in a limited fashion though so far this week, so that's a good sign. Obviously it will be Scott Tolzien if he can't go. T.Y. Hilton is dealing with a back injury, so keep an eye on his status as well, because he's been held out of practice. Hopefully we'll know something soon. We do know though that Donte Moncrief will be in there, so get him in your lineup as your WR-2 or 3. He's been great in the red zone, as he's scored a touchdown in every game since he came back from his injury. Phillip Dorsett would get a bump up in value if Hilton can't go, but I'm not counting on him anyway. The tight end pendulum looks like it has swung back in Dwayne Allen's favor now, so let's downgrade Jack Doyle. It was a good run while it lasted! Allen is startable again now, if you need him. The Colts' run game is of course in good hands with Frank Gore, so keep rolling with him as your RB-1 or 2. The Colts' defense has a better matchup against the lowly Jets, but I don't trust them.
For the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick makes for an interesting option, especially in 2-QB leagues. I still wouldn't want to rely on him as my starter in a regular league, but he actually could put up digits against this Colts' 'D'! If you're dying in a big league, it's something to think about. Matt Forte should be able to find plenty of running room, so roll with him as your RB-1. Backup Bilal Powell has been fairly useful as a flex start, and he could be busy in this one. He's someone to consider in deeper leagues. Brandon Marshall should be fine to use as a WR-3, as I think he'll get his usual amount of targets and more than likely be able to produce decent numbers. Quincy Enunwa seems to have come back to life, but I'm not relying on him at this juncture. The Jets' defensive outlook goes like this. If Luck plays, don't use them. If Luck sits and it's Tolzien, then use them.
Good luck and may the fantasy gods be on your side!