The Chiefs released Jeremy Maclin to make cap room on Friday and the impact on the field will definitely be felt. How, exactly, is still up for debate. We’ll keep a close watch on where Maclin ends up, but for now we’ll look at things from the Chiefs’ perspective.
One thing is clear and that is, as the roster stands right now, Travis Kelce is the best bet to have an increase in targets. He’s in the top-3 of tight ends and had a great season last year. What remains to be seen is how things will shake out with the wide receivers on the roster.
Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley and Albert Wilson are all likely to get more work, but the Chiefs must see something they like in their first-year receivers if they’re willing to lose Maclin. They drafted Jehu Chesson in the fourth round and one of their scout’s thinks he’s polished enough to play very soon, according to ESPN’s Adam Teicher.
Demarcus Robinson, entering his second year is another player who could possibly step up to get more playing time.
For now, it makes sense to move up Hill and possibly Conley in your rankings. Hill had 12 touchdowns as a rookie and Conley had solid, though not impressive numbers last season. Watch training camp and the preseason to see if taking one of the other options on the team makes sense with the final pick of your fantasy drafts.
This doesn’t really affect Alex Smith too much, since he’s only a streaming quarterback option at this point in his career.
Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.
Each week this space will be dedicated to identifying whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers — Rivers has had only three subpar games this season and faces the Buccaneers this week. They are 20th in points allowed to quarterbacks. Rivers has a nice fantasy playoff schedule; none of the defenses he faces are better than 20th in points allowed to his position.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — It’s tough to tell you to start him for the second straight week after he threw up a dud against the Buccaneers. He’ll be at home this time, facing a shorthanded Panthers defense that is 25th in points allowed to quarterbacks.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions — He faces the Saints, which are middle of the road in points allowed to quarterbacks. They give up 271 yards per game and have only made seven interceptions all year.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers — He’s turning into a classic example of a good fantasy player that isn’t great at leading his team to victory. In four of his six starts he’s rushed for at least 50 yards. He’s thrown at least one TD in every game he’s played. A start against the Bears should be productive.
Theo Riddick, RB, Lions — Make sure his ankle is good to go because he has a great matchup with the Saints. It should be a high scoring affair and that’s great for fantasy production.
Jordan Howard, RB, Bears — Any decent running back who gets at least 16 touches in a game should start against the 49ers.
Matt Forte, RB, Jets — I haven’t given him much credit this season, mostly because of a poor stretch of production from Week 3 through Week 6. Since then he’s turned it up a bit. He’ll get back on track against the Colts after last week’s hiccup against the Patriots.
Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos — The amount of touches he gets makes him a solid play nearly every week. His opponent, the Jaguars, are ranked in the bottom half in points allowed to running backs.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals — He had a season-low four targets last week. Expect him to bounce back against Washington.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints — The Saints are at home and I’d expect almost all of Drew Brees’ targets to have a good day against the Lions in a high-scoring game.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs — He’s been targeted at least five times in each of his last six games. He’s got a good matchup with the Falcons and he’s a threat to go the distance with every touch.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars — Bortles has been solid in four of his last five games, but you don’t want to start him against the Broncos.
Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles — He’s been serviceable in his last two games, but I don’t see him having much success at Cincinnati. He has two touchdown passes against five interceptions in his last four weeks.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants — Manning’s only had two good road games out of five this year. One was the first game of the season and the other was last week against the Browns. He’s on the road this week to face the Steelers who are seventh in points allowed to quarterbacks.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — Cam Newton taking short-yardage touchdowns away from Stewart combined with a matchup with the Seahawks makes the running back a weak start.
Rob Kelley, RB, Redskins — His best games have been against subpar defenses. This week he faces the Cardinals, who are second best at limiting running backs.
Rashad Jenning, RB, Giants — He’s got a good matchup, but the Steelers should lead for most of the game, cutting on rushing opportunities.
Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars — A murderer’s row of matchups begins this week as Robinson faces the Broncos. The next three weeks will be tough.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins— He’s on a two-game scoring streak, but I expect that to end as he faces the ninth best team at limiting wideouts.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers — Before last week he hadn’t scored in six straight games. Facing the Seahawks will bring him back down to earth again.
There was high drama in Week 12 of the NFL season as 10 games ended with a margin of victory of eight points or fewer. Sunday’s action culminated with a last-second, game-winning field goal in overtime by the Chiefs’ Cairo Santos that ricocheted off the left upright and through the goalposts. Bounces like that could end up helping fantasy owners advance in the playoffs or relegate their teams to consolation tournaments.
Santos may have given the Chiefs a victory, but the star of the game was rookie Tyreek Hill. Despite having just 55 yards from scrimmage, Hill became the first rookie since Gale Sayers, to score a rushing touchdown, catch a touchdown pass and return a kick for a TD in a single game. That’s pretty good company.
Hill was a waiver-wire suggestion after Week 8, and he hadn’t scored since then, though he did have decent performances. If he’s still available, make sure you put in a claim for him, if nothing more than to keep him on your bench and off of competing rosters.
A lot of wideouts had big weeks as 10 totaled at least 100 yards receiving. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans remained as consistent as ever. Brown had 91 yards receiving to go along with his three touchdowns. Evans gained 104 yards and caught two scores, both in the first quarter.
Michael Thomas also had a top-five week, scoring two touchdowns to go along with his 108 yards. He and Drew Brees dominated the Rams defense.
Brees topped all quarterback performances this week as he threw for four touchdowns for the third time this season. He even scored on a running play. Outside of a Week 15 matchup against the Cardinals, his fantasy playoff schedule looks good.
Right behind Brees this week was Colin Kaepernick, who had an unbelievable game against the Dolphins. He threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 113 yards.
Kirk Cousins’ three-touchdown performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving gave him eight touchdowns against no interceptions in his past three games.
Rob Kelley didn’t fare as well against the Cowboys on Thursday, gaining just 42 yards from scrimmage.
Frank Gore and Thomas Rawls didn’t live up to expections in Week 12 either. Gore rushed for a pathetic 1.9 yards per carry against the Steelers on Thanksgiving. Rawls was especially disappointing after facing a Bucs defense that allows 4.4 yards per rush. He managed just 38 yards.
Matt Forte and Lamar Miller each had at least 16 touches but did little with them.
On the bright side, 14 running backs scored touchdowns in Week 12. David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott achieved top-five status yet again while LeSean McCoy rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time since Week 6.
Mark Ingram bounced back from getting knocked out of a Week 11 game by rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown. He even had a 21-yard touchdown reception from Brees.
Despite Brees’ big day, Brandin Cooks was shut out, making him the biggest disappointment of the week. He wasn’t even targeted on the day the Saints scored seven touchdowns.
Allen Robinson, Steve Smith, Amari Cooper and Julio Jones faltered this week, and Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson teamed up for a poor performance against a Bucs defense that should have provided little resistance. Maybe last year’s late fantasy points outburst won’t be repeated by the duo after all.
At the tight end position, Jordan Reed was spectacular against the Cowboys, scoring twice while suffering from a separated shoulder. Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert and Delanie Walker all performed well while Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates each turned in goose eggs.
Little should be said of kickers in fantasy, but when Justin Tucker goes 4 for 4 with three field goals from beyond 50 yards, he gets a mention.
Waiver wire suggestions:
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (296 passing yards, still available in leagues)
Denard Robinson, Jaguars (13 touches-39 yards, check the health of Chris Ivory)
First you had the return of Dez Bryant, who had his best game of the season after missing three contests, catching four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Then you had the return of Tyler Eifert to full strength. The Bengals tight end played in the London game a week after playing limited snaps and caught nine passes for 102 yards and scored.
Another returning tight end, Jordan Reed, caught 9 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown after recovering from a concussion.
There was also the return of Josh McCown to the Browns lineup, and if you’re needing to stream your quarterback, he may be a decent option. He threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
Donte Moncrief, who was gone for five games, came back from injury to gain 41 yards and score a touchdown. His preseason ranking was pretty high and it’s possible he’ll produce like he was expected to before the injury.
Finally, you had the mutiple interception returns, including one 49-yarder for a touchdown, by the Broncos who topped all defenses in scoring this week. They also had four sacks.
Other top scorers were the triplets of Oakland. Derek Carr passed for a franchise record 513 yards and four scores. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree benefited mightily from Carr’s performance. Cooper had 12 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. Crabtree had 8 catches for 108 yards.
As far as running backs, the Jets backfield was pretty impressive. Matt Forte had 82 yards rushing and two touchdowns while Bilal Powell rushed for 76 yards and scored. Don’t expect both to be good every week. They were facing the Browns.
On Thursday, DeMarco Murray continued to show last season was a fluke as he rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Melvin Gordon is also proving that his scoreless rookie season was an anomaly. He rushed for 111 yards and caught four passes for an additional 44 yards. Despite not scoring, he has 10 touchdowns this year.
Theo Riddick seems to be in a perfect role for the Lions as he totaled 133 yards and caught a touchdown pass.
Devontae Booker had a nice start for the Broncos as he totaled 84 yards and scored.
Marcus Mariota stayed hot while Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers did what you’re used to them doing. Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski as usual while Rodgers even led the Packers in rushing with 60 yards.
Speaking of the Packers, they were hit with some surprise inactives as Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb were unable to play. Jordy Nelson benefited, catching four passes for 94 yards and a TD.
Other receivers with top performances were A.J. Green, Quincy Enunwa, J.J. Nelson, Allen Hurns and Jamison Crowder.
Some receiving duds were Mike Evans and Brandon Marshall. Both had great matchups but neither scored a TD or gained more than 68 yards.
Sadly, it’s time to realize Russell Wilson is not a good fantasy quarterback when he’s got limited mobility. Don’t start him again until he proves he can be productive.
Mark Ingram ended the day with a negative score after being benched for fumbling. You’ll notice his backup on the waiver wire suggestions.
Waiver wire suggestions:
Josh McCown, Cleveland (341 yards, 2TDs)
Nick Foles, Kansas City (223, 2)
Tim Hightower, New Orleans (27-102)
Rob Kelley, Washington (21-87, TD)
Charcandrick West, Kansas City (16-60)
Dion Lewis, New England
J.J. Nelson, Arizona (8-79, 2TDs)
Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland (5-31, 2TDs)
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City (5-98, TD)