Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 4

Thursday night is starting to become a lot of fun.

The games selected for Thursday night haven’t always been competitive, high-scoring affairs, but that’s starting to change.

Last week we had Baker Mayfield’s debut and this week we had a shootout between the Vikings and Rams.

Jared Goff recorded the first 400-yard, five-touchdown game on three days’ rest in NFL history. He had a perfect passer rating to boot.

Here’s a look at who else you should start, and sit, in Week 4.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He gets to face the 49ers who are in the bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve already given up eight TD passes through three games.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Though A.J. Green is battling a groin injury, the Bengals have a good passing matchup against the Falcons. Dalton is building chemistry with Tyler Boyd, a third-year receiver looking to break out.

Case Keenum, QB, Broncos: The Chiefs have given up 1,127 yards passing, which is worst in the league. Keenum will be playing at home against a team that is second worst in points allowed to quarterbacks.

Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: Bernard filled in well for an injured Joe Mixon last week, rushing for 61 yards and making five receptions for 25 more. He has a great matchup this week against he Falcons. They’re third worst in points allowed to running backs.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Browns: The Raiders allow 5.1 yards per carry and Hyde is on a scoring streak. Having Mayfield start could open things up even more for the running back.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks: The Cardinals are second worst in points allowed to running backs, allowing five rushing touchdowns to the position. That’s the most in the league. Carson eclipsed 100 yards on 32 carries last week.

Allen Robinson, WR, Bears: Facing the Buccaneers is a good thing for a guy who gets targeted as much as he does. Tampa Bay has given up 595 yards through the air to receivers. They’ve surrendered 56 receptions to receivers which is last in the league.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Packers: Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and Allison has yielded solid production. I’m betting he gets more than four targets, like he did last week, against the Bills this week.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: He’s the No. 2 wideout in N.Y. and has an outstanding matchup with the Saints. Shepard should build upon his 80-yard, TD performance last week.

SIT THESE GUYS

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: He hasn’t thrown for more than 170 yards in a game yet this season and he has just as many picks as he does touchdown passes. The Lions are in the top-10 in terms of limiting fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The Browns are actually really good at limiting quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. They intercepted Ben Roethlisberger three times and held Drew Brees to 243 yards and two touchdowns. Those are pedestrian numbers for an elite quarterback. Carr isn’t an elite quarterback.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: He was outstanding two weeks ago against the Patriots, but in his two other games he failed to eclipse 200 yards passing. Bortles faces the Jets, a team that has allowed three touchdowns while making five interceptions.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: Fantasy owners are pulling their hair out every time they see Javorius Allen make the most of a red zone opportunity. The back up running back is cutting into Collins’ production tremendously.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: He hasn’t gained more than 53 yards rushing in a game and has put up two duds in three weeks. He’s very dependent on touchdowns at this point and the Patriots have allowed just one on the ground so far this season.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: There’s good reason to believe the Packers will lead this game. And there’s no good reason why McCoy should be in the game while dealing with a rib injury. He’s expected to play, but you can’t trust he’ll be that productive.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots: Tom Brady isn’t throwing him the ball. Wait until Hogan has a decent game before you start him. Honestly, if he doesn’t perform this week, you can cut him.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders: I’m not going to get fooled by his big performance last week. He had two huge gains after showing next to nothing the first two weeks. If he strings two good games together we can start thinking about inserting him into the lineup.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: This week could be telling for him. If he can somehow be productive while nursing a hamstring and playing with a rookie quarterback, you might be able to start him again. Just don’t do it yet.

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

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Preview: Week 4

We’ve got a good one on the Thursday night schedule this week. The Vikings travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in a short week for both teams.

L.A. is running like a well-oiled machine right now, but the Vikings are coming off a huge upset loss to the Bills.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings.

You’re obviously starting Todd Gurley, but the rest of the skill positions are worth thinking about.

Both defenses are very good, but there are definite weaknesses on both sides.

Brandin Cooks is probably the safest start in the Rams’ receiving corps. If you have to choose between Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, I would go with Woods who has been targeted at least nine times in each week. Kupp has to score in order to be worthy of a start. He has done that in two games so far, so it’s not stupid to have him in your lineup.

As far as the Vikings go, both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should have productive outings. The team is due a bounce back after last weekend and they’re facing a team that’s without its starting cornerbacks. That makes Kirk Cousins a decent start as well.

Dalvin Cook was limited at practice Wednesday and he’s a risky start in my opinion as he’s dealing with a hamstring injury.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 3

All of a sudden the Cleveland Browns look like they’ve got a few options to start on your fantasy squad. Baker Mayfield entered Thursday night’s game against the N.Y. Jets and led the Browns to their first win since Dec. 24, 2016. With Mayfield inserted into the lineup, Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway get an increase in value. Landry should remain the top target for the rookie QB, but Mayfield also had a nice rapport with fellow rookie Callaway in the preseason. The trio will deserve to be started in the near future. Here’s a look at who else should start, and sit, in Week 3.

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Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers—Yes, he’s on the road, and yes Antonio Brown threw a fit this week. Big Ben should be fine, however, as he takes on the Buccaneers. They’re in the bottom 10 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers—Ride the Fitzmagic wave as long as you can. Not only does he get to face the Steelers, second-worst in points allowed to quarterbacks, but his defense isn’t great. Both quarterbacks in this matchup should be productive.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions—The Lions will have to score points in order to keep up with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots. New England is in early-season, beatable mode. Kenny Golladay looks like another solid option for the veteran signal caller.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons—It’s a simple rule, really. If Devonta Freeman is out, start Coleman. He’s coming off a game in which he gained 125 yards on 20 touches. The Saints have been good at limiting running backs, but they faced Peyton Barber in one of their best defensive efforts against a rusher.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals—He’ll fill in for Joe Mixon and has the skill set to stay on the field for the most part. The Panthers aren’t good at limiting running backs in terms of yards per carry.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins—He’s getting double digit touches per game but he’s only had one good week. Facing Oakland should yield a productive day out of Drake, who is sharing carries with the unsinkable Frank Gore.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagle—With the return of Carson Wentz, Agholor might have even better results. So far he’s caught eight passes in each of the first two games. Agholor should remain the top target Sunday, especially with Mike Wallace out.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans—The Giants are third-best in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, but those numbers have come against the Jaguars and Cowboys. Tavon Austin scored on a big play last week against N.Y. Fuller’s speed makes him a danger to defenses if his hamstring is healthy enough to play.

Allen Robinson, WR, Bears—Chicago is moving the receiver all over the field to make sure he’s involved. The Cardinals are decent at limiting wideouts’ fantasy points, but that’s mostly due to their first-week success against Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson. Last week they gave up 159 yards to Brandin Cooks.

George Kittle, TE, 49ers—Last week’s performance will scare you, but he should bounce back against a Chiefs squad that got torched by Pittsburgh’s tight ends.

SIT THESE GUYS

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers—I hate sitting Rivers, but he’s got a very tough matchup this week as he faces the Rams’ league-best defense in limiting quarterbacks in fantasy points.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans—He’s already dealing with an odd injury that is giving him tingling in his throwing hand. Even if he were fully healthy, I would sit him against the Jaguars’ pass defense.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders—Carr hasn’t been a good fantasy player this season yet, though he had a great completion percentage in Week 2. It would be a big surprise if he managed to be productive against a good Miami defense on the road.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers—He’s highly inefficient, gaining just 91 yards on 35 carries through two weeks. He also has just one reception for seven yards. The Steelers are a tough matchup and the game should be a passing affair anyway.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills—Not real sure there’s anyone in Buffalo that could start on your fantasy team at this point. McCoy is dealing with a rib injury that he may not even play through. He faces a tough Vikings defense to boot.

Colts running backs—A tough Eagles defense that allowed just 74 yards rushing to the Falcons and 43 yards to the Bucs won’t let any one Indy rusher have much success.

Seahawks receivers—Doug Baldwin is out and the Cowboys have been good at limiting receivers with the help of a solid pass rush. Nobody for the Panthers gained more than 45 yards receiving while Odell Beckham had just 51 yards last week against Dallas.

Corey Davis, WR, Titans—Mariota isn’t a slam dunk to play and Davis faces a big challenge against the Jaguars.

Redskins receivers—The Packers should have a decent day holding down Washington’s receivers. They were torched by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen last week, but Richardson and Crowder are definitely a lower-tier group.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals—I keep thinking he’ll turn it around now that he’s healthy. He’s had minimal success thus far and the Panthers are middle of the road in defending the position.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 2

A.J. Green may have already won the week for you (or dealt you a loss) by catching five passes for 69 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night, but it’s never over until it’s over. So have a look at who I think should have strong games, and who you should avoid, in Week 2.

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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers—The Chargers had a good offensive game against the Chiefs last week and that should continue against the Bills. Rivers threw for over 400 yards and three scores in Week 1 and gets to face a defense that allowed three TD passes last week.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 2 Rankings.

Alex Smith, QB, Redskins—If you’ve got a nice advantage over your opponent this week, starting Smith could be a nice safe play. He threw two touchdowns last week and should be able to take advantage of the Colts pass defense.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers—He faces the Lions who made Sam Darnold look like a first-ballot Hall of Famer after his first pass. Garoppolo had a rough game in Week 1, but that was against a tough Vikings defense. He’ll be productive enough to start.

James Conner, RB, Steelers—Le’Veon Bell is not walking through that locker room door. And until he does, Conner is an RB1. He gets to face a Chiefs defense that gave up 166 total yards to Melvin Gordon in Week 1. Conner should match that in addition to probably finding the end zone.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—He’s had good success against the Titans while playing for the Texans. The amount of touches he’s guaranteed weekly is very valuable for fantasy.

Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins—I still don’t think he’ll be able to sustain his efficiency over the season, but he’s doing his best to prove me wrong. He rushed for 65 yards on just five carries last week against the Cardinals. Thompson was a big part of the winning formula last week so there’s no reason to change.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns—Landry is getting targeted downfield now that he’s with the Browns. He wasn’t just a short route receiver in the first week. Now he gets to face the Saints, who gave up 361 yards and four touchdowns to the Buccaneers.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles—The Buccaneers gave up a league-high 23 receptions to wide receivers last week. Agholor caught eight passes in Week 1, albeit for just 33 yards. That total should rise against the third worst team at limiting fantasy points to wideouts.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins—He’s a big-play receiver, but he caught just four passes last week. Luckily, two of those receptions went for touchdowns. I like him as a flex play this week if you are looking for a high-ceiling option.

Jack Doyle, TE, Colts—He was targeted 10 times in Week 1 and the Colts with Andrew Luck still throw way more than they run. Washington held tight ends to just 19  yards in Week 1, but that was against a bad Cardinals passing attack.

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Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans—Without Delanie Walker in the mix, I don’t think Mariota plays well against the Texans. Add to that he’s dealing with an elbow injury. The Texans allowed three touchdown passes last week, but that was against Tom Brady.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers—Fitzpatrick was outstanding in Week 1, but that wasn’t against a Super Bowl caliber defense. That’s what he faces this week against the Eagles. Philly didn’t allow a touchdown pass to Matt Ryan last week and will be tough to score on.

Sam Darnold, QB, Jets—The rookie had a strong debut after making a mistake on his first throw against the Lions. It should be a different story against the Dolphins, who haven’t allowed more than one TD since Tom Brady threw four against them in Nov. of last year.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions—The Lions threw passes on over 3/4 of their plays in the first week. That’s not a winning formula for Blount. I would even stay away from rookie Kerryon Johnson as the Lions face the 49ers. San Francisco allowed just 82 yards rushing to running backs last week.

Duke Johnson, RB, Browns—Though Cleveland faces a Saints defense that gave up a lot through the air last week, they allowed just one reception to a running back.

Jordan Wilkins, RB, Colts—The Redskins held David Johnson to 67 yards from scrimmage last week and Wilkins will share time with Nyheim Hines. Marlon Mack, might even play after practicing on a limited basis this week.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders—Targeted just four times in Week 1, Nelson hauled in three passes for 23 yards. I don’t expect him to fare well in Denver either.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs—Keep him on your bench until he starts clicking with Pat Mahomes. Watkins had just three catches for 21 yards in Week 1 when Tyreek Hill was going off.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Bills—Josh Allen will get his first start and you shouldn’t feel comfortable starting any Bill at this point.

Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons—The Panthers allowed just 18 receiving yards to tight ends last week. Hooper isn’t a solid start after catching just three balls for 24 yards in Week 1.

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Preview: Week 2

The Baltimore Ravens travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals to kick off Week 2 of NFL action.

There are some easy calls in this one on the Bengals side. You’ll want to start A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, of course. I’d look for a better option over Andy Dalton this week, though. This will be a nice barometer for seeing if he is a viable fantasy option this season. Dalton had a good week against the Colts to open the season, but Thursday night will be a tougher test.

RELATED: Fantasy Football Week 2 Rankings.

Tyler Eifert has a lot of talent and is healthy, but the Ravens have been historically good at limiting fantasy points for tight ends. You’ll need him to score a touchdown for him to be worth the start.

On the Ravens side, I’d be comfortable starting Alex Collins. Kenneth Dixon took some work from Collins in Week 1, but Dixon is out for the year with a knee injury. That solidifies Collins’ role with the team. Javorius Allen could get more opportunities as a result of the injury as well. He could be a decent flex play at this point.

I don’t like starting both receivers for the Ravens and it depends on what you face in your matchup this week. If you’re favored to win, you may want to go with Michael Crabtree who has a better history of scoring. Also, Crabtree is a good red zone target. If you need big performances this week as an underdog, go with John Brown. He’s a deep threat and could eventually become the clear No. 1 for Joe Flacco by season’s end.

As for Flacco, is he a new man with the rookie Lamar Jackson lingering over his shoulder? I’d like to see more consistency out of Flacco before starting him. I have him ranked No. 16 on my QB rankings for this week.  I’ve got players like Tyrod Taylor, Andrew Luck and Jimmy Garoppolo ranked higher.

Finally, I think both defenses are decent starts Thursday.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 1

The first week of NFL action kicked off with a replay of last seaon’s NFC divisional playoff round. Once again it came down to a red zone possession for the Falcons, and once again they couldn’t get into the end zone to defeat the Eagles. At least this time Julio Jones caught the pass from Matt Ryan, though he was out of bounds. Jones was an easy start for fantasy owners this week, catching 10 passes for 169 yards. Here are more players you can be confident to start, and some you should avoid in Week 1.

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Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings—It will be his first start with his new team and I think it will be a good one. Cousins has developed a rapport with Stefon Diggs already and had a great game the last time he faced the 49ers.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 1 rankings.

Update: Weather is having me second guessing Ben Roethlisberger and Tyrod Taylor this week. Plan accordingly as rain could be a big factor in Cleveland Sunday. If you have to play Big Ben, I’m a little more optimistic about him over Taylor in the bad weather. Two possible replacements are Marcus Mariota (at Miami) or Andy Dalton (at Indianapolis).

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers—The home-road disparity in Roethlisberger’s fantasy scoring has always been a concern, but it wasn’t that bad last season. He faces the Browns and without Le’Veon Bell he should utilize Antonio Brown a great deal.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Browns—Call it Hard Knocks hype if you like, but all signs point to Taylor having a nice outing. He turned the ball over just six times last season and scored 18 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The pass catchers he has in Cleveland are a big upgrade from what he had in Buffalo.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals—Mixon showed great athleticism in preseason that we all expected to see in his rookie campaign. He gets to face a weak Colts defense in the season opener.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens—Collins is expected to be the workhorse for Baltimore and he faces a Buffalo defense that gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last year.

James Connor, RB, Steelers—With Bell out, Connor could give the Steelers a glimpse of life without the All Pro. He gets to face the Browns this week and Pittsburgh may have to run due to weather conditions.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals—He faces a Washington defense that was decent against the pass last year, but lost its slot corner Kendall Fuller in a trade with the Chiefs. Fitz feasts in the slot and Sam Bradford will want to get the ball to him.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots—I think this is the year Tom Brady and the Patriots drop off a bit, but I like Hogan in the first week. He faces the Texans, who were sixth worst in points allowed to wideouts last year.

Broncos receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are not facing the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman is in San Francisco and Earl Thomas isn’t happy. Last season Seattle was merely middle of the road in limiting wide receivers. Case Keenum is a major QB upgrade as well.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals—Washington was in the bottom six teams in defending the tight end. Seals-Jones has a big opportunity here with Jermaine Gresham recovering from last year’s Achilles injury.

SIT THESE GUYS

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers—The hype surrounding Garoppolo is based on a solid end to last season. He can turn in some QB1 weeks this year, but this shouldn’t be one of them as he faces the Vikings pass defense led by All-Pro Harrison Smith.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants—He has Odell Beckham Jr. back and three, maybe four, solid targets to throw to, but he faces a tough Jaguars defense. Jacksonville has possibly the best defensive backfield in the league.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders—The Raiders have had a rough preseason and I see that carrying over to the opener against the Rams. Add to that, Carr is facing a defensive backfield comprised of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Not to mention Aaron Donald joined the Rams in time to harrass the Raiders QB.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots—I don’t really understand the hype around him, but it probably has to do with the eight touchdowns he scored last season and the fact that Dion Lewis is now in Tennesse. James White, a pass-catching maven, is still in town, though.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins—Some owners can’t help but get excited about having Peterson on their team. They have to realize he’s not the same running back he was a few years ago. He faces the Cardinals this week and they were fifth best in limiting running backs’ fantasy scoring last season.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks—I do think he’ll have some weeks when he could be a solid start, but this most likely won’t be one of them. He faces the Broncos and the Seahawks’ offensive line isn’t much better than last year.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers—I like Goodwin over the course of the season, but Sunday’s matchup has him covered by Xavier Rhodes. That’s a tough matchup with a strong Vikings defense.

Buccaneers tight ends—This decision is based on not knowing which one will lead the team at the position, Cameron Brate or O.J. Howard. Wait until it’s clear which one becomes the favorite.

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

Fantasy football: Who to start and who to avoid in Week 17

Most respectable yearlong fantasy football leagues have concluded their seasons. But I know there are still some owners out there that have to face Week 17 with a championship on the line. There are also daily fantasy sports competitions going on this week as well. This is probably the most volatile time to make calls for your lineup, given that a lot of teams have nothing to play for on Sunday. I’m here to help, however, so here’s who should start—and who you should avoid—in Week 17.

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Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Cousins doesn’t have much to play for, but he hasn’t for a while. Still, he tossed three touchdowns last week and has a great matchup against the Giants this week.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: The 49ers are looking to get things started on the right foot for next season. Garoppolo showed what he could do against a top defense last weekend and he should do it again against a disinterested Rams team this week.

Case Keenum, QB, Vikings: Though he has a tough matchup against a Bears defense that is good at limiting fantasy scoring for quarterbacks, I expect him to perform well. The Vikings need to win to guarantee a first-round bye and he’s been a model of consistency for most of the season.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He has a good matchup against the Lions and scored the last time he faced them. He’s getting a lot of carries, at least 10 in each of the last eight games.

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yards during the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on December 23, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Vikings won the game 16-0. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: The last time Drake faced the Bills he rushed 16 times for 78 yards and caught six passes for 35 yards. He also scored in the game, making him a solid start this week against a bad Bills defense.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: The Patriots want home-field advantage and that means Lewis should perform well. Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead will both miss the game and James White is questionable.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: It’s unbelievable that the Titans still have a shot at the playoffs. With DeMarco Murray ruled out of action, Henry finally gets a turn to shine. I think he gets the job done against the Jaguars’ run defense.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With hope of gaining a No. 1 seed and Antonio Brown out, I expect Smith-Schuster to pick up the slack and put in a WR1 type of week against the Browns.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: He faces a Seahawks defense that isn’t what it once was. The last time he faced them he caught 10 of his 14 targets for 113 yards.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 23-0. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Lions receivers: Marvin Jones and Golden Tate should both do well against a Packers defense that gives up a lot of big pass plays.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Hunter Henry is out so Gates has another opportunity to pay off. With the Chargers needing a win for a shot at the playoffs, I expect him to be solid against the Raiders.

STARS WITH SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: He’s gunning for the No. 1 seed in the AFC so he’ll probably put up solid numbers and won’t sit unless the game gets out of hand.

Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: The Seahawks need to win to get in. Wilson has been great late in the season the past few years and Doug Baldwin has been a big part of that.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: If Pittsburgh wins, they have a shot at the No. 1 seed, but they need the Pats to lose to the Jets. Might be tough to start Big Ben if you’re worried he might be pulled at halftime, but a good first half against Cleveland may be just enough.

Falcons big three: It’s a must-win game for the Falcons. So Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones won’t see any rest.

Saints cornerback P.J. Williams upends Falcons running back Devonta Freeman during the second half Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in New Orleans. The Falcons won, 23-13. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen, Chargers: They’ll need to play well for the Chargers to have a chance at making the postseason.

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: The Panthers are in, but they can clinch the NFC South title with a win and a Saints loss.

Saints running backs: The Saints are trying to take the NFC South title and both running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, should do well against the Bucs.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: The Bills will need McCoy to put up a solid game against Miami if they hope to get into the playoffs.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Getting the No. 1 seed is a long shot, so Bell may sit if the Patriots pull away from the Jets and Mike Tomlin is scoreboard watching. But again, it’s a good matchup against the Browns.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: All the Ravens need to make the playoffs is a win. Collins has been solid and is just 105 yards from a 1,000-yard season.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: He’s in the same boat as Brady and should produce like he usually does.

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots catches a touchdown pass as he is defended by Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

Vikings receivers: The Vikings need a win to get a first-round bye. Case Kenum will do his best to get Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs involved.

AVOID THESE GUYS

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: Foles could use the reps, but the last thing the Eagles need is their quarterback to go down with injury. They already have have home-field advantage in the playoffs and a bye week to get him more reps. Even if he starts, he probably won’t stay in there for long.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: To be honest, I don’t want to start anyone in that Cowboys-Eagles game. The season can’t end soon enough for Prescott, who is in much need of a reset button. He was terrible against the Eagles last time out and Tyron Smith won’t be there to help protect the quarterback.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The matchup with the Ravens is too tough and the Bengals have had a nightmare of a season. Dalton threw four picks the last time he faced Baltimore.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Alfred Blue is getting most of the touches in Houston these days. Miller doesn’t look like an enticing play this week against a Colts defense that is decent against the run.

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) carries the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Mike Marshall)

Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: The Eagles have nothing to play for and should rest up their top running back.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: Atlanta is still fighting for a playoff spot, but Coleman has a tough matchup and Devonta Freeman will likely get the higher share of action.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: Same reason I wouldn’t start Ajayi, plus he hasn’t had the best chemistry with Foles so far.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: He’s got a terrible matchup against the Chargers this week. The Raiders have been a major disappointment this season and Cooper has played a role in that. He had five catches for 28 yards the last time he faced the Chargers.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Why should he start playing well now? With the Cowboys out of playoff contention, it will be interesting to see how Jason Garrett handles playing time for Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Bryant. I don’t expect them to be in harms way for too long.

STARS WITH NOTHING TO PLAY FOR

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He was given the week off in favor of Patrick Mahomes.

Rams offensive leaders: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the Rams receivers aren’t likely to play. Goff and Gurley are definitely resting. Cooper Kupp is dealing with a knee while Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins probably won’t see much action.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: The Chiefs clinched the No. 4 seed and there’s no reason to put Hunt in danger after he’s found a grove once again.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) runs against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: The Jaguars can’t improve their spot, so I think Fournette will use the time to heal up.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Sure, his team technically has a shot to win the No. 1 seed, but he’s still recovering from injury and Tomlin won’t risk him being unavailable for the playoffs.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: He’s nursing a calf injury and has no reason to risk playing on Sunday.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers: The newly re-signed Adams suffered two concussions this season and shouldn’t suit up against the Lions.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: With a locked up seed for the playoffs and Patrick Mahomes starting at quarterback, the Chiefs would do well to sit Hill.

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: Who to start — and sit — in Week 16

It all comes down to this. You’ve been locked in since August, very likely even before that. You followed all of the free agent action in March before turning your attention to the rookie draft about a month later. It’s time for all of your analysis and gut instincts to pay off.

Week 16 kicks off on Saturday instead of Thursday this week. The Colts take on the Ravens and the Vikings visit the Packers. One player you won’t be starting is Aaron Rodgers, who has been shut down since the Packers have been eliminated from the playoffs. Case Keenum should be pretty solid against Green Bay, however. Here’s a look at who else you should start, and sit, in Week 16.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 16 rankings.

START THESE GUYS

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Before his ugly game at Kansas City last week he was on a roll. I’m expecting him to bounce back against a bad Jets pass defense. He’ll be highly motivated as the Chargers need a win to stay alive for the playoffs.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: His first start in relief of Carson Wentz went as well as could be expected as he tossed four touchdowns against the Giants. He’ll face a disappointing Raiders team in Week 16 and if he can put up numbers close to the ones from Week 15 his owners will be satisfied.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: I suggested Bortles as a strong start last week and I think he can come through again this week. His receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook are playing really well right now. It’s a great matchup for Bortles as he faces the 49ers.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: Drake’s had at least 16 carries in three straight weeks and has a nice matchup against the Chiefs this week.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis gets to face the Bills this week, who are very bad at limiting running backs in fantasy scoring. Lewis has had double digit carries in eight of the nine last games.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: He’s coming off a game in which he rushed 30 times for 158 yards. Anderson has run the ball at least 15 times in three games in a row and has a good matchup against the Redskins.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With Antonio Brown out for a few weeks, Smith-Schuster is likely to get more targets. He caught six passes for 114 yards last week against the Patriots. He has a better matchup this week against the Texans.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: Diggs didn’t play the last time the Vikings took on the Packers, but he should have a nice outing against a bad Packers pass defense.

Robert Woods, WR, Rams: He scored a touchdown in his return in Week 15 and has been targeted at least seven times in the last three games that he’s played in. The Titans are in the middle third in fantasy points allowed to receivers.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks: This is a vote of confidence despite his last two games which have been terrible. If you drafted Graham, you have to start him. Sometimes you have to trust your stars even when they have tough matchups.

Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Engram’s been very impressive this year and it doesn’t look like the Giants are quitting. He’s had at least 54 yards receiving in three straight games.

Bears defense/special teams: They’re facing the Browns and that could end up helping you take the championship.

Lions defense/special teams: The Lions have a good matchup as they face a Bengals team that looks as disinterested as it looks bad.

SIT THESE GUYS

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He’s been a bust this season and his fumble through the end zone last week with the game on the line shows that he’s willing to make desperate plays. Carr has a tough matchup against the Eagles this week.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: I think he’ll be really good next season. Heck, he’s been really good this season so far since coming over from New England. But facing the Jaguars and its two pro bowl defensive backs is too tall a task.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor was injured the last time he faced the Patriots and this time he has to go on the road. I can see him having a productive day if the game turns into a high-scoring affair, but I don’t expect a big day out of him.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He’ll be without his starting quarterback and he has to face a tough Vikings defense. Williams didn’t play against the Vikings in Week 6 but his team was held to just 72 yards rushing.

Buccaneers running backs: Peyton Barber underperformed in place of Doug Martin, who was a healthy scratch, on Monday night. Martin will likely return to the field against the Panthers. Neither is a good start this week.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: He returned to the field last week, but he had just one rushing attempt. He’s been a real bust this year and can’t be trusted in your lineup.

Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: Anderson was on a roll for a bit, but without Josh McCown in the lineup, he’s not a reliable starting option. He faces a tough Chargers defense this week.

Packers receivers: Davante Adams is in the concussion protocol, and it’s hard to predict whether Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson will have a good day. Most likely, none of the Packers receivers will be very productive against the Vikings defense.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Like Garoppolo, Goodwin’s run of solid performances will likely come to an end against a dominating Jaguars secondary.

Buccaneers tight ends: O.J. Howard has been moved to injured reserve and it doesn’t help that Cameron Brate has to face the Panthers who are good at defending the position.

Seahawks defense/special teams: It’s not the same defense after all the injuries. They’ll have to face Ezekiel Elliott in his return to action after a six-game suspension.

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

Updated Fantasy Football Week 15 rankings

Week 15 kicked off Thursday, but there was action Saturday as well. Kareem Hunt had a big day while Philip Rivers was a real disappointment in the game on Saturday night. Other than the players that had games on Thursday and Saturday, the following rankings are updated through early Sunday morning.

RELATED: Who to start—and sitin Week 15. 

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