Sat Nov 9 2:48pm ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
Six teams are on a bye this week: New England, Philadelphia, Houston, Denver, Washington and Jacksonville. Some premier fantasy will be missing in lineups, who can you replace them with?
The Colts get the gimme game with the Dolphins coming to town, but T.Y. Hilton is out and Jacoby Brissett looks doubtful. Their defense remains a good play. The other matchup of bad teams meet in the battle of New York with the Giants playing the Jets. There is very little to get excited about there.
There are two matchups where a lot of offense is predicted, so playing the guys on these four teams makes sense: Arizona at Tampa Bay, and Atlanta at New Orleans. Not far behind will be Kansas City at Tennessee, and Minnesota at Dallas.
In one of the better good versus bad team matchups, Baltimore plays Cincinnati. This should be a very one sided game.
Three Bengals have one of the worst defenses in the NFL against both the pass and rush, so Cincinnati has no chance to stop the potent Ravens offense. Lamar Jackson should have a big day both rushing and passing. And the other Ravens players should put up big numbers - Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. Play them all!
Quarterbacks: Kyler Murray and the Cardinals travel to Tampa. The prize the Cardinals get is the Bucs defense. Their secondary is in shambles, having allowed 300-passing yards and two touchdowns the last six games. The rookie quarterback has a great chance to have one of his best days as a pro in this one. And on the other side of the ball, Jameis Winston could put the ball up 40 times playing catch up. You can safely play both quarterbacks. Arizona is really bad defending against tight ends. Could this be the day everyone has been waiting for from O.J. Howard? I say no. Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians doesn’t make up plays that go to tight ends, and I doubt he’ll start against his former team.
Drew Brees gets an easy game against a pitiful Falcons defense at home in what should another very one-sided game.
My sleeper quarterback pick is whoever starts for the Colts at home against Miami. I think Brian Hoyer might have better day than banged up Jacoby Brissett, and I don’t think the Colts need him to dispose of the Dolphins. It’d be smarter to give home the week off to heal. If Hoyer starts, he makes a great DFS play.
Running Backs: David Montgomery has averaged 110 yards his last two games, and the way Mitch Trubisky has been playing, the key to victory for the Bears is to run him early and often against the Lions. You can expect the big five - Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook - to all have the games you’d expect this week.
Devin Singletary has taken over the lead running back role in Buffalo, and he should have a really good day against a Cleveland rushing defense that is giving up over 120 yards per game.
And the Colts are playing the Dolphins, so the Marlon Mack express should be chugging along.
Wide Receivers: Look at the quarterbacks above. The question is what receivers will they be throwing to? I think Murray’s top receiver will be veteran Larry Fitzgerald, but Christian Kirk will have a good day, also. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both top the century mark. On the other side when James isn’t throwing to Arizona cornerbacks, I look for Chris Godwin to out-catch Mike Evans this week. The main reason is because Winston might want to stay away from Patrick Peterson, who likely shadows Evans.
The most consistent wide receiver this year has been Michael Thomas, and he’ll be Drew Brees’s favorite target this week. To go with my sleeper pick with the Colts at quarterback, Zach Pascal will be on the receiving end for which ever quarterback plays.
Tight Ends: Travis Kelce should have a good day against a questionable middle linebacker group in Tennessee, especially if Patrick Mahomes does indeed play. And if George Kittle is healed enough to play for the 49ers against the Seahawks Monday night, it’s a great matchup for him, but right now he looks really risky. My top pick this week is Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, especially if Matt Ryan is back at quarterback. New Orleans has allowed the sixth most yards per catch to tight ends this year.
Defenses: The obvious three are Indianapolis (vs. Miami), Baltimore (vs. Cincinnati) and New Orleans (vs. Atlanta). The Bears at home against the Lions are a good call, too. Look for them to get a pick six.
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman appears to be the odd man out in the Niners backfield. With Raheem Mostert assuming control and Matt Breida running well in relief, Coleman is a tough sell as a flex play in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Since his four-touchdown explosion in Week 8, Coleman has been pedestrian, registering under 75 yards in each contest and finding the end zone just once. After playing just 11 snaps in Week 14, Coleman will be a high-risk fantasy option in a critical playoff week, even in a favorable matchup.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (elbow) and rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry (hip) are both practicing in full on Thursday ahead of Week 15 against the Bengals. Both players should be fine to play in an excellent bounce-back spot against the one-win Bengals this Sunday. Brady has been a disappointment in the second half of the season, but he's on the QB1 radar this weekend in the second round of the fantasy playoffs. While Harry has a great matchup, he's caught only five passes on 10 targets for 40 yards and a touchdown in his four games in his rookie season. It's really hard to trust anyone outside of Julian Edelman in this passing offense.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been scorching lately and could flirt with QB1 status in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. After game managing to start the year, Jimmy G has three four-touchdown games in his past six contests and has registered a QB rating over 110 in six of seven. While hes endured turnover issues this season, Garoppolo has grown increasingly comfortable taking an assertive role in the offense. Against a Falcons pass defense ranked 26th in DVOA, Garoppolo will look to parlay a dangerous complement of weapons into another top-10 fantasy performance.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida ran well in his return from injury in Week 14 (9.0 YPC) but played just 12 snaps. With Raheem Mostert taking charge of the backfield, Breida and Tevin Coleman will battle for touches, rendering both risky flex options. Averaging a healthy 5.2 yards per tote this year, Breida has outplayed Coleman, giving him the slight edge in change-of-pace duties against a beatable Falcons rush defense. However, Breida has been a nonfactor in the red zone and his uncertain opportunity share makes him a relatively low-ceiling play.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (knee) was a full participant in practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Njoku returned in Week 14 from Injured Reserve and posted just one catch for four yards in the win over the Bengals. The 23-year-old has plenty of upside, but fantasy owners will be worried that he'll have his snaps limited for the second straight game. The Cardinals Defense is the worst team at defending the position, though, so Njoku will have boom-or-bust appeal as a TE2 this Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle cemented his status as a gridiron beast in Week 14 by securing the Niners victory with a highlight-reel catch-and rumble. Hell return to his premium TE1 status in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. Despite missing two games with a broken ankle, Kittle has heated up in the second half, amassing 292 yards and three touchdowns since Week 10. The Niners draw a cushy matchup against a Falcons Defense ranked 26th in pass DVOA, setting up Kittle favorably for an encore performance. In a critical fantasy weekend, Kittle managers should feel confident having the All-Pro on their roster.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee), DE Derek Barnett (ankle) and OT Lane Johnson (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) and CB Jalen Mills (elbow) were limited. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (concussion) practiced in full.
Tennessee Titans WR Adam Humphries (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like Humphries will miss another game because of the injury, so he should be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has emerged lately as a red zone threat. The third-year pro has collected five spikes in his last six games, operating as the teams primary third receiver. With Marquise Goodwin (foot, knee) on injured reserve, Bournes 50 percent snap share should remain steady in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons, even with sophomore disappointment Dante Pettis (knee) back in the mix. While his touchdown prowess is tough to ignore, Bourne hasnt eclipsed four catches or 45 yards during his scoring run, rendering him a volatile WR5.
Updating a previous report, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), who was limited in practice on Thursday, is still expected to play in Week 15 against the Bills on Sunday night, barring any future setbacks. Smith-Schuster practiced in full on Wednesday, so the limited practice was initially seen as a troubling setback. He's been out since Nov. 14, though, and is more of a weak WR4 choice for fantasy owners with Devlin Hodges throwing him passes in an extremely tough matchup. Avoiding all Pittsburgh pass-catchers is probably the best strategy in the fantasy playoffs. James Washington's upside takes the biggest hit with Smith-Schuster expected back.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates (shoulder), RB Derrick Henry (hamstring), WR Adam Humphries (ankle) and CB Adoree' Jackson (foot) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DT Jurrell Casey (knee) was limited. C Ben Jones (thumb), CB LeShaun Sims (ankle) and S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) and OT Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 12. LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and QB Jameis Winston (thumb, knee) were limited. OG Alex Cappa (elbow), OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and DL Beau Allen (ankle) practiced in full.
Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) was officially limited during practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton appears to have a chance to play in Week 15 but will be a risky option since the Colts play on Monday Night Football. Fantasy players should monitor the situation over the next few days to have a better idea of Hilton's status.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Henry is optimistic about his availability for Week 15, but fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues if he is active for the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller (hamstring) got in a full practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. He looks to be on track to return for Week 15 in a mouthwatering matchup against the Lions. There is increased opportunity to produce as well with Mike Evans shut down for the rest of the year. Miller has only 10 catches on the year for 151 yards and no touchdowns, so he'd still be a lottery ticket for desperate fantasy owners in redraft leagues. Behind Chris Godwin, it will be Miller, Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson fighting for targets from quarterback Jameis Winston.
Detroit Lions OG Joe Dahl (back, knee), LB Jarrad Davis (ankle, knee), DT Damon Harrison (calf, knee, shoulder, rest), DT A'Shawn Robinson (shoulder), RB Bo Scarbrough (ribs), QB Matthew Stafford (hip, back) and OT Ricky Wagner (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 12. DE Austin Bryant (hip), LB Christian Jones (shoulder) and P Sam Martin (abdomen) were limited. CBs Jamal Agnew (ankle) and CB Rashaan Melvin (ribs) practiced in full.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (shoulder) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick was held without a touchdown pass last week but did post five touchdowns in the previous two games. He should have a favorable matchup this week but may only be a starting option in two-quarterback leagues.
Miami Dolphins WR Allen Hurns (ankle, knee) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fantasy Spin: Hurns appears to be on track to play in the Week 15 game and could serve as the top receiver if DeVante Parker is ruled out. He has a chance to be at least a flex option in deeper leagues if he plays.
Washington Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar (hamstring), LB Ryan Kerrigan (calf), OT Donald Penn (knee, back), WR Trey Quinn (concussion), RB Adrian Peterson (toe) and CB Josh Norman (illness) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 12. LB Ryan Anderson (shoulder), CB Fabian Moreau (hamstring), WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) and OG Brandon Scherff (elbow, shoulder) were limited. OT Morgan Moses (toe), QB Dwayne Haskins (ankle) and LB Cole Holcomb (thumb) practiced in full.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough (ribs) was downgraded to out of practice on Thursday after getting in a limited session on Wednesday. It puts Scarbrough in danger of missing Week 15 against the Buccaneers, especially if he misses another practice on Friday. Even if Scarbrough plays, he'll be more of a low-upside RB3/flex in a tough matchup with a surprisingly good Buccaneers run defense this year. Rookie Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic would split the workload in the backfield if Scarbrough is inactive this Sunday. Detroit's offense under third-string quarterback David Blough is limping to the finish line.