Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 16

Larry Donnell
The Rams have been absolutely stingy against opposing tight ends this year, making Larry Donnell an easy sit

It is a bittersweet week in the fantasy football world. On one hand it’s championship weekend and on the other hand it marks the end of the 2014  season. I managed to reach the championship game in one of my three leagues so I still have a chance to end the year on a positive note. To make things fun I have decided to only talk about players that are featured in my league’s three championship contests. If you have reached the finals and don’t usually take my advice then I would continue to ignore it. However, if you are looking for that edge to push you across the finish line, buckle up and pay close attention as there may be some things that surprise you.

Boom:

Tom Brady: Since the Patriot’s week 4 debacle in Kansas City, Brady has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each game. In week 16 he will face a familiar foe that he picked apart for 261 yards and 3 scores in their first meeting. Since that meeting the Jets defense has not improved and has given up the third most touchdowns through the air while being second to last in interceptions. Be ready for Brady and the red-hot Patriots to continue their dominance against their AFC East rivals.

Matt Ryan: The Saints have surrendered multiple passing touchdowns in four of their last five games and have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers in 2014. The Falcon’s offense seems to be clicking and Matt Ryan is the catalyst. He has thrown for 8 touchdowns and over 300 yards per game over his last three. I don’t expect him to repeat his week 1 performance where he tallied 448 yards and 3 scores, but I do think he will put up very good numbers.

Jonathon Stewart: Since taking over sole possession of the Panthers’ backfield 3 weeks ago, Stewart has averaged 5.8 yards per carry. With Cam Newton coming back from an injury the Panthers should continue to give Stewart 20+ carries like they have the last two weeks. Stewart has a very appealing matchup with the Browns in week 16, a team that gave up 241 yards and 3 rushing scores last week. To stay in the playoff hunt Carolina needs to continue to lean on Stewart.

Pierre Thomas: The Saints/Falcons game has the making of a shootout. Last week against the Bears, Thomas played 30 snaps, 28 of them in passing situations. In week 1 against New Orleans, Thomas accumulated 89 total yards in a high scoring affair. If Thomas can manage to get into the end zone with similar yardage his owners will be very happy.

Roddy White: As you can probably tell, I like this matchup for both teams. White has once again become a consistent fantasy contributor, scoring in four of his last six games. Because of Matt Ryan’s numbers in their first meeting, White also had a good game racking up 72 yards and a touchdown. Roddy should take advantage of a defense that has surrendered 18 touchdowns to receivers.

Steve Smith: The Texans have allowed the third most touchdowns to receivers this year, 19, and at least one in every week since week 1. Every team playing the Texans has managed to get their receivers over 100 yards and 11 of them have eclipsed 150. Smith has thrived in road games of late, totaling 159 yards and 2 touchdowns in his last two. The wily vet will shine in a must win game for Baltimore.

Colby Fleener: Over his last three games, Fleener is averaging 20 yards per catch. The Cowboys have given up 80+ yards to tight ends 6 times in 2014. Dallas has also given up the third most touchdowns to the position (10). This is another game that has the potential to be a shootout and Fleener poses a tough matchup wherever he lines up.

Bust:

Cam Newton: This poor guy in one of my leagues has Newton and Cutler as his two options at quarterback. With Cutler benched, he is forced to start Newton. To make matters worse, Carolina is facing a very good Cleveland pass defense. The Browns have held quarterbacks to under 300 yards passing in all but two games and less than two touchdowns eight times. If the Panthers are smart they will protect their franchise quarterback and limit the number of opportunities the Browns have to hit him by running the rock.

Russell Wilson: Wilson was held in check in Seattle’s first matchup with the Cardinals, totaling only 284 yards and 1 score. Since then, Wilson has not rushed for more than 50 yards in any game. Since week 7 the Cardinals have only given up eight passing touchdowns while Wilson has only thrown for more than 1 touchdown twice. Seattle should win this game behind their defense.

Jeremy Hill: After Hill’s performance last week expectations are high for him coming into week 16. However, against a great Denver rush defense, those expectations need to be kept in check. The Broncos have only allowed 4 rushing touchdowns this year, only 1 coming since week 5. If those stats don’t scare you maybe these will. Denver has allowed only one team to break 100 yards on the ground while holding teams to under 50 seven times. If the Bengals are forced to pass in this game you should see more of Gio Bernard as he is the better pass-catcher. Hill owners could not have picked a worse opponent in the final week of the fantasy season so hopefully you have a backup plan.

Lamar Miller: I continue to see fantasy owners starting Lamar Miller and I’m not sure why. He has recorded more than 100 yards just one time this season, while carrying the ball more than 15 times just twice. The Vikings haven’t been great against the run in 2014, although they have not allowed a running back to score since week 10. The Dolphins have yet to show a commitment to the run so Minnesota should not have to worry much about Miller on Sunday.

Mohamed Sanu: The second half of the season has been awful for Sanu. Over his last six games he hasn’t surpassed five receptions or 50 yards in any game. You would be able to live with those numbers if he was finding the end zone, but he has only two touchdowns in the last nine games. Things will not get easier this week against arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Sit city.

DeAndre Hopkins: It looks like Case Keenum is starting under center for the Texans which is bad news for anyone who owns DeAndre Hopkins. In eight games last year with Keenum as quarterback, Hopkins had 22 receptions for 419 yards and 1 touchdown. If my math is correct, his averages catching balls from Keenum are 3/52 per game. As well as Hopkins has played at times this season, these numbers give me very little confidence going into week 16.

Larry Donnell: Donnell has become a player of debate on Sunday morning’s installment of The Fantasy Forecaster. Surprisingly, he has only two touchdowns since his three-score performance in week 4 and hasn’t had more than three fantasy points in any of his last four games. His opponent, the Rams, have surrendered just two touchdowns to the position all year and less than 70 yards to tight ends in every game. For once, Larry Donnell should be a unanimous sit in your championship match.

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Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Eight In The Box: IDP Waiver Wire Week 16

Sean Lee
Lee is a strong stash for next season, but have a backup plan in place

If you are in a dynasty league it’s time to start looking for diamonds in the rough that could be primed to break out next year. I like to look at teams that are out of playoff contention and are now playing some of their younger players, looking to see what they have in them. This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball.

Another good source of value are players that are free agents that may be changing schemes if they move to a different team. For example, you might be looking at a playing Brandon Graham with the Eagles. He is being used is an outside linebacker and has been underutilized. He is in the last year of his rookie contract and could look to move to a team that runs a 4-3 and wants a young player with upside to give him a shot. This could be a cheap way to acquire an impact player moving forward.

Rather than give you start and sits for the next two weeks I will be looking at these types of players while making recommendations on players you might be able to acquire on the cheap in dynasty formats.

 Week 14 results from the Sunday pod:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Matt Ryan 310 yds; 2 TD; 1 Int Neutral Win Offense
Devin Hester 5-85 yds; 1 TD Desperation Play Win Offense
Roddy White 7-58 yds; 1 TD Neutral Win Offense
DeSean Jackson 3-15 yds; 1-9 yds Sit Win Offense
Jordan Reed 3-13 yds; 0 TD Start Loss Offense
Brandon Oliver 12-26yds; 4-44 yds Sit OK Offense
Donald Brown 5-18yds; 4-38 yds Sit Win Offense
Keenan Allen 3-18 yds PPR Play Loss Offense
DeAndre Hopkins 5-77 yds Neutral Win Offense
Justin Forsett 16-48 yds; 1- (-1) Start Loss Offense
Steve Smith 5-37 yds Start Loss Offense
Cameron Wake 1/0/0 Sit Win IDP
LeGarrette Blount 8-17yds; 2-7yds; 1 TD Start Win Offense
Kamar Aiken 1 target Sit Win Offense
Chandler Jones 4/3/1.5 High Risk/High Reward -Sit Loss IDP
Martavis Bryant 3-31yds; 0 TD Long Shot Loss Offense
Donte Moncrief 0-0 Long Shot Loss Offense
Marquess Wilson 3-16yds; 1 TD Long Shot Win Offense
Steven Jackson>NYG RB’s 11-46; 1-11 Jackson Win Offense
Jonathan Stewart 22-73 yds; 1-6 yds Start Win Offense

Week 15 Summary: 12-7-1 (63%)

Season Summary (since week 8): 71-36-3 (66%)

*IDP Stats are listed as:  Solos/Assists/Sacks; PD = Pass Defensed; FR = Fumble Recover; INT = Interception

Week 15 Results from this column:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Ziggy Ansah 1/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Cameron Jordan 0/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Charles Johnson 3/1/0.5 Start Win IDP
Damontre Moore 4/1/0.5 Start &Dynasty Stash Win IDP
Rolando McClain 3/2/0 Start Loss IDP
Curtis Lofton 2/1/0 Start Loss IDP
Elvis Dumervil 1/0/1 Start Win IDP
Ryan Mundy 4/5/1/PD Start Win IDP
Barry Church 8/0/0 Start Win IDP
Antrel Rolle 4/0/0/PD Sit Win IDP

Week 15: 6-4 (60%)

Season Summary: 72-31 (70%)

I had a successful season of predictions overall, hitting at a nice 68% between the article and the podcast. I was brought down a bit with my offensive predictions as I was only 61% (podcast only) while my overall IDP recommendations hit at 70% (111-47).

I am open for suggestions. If there is anything you want clarified or think my thresholds are wrong please let me know. Any input is appreciated. On to this week’s information:

Week 16 injuries of note:

  • Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ DL): Wilkerson missed the last couple of weeks with a turf toe injury. These can linger and a full off-season of rest should help considerably. If you can acquire him cheaply from an owner worried this could be an issue in the future do so. He should be fine next year.
  • Gerald McCoy (TB DL): He is one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL, but his season comes to an end with a hyperextended knee. The Bucs had nothing to play for and did the smart thing by shutting him down. He doesn’t need surgery which is obviously a good thing. His stock for next year should be just fine.
  • Jadeveon Clowney (HOU LB): I touched on Clowney a couple weeks ago as he has undergone microfracture surgery on his knee. This is a long and difficult path back to playing and because of this his dynasty value has taken a big hit. If you have him I would look to move him for any value you can get. On the flip side, I wouldn’t be looking to acquire him. I wouldn’t expect much out of him in 2015.
  • Kiko Alonzo (BUF LB): Alonzo is probably off the radar for many owners since he has missed the entire year with a torn ACL. He should be back to 100% for training camp and should be roaming the middle of the field for a good Bills defense. If he is on your waiver wire pick him up and stash him for next year. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Sean Lee (DAL LB): Lee is another linebacker who missed the entire season with an ACL. He is an absolute stud when healthy, however, he is never healthy. He should be back to full health for training camp but will always be an injury risk.  If you have the space he is a good speculative add but you better have a backup plan for when he gets hurt.
  • Anthony Barr (MIN LB): Barr was the favorite for defensive rookie of the year before he got hurt. For now, he should be a player to monitor. Indications are that it should not affect his long term performance so if a worried owner in your league will ship him, it might be worth inquiring about. He is a stud and will be for many years to come.
  • Jerod Mayo (NE LB): Mayo missed most of the 2014 season with another injury. The injury bug is catching up to him and I would probably stay away in most dynasty formats at this point. See how the off-season goes and try to acquire him for a discount if all goes well but be prepared for the inevitability of the next injury.
  • Sio Moore (OAK LB): Moore was a semi-breakout performer with a few huge weeks. He has been placed on IR with a hip injury but it doesn’t appear to be too serious. Monitor him in the off-season to see how workouts are going. I would try making a lowball offer to his owner.
  • Eric Berry (KC DB): In general I don’t worry about rostering DB’s in keeper leagues. The turnover in the top 15 is very high and you can usually always find one on the waiver wire. You never know who will be performing at a high level from year to year and sometimes it’s better to find the hot rookie because they get picked on and get a lot of tackle opportunities.  I mention Berry here in hoping that he is able to beat this thing and get back to living a healthy life.

Watch list adds for 2015:

DL:

  • Damontre Moore (NYG DL): I mentioned him here last week and the window to buy low may have already passed. Moore has 5.5 sacks on the year including 2.5 over the last two weeks. I think he has arrived. If you can acquire him I would do so as he is poised to have a big 2015.
  • Olivier Vernon (MIA DL): Vernon is probably on most radars as he had a nice 2013 but has disappointed this season. With Cameron Wake slowing down a bit and getting older it might be a good time to try and buy low on the younger Vernon.
  • Geno Atkins (CIN DL): Atkins got off to a slow start in 2014 after knee surgery. If his owner has soured on him since he only has 20 tackles and 3 sacks on the year it might be time to investigate his price tag. He will 100% next year and should be back to wreaking havoc in the middle of the line. In DT-required leagues I would make a big push to acquire him below market value.
  • Demarcus Lawrence (DAL DL): Lawrence was injured most of the year so he hasn’t really had a chance to perform. As you may know, Dallas is 28th in the league for sacks so they are in desperate need of players who can storm the pocket. Look for Lawrence to get a shot in 2015. He is playing now so if you get a chance take a look at him over their last couple of games. A nice buy low stash.

LB:

  • Dee Ford (KC LB): With Justin Houston set to be a free agent after this year, Ford was drafted to take his place. He has shown glimpses in his minimal playing time. This is a speculative add situation and his value will be tied to whether or not Justin Houston re-signs or is franchise tagged in the off-season.
  • Telvin Smith (JAC LB): With the injuries to the Jaguar linebackers he got a shot at every down work. He is very athletic but undersized and some think he will wear down due to that. It appears that may be true as he started off with 10 tackles in his first game playing every down and has steadily gone down from there. His totals have been 10, 8, 4 and 1 over the last four games. However, I still think he has play-making ability as he has two sacks and an interception on the year. I think he is worth rolling the dice on.
  • Christian Kirksey (CLE LB): Kirksey has had a disappointing year. He could never crack an every down role even with Dansby getting injured. He has had a solid year with 44/31/2 so all hope is not lost. If an owner is frustrated because they expected more it would be a good time for lowball offer.
  • Jelani Jenkins (MIA LB): Jenkins got his chance early and ran with it. He has been outstanding this year as an every down linebacker and should only get better. I mention him here because he missed the last game and if his owner is fighting for this year he might be willing to part with him to win now. See if you can pry him loose. He will be great next year.
  • Khalil Mack (OAK LB): Mack hasn’t met expectations as he only has 3 sacks on the year. However, he has played much better than that. He will be outstanding in big play scoring leagues in the future. Get him now before he explodes.

DB:

  • I wouldn’t worry about DB’s and wasting a roster spot in the off-season. They change ever year and you can always find them on the waiver wire. Concentrate on the other positions and you’ll be happy. If you insist on trying to roster one I would target Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He looks to be the real deal and has only gotten better as the season has progressed.

If you have any suggestions for some off-season articles or about specific players you want me to write about drop me a line on Twitter or in the comment section below.

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Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 16

Titans Defense
No team has scored fewer than 7 fantasy points against the Jaguars this season.

As the holidays approach and we move toward the new year, the gift of giving always becomes more prevalent and (most) people seem to be in a better mood. Maybe it is because they get more time off work, maybe it is the extra time they get to spend with family, or maybe, just maybe, it is because they are in their fantasy football championship! While there are some leagues that will play in week 17, the majority of formats finish up this week to avoid having their star players sit in week 17 as they rest for the NFL playoffs. A couple of defenses gave us an early Christmas present last week as they provided huge performances in the semifinals. Let’s take a look at who they were and how they did it!

Last Week’s Results:

Baltimore got their chance at Bortles and the Jaguars in week 15 and it lead to a great fantasy day, as expected. The Ravens defense allowed just 12 points while scoring a touchdown in the battle. The reason I liked the Ravens this week was because of their recent surge in sacks over the past several weeks. 8 sacks and countless knockdowns left the Jaguars rattled while the Ravens cruised to a 23-point day, the highest scoring amongst all fake defenses. You do not have to look much further down the list to see the Kansas City Chiefs. I liked the Chiefs because they had a revenge game against Oakland, who beat them a couple Thursdays ago for their first victory of the season. This game was at Arrowhead Stadium so I expected different results. The defense scored a touchdown and held the Raiders to just 13 points en route to a 17-point showing.

Week 16 Targets:

Tennessee Titans: It obviously a strange week when I am recommending fantasy’s 29th ranked defense. That being said, I believe the Titans might just be the unit to lead your squad to fantasy glory! This defense has not been very good, but a lot of that is because have been on the field so much. Not this week. The Titans head down to Florida on a short week for their second matchup against the Jaguars. No defense has recorded fewer than 7 fantasy points against the Jacksonville offense in 2014. In their last meeting, Tennessee put up a 12-spot against the Jags, their 2nd best total of the season. Look for baby blue to have a solid Thursday night showing.

Philadelphia Eagles: I almost choked on my breakfast when I saw that the Eagles were only 66% owned. Their ownership went down a little after last week’s matchup with the Cowboys. Now the Eagles get Washington, the biggest mess in the NFL. This Eagles unit has scored double-digit fantasy points 7 times and rank only below Buffalo on ESPN’s Player Rater. Philly has everything to play for as they are in the middle of a heated NFC East battle with Dallas. A huge showing is coming for this unit in week 16.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills would be my defense of the week but they are only available in about 25% of ESPN leagues as of this writing. The number could be due to dead leagues but the fact of the matter is that they need to be owned. The reason I am suggesting a team with such high ownership is because of who they played last week. The Bills played (and beat) the Green Bay Packers. While some probably stashed Buffalo on their bench and picked up another defense last week, some owners have a phobia of owning more than one defense. I believe they call it Twodefensiveitis (Editor’s note: Jared Hines, MD). Regardless, the Bills are the number one fantasy defense this year and have scored double-digit fantasy points in 4 of the last 6 weeks. Now they face Oakland who has been terrible this year and has allowed opposing defenses to score double-digit fantasy points 6 times in 2014. Take a quick second to make sure that they aren’t on your waiver wire.

That’s 15 columns down, 1 to go! As always I had a great time writing this article and hope you enjoy reading it. Good luck in your matchups this week!

As always, happy streaming!

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Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 16

Harry Douglas
Any time Julio Jones or Roddy White can’t go, Harry Douglas becomes an attractive fantasy option

Quarterback:

Robert Griffin III (31% Y!): Despite not starting this week, Griffin had a solid game in relief of Colt McCoy, who re-injured his neck on Sunday. Going up against an average Giants defense, Griffin finished with 236 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled for 46 yards as well and almost rushed for a score. Griffin is at his best when he can use his legs, which he did yesterday. Despite the pedestrian stat line otherwise, it was a productive day for Griffin compared to what he has done this season. McCoy should be highly questionable for week 16 and Griffin will probably start even if the former is cleared. He faces an Eagles defense that has given up some big plays. RG3 will be a high-end QB2 this week.

Eli Manning (61% Y!): Despite losing Victor Cruz earlier in the season, Manning was paired up with budding superstar Odell Beckham JR. The young wideout had a decent game yesterday (Editor’s note: decent?!). Manning had 250 yards passing with 3 touchdowns (all to Beckham) and put up  top-five numbers. Going up against a St. Louis defense that didn’t record an interception against the likes of Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, Manning should be viewed as a high-end QB2 due to the Rashad Jennings injury, which will likely force the G-men into more passing situations.

Running Back:

Matt Asiata (38% Y!): Facing an extremely tough Lions front seven, Asiata managed 86 combined yards and a touchdown, while hauling in 7 receptions. With Jerick McKinnon out for the season and no possible way of Adrian Peterson returning, Asiata has been the main guy for the Vikings the past few weeks and will continue to be going into week 16. Asiata is not an efficient running back, but he is trusted by the Vikings coaching staff and has been getting the bulk of the work, making him an interesting add versus the Dolphins who gave up 79 yards rushing and a touchdown to the duo of LaGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray last week. View him as a mid-tier RB3 in standard leagues.

Andre Williams (59% Y!): Williams came on in relief of Rashad Jennings, who re-injured his ankle on Sunday. Williams finished with 44 yards  on 18 carries against an extremely tough Redskins run defense. With the Giants out of the playoff hunt, it would be wise to expect Williams to be the starter for the rest of the season. While not much can be expected out of him in the receiving game, he is a hard runner who should see the majority of work in week 16 against the Rams defense. As good as the Rams defense has been, they gave up 136 rushing yards between the committee of Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor last Thursday. Williams should be considered a low-end RB2 with upside heading into your league’s championship.

Latavius Murray (56% Y!): Murray had a somewhat disappointing but efficient day against a stout Chiefs’ run defense. He managed 4.9 yards per carry (12 carries for 59 yards) and had 6 targets in the passing game as well. Murray has taken over the Raiders’ run game completely and is one of the only offensive producers in Oakland right now. The Raiders have a tough matchup against a terrific Bills defense on Sunday, but Murray will be a focal point in the offensive plan again and should be a lock for 12-15 touches. With his explosiveness and athleticism, Murray should be seen as an RB3.

Wide Receiver:

Harry Douglas (25% Y!): Douglas had a terrific game starting in place of the injured Julio Jones. He was targeted 14 times, hauling in 10 catches for 131 yards. He even had more targets and receptions than Roddy White. Jones was a game time decision but never even got a chance to test out his hip before the game. Jones is no guarantee to suit up this week, making Douglas an attractive waiver wire add. Even if Julio does play, there’s a chance he could be used simply as a decoy. Douglas could have another great game against a Saints defense that has struggled this season. Douglas is a high-upside WR3 that could evolve into a solid WR2 if Jones can’t go.

Jarvis Landry (45% Y!): In 3 of Miami’s last 4 games, Landry has seen 11 targets. On Sunday he was again targeted 11 times, catching 8 passes for 99 yards. Undoubtedly the most consistent receiver in Miami, Landry has put up solid numbers over the past 7 weeks, averaging 8.57 targets, 6.57 receptions, 59.57 yards and .57 touchdowns per contest. That is an average of 15.94 points in PPR leagues, making him a solid WR2.

Charles Johnson (32% Y!): Johnson had another solid game versus Detroit, finishing with 5 receptions for 72 yards on 7 targets. In a tightly fought matchup with the Lions, Johnson tied for the most targets with Asiata (see above) and Kyle Rudolph. His five receptions were also the second highest on the team and he had the highest yardage totals as well. Teddy Bridgewater continues to use Johnson as his favorite wide receiver and nothing shows that this will change moving forward. Johnson is a mid-tier WR3with a lot of upside in a slightly easier matchup with the Dolphins in week 16.

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Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 15

Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb has a tough matchup this week against Buffalo

Week 15 officially means all fantasy football playoffs have started. This week was particularly hard for me to find bust players because there are so many great matchups and if you are in the playoffs it probably means your lineup has been pretty consistent. For quarterbacks this week I found two guys who are within the top 12 for points that I think will fail to live up to expectations. If I am going to tell you two guys that are going to be outside the top 12 I need to tell you two guys that will make their way in this week. For running back and wide receiver I found players that are usually wavering on the flex position or guys that have been inconsistent this year. Even in a tough week there are players that you definitely want to play and ones that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

Good luck! And remember, if you lose it’s your fault but if you win it’s mine!

Boom:

Kyle Orton: For those of you who own Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick and need to stream a quarterback this week, Kyle Orton is your man. He is coming off a performance where he threw for 355 yards and a touchdown in a game where they trailed Denver from the start. I suspect the Bills will be in a very similar situation this week when they host the red-hot Packers. Orton will also benefit from the sub-par Packer pass defense that has allowed quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns 9 times this year.

Matthew Stafford: Calvin Johnson has been healthy for 8 games this year and in 4 of those contests Stafford has thrown for at least 290 yards and 2 touchdowns. The common denominator? Both of those games have come over the last 2 weeks. On paper this is not a great matchup for Stafford as the Vikings have held 7 quarterbacks to single-digit fantasy performances in 2014. Look for Stafford to have a rebound game at home with his favorite target in the lineup.

Mark Ingram: The Saints have won 3 of their last 8 games, woof! In those wins Ingram’s stat lines read as follows; 24 carries 172 yards 1 TD, 30 carries 100 yards 2 TD, 23 carries 122 yards 0 TD. If the Saints want to win the worst division in the NFL they should follow their running back rather than their struggling aerial attack.

Chris Ivory/Chris Johnson: The Titans have allowed opposing teams to run for over 97 yards in 11 games. They’ve also given up a touchdown on the ground in 9 of their 13 contests. Ivory and Johnson have combined for 65 carries over the last 2 weeks and should continue to pile up the touches in week 15. Both are solid flex options in week 15. Oh yeah, and this is a revenge game for the former CJ2K.

Isaiah Crowell: Cleveland backs ran for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns in their first meeting with the Bengals. This week, Crowell should benefit from Johnny Manziel’s dual-threat abilities, which should open up the Bengal defense some. Even in a shared backfield, Crowell should still see a healthy carry count. Cincinnati was shredded last week against the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell, allowing 194 yards and 2 scores on the ground.

Sammy Watkins: After 4-straight disappointing performances, Watkins had a huge week 14, catching 7 balls for 127 yards. After watching the Monday night game it became very evident to me that the Packers’ defense is below average. They have allowed 10 touchdown to receivers over the last 4 games and are fortunate to have such a great offense that forces the opposing offense into catchup mode. The Bills should try and control the ball against the Pack to keep it close, but if they are not able to, get ready for some big garbage time points out of Watkins.

Roddy White: This pick is somewhat dependent on Julio Jones’ status. If the burner doesn’t play, White becomes a must start. Even if Jones does suit up I still think Roddy could have a solid game. In each of their last 6 games the Steelers have allowed at least 1 touchdown catch to receivers and are allowing 205 yards per game to opposing wideout corps. The Steelers are also very susceptible to the big play giving up pass plays of 69, 80 and 81 yards over their last 3.

Bust:

Russell Wilson: Two weeks ago in San Francisco, Wilson rushed for 35 yards and passed for 236. As bad as the 49ers’ offense has been their defense has still preformed as a top-5 unit, holding opposing quarterbacks to under 200 yards passing 5 times this season.

Joe Flacco: The Jacksonville pass defense has been surprisingly solid over their last 3 games. During that time, they have surrendered only 2 scores and just 211 yards through the air per contest. On the contrary, Flacco has not put up big numbers recently considering the success of his team. He hasn’t thrown more than 2 touchdowns in a game since week 6 and has only broken the 300 yard mark 3 time all years. Baltimore will have to continue their success by running the ball and playing sound defense.

Frank Gore: In his previous meeting with Seattle, Gore rushed 10 times for 28 yards. The Seahawks defense is holding opposing teams to an average of 26 rushing yards per game over the last 3. Avoid Gore against a defense that seems to be turning their swag back on.

Lamar Miller: Miller hasn’t eclipsed 100 total yards in any game since week 3. He also has only 6 touchdowns on the year and has received more than 15 carries just once. With New England almost completely shutting down opposing run games over the last month plus, I’m sitting Miller if I can.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson was held to 1 catch for 9 yards in his earlier meeting with the Giants. Since that time, the Redskins quarterback situation has become a complete mess and the Giants pass defense has improved. The Giants haven’t allowed a receiving corps to break 200 yards since week 3. With the Redskins being what they are and Jackson not being 100% healthy don’t expect that streak to end in week 15.

Randall Cobb: With it being the playoffs it would be pretty hard to bench Cobb, but maybe you own a couple other receivers with better matchups. Cobb has only broken 100 yards and scored a touchdown once in his last 5 games. If you own him, you probably have to start him. Just know that Buffalo has a strong pass defense and a big day out of Cobb is probably unlikely.

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Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Eight In The Box: IDP Waiver Wire Week 15

Barry Church
Barry Church is worth using against the high-powered Eagles offense in week 15

Looks like I cooled off a bit – at least for my Fantasy Forecaster suggestions. Not a good thing as we head to the playoffs. This was my first sub-60% week since week 8 for the pod. On the bright side, the picks you come here for were 7-2, upping my season long success rate to 71%. The moral of the story, I must get flustered by Doug and Payton on the podcast and it throws me off.

My total score for the week was 14-10-2 (60%). Not too bad but now that playoffs are here, every call is magnified and I have to do better than that. After all, you guys are coming here for expert picks and 60% isn’t going to cut it.

 Week 14 results from the Sunday pod:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Whitney Mercilus 1/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Mario Williams 2/0/0 Sit Win IDP
Jerry Hughes 2/0/0 Sit Win IDP
Chris Long 1/0/0 Start Loss IDP
Robert Quinn 3/2/1.5/PD Start Win IDP
Jurrell Casey 1/3/0; 3 QB Hits Start Loss IDP
Alec Ogletree 2/5/0/PD Start Loss IDP
James Laurinitus 4/2/1.5/PD Start Win IDP
Paul Worrilow 3/2/0/PD Start Loss IDP
Pierre Garcon 9-95yds Sit Loss Offense
Isaiah Crowell 14-54 yds; TD Start Win Offense
Rashad Jennings 2-5yds/1-17 yds Diminished Roll N/A Offense
Jordan Cameron 4-41yds Start – if Active Tie Offense
Jordan Reed 3-25 yds Start Loss Offense
Delanie Walker 4-27 yds Start Loss Offense
Donte Moncrief 3-33 yds Flex Play Tie Offense
Chad Greenway 7/4/0 Start Win IDP
Jonathan Stewart 20-155; TD Start Win Offense

Week 14 Summary: 7-8-2  (47%)

Season Summary (since week 8): 59-29-2 (67%)

*IDP Stats are listed as:  Solos/Assists/Sacks; PD = Pass Defensed; FR = Fumble Recover; INT = Interception

Week 14 Results from this column:

Player Stats Start/Sit Result Type
Ziggy Ansah 1/0/1 Start Y IDP
Demarcus Ware 0/0/0 Start N IDP
JJ Watt 4/0/3/PD Start (2 sacks/     4 solo min) Y IDP
Chad Greenway 7/4/0 Start Y IDP
Bobby Wagner 7/0/0 Start Y IDP
Danny Lansanah 7/1/0 Start Y IDP
Eric Weddle 6/1/0 Start Y IDP
Jonathan Cyprian 5/3/0 Start Y IDP
Kam Chancellor 1/1/0/PD Start N IDP

Week 14: 7-2 (78%)

Season Summary: 66-27 (71%)

Week 15 injuries of note:

  • Chandler Jones (NE DL): Jones has practiced in a limited fashion this week. I don’t have much confidence in him having an impact until I see him going full speed in a game situation. I would hold him out until he gets into game action. If you are in a dynasty league and he is on the waiver wire for some reason I would pick him up as a stash for next year. He is still a top 10 DL when healthy.
  • Haloti Ngata (BAL DL): Ngata was suspended 4 games for substance abuse. Time to drop him as he is done for the year. This is probably a bigger deal to Baltimore’s team defense then to fantasy owners.
  • Shariff Floyd (MIN DL): Floyd started the game last week only to re-injure his knee and have to leave the contest. I would target him as a buy-low in dynasty leagues as he should be fine for next year. The way the Vikings defense improved under Mike Zimmer I would expect big things from Floyd in 2016. For this year he is too risky to start unless he gets a clean bill of health.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ DL): Wilkerson is still suffering from his turf toe injury. However, he is trying to practice with a special shoe. I wouldn’t even think about using him at this stage of the season until he is healthy and shows he still has the same power and explosion.
  • Gerald McCoy (TB DL): McCoy briefly left the game last week with a knee injury. He returned to the game and it’s being reported as only a bruise. He should be good to go.
  • Jadeveon Clowney (HOU LB): Well, the second opinion didn’t come back good. The Texans placed Clowney on IR, ending his season. The more important news (especially in dynasty leagues) is that he is going in for microfracture surgery on his troublesome knee and will be out for at least 9 months. The worry here is that he will lose that explosion off the line which was his best attribute. If I have him in dynasty I might look to see if there is another owner out there willing to take the risk as he is most likely 2 years away from getting back to form, if ever.
  • Vontaze Burfict (CIN LB): He was placed on IR due to his knee issue. That means that Vinny Rey should continue to be an effective LB 2 or 3 for the remainder of the year. This was a very disappointing year for anyone that drafted Burfict expecting a 2013 repeat. At this point I would stay away from him in any dynasty league due to the myriad of injuries he has had. The biggest of which were repeat concussions earlier in the year.
  • NaVorro Bowman (SF LB): Bowman was activated from the PUP list but I wouldn’t even bother with him. Chris Borland has been phenomenal and the rest of the 49ers have given up on the year. I don’t see management putting Bowman out there this year and if they do I wouldn’t expect him to do much. He might be a low risk dynasty pickup as he will have had 18 months of recovery time from his surgery at the start of next year.
  • Lavonte David (TB LB): David suffered what appeared to be a concussion late in Sunday’s game. He will have to pass the concussion protocol so pay attention to the reports as the week goes along. If he is active he has to be in your lineup. Either way Danny Lansanah has been impressive over the last few weeks and should be owned.
  • Antonio Cromartie (ARI DB): Cromartie left last week’s game with an ankle injury but reports are that he is expected to play Thursday night against the Rams. I wouldn’t expect a big game out of Cromartie either way.
  • Kenny Vaccaro (NO DB): Vaccaro was benched after a horrendous year. He is safe to drop in re-draft leagues but you may want to hold on in dynasty leagues to see what happens in the off-season. He is a highly touted prospect that was a top draft pick so he has some talent.
  • Louis Delmas (MIA DB): Delmas suffered a torn ACL and has been placed on IR. He is done for the season.

Who to play (or not):

DL:

  • Ziggy Ansah (DET DL): The Vikings are allowing pressure on almost 20% of their passes as well as sacks on about 10% of their drop backs. Ansah is in line for a huge day as Minnesota has given up 6 sacks over the last 2 weeks.
  • Cameron Jordan (NO DL): Surprisingly, the Bears didn’t give up a sack last week in that garbage time bonanza. However, that was against the Cowboys who only have 19 total sacks on the year. There will be sacks to be had this week and I expect Jordan to feast.
  • Charles Johnson (CAR DL): Tampa Bay gave up 6 sacks last week and now Johnson comes to town. He was a held off the stat sheet last week against the Saints but they don’t give up sacks. He will eat, as he has a sack in every other game since week 7.
  • Damontre Moore (NYG DL): He is more of a dynasty stash but does have some upside this week. Moore had 2 sacks last week against the lowly Titans as he played in 78% of the snaps. He is starting to get playing time and that is resulting in him getting to the quarterback. He gets Washington this week so he should have some chances. Tough to start a guy like this in a playoff game but if he is available pick him up as a dynasty stash for next year at the very least.

LB:

  • Rolando McClain (DAL LB): Last week against the Eagles he had a decent game with 6 solos. He is a high floor option this week as there will be plenty of opportunities.
  • Curtis Lofton (NO LB): Coming off an 11/6/0/FR game last week I expect another big showing on Monday night against the Bears. Lofton hasn’t been below 6 solo tackles since week 9 and in that game he had 6 assists so he was around the ball. Get him in your lineup this week.
  • Elvis Dumervil (BAL LB): Dumervil is coming off a 3.5 sack game against the Chargers and now he gets Jacksonville. He is a must-start in big play leagues but I see another big game this week with at least one sack. Get him in the lineup.

DB:

  • Ryan Mundy (CHI DB): Mundy has had no less than 6 solo tackles in 4 of the last 5 games. The one game he didn’t he had an interception against the Vikings. I think he will be tested often against the Saints and he will continue his tackle streak and high floor numbers.
  • Barry Church (DAL DB): I am following my own rule of using safeties against the Eagles. Church should get lots of opportunities and take advantage. In their last game against the Eagles he put up 9/2/0/PD so expect a lot of the same in week 15.
  • Antrel Rolle (NYG DB): Last time out against Washington, Rolle had 1 tackle and an interception. I am going to say sit him this week as I don’t think he will be in line for much in this game.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/TZvGrm

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Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

The Weekly Stream: Defense; Week 15

Ravens Defense
The Ravens are a lock for double-digit fantasy points in week 15

Tuesday morning I was strolling (Editor’s note: I think he means *trolling*) through my Twitter feed and noticed a trend. There were a lot more pictures then there usually are. Not because the Victoria Secret Fashion Show was the other night, but because a ton of fantasy gamers were posting photos of their playoff matchups. Teams were winning by small margins and bragging about their lineups, or they were showing how close they were to advancing, only to have Aaron Rodgers kneel down on the last play of Monday’s game to cost them a spot in the next round. I looked through my fair share of matchups and noticed that they all had a common theme. One of the teams had a defense that went absolutely crazy.

There were a couple of teams I saw that streamed the Giants defense against Tennessee. An opponent of mine did the same thing, and while it wasn’t the deciding factor in my match, it was hilarious to watch the Giants lead fantasy in defensive scoring in week 14.

Last Week’s Results:

Last week I recommended 3 teams. They included the Texans, Rams and my hometown Vikings. If you decided to trust your playoff matchup with one of these defensive units, you were rewarded with great production. The Rams posted their 2nd-straight shutout while adding in 2 picks, a touchdown and 7 sacks en route to 24 fantasy points. Another team with a great matchup was the Houston Texans. They recorded 4 sacks on their way to a solid 11 fantasy points. The last team I recommended was the Minnesota Vikings. I thought the they had a good chance at keeping Geno and the Jets (you read that line and felt like Elton John, admit it) to a low point total. While they allowed 24 points and had to take the game into OT, the Vikings did pick off Geno once in Sunday’s chilly affair at TCF Bank Stadium. They also recovered a fumble and oh yeah, that interception was returned for  touchdown. Toss in 3 sacks and you have yourself a solid showing; 10 points for the purple people eaters.

Week 15 Targets:

Week 15 will bring along more pictures on social media of fantasy matchups that will end up coming down to the wire. If you survived last week, week 15 is all about putting yourself in the best position to win and get into your championship. Taking chances would not be my advice to you. Play your studs, and look for defenses with good matchups. Let’s not try to get too cute here with the season on the line.

  • Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs defense has not been playing as well as many expected them to coming into this season. A couple of heartbreaking losses have left them befuddled but this is their week to shine. The last time they met Oakland, the Raiders won their first game of the season. An embarrassing loss for the Chiefs to be sure. I look for Kansas City to have a big day in a revenge game.
  • Baltimore Ravens: The season is winding down which means so is my weekly segment of “stream whoever plays Jacksonville.” Let’s not look to the future though, instead, let’s get ready to celebrate a great matchup for week 15. Baltimore’s unit generates the majoroty of points from sacking the opposing quarterback. The Jaguars give up sack after sack on a weekly basis, something that should once again happen on Sunday. Put the two together and you’ve got yourself double-digit fantasy points for the Ravens. Book it!

So where do we go from here? I decided that while most fantasy playoffs end in week 16, I would continue to write this article through the end of the regular season. For the few people who have week 17 matchups, I didn’t want to leave you out in the dust. That leaves us two columns left after this one before I move onto playoff football, as well as some baseball content as well. Good luck to you as you continue your playoff push.

As always, happy streaming!

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/zsRKJa

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Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!

Waiver Wire Wizardry: Pickups for Week 15

Jonathan Stewart
Stewart had the best game of his career in week 14. If fellow tailback DeAngelo Williams misses more time, Stewart should carry the mail

It’s week 15 and fantasy football playoffs are underway! In a world where Peyton Manning only scores 2 points, anything is possible. Take a peak at your league’s waiver wire and see if any of these players are available. Good luck and hopefully I’ll see you back here next week for the championship edition of this column.

Quarterback:

Johnny Manziel (22% Y!): Unfortunately, Browns HC Mike Pettine doesn’t believe in winning. Otherwise, he would’ve named Manziel the starting quarterback for week 14 rather than sticking with Hoyer. After another putrid performance by Hoyer, Pettine has to make the change and insert Manziel into the offense. Manziel brings another dimension to the Browns offense with his ability to run, which compliments his strong arm. Manziel should be named the starter this week at some point and will immediately enter the low-end QB1 discussion. He could be the diamond in the rough for fantasy owners now that playoffs are underway.

Derek Carr (7% Y!): Carr has been arguably the most impressive rookie signal caller this season despite the lack of an offense around him. Against a very tough San Fransisco defense, Carr threw for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns. He does have another difficult matchup next week against the Chiefs, but Carr has proven that even in bad matchups he can put up solid stats. If you need a streamer for week 15, he could be your guy.

Running Back:

Jonathan Stewart (40% Y!): With the backfield all to himself, Stewart had a heck of a day against the Saints. He ran for 155 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, giving him one of the best games in his career. DeAngelo Williams may be out for more than just this week with a serious finger injury, and with another juicy matchup for JStew (Tampa Bay) in week 15, he could be a low-end RB2. Even if Williams plays, Stewart would still command most of the touches and could have another great game against another weak division opponent.

Daniel Herron (59% Y!): Herron had a tough game on Sunday against the Browns. He was stifled on the ground, gaining only 26 yards on 8 rushes. ‘Boom’ had a relatively good day for owners in PPR leagues, though. He was targeted 7 targeted times, catching 4 balls for 45 yards. Herron has taken over Ahmad Bradshaw’s role in the offense as the primary pass-catching back. There’s real value in that. He’s clearly the most talented back on the team meaning his role should continue to grow. In fact, with the game on the line late in the 4th quarter, he was in the game and was even granted a goal-line draw. There’s RB2 upside here.

Kerwynn Williams (2% Y!): Williams is probably the shocker of the week. Just signed from the practice squad, Williams drew 19 carries for 100 yards despite Stepfan Taylor starting the game for Arizona on Sunday. Taylor only carried the ball 7 times. Further, Willians saw most of the snaps during the 2nd half of Sunday’s game. This is good news, as it looks as though Williams is going to be the man for the near future with Andre Ellington done for the remainder of the season. While it’s hard to trust him after just 1 game, he is an immediate add in all formats.

Wide Receiver:

Charles Johnson (19% Y!): The size and speed freak is at it again. He is the clear #1 receiver and target in the Vikings’ offense and he had another great game on Sunday, catching 4 balls for 103 yards and a score. He also drew 8 targets and nearly had another touchdown but fumbled at the goal line. Johnson is a definite mid-tier WR3 for week 15 despite the tougher matchup against the Lions. He keeps improving every week.

Jarvis Landry (47% Y!): Over the past 6 games, Landry has had at least 5 receptions. He does have a tough matchup against New England’s secondary next weekend, but with Darrelle Revis expected to cover Mike Wallace, we could be seeing a lot of Landry. He has proven to be extremely consistent and efficient for not only fantasy owners, but for Ryan Tannehill as well. Landry will be a mid-tier WR3 in standard leagues and a low-end WR2 in PPR formats, especially with him playing out of the slot.

Martavis Bryant (59% Y!): Bryant finished Sunday’s game with 6 targets and over 100 yards receiving. He flashed his gaudy speed on a 94-yard catch and run for a touchdown, showing us his big play ability. Bryant can’t be relied on to make a great play like that every week, but with how well the Steelers’ offense is clicking right now, Martavis could continue to have opportunities to rack up fantasy points, making him a low-end WR3 with a lot of upside. Owners feeling lucky should add Bryant, who is facing a very weak Falcons’ defense next in week 15.

Tight End:

Mychal Rivera (24% Y!): Rivera had a career day on Sunday, finishing with 7 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown on 7 targets. He was clicking with Carr all day and was constantly making plays in the big upset victory over San Fransisco. He has been inconsistent this season, as he put up duds the past 2 weeks before this great performance. However, with how porous the tight end position is in fantasy, Rivera will be a startable option next week againat Kansas City. He has proven that he can go on multi-week runs, and he could be starting another one.

Jordan Cameron (56% Y!): Cameron finally returned on Sunday after missing over a month with a concussion. He did not have the best of days, but not bad considering the circumstances and also the lack of serviceable play from Brian Hoyer. He had 5 targets and 4 receptions for 41 yards, numbers that could certainly climb if Manziel is inserted as the starting quarterback. Cameron should still be considered a low-end TE1 moving forward and one of the more attractive options at the position facing a Bengals defense that gave up a score to Heath Miller this past weekend.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/QlHga8

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Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 14

Boom
Chuck Pagano is still not ready to fully commit to ‘Boom’ Herron in week 14

With most fantasy football playoffs beginning this week I have decided to put a spin on my normal column. Throughout the week I have gathered lineup questions from all of you and have picked the most intriguing ones. I will give lineup recommendations for teams that want to play it safe as well as teams that have tough matchups and may need to take some lineup risks.

Here goes nothing! And remember, if you lose it’s your fault and if you win you can give me all of the credit.

QB (start 1):

Ryan Tannenhill: He has a very good matchup this week against the Ravens, who, over their last 4 games have surrendered a total of 13 passing touchdowns. Tannenhill has been inconsistent this year but the opportunity will be there against the Ravens this week.

Andy Dalton: We all know there is good Andy and bad Andy, but I think it’s the former in week 14. Over the last 5 games, Pittsburgh has been torched by the opposing quarterback: Brees 257 yards and 5 touchdowns, Mettenberg 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, Vick 132 yards and 2 touchdowns, Flacco 303 yards and 2 touchdowns, Luck 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, Fitzpatrick 262 yards and 2 touchdowns. Obviously Dalton is not as good as Brees, Flacco or Luck, but you have to believe he could put up similar if not better numbers than the other 3.

Colin Kaepernick: Kaep hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns or eclipsed 30 rushing yards in a game since week 6. He does have a decent matchup against Oakland on Sunday, but surprisingly, the Raiders have allowed only 10 passing touchdowns over their last 5 games. Oh, and 5 of those were thrown by Peyton Manning in 1 game.

Recommendation: Ryan Tannenhill is definitely the safest play this week at home against the Ngata-less Ravens. If you need a lot of points, Dalton has the biggest upside due to the suspect Steeler secondary.

QB (start 1):

Tony Romo: The Bears have allowed passers to throw for over 300 yards 6 times and 4 or more touchdowns 3 times. In 6 games against above average quarterbacks they have surrendered 20 touchdowns. Romo and the Cowboys could find themselves in a shootout with both defenses struggling.

Tom Brady: Since week 4 against the Chiefs, Brady has been on fire. During that span, he has thrown for at least 2 touchdowns in every game. Brady will put up solid numbers no matter who’s on the schedule.

Recommendation: Brady is the smart play here. He has been nothing short of terrific over the last 8 games and the Patriots are playing like a Super Bowl contender. Romo does have a great matchup, so if you are not satisfied with Brady’s 18-23 fantasy points and need 30 or more, Romo definitely has the potential to have a monster game in Chicago.

(RB start 2):

LeSean McCoy: McCoy has been running great of late, racking up 289 yards and 2 scores over his last 2 games. McCoy continues to act as the workhorse for the Eagles, reaching 20 carries in all but 3 games. Week 14 should be a tough test for Philly, as they have a meeting with an improving Seattle defense. Outside of their tilt with Kansas City, Seattle has allowed only 1 100-yard rusher all season.

Tre Mason: Since becoming the lead back, he is averaging over 18 carries per game. The big play potential that we saw out of Mason in college finally came to light against Oakland last week. The Rams are a running team and will continue to hand Mason the ball even against the Redskins’ 6th ranked run defense.

Isaiah Crowell: I absolutely loved Crowell this week before the injury and news that Brian Hoyer would once again lead the Cleveland offense. With Terrance West having a case of the fumbles, Crowell has taken over the Browns’ backfield. This week could not be any better for Crowell against the Colts and their 28th ranked run defense. If healthy I love Crowell this week, but the hip injury seems to be significant as the Browns just signed Shaun Draughn.

Ryan Mathews: The Patriots have been inconsistent in stopping the run this year, just like the Chargers have been inconsistent running the ball. New England  hasn’t allowed more than 1 touchdown to an opposing back all season and have held opposing backfields out of the end zone in 7 games. Since his return to the Chargers’ backfield, Mathews has games where he rushed for 70, 105, and 40 yards. I think you would be happy if Mathews racked up a double-digit fantasy performance, but expecting a big performance is a stretch.

Recommendation: LeSean McCoy and Tre Mason are by far the safest plays this week. They are their team’s workhorses and will get the opportunities to make plays even in difficult circumstances. Prior to his injury, I would have started Crowell probably over McCoy, but I can’t start Crowell with confidence at this point in time.

WR (start 3):

Josh Gordon: Since returning from injury, Gordon has 15 receptions for 195 yards in 2 games. He is easily the Browns’ number 1 receiving threat and hasn’t missed a beat after being suspended most of the season. He has a very tough matchup this week against the Colts who have allowed only 5 touchdowns to opposing receivers if you take away their game vs the Steelers.

Emanuel Sanders: Among receivers this year, Sanders ranks 4th in yards, 5th in targets, and 3rd in receptions. He has become a must-start every week even in a tough matchup with the Bills. As long as number 18 is throwing the ball, Sanders should continue to put up big numbers.

Odell Beckham Jr.: The Giants head to Tennessee to take on the Titans who allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 6 (Editor’s note: WTF!) touchdowns last week. In the week 13 matchup, Fitzpatrick’s number 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a career game, racking up 238 yards and 2 scores. Over his last 5 games, ODB is averaging 119 yards and 7 catches a game. Expect those numbers to grow in this ideal match up.

Jordy Nelson: He is a must-start every week, especially against the Falcons. Atlanta is giving up 202 yards per game to receivers and have allowed at least 1 touchdown in 9 of 12 games.

Kelvin Benjamin: Benjamin has been a bit inconsistent this year, tallying 2 games with only 1 fantasy point and 7 games with a double-digits. Unfortunately, the Panthers face the Saints this week. New Orleans was 1 of the teams that held Benjamin to 1 fantasy point. However, the Saints defense has been suspect since their first meeting with the Panthers, allowing at least 1 touchdown and 163 yards to opposing receivers per game.

Recommendation: This seems like a no-brainer to me. You have to start Nelson and Sanders and ODB is playing too well to sit him. Gordon is tempting and has big play opportunity, but so do the other 3 in much better matchups with much better quarterbacks.

Flex (start 1):

Martellius Bennett: Bennett is the 5th ranked tight end in fantasy this season, but he’s only broken 100 yards once and hasn’t scored since week 5. He does have a great matchup against the declining Cowboys defense that has allowed tight ends to score 8 times, however. Bennett is a great play at tight end this week, but may be a bit risky out of the flex spot.

Mohammed Sanu: Sanu’s potential completely relies on Dalton’s performance. Like I mentioned with Dalton, the Bengals offense has a great matchup against the Steelers. Sanu’s numbers have been on the decline since AJ Green’s return, but I think he is an upside flex play against a team that allowed 3 different Saint receivers to score last week.

Denard Robinson: Robinson is a guy I bought high on a few weeks ago, but he has largely disappointed. Robinson has totaled only 69 yards on the ground the past 2 weeks in nice matchups. Robinson is still the number-1 back in Jacksonville and will get a solid amount of touches, but his upside is limited in this offense.

Recommendation: Tough call here, but I will always lean towards a running back for a safe play. You know Robinson will get touches where as Sanu and Bennett rely on their quarterback getting them the ball. If you are looking for an upside play, Sanu is a great option.

Flex (start 1):

Jonathon Stewart: If DeAngelo Williams does not play (it looks he won’t), Stewart will be the lead back for the Panthers in New Orleans. The Saints are surrendering the 3rd most yards per rush this season. Last week, Stewart had 12 totes for 85 yards against an above average Vikings defense. He should be a solid play with limited upside, much like Ryan Mathews.

Daniel Herron: Herron has split carries with Trent Richardson the last 2 weeks. Chuck Pagano came out Wednesday saying he is not ready to give the bulk of the carries to Herron. ‘Boom’ did have 88 yards on 8 carries last week, but 49 of those yards came on 1 play. Herron has been the better back, no doubt, but it looks as though the 2 fumbles he coughed up over the last couple of weeks are limiting his upside.

DeSean Jackson: With Colt McCoy at quarterback this season, Jackson has 11 receptions for 220 yards and a touchdown in 2 games. Jackson has been the definition of a boom or bust player this year producing 6 single-digit fantasy performances and 5 games where he broke 100-yards receiving. The Rams have given up 13 touchdowns to opposing receivers this year so if healthy Jackson could be in line for a big day.

Recommendation: Jonathon Stewart should get you anywhere from 6-12 fantasy points. So if you are playing it safe I would go with Stewart, but Jackson has shown he has some chemistry with McCoy and can break a big play at anytime. Jackson would be the guy I start this week as his floor isn’t that much lower than Stewart’s and his ceiling is much higher.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/aQJ6R6

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Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!