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.


Tom Brady: Since New England’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 contest 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. Atlanta’s offense is clicking right now and Matt Ryan is the catalyst. He has thrown for 8 touchdowns and more 300 yards per game over his last three contests. 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 couple of 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 J-Stew.

Pierre Thomas: The Saints/Falcons game has the makings 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 opposing receivers thus far.

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.


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.

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 this 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 we 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!


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!


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.


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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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!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 14

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.

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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!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 13

Even though Ellington has struggled in recent weeks, he should used heavily by Arizona in week 13
Though Ellington has struggled in recent weeks, he should be used heavily by Arizona in week 13

This is my favorite week of the year. There are endless amounts of food, some great games, no more bye weeks and major playoff implications (both real and fantasy)! To make things even better there are four games featuring many of the top fantasy players that are lining up to be shootouts. The games I am talking about are the Bears/Lions, Cowboys/Eagles, Saints/Steelers and Patriots/Packers. If only given these eight teams you could make multiple solid fantasy squads. When it’s all said and done I think we are in for a week where we see huge fantasy numbers and some very full stomachs. Before we dive into my picks for week 13 let’s see how I did last week.

I posted a solid 9-5-3 record in week 12 with McCoy, Steve Smith, and the Colts defense highlighting my boom picks. Even though Roddy White and Kenny Stills didn’t have “boom” games they were very solid contributors, hauling in 9 and 8 catches for 96 and 98 yards respectively. I was expecting big things from Jay Cutler against the Bucs, but was disappointed when he put up a dismal 130 yards passing with only one touchdown. Denard Robinson was another guy who had a great matchup but was very limited on the ground and had another early fumble. I was almost perfect on the bust side of things last week. Stafford, Ingram, Hopkins, Gates, Tamme, and the Lions D all had awful performances. The only player that I missed on was Golden Tate. Although I wouldn’t say he was a bust, Tate was shut down after the 1st quarter. Like I predicted, Revis followed him all day while Browner and a safety double-teamed Megatron. Tate was still able to break 100 total yards, but I am going to give myself a pat on the back for predicting the Patriot’s gameplan. I am done living in the past. Let’s lace ’em up and get ready for this week’s slate!


Ryan Tannehill: I love me a some Tannehill this week. He has looked like a top-ten QB the last few weeks, producing 10 touchdowns to only four turnovers over his last four games. If he can go for 240 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Broncos I see no reason why he can’t do the same against the Jets. Gang green has allowed 2+ passing touchdowns in 10 of 11 games this year.

Andre Ellington: Ellington has rushed for 23, 42, 24 yards and just one touchdown in his last 3 games. With those stats I would normally tell you to stay away from the Cardinal, but he has a very favorable matchup this week against the Falcons. Atlanta is the league’s second worst run defense, giving up 14 touchdowns on the ground. The Cardinal’s offense has struggled since losing Carson Palmer so look for them to lean on Ellington quite a bit.

Tre Mason: Gut call here. Mason has established himself as the lead back in the St. Louis. In 4 very tough matchups against San Fransisco, Denver, Arizona and San Diego, Mason has averaged 87 total yards per game. With the Raiders surrendering an average of 126 rush yards per game, I feel that Mason is primed to break a big run and get into the end zone for the second time this year.

Odell Beckham Jr.: ODB should be a must start on any roster. He is averaging 8 catches for 126 yards over the last four games. Don’t let him being a bit banged up deter you from starting him against the Jags.

Martavis Bryant: I’ve been big on Saints’ shutdown corner Keenan Lewis all year and the other New Orleans corners are awful. While watching Monday night’s game I saw Baltimore’s two Smiths combine for ten catches and 187 yards and none of those catches occurred when Lewis was the man in coverage. Watch for the Saints to give a lot of attention to Antonio Brown as well as putting 8 in the box to stop Le’Veon Bell.

Travis Kelce: Living in Denver I know the Broncos don’t have anyone that can cover him. In their first meeting, Kelce had 4 receptions for 81 yards. The Broncos struggle covering big, athletic tight ends like Gronk, Gates, and Dwayne Allen who have combined for 4 scores this year. If the Chiefs fall behind and have to start passing, Kelce is their number-one option

Colts D/ST: The Redskins have allowed 5+ sacks in each of their last three games. The Colts offense is far superior to the Redskins defense and should give their own defense an early lead and many opportunities to get sacks, cause turnovers and fluster Colt McCoy.


Matt Ryan: Matty Ice has been the most consistent quarterback which is great if you are cool with 10-15 points per week. He has thrown multiple touchdowns in only 5 games this year and hasn’t had a 300 yard performance since week 5. It will be tough sledding this week against the Cardinals who blitz more than any other team. The Cardinals have allowed only 5 passing touchdowns in their last 6 games which doesn’t bode well for Ryan and his shaky offensive line.

Ryan Mathews: I love how Mathews looked last week and love him for the playoffs, but this week he faces the best run defense in the league. The Ravens have held teams to 3 rushing touchdowns all year and haven’t surrendered one at home. Don’t expect Mathews to rush for a lot of yards either as the Ravens have only allowed one team to run for 100 yards and that was the Colts way back in week 5 when they ran for 105.

Patriots running backs: Is it going to be Blount? Is it going to be Gray? Is it going to be Vereen? Or maybe the Pats will decide not to run the ball at all. Vereen has some upside in PPR leagues, but for now this is a situation to avoid.

Mike Evans: Evans has a very tough match up vs the Bengals this week. Oh wait, never mind, Mike Evans scores a touchdown every week regardless who the Bucs are playing.

Julio Jones: I hate that I am going against my own advice to never sit a top-10 receiver, but Patrick Peterson has just been playing too well. Julio has not acted like a top receiver this year either, only having 4 games over 100 yards and scoring in 3. With Matt Ryan under pressure in this game I don’t see Julio winning many of his battles against against Arizona’s star corner.

Heath Miller: As bad as the Saints pass defense has been they have been excellent against tight ends. They have allowed just 3 touchdowns to the position in 2014. Miller has become, at best, Big Ben’s fourth option on offense. He has only had more than 50 yards in a game twice all year.

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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!

Fantasy Football Boom or Bust: Week 12

Shady McCoy
Fantasy owners will need a big day out of Shady McCoy and he has the matchup to do it


Jay Cutler: As bad a season as the Bears have had, Jay Cutler has actually been a top-ten fantasy option. He has passed for 2+ touchdowns in 7 games and has accounted for all but 3 of Chicago’s offensive touchdowns. This week, the Bears have a home game against the Bucs who have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to throw for 200+ yards and 5 to throw for 300 yards. Another plus for Cutler is that his defense is absolutely terrible so there will never be a lack of opportunity to sling the ball around.

Joe Flacco: The Ravens come out of their bye with a trip to New Orleans. Every quarterback that has traveled to New Orleans has thrown for at least 200 yards. The quarterbacks who have done this are Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers. The only top-tier quarterback in this group, Rodgers, torched the Saints for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. Expect the Saints and Ravens to have a good ol’ fashion shootout.

LeSean McCoy: The Titans have now allowed teams to rush for 220, 204, 200, 174 and 153 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. With McCoy having 20+ carries in 7 games this year, I see no reason why he can’t slice and dice the Titan’s for a big day.

Shane Vereen: Detroit has allowed 100 yards on the ground only once and just 4 rushing touchdowns all year. These are all terrible numbers for a running back, right? Good thing Shane Vereen does most of his damage via the passing game. The Lions are allowing 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs on average. In the 5 games when Vereen received 12 or more touches this year, he averages 85 yards and has 4 total touchdowns. Look for Vereen to be the featured back in New England’s offense this week.

Denard Robinson: Since he has been named the starter, Robinson is averaging 97 yards on the ground and a touchdown per game. His opponent this week, the Colts, are coming off a game where they allowed a 200-yard rusher. Expect the Jags to take advantage of the Colts’ bottom-5 run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards a carry and more than a touchdown a game to opposing run games.

Steve Smith: This game has all the makings for Steve Smith to show he still has something left in the tank. He is coming off a bye and 4 sub-par games. I don’t think Keenan Lewis will shadow Smith, which should greatly benefit him. The Saints have surrendered an average of 186 yards to receiving corps and a whopping 12.8 yards per catch. If Flacco has a big game, as I suspect he will, then Smith will too.

Roddy White: Wide receiver is a quarterback dependent position. This week, the Falcons are at home, which bodes well for Roddy. Matt Ryan has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Georgia Dome compared to 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the road. White has been very consistent over the last 4 games totaling 3 touchdowns and 312 yards. Expect Matty Ice to look Roddy’s way often with Julio Jones having Joe Hayden stuck to his hip all day.

Kenny Stills: With Brandin Cooks going on IR, opportunity has come a knockin on Stills’ door. Before Cooks got hurt, Stills was averaging 4 catches a game for 58 yards. Now that Stills has been thrust into the number 2 receiver position, he should be an even bigger contributor to the Saints pass-heavy offense. The Raven’s pass defense has been average this year and will have their hands full with Jimmy Graham, opening up some 1-on-1 opportunities for Kenny.

Larry Donnell: In his first meeting with Dallas, Donnell hauled in 7 balls for 90 yards. Look for an even better game against a Cowboy defense that has allowed 8 touchdowns and 4 100 yard games to tight ends this year.

Colts D/ST: Every defense that has gone against the Jags has recorded at least 8 fantasy points. Last time the Colts played Jacksonville they put up great defensive numbers, recording 2 interceptions, 1 fumble, 4 sacks and a touchdown. Don’t be surprised if you see a repeat performance out of a reeling Colt defense.


Matthew Stafford: On the year, Stafford has 15 total touchdowns and 9 interceptions for an average of 12 to 16 fantasy points per game (depending on your settings). He has been consistently average, having only two 300 yard games. He’s also yet to throw for more than 2 scores in a single game. I see the Patriots putting a beatdown on the Lions, so Stafford could get lucky with some garbage time points, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Mark Ingram: The Ravens are the league’s number-1 fantasy run defense, but they have the 26th ranked pass defense. I see Brees and Payton putting together a game plan that exploits the Raven’s weakness rather than trying to score against a defense that has only surrendered 3 rushing scores all season. With the Saints’ pass defense being just one spot behind Baltimore’s, I think we will be in for a Monday night shootout.

Golden Tate: With a healthy Calvin Johnson opposite of him in week 11, Tate only had 2 targets. This week, the Lions will head into New England to face the Patriots’ number-4 pass defense. Last week the Pats’ secondary decided to double-team the dynamic T.Y. Hilton while Darrelle Revis blanketed Reggie Wayne. I expect we will see the bigger Brandon Browner shadowing Johnson with safety help while Revis follows Tate around like a lost puppy. Belichick is known for making offenses beat him with their secondary weapons, which in the Lions’ case is their run game.

DeAndre Hopkins: Lets not overreact to Ryan Mallet’s performance last week. Mallet is still an unproven, inexperienced quarterback. The Texans have a tough passing matchup against the Bengals’ 6th ranked pass defense in week 12. With a healthy Arian Foster and an emerging Alfred Blue, expect the Texans to try and pound the ball on the ground, which will limit Hopkins’ opportunities. Cincinnati has also only allowed 6 touchdowns to receivers and over 200 yards once all year.

Antonio Gates: Gates has been the definition of boom or bust this year. He has not gone over 61 yards since week 2 and has 3 or less receptions in 6 games. St. Louis has given up only 2 touchdowns to tight ends all year and hasn’t allowed any of them to break 70 yards. This week will be tough sledding for Gates and the struggling San Diego offense.

Jacob Tamme: If Julius Thomas misses any time Tamme will be the one to fill his place, but those of you who are expecting a Thomas-like performance out of him will be disappointed. In his last 2 games, Tamme has received 15 targets and has only been able to turn 5 of them into catches. Tamme’s workload will definitely increase, but his production won’t. The Dolphins haven’t let a tight end touch pay dirt in any of their last 5 games.

Lions D/ST: New England’s’ offense is red hot right now, which makes the Lions a very risky play. In their last 3 games the Pats have scored 136 points and are averaging 36 points a game at home on the year. I would hold onto the Lions for some upcoming matchups, but it would be wise to stream a defense this week so you don’t cost your team points.

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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!

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray
Damn, look at those guns

Guess who had 38 carries for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns this weekend? It wasn’t Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Demarco Murray, Matt Forte or Arian Foster. It was Jonas Gray! If you have no idea who Jonas Gray is, don’t feel bad. The 5’ 9”, 230 pound bowling ball had more carries, yards, and touchdowns last night then he had over the course of his entire career.

Gray was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and decided to take his talents to South Bend and play for the Fighting Irish. In 4 years at Notre Dame, Gray tallied 1,205 total yards and 12 touchdowns. He spent the majority of his time in college as a backup until his senior year where he split carries with Cierre Wood. Gray was having a breakout senior year until he tore his ACL in the Irish’s 11th game, ending his collegiate career. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 6.9 yards per tote. Despite the great numbers, the injury to his knee lowered his draft stock exponentially. Gray was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins and spent the year on the PUP list while rehabbing the injury. Following a year of rehab, Gray was cut by Miami in August of 2013 and then signed with the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad two days later. After spending the 2013 season with the Ravens, Gray was signed to a future contract with the Patriots as they prepared for a playoff run. Entering 2014, Gray was a part of a very busy backfield in New England, consisting of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and James White. Once again, Gray was cut, but then signed back onto New England’s practice squad.

Gray was finally given his opportunity when Stevan Ridley went down with a torn ACL in week 6. Following the injury to Ridley, he was activated to the Pats 53-man roster and saw his first NFL action against the Jets when he had 3 carries for 12 yards. Gray’s role continued to grow in the next 2 weeks as he was handed the ball 29 times for 119 yards. Heading into the bye, Gray had established himself as the Patriots’ top rushing threat while splitting time with excellent pass-catching back Shane Vereen.

Now that you know who Jonas Gray is, let me tell you why his performance wasn’t as surprising as it seems. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get him into my Boom or Bust column, which really took a beating this week, but I was able to get him into one of my lineups as a late substitution for Larry Fitzgerald. Let’s go back to January 11th, 2014 when the Colts and the Patriots faced off in the 2nd round of the playoffs. New England went with the game plan of pounding the ball with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, which lead to a 23 point victory. The stat line for the two backs read like this: 38 carries for 218 yards and 6 touchdowns. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? We all know that Bill Belichick is a hard coach to predict week to week but historically he uses the same game plan against the same opponent if he had success in the previous meeting. I can’t say I saw this big of a game out of Jonas Gray, but history was definitely on his side to at least contribute in some capacity.

Moving forward, Gray is going to be a very popular waiver wire add, but don’t forget Belichick’s game-plans are hard to predict. There is no question that Gray is the lead back for the Patriots rushing attack with Vereen serving as the back in passing situations. However, the Pats have the Lions, Bills, Dolphins, and Jets left on their schedule, all of whom have a defense ranked in the top ten against the run. Knowing this, the schedule may dictate a more heavy use of Vereen.

No matter what happens moving forward with Jonas Gray’s career, his performance last night was a great accumulation of hard work and perseverance in an NFL season that has been clouded by negative off-field happenings. Seeing a guy make the most of his opportunities after he could have decided to end his football career multiple times will make you feel good no matter which team you root for.

Stories like Gray’s remind us why we love the NFL so much.

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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!

Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 11


Colin Kaepernick: Last week the Giants let Russell Wilson run for 102 yards and prior to last week they had given up 9 passing touchdowns over their last 3 games. I expect the 49ers to replicate the Seahawks zone read running scheme, which should reproduce the Colin Kaepernick we fell in love with 2 years ago.

Le’Veon Bell: Bell is usually a must start but he has not surpassed 100 yards on the ground since week 3 and he’s only produced 56 yards over the last 2 weeks. He has a great matchup this week against a Titans team giving up an average of 127 yards on the ground per game. After last week the Titans defense has now allowed 10 rushing touchdowns on the year. Look for Bell to have a bounce-back game for the Steelers in prime time.

Ryan Mathews: The Chargers could not be more thankful for Mathews’ return after Branden Oliver’s dismal performance over the last three weeks (3 YPC, 0 touchdowns). Opposing running backs have reached the end zone 9 times and have run for over 100 yards 7 times against the Raiders. Mathews should have a memorable return against the team he ran for 99 yards and a touchdown against a season ago.

Alfred Morris: With RGIII under center, Morris is averaging 91 yards a game and has accumulated 19 touchdowns. In 11 games without Griffin, he’s averaged 69 yards, compiling 7 scores. Morris has been the biggest beneficiary of Griffin’s ability to run the zone read offense. Be ready for a big day from Freddy against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 80+ rushing yards to running backs in 8 games this season.

Cordarrelle Patterson: Did anybody else watch last Sunday’s game? In case you didn’t, the Bears defense is awful. They have now allowed 106 points and 11 passing touchdowns over the last 2 weeks! I know Patterson doesn’t have a quarterback even close to the caliber of Rodgers or Brady, but the Vikings should find a way to get this dynamic play-maker the ball in week 11.

If there were a game for Pierre Garcon to regain his fantasy relevance, this is it
If there were a game for Pierre Garcon to regain his fantasy relevance, this is it

Pierre Garcon: If Pierre Garcon can’t produce big numbers in this game he should be dropped in all shallow leagues. He has now had a bye week to regain his chemistry with Griffin and they are playing the league’s worst pass defense. The Bucs have allowed performances of 63, 55, 33 and 32 fantasy points (ESPN) by wide receiving corps this year. Unless DeSean Jackson just goes absolutely nuts, Garcon is in line for a big game.

Dwayne Allen: The Pats have allowed tight ends to score in each of the last 3 weeks and the Hoody loves to make teams beat them with their secondary options. With the Patriots’ defense focusing on Hilton and Bradshaw, watch for Allen to be Luck’s number 1 option.

Browns D/ST: I think it is a fantasy football rule to start a defense playing against a quarterback in his first start, especially if that defense is coming off a week where they made Andy Dalton look like well, Andy Dalton. The Browns have forced 12 turnovers in the last 4 games which they will add to this week against the Texans. I think this game will be a low-scoring affair, making the Texans defense a good play as well.

Chiefs D/ST: 3 words; Arrowhead in November. The Chiefs have surrendered just 31 points total in their last 3 home games and the Seahawks’ offense has been stuck in struggle city. The Chiefs defense is a sneaky play this week against the defending champs.


Russell Wilson: The Seahawks passing game has really struggled of late and I don’t see it getting any better when they travel to Arrowhead. Wilson has not surpassed 200 yards passing in any of his last 3 games and has only thrown for 1 score during that time. His ability to run makes him very hard to bench, but keep in mind that the Chiefs have only allowed 20+ fantasy points (ESPN) to one QB this year and his name is Peyton Manning.

Mark Sanchez: There are 2 things to look at here. First, Green Bay’s pass defense has been above average this year, allowing only one 300-yard and 20+ point (ESPN) passer; Drew Brees. Their defense has been especially good at home, surrendering only 4 touchdowns through the air in their last 4 games. The second thing to look at is the overreaction to Sanchez in the Eagles great team win last Monday night. The Eagles were fortunate enough to force 3 turnovers in Panther territory that lead to 17 points as well as generating 14 points on defense and special teams. Sanchez and the Eagles’ offense had 9 drives start in their own territory, and they only scored on 2 of them. Expect Sanchez to have an average game at best in the frigid Wisconsin air.

CJ Anderson: This is more of a gut feeling as I hate doubting anyone on the Broncos’ offense, but this is a tough matchup for them. The Rams have allowed only 1 100-yard rusher over their past 5 games and only Demarco Murray achieved that feat against them at home. All of the sudden the Broncos have a very crowded backfield. Although Ronnie Hillman is expected to miss at least this week, Montee Ball is returning from injury and Juwan Thompson continues to get the rare goal line carries. The only way I see Anderson having a big game is if he breaks off a long run and finds pay dirt.

Marshawn Lynch: Last week Beast Mode had one of the best fantasy performances for a running back in recent years, however that was the first time he had gone over the century mark on the ground since week 1. This week, Lynch goes up against the 6th best fantasy run defense instead of the Giants’ 31st best. The Chiefs have not allowed a running back score a touchdown this year and I think they will keep that streak alive in week 11. Expect the Lynch we saw in weeks 5 through 8, not the one we saw in week 10.

AJ Green: If Keenan Lewis is healthy I would stay away from AJ Green. I will repeat what I wrote last week regarding receivers that Lewis follows. He held Kelvin Benjamin to 2 catches for 18 yards, Jordy Nelson to 3 catches for 25 yards and now, before injury, Michael Crabtree to 2 catches for 11 yards. Lewis is the most underrated corner in the game and should strike fear in fantasy owners like Revis, Peterson, Sherman and Hayden do.

Martellus Bennett: The Vikings being number 2 against tight ends this year coupled with how bad the Bears offense is playing makes Bennett a risky week 11 start. I know it’s hard to bench a guy at a position where there is very little depth, but if you have another solid option at tight end I would go with it.

Eagles D/ST: In their last 8 home games, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Eagles have relied on their defense or special teams to score at least 1 touchdown a week, but the statistics tell us that Rodgers won’t give them that opportunity.

Cardinals D/ST: This is not a knock on the Cardinal defense, I’m just weary of a clicking Lions’ offense. The last time the Cardinals went up against a team with 2 stud receivers, the Broncos, they let Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas combine for 327 receiving yards and 2 scores. Don’t let their recent performance against the Rams give you faith that they will stop Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

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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!

Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 10

Because this is the first week of Boom Or Bust I will explain how this is different than Matthew Berry’s Love/Hate. The players who I think the “Boom” label will fit are either widely rostered as bench options are who you can find on your league’s waiver wire. These players are especially important during weeks like week like this one where 6 teams are on a bye. The players I peg to “Bust” are players who are either normal starters or who have had strong performances recently. Starting one of these players may not hurt you, but you may have someone else on the bench that will give you a stronger performance.


Josh McCown: Josh is basically playing for his job this week. The Bucs are 1-7 and are trying to figure out if the money they spent on McCown is going to be a short or long-term investment. I know McCown was held to only 58 yards passing in his first match against the Atlanta, but the Falcons have now allowed 3,300 yards passing this year as well as 7 passing scores over the last 4 games. The one thing you can count on is that McCown will get the opportunity to put up big numbers; Falcon opponents are averaging 34 pass attempts per game.

Cam Newton: Cam has not impressed of late, passing for only 353 yards and 2 touchdowns over his last 2 games. Fortunately, he will have a great opportunity to bounce back against the Eagles who have given up 2+ passing touchdowns and over 200 yards in 7 of their 8 games this year.

Russell Wilson: Another guy who hasn’t impressed as of late is Russell Wilson. Wilson has passed for over 202 yards just twice this year and has only 1 touchdown over Seattle’s last 2 games. The very talented Wilson should be able to get back to form this week facing a Giants’ defense that has surrendered 9 scores through the air over their last 3 and over 248 passing yards in 7 of their games.

Legarrette Blount: I am expecting the red-hot Steelers to put a beating on the Jets tomorrow at the Meadow Lands. With that being said, I see no reason why the Steelers will wear out Le’Veon Bell, which means Blount should see a fair amount of touches. Although the Jets have a stout front 7 they have given up over 110 yards on the ground in 3 of their last 5 games. The physical Blount should get ample opportunity to go toe to toe with the Jets’ big run stoppers.

Justin Forsett: Forsett has had a very solid year, racking up over 85 total yards in 7 of 8 games this season and has an ideal matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed over 200 yards on the ground twice this year as well as over 95 yards in all but one game. Forsett has averaged 20 touches a game since week 7 and if he gets those touches against the Titans he should have a big day.

Darren Sproles: Sproles is notorious for being a boom or bust player, but I think he will bust out against the Panthers. The Panthers are 30th against running backs this year, surrendering 9 touchdowns to opposing backfields. Although Mark Sanchez looked good last week I believe Chip Kelly will try and relieve some of the pressure and rely heavily on the run game.

Davante Adams: In each of the last 4 games Adams has produced 7 standard fantasy points. This week Adams and the rest of the Packers’ receiving corps will be facing a Bears defense that allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 302 yards and 4 scores in their first matchup in Chicago.

Roddy White: This one is all about the matchup. Tampa Bay has allowed over 200 yards to opposing team’s receivers 4 times this year as well as 14 total touchdowns. The Bucs should try and keep Julio Jones in check after he went off for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns in their first meeting. Roddy, who did not play in the first matchup should benefit from single coverage all day.

John Brown: Although the Rams’ defense has been much improved over the last 5 games they have allowed over 150 yards and 7 touchdowns in 4 of those contests. The Rams’ pass rush has been especially good, meaning Carson Palmer will have to get rid of the ball quickly which bodes well for the speedy slot man.


Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill is one of the hottest names in the fantasy football world right now, but it should be noted that he has yet to throw for over 300 yards this year. Don’t expect him to break that mark this week against Lions who have held QBs to single digit fantasy performances 4 times and a league best 9 passing touchdowns this year.

Eli Manning: Don’t let Eli’s back-to-back solid fantasy weeks fool you. Last week he picked up the majority of his points in the 4th quarter when they were down 40-10 to the Colts. This week the Giants travel to Seattle to face a defense that hasn’t allowed a quarterback to pass for over 200 yards in any of the last 3 games.

Frank Gore
Don’t look for Frank Gore to snap out of his funk this week against the Saints

Joique Bell: Bell hasn’t had more than 18 carries in any game and he shouldn’t break that threshold this week with a healthy Reggie Bush and an emerging Theo Riddick sharing the Lions’ backfield. To make matters worse the Dolphins have held teams to under 100 yards on the ground in 4 of their last 5 games.

Frank Gore: The ageless Gore hasn’t broken 50 rushing yards in any of the last 3 games and hasn’t scored since week 2. New Orleans hasn’t allowed 100 yards on the ground in any of last 4 games and the 49ers may have to abandon the run early if Drew Brees gets back his Superdome magic.

Brandin Cooks: Besides the Denver game the 49ers haven’t given up more than 11 standard fantasy points to receiving corps in any of their past 4 games. It’s also very hard to trust Cooks when Brees has Colston, Graham, and Stills to throw to as well as a strong running attack lead by Mark Ingram.

Michael Crabtree: Crabtree should draw the attention of the Saints’ Keenan Lewis all game. In the last two games where Lewis has followed a receiver he has held Kelvin Benjamin to 2 catches for 18 yards and Jordy Nelson to 3 catches for 25 yards. Crabtree has already had a mediocre year surpassing 50 yards in a game only twice. Expect his struggles to continue in week 10.

Mike Wallace: Mike Wallace’s fantasy value has become completely touchdown dependent. He has hauled in more than 5 balls only once this year and has a total of 5 catches over Miami’s last 2 games. This touchdown dependent receiver will have a tough day against the Lions who have allowed only 3 receivers to touch pay dirt in 2014.

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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!