1:00 PM ET Games
Houston @ Jacksonville
Team Totals: Jaguars 25.5, Texans 13.5
Embrace it or not, Blake Bortles is one of this week’s premier QB streamers with top-10 fantasy finishes in three straight games and top-15 results in six of his last seven. Bortles draws a Texans defense that has given up top-15 scores to six of its last seven quarterbacks faced, including top-ten games to Jacoby Brissett, Jared Goff, Blaine Gabbert, and Russell Wilson. Bortles’ floor-ceiling combination is supported by Houston’s allowance of the NFL’s seventh-most quarterback rushing yards (238). Bortles is averaging 5.0 rushing attempts in his last six games. … Riddled with injuries, the Texans’ defense gave up 100-plus rushing yards in four of its last five games and a 73/377/5.16/4 rushing line to enemy backs in the last three. Unfortunately, Leonard Fournette (quad) sat out practice all week and is listed as questionable. If Fournette can't play, Chris Ivory will operate as the lead back after out-snapping T.J. Yeldon 52% to 39% and out-touching Yeldon 40 to 23 when Fournette missed Weeks 7 and 9. Per Graham Barfield, Ivory out-carried Yeldon 12 to 2 in the red zone in those games. It is concerning that ESPN Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco suggested Fournette will be active but could be limited, creating a three-way RBBC with Fournette, Ivory, and Yeldon all getting work.
Bortles’ target distribution in the last month: Dede Westbrook 33; Marqise Lee 27; Keelan Cole 19; Fournette 16; Marcedes Lewis 11; Yeldon 10. … In addition to out-targeting him by six, Westbrook has outgained Lee 235 to 209 yards in the last month. Running 86% of his routes outside, Westbrook now draws a Texans secondary that has been flamed by perimeter receivers T.Y. Hilton (5/175/2), Robert Woods (8/171/2), Tyler Lockett (6/121/0), Marquise Goodwin (6/106/0), Paul Richardson (6/105/2), and Sammy Watkins (2/41/1) over its last seven games. … Lee runs a team-high 88% of his routes on the boundaries and also has a plus draw against a Houston defense yielding the NFL’s eighth-most 20-plus-yard catches (45) and a league-high 13 completions of 40-plus yards. Lee has 65-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 8 of his last 12 games. I do believe Westbrook is challenging Lee hard for Jaguars No. 1 wideout distinction. … Slot man Cole put up useful box scores in the last two weeks (3/49/1 > 3/99/1), although he did it with three measly targets in each game, suggesting regression is forthcoming.
This is an obvious fade spot for Texans passing-game members against the NFL’s top pass defense. The exception is matchup-proof DeAndre Hopkins, who dropped a 7/55/1 stat line on the Jags in Week 1 and has maintained extreme volume with the second-most targets in the league (155). It is concerning that Hopkins missed practice all week with a toe injury, although coach Bill O'Brien promised Hopkins will play. … The Jaguars’ defense is by far this week’s top D/ST play against a Texans offense that has allowed 6-of-6 defenses faced since Deshaun Watson tore his ACL to post top-16 weekly results, including four top-12 finishes. … With touch counts of 26 > 18 > 19 > 19 in his last four games, Lamar Miller is a volume-driven RB2 in this hard draw against a Jacksonville defense that has held running backs to a combined 116/406/3.50/2 rushing line in its last six games. The Jaguars have also allowed the NFL’s seventh-fewest receiving yards (486) to backs.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 24, Texans 10
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Team Totals: Ravens 23.5, Browns 16.5
Catching a late-season groove after his early-season back injury, Joe Flacco visits Cleveland with top-16 fantasy results in back-to-back games to face a Browns defense that has allowed top-15 scores to 11-of-13 quarterbacks faced while yielding the NFL’s most touchdown passes (26) and second-highest passer rating (103.9). Cleveland is likely to be without LCB Jamar Taylor (foot) and will definitely miss underrated slot CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee). Flacco remains a milquetoast streamer, but he belongs in two-QB-league lineups. Flacco still hasn’t thrown for 270 yards since Week 14 of 2016. … With touch counts of 24 > 18 > 17 > 20 in the last month, Alex Collins has asserted himself as the Ravens’ offensive centerpiece while Buck Allen and Danny Woodhead fight for situational scraps. Collins is a volume-based RB2 against a Browns run defense that has become less imposing minus DE Emmanuel Ogbah (foot) and OLB Jamie Collins (knee), permitting a 122/488/4.00/3 rushing line to enemy running backs in its last five games.
Flacco’s post-bye target distribution: Jeremy Maclin 29; Mike Wallace 28; Woodhead 17; Collins 13; Chris Moore and Ben Watson 10; Nick Boyle 7; Allen and Maxx Williams 5. … As Browns top CB Jason McCourty has been cooked by Keenan Allen (10/105/1) and Davante Adams (10/84/2) in back-to-back games, he can’t viewed as a tough matchup for Wallace, who has a touchdown and/or 70-plus yards in four of the last five weeks. Wallace is never a safe play, but he’s produced enough lately and has a secure enough role to warrant WR3/flex discussion while the rest of Baltimore’s pass catchers struggle. … Among the struggling is Maclin, who is scoreless since Week 8 and has cleared 60 yards in 1-of-11 games. With 74 touchdown-less yards on 24 targets (putrid 3.08 yards per target) in the last three weeks, Maclin is hands off regardless of opponent until he shows otherwise. It appears the Chiefs were right to give up on Maclin when they did. … Watson has cleared 50 yards in 1-of-13 games, and that game, of course, came against Cleveland in Week 2 (8/91/0). I still think there are better streamers. Seeing lowered usage since the Ravens’ Week 10 bye, Watson’s last four target totals are 1 > 3 > 5 > 1.
DeShone Kizer is a volatile-if-intriguing streamer against a Ravens defense that clearly isn’t the same minus top CB Jimmy Smith (Achilles’). Highly mistake prone but armed with difference-making weapons and top-13 fantasy results in four of his last six starts, Kizer draws a Baltimore club that has given up a 25.2-point average in its last ten road games but limited home-game opponents to 14.6 points during that stretch. In the last month and a half, the only two teams to hold Kizer below top-13 finishes were the Chargers and Jaguars, both elite pass defenses. On the road without their best cover man, I’m not convinced the Ravens are an elite pass defense any longer. … Isaiah Crowell reasserted himself as the Browns’ lead back in last week’s overtime loss to the Packers, out-touching Duke Johnson 22 to 10 and out-snapping Johnson 62% to 43%. Crowell’s Week 15 matchup is much tougher against the Ravens, who have limited enemy running backs to a 118/342/2.90/6 rushing line in the last six weeks. Crowell does have 15-plus touches in five of his last seven games. He remains a low-floor RB2/flex option in a tough draw. … Johnson has largely struggled in five career meetings with Baltimore, managing total-yardage/touchdown counts of 80/0 > 31/0 > 56/0 > 50/0 > 77/0. Johnson has logged double-digit touches in five of his last seven games and is always on the radar as a low-end flex in PPR leagues.
Kizer’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Josh Gordon 17; Corey Coleman 10; Johnson and David Njoku 8; Seth DeValve 6; Crowell 4. … Although Gordon was silent after a big first half in last week’s loss to Green Bay, his snap rate jumped from 76% to 91%, and Gordon led the Browns in receiving for the second straight week. The Ravens were getting burned by wideouts even before losing top CB Smith, getting lt up in the last five games by Antonio Brown (11/213/0), DeAndre Hopkins (7/125/0), Davante Adams (8/126/0), Marvin Jones (4/90/0), Rishard Matthews (4/70/1), and Golden Tate (8/69/0). As last week’s No. 1 buy-low target in Josh Hermsmeyer’s predictive Air Yards model, Gordon turned in a 3/69/1 receiving line on six targets. Gordon again holds the top spot in Hermsmeyer’s model for Week 15. … Coleman remains a boom-bust WR3/flex option after goose egging in Week 13, then rebounding (5/62/1) against the Packers. It helps that Coleman is also hitting in Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model as this week’s No. 3 buy-low target. … Although Njoku’s Week 14 snaps (59%) matched his season high, the rookie’s route total (14) was his second lowest all year. The good news is Njoku’s matchup isn’t imposing against a Ravens defense that got burned by Steelers tight ends in Week 14 (14/149/0) and Lions tight ends in Week 13 (7/71/0). The bad news is Njoku’s usage lacks clarity in a timeshare with DeValve.
Score Prediction: Browns 24, Ravens 23
Green Bay @ Carolina
Team Totals: Panthers 25, Packers 22
Aaron Rodgers’ return significantly elevates Cam Newton’s Week 15 outlook because it enhances this game’s shootout potential in an already-favorable draw. Eight of the last nine quarterbacks to face the Packers have logged top-16 fantasy results, including five top-ten scores. Newton has rushed for 40-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10 of his last 11 starts, while Green Bay has allowed 270-plus passing yards to five of its last seven quarterbacks faced. Even for as uneven as he’s been this year, Cam should stay locked into fantasy lineups in a potentially high-scoring affair with so many matchup-based factors in his favor. … Jonathan Stewart’s season-best 16/103/3 rushing line in last week’s win over Minnesota does not change his outlook. Stewart gets no passing-game work and is a touchdown-dependent flex option. It doesn't help that stud Panthers RG Trai Turner (concussion) will not play play. … Christian McCaffrey’s disappointing touch counts are 8 > 9 > 11 > 11 in the last month. Nevertheless, McCaffrey remains strongly RB2/flex playable in PPR leagues against a Packers defense yielding the NFL’s second-most receptions (81) and sixth-most receiving yards (640) to running backs. McCaffrey still leads all NFL running backs in targets (94) and ranks second behind Le’Veon Bell in catches (67).
Newton’s post-Kelvin Benjamin target distribution: Devin Funchess 39; McCaffrey 28; Russell Shepard 15; Ed Dickson 12; Damiere Byrd and Kaelin Clay 7; Brenton Bersin 6; Greg Olsen 5; Stewart 2. … Green Bay has been clocked by wide receivers in its last six games, notably Antonio Brown (10/169/2), Golden Tate (7/113/0), Marvin Jones (7/107/2), Dontrelle Inman (6/88/0), Josh Gordon (3/69/1), Corey Coleman (5/62/1), Mike Wallace (4/56/1), and Martavis Bryant (4/40/1). The Packers will be without top CB Davon House (back) after placing CB Kevin King (shoulder) on I.R. last week. This is a blowup spot for Funchess, who has 85-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games. … Olsen played 92% of Carolina’s Week 14 offensive snaps but drew just one target. Olsen has been a great player for a long time, but his continued lack of passing-game usage is concerning after Olsen missed over two months with a foot fracture. It doesn’t help that the Packers have allowed the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Olsen is a low-floor, boom-bust option. … Byrd has taken over as Carolina’s No. 2 wideout and warrants long-shot dart-throw discussion in a plus draw with shootout potential. Byrd led the Panthers in Week 14 receptions (5) and has flashed playmaking ability in past preseasons. Smallish at 5-foot-9, 172 but extremely athletic, Byrd blazed 4.27 with a 42-inch vertical at South Carolina’s 2015 Pro Day.
Although Aaron Rodgers’ two months away from live action are a concern for his Week 15 performance from a “rust” standpoint, his matchup isn’t an obstacle against a struggling Panthers pass defense that has allowed multiple touchdowns to four of its last five quarterbacks faced. Carolina has buoyed passing-game floors by yielding top-16 results to 8-of-11 signal callers since Week 2. Rodgers was on fire before going down in Week 6, producing weekly fantasy finishes of QB6 (Falcons), QB8 (Bengals), QB9 (Bears), and QB6 (Cowboys) in four games prior to his broken collarbone. In a plus draw with shootout potential, I think Rodgers should be ranked as a top-eight quarterback play in his first game back. … The Packers’ pass dropbacks per game dipped from 41.6 in Rodgers’ five full games played to 34.0 in Brett Hundley’s starts, and a pass-heavier game plan is likely going forward. At the same time, Green Bay’s offense should become much more efficient and high scoring with the quarterback upgrade, potentially offsetting any running back volume loss. Excellent in pass protection and gaining “tough yards” on the ground, Jamaal Williams reinforced his workhorse status over Aaron Jones in last week’s win over the Browns, playing 66% of the downs and topping 20 touches for the fifth straight game. Even against the Panthers’ top-five DVOA-rated run defense, Williams has earned high-end RB2 treatment every week.
Rodgers’ target distribution before his Week 6 injury: Davante Adams 39; Randall Cobb 31; Jordy Nelson 29; Geronimo Allison 15. … Adams and Nelson are in terrific spots against a porous Carolina secondary that was burned in its last five games by Robby Anderson (6/146/2), Julio Jones (6/118/0), Jermaine Kearse (7/105/1), Adam Thielen (6/105/1), Michael Thomas (5/70/1), Kenny Stills (5/67/0), DeVante Parker (6/66/0), Stefon Diggs (6/64/0), Jarvis Landry (5/42/1), and Mohamed Sanu (3/23/1). Including playoffs, Adams has scored 19 touchdowns in Rodgers’ last 25 starts. … If you exclude Nelson’s Week 2 game where he missed all but seven snaps with a quad injury, he averaged 7.0 targets and 57.5 yards in Rodgers’ first four 2017 games played start to finish. Most importantly, Nelson dominated red-zone usage and scored six TDs in that four-game stretch. Even if Adams has technically passed him as the Packers’ nominal No. 1 receiver, Nelson isn’t far behind and should immediately be locked back into fantasy lineups as a high-ceiling WR2. … Rodgers’ return also brings Cobb back into play as a volatile WR3/flex option. Cobb’s stat lines in Rodgers’ first five games were 9/85/0 > 6/60/0 > 4/44/1 > 4/29/0 > 3/28/0. Fellow slot receivers Kearse, Landry, and Sanu all gave the Panthers problems in recent weeks.
Score Prediction: Panthers 27, Packers 24
Miami @ Buffalo
Team Totals: Bills 21, Dolphins 18
Following last Monday night’s stunning primetime upset of New England, this is a classic short-week letdown spot for Miami on the road to Buffalo. Should that narrative come to fruition, the Bills’ key will be LeSean McCoy, who is capable of trouncing a Dolphins defense that was lit up for a 206/988/4.80/7 rushing line by enemy backs in its last nine games. With dual-threat Tyrod Taylor (knee) back to loosen up running lanes, McCoy is a top-three running back play on this week’s slate. … The Bills’ passing game remains a fade in fantasy-lineup decisions. This is a run-first team where no pass catcher is heavily targeted and theoretical No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin has battled chronic knee issues all season. Beat writers noticed Benjamin pull up lame in Thursday's practice after appearing to re-tweak the knee, and he was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. Charles Clay is scoreless since Week 3. Again-struggling rookie Zay Jones went catch-less in last week’s blizzard and has caught just 5 of his last 17 targets for 55 yards.
Even when Damien Williams (shoulder) returns -- he is doubtful this week -- Kenyan Drake has earned feature back duties in Miami with a six-week run of hyper efficiency, averaging 5.11 yards per carry and 9.10 yards per catch in that span with total-yardage/touchdown counts of 141/1 and 193/0 during Miami’s two-game winning streak, vaulting the Dolphins back into playoff contention. This is another prime matchup for Drake against a Bills defense that has allowed 145-plus rushing yards in five of its last six games and an NFL-high 15 rushing TDs to running backs this year. … Even after Jay Cutler’s season-best game in last Monday night’s upset of New England, his production is tough to chase against a Buffalo defense whose strength is stopping the pass. The Bills have yielded multiple touchdown passes in 2-of-13 games, and just 1-of-13 quarterbacks to face Sean McDermott’s defense has logged top-12 weekly results. The story hasn’t changed for Cutler despite last week’s eruption. He is a two-quarterback-league play only.
Cutler’s post-Jay Ajayi target distribution: Jarvis Landry 36; Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker 30; Julius Thomas 20; Drake 19; Williams 10; Jakeem Grant 4. … With five or more catches in 13-of-13 games, Landry is the lone Dolphins pass catcher worth trusting in Buffalo. The Bills play zone defense and are willing to concede shorter receptions in exchange for limiting big plays. It’s why they’ve allowed the NFL’s 15th-most catches to wideouts (151) but the seventh-fewest yards (1,751). … Stills and Parker are in the same Week 15 boat as big-play-dependent WR4/flex types facing a Buffalo defense that prevents big passing plays. McDermott’s unit has yielded the NFL’s ninth-fewest 20-plus-yard completions (36) and third fewest of 40-plus (3). … Although Thomas has been up and down and ultimately touchdown dependent, he offers a modicum of streamer appeal based on Buffalo’s scheme. The Bills allow the NFL’s fourth-most catches (70) to tight ends. They’ve also allowed the sixth-most yards to the position (783).
Score Prediction: Bills 23, Dolphins 17
Cincinnati @ Minnesota
Team Totals: Vikings 26.5, Bengals 15.5
Finally back home following a three-week road trip, Case Keenum draws a backward-sliding Bengals defense that has supported high fantasy floors by allowing top-15 results to seven of their last eight quarterbacks faced and top-12 finishes to five of the last seven, namely Mitchell Trubisky (QB7), Ben Roethlisberger (QB8), DeShone Kizer (QB11), Marcus Mariota (QB10), and Jacoby Brissett (QB10). A top-14 fantasy passer in six straight games with multiple TDs in five of those six, Keenum is an exciting Week 15 play with ample upside for DFS consideration. As Keenum is a capable scrambler, it can’t hurt that Cincinnati allows the NFL’s fifth-most quarterback rushing yards (259). … Particularly with difference-maker WLB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), MLB Kevin Minter (hamstring), and SLB Nick Vigil (ankle) all sidelined, this is a mouth-watering draw for Latavius Murray against a Bengals defense that had already coughed up 110-plus rushing yards in seven of its last eight games, including an 88/445/5.06/2 rushing line to running backs in the last three. Murray’s minimal passing-game involvement can render him touchdown dependent, but he is an exciting RB2 play. If the Vikings control this game as they should, Murray will offer major carry-total and touchdown upside. … Jerick McKinnon also gets a favorable matchup for his skill set against a Bengals defense that has allowed the NFL’s eighth-most receiving yards to backs (630). McKinnon is a solid RB2/flex in PPR.
Keenum’s Weeks 8-14 target distribution: Adam Thielen 60; Stefon Diggs 39; Kyle Rudolph 35; McKinnon 30; Laquon Treadwell 13; Jarius Wright 11; Murray 9; Michael Floyd 8. … With 85-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last six games, Thielen is a locked-in WR1 against the Bengals, who could not cover Bears slot man Kendall Wright (10/107/0) last week. Thielen’s number of slot routes are down lately, but he still plays there nearly 40% of the time and is established as Keenum’s go-to target. With Rudolph (ankle) listed as questionable, Thielen is the Vikings' likeliest candidate for an enhanced scoring-position role. Thielen leads the Vikings in red-zone targets (17) and is tied with Rudolph for the team lead in targets inside the ten (8). … Since Week 3, just three receivers have topped 65 yards against Cincinnati. As the Bengals are more vulnerable to interior-oriented pass catchers like Thielen than perimeter weapons like Diggs, I think Diggs is best viewed as a big-play-dependent WR3. ... Rudolph's health status is uncertain. If he can't go, the Vikings would turn to 2016 sixth-round pick David Morgan, a 5.02 plodder who has blocked on 82% of his snaps this season. Nevertheless, Morgan warrants an opportunity- and matchup-based mention against a Bengals defense that has yielded the NFL's ninth-most catches (67) and tenth-most yards (728) to tight ends and coughed up 8/85/1 on 10 targets to Bears TEs last week.
After flopping in a much-better Week 14 spot versus Chicago, Andy Dalton is a Week 15 fade against the Vikings, who have allowed top-12 fantasy results to just 2-of-13 quarterbacks faced while yielding the NFL’s second-fewest touchdown passes (13) and are coached by Mike Zimmer, who is keenly aware of Dalton’s strengths and weaknesses after spending the first three years of Dalton’s career on the Bengals’ staff. Whereas Minnesota has given up a 24.9-point average in its last seven road games, Zimmer’s unit has held opponents to 13.3 points in its last seven games at home. … Despite practicing in full on Friday, Joe Mixon (concussion) was downgraded to out on Saturday and will again be replaced by Giovani Bernard, who logged true workhorse usage with Mixon on the shelf in last week's loss to Chicago, parlaying 17 touches into 130 yards on 85% of the snaps. Although they were stunningly trampled by Panthers backs (24/138/5.75/3) in last week’s road loss, the Vikings have played stout run defense all year, allowing the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points and 3.72 yards per carry to running backs on the season. Minnesota has also yielded the league’s fifth-fewest receiving yards (447) to the position. Nevertheless, Bernard's sheer usage makes him very much RB2 playable with increased PPR appeal.
Dalton’s target distribution since the Bengals’ Week 6 bye: A.J. Green 67; Brandon LaFell 45; Tyler Kroft 28; Bernard 22; Josh Malone 13; Tyler Boyd 10. … This is close to a worst-case-scenario matchup for Green against Xavier Rhodes, who shut down Julio Jones (2/24/0) in Week 13 and held Devin Funchess to 22 yards on four targets last week. Funchess did score an 18-yard touchdown on an improvised play by Cam Newton where Funchess wound up matched on Vikings MLB Eric Kendricks in the end zone. I’m riding with Green in season-long leagues, but I’m holding my breath at the same time. Minnesota has surrendered just six touchdowns to wide receivers over its last ten games. … LaFell happened into a touchdown last week, but he’s still topped 55 yards in just 1-of-13 games and never belongs in fantasy lineups. … Held catch-less in last week’s loss to the Bears, Kroft is a low-floor, touchdown-dependent streamer in a bad matchup. The Vikings have allowed the NFL’s third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Vikings 27, Bengals 13
Arizona @ Washington
Team Totals: Redskins 23.5, Cardinals 19.5
In a reeling offense decimated by line injuries and difference-maker Chris Thompson’s loss, Kirk Cousins enters Week 15 with three straight fantasy finishes of QB15 or worse and fewer than 260 passing yards in all three. The good news is Cousins is back home after a tumultuous two-game road trip to face a cross-country-traveling Cardinals team that has allowed top-12 results to 8-of-13 signal callers faced. Arizona’s man-coverage scheme is vulnerable to quarterback scrambles, surrendering the NFL’s 13th-most rushing yards (201) and a league-high five rushing TDs to the position. Cousins has identifiable passing-game edges with Jamison Crowder and Vernon Davis in great spots. … As Thompson fill-in Byron Marshall (hamstring) left last week’s loss to the Chargers and is now on I.R., Samaje Perine dominated Week 14 usage with 21 touches on a career-high 80% of the snaps, unfortunately managing 52 scoreless yards in his second straight low-efficiency effort. Limiting rushing efficiency is a calling card for Arizona, which has held enemy backs to a 104/339/3.26/3 rushing line in its last five games. Even in a bad matchup, Perine is a passable RB2/flex option as a home-favorite running back with 15-plus touches in four straight games.
Cousins’ target distribution since the Skins’ Week 5 bye: Jamison Crowder 66; Vernon Davis 48; Josh Doctson 45; Ryan Grant 36; Jordan Reed 16; Perine 14; Niles Paul 12. … Doctson has failed to reach 60 yards in 12-of-13 games and is Washington’s likeliest wideout to draw Patrick Peterson. … The matchup is strong for Crowder, who runs 77% of his routes in the slot. Slot men Golden Tate (10/107/0), Doug Baldwin (5/95/0), Nelson Agholor (4/93/1), Bruce Ellington (6/63/0), Cooper Kupp (5/68/0, 4/51/1), Eric Decker (3/56/0), Adam Humphries (6/51/0), and Trent Taylor (5/47/0) have all produced at or above expectation against Arizona. … Davis has been an adventure lately, but he drew a team-high seven targets in last week’s loss to the Chargers and now faces a Cardinals defense that is vulnerable to tight ends, yielding the NFL’s tenth-most touchdowns (6) and 13th-most catches (60) to the position. … No. 3 wideout Grant sporadically pops up for useful games, but his consistency is nonexistent. Grant has cleared 60 yards in one of the last 12 games and has three targets or fewer in five of the last six weeks.
Getting worse with each start, Blaine Gabbert was a Week 14 trainwreck in what appeared to be a plus draw versus Tennessee, relentlessly overthrowing intended targets and morphing back to his frenetic in-pocket ways while absorbing eight sacks and torpedoing Larry Fitzgerald’s production, even as Fitzgerald created consistent separation down the sidelines and in scoring position. With 15 sacks absorbed in the last two weeks, Gabbert is a target for Redskins D/ST streamers. In LT Jared Veldheer (broken ankle) and RG Earl Watford (high ankle sprain), Arizona’s already injury-wrecked line lost two more starters against the Titans. … Kerwynn Williams maintained lead back duties in last week’s win over Tennessee, parlaying 21 touches into 88 scoreless yards on a season-high 58% snap rate. Nos. 2 and 3 backs D.J. Foster and Elijhaa Penny managed 4 and 3 touches, respectively. Foster and Penny will continue to pose passing-game and goal-line threats, but Williams is low-end RB2/flex viable against a Redskins defense that has been heated up for a combined 193/889/4.61/7 rushing line by running backs in its last seven games. Washington will also be without key run-stopper ILB Zach Brown (Achilles', hip).
Gabbert’s Weeks 11-14 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 35; Ricky Seals-Jones 19; J.J. Nelson 18; Foster 13; Jermaine Gresham 9; Jaron Brown 8; Williams and Troy Niklas 4. … Fitzgerald won last week’s battle with Titans slot CB Logan Ryan, but Gabbert missed Fitz badly for a wide-open touchdown and overthrew him deep down the left sideline on a would-be long gain. Fitzgerald remains at Gabbert’s mercy, but his volume is secure with an 8.8-target average in Gabbert’s four starts, and Fitz’s matchup is favorable against a Redskins defense that has struggled against interior receivers, namely Adam Thielen (8/166/1), Keenan Allen (6/111/0), Doug Baldwin (7/108/1), and Nelson Agholor (6/86/1, 4/45/1). … Nelson’s stat lines in Gabbert’s starts are 1/14/0 > 1/14/0 > 2/42/0 > 2/26/0. … Rotational TE Seals-Jones showed his low floor with 20 scoreless yards on three targets in last week’s win. Seals-Jones usage is set up for a potentially major hike after Gresham (illness) was ruled out on Saturday, however, and RSJ's matchup is ripe against a Redskins defense that has allowed the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to tight ends and gave up 4/50/1 to Hunter Henry last week. A big-play, seam-stretching tight end averaging 19.0 yards on his ten receptions, Seals-Jones is an alluring matchup- and opportunity-based streamer.
Score Prediction: Redskins 27, Cardinals 20
Philadelphia @ NY Giants
Team Totals: Eagles 24, Giants 16.5
With Carson Wentz (ACL) done for the year, Nick Foles will take over Philly’s offense against a Giants defense that has allowed top-15 fantasy results to 9-of-13 quarterbacks faced and revived Dak Prescott for last week’s QB3 finish following an abysmal month-plus stretch. Foles is a slow-twitch passer short on athleticism and arm strength, but he is entering a high-volume system with elite talent around him. Like it or not, Foles is every bit worthy of opportunity- and matchup-based streamer/DFS discussion. It strongly helps that both Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are in great Week 15 spots. … An optimal game plan should still feature Jay Ajayi against a Giants defense enemy backs creamed for 127/601/4.73/4 rushing in the last five games and will be without key run-stopping SS Landon Collins (ankle). In last week’s win over the Rams, Ajayi’s 16 touches, 47% snap rate, and 22 routes run were all season highs in an Eagles uniform. Corey Clement and LeGarrette Blount remain usage threats, but this backfield is trending toward Ajayi’s. He's an upside RB2 play in this plum draw.
Foles’ 2017 target distribution: Nelson Agholor 5; Alshon Jeffery 3; Torrey Smith 2; Zach Ertz, Ajayi, Trey Burton, Blount, Mack Hollins 1. … The sample size is tiny, but Agholor has been Foles’ favorite to-date target after they practiced on the second-team offense all spring. The G-Men showed vulnerability to slot men Jamison Crowder (7/141/1), Cole Beasley (3/59/0), and Seth Roberts (5/46/0) in their last three games. Agholor runs 87% of his routes in the slot. … The quarterback downgrade is an obvious blow to all Eagles pass-catcher outlooks, but Jeffery is tough to fade with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 9 of his last 12 games facing a Janoris Jenkins-less secondary Dez Bryant (3/73/1) burned last week. … Wentz’s loss lowers Ertz’s ceiling, but he’s an impossible fade against the Giants, who have allowed the NFL’s most fantasy points to tight ends. Ertz tagged them for 8/55/1 in Week 3. SS Collins' absence is another concern for the G-Men in tight end coverage.
Throwing two picks, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt, and spinning his wheels for most of the game, Eli Manning was predictably unimpressive in his post-benching Week 14 start. As five of the last six signal callers to face Philadelphia finished QB18 or worse, Eli is a bottom-barrel two-QB-league play. … The Giants ran a three-way RBBC in Steve Spagnuolo’s first game as interim coach led by Wayne Gallman’s 19 touches on a season-high 46% snap rate, followed by Orleans Darkwa (12, 24%), and rounded out by Shane Vereen (9, 30%). The Eagles have held running backs to the NFL’s fewest fantasy points. In a low-scoring offense, this three-way Giants backfield looks like a situation to avoid. … Pretty much everything about the Giants’ passing game remained dysfunctional in Eli’s return. Sterling Shepard managed three targets despite playing 96% of the snaps, drawing fewer looks than Roger Lewis (11) and “Darius Powe” (4) against the Cowboys. Shepard’s Week 15 matchup is fine against an Eagles secondary fellow slot man Cooper Kupp slaughtered (5/118/1) last week, but it’s fair to wonder about Shepard’s health. He has battled hamstring, migraines, and ankle problems this year. … The Eagles are above average in tight end defense, ranking 19th in fantasy points allowed to the position. Evan Engram remains an every-week starter because he’s #good and gets so much opportunity. He is second among NFL tight ends in targets (100) and fifth in yards (623).
Score Prediction: Eagles 23, Giants 17
NY Jets @ New Orleans
Team Totals: Saints 31.5, Jets 16
In a game the Saints figure to control against the Bryce Petty-quarterbacked Jets, New Orleans’ running game should turn in a high-volume effort with Alvin Kamara cleared from last Thursday’s concussion and Mark Ingram coming off ten days rest. Even against a Jets run defense that has stayed stout all year, the Saints’ matchup-proof running backs are confident fantasy investments. Gang Green has faced the NFL’s eighth-most rushing attempts per game (28.5) and allowed the league’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard runs (11), and the Jets will be without difference-making run-stopper DE Muhammad Wilkerson (disciplinary). Ingram is averaging 16.8 touches over his last five games, scoring five TDs during that span. If you leave out Kamara’s concussion-ruined game, his average is 14.4 touches in his last five. … Drew Brees’ on-paper matchup is stronger than the running game’s against a Jets defense that has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most touchdown passes (25) and creates a pass funnel by limiting most teams’ rushing attacks, forcing offenses to lean on the pass. Ultimately, Brees is best approached as a high-floor, high-upside fantasy bet. He has thrown for 290-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in 10-of-13 starts this year.
Brees’ target distribution since the Saints’ Week 5 bye: Michael Thomas 88; Kamara 49; Ted Ginn 43; Ingram 36; Brandon Coleman 20; Willie Snead and Josh Hill 11. … This is a blowup spot for Thomas against a Jets secondary hemorrhaging wideout production, specifically to Tyreek Hill (6/185/2), Devin Funchess (7/108/0), Demaryius Thomas (8/93/1), DeSean Jackson (6/82/0), Deonte Thompson (7/81/1), and Zay Jones (6/53/1) in their last five games. … New York is vulnerable to big-play wideouts like Ginn, yielding the NFL’s fourth-most completions of 20-plus yards (48). Ginn has hit pay dirt and/or cleared 60 yards in 7 of his last 11 games. In a plus matchup at the Superdome, Ginn is back in play as a volatile WR3/flex. … Saints Nos. 2-4 wideouts Coleman, Snead, and Tommylee Lewis are sharing time behind Thomas and Ginn. While all three complementary receivers are capable of sporadically making plays, none are realistic fantasy options. … Hill’s playing time is up since Coby Fleener (concussion) hit I.R., but Hill’s target totals in the Saints’ last three games are 0 > 2 > 3. He’s a low-floor, TD-or-bust streamer.
Bryce Petty is a better target for the Saints’ D/ST than individual option after managing fantasy results of QB25 > QB16 > QB28 in three starts played beginning to finish last season. All told, Petty has accounted for three career TDs and eight turnovers in seven appearances (four starts). … If Matt Forte (knee) can't play after missing practice all week, the Jets’ backfield will be narrowed to a two-way timeshare of Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire. McGuire slightly out-snapped (52%) and out-touched (12) Powell (48%, 11) when Forte missed Week 10 against the Bucs. Vulnerable in run defense, the Saints have yielded over 110 rushing yards in three of the last five weeks. In a game where the Jets seem likely to play from behind, Powell and McGuire would become playable flex options sans Forte, albeit low-end ones. Officially, the Jets say Forte will be a game-time decision. … Until we get data on Petty’s 2017 target preferences, I think Jets pass catchers are best treated as fades. The lone exception is Robby Anderson, who ranks seventh in the NFL in 20-plus-yard catches (17) and faces a New Orleans defense allowing the league’s second-most 20-plus-yard completions (49). A favorite of Petty’s from preseason, Anderson’s box scores read 3/69/0 > 4/61/1 > 6/99/0 > 4/80/1 in Petty’s four most-extensively played 2016 games.
Score Prediction: Saints 30, Jets 10
4:05 PM ET Game
LA Rams @ Seattle
Team Totals: Seahawks 25, Rams 22.5
Russell Wilson reinforced his matchup-proof scoring ability by dropping 321 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on Jacksonville’s impenetrable pass defense last week, emerging with a QB5 fantasy finish and Wilson’s eighth straight top-ten result. Back home, Wilson’s Week 15 matchup is much softer against a Rams secondary that is without RCB Kayvon Webster (Achilles’) and hemorrhaged 358 total yards and four TDs to Eagles signal callers last week. Wilson is this year’s highest-scoring quarterback, averaging nearly 1.5 more fantasy points per game than runner-up Carson Wentz. … Even as Mike Davis missed much of the second half of last week’s loss with a rib injury, he continued to dominate touches (16) over J.D. McKissic (8) and will start against the Rams, whose leaky run defense has yielded a 93/481/5.17/4 to enemy backs in its last four games. On the season, L.A. has allowed the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to running backs. With touch counts of 20 and 16 in the last two weeks, Davis is a legitimate RB2 play as a home-favorite lead runner in a high-scoring offense with a favorable matchup.
Wilson’s target distribution since Seattle's Week 6 bye: Doug Baldwin 62; Jimmy Graham 51; Paul Richardson 40; Tyler Lockett 38; McKissic 33; Nick Vannett 12; Davis 8; Luke Willson 7. … The Rams have struggled versus interior-oriented receivers, namely Adam Thielen (6/123/1), Larry Fitzgerald (10/98/1), Sterling Shepard (5/70/0), Nelson Agholor (8/64/0), Bruce Ellington (4/41/1), and Trent Taylor (3/32/1). Slot man Baldwin has 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last six games. … Exposed by the Eagles’ Zach Ertz-less tight end unit last week (6/76/3), the Rams also gave up 6/37/1 to Graham when these teams met in Week 5. Due to secondary injuries, Los Angeles may have to devote more safety help to perimeter WRs Richardson and Lockett, clearing the middle for Graham to rebound from last week’s catch-less clunker. … Although both Lockett and Richardson scored long Week 14 TDs, they remain WR4/flex dart throws with low floors and big-play dependency. Richardson is the superior one-for-one fantasy option with a commanding 26-to-13 target advantage on Lockett in the last month.
Even after Seattle held him to a season-low 50 yards from scrimmage when these clubs met in Week 5, Todd Gurley is the premier fantasy play on Los Angeles’ side with 100-plus total yards in 11-of-13 games, showing matchup-proof ability with total-yardage/touchdown numbers of 135/2 and 158/0 in Weeks 13 and 14 bouts with the similarly run-tough Eagles and Cardinals. Gurley’s matchup will be softened considerably if difference-maker MLB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) can't play. Seattle will definitely be without stud WLB K.J. Wright (concussion). ... Seattle’s defensive injuries enhance Jared Goff’s on-paper matchup, but he has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in just 5-of-13 starts, and only 3-of-13 enemy passers have managed top-12 results against Seattle. Goff is the cumulative QB12 in fantasy points, but he has been a boom-bust producer and should be approached as such at CenturyLink Field.
Robert Woods’ (shoulder) return after a three-game absence throws a wrench into previous Rams target distributions, and Woods’ riskiness is enhanced by the relatively lengthy layoff. Decimated on the back end, the Seahawks are now vulnerable to enemy wideouts, notably allowing at- or above-expectation receiving lines to Nelson Agholor (7/141/1), Larry Fitzgerald (10/113/0), Keelan Cole (3/99/1), Dede Westbrook (5/81/1), Marquise Goodwin (4/78/0), Marqise Lee (5/65/0), and Mohamed Sanu (3/34/1) in their last five games. ... Based on fellow slot men Agholor, Fitzgerald, Cole, and Sanu’s success versus Seattle, Cooper Kupp looks to have Los Angeles' premier pass-catcher matchup. Kupp also has five-plus catches in five straight games. … Woods and Sammy Watkins are best treated as volatile WR3/flex options. … None of the Rams’ tight ends have stepped forward as realistic streamers.
Score Prediction: Rams 24, Seahawks 23
4:25 PM ET Games
Tennessee @ San Francisco
Team Totals: 49ers 23, Titans 21
San Francisco’s ongoing red-zone struggles have capped Jimmy Garoppolo’s to-date box-score ceiling, but he enters Week 15 with passing-yardage totals of 293 and 334 through two starts. His matchup isn’t quite as strong as it may appear on paper, however; Tennessee’s defense has stiffened with improved pass rush lately, racking up 20 sacks in the last three weeks, albeit in matchups with sack-prone passers Jacoby Brissett, Tom Savage, and Blaine Gabbert. Still, just two of the last nine quarterbacks to face the Titans have logged top-12 fantasy results. Garoppolo is a passable-if-unspectacular streamer. … Badly missing run-defense maven DE DaQuan Jones (biceps) and OLB Derrick Morgan (knee), Tennessee was trampled for 136 rushing yards by Arizona’s otherwise-struggling run game last week and does not present an imposing matchup for Carlos Hyde. The Titans also allow the NFL’s fourth-most catches (80) and second-most receiving yards (714) to running backs. Hyde’s passing-game usage is down since Garoppolo replaced C.J. Beathard, however, and he has lost double-digit touches to Matt Breida in three of the last four games. Still, as a home-favorite running back facing a shorthanded defense, Hyde is a solid RB2 play against the Titans.
Garoppolo’s 2017 target distribution: Marquise Goodwin 20; Louis Murphy and Trent Taylor 9; Garrett Celek 8; Kyle Juszczyk 7; Hyde 6; George Kittle 5; Kendrick Bourne and Aldrick Robinson 3. … Dominating passing-game share with Garoppolo under center, Goodwin has drawn 28% of Garoppolo’s throws; next closest are Taylor and Murphy (12.5%). This matchup isn’t ideal for Goodwin’s big-play skill set – the Titans have allowed the NFL’s third-fewest completions of 20-plus yards (31) – but his high-volume usage locks in Goodwin as an every-week WR3 with WR2 upside. … We’ve now seen that no other members of San Francisco’s pass-catcher corps are trustworthy. Taylor slumped back to three targets in last week’s win over the Texans, running his lowest route total (20) since Week 9. Celek and Kittle continue to share time. Robinson, Bourne, and Murphy are rotating complementary snaps.
Continually failing in prime matchups and now dealing with a knee injury he played through last week, Marcus Mariota gets another chance to tease us against a San Francisco defense that has yielded top-12 scores to 8 of its last 11 signal callers faced while facing an NFL-high 61 quarterback rushing attempts and allowing the second-most quarterback rushing TDs (4) in the league. Unfortunately, after bombing against the Browns (QB23), Colts (QB26), and Cardinals (QB31), Mariota can only be viewed as an unsafe and probably misguided streamer who will likely need a rushing touchdown to hit. Mariota has run for 11 or fewer yards in six of his last eight starts, however, and he has thrown for fewer than 185 yards in three straight games. … Although he resumed ineffectiveness, DeMarco Murray remained Tennessee’s Week 14 lead back over Derrick Henry, logging 13 touches to Henry’s 8. Murray’s 78% snap rate was his third highest of the season; Henry’s 22% clip was his second lowest all year. The 49ers have played stout run defense lately, limiting enemy running backs to a 56/170/3.04/0 rushing line in the last three weeks. Murray has settled in as a low-end RB2/flex play. Henry is a low-floor, touchdown-or-bust option.
Mariota’s target distribution since the Titans’ Week 8 bye: Delanie Walker 42; Corey Davis 36; Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker 25; Murray 21; Taywan Taylor 11; Henry 7. … Matthews was a non-factor in his Week 14 return from a two-game hamstring injury, managing 19 yards on five targets. This is a better matchup against a struggling 49ers secondary that got flamed by DeAndre Hopkins (11/149/2) last week, but lingering concerns about Matthews’ soft-tissue injury combined with Mariota’s struggles render Matthews a high-risk WR3 option. … Walker remains the best fantasy play in Tennessee’s pass-catcher corps based on consistent volume. Only two NFL tight ends have more targets than Walker’s 91, and only two have more yards (718). … Davis is scoreless on the year and hasn’t reached 50 yards since Week 1. … Decker has one touchdown in 13 games and has cleared 60 yards once.
Score Prediction: 49ers 23, Titans 20
New England @ Pittsburgh
Team Totals: Patriots 28.5, Steelers 25.5
Coming off last Monday night’s embarrassing loss to Miami on national TV, a presumably “Angry” Tom Brady faces a Steelers defense that has sprung leaks since midseason, allowing six straight enemy signal callers to log top-16 fantasy results including top-seven finishes to Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, and Brett Hundley. Brady has logged top-12 scores in nine of his last ten games played with Rob Gronkowski, including five top-six games. The Steelers are much more vulnerable in the middle of the field without ILB Ryan Shazier (neck, I.R.), setting up Gronk and correspondingly Brady for big bounce-back games in this probable shootout. … Pittsburgh’s run defense is also showing cracks, surrendering a 46/263/5.72/3 rushing line to Bengals and Ravens backs in its last two games. Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead both took big usage hits as New England stunningly played almost all of last week’s loss to Miami from behind, and James White’s 57% snap rate set a ten-game high. Lewis and Burkhead remain RB2/flex worthy, while White is most dependent on game script. White has still gone ten games without reaching double-digit touches. Burkhead has hit double digits in five of his last six, and Lewis in eight games consecutively.
Brady’s Gronk-In targets since the Patriots’ Week 9 bye: Brandin Cooks 30; Gronk 29; Danny Amendola 21; Burkhead 15; White 12; Dwayne Allen 7; Lewis 6; Phillip Dorsett 3. … In what projects as a back-and-forth affair, Cooks is positioned to rebound from last week’s one-catch clunker. Highly prone to back-end breakdowns, the Steelers were hit hard by Marvin Jones (6/128/0), Rishard Matthews (5/113/1), Chester Rogers (6/104/1), T.J. Jones (4/88/0), Golden Tate (7/86/0), Davante Adams (5/82/1), A.J. Green (7/77/2), Mike Wallace (3/72/0), Donte Moncrief (1/60/1), and Chris Moore (3/48/1) over the last six weeks. … Hogan (1/1/0) busted along with Cooks in last Monday night’s stinker at Miami despite playing his usual number of snaps (91%) and running a normal route total (47). Hogan simply did not win on his downfield opportunities. Hogan remains risky with so little production lately, but he’s worth WR3/flex discussion in a game where the Patriots’ passing attack is likely to perform much better. … Amendola is out of fantasy consideration with New England’s passing game back at full strength. … Gronk rested his body during his one-game suspension and should return with a vengeance against Pittsburgh, whose loss of Shazier is virtually certain to downgrade their tight end coverage. Gronk has scored a touchdown and/or cleared 70 yards in eight of his last ten games. His five career receiving lines against the Steelers are 4/93/1 > 5/94/3 > 9/143/1 > 7/94/0 > 5/72/3. Gronk is the No. 1 tight end play on this week’s slate.
Ben Roethlisberger hosts the Pats with top-12 fantasy scores in six straight games and no finishes below QB15 since Week 6, boasting a high floor and ceiling. Jay Cutler dumped last week’s QB5 finish on New England, which is now road tripping on a short week. With JuJu Smith-Schuster back to upgrade his pass-catcher corps, Roethlisberger is a shoo-in top-five quarterback play in Week 15. If you leave out his five-pick Week 5 meltdown against the Jaguars, Big Ben’s TD-to-INT ratio in home games this season is 14:2 with a 324.6-yard average. … Le’Veon Bell finally snapped his home-game scoreless streak with a three-TD effort in last Sunday night’s win over Baltimore and now encounters a much more favorable draw at Heinz Field against a Patriots defense that has allowed 4.95 yards per carry and the NFL’s third-most receiving yards (686) to enemy backs. New England got shredded by fellow all-purpose RB Kenyan Drake for 193 total yards last Monday night. Bell’s matchup is softened by the likely absence of Patriots NT Alan Branch (knee), a 324-pound run stopper. With 20-plus touches in 12 straight games and an absurd 82.0 receiving-yards average in his last four, Le’Veon is the top running back play on the week.
Roethlisberger’s target distribution since the Steelers’ Week 9 bye: Antonio Brown 65; Bell 47; Martavis Bryant 31; Jesse James 28; JuJu Smith-Schuster 20; Eli Rogers 15; Vance McDonald 8; Xavier Grimble 6. … Beginning with most recent, Brown’s five career stat lines against New England are 7/77/0 > 7/106/0 > 9/133/1 > 5/71/1 > 9/67/1, and Brown has never played at a higher level than he is playing right now. Historically, the Patriots have used Malcolm Butler to shadow Brown. Butler is having a disappointing season, allowing the NFL’s 11th-most yards (587) and third-most touchdowns (6) in PFF’s cornerback charts. … Assuming he plays through his hamstring injury, Smith-Schuster’s return renders Bryant a WR4 and JuJu a volatile WR3/flex. Smith-Schuster is the preferred option in the slot, where Dolphins slot man Jarvis Landry (8/46/2) went off against New England last week. Bryant will likely occupy Stephon Gilmore, who has been the Pats’ top cover corner this year. … James’ ten-reception Week 14 was a mirage induced by Roethlisberger’s 66 pass attempts. James is typically a low-usage, touchdown-or-bust streamer.
Score Prediction: Steelers 34, Patriots 27
Sunday Night Football
Dallas @ Oakland
Team Totals: Cowboys 24.5, Raiders 21.5
Dak Prescott busted his six-game slump in last week’s 345-yard, three-score demolition of the Giants and now faces a Raiders defense that allows the NFL’s highest passer rating (105.3) and completion rate (69.2). Alex Smith came oh-so-close to dropping four touchdowns on Oakland last week, only for Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris to each drop one, Kelce to have a third negated by RT Mitchell Schwartz’s holding penalty, and Kelce to lose a would-be fourth when he was initially ruled in bounds on a 17-yard score, only for replays to show Kelce’s knee hit at the half-yard line. Prescott remains a volatile play after failing to finish inside the top-18 fantasy passers in his previous four starts, but his matchup-driven ceiling is among the highest on the slate. … Although Rod Smith outgained him 160 to 85, Alfred Morris remained Dallas’ Week 14 lead back with 22 touches to Smith’s 11 and a 52% snap rate to Smith’s 46%. While this is clearly a timeshare backfield, Morris is always the preferred RB2 play due to his far higher-volume role; Alf’s touch counts in the last four games are 17 > 10 > 27 > 22 to Smith’s 8 > 11 > 10 > 11.
Dak’s target distribution since Dallas’ Week 6 bye: Dez Bryant 66; Terrance Williams 40; Jason Witten 32; Cole Beasley 29; Smith 16; Brice Butler 10; Morris 6. … Although Bryant appears to have lost a step that prevents him from hitting the ceiling he once possessed, he warrants a weekly WR2/3 start with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 9 of his last 12 games. Bryant’s Week 15 draw is neutral against a Raiders defense that ranks mid-pack in wideout production allowed and employs plus-sized corners theoretically capable of matching up physically with Dez (6’2/225). … Neither Beasley nor Williams has earned legit fantasy discussion via their usage or play. … Witten does merit a matchup-based mention against a Raiders defense that permitted 8/99/0 to Chiefs tight ends last week, and, as noted above, should have given up much more. Evan Engram (7/99/1), Hunter Henry (5/90/0), Julius Thomas (6/84/1), Delanie Walker (7/76/0), AJ Derby (4/75/1), and Vernon Davis (5/58/1) have also had big games against Oakland.
A flop (again) in last week’s date with Kansas City’s swinging-gate defense, Derek Carr continued to play himself far out of QB1 consideration. Tentative and afraid to challenge downfield, Carr has devolved into a two-quarterback-league option only. … This is a tougher matchup than it may seem for Marshawn Lynch against a Cowboys defense that has back ubiquitous difference-maker WLB Sean Lee and limited enemy backs to a 71/241/3.39/0 rushing line in the last three weeks. Still, Lynch is running well enough to stay in season-long-league lineups as a confident RB2. After managing 3.76 yards per carry with four TDs in Oakland’s first eight games, Lynch has improved to 4.85 YPC with three scores in his last four. Lynch should pay off if the Raiders keep this game competitive, something they are likelier to do in The Black Hole. … Carr’s poor play is hurting all of his pass catchers, but Michael Crabtree remains a quality WR2 start after dominating Week 14 targets (13), catching a team-high seven balls, and converting a two-point conversion. Dallas has allowed a league-high 17 touchdown catches to wide receivers. Crabtree is also this week’s No. 2 buy-low target in Josh Hermsmeyer’s predictive Air Yards model. … Jared Cook’s inconsistency has been painful this year, but he is coming off a bounce-back game (5/75/1) and encounters another plus draw. The Cowboys’ defense has been throttled by Hunter Henry (5/76/1), Travis Kelce (7/73/1), Austin Hooper (6/49/1), and Giants tight ends (8/74/1) over its last six games. With No. 2 TE Clive Walford out due to a concussion, Cook will have Week 15 tight end duties all to himself.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, Raiders 20
Monday Night Football
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 21
Devonta Freeman resumed dominating Atlanta’s backfield in last Thursday night’s win over the Saints, matching his season high in touches (24) and out-snapping Tevin Coleman 69% to 32% in an effort that reinforced Freeman as the Falcons’ superior back. Since returning from his concussion two games ago, Freeman has outplayed Coleman with a 4.58 YPC average to Tevin’s 3.18, also out-touching him 37 to 20. As Coleman (concussion) was ruled out on Saturday, Freeman is a white-hot fantasy play at Tampa Bay, which is missing difference-makers DT Gerald McCoy (biceps) and WLB Lavonte David (hamstring) and gave up six rushing scores in its last three games. … 2017 has been a forgettable, upside-lacking season on Matt Ryan’s track record. This is one of his final shots at a ceiling game against a porous Bucs pass defense Ryan has touched up for weekly results of QB13 > QB1 > QB6 with passing-yardage/TD counts of 317/1 > 344/4 > 334/2 since Mike Smith took over as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator. The matchup also suggests Ryan has a solid floor; 10 of the last 12 quarterbacks to face the Bucs logged top-16 results. It’s probably not bold, but I personally am starting Ryan over Marcus Mariota this week. It helps strongly that each of Ryan’s top-two pass catchers – Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu – are in gorgeous spots.
Ryan’s target distribution in Atlanta's last eight games: Julio Jones 81; Mohamed Sanu 53; Austin Hooper 34; Taylor Gabriel 18; Freeman and Coleman 13. … The Bucs have shown zero ability to limit Jones, yielding stat lines of 4/66/1 > 8/111/1 > 12/253/2 to Julio since Mike Smith took over as defensive coordinator. On the year, the Bucs have given up league highs in catches (190) and yards (2,470) to wide receivers. … Sanu has 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 8 of his last 11 games, while the Bucs have been skewered by slot men Larry Fitzgerald (10/138/1), Adam Thielen (5/98/0), Jarvis Landry (6/95/1), Golden Tate (8/85/1), Danny Amendola (8/77/0), Kendall Wright (7/69/0), and Sanu himself (8/64/0). … Hooper hasn’t reached 50 yards since Week 4 and is a TD-or-bust streamer.
Jameis Winston’s Week 14 on-field play revealed a new level of recklessness with three turnovers and multiple more that didn’t count. Winston’s extreme-gunslinger approach lowers his floor but raises his ceiling against an Atlanta defense that has yielded top-12 scores to six of its last eight signal callers faced. Winston’s four career fantasy results against Dan Quinn’s unit are QB10 > QB5 > QB16 > QB12. It can’t hurt that the Falcons have allowed the NFL’s second-most rushing yards (278) to quarterbacks this year. … Atlanta has maintained a stout run defense for nearly two months, holding enemy running backs to a 135/474/3.51/3 rushing line in their last seven games and stymieing the Saints’ vaunted run game for 52 scoreless yards on 13 carries last Thursday night. This provides even more reason to avoid Tampa Bay’s quagmire backfield after touches were split three ways between Peyton Barber (13), Doug Martin (12), and Charles Sims (5) in last week’s loss to Detroit. As Martin continued to struggle (2.6 YPC) and got benched for losing a fumble, Barber would be the best flex-play dart throw from the three-man group.
Winston’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Mike Evans 11; DeSean Jackson 10; Chris Godwin 9; O.J. Howard 8; Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate 7; Sims and Barber 5; Martin 3. … Evans is scoreless in six straight with measly target counts of 6 > 5 since Winston returned two games ago. Michael Thomas’ Week 14 blowup game (10/117/1) against the Falcons does create some optimism Evans can rebound here. Evans is also this week’s No. 4 buy-low target in Josh Hermsmeyer’s predictive Air Yards model. … With the exception of Thomas, Atlanta has played shutdown pass defense in its last five games, checking D-Jax (8/60/0), Paul Richardson (5/56/0), Adam Thielen (4/51/0), Dez Bryant (4/39/0), Tyler Lockett (4/37/0), Stefon Diggs (2/32/0), and Ted Ginn (2/10/0) during that span. The Falcons have allowed the NFL’s sixth-fewest receptions of 20-plus yards (33). Jackson lacks an ideal setup to rip a big play and has reached 90 yards in 1-of-13 games this season. … As Brate set or equaled season lows in routes run (19) and playing time (35%) in last week’s loss to the Lions, Howard’s 79% playing-time clip was a season high, and his 23 routes run were Howard’s second most of the year. The timeshare renders both dicey streamers, but I think Howard is the superior streamer at this point. Atlanta gave up 4/36/1 to Kyle Rudolph in Week 13, 7/58/1 to Jimmy Graham in Week 11, and 7/59/0 to Jason Witten in Week 10.
Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 21