Fantasy Football Intelligence: Quick Hits

This blog is often written on Mondays. Sometimes I wait until Tuesday in order to include all the week’s games. Another football norm scuttled by Covid. Week 12 will now conclude on Wednesday with a 3:40PM kickoff for Ravens/Steelers. So much for late day productivity tomorrow. Since my flux capacitor is on the fritz I won’t be able to include information on that game here, but with the fantasy season nearing an end and playoffs right around the corner, here is a quick observation on each team that will help inform your fantasy decisions for the next week or two.

AFC

Bills (8-3): Allen and Diggs remain must starts, but the next two weeks will be tough @SF and vs. Pitt; manage expectations and don’t bother with Moss or Singletary.

Dolphins (7-4): The offense is better with Fitzpatrick, who is worth a stream against CIN this week if he starts. Parker is interesting (more so with Fitz) and if Gaskin (available in 31% of Yahoo leagues) claims the backfield, he could be a great late season find.

Patriots (5-6): Like Monty Python’s plague victim, they’re not dead yet, but they mostly are for fantasy purposes. Other than streaming the defense (vs. NYJ) if you are still playing in week 17, steer clear.

Jets (0-11): The next useful Jet in fantasy is probably Trevor Lawrence. If you are a masochist, Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman both saw eight targets against Miami and the Jets will be in a passing script for most of the rest of the season.

Chiefs (10-1): I don’t need to tell you about Mahomes, Hill or Kelce. CEH has averaged less than 11 touches since his breakout game against Buffalo on 10/19 when he had 30. He’s had 4 TDs in those 5 games, but he’s a crapshoot.

Raiders (5-6): The Raiders are neither as bad as they were in Atlanta nor as good as they will look against the Jets this week. The Dolphins visit for a prime time game in week 16 that will probably have playoff ramifications for both – Jacobs and Waller are givens, though the Raiders will probably try to run more than pass against Miami.

Broncos (4-7): The good news is that they should have a QB to play going forward. Not much good news here, but if Lindsay misses time, Gordon’s stock rises a bit and if Drew Lock can play, Jerry Jeudy is ascendant. Fant has been more Fantom (sic) than Fantastic this season.

Chargers (3-8): Clearly the most fantasy relevant 3-8 team. Herbert, Allen and now Ekeler are solid starts, Henry too, but not as enthusiastically. The defense might be a worthy stream in week 16 vs. Denver.

Steelers (10-0): Pity the fantasy team that plays against the Steelers defense in week 15 when they play the Bengals. Receiver roulette will be tricky in the playoffs, but it appears that JuJu Smith-Schuster will finish out his Steelers career as the third WR.

Browns (8-3): The RBs get a lot of ink, but the defense faces the Giants and Jets in weeks 15 and 16 and they should have Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward back by then.

Ravens (6-4): They will probably bottom out against the Steelers tomorrow, but with the exception of Cleveland in week 15, every matchup left is a dream. Expect a 5-1 finish with solid performances from Jackson and the defense. Watch the RB and Andrews situations carefully as there may be value there too.

Bengals (2-8-1): Avoid everyone and if you are holding Mixon and hoping, make sure you have a plan B.

Titans (8-3): No more tough offensive matchups and the week 16 primetime game with the Packers will be full of fantasy implications. Tannehill, Henry and Brown will finish strong while Davis and Smith are viable if needed.

Colts (7-4): As discussed two weeks ago, Philip Rivers has been playing well. Unfortunately the target distribution is wide. Trey Burton sees red zone looks and Michael Pittman is heating up, but they, along with Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines and anyone else in the offense has a fairly low floor. Other than the Steelers in week 16, the defense should continue to thrive despite getting shelled by Tennessee last week.

Texans (4-7): Deshaun Watson. That is all, and he faces the Colts two of the next three weeks. Not ideal. (Will Fuller has been suspended for the rest of the season.)

Jaguars (1-10): James Robinson’s volume makes him matchup proof in terms of floor and he should do fine against the Vikings and Titans before things get tougher with the Bears and Ravens. If Minshew and Chark come back, Chark is a mid-range WR3 with some upside for the playoffs.

NFC

Giants (4-7): The mighty first place Giants took a hit, losing second year turnover machine Daniel Jones, likely for a couple of weeks. They will be underdogs in the next four games regardless and a couple will be downright ugly. Other than Dallas in week 17, there are no safe Giants to play.

WFT (4-7): It looks like six wins could take the division and WFT has a slightly better chance to get there than the Giants. The best news here is that Terry McLaurin has remained consistent and Antonio Gibson gets better each week. They are good starts as long as Alex Smith stays in the lineup. If week 17 is meaningful, their matchup with Philly could be a big day for the defense as well.

Eagles (3-7-1): This is a “sum of the parts is greater than the whole” team, which is surprising. They have some winnable games left, but if you start an Eagle, even Miles Sanders, you are running a risk. The offense looked terrible against Seattle (other than Dallas Goedert) and it seems like there is some sentiment to look at Jalen Hurts which will further erode the fantasy value of the skill players. On the bright side, Zach Ertz, who was struggling before getting hurt, should be back.

Cowboys (3-8): They are not as bad with Andy Dalton, though the defense remains terrible. Thanks to a week 14 matchup with the Bengals, they can still win the division. If you are in the 17% of leagues where CeeDee Lamb is available, he could pay dividends in the first playoff week.

Seahawks (8-3): All of the offensive starters are plug and play, but with NYG, NYJ and WFT on the schedule for the next three weeks, the defense is viable too.

Rams (7-4): The defense has home matchups with NE and NYJ in weeks 14 and 15. Not as secure is the offense where a crowded backfield and wide target shares makes the Rams tough to rely on. Forced to choose, Darrell Henderson and Robert Woods would be most bankable, but Cam Akers, Cooper Kupp and even Jared Goff are hit or miss.

Cardinals (6-5): Kyler Murray looked mortal and the Cardinals looked bad against NE. Murray’s shoulder doesn’t seem overly serious, but they have two games left with the Rams and one with SF, so he will be under fire. The Chase Edmonds takeover never happened, so Kenyon Drake’s usage share remains safe.

49ers (5-6): They still have plenty of injured players, but with Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel back, they won’t be an easy out. The defense has streaming value against WFT in week 14.

Packers (8-3): Allen Lazard is back and seems like a good bet for 6-8 targets. His size makes him a good red zone target too. He is only 39% owned and if anything happens to Davante Adams or the Pack get their seed locked in and they decide to rest him, Lazard could be a league winner.

Vikings (5-6): Cook, Thielen and Jefferson are safe starts and Cousins is a streamer due to the game scripts looking pass friendly for the next month. The defense may be a worthwhile stream in week 15 vs. CHI.

Bears (5-6): Losers of five in a row following a 5-1 start, the next two weeks bring the Lions and Texans who are in as much disarray as the Bears. Allen Robinson is a given and David Montgomery makes the cut too. Stafford and Watson are too good to use the defense as a streamer.

Lions (4-7): Bad geographical luck. If they were in the NFC East, they would probably be in first place and Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn would still be employed. As it is, DeAndre Swift is viable in weeks 14/15 if he comes back, as is Kenny Golladay each week if his injury heals. Otherwise, Marvin Jones Jr. is a WR3 and the rest is a mess.

Saints (9-2): Depending on your league rules, Taysom HIll may be a viable starter. He probably gets at least two more weeks with the Saints hoping to have Brees for week 15 vs. KC, in the game that will have seeding implications for both teams.

Buccaneers (7-5): They are 7th in the league in scoring, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. That said, with the Lions, Vikings and two with the Falcons left, the Buccaneers’ stars should put up some numbers the rest of the way. The target distribution is a little wide, but Brady and Evans should be consistent with Jones and Godwin a small cut below. Fournette and AB are riskier starts.

Falcons (4-7): With the Saints, Chiefs and two with the Bucs left, the schedule is tough. They are playing for jobs and they crushed the Raiders without Gurley and Jones, but it is unlikely that any of their future opponents will turn the ball over five times. Beware of Jones and Gurley in particular being held out late in the season and Calvin Ridley has slowed down as opponents have paid him more attention.

Panthers (4-8): This team could have been much worse and the future is bright with Matt Rhule. They have winnable games with the Broncos and WFT in weeks 14 and 16, particularly if McCaffrey is back. Even the Packers in week 15 could be high scoring. Bridgewater, Anderson and Moore are all viable if needed and Mike Davis is a starter as long as McCaffrey is out.

In the spirit of quick hits, here’s a fast REM song.

 

 

 

 

Lee Benjamin

Lee Benjamin has been a football fan since Jim Plunkett was under center for the Patriots and his first ever fantasy football pick was a young Jerry Rice. He’s won more championships during Tom Brady’s career than Tom Brady, though unfortunately, they pay a lot less. His blog, Fantasy Football Intelligence, is published regularly on the WTPL, WTSN and Frank-FM sites. Lee spent over 25 years in New England media. He now resides in South Florida and enjoys freelance writing about sports and politics.