Wed Dec 11 9:41am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Carson is a great play Week 15
The regular season is over. Playoffs begin either this week or kicked off last week for all your teams. Either way, if you are reading this, you likely made the playoffs, so kudos to you for the big accomplishment. It is not easy to make it to the playoffs, which is the goal of every team when the season starts. Now the tough part is advancing. Good luck in all your leagues this week and hopefully you are still reading this column next week.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
First off, lineup decisions are always tough for the playoffs. Two things I really look at when making a playoff lineup are players with high ceilings and consistency. Sometimes you have to take some chances to advance, especially if you have the inferior team. So taking a chance on a player with a high ceiling sometimes needs to happen if you want to advance. I also don’t like benching my studs. Go with the guys that got you here. I know those two things I said kind of contradict each other but there is a balance with the two. Hopefully, you can set that correct lineup in Week 15.
I think before the season everyone wanted a top-four pick, so they could get one of the top four running backs. Well, that isn’t holding true anymore with Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley failing to live up to expectations. These two have been huge disappointments that have really surprised me all season. Neither is scoring touchdowns. And the only thing saving Kamara right now is his work in the passing game. His rushing numbers have been terrible - even in favorable matchups. Barkley has been similar in terms of rushing the ball, but isn’t getting quite the work in the passing game, making him a slightly bigger bust than Kamara. Either way, having either of these players has not been a positive to fantasy teams.
So at this point, the only 49ers back I trust is Raheem Mostert. Who would have thought that early in the season? But that is the case now as he is producing the most consistent numbers and getting the job done on a weekly basis for fantasy teams. I would steer clear of Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida.
I’m really excited about the fantasy future of A.J. Brown. This guy is just a beast and going to be load to cover for the opposition. His combination of size and speed is going to make him a matchup nightmare. He reminds you a little of Anquan Boldin but with maybe a little more athleticism. I think the future is really bright for Brown.
Enjoy the Jameis Winston show while you can because I’m not sure he is starting anywhere next year. He certainly has the talent but the turnovers are a real issue. Winston sure is a plus for fantasy teams, though. He is up to fourth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He produces big weekly numbers in the Bucs pass-first offense. He gets the Lions and Texans to end the fantasy season, making him a great play the rest of this season. Enjoy it while you can!
I don’t think Tyler Higbee’s last two games are a fluke. He can help fantasy teams the rest of the way. The Rams are going heavy on the run and using play action a lot, giving Higbee plenty of weekly looks. I think this will be a trend the rest of the way for the Rams offense, especially since the team is having success with this way of attacking defenses. Higbee has a high ceiling the rest of this season.
I mentioned last week that I was super impressed with the coaching job of Brian Flores in Miami. Well, I need to mention another great coaching job this week. Mike Tomlin has worked wonders with his team in Pittsburgh. They have all sorts of injuries offensively and keep finding a way to win. It is pretty amazing, consider they are using their third-string quarterback and have been without their No. 1 receiver and running back many weeks. I’m not sure how they are doing it. Kudos to Tomlin for keeping this team together.
I was really impressed with Drew Lock last week. Maybe the Broncos have finally found their franchise quarterback. I know it was just a game but it was his second career start on the road against a team in playoff contention. Lock showed a lot. Now it will be interesting to see if he can build on that, going on the road in an even tougher matchup against the Chiefs. Either way, things seem to finally be looking up for the Broncos and their quarterback spot. Lock has the talent and moxie to be a solid NFL starter.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 15 rankings.
News and Notes: The Cowboys released kicker Brett Maher and signed Kai Forbath on Monday. Forbath will take over the kicking duties for the Cowboys going forward. Maher was a big disappointment this year, struggling much of the season. . . . .The Falcons signed cornerback Jamar Taylor on Tuesday. He gives the Falcons some depth at the cornerback position. . . . .The Colts signed receiver Dontrelle Inman on Tuesday. The team has a host of injuries at receiver right now, so Inman could work his way into the mix in a hurry.
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. The Eagles are a complete mess at receiver right now, having all sorts of injuries at the position. That isn’t slowing Wentz, though. He has powered through and still produced for all his fantasy teams. He has two straight 300-yard games and multiple touchdowns each of those games. He is the offense right now and will need to carry the team again in Week 15, playing the Redskins. Washington allows the 14th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and 24 points per game.
Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks. Rashaad Penny started to eat into Carson’s playing time the last few weeks, but that won’t be the case anymore with Penny done for the season. Carson was still producing well despite Penny getting more work, too. He had 91 total yards last week and hit the 100-yard rushing mark the previous game. He has five 100-yard games this season and has been very consistent because of a heavy weekly workload. He should get a big workout this week against the Panthers, a team 29th overall against the rush. Carolina allows the second most fantasy points to running backs.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods scored his first touchdown of the season last week, catching seven passes for 98 yards and a score. He also ran twice for 29 yards, giving him 128 total yards in the game. He has been red hot, ranking first overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has been a huge volume play, getting a lot of weekly targets. He plays a Dallas team this week that couldn’t stop the Bears passing attack last week. Expect more of the same from Woods in Week 15.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans. Tannehill has been a huge surprise, posting consistent weekly numbers as the starter for the Titans. He has multiple touchdowns seven straight games. He also has 30-plus fantasy points two of three. He is fourth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three games. The numbers don’t lie. Tannehill is a legit low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback right now. He gets the Texans this week, a team that has struggled stopping the pass this year. Houston is 27th against the pass and allow the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers. Mostert has emerged as the back to use in the 49ers offense. He has touchdowns threes straight and had multiple scores for the first time all season last week. He has more than 100 total yards two straight games and is fifth overall in fantasy running back scoring his last three. He should continue to get double-digit touches for the 49ers going forward. Mostert just keeps producing with his chances. He can do some damage this week against the Falcons, a team that allows 26 points per game.
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Lions. Scarbrough has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy teams, having 70 or more total yards three straight games. The issue is he has double-digit fantasy points just once all year. He just doesn’t catch the ball, which holds back his fantasy value. If he doesn’t catch the ball once again this week, his numbers should be down once again. Scarbrough plays the Bucs, a team that has really clamped down on the run this year. Tampa is first overall against the rush, allowing just 76-rushing yards per game.
James Washington, WR, Steelers. Washington cooled off last week despite a great matchup against the Cardinals. He caught four passes for 33 yards. This isn’t a huge surprise, though, because Washington hasn’t been getting a ton of targets. He has eight targets his last two games and has more than four receptions in just one game all year. He is a bit of a boom or bust play. He probably isn’t worth the risk this week against the Bills, a team that allows the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears. Trubisky is finally playing up to his potential. He has two straight three-touchdown games and multiple scores four of five games. He remains a risk, though, especially against better defenses and on the road. He gets both those things this week, playing at Green Bay. Trubisky opened the season against the Packers and failed to score a touchdown in that game. Green Bay allows the seventh fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Don't risk using Trubisky in this matchup.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets. Anderson has finally put it together lately, having two straight 100-yard games. He has more than 85 yards three straight games. But he played the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins during that three-game stretch. Those are three of the worst pass defenses in all of football. Things get much tougher for him this week against the Ravens. Baltimore is ninth overall against the rush, allowing just 219-passing yards per game. Expect Anderson to come back down to earth in this matchup.
Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens. Ingram got off to a great start this year, but his numbers have been down the last few weeks. He has fewer than 60-rushing yards four of five games. He is capable of the huge game in this explosive offense, so he is tough to sit any week. But you might want to consider sitting him this week against the Jets. New York is terrible against the pass but do well against the run, rankings second overall against the rush. The Jets have allowed fewer than 70-rushing yards five of six games. Ingram could be mediocre once again in this one.
David Njoku, TE, Browns. Njoku played his first game since breaking his wrist last week, catching a pass for four yards on three targets. He didn’t do much but played and was on the field for much of the game. His playing time should just increase going forward. He is a sneaky play this week against the Cardinals. Arizona has been awful stopping the tight end all season, allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends by a wide margin. Njoku is worth taking a chance on in Week 15 because of his high ceiling.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Bucs. Perriman moves into a starting role for the Bucs with Mike Evans hurt. Perriman has 70 or more yards two straight games and has started to become a bigger factor in the offense even with Evans on the field. He has some potential going forward in the Bus pass-first offense, especially this week against the Lions. Detroit allows the ninth most fantasy points to receivers. Shutdown corner Darius Slay should cover Chris Godwin, meaning Perriman could get favorable coverages much of the game.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins. Derrius Guice is injured again. Shocking, right? Well, that leaves Peterson to get most of the work at running back again. And he is running well right now. He has touchdowns two straight and 75-plus rushing yards six of eight games. He has been pretty consistent all year, making him a player to consider using at the flex spot. He should get near 20 touches this week against the Eagles, a team allowing 23 points per game.
Allen Hurns, WR, Dolphins. Hurns had season highs last week, catching five passes for 68 yards. DeVante Parker suffered a concussion and could be out this week. If that happens, Hurns should be the go-to target for the Dolphins. This would be a good thing for Hurns, playing the Giants. New York allows the third most fantasy points to receivers and are 26th overall against the pass.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars. Minshew was just alright in his return to the starting lineup last week, going 24-of-37 for 162 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t a great matchup against a pretty good Chargers secondary, though. Minshew can get it going this week against the Raiders. Remember, Minshew had 20-plus fantasy points six of his first eight games this year. He is more than capable of the big game in this offense. Oakland allows the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 28th overall against the pass.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Texans/Titans, Seahawks/Panthers, Browns/Cardinals, Rams/Cowboys.
Low Scoring Games: Bears/Packers, Bills/Steelers.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Hot Starts: Week 3
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) was limited in practice for the second straight day on Thursday but is in line to make his season debut in Week 3 against the Cardinals. Golladay suffered a strained hamstring in practice on Sept. 9 and has missed the first two games of the season. Normally a pretty solid WR1 option for fantasy lineups, the Lions No. 1 wideout will carry a bit more risk with him if he makes his 2020 debut this weekend. Plus, Golladay will likely be covered by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, which won't be an easy task by any means. You're probably starting Golladay if he's active, but it might be wise to temper expectations a bit. If he's back, it'll be bad news for Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) missed his second straight practice on Thursday. It's not a good sign for the 23-year-old after he missed the Week 2 game. Brown will need to get in at least a limited practice on Friday to have a shot at suiting up this Sunday against the Vikings. Have a backup plan in place if you own him. Corey Davis will be worth flex consideration if Brown misses another game, Adam Humphries would have some sleeper potential in DFS and deeper leagues, and tight end Jonnu Smith would have real TE1 appeal after going for four catches, 84 yards and two touchdowns without Brown in the lineup last weekend.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. was a popular pick to have a breakout game against the Dolphins in Week 3, but it didn't happen, as he finished with just 33 receiving yards. Shenault did record five receptions, but with his usage mainly coming in the short-yardage passing, Shenault didn't have the chance to do much with the opportunities he received. Moving forward, Shenault is a low-ceiling fantasy option until we actually see him used in a way that offers a chance for him to produce more than just a handful of yards.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Thompson continued to see his role expand on Thursday night, catching five passes for 35 yards and adding three rushing yards on two carries. Thompson isn't the same receiving threat that he was in Washington, but he's becoming a larger part of things for the Jaguars. That doesn't mean you need to rush out and put him in your fantasy lineups moving forward, but it's worth keeping an eye on what Thompson does in Week 4 against the Bengals.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole caught four passes for 43 yards in Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. It was Cole's first game this year without a touchdown. Thursday showed us what Cole's floor this year likely looks like: a handful of catches with an average of around 10 yards per reception. You'll take that in deeper leagues, but he's likely just a tad too inconsistent to be a weekly start in 12-team leagues, especially when you consider this was a matchup that felt ripe for the taking for the Jaguars passing game and they responded with their worst offensive output of the season.
With D.J. Chark Jr. (chest/back) out, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley was a popular pick to see an expanded role on Thursday night. And he did, as he led the team in targets with eight. The problem? Drops and some poor positioning led to Conley catching just three of those passes for 34 yards. This was his chance to impress and show he deserved a larger role, and it just didn't happen. Conley's on the fringes of rosterability in season-long leagues at this point, with his value fully dependent on Chark missing more time.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson was the only consistent source of production in Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. The undrafted rookie ran the ball 11 times, finishing with 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions, catching six of them for 83 yards. Robinson might be the only player who can be a weekly starter on this offense right now and should be considered a fantasy RB2 going forward. Even when the Jaguars offense looks like a train wreck, Robinson manages to get his numbers.
The Jacksonville Jaguars weren't supposed to be blown out by the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, but they were, as the Dolphins took the 31-13 victory. Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II struggled all night, going 30-for-42 for 275 yards with no touchdowns while throwing an interception and narrowly avoiding throwing a second. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Minshew was a huge disappointment to fantasy managers, and now we have reason to doubt the mustached passer, who we thought was on his way to being a consistent fantasy QB2.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has his most formidable challenge of the 2020 season thus far against the Chiefs on Monday night. The third-year signal-caller has played relatively well against Kansas City throughout his career (two games), throwing for 414 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 22 carries for 113 yards and an additional score. While his previous performances against the squad doesn't guarantee a similar output, it is reasonable to assume that fantasy managers may see the same type of production once again. In case there was any doubt, keep him starting in all formats.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample caught seven of his nine targets for 45 yards against the Browns in Week 2. Although it's unlikely that rookie quarterback Joe Burrow will throw 61 passes against the Eagles as he did against Cleveland, the sophomore will likely be in line for an uptick in production after Cincy lost C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. While Sample probably can't be depended on for consistent production moving ahead, he is a suitable dart throw for those in need of a tight end in Week 3 and the remainder of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has racked up 11 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown throughout his first two games of the year. With A.J. Green back in the mix after missing some time due to injury, concerns emerged as to whether or not Boyd would be able to produce a third-straight 1,000-yard season. Nonetheless, as the 25-year-old builds a familiar rapport with rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow, the door could open for an uptick in fantasy production moving head. While Green, John Ross III, and Tee Higgins will also be looking for Burrow's attention, Boyd may emerge as the undisputed No. 1 wideout for the team from a production standpoint. As far as his Week 3 outlook against the Eagles, fantasy managers should keep him starting, regardless of format.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Joshua Kelley continues to get work as the No. 2 running back. Kelley received 52% of the snaps out of the backfield and 23 carries compared to the 16 that starter Austin Ekeler got. Kelley has now recorded 124 rushing yards on 35 attempts and has scored one touchdown in two games. He has also chipped in with a pair of catches for 49 yards. The Chargers have a favorable matchup against a Panthers Defense that has given up the sixth most points per game this season. Kelley is a solid option at the flex position for managers in Week 3.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen will look to build off of a strong Week 2 outing in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. Allen was a beneficiary of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert drawing the last minute start over Tyrod Taylor (chest) this past Sunday. Allen capitalized by hauling in seven of his 10 targets for 96 yards. The Panthers Defense is 10th in the league in allowing the fewest receiving yards per game, but that same defense has allowed 32.5 points per game this year and that would increase the odds of Allen getting a chance for his first touchdown. Allen should be considered a low-end WR2 in Week 3.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has been off to a hot start in 2020, but will have a tough challenge against the Panthers in Week 3. Henry has been one of the better options at a tough position and most importantly has looked healthy in two games. The Panthers have been successful in shutting down the tight end position thus far and have held Darren Waller, Jason Witten, O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski to just eight catches and 58 yards over the first two weeks. Henry should still be considered a TE1, but this will be his toughest test so far this season.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green hasn't had the most spectacular 2020 campaign but will attempt to get on track against Philadelphia in Week 3. Despite being targeted 22 times by rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow throughout the first two games of the year, the veteran has hauled in only eight of them for an unimpressive 80 yards. After having not played for nearly two years due to injury, the 32-year-old may have needed a game or two to get rid of any residual rust. While many are likely apprehensive about starting him against the Eagles due to his underwhelming play thus far, he has done enough throughout his career to earn another start or two before fantasy managers decide whether or not to pull the plug. For now, keep him starting.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will look to continue his strong season with a matchup against the Panthers in Week 3. Ekeler has been sharing work with rookie Joshua Kelley and received 56% of the snaps in Week 2. Kelley also got a big chunk at 52% last Sunday. The backfield has worked out well so far for fantasy managers and Ekeler should be considered a low-end RB1 against a defense that is allowing 127.5 yards per game and 32.5 points. Ekeler has rushed for 177 yards on the season with five receptions for 58 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will look to get things going against Philadelphia on Sunday. The 24-year-old has been a colossal disappointment through the first two games of the year, racking up an underwhelming 115 yards off of 35 attempts for a miserable 3.3 YPC. He has also hauled in just five catches for 42 yards. The former Sooner isn't a stranger to slow starts, especially since he didn't score on the ground until Week 11 of the 2019 campaign. Although Mixon hasn't done much to earn the trust of fantasy managers, there aren't many options with an upside as high as his. Keep him starting in all formats against the Eagles in Week 3.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will look to keep things on track in Week 3 against the Eagles. The rookie has had an impressive inaugural season, throwing for 509 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception throughout his first two games. He has also racked up 65 yards and an additional score on 15 attempts on the ground. The 23-year-old has displayed maturity and game-management skills well beyond his years. Although he may have a few rough performances over the team's next 14 games, fantasy managers, especially in deep, Superflex leagues, shouldn't hesitate to roll with Burrow against Philadelphia on Sunday as the upside is certainly there.
The Cleveland Browns Defense is a solid fantasy option for their Week 3 matchup against the Washington Football Team. Washington's offense has not been very potent through two weeks, scoring 42 total points and while allowing seven sacks and committing two turnovers. Cleveland is installed as a seven-point home favorite in a game that could be rather low-scoring. Fire up the Browns defense as a top-10 fantasy option for Week 3.
Jacksonville Jaguars LB Leon Jacobs (knee) suffered a knee injury during the Week 3 game and has been ruled out.