Dallas Cowboys 17, Minnesota Vikings 15
Dak Prescott’s streak of consecutive games with 17+ fantasy points came to an end on Thursday as he only had 132 yards and one touchdown. I blame it more on the tough matchup and believe he has a fine slate for the fantasy playoffs (NYG, TB, DET) if he’s your starter. There were concerns about Dez Bryant’s fantasy value at midseason coming off the leg injury and playing with a rookie QB, however, those seem to have been put to bed. Since his bye in Week 7, Bryant has 26 catches for 484 yards and five touchdowns in his last six games. He’s a WR1 for the fantasy playoffs.
Stefon Diggs returned to the starting lineup Thursday and caught eight passes for 59 yards. It appears he finished the game without any setbacks to his knee and will have 10 days to rest before their next game. With the short pass, quick striking offense the Vikings have deployed in recent weeks, it makes Diggs a valuable PPR asset but a volatile one in standard formats due to his lack of touchdowns. I feel he’s best viewed as a similar player as Jarvis Landry, where his PPR value is much higher than his standard value.
Detroit Lions 28, New Orleans Saints 13
After failing to top 20+ fantasy points in his last five games, Matthew Stafford was terrific Sunday with 342 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints. He gets another good matchup next weekend for the start of the fantasy playoffs against a beat up Bears defense at home. However, afterwards he’ll play at the Giants and at the Cowboys for Weeks 15 and 16, giving him a tough slate overall in the fantasy playoffs. So Stafford owners may want to look for other options for Week 15 and 16 this week in preparation. Golden Tate had a huge game with eight receptions for 145 yards and game-sealing 66-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. In three games against the Saints as a Lion, Tate has 24 receptions, 344 yards and four touchdowns. He’s over his early season struggles and is the only Lions WR I’d trust to play down the stretch.
Drew Brees had a surprisingly tough day as he was held to 326 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. It was the first time in his last 60 home games Brees didn't thrown a touchdown. I'm not concerned, just a bad game. He'll be an elite option next week against Tampa Bay. Mark Ingram missed some practice time last week with a toe injury but started Sunday. He left the game briefly, Sunday, after appearing to re-aggravate the injury but was able to return. Unfortunately, he only had 37 yards on seven carries. Monitor his status this week but Tim Hightower didn't get a big bump in touches (in fact, they decreased on Sunday) so it's likely Ingram will be good to go next weekend.
Kansas City Chiefs 29, Atlanta Falcons 28
Spencer Ware scored his first touchdowns since Week 6 as he reached pay dirt via a rush and a reception. However, he didn’t have much for yards as he only had 29 yards on 14 carries. Ware had been a bit of a disappointment the last month so it was good to see him have a big game. Ware has a favorable fantasy playoff schedule with games against Oakland, Tennessee and Denver. With the matchups and the volume he receives each week, he’ll be a high-end RB2. Travis Kelce had this third consecutive 100-yard receiving game with eight receptions for 140 yards. While the lack of touchdowns is disappointing, you’ll take 14 points from your TE any day. He’s the top TE to have right now with Gronk done for the year and Jordan Reed dealing with a shoulder injury. Tyreek Hill only played half the offensive snaps, lowest since Week 8. With Jeremy Maclin set to return, Hill returns back to boom-or-bust WR4 option territory against Oakland.
Devonta Freeman had 19 touches for a total of 105 yards and two touchdowns, giving him four scores in his last two games. Tevin Coleman’s return from his hamstring injury hasn’t hurt Freeman’s fantasy numbers, making him RB1/RB2 option against the Rams. Coleman is a RB3 option as he’s been boom-or-bust this year. Matt Ryan has thrown for 300+ yards only once in his last six games. That said, he does have a favorable fantasy playoff schedule (LA, SF, CAR) so he’ll be a QB1 option for the final stretch.
New England Patriots 26, Los Angeles Rams 10
Tom Brady threw for 269 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots led throughout and didn’t need to be aggressive. With no Gronk the rest of the season, Brady has a difficult playoff slate with games against the Ravens, Broncos and Jets. He’s probably your only option and it’s not like you’re sitting Brady regardless of the matchup but I don’t see Brady having big games in the fantasy playoffs. Malcolm Mitchell continues his nice streak of games with eight receptions for 82 yards on 10 targets. More importantly, he played 82% of his snaps, showing an increased role in the offense. With Gronk out – Danny Amendola injured his ankle Sunday also – Mitchell will have a role down the stretch, putting him on the WR3 radar.
Not much to say for the Rams side as they struggled all game. Kenny Britt scored the team’s only touchdown and has now scored 10+ fantasy points in five of his last seven games. He’ll be a WR3 option Week 14 against the Falcons and Week 16 against the 49ers.
Denver Broncos 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Devontae Booker scored his first touchdown since Week 8 but only had 35 yards on 18 carries. Booker has 66 carries in his last three games – which we like – but only 190 yards and one score. Booker is a low-end RB2/flex play for the fantasy playoffs because of his volume.
Blake Bortles threw a pick-six Sunday and now has more pick-sixes (11) than career wins (10). An astounding stat. With games against the Vikings, Texans, and Titans scheduled for the fantasy playoffs, there’s not one Jaguars player I’d be comfortable starting unless I had to.
Green Bay Packers 21, Houston Texans 13
James Starks started Sunday but only played seven snaps. I haven’t seen the reason for the dramatic snap count decrease but it appears Ty Montgomery is going to be the lead back going forward. That said, Montgomery only had six carries for 40 yards and two catches for 16 yards. With a game against the Seahawks next week, the Packers backfield is one to avoid in a tough matchup. Starks can be dropped in 10-12 team leagues if there’s a hot free agent available.
DeAndre Hopkins reached the end zone for the first time since Week 5 with a 44-yard touchdown reception. He finished the game with three receptions for 58 yards and that score. If you survived the season and made the fantasy playoffs with Hopkins – I did not – he’s best viewed as a hard to trust low-end WR2 option. Hopefully he can finish strong so we can feel better about drafting him next season. Lamar Miller left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with a rib injury but returned and finished with 14 carries for 22 yards. Lamar Miller owners should grab Alfred Blue just in case the injury lingers.
Cincinnati Bengals 32, Philadelphia Eagles 14
Andy Dalton had his best game of the season with 332 yards and two touchdowns. While I’ve been hesitant to play Dalton with AJ Green and Gio Bernard out, he does get the Browns next week and will be a worthy streaming option. Jeremy Hill had 22 carries but struggled for only 33 yards. He did salvage his day with a touchdown and was still the clear featured back. He’ll be a rock solid RB2 in a plus matchup against the Browns. Brandon LaFell had five catches for a season-high 95 yards and a touchdown. Even with a game with the Browns on deck, I’d ignore LaFell on the waiver wire unless you’re truly desperate. He had six fantasy points in his last four games combined entering Sunday's game.
Zach Ertz had a big game with Jordan Matthews sidelined with an ankle injury with nine receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. It doesn’t sound like Matthews ankle will keep him out of action long but Ertz has been much more involved the last six weeks making him a low-end TE1. Wendall Smallwood started for the second straight week but again was hurt by the team playing from behind and only had 19 yards on eight carries. Even if Ryan Mathews misses another game, I wouldn’t be comfortable starting Smallwood next weekend. Darren Sproles is the only Eagles RB worth starting right now.
Baltimore Ravens 38, Miami Dolphins 6
Joe Flacco had his biggest fantasy day of the season with 381 yards and four touchdowns. The beneficiary of that was Dennis Pitta who had nine receptions for 90 yards and scored two touchdowns, his first scores since 2013 (of course, I played against him). Despite the big game for Flacco, he’s still not worth starting in the fantasy playoffs as he had only five touchdowns in his six games prior to Sunday’s outburst. Pitta had only scored nine points in his last four games combined so he’s unlikely to duplicate this performance next week against the Patriots.
DaVante Parker was a surprise active after it was reported he was unlikely to play and had a solid fantasy day with three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. Parker has had either 64+ yards or a touchdown in each of his last four games. He’s starting to find his rhythm in the offense and showing why we were so high on him coming into the season. He has a tough matchup next week against the Cardinals – and will likely see a lot of Patrick Peterson – so won’t be a great option for the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
Chicago Bears 26, San Francisco 49ers 6
Jordan Howard had a huge game with 32 carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns in the snowy confines of Soldier Field. Howard has been terrific in his last five games as he has rushed for at least 77 yards in all five contest and has eclipsed 100+ yards in three of them. He’ll be on the WR1 radar for Sunday’s game against the Lions. Marquess Wilson wasn’t able to follow up his big game last week as he left Sunday’s game in the first half with no catches after suffering a groin injury. It’s unknown how much time he may miss but none of the Bears receiving options will be recommended options next weekend.
The logic and the process as to why to play Colin Kaepernick was correct, but it didn’t happen in execution. Kaepernick followed up his QB1 finish in Week 12 with 1 for 5 for four yards and only 20 yards rushing before being benched for Blaine Gabbert in the second half. It was just a brutal day that ruined many season-long and DFS lineups Sunday. It’s unknown who will be the starter for next week’s game against the Jets, but neither option will be worth playing. I’d look for another option if you had been streaming Kaepernick the last few weeks.
Oakland Raiders 38, Buffalo Bills 24
Latavius Murray scored his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season, making him the fifth RB to score double-digit touchdowns this season. The rushing yards haven’t been quite there for him (only averaging 55.3 a game) but his ability to score has kept him at RB2 status all year. Amari Cooper was a bit of a disappointment as he only had two receptions for 59 yards but did save his day on a pretty 37-yard touchdown catch on a double move. He’ll take on the Chiefs on Thursday, in their previous matchup Week 6, Cooper went for 10 catches for 129 yards. He’ll be on WR1 radar despite the short week.
After all the concerns about how much Sammy Watkins would play Sunday, Watkins saw his snap count increase from 25 to 49 but was only able to make three grabs for 38 yards on nine targets. His foot will be a concern all season and won’t likely be a full-time player in any game down the stretch. However, if he’s on the field for over 50% of the snaps (he played 68% on Sunday), he’s always a threat to make a big play for a team fighting for a playoff berth. He’ll be a high risk/high reward WR2 next week against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24, New York Giants 14
I’ve mentioned Ladarius Green in this weekly article before – and in our waiver wire column – so I hope you were able to grab him then, because you’ll likely have competition now. Green broke out in a big way Sunday with six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. He only played 35 snaps but according to Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus, Green ran a route on 26 of those and had a team-high 11 targets. Green isn’t asked to block much at all so when he’s on the field, he’s running routes, which is big when you consider how potent this offense is. He’ll likely be inconsistent as the third/fourth option on most plays but with the lack of options behind Bell and Brown, Green can find himself becoming a big part of this offense in the final month. If you’re struggling at TE, grab Green as he has TE1 upside as long as he’s healthy.
Rashad Jennings got the start but Paul Perkins was the more effective RB on Sunday as Perkins rushed for a career-high 38 yards on seven carries. Jennings had six carries for 19 yards but saved his day with a touchdown reception in the third. Jennings will still be the preferred start between the two but he’s more of a low-end RB2. Perkins should be owned in most leagues in case they decide to give the rookie more run after his nice performance on Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals 31, Washington Redskins 23
Carson Palmer had his best game since Week 2 with 300 yards passing and three touchdowns. Palmer has been better in the last five weeks has he’s thrown 11 touchdowns in that span but this was his first game without a turnover since Week 7 (had eight turnovers in last four games) so he’s tough to trust in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. The good news for J.J. Nelson and Michael Floyd, they both scored touchdowns on Sunday. The bad news, they combined for four catches. I wouldn’t start any Cardinals not named David Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald in the final month.
Kirk Cousins slowed down a bit in a tough matchup without his top target, Jordan Reed, with only 271 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing). However, he has a nice bounce back spot against a struggling Eagles defense that’s given up an average of 323 passing yards and two touchdowns in their last two games. Haven’t heard Jordan Reed’s status for next week but the fact he didn’t practice at all last week leads me to be a bit pessimistic. Watch for the practice reports this week, Reed would likely have to practice a couple days this week in order to be active on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, San Diego Chargers 21
Doug Martin struggled on the ground a bit as he only gained 45 yards on 17 carries but salvaged his day with a touchdown. However, late in the game he left the game after being bent backwards, awkwardly, and Jaquizz Rodgers finished the game. Reports came out Monday that Charles Sims will be activated from I.R. this week. No word yet on Martin’s status for this weekend but if the injury keeps him out of action, we’ll likely see a committee of Rodgers and Sims in a plus matchup against the Saints. Both should be added this week just in case.
Dontrelle Inman only had two receptions for 49 yards but he made another nice play on a 35-yard touchdown in the first quarter. It appears he’s passed Travis Benjamin on the depth chart, giving him some value the rest of the way. He’s more of a PPR asset, but he’s worth an add in deeper leagues. Tyrell Williams caught a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game and didn’t appear to be hampered by his shoulder injury. He’s a solid WR2 for the fantasy playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks 40, Carolina Panthers 7
Thomas Rawls looked like 2015 Thomas Rawls on Sunday night with 15 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He only had three yards in the second half and left the game with a possible concussion but reports are saying he did not have one. If you’re in the fantasy playoffs and have held onto Rawls this season, it looks like it was worth the wait. He’ll be a RB1 for me as long as he’s healthy.
Cam Newton was likely the first QB drafted in your league this year after his MVP season and was taken in the 2nd or 3rd round in most drafts. However, after Week 13, he’s the 16th best QB in fantasy this year. He’s eclipsed 20+ points in standard leagues twice since Week 2. If you made the fantasy playoffs with him, you’re likely going to continue starting him because of his upside but he’s not the elite QB option we’ve come to expect. This is another example why you wait to draft QBs, as guys like Ryan, Mariota, Cousins, Carr, and Prescott have significantly outscored Newton and were all drafted 100+ picks later.
Indianapolis Colts 41, New York Jets 10
Andrew Luck returned to the starting lineup after missing last weekend’s game due to a concussion and didn’t miss a beat as he had 278 yards and four touchdowns – most of which came in the first three quarters. He has now scored multiple touchdowns in eight of his last nine games. He’s an elite QB option. T.Y. Hilton was a beneficiary of Luck’s return as he had nine receptions for 146 yards, his first 100-yard game since Week 7. Hilton has slowed a bit since his hot start – partly due to injury and Luck missing a game – but it looks like he’s set up for a strong finish and is on pace for career-highs in receptions and yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched after going 5-for-12 for 81 yards and one interception. He was replaced by Bryce Petty, who Todd Bowles announced after the game would be the starter for the remaining four games. Petty didn’t fair much better as he finished 11/25, 135 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. This is a major bump down for skill position players like Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, as the offense will likely go to a far more conservative approach as Petty has limited experience. Even with a nice matchup against the 49ers, I’d probably look for other options over Marshall but I’d leave Forte in your lineup in hopes they go run-heavy.