Whether you have one week left in the regular season or you’re starting the first round of playoffs this weekend, Week 14 is a very big one. For all intents and purposes, it’s playoff time, fantasy owners.
Here are the guys you should start or sit to stay alive for your league championship:
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals — Even without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, Dalton had a great game against the Eagles last week. He faces the Browns this week, so he should have a solid outing. The last time he faced them he had 308 yards and two touchdowns.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers — Things look good for Winston as he gets to face the Saints twice in the next three weeks. New Orleans has surrendered 19 touchdowns through the air and gives up 277 yards per game.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers — Just in case you were scared off due to his performance last week, you have to factor in that he was at Seattle. This week he will take on the Chargers at home.
Matt Forte, RB, Jets — He wasn’t as bad as he seemed last week against the Colts. He totaled 79 yards against a bad defense. This week he should find the end zone as he takes on the worst team in points allowed to running backs, 49ers.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — Hill’s the main man in Cincinnati and should roll against the Browns. He had 168 yards and a touchdown the last time he faced Cleveland.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins — Despite the Cardinals doing well against most running backs, Ajayi is a high-volume player and the Dophins should be able to keep the game close unlike last week.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks — Facing Green Bay has turned into a nice treat for fantasy football players. Baldwin’s had two tough games in a row, but he has two nice matchups in the next two weeks.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots — The Ravens have given up 21 touchdown passes, which is in the bottom half of the league. Edelman has had at least seven targets in eight straight games and is coming off his first 100-yard outing.
Broncos receivers — If Trevor Siemian is good to go, I think both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are good starts against the Titans. Tennessee is 31st in points allowed to wideouts.
Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers — He has four touchdowns in his last six games and could find the end zone against the Saints.
Bengals defense — They face the Browns and a rusty Robert Griffin III.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens — Don’t go chasing last week’s production. New England will be a much tougher matchup than the Dolphins were last week.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — He’s had a fantasy season to remember, but you can’t start him against the Broncos in the first week of your playoffs.
Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos — His yards-per-carry average hasn’t been good since taking over for the injured C.J. Anderson. The Broncos signed Justin Forsett, who knows the offense well. Be wary of Booker this week against the Titans, who rank sixth in points allowed to running backs.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants — The Cowboys have only given up five rushing touchdowns all year and are second best in rushing yards allowed per game. They’re fourth best in points allowed to running backs.
Ravens running backs — Neither Terrance West nor Kenneth Dixon should fare well against the Patriots. They’ll likely trail the host team for most of the game, forcing them to abandon the run.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers — He’s only been good every other week over the last month and he faces the Seahawks defense. Expect Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to make the most hay.
Steve Smith, WR, Ravens — He’s been targeted at least five times in each of his last five games, but his production has been on and off. The Patriots are sixth best in points allowed to receivers.
Dolphins receivers — DeVante Parker is ailing and Jarvis Landry has had just two solid games in the last five weeks. The Cardinals are 10th-best in limiting wideouts’ fantasy points.
The early fantasy football season continues to offer up surprises to go along with some depressing news for fantasy owners.
Here’s a look at Week 2’s notable developments.
If you thought Travis Benjamin, Stefon Diggs and Corey Coleman would be the top fantasy receivers in Week 2 then you deserve to be congratulated. Benjamin filled the void left by Keenan Allen, catching six passes for 115 yards and two scores for the Chargers. Diggs continued to solidify himself as the no. 1 receiver in Minnesota as he hauled in nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. The rookie Coleman caught five balls for 104 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.
In addition to those somewhat surprising results, there were quite a few bounce-back performances in Week 2.
Dez Bryant caught seven passes for 102 yards to make up for a terrible start to the season. Brandon Marshall also eclipsed 100 yards receiving on Thursday night after a bad first week.
Though Cam Newton did fine in Week 1, his performance in Week 2 reminded us of how great he was last year. He threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns while adding 37 rushing yards.
Another quarterback who flashed some signs from last season was Tyrod Taylor, who had 297 yards passing, three touchdowns and 25 yards rushing.
There were a few surprising performances in the first week of the season, but Week 2 proved that a few of those players were no frauds.
Will Fuller continues to impress for the Texans as he’s the first first-round pick to have 100 yards receiving in each of his first two NFL games. Another rookie that continued to put up good numbers was the Giants’ Sterling Shepard who caught 8 passes on 8 targets for 117 yards.
On the running back front, doubters of Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray were shut up for the second week in a row. Forte scored three touchdowns and gained 100 yards on Thursday for the Jets while Murray gained 145 total yards for the Titans. Melvin Gordon paid off again as he rushed for 102 yards and scored a touchdown.
I was high on Derek Carr as the season started and he’s proving to be a top-8 quarterback so far this season. He had 299 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in Week 2.
Despite the continued success of some Week 1 heroes, Week 2 was a nightmare for a lot of fantasy owners. If you got through the weekend unscathed consider yourself lucky.
Seven fantasy running back starters were injured in Week 2. The biggest of them all was Adrian Peterson, who left the Sunday night contest with an apparent knee injury. He left the game having rushed for just 19 yards on 12 carries.
Another big blow came earlier in the day when Danny Woodhead was carted off the field in the Chargers game against the Jaguars in the first quarter. He’d already gained 27 yards on three carries as he was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game with top wideout Allen out for an extended period.
Thomas Rawls, Jonathan Stewart, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah and (big surprise) Arian Foster all went out with injuries on Sunday.
Here’s a look to the waiver wire for some help:
Dwayne Washington, Lions (4 touches-31 yards)
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings (3-1)
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay (12-28)
Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers (19-131)
Chris Johnson, Cardinals (16-54, TD)
Kenyon Drake, Dolphins (4-18, TD)
Sam Bradford, Vikings (286 yards, 2 TDs)
In our last edition we talked about how Osweiler would possibly fare as the new first-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos. We didn’t expect another team out there to give him $72 million over four years for just seven pro starts and 11 career touchdown passes. He’s gotten himself into a pretty good position with the Houston Texans. Here’s a look at how we think he and other high profile free agents will fare with their new teams this upcoming season. Who do you think will have the biggest impact with a new team? Let us know in the poll at the bottom.
Brock Osweiler, QB and Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—Osweiler should be very happy right about now. Though he had already benefited from working with two good wide receivers in Denver, DeAndre Hopkins is about to leap into the top tier of receivers in the league, if he hasn’t already. Hopkins is the kind of player that will catch anything in his vicinity. He’s a great red zone target and already has over 3,500 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns in his three-year career. His and Osweiler’s play will be helped by the presence of Miller in the backfield. Where the Dolphins refused to give Miller the touches he deserved, the Texans will be more than willing to give their newly acquired running back the rock. He’s only carried the ball 200 times in a season once in his career. We’d bet he does that twice in his career before this season is done.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns—With Johnny Football out of town it looks like the Browns are betting on yet another quarterback from the state of Texas. Even before Johnny Manziel, out of Kerrville, scrambled his way onto the scene, Colt McCoy of Tuscola had a good amount of starts with Cleveland. Now, the Browns are taking their chances with the mobile, although somewhat frail, quarterback out of Copperas Cove. Health is the number one concern if you plan on taking a shot with Griffin, but he could end up paying dividends if you get him for cheap and he finds his way back to his rookie form. How the Browns offensive line will be a big factor in how well he performs.
Matt Forte, RB, Jets—Possibly the most underrated prize in free agency, much like he’s the most underrated player at his position, Forte may end up being the beneficiary of a strong passing game with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall playing on the outside in New York. If Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs with the Jets, we’re looking at a pretty potent offense with all facets very likely performing well. If a new quarterback is added to the mix then it may take a while for all cylinders to get clicking. Make no mistake, though, Forte will be a getting a lot of touches. In the same Chan Gailey offense, Chris Ivory rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 30 receptions.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars—Speaking of Ivory, he’s now with the Jaguars and will most likely share some time with second-year running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon’s 740 yards in his rookie season means he’ll stay in the mix, but it’s not a good situation for either running back. If forced to pick one to likely have more success, we’d go with Yeldon in terms of best overall on the season. If we’re talking Week 1 starter, we might have to go with Ivory.
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys—At first glance this looks like he could be a nice power back to run behind a good Cowboys offensive line. He only had two 100-yard rushing games last season, one to start the year and one to end it. We do think he’ll end up being the better of the two backs in Dallas, but if Darren McFadden stays healthy like he did this past season, then neither back will be a top-20 running back. One factor in his potential success is if the Cowboys can afford to go with a run-first game plan like they did two seasons ago when DeMarco Murray racked up a ton of yards. If Morris can somehow take over as the go-to back and the Cowboys protect Tony Romo by running more, then Morris could find some real value. That’s a lot of ifs, however.
Marvin Jones, WR, Lions—With Alshon Jeffery remaining in Chicago, the wide receiver free agent market ended up being pretty dull this season. Marvin Jones does look to have some upside as he joins Detroit, however. Calvin Johnson has called it a career so the Lions needed to add someone to help out Golden Tate on the other side of the field. Jones just finished his fourth year in the league after missing all of 2014. He had a career-high in yardage with 816 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He had 10 TD receptions in his second season. Look to him as a dark horse late-round possibility to help in the flex spot.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans—He had 662 yards receiving to go with four touchdowns last year with the Dolphins and he could very well end up a top target for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright are healthy competition for the fifth-year receiver. Don’t be surprised if he ends up taking the Lion’s share of targets. With DeMarco Murray in the backfield, things should open up downfield as defenses key on the run.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers—Benjamin’s fourth season was far and away his best in the league. He had 68 receptions for 966 yards and five scores with bad Browns quarterback play. With Philip Rivers at the helm in San Diego, Benjamin could prove to be a nice flex player if he can make it onto the field. There are a good amount of wideouts in San Diego.
Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers—He played behind Antonio Gates and posted career highs last season with San Diego. With Heath Miller out of the picture due to retirement, Green could turn into a solid breakout tight end with the Steelers potent offense. He’ll have Ben Roethlisberger throwing passes while Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown take up a lot of defensive attention. He couldn’t have ended up in a better spot.
Coby Fleener, TE, Saints—No longer stuck in an offense that utilizes a lot of two tight end sets, Fleener can really shine with an offense led by Drew Brees. With Ben Watson out of town, Fleener can very likely reproduce Watson’s numbers from last season. Watson had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Fleener will no longer have to fight for targets with Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis.
Ben Watson, TE, Ravens—Watson’s outlook isn’t as nice as Fleener’s. He’s a Raven now and with Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore in town, there won’t be enough targets to go around.
Jared Cook, TE, Packers—Cook will need fight with Richard Rodgers for touches, but we think he has more talent than Rodgers. And with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback Cook could be late steal at the position.
Notables still up for grabs
Running backs: Reggie Bush, LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Arian Foster, Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, Stevan Ridley; Wide receivers: Kamar Aiken, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, Anquan Boldin, Andre Caldwell, Andre Johnson, James Jones