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At this point in the fantasy season it is not about looking forward, but winning this week and taking home the title. For that reason, instead of running down players rising and falling, running through season long strategy or dealing with any policy issues, I’m going to run through every game and highlight certain players that I’m loving and hating this week. I’m bringing the energy with a positive, neutral and negative charge. (Updated 12/25 1pm pst)
Washington vs Eagles (-3 o/u 47.5)
- Kirk Cousins – He’s starting to find a rhythm, plays well against the easier teams and put up over 29 fantasy points against the Eagles their last two games. This should be a high scoring afair as well.
- DeSean Jackson – Revenge game in Philly and will get a couple of deep shots to him a game.
- Jordan Reed – No way you can sit this guy in season long leagues, but Eagles decent against tight ends, so fade in DFS.
- Sam Bradford - Hopefully don’t have to use him, but a big over/under in a game that could be a shootout. He also put up 270/3 when they met earlier this year and he is playing at home.
- Jordan Matthews – Hopefully you don’t have to use him either, but had a huge game last week and can always score.
- Zach Ertz – As Matthews has regressed, Ertz has stepped up. He put up 8/78/1 on 13 targets last week. Bradford is looking for him more and more.
- Pierre Garcon – Should be high scoring and has a chance to do something. Put up 7/55/1 on them earlier this year.
- Redskins Running Game – Best to avoid if you can, although Eagles giving up 39 FPG to RBs the last few weeks, so use Matt Jones if that’s the best you have.
Colts vs Dolphins (-1.5 o/u 44)
- Jarvis Landry – Should catch a ton of balls as usual with Vontae Davis not covering him in the slot. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had 15+ targets.
- T.Y. Hilton – This offense is horrible right now, but great matchup and after complaining, he should get the ball.
- Lamar Miller – If they just committed to him he would go off; averaging more than 5 yards a carry. He can always do a lot with a little, so not a sit by any means, but you have to maintain expectations. Played only 32% of their snaps last week. He's also dealing with some minor injuries.
- Jay Ajayi – Played on more than 50% of their snaps and they may be in evaluation mode. Whoever gets the majority of snaps here will put up numbers. I just don’t know who it will be. It’s a crazy risk, but I think it will be Ajayi. Either way he will get snaps so a sneaky DFS play if you need a cheap option.
- Everyone Else – With a low over / under and both teams struggling to do anything, your fantasy playoffs is not a week to trust anybody else. Frank Gore has a good matchup on paper, but I wouldn't use him unless I had nothing else.
49ers vs Lions (-10 o/u 43)
- Lions Defense – Gabbert is regressing to his old self, Shaun Draughn is out, they are playing an early game headed to an early time zone with a super low over/under and are minus 10. Fire the Lions up.
- Matthew Stafford – The 49ers are giving up a ton of points on the road and Stafford has actually been playing pretty well this season despite team struggles early on. He’s a great bet to throw for at least 3 TDs, making him a good play in DFS and season long.
- Golden Tate – He is averaging nearly 7 receptions a game since a change in offensive coordinators and nearly 20 FPG the last few weeks. He’s also taking advantage of the coverage rolling to Calvin Johnson.
- Calvin Johnson – He’s just not getting any targets and is mostly being double covered and used as a decoy. He’s received only handful of targets the last few weeks, including just one last week. That said, he’s still Calvin Johnson and should be able to take advantage of this young secondary. Unless you have a much better option, you have to trot him out, also a contrarian tournament play in DFS.
- Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell – Both these guys should have decent floor games as the Lions control this game from start to finish, with Abdullah the bigger upside if he can break some long runs. The 49ers have also allowed 9 rushing TDs the past five weeks, the most in the NFL.
- Theo Riddick – Usually has a decent PPR flex floor, but they may not need him as much as usual.
- San Francisco Offense – Don’t rely on any of these guys this week. Anquan Boldin is good only as a desperation play in PPR leagues.
Browns vs Chiefs (-12.5 o/u 42.5)
- Jeremy Maclin – Getting a ton of targets each week and the Browns are weak on the backend. Even if the Chiefs go up, Alex Smith will still dink and dunk to Maclin for catches and YAC.
- Charcandrick West/Spencer Ware – Both running backs should put up points in this one against a Browns defense that is giving up over 116 yards a game on the ground. West is a RB1 with Ware out, a RB2 with upside if Ware plays and Ware is a solid Flex start if he goes, especially in standard leagues.
- Chiefs Defense – The top unit of the week.
- Alex Smith – The Browns are giving up 23 FPG to QBs over the past few games. He may not have to do too much, so you just hope that he gets the passing TDs instead of the teams RBs. But he also gets you a few yards on the ground each game.
- Travis Kelce – The Browns are actually solid against the TE and they just don’t feature him enough. Going 6/60 is probably what you are looking at.
- Gary Barnidge – Most teams won’t have a better option, but Eric Berry has been great covering tight ends all season. You just know somehow he will get a TD, but this is a tough one for sure.
Texans vs Titans
- Texans Defense – A solid start against a shaky offense, with the immobile Zach Mettenberger at QB.
- DeAndre Hopkins – Brian Hoyer has practiced most of the week and should be back from his concussion. He’s a high end WR1 this week.
- Delanie Walker – The upside is not as big this week, but if you have him you are using him. I would tend to fade him in DFS twith some other strong options out there.
- Dorial Green-Beckham – Depsite lining up in the wrong place a few times last week, the rookie WR is coming on. Zach Mettenberger can sling it around and he put up 6/113 on 9 targets last week and has played pretty well lately except for the game when Revis covered him. The return of Kendall Wright should also help open things up.
- Antonio Andrews – Not a sexy option, but he is their lead back and also went 5/25 in the passing game.
- Alfred Blue – Like Andrews, he’s not a sexy option, but generally a decent floor because of the number of carries for those in need.
- Kendall Wright – Not someone you want to trust this week, but in PPR leagues, he should get at least 5 -7targets.
Panthers vs Falcons (+7 o/u 47.5)
- Cam Newton – A must start. There is no better option.
- Panthers Defense – They should feast on Matt Ryan this week.
- Devonta Freeman – The Panthers are tough to run on, but giving up a bit more lately. He also gets a ton of work in the passing game. I would fade him in DFS.
- Julio Jones – A must start who put up 7/88 on 10 targets last time they played. Unfortunately that’s probably his ceiling going up against Josh “Mr. I’m Innocent” Norman.
- Ted Ginn Jr – He gets a number of deep shots a game and has been hitting on (some of) them. He will drop 2 but will catch 4. A great WR3 upside play with a horribly low ceiling. But you have to go with what's working, right? Maybe.
- Cameron Artis-Payne – It’s a major RBBC and he had 12 less snaps than Fozzy Whittaker, yet 12 more carries. If you need help, he’s the back to start as the Panthers giving up 4.7 YPC to RBs over the past few games.
- Matt Ryan – It’s just not happening for him this year.
- Jacob Tamme – It’s not happening for him either.
- Fozzy Whittaker – Too tough to trust in the finals.
Patriots vs Jets (+3 o/u 45.5)
- Rob Gronkowski – Start. Gronk.
- Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall – Had an extra day to get healthy and are solid (although not great) starts in this tougher matchup. I would probably fade both if DFS, but you can't sit these guys in season long leagues.
- Tom Brady – A tough matchup this week and the return of Edelman should help, but more of a top 10 and not a top 5 option.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Pats defense is hitting their stride, but Fitzpatrick should have a decent floor of 250 yards and 2 TDs.
- Bilal Powell – He’s their passing down back on a team that should be passing a lot. He’s also scored in three straight games. A RB2 in PPR leagues this week.
- Julian Edelman – If he’s back, he’s a solid WR2 in PPR leagues. I would fade in DFS in this tougher matchup though.
- James White - This could very well be a White game especially with all the injuries to the receivers. He will get a boost too if Edelman is out. Not a bad DFS reach play.
- Chris Ivory – The Pats are solid against the run and Powell is eating into his snaps.
- Brandon LaFell – You don’t want to rely on him in your playoff race going up against Revis.
- Brandon Bolden – Tough matchup and I think they go more with White here.
Stealers vs Ravens (+10 o/u 47.5)
- Ben Roethlisberger / DeAngelo Williams / Antonio Brown / Martavis Bryant – Roll them all out this week and rejoice as they run it up on the Ravens porous secondary. Feel free to also stack some of these pieces in DFS.
- Kamar Aiken – A solid WR2 in PPR leagues and low WR2 in standard. Averaging double digit targets since Steve Smith got injured and they are going to have to play catch-up this week.
- Markus Wheaton – He’s finally clicking with Big Ben. There are a lot of mouths to feed, but a decent WR3 if you need in this easy game.
- Ravens Running Game – Javorius Allen got benched last week for fumbling and this is a tough run defense. Worthy of a flex play in PPR leagues playing from behind, but he’s a risk.
- Heath Miller - The Ravens don't give up a lot to tight ends thanks to Will Hill's coverage.
Cowboys vs Bills (-6 o/u 42.5)
- Darren McFadden – Bills giving up over 4.5 yards per carry and 130 yards on the ground the past few weeks and he is dominating touches. Not many running backs that are workhorses these days, that's something.
- Karlos Williams – He’s been limited all week, so monitor his status, this is also not the easiest matchup. That said, with Shady injured he would carry the load and Dallas is easier to run on than throw on. If he is out, Mike Gillislee would fill in and is start worthy if you need him.
- Sammy Watkins – The Dallas secondary is legit, so lower expectations . They do take a few deep shots to him every game, so in season long you are starting him, but he is a DFS fade.
- Jason Witten – Bills are weak against the TE and could be a decent PPR play as the safety blanket.
- Tyrod Taylor – This is a tougher matchup and he has been living on garbage time and deep shots. Dallas only giving up 230/1 to QBs over the past few games and deep shots could be tough against this secondary.
- Dez Bryant - This is one of the few studs you can think about benching. QB play and injury are working against him this year unfortunately.
Bears vs Buccaneers (-3 o/u 45.5)
- Mike Evans – With Vincent Jackson out again, he will be force-fed the ball. A great DFS play this week.
- Doug Martin – Bears have given up only five rushing touchdowns all year, but Martin has been looking good lately. Use him if you got him but fade in DFS.
- Charles Sims – Has a solid PPR flex floor and a sneaky cheap DFS play this week against a Bear defense that gives up 6 passes to RBs a game.
- Matt Forte – Still splitting carries with Langford and Tampa tough against the run. But still getting the red-zone work and could catch a ton of balls.
- Alshon Jeffery – He’s a top 10 WR this week if he plays without limitations. Otherwise he is just a start your stud and pray play.
- Zach Miller – He’s one of those “they have to throw to someone” type plays and Tampa not special against tight ends.
- Jameis Winston – Should throw it a ton, so has a chance to do well. A low end QB1 due to inconsistency, but the Bears can be thrown on and they are at home.
- Jay Cutler – Best used a QB2 with upside if Jeffery plays. Tampa easier to throw on, so could be active. But it all depends on Jeffery.
- Jeremy Langford – Tampa tough against the run and not getting the meaningful touches. Can always come through in the air, but don’t trust as anything more than a low end flex. He does have upside at least.
Jaguars vs Saints (-3.5 o/u 52)
- Everyone - Fire up everyone (Drew Brees, Blake Bortles, Tim Hightower, Denard Robinson, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Ben Watson). Huge over/under and there will be very little defense played in this game. In DFS, Bortles is a great play and I like Julius Thomas the most out of the Jags pass catchers. Denard Robinson disappointed some last week, but should go off this week. Brees says he is playing, which is good news for the Saints skill players. There is not much of a pass rush and it’s not like Brees moves around all that much, so all the Saints main pass catchers will be firing on all cylinders. In DFS Cooks and Hightower are great starts. Just check injury news regarding Watson, as he hasn’t practiced all week.
Packers vs Cardinals (-4.5 o/u 49.5)
- Carson Palmer – The good thing about Palmer is that you don’t care who catches it. In addition to a solid receiving core, David Johnson gives him an additional weapon out of the backfield.
- David Johnson - He’s a must start in all leagues, including DFS. He is averaging a 23.3 FPG in his last 4 and Packers giving up 4.7 YPC the past 4 games.
- Randall Cobb – The injury to Tyrann Mathieu is a huge boost to his value this week. He could see double digit targets out of the slot, but I would still fade him in DFS.
- Aaron Rodgers – Unless you have a legit other option (Bortles, Stafford, Palmer, Big Ben, Wilson, Newton) you are starting him and hoping for the best. With Arizona capable of shutting down the outside receivers in man coverage, that should allow them to cause trouble in other spots.
- Michael Floyd / John Brown / Larry Fitzgerald – One or all of these guys could do well. Floyd and Brown are WR2 plays in standard leagues, while Fitzgerald is a WR2 in PPR and WR3 in standard. I would lean towards Floyd out of all of these guys and it is probably a week to fade Fitzgerald in DFS.
- Richard Rodgers – With the Cardinals shutting down the perimeter of the field, he is a sneaky play if you need tight end help or in DFS.
- Eddie Lacy / James Starks – Cardinals tough to run and it is hard to trust who will end up with more snaps. It could very well be Starks as the Packers pass more.
- Davante Adams / James Jones – Coverage should be tough on the outside, not a great week to use either.
Rams vs Seahawks (-13.5 o/u 40.5)
- Russell Wilson – He’s become a pocket passing quarterback and may just be playing better than any QB in the league right now. This is a passing team and he is lighting it up.
- Seattle Defense – The Rams are going to get worked.
- Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett – Baldwin hasn’t practiced all week with a hamstring injury and is considered a game-time-decision. He’s a must start if he goes, but I list him here just in case. Lockett should be a solid WR3 with upside, and a WR2 floor if Baldwin misses. If Baldwin is out, Jermaine Kearse becomes a viable reach.
- Christine Michael – It was a true RBBC last week, but Michael looked the part of lead back. Rams are allowing over 125 yards a game over the past month, and this should be no different. Michael could put up a monster day. I would fade Bryce Brown, but he did split carries with Michael last week.
- Todd Gurley – Seattle has a top notch run defense and the Rams should be down early, screwing up his game flow. That said, he plays on passing downs and in season long, roll him out unless you have a legit alternate option, but just cross your fingers and pray to the fantasy g-ds.
Giants vs Vikings (-5.5 o/u 48.5)
- Adrian Peterson – Hasn’t practiced all week and there is a chance he sits if they have nothing to play for until next week. Monitor closely, but if he plays, you are starting him.
- Will Tye – Should be the biggest benificiary without Beckham in the lineup. Fire him up as a Top 10 TE.
- Rashad Jennings – Has taken hold of lead duties the past two weeks and had 16 carries last week. With Beckham out, he may get the rock a bit more, but the Vikings defense is finally healthy so this is going to be a tough game for the Giants.
- Stefon Diggs – Still not getting a ton of targets (only 4 last week), but he’s their best receiver by far. Use as a WR3.
- Kyle Rudolph – Giants not great against the TE, so this could be a good week to roll him out if you need him, but hard to trust this passing game.
- Teddy Bridgewater – All of a sudden this team is starting to pass the ball and they Giants are giving up 30 FPG over the past month. He won’t have a lot of passing yards, but should throw a couple of touchdowns to be a useful QB2.
- Shane Vereen – Maybe he gets a bit of a boost with Odell Beckham out. But tough to trust.
- Eli Manning – This is not a great receiving core and while the Vikings have been giving up points to QBs the past month, they should have all their players back on defense finally.
Bengals vs Broncos (-3.5 o/u 40.5)
- Emanuel Sanders / Demaryius Thomas – These guys should both be fine with all the dink and dunks, with Sanders getting a couple of deep shots and Thomas the redzone looks. You can’t sit either in your playoffs.
- Giovani Bernard – The Denver defense is no joke, I see them using Bernard much more than Hill. He’s a fade in DFS, but you are using him in PPR season long leagues.
- A.J. Green / Marvin Jones – You are not sitting Green in season long leagues unless you have another top 15 option, but this is not a good matchup for him or Jones, especially with Andy Dalton out.
- Jeremy Hill – This is not a game to use him. Yes he scored 2 TDs last week, but he averaged just over 1.5 yards per carry on 19 carries. The Broncos are also only giving up around 2.6 yards per carry recently.