It’s finally here: The Fantasy Super Bowl, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Need a pep talk? Who do I look like, Matt Foley? Okay, fine. This Ray Lewis speech should do it. There. All better? Good, let’s go win a fantasy championship. Or else you’ll be living in a van, down by the river!
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans
It’s hard to trust a receiver coming off a multi-game injury, but if you trusted Woods last week you were rewarded with a 6-45-1 line. Not too shabby. I expect more of the same this week from Woods against the Titans. Woods slid right back into action as the Rams’ top receiver, catching more passes than Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins combined against Seattle. His connection with Jared Goff should lead to more success against the Titans, who have allowed the third-most TDs (15) in the NFL to opposing WR this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
It’s all about #TeamJuJu this week after Antonio Brown injured his calf muscle in the loss to the Patriots and will not play against Houston. JuJu, who has already established himself as a reliable No. 2 option, should see an uptick in targets and is coming off one of his better performances of the season, catching all six of his targets for 114 yards. He gets a good matchup against the Texans, whose defense has allowed five receiving TDs in their last three games and was smoked by two relative unknowns from Jacksonville: Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens.
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles vs Oakland Raiders
A backup QB taking over mid-season can affect a receiving corps in many ways. Top guys might see fewer targets, relative unknowns tend to emerge as viable threats and backups lock on to receivers we didn’t expect them to. Luckily for Agholor and the Eagles, Foles spread the ball around evenly and everyone got fed in Week 15. Agholor was the biggest beneficiary against the Giants, going 7-59-1 and leading the team in catches and receiving yards. The Raiders don’t give up a lot of TDs to receivers (11 on the season), but the pass defense looks better on paper than it is in reality. Fun fact: Agholor currently has more PPR points than Dez Bryant.
You might be quick to dismiss Cole as a one-hit wonder after Week 15’s outburst (7-186-1), but the truth is he’s been showing up consistently for a while now. From Weeks 12 through 15, Cole is the WR6. Yes, the bulk of that production came against the Texans, but hear me out. He has scored in three straight games, missed back-to-back 100 yard receiving games by one yard and has seen 22 targets and played an average of 70 percent of the snaps over that span. As evidenced in Week 15, when Marqise Lee is out Cole’s target share rises and Lee looks likely to sit against the 49ers.
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars
If you’ve been riding the recent Goodwin hot streak I hope you took a minute to check his schedule. Yep, that’s right. The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming to town! That’s like the exact opposite of Santa Claus coming to town. Still need convincing? Here are some guys that have scored fewer than 10 PPR points against the Jags this season: A.J. Green, Keenan Allen, Larry Fitzgerald, Robert Woods. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Goodwin will still see the lion’s share of targets, I just don’t think he’s going to be able to do much with them.
Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Rams
Matthews is coming off a big game against the 49ers in Week 15 and owners will be tempted to play him with the championship on the line. Don’t do it. Matthews has been as inconsistent as his QB, Marcus Mariota, and I don’t like either against the Rams. Los Angeles gives up an average of only 13 fantasy points to QBs. In the four games that Mariota has scored fewer than 15 fantasy points this season that Matthews has played, Matthews has never topped six standard fantasy points. The Rams have only allowed eight receiving TDs this season and rank in the top ten in the league for fewest fantasy points allowed to the position.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Lewis should be locked into lineups for the Fantasy Super Bowl as Rex Burkhead injured his knee against the Steelers and is out for at least this week. Lewis has been rock solid down the stretch, only once dipping below 10 PPR points, and he sees steady volume weekly. He should see an uptick in targets and also might get the goal line carries, which Burkhead generally handles. However, those might go to vulture Mike Gillislee if the Pats decide to activate him but he hasn’t played since Week 8. Also driving Lewis’ stock up is the Bills’ league-worst fantasy run defense, which gives up the most points and TDs to opposing RBs. Lewis rushed for 92 yards against the Bills in Week 13.
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins
Anderson has re-established himself as the lead dog in the Broncos backfield recently, showing some chops to silence those who might say he’s washed up. He put in a workmanlike performance against the Colts, carrying the rock 30 times for 158 yards. CJA has an astounding 73 touches in the last three games but hasn’t managed to find the end zone. The odds of a TD this week are good and Anderson should see another voluminous matchup against Washington. Treat CJA as a low-end RB2 with upside for your title game.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Murray has been on fire as the Vikings’ potent offense keeps rolling toward the playoffs. He has six TDs in his past eight games and at least 68 rushing yards in his five of his last six. Murray’s strong finish to the 2017 campaign will continue this week in a juicy matchup with Green Bay. The Packers allow the fifth-most fantasy points in the league to opposing running backs.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
When the 49ers made the switch to Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, the consensus view was that it would boost Hyde’s value as the team would have more chances to score. That production hasn’t materialized for Hyde. In the three games Garoppolo has started Hyde has rushed for 157 yards on 47 carries (3.3 yards per carry) with one TD and caught five of eight targets for 26 yards and no TDs. In the three games prior to Jimmy G starting, Hyde had 37 total targets. He’s simply not getting that target share as Garoppolo isn’t checking it down as much. Against the Jags, I’m afraid Hyde will have to rely on volume that won’t translate into fantasy gold.
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
Howard is the T.Y. Hilton of running backs this season, an uber-talented player yet wildly inconsistent from a fantasy perspective, but one who can put up huge numbers with the right matchup and game script. But when it’s bad, it’s bad for Howard as evidenced by last week’s performance. He tallied 37 yards on 10 carries and caught all four of his targets for 26 yards. Don’t scoff at the Browns ability to stop the run: they just held Alex Collins to 19 yards on 12 carries and have only allowed six rush TDs this season.
Lamar Miller, Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Since Week 11’s 22 carries, Miller has seen a pretty steady decrease in workload and fantasy point totals in each game. During that stretch he’s averaging a pedestrian 3.1 yards per carry with only one touchdown. Miller has a pretty safe floor, with his 5.30 PPR points against the Jags a season low, but I’m looking for upside to win a trophy this week and I don’t see it in Miller. Game script has also been a problem for him and that won’t change against the Steelers.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles vs Oakland Raiders
Foles is primed to keep putting up Carson Wentz-like numbers with all the weapons at his disposal and time to throw the ball. Foles threw for 237 yards and tossed four TDs to four different receivers in his first start after Wentz tore his ACL, and ended up as QB4 for Week 15. It was a cake matchup for Foles, who was only sacked once by the Giants. He draws the Raiders in the Fantasy Super Bowl in another plus matchup. However, Oakland’s passing defense has been pretty solid lately, holding each of Geno Smith, Alex Smith and Dak Prescott to under 16 points in its last three games while recording nine sacks. It will be a bigger test for Foles, but one I think he passes with flying colors.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Niners’ QB of the future has impressed in winning his first three starts with the team and showed us he can be a consistent fantasy option under center as well, scoring 18-plus points against the Titans. If you picked Jimmy G up after losing Wentz or Josh McCown, you’ve been pretty happy with his last two weeks. But you can’t trust him in your fantasy finale with imposing Jacksonville bringing the league’s best defense to town. Need proof? Just ask the Texans’ T.J. Yates, who was sacked four times by the Jags and fumbled twice in Week 15.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Olsen regained his old form in Week 15, looking every bit like Cam Newton’s favorite target. After scaring us all by laying an egg and only seeing one target the previous week, Olsen got loose and strafed the Packers for 9-116-1. He now faces a tough challenge from the Bucs, who have given up only three TDs to tight ends on the season. But if the 12 targets Olsen saw last week are any indication, he should be fine against the beat-up Bucs. You’re not counting on him to score, but given the lack of consistent options at the position Olsen is a solid play this week.
Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
During the past four weeks Celek has been a top-10 fantasy tight end in standard leagues. He got a bump in value with Garoppolo taking the reins and has scored a TD in two out of the three games Jimmy G has started. That’s a nice little trend just in time for the … Jacksonville defense. If you can roster Jesse James, who’s owned in just 25% of Yahoo! Leagues, I’d play him in a good matchup against Houston over Celek.
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