Fantasy Focus Week 15: Fantasy Semifinals - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Fantasy Focus Week 15: Fantasy Semifinals

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -

Well, good for you if you made it into the next round of the playoffs, whichever round you're in now!  It was a crazy weekend, with great performances like LeVeon Bell's 298 total yards, Bilal Powell's 145 yards, and Jeremy Hill's and Isaiah Crowell's 100+ yard games each, but there was also a lot of bummer performances, especially in the passing games around the league.  A lot of quarterbacks and receivers let us down, like QB's Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Ben Roethlisberger, and WR's Mike Evans, Allen Robinson, and DeAndre Hopkins.  There were also several injuries, like Melvin Gordon, Matt Forte, and Ryan Tannehill, that either hurt you now or could hurt you going forward.  Let's move on to rest of week 15, which includes a SATURDAY game this week!

DOLPHINS AT JETS -- SATURDAY NIGHT, 7:25

Boy, it's funny how things change in the NFL.  Offenses go from clicking to lost, and defenses go from tough to leaky.  For the first 8 weeks, when you talked about the Jets' defense, it was how tough they were to run against!  In the first 8 weeks of the season, they only allowed 100+ yards once, just once!  Since week 9 though, it's been the total opposite.  Teams have run for over 100 yards against New York, all but one game, and that was a 91-yard effort by New England.  So, this week, I'm not afraid of Miami's Jay Ajayi at all.  Go ahead and start him, as I think the Dolphins will lean on him quite a bit this week, with Ryan Tannehill almost certainly out, with his sprained ACL and MCL.  It'll be Matt Moore taking over for Tannehill, by the way, and he's not a terrible quarterback.  He's not someone I'd start, though, unless you're in a real pickle, but it will be interesting to see how the offense looks with him under center and what effect, if any, he has on the offense.  I'd expect Jarvis Landry to be heavily targeted, as Moore will probably lean on him quite a bit, with short passes.  Use Landry if you need him, especially in a PPR (points per reception) format.  Moore has been around the block, so he shouldn't be afraid to take shots downfield, to Davante Parker and Kenny Stills.  They're both obviously a bit risky, as you never know who's going to have a big game and who's going to have a dud, so I'd label both as boom or bust flex plays.  In bigger 14 or 16 team leagues, where you most likely have to play them every week, it's always a cross-your-fingers type of thing with those two guys.  Tight end Dion Sims have actually been a little more involved lately with 2 touchdowns in his last 3 games, but don't use him.  The Dolphins' defense makes for an interesting play, against Jets' rookie QB Bryce Petty.

For N.Y., please don't use Petty.  He's way too risky for the fantasy semifinals!  The big news for the Jets is that Matt Forte went down and out with a knee injury last week, and his status is up in the air.  Fortunately, they play Saturday, so that will make everyone's lives easier.  If he sits, it'll be Bilal Powell, who had a monster game last week, filling in for Forte!  Forte owners should pick up Powell, if you don't already have him, and have him on standby if Forte is ruled out.  The latest update is that Forte may give it a go, but I think he'll be very limited anyway.  Powell is a solid running back, who is also a good pass-catcher, so I wouldn't be afraid to plug him in if he has to start.  Whoever plays is a fine RB-2 start.  The wide receiver situation is a head-scratcher, but I can see a reason for it.  Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa have had less-than-stellar games the past two weeks, but those two weeks have come with Petty under center, and not Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Often times, backup QBs feel more comfortable and have a solid rapport with other backup skill guys, that they're used to practicing with on a daily basis.  I think this is the case for Petty, with wideout Robby Anderson.  Anderson has really been good the past two weeks, with 10 catches and over 150 yards and a TD, on 23 targets!  Now, you never know what will happen, but I think Anderson could be worth a flex spot this week if you're in a pinch there.  Of course, since we say this, Petty will probably now make it a point to get on the same page with Marshall and Enunwa and they'll be better this week.  But, I'm banking on the Anderson trend to continue.  The Jets' defense, despite its struggles, does offer some streaming upside this week, with Moore playing QB for Miami.

PACKERS AT BEARS -- SUNDAY, 12:00 CST

Before I go into this one, let's preface by mentioning the weather.  The forecasted high temp in Chicago is supposed to be like 1 degree.  That could play into it, but as long as there's no precipitation, then both teams should be fine.  Heck, they're both used to playing in the cold, being northern teams.  For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers is still being bothered by his calf injury, but he himself said he would play, so that's good.  As he stated, "it will simply be a matter of pain management."  So, I'd roll with him as usual.  He's been one of the best all year, despite the team's mid-season slump.  The top two receivers here have clearly been Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams lately!  You're starting both guys here, as the Bears only have one really good DB, Tracy Porter, and he's getting up there in age.  Randall Cobb, meanwhile, is now dealing with an ankle, which he hurt last week during the game.  He got off to a solid start against Seattle, but then hurt it and did nothing afterward.  He has practiced in a limited fashion, but he's a risk to use, as now seemingly the third option.  He's only a use-him-if-you-need-him guy, as a WR-3 or flex.  I don't trust either of the tight ends here, so don't go there.  At running back, James Starks got in a car wreck Monday and suffered a concussion.  He'll have to be cleared before he can play.  You're not using him, though, as he's just not been good even when he's been in there.  That's partly because Ty Montgomery has been the man back there.  He's exclusively playing as an RB now, and he scored last week, so I think he's safe to play this week if you need him.  The Packers' defense has been playing much better the last few weeks, so they're not a bad play here.

For Chi-town, QB Matt Barkley has actually been pretty good since taking over under center.  Hard to believe, I know.  With an improving Green Bay defense, he's not a guy I'd want to pin my fantasy playoff hopes on.  Keep him on the bench or waiver wire.  The big news for 'Da Bears' is that they get receiver Alshon Jeffery back from his 4-week drugs suspension.  With him, Cameron Meredith, and Marquess Wilson all possibly out there, that's a solid receiving corp.  Problem is that Wilson may not be able to play because of a groin injury.  Keep an eye on Wilson's status this week.  The one issue with Jeffery is that he actually hasn't played with Barkley.  Right before Barkley took over, Jeffery was out there with Brian Hoyer and Jay Cutler.  Then, when Barkley was forced into action, Jeffery got suspended.  So, this will be the first week they're out there together.  One has to wonder how much chemistry they have, but they have been practicing together at least and he's understandably a tough guy to sit if you need him.  I would use him as a WR-3 or flex in this matchup, with that in consideration, plus the improving Packers' 'D'.  I do like Meredith a lot in this one, and I'd use him as a WR-3 or flex if you need him.  Running back Jordan Howard has been studly lately, and while it is a tough matchup, you're using him and that's that.  Don't worry about the tight ends here.  The Bears' defense shouldn't be worried about either.

JAGUARS AT TEXANS -- 12:00 CST

This is an interesting matchup of two quarterbacks who have disappointed everyone in the fantasy football world!  I have suffered through both Blake Bortles and Brock Osweiler, having owned both DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson in leagues this season.  It's been maddening, to say the least!  For the Jags, I do like Allen Robinson's chances this week, because the last two times these teams played, was the only time that he went over 100 yards receiving this year!!  Hard to believe for sure, but with that, plus the Texans' secondary being banged up, I think Robinson can be played this week, as a WR-2 or 3.  Marquise Lee also has a chance to do something this week, as he's been pretty decent this season.  He went over 100 yards last week against Minnesota, so that's a good sign.  WR Allen Hurns most likely will miss another week.  I wouldn't mess with the tight ends, here.  At running back, Chris Ivory's status is up in the air, thanks to his hamstring, and he's missed the last 2 weeks.  Keep an eye on his status.  If he sits, T.J. Yeldon could actually help you, as he's been fairly active the last 2 weeks.  If Ivory plays, then they'll likely split the load again, making both too risky to use.  The Jags' defense has been pretty consistent in points allowed, but they just don't generous many turnovers (only 3 INTs this year!)  You can do better.

For Houston, Lamar Miller is a must-start at running back.  The Texans are doing all they can to hide frustrating QB Brock Osweiler.  Miller is a little banged up, but you're playing him, despite the Jags being fairly decent against the run.  He's no doubt going to get the volume!  The tight end situation is a little messy because C.J. Fiedorowicz has a concussion, and he didn't practice early in the week.  Keep an eye on him, and if he goes, then use him.  If he is not cleared, then Ryan Griffin would make for an interesting plug and play, as he's been getting targets even with C-Fied in there.  Keep an eye leading up to Sunday, and keep Griffin in mind if you Fiedorowicz sits.  The receivers could have their hands full this week, and most specifically DeAndre Hopkins, who will most likely see Jags' top cover corner Jaelan Ramsey.  He shut Hopkins down last time they played, so I'm downgrading Hop, to WR-3/flex at the best.  He's just a use-him-if-you-need-him guy.  Will Fuller is not a great play either, as he just hasn't done much lately, but he could see more targets if they don't throw at Ramsey.  Also, Braxton Miller has been put on injured reserve, so that's one less receiver out there.  If the Texans get the lead, they could do what they did last week and run like crazy.  Backup RB Alfred Blue actually had 16 carries, so the passing game could suffer if they go run-heavy.  Osweiler only threw it 24 times last week!  The Texans' 'D' is a solid start this week, so use them if you need them.

BROWNS AT BILLS -- 12:00 CST

Well, it's December and it's in Buffalo, so as usual, weather could be a factor here.  If you're considering any passing game options, check the weather forecasts, to see if winds or snow will be in play.  In this one, though, there's really not much to worry about when it comes to the passing games.  For the Browns, I worry about this, but *by the numbers*, Cleveland has a very good matchup in the rushing game, against Buffalo.  Isaiah Crowell could help you out in this one, as he's coming off a solid game against Cincy, plus he had the bye week to rest his legs the week before.  The Bills have ranked in the bottom 10 against the run, so I'd use Crowell if you need him.  He's an RB-2 for me, and if the weather's crummy, they could lean on the run.  Don't use Duke Johnson here, as he's not been good.  At receiver, Corey Coleman saw way more targets than Terrelle Pryor last week, but that doesn't mean that will happen this week.  It's hard to trust anyone in this passing game, with Robert Griffin III back under center, but I'd lean towards Pryor if you have to use someone.  He's just the more proven commodity over the whole year.  Don't use RG-III this week or any other the rest of the year.  At tight end, Gary Barnidge didn't see many targets with Griffin back, so you can't trust him here.  He's been pretty disappointing most of the year, except for like 4 games.  The Browns' defense is a bad start, as usual.

For Buffalo, I expect a big game from LeSean McCoy against this Browns' 'D'.  Roll with him as your RB-1 as usual.  Mike Gilislee could even be flex-worthy, in a game I'd expect Buffalo to be in control of for the most part.  For the passing game, Tyrod Taylor should be fine to use if you need him, but in 12-team or fewer leagues, you probably have a better option on your roster.  WR Sammy Watkins should be fine to use here, as well, and I'm sure he'll be the most-targeted receiver out there, with a good chance to make a big play.  He seems to be able to play through his nagging foot issue, so he's a WR-2 or 3.  Robert Woods now goes back onto fantasy benches, as he normally is, when Watkins is healthy.  The Bills just run it too much to support more than one fantasy stud receiver.  Don't mess with tight end Charles Clay this week, even though he scored last week.  By now, you should know his overall body of work makes him far too risky to use in the playoffs.  The Bills' defense should not be a risky play this week, as they make for a great streaming option, with the Browns in town, Sunday!

EAGLES AT RAVENS -- 12:00 CST

For Baltimore, Joe Flacco should be loving this matchup, as the Eagles secondary is one of the most forgiving in football.  He should have no trouble carving them up, and he makes for a good spot start, in a week where a lot of quarterbacks have bad matchups or may be banged up.  I'd strongly consider starting Flacco if you have him or can get him.  Steve Smith and Mike Wallace make for nice WR-2/3, or flex plays, with this in mind.  I think both will get at least 60-70 yards and either has the potential to score.  I'd only consider Breshad Perriman in deeper leagues of 14 or 16 teams, but he could make a play too.  Conversely, the Eagles have been good against tight ends, so consider steering clear of Dennis Pitta, here.  He's been hard to start anyway, as he's really only had like 4 good weeks.  The running backs could have a tougher time too, as Philly is a little better in run defense.  I'd consider staying away from this two-headed rushing attack of Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon.  Dixon was great last week, but I think that was mostly due to the game script, as they were trailing New England the whole game, and forced to throw, and Dixon is the superior pass-catcher to West.  The Ravens' defense is a nice start this week, against Philly and Carson Wentz.

The Eagles could likely follow a similar script to the Ravens offense, that is if Baltimore does indeed lean more on the pass, like I think they could.  That's because the Baltimore run defense is arguably the best in football.  I don't like Ryan Mathews this week, but if you really need him, he will most likely get about 70-80% of the touches.  That's because Darren Sproles could likely miss this weekend, after getting blown up last week, fielding a punt.  Keep an eye on Sproles' status leading up to Sunday, but Kenjon Barner would be the backup if Sproles sits.  So, if you have to play Mathews, at least you can hang your hat on his usage, but I don't think he'll have an easy time gaining yards.  So, Philly will probably have to hope that Carson Wentz can be on point, but even though this could be the case, I'm a little leery of using him in such an important week.  If you need him, though, he'll probably get at least 250 and a score.  Jordan Matthews should once again be heavily targeted, so he's worth a WR-3 spot.  I wouldn't risk it on Doriel Green-Beckham or Nelson Algholor...yikes!  Tight end Zach Ertz should be fine here, as the Ravens have been more giving the second half of the season to the TE position.  I'd bench the Eagles' 'D', as they've really struggled since week 8.

TITANS AT CHIEFS -- 12:00 CST

The Titans' defense is another one of those, like the two above, is best attacked through the air, as their secondary has been pretty blase all year.  With this said, I like Kansas City's Tyreek Hill as a WR-2 in this one.  He's no longer just a gadget player anymore for the Chiefs.  He's a consistent performer now.  He's had 3 straight weeks, with at least 5 catches, and since week 8, he's only had one "off game", where he had just 3 catches.  So, I think they'll keep trying to get him the ball through the air, and he'll also get a few touches in the run game too.  Don't forget, he'll also do his thing on special teams, so there's always the chance he gets a return TD.  The return of Jeremy Maclin didn't hurt Hill at all last week, but I wonder if Maclin is really 100% anyway.  I'd only start Maclin if you're absolutely in need of him, otherwise, don't risk it, as you probably have a viable replacement for him anyway since he missed so many weeks.  Forget the other receivers here.  Tight end Travis Kelce is far from forgettable, and he's a must start.  4 straight 100-yard receiving games are absolutely insane for a TE!  QB Alex Smith is normally not a guy any of us get excited about, but I like him this week.  He could be a nice replacement for Ryan Tannehill if you need one.  At running back, Spencer Ware has a tough matchup against the strong Titans' run defense.  Chances are you just have to suck it up and use him, but maybe you can sit him if you have a better option.  If you need him, he could still be okay, and he could punch in a TD if they're in close.  The Chiefs' 'D' is almost always a good start at home, with that insane atmosphere.

For Tennessee, it's a tough spot, but you're not sitting DeMarco Murray; you just can't do it.  He usually gets some pass targets, which helps out.  Through the air, they could be okay, as the Chiefs have given up numbers to opposing passing attacks.  However, last week, they really put the clamps down on the Raiders' Derek Carr and company.  But, by the numbers, that's not been the norm, with this defense.  I'm not totally excited about Marcus Mariota in this matchup, but use him if you need him.  One thing that can only help him, is that the Chiefs lost their top linebacker, Derrick Johson to a ruptured Achilles, so there is that.  They could also fall behind, which could force them to have to air it out a bit more.  The only receiver I trust here is Rishard Matthews, and he's a WR-3 or flex if you need him.  Forget the rest in this important week!  Tight end Delanie Walker is often used as a receiver, and I'd use him if you need him, because he's Mariota's favorite target and will likely see his usual amount.  K.C. has been pretty good against the tight end position, though; the most yards they've allowed in a game to tight ends is 66 yards!  The Titans' 'D' is a mediocre start here, but their ball-control offense could help to keep this one close, plus they have one of the highest blitz percentages in the league, so they'll likely get a few sacks.

LIONS AT GIANTS -- 12:00 CST

For Detroit, QB Matthew Stafford's finger is the biggest story this week.  He badly dislocated his middle finger on his throwing hand, but finished the game nonetheless, leading the Lions to another comeback win!  This week, he'll play through it, but he'll wear a glove, much like the Raiders' Derek Carr has the past few weeks, to protect his dislocated pinky.  Stafford said it hurt less throwing in practice Thursday, so that's a good sign.  It is a very tough matchup, against this Giants' secondary.  Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Leon Hall, and Landon Collins have been a pain in the neck for opposing quarterbacks and receivers.  Just look what they did to Dallas last week!  So, I would lean on sitting Stafford this week, with the combination of the matchup and his finger issue.  4 of the last 5 weeks, this Giants' defense has held opposing receiving corps to less than 200 yards.  I'd lean on sitting Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin, with Golden Tate being just a flex play or WR-3.  Tight end Eric Ebron is not a great start either, but you can use him if you need to.  Sometimes, all you can do is start the guys that you've been riding with all year, like a Tate or an Ebron, when you don't have a better option.  At running back, Theo Riddick is OUT this week again with a wrist injury.  So, it'll be Dwayne Washington getting the start, and he's just a flex.  The Lions' defense has been playing pretty well lately, so they could be a sneaky play, with Eli Manning struggling lately.

For N.Y., it's tough to play Manning this week, the way he's been playing lately.  I'd lean towards benching him and finding someone else.  You obviously have to start Odell Beckham, Jr., while Sterling Shepard is a flex play, if you need him.  He hasn't put up big numbers lately, but he is the #2 option in the passing game, so he could any time.  I wouldn't use Victor Cruz.  The tight ends are a no-go, too.  At running back, Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins split the load last week.  It has been mostly Jennings lately, but last week it was a 50-50 split.  That makes this tough to back anyone, if that's how they're going to play it.  I wouldn't trust either one this week, because they're just going to steal each others production.  Shane Vereen, by the way, did return last week, only to get his bell rung, and now he's in concussion protocol.  Don't worry about him.  The Giants' defense is a good start this week, once again.

COLTS AT VIKINGS -- 12:00 CST

This game comes at a bad time for Indy, considering they're in a real pickle when it comes to making the playoffs!  Aside from that, it's a bad matchup for them for fantasy too!  You'll have a hard time sitting Andrew Luck, but it's certainly a scary matchup.  Use him if you need him, but I'm not expecting the world here.  Bad news in the receiving corp, as Donte Moncrief is going to miss this one thanks to that hamstring.  So, who will step up?  Will anyone be able to do anything of note besides T.Y. Hilton?  Chances are he will see a lot of top corner Xavier Rhodes.  Once again, use him if you need him, but I'm not excited about it.  The one good thing is that the Vikings' best safety, Harrison Smith, is out for the rest of the year, so they could be more vulnerable to the deep ball, and we know Hilton can do that well.  He's a WR-3 at worst.  I'm not relying on Phillip Dorset here, or any other receivers who may help fill in.  Tight end is such a head-scratcher for Indy.  First it's Dwayne Allen, then it's Jack Doyle, then it's Allen, then back to Doyle.  This week:  throw a dart!  I'd guess Doyle if I had to, since Allen's a little banged up.  Either way, it's no sure thing.  Tailback Frank Gore is fine to use as an RB-2; he'll probably see his usual amount of work.  The Vikings are a little easier to run on too.  The Colts' defense should be benched.

For Minny, get this:  Adrian Peterson could be back!!  He said Friday, that he will play, but the Vikings first must activate him from injured reserve.  I think they will, as he practiced all week.  Nobody has a clue how much he'll play, but if you've been using Matt Asiata or Jerick McKinnon, and you stashed A.P., I say use him.  If you have another not-so-hot running back like one of the Jaguars or someone from the Ravens or Browns, roll with A.P.  I don't think you'll do much worse!  At receiver, it's Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and that's it.  They're both WR-2 or 3's.  Tight end Kyle Rudolph is fine too if you need him.  The Vikings' defense is a solid start at home!

STEELERS AT BENGALS -- 12:00 CST

For the Bengals, it's not a terrible matchup, and I think Jeremy Hill could have another good game.  The Steelers can be run on, although they've been a little better lately.  I'd use Hill as your RB-2, and you know he's getting the volume without Gio Bernard.  Rex Burkhead is just a desperation flex start as far as I'm concerned.  Andy Dalton should be okay this week, if you need to use him.  Pittsburgh does have an improved pass rush though, so he could see some pressure.  Playing at home will help somewhat I would think.  The main receivers will still be Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd.  A.J. Green will likely miss this one, as he recovers from the hamstring injury.  I think LaFell and Boyd are both just WR-3/flex plays if you need them.  Both have been serviceable since Green went down.  Tyler Eifert will be Dalton's preferred target though, and he sure came through big-time last week, like we thought he would.  He actually has 4 TDs since Green got hurt, and I think he has a very good chance to hit paydirt again.  Before I forget, one kicker note here for Cincy!  They cut Mike Nugent, and signed Randy Bullock, who oddly enough, filled in for the Steelers two weeks ago, with Chris Boswell hurt.  With Boswell healthy, they didn't need him, so he was a free agent.  With all of Nugent's struggles, the Bengals signed Bullock, so he's out there, if you need to replace Nugent.  The Bengals' defense is very average, so I'd lean towards finding another option.

Why?  Well, four words:  LeVeon Bell. Antonio Brown.  Those two will make any defense miserable.  How about Bell's 290-some-odd total yards last week at Buffalo?!?  That's enough to frighten any defense, let alone the team in fantasy who has to go against him!  Bell and Brown are the most no-brainer starts in fantasy football.  Ben Roethlisberger should be okay to use here, despite his road troubles.  Use him if you need him, as he did throw 3 TDs against Cincy last time they played.  There's always the chance that they lean on Bell like they did, but I can't imagine Big Ben throwing 3 picks again!  Tight end LaDarius Green is a nice start here, as the Bengals have struggled to stop tight ends.  Keep starting Green because he was second on the team in targets yet again last week.  That's like the 4th straight week that's happened.  That's because receivers Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates have been nowhere to be found.  Forget both of them.  The Pittsburgh defense is an average play.  Use them if you need them.  As I said above, Boswell is healthy and kicked last week, so he's fine.

SAINTS AT CARDINALS -- 3:05 CST

Good news for the Saints!  Mark Ingram does not have an injury designation heading into Sunday, so he should be back to his old self.  Bad news:  they're playing at Arizona, one of the best run defenses in football!  Of course, he'll be sharing the load with Tim Hightower still, to some degree, too.  I'm leaning on sitting Ingram and Hightower in this one.  Maybe a bit of a gutsy call here, but I just don't like how this sets up for N'awlins.  I think they'll have trouble moving the ball on the  ground, and I think it's going to be tough through the air too.  If Drew Brees didn't kill you last week, then congratulations!  He had one of his worst games ever as a Saint, and this won't be an easy matchup either, against Patrick Peterson and company.  One good thing could be, that the Cards could be without Tyronn Mathieu, so that could help.  You're still starting Brees, but I'm expecting a lower-scoring game here.  The Saints' defense has actually gotten its act together a little bit, so that's why I say that.  Plus, the Cardinals' have their own issues.  Anyway, back to the Saints, Michael Thomas is back healthy again, without an injury designation, so use him and Brandin Cooks as WR-2's.  Thomas could see Peterson on him, so I like Cooks a tad more between the two.  Willie Snead is a WR-3.  I don't trust tight end Coby Fleener, and the Cards have been one of the best in the NFL covering tight ends.  Forget him.  The Saints' 'D' is too risky to use, because while better, they're still not great.

For Arizona, the big news is no more Michael Floyd.  They cut him after his DUI Sunday.  So, it's even more clarity for the passing game.  It'll be a lot of Larry Fitzgerald for sure.  J.J. Nelson will likely be the second option, with tight end Jermaine Gresham seeing targets too, as long as his knee allows him to play.  Fitz is a WR-1 or 2.  Nelson is a boom or bust flex.  Gresh is a borderline TE-1 if you need him.  John Brown is also questionable, but I feel he's too risky, since he's not 100% (sickle cell issue).  Carson Palmer is an okay start.  Use him if you need him.  He's not exciting, but he'll probably be able to get you 20 points or so.  David Johnson should be the focal point as usual, so roll with him as always!  The Cards' 'D' is a decent start here at home, as I think they can keep this game from getting too crazy.

49ERS AT FALCONS -- 3:05 CST

For San Fran, there's not much to say.  Carlos Hyde is the only sure thing here.  Use him as your RB-2.  He should able to find holes in the Falcons' defense, and he'll be getting plenty of touches.  For quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it's a good matchup, but boy I'd be scared to use him.  The last two weeks he was, 1. non existent, and 2. terrible.  I would lean towards finding someone else, because I'd hate to lose my playoff matchup with him.  Torrey Smith is out with a concussion and tight end Vance McDonald is on injured reserve.  So, it's Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton.  Kerley is the safest play, if you need a flex in a PPR.  The 49ers' defense stinks.

Atlanta's big news is that they will be WITHOUT JULIO JONES!  So, it'll be Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel leading the receiving charge.  Both are WR-3 plays if you need them.  Don't risk going any further down the line, and don't risk using the tight ends.  Matt Ryan is a fine start, even without Jones.  He has one of the best matchups for any quarterback this week, and there's not very many good ones.  Consider yourself lucky if you have Ryan this week.  Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will continue to do their thing, and they're both usable, as long as Freeman didn't cause you to lose last week.  He only had 6 yards rushing if you didn't know.  This is a good matchup for the Falcon running game, so I think both warrant RB-2 usage or flex, depending on your roster slots.  The Falcons' defense is a good start against another weak offense.

PATRIOTS AT BRONCOS -- 3:25 CST

The most anticipated matchup of the weekend possibly, should be an interesting matchup for fantasy too.  Arguably the best passing defense trying to put the clamps down on the arguably the best passing offense...  Well, it's hard to bet against Tom Brady, and you just go ahead and use him if you need him, because I think with their multitude of weapons, he'll figure out a way to put up decent fantasy numbers.  Michael Floyd was added to the roster, but he won't be a factor.  Julian Edelman should be usable, especially in a PPR.  Danny Amendola is out, so you don't have to worry about him.  I'd sit Chris Hogan here, but Malcolm Mitchell is a flex start, since he's been playing pretty well and Brady seems to be looking his way a few times a game.  Plus, I just think Mitchell is a little more talented than Hogan.  I think Martellus Bennett could make some plays, as the Broncos are vulnerable to the tight end.  Use him if you need him.  As for James White and Dion Lewis, they're both dice rolls and tough to project, but I'd lean White if you need a flex.  Now, the one guy I'm loving here, is LeGarrette Blount.  The Broncos can be run on, and well, Blount has *14* touchdowns this season...WOW!  Use Blount as an RB-2 and don't worry about a thing.  The Pats' defense has been better, so use them if you need to.

For Denver, boy, the running game just stinks.  Devontae Booker went from looking like he'd be a solid play, to looking like he has no clue how to play.  Now, with Justin Forsett signed and taking carries, it's become an ugly mess.  Juwan Thompson even saw action the last couple weeks...yikes!  Avoid everyone here.  The beneficiaries have been the passing game contributors.  Trevor Siemian has been more than serviceable the past four weeks, so if you need him, use him.  It will be interesting to see what Pats' head honcho Bill Belichick does on defense though.  I could see him cranking up the pass rush to try to disrupt things, if Denver has to lean on the pass.  Either way, you have to start DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as WR-2's.  They'll get plenty of targets, and they'll make their share of catches.  They could also be playing catch-up too, which could enhance their chances of seeing plenty of targets.  If there was a third option in this pass offense to consider, I'd lean towards tight end A.J. Derby.  He's coming on slowly, but surely, and he was claimed off waivers earlier this year, by the Broncos, from whom?  The Patriots.  He's still too risky to use.  The Broncos' defense is a risky start too, against the Pats.  You probably have to use them, but maybe you can find a defense with a juicier matchup on the waiver wire, like the Bills, Dolphins, or Falcons, and drop some dead-weight from your roster, and then still keep the Broncos on your roster for the next week.

RAIDERS AT CHARGERS -- 3:25 CST

For Oakland, let's just cut to the chase.  I think this will be a "Michael Crabtree game".  The Chargers' shutdown cornerback Casey Heyward will more than likely be on Amari Cooper most of the game, so I think that Crabtree will be the better of the two here.  If you need Cooper use him, but if you have some better options, I'd lean towards those.  As it is, Cooper has been in a slump, with no more than 59 yards receiving in his last 4.  That does include 2 touchdowns, so it hasn't been awful, but it surely has been disappointing.  He does not feel like a #1 receiver sometimes, as he can be taken out of a game, for the most part.  Crabtree should avoid Heyward for most of the game I would think, so he's a decent WR-2 or 3.  Obviously the Chargers could move Heyward some and the Raiders will probably try to move those two around too, but that's what I think will happen most of the time.  Don't mess with #3 receiver Seth Roberts unless it's a really deep league.  Don't worry about the tight ends either, as they just cancel each other out.  QB Derek Carr is a fine start this week, despite the bum pinky, and I think he'll have a nice game.  RB Latavius Murray is a solid start, and at this point, you can't sit him.  He's a solid RB-2.  The Raiders' defense has been better, but this could be a shootout, so I'd avoid them.  If you do use them, Phillip Rivers has been throwing it to the wrong team an awful lot, so that's one positive.

Now, if you have Rivers, that's clearly not a good thing, but I think this is a plus-matchup for him, so use him if you need to.  The only thing with Rivers is he's been in a second-half swoon this season, so he could still manage to throw it to Oakland a couple times in this one.  The matchup is one of the better ones for QBs this week, though, so just use him.  His top two receivers (right now) are Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman.  It's shifted around just a little bit, due to injuries and things, but those guys seem to be who he's leaned on heavily the last month, so I'd use either as a WR-2 or 3.  Tight end Antonio Gates should be fine, and he's still in pursuit of the all-time TD record for tight ends, so you'd have to think anytime they're close to the end zone, Rivers would try to get it to him.  Continue to play him.  Hunter Henry is too risky.  Running back MELVIN GORDON IS STILL OUT, with hip and knee injuries suffered early in last week's game.  If you were able to survive his near zero last week, then good for you!  Hopefully, you either have someone else to plus in, or you picked up Kenneth Fairrow, who will start in his place.  Fairrow could cede some touches to Ronnie Hillman, but I'd expect him to get most of the carries.  Use him if you need to as a flex or your RB-2 fill-in.  The Chargers' defense is just an average play, and I'd lean towards someone else, in this possible shootout.

BUCCANEERS AT COWBOYS -- 7:30 SUNDAY NIGHT

For Dallas, the rumblings are beginning.  You can hear them off in the distance, getting closer hour by hour, day by day.  Tony Romo...Tony Romo...  With Dak Prescott struggling for the third straight game, and finally losing last week to the Giants again, a change could be coming at some point.  Sunday night's game will tell us a lot, and with Tampa's defense really playing well now, this could be a tough one.  I think this could be a low-scoring game if the Bucs' 'D' keeps playing like they have.  If they don't, and Prescott regains his mojo, then it could be more back-and-forth.  I'd lean towards sitting Prescott if you have a better option.  If not, then just roll with him if you have to.  Obviously, he killed Dez Bryant last week, although Dez had a few drops too, so it wasn't all on Prescott.  I think you roll with Bryant, despite last week, and he should be fine to play despite his back.  Cole Beasley as usual, is better in PPR leagues if you need him.  Don't risk it with Terrance Williams or Brice Butler.  Jason Witten is okay to use if you need to.  Obviously, Ezekiel Elliott is a must-start, as everything centers around him.  The Dallas defense is a risky play this week.

For the Buccos, obviously you're using Mike Evans; that's a no-brainer.  I think he'll find the sledding a lot easier than he has lately.  He's faced a couple tough corners the last couple games.  Jameis Winston has been playing mistake-free lately, and they didn't really need him to do much last week, as the defense shut down the Saints and Doug Martin took center-stage.  I think he'll play a bigger role this week if you need a QB with a less-than-scary matchup...not many of those this week!  Martin is a solid RB-1 or 2 play this week, himself.  Tight end Cameron Brate has been the Bucs' #2 target lately, so use him if you need him as well.  The other receivers are too risky to use in the fantasy semis, but just a note, slot receiver Adam Humphries is back after being cleared from concussion protocol.  He's only handy in PPR leagues as a flex.  The Bucs' defense is in a tough spot here, as the Cowboys' offense obviously can be very potent, but I can see them making some plays and keeping this one close if you need them.  They've been red-hot lately, so sometimes you have to roll with what or who is hot, and conversely, the Cowboys' offense hasn't been so hot.

PANTHERS AT REDSKINS -- MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

For Carolina, you're rolling with Cam Newton, if you've been doing it for this long.  He still has enough upside to help you win, with his running ability mixed in.  Despite Josh Norman on the other side now, Newton should be able to find some holes in the Redskins' defense.  His shoulder is bothering him, but he should play through it.  Receiver Kelvin Benjamin is also banged up, but expected to play.  He's a tough guy to use at this point, because quite frankly, he's been awful lately.  I think he'll see Norman, so forget it.  Ted Ginn, on the other hand, has been leading this receiving corp, so use him as a WR-3 or flex, because I think he can burn this secondary for a big play or two.  Tight end Greg Olsen finally had a respectable game last week, after several clunkers.  I'd use him if you need him...nothing scary about the matchup.  RB Jonathan Stewart has been getting plenty of touches, so continue to use him.  The Panthers' defense is far too risky to use, as they can't defend against the pass, and that should be bad news this week.

That's because Kirk Cousins is on the other side, and with Carolina's secondary being so bad, he should light them up big-time.  Cousins has one of the top-5 QB matchups this week, so start him with confidence!  All of Washington's receivers are in play this week, and also tight end Jordan Reed.  Reed (shoulder) is expected to play again, but this week, his shoulder appears to be in much better shape.  I think he could have a huge game, as long as he doesn't re-aggravate it.  Vernon Davis is there too, but if Reed is able to go pretty much full-speed like the Redskins are making it sound he will, then use Reed.  Davis could be usable in a very deep league, even with Reed back.  Wideouts DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garcon are all good starts this week, with D-Jax, a WR-2, Crowder a WR-2, and Garcon a WR-3.  Crowder and Garcon are more valuable in a PPR.  Running back Rob Kelley has a tougher matchup, against the stout Panthers' front 7.  He's still usable as an RB-2, purely based on the volume, but it won't be easy for him.  He could have a good chance to score a TD though, based on the Redskins' probable ability to move the ball through the air so well.  The Redskins' defense is a pretty good play this week, as they excel at rushing the passer and they'll most likely be playing with a lead.

That's that!  Good luck and may the fantasy gods be on your side!

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