NFL playoff fantasy football rankings: divisional round

If you’re playing NFL.com’s fantasy football Playoff Challenge it’s time to set your lineup for the divisional round of the playoffs. Last week we saw big games from Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Derrick Henry. If they were in your lineup, you might want to roll with them again for double the points. You’ll be rooting for their teams to win as their points would triple during the conference championships if you start them again. Whether they advance, however, is highly in doubt. The Titans are big underdogs against the Patriots in Foxboro and the Saints will have a tough time advancing past the Vikings in Minnesota.

Here are my rankings for the divisional round.

Quarterbacks

I’ve got Brady at the top of my list since his points double this week if you started him during the bye last week. All he has to do is have an average game and you’ll get caught up with any points you missed out on last week in the Playoff Challenge. You’ll also have his points tripled next week if the Pats win and you keep him in the lineup. I think the Falcons make their way back to the NFC championship with a win over the Eagles this weekend. That’s why I’ve got Matt Ryan ranked second. Brees might not make it past the Vikings this week, but if you started him last week you can have his points doubled this week.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Matt Ryan, Falcons
3. Drew Brees, Saints
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
5. Case Keenum, Vikings
6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
7. Nick Foles, Eagles
8. Marcus Mariota, Titans

Running backs

I’ve got Le’Veon Bell at the top for the same reason I have Brady at the top of the QB position. Though the Steelers face a tough Jaguars defense, his versatility is a big value. Though Pittsburgh lost 30-9 to the Jaguars this year, it was early in the season and Roethlisberger had a nightmare game. Bell rushed for just 3.1 yards per carry, but only had 15 attempts. He also caught 10 passes in that game. Dion Lewis is another versatile back who I think has a productive day against the Titans this weekend. The Patriots should be able to do whatever they want against Tennessee. The Falcons may not have such an easy time against the Eagles, but I think Devonta Freeman logs a good performance. He’s my third-ranked running back as I see the Falcons getting by the Eagles.

1. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
2. Dion Lewis, Patriots
3. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
4. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
5. Alvin Kamara, Saints
6. Latavius Murray, Vikings
7. Mark Ingram, Saints
8. Derrick Henry, Titans
9. Tevin Coleman, Falcons
10. Jay Ajayi, Eagles
11. Rex Burkhead, Patriots
12. James White, Patriots
13. Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
14. LeGarrette Blount, Eagles
15. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
16. Stevan Ridley, Steelers
17. Corey Clement, Eagles
18. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
19. Zach Line, Saints
20. Corey Grant, Jaguars

Wide receivers

With the Falcons favored to win, I believe that Julio Jones has a big day against the Eagles. He had a solid performance against a good Rams defense last week. The Eagles have a tough defensive front, but the Falcons have protected their quarterback well this season. Antonio Brown will return to the field and I think he has to have a big game to advance over the Jaguars. I’m confident he can do it to avenge the loss the Steelers suffered early in the season. I’ve got Adam Thielen ranked third this week, thinking the Vikings will edge out the Saints. The last time he faced New Orleans he had nine catches for 157 yards.

1. Julio Jones, Falcons
2. Antonio Brown, Steelers
3. Adam Thielen, Vikings
4. Michael Thomas, Saints
5. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
6. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
7. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
8. Mohamed Sanu, Falcons
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
10. Ted Ginn, Saints
11. Rishard Matthews, Titans
12. Chris Hogan, Patriots
13. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
14. Martavis Bryant, Steelers
15. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
16. Eric Decker, Titans
17. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
18. Danny Amendola, Patriots
19. Brandon Coleman, Saints
20. Corey Davis, Titans

Tight ends

I’m banking on Rob Gronkowski having a big day in the Patriots’ first playoff game. He missed last postseason due to injury so he’ll be itching to get going. Having him in your lineup last week felt like a must, given that the Patriots are favored to win the Super Bowl. Given that they’re likely to advance, you’re looking at triple points in the conference championship. I have Zach Ertz ranked second as he’ll look to solidify his connection with Nick Foles. Not counting the meaningless game against the Cowboys, the two have connected on 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in two games. They’ve had an extra week of reps as well. In that same game, I think Austin Hooper has a solid outing as the Eagles tend to give up double digits in fantasy points to tight ends.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Zach Ertz, Eagles
3. Austin Hooper, Falcons
4. Delanie Walker, Titans
5. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
6. Jesse James, Steelers
7. Josh Hill, Saints
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
9. Vance McDonald, Steelers
10. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
11. Trey Burton, Eagles
12. Levine Toilolo, Falcons

Defense/Special teams

The Patriots defense has gotten better as the season has gone along. I’ve got them ranked first as they face a Titans team that somehow managed to get past the Chiefs in the wild-card round. I think the Steelers get some revenge on the Jaguars who struggle with the forward pass. Blake Bortles rushed for more yards than he threw last week. That’s not a good thing. The Vikings are third in my rankings because they’re great, but the Saints are hot.

1. Patriots
2. Steelers
3. Vikings
4. Falcons
5. Jaguars
6. Eagles
7. Saints
8. Titans

Kickers

Matt Bryant has been good all year and I think he and the Falcons put up some points on the Eagles. Stephen Gostkowski is second in this list since the Patriots should handle the Titans pretty easily. Wil Lutz will likely have to kick a few field goals as the Saints should move the ball, but struggle to get in the end zone against the Vikings.

1. Matt Bryant, Falcons
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
3. Wil Lutz, Saints
4. Kai Forbath, Vikings
5. Chris Boswell, Steelers
6. Caleb Sturgis, Eagles
7. Josh Lambo, Jaguars
8. Ryan Succop, Titans

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

DFS fantasy football rankings: wild card

There’s not much football left to be played, but the wild-card round starts Saturday. 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 wild-card rankings below.

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

Fantasy football: Week 17 rankings

Well, this was a tough week for figuring out my fantasy football rankings. Week 17 is a crap shoot with teams’ postseason destinations often determined by the time the final week rolls around. That said, here are my Week 17 fantasy football rankings.

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 16 rankings

Week 16, championship week in most fantasy football leagues, doesn’t kick off until Saturday. The Colts take on the Ravens before the Vikings visit the Packers. Fantasy owners won’t have Aaron Rodgers available to them after a one-week sighting. Doesn’t make sense to have your franchise quarterback play in meaningless games, so the Packers sent Rodgers to the injured reserve. These games aren’t meaningless if you made your fantasy football championship, however. With that in mind, here are my Week 16 fantasy football rankings.

Related: Fantasy football Week 15 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 Week 15 recap and top waiver wire picks

Even if you were from a galaxy far, far away, and your first experience watching the NFL was Week 15, you would still recognize how dramatic and crazy the week was.

Football is often called “a game of inches,” but a game of folded sheets of paper? One of those quite possibly helped decide the Cowboys’ win over the Raiders on Sunday night. Head official Gene Steratore used a folded sheet of paper to prove that the football was indeed touching the line to gain on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak by Dak Prescott in the final quarter.

Another play that helped decide that game was Derek Carr’s fumble into the end zone to seal the win for Dallas. Marshawn Lynch can’t seem to find a quarterback that makes the right decision down near the goal line.

Speaking of plays down near the goal line, how about Big Ben’s decision to go for a fake spike and drill a slant to the middle of the field? Of course, the play ended in an interception by the Patriots to seal the win. That was after an unbelievable 69-yard catch and run by JuJu Smith-Schuster that set the Steelers up in great position. As for New England, sometimes it’s better to be lucky and good.

All this and I’ve yet to mention another superstar going down to injury. Antonio Brown partially tore his calf and will miss the rest of the regular season at least. But he’s out of your fantasy playoffs for sure.

Aside from the crazy endings, there were some big-time fantasy playoff performances turned in this week.

No performance was bigger than the one turned in by Todd Gurley, who helped the Rams decimate the Seahawks. With a young nucleus and a rookie head coach you couldn’t help wonder if this were a changing of the guard. The Seahawks are aging, especially on defense, and it’s been a long time since they’ve been treated the way the Rams treated them.

Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns, including a 57-yarder to all but end the game in the first half. He also caught three passes for 28 yards and another score. Gurley, who was disappointing last season, has thrived now that Jeff Fisher can no longer stunt his production. He’s definitely a fantasy MVP candidate and will very likely be on most fantasy championship teams.

The next best performance by a running back was the one turned in by Kareem Hunt on Saturday. That made it his second straight great start in a row. His resurgence is coming at the perfect time for fantasy owners in the playoffs. Hunt rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 51 yards and another score.

It was a nice week for a lot of the best rushers. Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy all put up the types of numbers they were expected to get for fantasy owners.

A few unexpected names led the charge for best wide receiver performances through Sunday night. A pair of Jaguars and another pair of Giants had the biggest days.

Sterling Shepard caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown as Eli Manning played great against the Eagles. Manning also hooked up with Tavarres King twice for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Manning probably didn’t start for a lot of fantasy playoff teams, but he finished with 434 yards and three touchdowns.

Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens helped Blake Bortles stay on a roll. Bortles was on of my starts of the week and did great against the Texans. He connected with Cole on seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. Bortles hit Mickens four times for 61 yards and two more scores. Bortles faces the 49ers and I was serious when I said he could possibly help some owners win their leagues in the playoffs. He was a good pick up for Carson Wentz owners last week.

You didn’t have to go far for another solid choice to replace Wentz. Nick Foles looked like he did in 2013, throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns passes in his first start in relief of Wentz. I suggested you pick him up last week when Wentz went down, but it looks like he’s still available in a lot of leagues.

Cam Newton also threw for four touchdowns and is looking like his old self again as he added 58 yards rushing on 14 attempts.

Outside of Newton, it was quite a mix of unusual suspects scoring well this week from the quarterback position. Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor and Joe Flacco all had big games.

Someone we’re used to having good numbers is Aaron Rodgers. He had a nice return, but he may get shut down since the Packers have nothing to play for anymore. Rodgers’ game benefited Randall Cobb more than Jordy Nelson.

Case Keenum, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith all had solid weeks as well.

Another quarterback that I have to mention is Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s picked up Kyle Shanahan’s offense in mere weeks and looks great moving around the pocket. Garoppolo already has good chemistry with his receivers, especially Marquise Goodwin. It’s early, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns in QB1 numbers next season.

As far as tight ends go, it’s been a tough road for the position this season. This week they scored in droves, but no tight end had a bigger week than Rob Gronkowski. He caught nine passes for 168 yards.

Greg Olsen also had a great week, his first one of the season, catching nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.

On the dark side…

Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton probably knocked a lot of owners out of the playoffs.

Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals have been huge disappointments. It’s one thing to be untalented and bad, but this team is talented and terrible.

Running backs that probably cost owners wins this week were Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Williams, Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde.

Of course, Week 16 is championship week so these waiver wire suggestions are obviously if you’re desperate at this point.

Top waiver wire picks

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: 237 yards, 4 TDs.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: 7 rec., 186 yards, TD. I thought Dede Westbrook was the better add of the two last week, but Cole is still putting up bigger numbers.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: 4 rec., 59 yards, TD. With Antonio Brown out, Bryant will likely see more targets and he’s available in a decent amount of leagues.

Kapri Bibbs, RB, Redskins: He caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown and could be utilized the way Kirk Cousins used Chris Thompson earlier this season.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants: He totaled 79 yards from scrimmage and is proving to be a pass option out of the backfield.

Kerwynn Williams or Elijhaa Penny, RB, Cardinals: Williams suffered a quad injury, but whomever starts next week will have a good matchup against the Giants.

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

Fantasy football: Week 15 rankings

Week 14 was rough for Carson Wentz owners. Luckily, he wasn’t injured until he posted a solid fantasy score. If you survived this week there’s still hope. With that in mind, have a look at these early fantasy football rankings for Week 15.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 14 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 Week 14 recap and top waiver wire picks

A bit of a sibling rivalry is developing between the City of Brotherly Love and Sixburgh, Pa. The teams from Pennsylvania won their divisions Sunday but are heading in two different directions. The Eagles are the NFC East champions while the Steelers are kings of the AFC North. The Steelers are firing on all cylinders offensively, but the Eagles just lost their MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, to a torn ACL.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 15 rankings.

Ben Roethlisberger and Wentz had a couple of the best fantasy performances for quarterbacks in Week 14, typically the first round of playoffs for fantasy leagues. Roethlisberger looks to gain a first round bye while Eagles fans are hoping Nick Foles can do enough to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.

Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns in a big comeback win over the Ravens on Sunday night. He had a lot of help in the process. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards. Fantasy owners will forgive him for not scoring a touchdown.

Le’Veon Bell also put up big numbers, catching one of Roethlisberger’s touchdown tosses while gaining 77 yards receiving. He also rushed for 48 yards and scored twice on the ground. It was Bell’s fourth time scoring a rushing touchdown and catching a touchdown pass in the same game. That’s tied for most since he entered the league in 2013, according to NFL Research on Twitter.

Not to be completely outdone on Sunday night was Alex Collins. He’s been fantastic for four straight weeks. Collins rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown. He’s currently riding a four-game scoring streak and faces the Browns and Colts in the next two weeks. Collins could end up being a playoff MVP for a lot of owners.

Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins (34) plays in an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Bell wasn’t the only player to rush for a touchdown and catch another this week. Two other running backs, Rod Smith of the Cowboys and the Packers’ Jamaal Williams, completed that task.

Smith rushed for 47 yards, at 7.8 per carry, and scored on the ground before he caught a game-breaking 81-yard touchdown reception. He totaled 115 yards receiving on five catches.

Williams totaled 118 yards and scored twice in the Packers’ comeback victory over the Browns.

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a first down in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Jonathan Stewart had one of the biggest weeks as well, scoring three touchdowns as he rushed for 103 yards. He’s on a three-game scoring streak as the Panthers seem to be picking up steam.

Week 14 was a resurgent week for a couple of players. Kareem Hunt finally rushed for more than 100 yards again and Dak Prescott finally rid himself of his month-long funk. Hunt gained 116 yards on the ground and scored while adding three receptions for 22 yards. Prescott threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time he threw for at least 300 yards this season. In fact, he hadn’t thrown for at least 200 yards since Week 9.

This week’s list of quarterback duds is very long. Most of these guys lost playoff games for fantasy owners: Josh McCown, Derek Carr, Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota.

A surprising performance came from DeShone Kizer. He threw three touchdown passes as the Browns came up just short of their first win against the Packers. I wouldn’t recommend picking him up now, as he has a tough schedule coming up.

Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) scrabbles against the Green Bay Packers in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Another QB1 performance came from Brett Hundley, though you shouldn’t pick him up with Aaron Rodgers likely to return in Week 15.

The injury to Wentz wasn’t the only one with fantasy impact. What happened to Alvin Kamara can’t be overlooked. He suffered a concussion Thursday night. Most owners who had Kamara likely had byes this week, so they could at least adjust or work on a contingency plan for Week 15. If they had to play this week, it’s very likely they didn’t make it out of the first round.

Owners of injured tight end Zach Ertz were worried about not advancing beyond the first round. All they had to do was pick up Ertz’s teammate Trey Burton by Sunday to save the week. Burton caught five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

With Wentz out, Foles might be a decent waiver wire pick this week. Here’s who else you should look into picking up off the wire.

Top waiver wire picks

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: 268 yards passing, 2TDs. He’s still available in some leagues and, with matchups against the Texans and 49ers, he could very well be a fantasy championship quarterback for Wentz owners.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: 6 rec., 106 yards. Goodwin is still available in a lot of leagues despite his solid play the last few weeks. He’s a decent start in Week 15, but that may be it since he faces Jacksonville in championship week.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: You could do a lot worse in terms of streaming a quarterback to replace Wentz. Foles has been relegated to backup roles in recent years, but in 2013 he threw 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions.

Rod Smith, RB, Cowboys: If you need help at the position, this isn’t a bad addition. He’s on a three-game scoring streak and is effective catching out of the backfield. Plus there’s one more week before Ezekiel Elliott returns.

Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers: 4 rec., 132 yards, TD. With Keenan Allen having a lot of success, things opened up for Williams. He’s not a consistent receiver, but he can have big days. If you’re looking for a glory play in the next couple of weeks, he’s got great matchups.

Theo Riddick, RB, Lions: 29 rushing yards, 2TDs, 6 rec., 64 yards. Ameer Abdullah isn’t in good standing with the Lions so Riddick is benefiting from the extra touches.

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: 269 yards passing. He’s had two good games in a row and faces the Browns next week.

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks: 4 rec., 90 yards, TD. If you’re confident about your matchup this week, you may want to stow Lockett away for his matchup in Week 16 when he faces the Cowboys.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars:  5 rec., 81 yards, TD. He gets to face the Texans and the 49ers in the next two weeks. Adding him would be a luxury and a backup plan if you have injury concerns with your regular starters.

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

Fantasy football Week 13 recap and top waiver wire picks

Week 13 was the regular season finale for most fantasy leagues around the country and the story lines were abundant.

For one, the Chief offense returned after Andy Reid handed over play-calling duties. Alex Smith had a monster game, playing even better than his season debut. He threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns and even had a single carry that went 70 yards. How’s that for a rushing average?

The only problem with this offensive explosion by Smith is that he was probably on many benches this week after a couple of poor performances after the Week 10 bye.

Alex Smith #11 throws to Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 3, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Tyreek Hill was the biggest beneficiary of Smith’s performance. Hill caught six passes for 185 yards—a 30.8-yard average—and scored twice.

Travis Kelce also got in on the action, catching four passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. That gave him the best performance by a tight end this week.

A Chief who continues to trend in the wrong direction is Kareem Hunt. The early rookie of the year candidate has had a rough go in recent weeks. Hunt tied a season-low in rushing attempts with nine as he gained 40 yards. He caught three passes for 23 yards to avoid a disastrous week.

The current rookie of the year candidate, Alvin Kamara, continued to impress. At this point he looks to be a sure first-round pick in redraft leagues next season as he’s currently in the top-3 in standard scoring at his position. He totaled 126 yards from scrimmage and scored two rushing touchdowns.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) his touchdown front of Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (24) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Mark Ingram had a great game as well, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 37 yards. The Saints backfield is how you want a running back tandem to work out. Their successful coexistence is rare and tough to duplicate.

As a result, you have backfields like the Titans’. There are two quality backs in Tennessee but it’s so hard to predict which one will go off in a given week. This week Derrick Henry was the big performer. He rushed 11 times for 109 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. DeMarco Murray had a decent game, but you get the impression that if Henry was the featured back, he’d dominate.

Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half at Nissan Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Someone who seemingly dominates week in and week out is the ageless Tom Brady. So it was odd to see he and Brandin Cooks struggle against the Bills. Brady threw for 258 yards and an interception. He failed to throw a TD for the first time since the first game of the season. Cooks caught just two passes for 17 yards.

Rob Gronkowski led the way for the Patriots’ passing attack, catching nine passes for 147 yards. They’re good numbers, but he will miss the first week of the fantasy playoffs after a personal foul penalty he committed. He was frustrated but could have caused serious injury when he dove on a prone Tre’Davious White. He was suspended Monday for one game.

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots talks with back judge Dino Paganelli #105 during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Other big receiving numbers were put up by Keenan Allen, Nelson Agholor and Larry Fitzgerald.

Allen is on fire, as are the Chargers, as he caught 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. He’s the only player in NFL history to catch at least 10 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in three straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Agholor caught seven passes for 141 yards and scored for the second game in a row.

Fitzgerald caught all 10 of the passes that came his way for 98 yards and scored. That’s three out of four games in which he’s caught passes for at least 90 yards.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after scoring a second quarter touchdown during the NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Jets’ top receivers both had big games in a somewhat surprising win for the Jets over the Chiefs. Josh McCown continued to hook up well with Robby Anderson, who caught eight passes for 107 yards. McCown finished with 331 yards and a touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.

Someone who kind of reminds me of McCown is Case Keenum. He hasn’t been on anyone’s short list for quality quarterbacks during his career, but he’s putting up solid performances week after week. He was a top-12 QB once again in Week 13, throwing for 227 yards and two scores.

Some surprising performances this week were turned in by Kenny Stills and Mike Wallace. Stills seemed to play a bigger roll than DeVante Parker while Wallace turned in a quality performance for the third time in four games.

The biggest disappointment this week was Julio Jones, who caught just two passes for 24 yards. It was a jarring result after his 250-plus yard performance in Week 12.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes during the second half on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Atlanta, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Demaryius Thomas and Mike Evans were also bad this week. Unfortunately, it’s not too surprising at this point. Both have unstable quarterback situations and have been up-and-down all season.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the return of Josh Gordon. I didn’t suggest you add him until we saw what he looked like in game action. Well, he looks pretty good. If he’s somehow still available, put in a bid or make the claim.

Top waiver wire picks

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: 4 rec., 85 yards.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: 23 rushes, 102 yards. Rather than going with Jacquizz Rodgers, the Bucs leaned on Barber who added 41 yards receiving as well. He should still get decent action when Doug Martin returns.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: Fantasy owners will see he had a bad fantasy game and may avoid him, but he threw for 293 yards on 26-of-37 passing.

Josh McCown, QB, Jets: 331 yards passing, TD, 2 rushing TDs. If you’ve gone with a QB-zero roster, consider McCown as a streaming option. He’s been very productive two weeks in a row.

Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks: 101 total yards. He put on some great moves as the lead back, something the Seahawks have desperately needed.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots: 78 yards, 2 TDs. He’s been productive in four out of the six games he’s played in and is available in a lot of leagues.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: 8 rec., 99 yards. Goodwin is still available in a lot of leagues. Jimmy Garoppolo looks like the real deal.

Trent Taylor, WR, 49ers: 6 rec. 92 yards. Even the diminutive Taylor benefited with the addition of Garoppolo to the starting lineup.

David Njoku, TE, Browns: 4 rec., 74 yards, TD. It’s been two straight games that the rookie has caught at least four passed. Josh Gordon’s return opens things up for other pass catchers.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: 309 yards passing, 2 TDs. He’s always been a better fantasy quarterback than a real-life quarterback. After next week’s tough matchup against the Seahawks, he has nice opponents in the fantasy semifinal and championship week.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets: 9 rec. 157 yards. It’s his second straight big game after missing the bye week. He could be a decent addition for depth, though he faces the Broncos next week.

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

Fantasy football Week 10 recap and top waiver wire picks

Just two running backs rushed for more than 100 yards in Week 10. Lucky for the New Orleans Saints, both running backs are on their team.

In what has become one of the best addition-by-subtraction moves this season, the departure of Adrian Peterson has unleashed a dangerous backfield for the Saints. Mark Ingram rushed 21 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns for his most productive game of the year. Alvin Kamara rushed 12 times for 106 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching five passes for 32 yards. I suggested starting both in my start-sit column last Thursday because there’s enough opportunity to go around.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 11 rankings.

In a game in which the Saints nearly scored 50 points, it was somewhat puzzling that Drew Brees didn’t have a touchdown pass. The Saints were so successful rushing the ball that they didn’t need to put up points through the air. Even Brees rushed for a score while only throwing for 184 yards.

A good amount of Brees’ passing yards went to Michael Thomas, who isn’t getting the credit he deserves this season as a fantasy asset. He may not be an exciting, high-ceiling type of player, but he’ll give you a nice scoring minimum each week. Thomas hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since Week 4, but he crossed the century mark for the first time this season with 117 yards receiving Sunday.

Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints attempts to catch the ball as Leonard Johnson #24 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to defend him during the second quarter on November 12, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Robert Woods had the best week catching passes, hauling in eight balls for 171 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams. His biggest play came on a 94-yard connection with Jared Goff. It was Woods’ second straight week scoring two touchdowns. I suggested you pick him up last week and if you did then he paid off for you right away.

Goff was one of my starts of the week and he came through with 355 yards passing and three touchdowns. He has nine touchdown passes and just one interception over his last four games. Goff is nearly a must-start every week. His three worst games came against the Redskins, Seahawks and Jaguars.

Speaking of the Redskins, Kirk Cousins had a nice bounce-back performance as he faced the Vikings. He threw for 327 yards and a touchdown in addition to rushing for two more scores. Cousins has had a solid season in terms of fantasy production despite lacking a true No. 1 at the wideout position.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins throws the ball during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

A couple of quarterbacks that had some surprisingly productive days were Case Keenum and C.J. Beathard. Keenum put up 304 passing yards and tossed four touchdown passes for the Vikings. Beathard led the 49ers to their first win of the season as he threw for 288 yards and a touchdown pass.

Keenum’s success was due in large part to the play of Adam Thielen, who had eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. He’s the top receiver for the Vikings, even when Stephon Diggs is healthy in my opinion, and has been targeted at least eight times in every game since Week 3.

Another No. 1 receiver, who hasn’t been playing like one, is A.J. Green of the Bengals. The big-play receiver didn’t even finish last week’s game due to being kicked out for fighting in the first half. Green finally broke out of a three-week funk in Week 10 as he caught five passes for 115 yards and a 70-yard score.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green scores a touchdown on a 70-yard pass play against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

One receiver who has been thrust into a No. 1 role is Sterling Shepard. With both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season, Shepard will have to be Eli Manning’s top wide receiver target. The second-year player hasn’t disappointed for fantasy purposes. He caught 11 of his 13 targets for a career-high 142 yards receiving. I saw him as a top waiver wire target last week and he could end up being worth it with a great schedule coming up.

One final top-trending wideout I’ll mention is JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Steelers. I suggested picking up the rookie after his huge Week 8 performance even though he was off last week. If you waited out the Pittsburgh bye then you were rewarded with a great performance. Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Even the return of Martavis Bryant didn’t put a damper on the rookie’s three-game TD streak.

On the defensive front, the Falcons led the way by sacking Dak Prescott eight times, forcing two fumbles and allowing just seven points to a once potent Cowboys offense.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys is sacked by Adrian Clayborn #99 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Without Ezekiel Elliott and starting right tackle Tyron Smith, Prescott definitely struggled to get going. He rushed for a touchdown early but was disappointing after that. Of course, if Prescott struggles that means Dez Bryant wasn’t productive either.

Other disappointing performances were turned in by Tyrod Taylor, Adrian Peterson, Devonta Freeman and Jordy Nelson.

Taylor was a victim to an emerging Saints defense. Peterson couldn’t match his Week 9 performance on a short week in which he rushed 21 times for 29 yards. Freeman left his game early due to a blow to the head and Nelson still can’t get on the same page with Brett Hundley.

You don’t have much room for poor performances as you ready for a playoff push. Here are the top waiver wire targets heading into Week 11.

Top waiver wire picks

Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: 10 rushes, 42 yards, 5 rec., 77 yards, 2TDs. He’s a must-own handcuff for all Melvin Gordon owners.

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: 6 rec., 55 yards, TD. He’s still owned in less than 60 percent of leagues on some platforms. He has caught at least 72 yards or at least one TD in his last four games and has a favorable schedule coming up.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: 14 rushes, 70 yards. Darkwa is definitely the No. 1 running back for the Giants at this point. He passes the eye test and just needs a handful more touches in order to have real value.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots: 10 rushes, 36 yards, 3 rec., 27 yards, TD. He’s getting involved and could end up being a winning flex play as you hit the playoff push.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cardinals: 5 rec., 64 yards, TD. He’s scored in each of the last two weeks and has a favorable schedule coming up and through the fantasy playoffs.

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