Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC South

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC South.

Falcons

Rising

Matt Ryan, QB—He regressed last season, as I predicted, but a second year with his offensive coordinator should help Ryan and the Falcons improve on offense. Ryan threw a touchdown pass on 3.8 percent of his throws last year. That was a big drop from 7.1 in 2016. His career average is 4.6 percent, so I expect him to get closer to that number this year. Ryan is getting drafted after the likes of Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford. He looks like a value pick in the ninth round.

Falling

Mohamed Sanu, WR—Taylor Gabriel is no longer a Falcon, but Atlanta drafted a solid wide receiver in Calvin Ridley. That could affect Sanu’s value. He should still be the second best receiver for the Falcons, but his value depends on how much the rookie can take from the veteran. I don’t think 700 yards and five scores would make me happy if he was my second WR.

One to watch

Calvin Ridley, WR—Though I think Ridley probably ends up better than Sanu, I don’t know if he’s a candidate to be your WR2. I think the two receivers combine to make for a good season for Ryan, but it’s hard to say if one is worthy of a start on your team. Ridley is being drafted in the 10th so you might be able to take him after you’ve solidified your starters.

 

Buccaneers

Rising

Ronald Jones II, RB—Jones is the sixth rookie running back getting drafted, which is a bit surprising to me given that he’s virtually guaranteed to start for the Bucs. His fifth-round price might be a little high for an unproven commodity, but he’s got every opportunity to make an impact. He doesn’t have to worry about Doug Martin, who left for Oakland, and he should beat out Peyton Barber for touches.

Falling

Jameis Winston, QB—Winston will miss the first three games of the season and probably wasn’t going to be a QB1 anyway. His play has somewhat regressed recently. Winston only threw 19 touchdowns last season and has thrown no less than 11 interceptions in each of his first three years.

One to watch

O.J. Howard, TE—The second-year tight end is still getting drafted behind teammate Cameron Brate, but it will be interesting to see how he performs in the first three weeks with Ryan Fitzpatrick calling signals. The veteran QB is good at connecting with tight ends. Howard will be cheap in drafts so he may be worth taking a flier on late.

Panthers

Rising

Christian McCaffrey, RB—McCaffrey should be a solid RB1 this season if he at least matches his first season production. He gained 1,086 yards from scrimmage and caught a whopping 80 passes. McCaffrey rushed just 117 times last year so it’s likely that number increases with Jonathan Stewart now with the Giants.

Falling

C.J. Anderson, RB—One factor that could keep McCaffrey from taking the next step is the presence of Anderson. Last season with the Broncos, Anderson actually rushed for 1,007 yards, but he scored just four overall touchdowns. He’d likely have to earn the goal line role in order to become a RB2 option. Problem is Cam Newton can often serve as the Panthers goal line back. I see Anderson as falling in terms of value since he is being drafted too high with a lot of questions surrounding his productivity.

One to watch

D.J. Moore, WR—The rookie wide receiver enters a nice situation, looking to compete for the No. 1 spot as a wideout. Kelvin Benjamin is in Buffalo now so that helps Moore’s value. Devin Funchess is still in Carolina and Greg Olsen is a favorite target of Newton, so you’ll have to see how Moore competes in the preseason.

Saints

Rising

Michael Thomas, WR—Thomas was expected to improve last season and he did, catching 12 more passes and gaining 108 more yards in his second year. His targets also increased to 149 from 121 in his rookie season. The only question is if Drew Brees can continue to keep slinging the ball around like he’s done year after year. It will be interesting to see how Thomas starts the season since the Saints are likely to throw a little more given that they’ll be without Mark Ingram.

Falling

Mark Ingram, RB—I was wrong about him last season, of course, that was when Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara were supposed to share the backfield with him. Peterson left and Ingram and Kamara turned into one of the best 1-2 punches we’ve seen in a while. That said, Ingram is set to miss four games due to suspension. That’s not a good way to start the first quarter of your fantasy season, especially with him being drafted in the fifth round.

One to watch

Cameron Meredith, WR—The third-year receiver is a possible sleeper candidate as he missed all of last season with a torn ACL. But he has to start practicing soon if that’s going to happen. Meredith is expected to be healthy enough to start the season, though. He had a good 2016, catching 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Imagine what he could do with Brees tossing him the ball instead of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: NFC North

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC North.

Packers

Rising

Davante Adams, WR—Adams is likely to continue putting up big fantasy numbers with the departure of Jordy Nelson. He’s the clear No. 1 in Green Bay now and is coming off of his second straight season scoring double-digit touchdowns. Even if he can’t score that many times this season, you can almost guarantee he’ll record his first 1,000-yard season.

Falling

Ty Montgomery, RB—Montgomery was only able to play half the season last year and he struggled on the ground, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. He can still be effective catching the ball out of the backfield, hauling in 23 passes in those eight games. The problem is Jamaal Williams has been running with the first team and has shown he can catch the ball as well. Aaron Jones could also be a factor once he returns after a two-game suspension.

One to watch

Jamaal Williams, RB—Williams rushed for 556 yards and four touchdowns and was healthy all year, unlike Montgomery and Jones. He also caught 25 passes for 262 yards and two more scores. If he can stay on the field on third down then he can make the leap into RB2 territory.

Vikings

Rising

Dalvin Cook, RB—Something that tends to happen in fantasy leagues is owners will forget a hot player who goes down with injury early in the season. That’s not happening with Cook. He’s still going early in the second round, and as high as the fourth pick overall in some fantasy drafts. He’s recovered from his ACL tear last season and should be consider an RB1 from the jump.

Falling

Latavius Murray, RB—Since Cook looks good to go, that means Murray won’t likely get much run unless Cook goes down with injury again. Murray’s value lies only in the fact that he’s a good handcuff for Cook. Something to note, however, is that you need not draft handcuffs, unless you want to do so with a final pick. Take a shot on a player with upside rather than an insurance policy that you can pick up off waivers later.

One to watch

Kyle Rudolph, TE—You don’t have to worry about Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, they’ll both be productive as WR2s. Rudolph is an interesting guy to watch, though. He’s had a solid career but I think he can improve his production from last year. Rudolph is being drafted as the seventh tight end off the board late in the sixth round. That could be expensive, but it might pay off. Kirk Cousins is no stranger to connecting well with the tight end. He has reliably healthy one to throw to now.

Lions

Rising

Kerryon Johnson, RB—Johnson can be a complete back for Detroit. He looks like a lean runner but can run on the inside and has catching ability. Johnson landed in a good spot where he can thrive without worrying about the competition too much. I like him because his upside comes with little risk. Johnson is currently being drafted as the 32nd running back off the board.

Falling

Ameer Abdullah, RB—With Johnson in town, a rookie who can catch, Abdullah isn’t likely to get much playing time. He got his shot last season and was a big disappointment, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the way to 552 yards rushing. He did catch 25 passes, but that could go decrease with Johnson in town.

One to watch

Kenny Golladay, WR—Golladay made big plays in the preseason last year and turned in a decent rookie campaign, catching 28 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns. What’s most encouraging is his 17-yard per catch average. That’s fifth best among players who caught at least 28 passes. Being drafted in the 12th round, he’s definitely worthy of a flier.

Bears

Rising

Trey Burton, TE—He only caught 23 passes for 248 yards last season, but he scored five times while playing behind Zach Ertz. He’ll start now and fantasy owners are treating him like a TE1, drafting him in the seventh round, ahead of Jordan Reed at times. Burton has the talent to be a top-8 tight end, but the play of Mitch Trubisky will be a big factor.

Falling

Mitch Trubisky, QB—Trubisky isn’t exciting a lot of fantasy owners as he’s being drafted late in the 14th round on average. His receiving corps improved, though, as the Bears added Allen Robinson, Burton, Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller. Trubisky could improve this season, but he’s not worthy of adding until he proves it on the field.

One to watch

Anthony Miller, WR—The rookie comes to an offense with a young quarterback and low expectations. Seeing where he fits in will be interesting to watch. Miller was extremely efficient in the red zone in college, despite his lack of size. Keep an eye on him as the season develops.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: AFC South

Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC South.

Texans

Rising

Lamar Miller, RB—I tweeted in July that I’m starting to like the Lamar Miller discount. Miller doesn’t excite anyone and if D’Onta Foreman were fully healthy, the second-year player out of Texas would possibly be the new starter. But Foreman might not be ready for the start of the season, making Miller a nice RB2 option. If Foreman misses time, the touches will be there for Miller. Keep an eye on Foreman’s status before taking Miller around the fifth round.

Falling

D’Onta Foreman, RB—Foreman’s average draft position is falling fast. If he can’t recover from last season’s torn Achilles’ by Week 1, it doesn’t make sense to draft him very high. He’s being taken in the 10th round at this point. Don’t pull the trigger before that. On the bright side, he could end up being a nice value if he comes back fully healthy, although later than initially expected.

One to watch

Will Fuller, WR—Fuller’s efficiency last season was insane, as was the efficiency of his quarterback Deshaun Watson. A quarter of Fuller’s receptions went for touchdowns, which is pretty unheard of. He finished with 28 catches, 423 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games. Fuller’s numbers fell off when Watson got hurt in October. The third-year receiver also missed time due to cracked ribs.

Titans

Rising

Marcus Mariota, QB—After a solid first two seasons, you don’t hear Mariota come up as a possible QB1 often. He’s starting his fourth season with a third head coach which isn’t very stabilizing. Last season he tossed just 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. That means he’ll come at a tremendous discount this year. His offensive coordinator was the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta when Matt Ryan put up a career year, however. Mariota has weapons in Corey Davis, ever-reliable Delanie Walker and newly acquired Dion Lewis catching out of the backfield. Add to that, Mariota has running ability that could help sneak him into the top 12.

Falling

Derrick Henry, RB—When DeMarco Murray left town, fantasy owners were excited about the Henry era beginning in Tennessee. It’s important to note he rushed for over 100 yards just twice last season. In one of those games he rushed 11 times for 109 yards, but one of those carries went for 75 yards. In his other 100-yard game he rushed 19 times for 131 yards, one carry going for 72 yards. That means in his best games he rushed for less than 3.4 yards per carry if you eliminate those big plays. Outside those two games he rushed for more than 54 yards just twice.

One to watch

Dion Lewis, RB—Another reason I see Henry as falling is the arrival of Lewis. He’s the smaller man by a lot, but he’s skilled and has had a more efficient career so far. Lewis rushed 180 times last season, no small feat with a Patriots team that doesn’t go with just one back, for 896 yards and six touchdowns. He caught 32 passes and scored three more touchdowns through the air. Henry won’t be the only game in town.

Colts

Rising

T.Y. Hilton, WR—Hilton is being taken in the third round and is on the edge of WR1 status. He finished last season as a WR3 and it’s no secret why. With Andrew Luck looking like he’ll return to action without limitation, Hilton should be back to his status as a WR1. Just make sure Luck doesn’t suffer any setbacks before you scoop up the receiver.

Falling

Marlon Mack, RB—I haven’t been a believer in Mack and with the Colts drafting two running backs in the offseason, it looks like they may have their doubts as well. Mack is currently being drafted in the early sixth round of fantasy drafts. He’s going ahead of guys like Kerryon Johnson and Rex Burkhead, who I think I like better.

One to watch

Jordan Wilkins, RB—The Colts selected Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins in the NFL draft and I think one of them takes over the lead role from Mack. I would put my money on Wilkins, however. Hines can be useful, but Wilkins can do it all and had six 100-yard games in the SEC last year, including 101 yards on 12 carries against Alabama. The best news is he’s practically free in drafts, going in the 14th round on average.

Jaguars

Rising

Marquise Lee, WR—I see him as a riser because he should turn into the team’s No. 1 target. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are in Chicago and Dallas now, so someone will inherit those targets. With Robinson out for most of last season, Lee was targeted 96 times. Hurns’ 56 targets will have to go somewhere. I don’t see the addition of Donte Moncrief and the development of Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook as hurting Lee’s No. 1 status. He’s being drafted in the 11th round which is a great spot to draft a No. 1 target.

Falling

T.J. Yeldon, RB—Yeldon’s being drafted in the 14th round and I’d much rather take a chance on a guy like Wilkins, Kalen Balage or even Spencer Ware. He won’t take Leonard Fournette’s job and I’m not sure he’d do that well if Fournette went down with injury.

One(s) to watch

Wide receivers—With Lee expected to be the No. 1 wideout, it will be interesting to see which talented receiver takes over the No. 2 spot. Moncrief has the talent, but has an injury past. Cole and Westbrook both flashed in their rookie seasons. Westbrook caught 27 passes for 339 yards and a touchdown while Cole caught 42 balls for 748 yards and three scores. While Cole had the better debut, I wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook was more productive this season. They’re virtually tied in average draft position in the 14th round.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: AFC North

With the preseason kicking off Thursday night, fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC North.

AFC North

Steelers

Rising

Antonio Brown, WR—It seems nearly impossible that Brown could be held in any higher regard, but it’s happening in early drafts. In half-point PPR leagues, he’s getting drafted fifth overall, ahead of the likes of Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon and Saquon Barkley. The next best wide receiver getting taken is DeAndre Hopkins at No. 9. Brown is a can’t-miss player and, despite not being a running back, you can draft him as early as you like.

Falling

Vance McDonald, TE—When you have a potent offense with a lot of weapons it can be tempting to try to cash in on some of the wealth that’s spread around. McDonald has the talent to be a solid fantasy contributor but his injury history doesn’t instill confidence. He just left practice with a foot injury on Sunday so it could be another year of nagging issues. On the bright side, he’s pretty much free in drafts and offers upside.

One to watch

James Washington, WR—The rookie was extremely impressive in college, but with Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster in town it’s hard to picture Washington having a positive weekly impact. He’s currently going in the 14th round in most drafts, but I expect that to move up once more leagues start drafting. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up at the end of the season, but be sure you have your starting WRs all set before entertaining drafting him.

Ravens

Rising

Alex Collins, RB—Collins is getting drafted early in the fourth round in fantasy drafts and will be the lead rusher for the Ravens. He rushed for 973 yards last year, playing in 15 games, starting 12 of them. He rushed for six touchdowns, all of them coming in the second half of the season.

Falling

Joe Flacco, QB—Flacco has thrown a touchdown on 3.8 percent of his passes for his career. He’s been below 3.8 percent in each of the last three seasons. Last year he tossed just 18 TDs to 13 interceptions, averaging only 196.3 yards per game. It was his worst per game average since his rookie season when he averaged 185.7 yards.

One to watch

Lamar Jackson, QB—It definitely sounds like Jackson will get on the field even if he isn’t named the starting quarterback. His talent is too much to keep on the bench. I’ve got a feeling he’ll take over full time sooner rather than later, especially if Flacco continues to struggle. Flacco’s contract be damned.

Bengals

Rising

Joe Mixon, RB—I call him the leader of the post hype crowd. He was supposed to be great right out of college, but people were reminded that he was drafted by Cincinnati, a team with a terrible line and a coach who doesn’t play rookies early. That said, he came on late and is set to be at least an RB2 in my opinion.

Falling

A.J. Green, WR—Don’t get me wrong. Green will still be a WR1 and should have a good season, but he’s getting drafted after Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen and Davante Adams. Those are three players he was clearly ahead of before last season’s fantasy drafts. The Bengals’ poor season in ’17 and Andy Dalton still in Cincy has Green slipping a bit.

One to watch

John Ross, WR—Ross is a player who could end up surprising fantasy owners. He played in just three games in his rookie season and scored negative fantasy points due to a fumble on his only touch of the season. After running a 4.22 in the 40 at the NFL combine last season, expectations were high. Injuries stunted his first year, but he’s healthy now and making plays at camp. He’ll be virtually free in drafts, so selecting him late could pay off.

Browns

Rising

David Njoku, TE—Tyrod Taylor will start the season with No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield on the bench. Taylor has a history of connecting well with the tight end position and could help Njoku’s value. The second-year player is currently being taken as the No. 13 tight end.

Falling

Josh Gordon, WR—Hopefully this changes soon, but it doesn’t look good when Gordon doesn’t start training camp with his team. We don’t know when he’ll return, but it’s not apparent that he’s facing any league discipline. Gordon is currently getting drafted ahead of Jarvis Landry, who may end up with more fantasy points by the season’s end.

One(s) to watch

Running backs—It’s tough to say which of the backs expected to get playing time will come out on top. Carlos Hyde is being drafted highest, in the seventh round. Duke Johnson is being taken in the ninth while rookie Nick Chubb is right behind Johnson. It’s the kind of backfield I tend to avoid, but if things settle as the season progresses, one could be useful off the waiver wire.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: conference championships

It’s starting to get serious if you’re playing NFL.com’s Playoff Challenge. The players you started in the first round are now due to earn triple points if you’ve kept them in your lineup this whole time. Last week I suggested you start a few top-scoring Saints and Titans, but with the caveat that it would possibly be the end of the line for them. It was indeed the end of the line for the Saints, and in unbelievable fashion.

Here’s a look at my rankings for the conference championships.

Quarterbacks

The Patriots have just been cruising along this whole time, having all the breaks go their way. Now they take on an upstart Jaguars team that needs their defense to score points in order for them to win. If Brady can’t be productive against the Jags’ pass defense, it might be time to start thinking his skills are falling off. I don’t think that happens. If you started him in the first week of the playoffs, you’ll get to multiply this week’s points by three. A lot of people started Drew Brees to begin the Playoff Challenge, but with him no longer available, they should look to Case Keenum, who is favored to make the Super Bowl.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Case Keenum, Vikings
3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
4. Nick Foles, Eagles

Running backs

Dion Lewis did it all last weekend, though James White was the running back that scored twice. Lewis is a safer play that can pay off big if he ends up getting in the end zone. He had 24 touches for 141 yards from scrimmage while White had just eight touches, though he scored twice. Someone that I think will have to score in order for his team to advance is Jay Ajayi. He had 19 touches and 98 yards from scrimmage, but things should be tough against the Vikings. For the Vikings, I think Latavius Murray continues to take a big share of carries, especially if Minnesota controls the game.

1. Dion Lewis, Patriots
2. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
3. Latavius Murray, Vikings
4. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
5. James White, Patriots
6. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
7. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
8. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
9. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
10. Corey Clement, Eagles
11. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
12. Corey Grant, Jaguars
13. Tommy Bohanon, Jaguars

Wide receivers

Stefon Diggs was the big hero last Sunday, but a big chunk of his numbers came on the winning play. The numbers still count, obviously, but Adam Thielen has been the more consistent receiver for the Vikings. I don’t have Diggs far behind Thielen, though. Brandin Cooks is my third-best receiver this week as I expect the Patriots to find a way to get by the Jags’ defense. Jacksonville, though stout on D, has had some high-scoring affairs this season and they just gave up 42 points to the Steelers.

1. Adam Thielen, Vikings
2. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
3. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
4. Danny Amendola, Patriots
5. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
6. Chris Hogan, Patriots
7. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
8. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
9. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
10. Jarius Wright, Vikings
11. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
12. Torrey Smith, Eagles
13. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
14. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
15. Kenny Britt, Patriots
16. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski was the easiest call in terms of starting a tight end for the Playoff Challenge. Owners will get rewarded with triple points this week. I’ve got Kyle Rudolph ranked second since he and the Vikings are favored to make the Super Bowl. He had five catches, but just 28 yards in the win over the Saints. Zach Ertz had a disappointing game last weekend, catching three passes for 32 yards. I have him behind Rudolph because I think his season ends in a loss to the Vikings. Of course, if you have a multiplier in play for Ertz, you might want to start him over Rudolph.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
3. Zach Ertz, Eagles
4. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
5. Trey Burton, Eagles
6. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
7. Brent Celek, Eagles
8. James O’Shaughnessy, Jaguars

Defense/Special teams

These picks are pretty straight forward. I think the Patriots, who are favored by more than a touchdown, won’t have much trouble against the Jaguars. I’ve ranked the Vikings second since I think they move on.

1. Patriots
2. Vikings
3. Eagles
4. Jaguars

Kickers

If you pick either one of the top two kickers, you’re likely to have a multiplier in play during the Super Bowl.

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Kai Forbath, Vikings
3. Jake Elliott, Eagles
4. Josh Lambo, Jaguars

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

DFS fantasy football rankings: divisional round

If you’re in a fantasy football playoff league, or are playing the NFL Playoff Challenge on NFL.com, you’ll want to go here for my rankings. If you’re playing daily fantasy, check out my divisional round rankings below. They’ll update as news develops leading up to Saturday’s games.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

 

Fantasy football Week 16 recap and DFS targets

With less than a minute to play, Jake Elliott nailed a 48-yard field goal to put the Eagles ahead of the Raiders on Monday night. That wasn’t the final play of the game, however. The Eagles scored a defensive touchdown on a desperation play by the Raiders to end Week 16’s action and the fantasy football playoffs for most leagues.

It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to realize someone’s fantasy championship contest turned on that final field goal, or that final defensive touchdown.

It’s also probably safe to assume that an extremely high percentage of fantasy champions had Todd Gurley on their rosters.

Gurley has to be the sure fire fantasy MVP, not only given his year-long production, but also due to his performances during the fantasy playoffs. He held his best game for last, gaining 118 yards rushing and 158 yards receiving to go with two scores. It was the first time anyone has gained 100-plus yards rushing and 150-plus yards receiving in a game since Herschel Walker did so in 1986.

Gurley’s performance in Week 16 was highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass that he took the distance. That’s the kind of play that makes a quarterback look good.

Jared Goff had the best fantasy performance by a quarterback this week, throwing for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Other than connecting with Gurley on two scores, Goff also hit Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins with touchdown passes. He didn’t hook up well with Robert Woods, who looked like he was going to regain his spot as the No. 1 receiver for the Rams. He had just three catches for 33 yards in a disappointing start.

The biggest disappointments at wide receiver had to be Alshon Jeffery and Michael Crabtree. Each was shut out in the Monday night contest. What a time for that to happen with championships on the line. Nick Foles underwhelmed, after a solid outing last week for the Eagles, and failed to get the ball to Jeffery on two targets. I suggested you sit Derek Carr in Week 16, and he proved me right with a poor performance in which he couldn’t get Crabtree involved at all.

This week’s top receivers, outside of Todd Gurley, were Larry Fitzgerald, Jakeem Grant and Julio Jones. It was a real assortment of talent levels and experience.

Fitzgerald, once again topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards this year as he caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. We keep expecting him to fall off after 14 seasons, but he keeps putting up solid numbers.

Jakeem Grant is just in his second year and has now scored twice in the last three weeks after not being a factor all season. He caught four of his six targets from Jay Cutler for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Julio Jones caught seven passes for 149 yards in a bounce back from Week 15’s lackluster performance. If his owners were lucky enough to survive that week, they were rewarded in Week 16.

Outside of Goff, Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles had he best days for quarterbacks. Both Cousins and Bortles continue to prove that you can get quality fantasy production out of a quarterback who is having a bad game. Cousins hit just 51 percent of his passes but threw for 299 yards and three scores.

I predicted Bortles would help a team win a fantasy championship, and if he was started on Sunday, he probably did. Bortles had three interceptions against the 49ers but also threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Add to that his 31 rushing yards and you have great fantasy production.

Also in that game, Jimmy Garoppolo convinced me to never doubt him again. The quarterback, who is now 6-0 as a starter, had 242 yards passing and two touchdowns. He rushed for another touchdown as he didn’t let the league’s top pass defense slow down his momentum.

If you were out of your fantasy playoffs entering the week, these are the kinds of performances you should stow away heading into next season. Fantasy owners tend to forget about the last couple of weeks of action, especially if they’ve been eliminated from contention. It’s a good idea to take notes for next season, though.

Someone you should be paying attention to is Dion Lewis. I had him listed as one of my starts for Week 16 and he delivered by rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown. He added five catches for 24 yards and another score on his way to having the second best day by a running back.

Gio Bernard also had a great day, though his upside beyond next week is extremely limited. He rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was Bernard’s third straight week of scoring in double digits in fantasy points. If Joe Mixon remains sidelined in Week 17, Bernard could start again.

Bilal Powell and C.J. Anderson can also be filed under, “productive running backs on teams with nothing to play for.” Powell rushed 19 times for 145 yards and a touchdown while Anderson gained 133 yards from scrimmage and scored.

Speaking of running backs who no longer have anything to play for, Ezekiel Elliott made his return to the field after his six-game suspension. Things were set up perfectly for the Cowboys, who had a good shot at making the playoffs if they had just won their final two games.

Elliott performed well, even, rushing for 97 yards and catching four passes for 21 more. The Cowboys couldn’t pull off the win, however, and it might make sense to shut down their franchise back in a meaningless Week 17 game with the Eagles.

While Week 17 is meaningless for most of the NFL, it should be meaningless to all season-long fantasy football leagues everywhere. Any fantasy league that has Week 17 as a factor in determining its fantasy champion is doing a tremendous disservice to its owners. Some think a two-week final is appropriate, in which the championship is played across Week 16 and 17. I’m not one of those people, especially given the fact that real NFL teams often have different goals in Week 17.

With that in mind, that’s why I won’t be suggesting waiver wire pick ups for Week 17. Instead I’m providing inexpensive options for those interested in daily fantasy sports and one-week competitions.

DFS targets for Week 17

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: This should be an easy call by now. If he can do what he did to the Jaguars, he can do it to the Rams.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Though the Jaguars have nothing to play for, as their seeding is locked in, Cole may still end up seeing a lot of action. Jacksonville has injury issues at the position and Cole has been on fire.

Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: There won’t be a rush to bring Joe Mixon back and Bernard has the versatility to put up nice numbers given the opportunity.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: He’s getting more carries than Lamar Miller and is doing more with them. He faces the Colts in Week 17.

Jakeem Grant, WR, Dolphins: Grant is impressing, but he does have a tough matchup with the Bills in Week 17.

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Jacksonville won’t risk injuring Leonard Fournette before the playoffs. Yeldon gets to face a Titans defense that got killed by Gurley.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Week 11 rankings

After Monday night’s performance, fantasy football owners are probably disappointed Cam Newton is off next week. The Jets, Colts and 49ers are also off in Week 11. With that in mind, here are my early Week 11 fantasy football rankings.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 10 recap and top waiver wire picks.

Best viewed on desktop.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 8

Week 8 is upon us and that means there are a ton of byes on the schedule. Players of note you’ll be missing: Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray and Larry Fitzgerald. Hopefully you made the waiver claims I suggested Tuesday to help deal with the missing stars.

Thursday night Miami faces Baltimore and I’d feel good starting Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry and even Matt Moore as a possible streaming quarterback. Ajayi has a great opportunity to get on a roll against a run defense that allows a league-high 145 yards rushing per game. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 8.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 8 rankings.

START THESE GUYS

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Though he faces the Patriots, who looked good against Matt Ryan, Rivers has been a model of consistency this season. With just one truly bad game on his log, I expect him to have success against the Patriots, especially after he had a good week against the Broncos.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: His run of solid outings came to an end against the Steelers last weekend, but I wouldn’t be afraid of starting him against the Colts this week. The Colts are second worst in passing yards allowed, giving up over 300 per game.

Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes in the first quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Watson takes on the Seahawks who are good against the pass, but they’ve had some issues against running quarterbacks. They allowed at least 27 yards rushing to both Jacoby Brissett and Marcus Mariota. Both had at least a touchdown pass as well. I think Watson’s more talented than both of those QBs and he’ll be helped with a good rushing attack.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals: Game script held him to just seven rushes last week as the Bengals had to try to catch up during the second half of the loss to the Steelers. Before that game Mixon had at least 15 rushes in each of the previous three games. He has a dream matchup against the Colts this week.

Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins: The Cowboys are middle of the road in defending running backs, but they especially struggle against pass-catching running backs. They gave up nearly 94 yards receiving and a touchdown to Todd Gurley. Andre Ellington caught five passes for 59 yards and Shane Vereen had 51 yards receiving.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis is taking control of the backfield in New England, carrying the ball at least 11 times in each of the last two weeks. He clearly looks like the most talented back for the Patriots and he should have a nice day against the Chargers who give up over 140 yards rushing per game.

Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the second quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: He’s on a touchdown streak and the Eagles are very hot right now with Carson Wentz entering the possible MVP conversation. Agholor’s been targeted at least four times in four straight weeks and should be productive against the 49ers.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: Cam Newton had another bad week after having a nice two-game stretch. He should bounce back this week against the Buccaneers to the benefit of Funchess. Tampa Bay gives up over 300 yards receiving per game.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: I like Stills as a flex start this week since he plays well with Matt Moore at quarterback. Stills has three touchdowns in the last two games. Both of his scores this week came when Moore entered the game for an injured Jay Cutler.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter by tossing the ball to a fan against the New York Jets on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Although he’s had two scoreless weeks this season, he’s starting to become the consistent tight end target for Rivers. Henry has a good matchup against the Patriots this week.

Saints defense/special teams: They’re trending in the right direction and should keep it up against the Bears’ rookie quarterback who has few receiving options.

SIT THESE GUYS

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: He’s been blessed with a pretty good schedule early on, but this week he faces a really tough Steelers defense. Pittsburgh allows just 147 yards passing per game. They give up a league-best 5.6 yards per completion.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Big Ben is on the road this week so you’re automatically wary. The Lions pass defense is better than average. They give up more than 244 yards passing per game, but they intercepted Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan three times each. They also picked off Drew Brees twice.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He finally broke a streak of terrible performances with a big game last Thursday. Carr has a tough matchup against the Bills on Sunday. Add a rainy forecast to the mix and I don’t think he puts up another top-12 performance this week.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: Murray had a great game last week, but I don’t think he can keep it up against the Browns. They allow just 83.7 yards rushing per game. I’d expect Jerick McKinnon to have the most success as he’s a bigger receiving threat.

Latavius Murray #25 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled with the ball in the first half of the game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 22, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: I’m not sure if it’s even necessary to tell you to sit him at this point. He’s facing the Vikings so he’ll have a tough time. They give up just 76.6 yards per game and have allowed just one touchdown on the ground.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: The Saints defense has played well in four straight wins. Cohen looked good to start the season, especially as a passing option, but he probably won’t have success against New Orleans. The Saints have been doing a great job of limiting running backs catching out of the backfield.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: I don’t trust him at this point. He’s got a tough matchup against the Bengals this week and the Colts offense is just terrible.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: I’ve given him a lot of chances this season, but it’s not looking like he’s coming around. He’s frustrated and it’s hard to see him being productive while being a distraction. With the team demoting him to scout team, he’s definitely a player you can drop. Holding out hope for a trade may end up being foolish.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson (22) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Parker is dealing with an ankle injury and has a tough matchup with the Ravens. He doesn’t have the same rapport with Moore that Stills has.

Broncos defense/special teams: They’re not the same dominant defense they have been in the recent past and they face a potent offense in the Chiefs. Kareem Hunt is on a great roll and should continue to play well.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 7 recap and top waiver wire picks

Week 7 had its share of disappointing performances, with three teams being shut out, but there were some big days by the usual suspects.

Ezekiel Elliott finally put a complete game together as the Cowboys trounced the 49ers 40-10. Elliott rushed 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He only had one catch out of the backfield, but he took it 72 yards for a score as he tight-roped the sideline and cut back to get into the end zone. Despite having the top performance of the week, Elliott’s future remains very much in question. He’s going to play Week 8, but after that his status is up in the air.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 8 rankings.

In that same game, Dak Prescott accounted for four touchdowns. Prescott threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns. He ran four times for 26 yards and another score. He’s a must-start every week at this point in his career. If Elliott can stay on the field, Prescott’s value will stay high.

The quarterback that had the best week played on Thursday night. Derek Carr threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Amari Cooper, who finally had a big game this season. He caught 11 passes for 210 yards.

Amari Cooper #89 of the Oakland Raiders scores a 38-yard touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 19, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Raiders kept their season alive with a big win and it could possibly spark better play all around. Tight end Jared Cook is starting to earn a reputation as a big-play receiver. He had six receptions for 104 yards, including a big sideline catch to set up the winning score. Michael Crabtree continued to play well, scoring the game-winning touchdown.

The biggest disappointment for the Raiders was Marshawn Lynch, who rushed just twice for nine yards before he left the bench during a dust up and put his hands on an official. He’s been suspended for a week, making Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington possible waiver pick ups.

Also playing Thursday night, Tyreek Hill continued to put up nice numbers. He caught six passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.

A week doesn’t go by without Kareem Hunt gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage. He became just the second NFL player to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards in his first seven career games, joining Eric Dickerson.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) is forced out of bounds by Oakland Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LeSean McCoy, Aaron Jones and T.J. Yeldon all had big weeks from the running back position as well. McCoy totaled 122 yards and scored twice. Jones rushed for over 100 yards, including a 46-yard score, for the second time in three weeks as he continues to be the go-to back for the Packers.

Yeldon put up great numbers when it was expected that Chris Ivory would be the beneficiary of Leonard Fournette missing the game. Ivory was decent and had the bulk of the carries, but Yeldon rushed just nine times for 122 yards and a touchdown. That said, there’s really no reason to pick up Yeldon with the Jaguars’ bye week coming up and Fournette expected back in Week 9.

Speaking of the Jaguars, their defense pitched a shutout, as did the Rams and Chargers. Jacksonville recorded 10 sacks against a terrible Colts offense. The team is in shambles without Andrew Luck, but even if he returned tomorrow, they would still be in trouble with that offensive line. The Chargers shut out the Broncos while making five sacks and picking off one pass. The Rams blanked the Cardinals and severely jeopardized Arizona’s season as they knocked Carson Palmer out of commission with a broken arm.

The Palmer injury will be a big blow to the value of Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had just three catches for 29 yards Sunday. It also makes me wonder if the Cardinals will hold out David Johnson once he’s healthy if their season is beyond saving.

T.Y. Hilton had a terrible day as well, catching two passes for 27 yards. The Colts are 2-5 and with Luck’s recent setback, it seems like a lost season for the Colts and its skill players.

The worst nightmare came true for fantasy owners of the Packers receivers. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for five catches and just 40 yards a week after Aaron Rodgers went down to injury. Anyone who picked up Brett Hundley thinking he’d be somewhat adequate were severely disappointed. He threw for 87 yards and one interception. Hundley did rush for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Another disappointing quarterback this week, though unexpectedly, was Matt Ryan. He had a great matchup with a struggling Patriots defense and only managed 233 yards passing and a touchdown. Ryan’s regression is real and he’s looking like he did before his big year last season.

On the bright side, Alex Smith, Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston are all healthy and each had outstanding performances. Smith threw three touchdown passes in a losing effort while Wilson had a big second half to beat the Giants.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Rich Barnes)

Even Josh McCown, a suggested streaming quarterback from last week, had a great day, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

Winston hooked up well with rookie tight end O.J. Howard for the first time this season. Howard caught all six of the passes sent his way, gaining 98 yards and scoring twice.

Another rookie tight end who keeps playing well is Evan Engram. He caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. The Giants are a mess offensively, but Engram is probably the only quality start.

Top waiver wire picks

Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders: 9 rushes, 31 yards; 4 rec., 45 yards.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: 6 rec., 85 yards, 2TDs. He’s played well with quarterback Matt Moore in the past.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints: 7 rec., 141 yards. He’s had two quality games in a row and Drew Brees can utilize a speedster.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: 18 rushes, 113 yards, TD. Jerick McKinnon was the hot name last week, and the duo were virtually even in touches, but Murray had the most success.

Deonte Thompson, WR, Bills: He hasn’t been with the team for a week yet and he’s already proving to be valuable. He caught four passes for 104 yards Sunday.

Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins: Jay Cutler is out and Moore can be productive as a streaming QB.

O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers: 6 rec., 98 yards, 2 TDs.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.