Green Bay Packers' Ibraheim Campbell forces a fumble by Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. McCaffrey recovered his own fumble. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams catches a pass in front of Carolina Panthers' Donte Jackson during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill (23) carries on a touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a touchdown pass to running back Brian Hill, not pictured, in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) carries against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes under pressure in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) reacts with linebacker Brian Burns (53) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (92) after recovering a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Matt Ryan is coming to town, which tends to mean trouble for the Carolina Panthers.
The Falcons quarterback has dominated the rival Panthers of late, going 6-1 in his past seven starts while averaging 318 yards passing with 15 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
Ryan is 14-8 against Carolina.
So, while much of the attention this week has been on Carolina's porous run defense - they've allowed opponents to run for a combined 516 yards and 10 touchdowns in the past three games - defensive coordinator Eric Washington knows the Panthers can't forget about old No. 2 and his favorite target Julio Jones.
''We know what he's capable of and they have explosive talent at the wide receiver position,'' Washington said of Ryan. ''So we need to make sure we do a good job of getting him in third down situations they don't want to be in. And we have to be really efficient with our pass rush. The ball tends to come out fast on third-and-medium.''
That won't be easy.
Carolina's top cornerback James Bradberry is coming back from a groin injury this week, but the team's second- and third-best cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Ross Cockrell missed the first two days of practice this week with injuries and may not play. That means the Panthers (5-4) could have to lean on young players such as Javien Elliott, Cole Luke and Corn Elder, who was re-signed earlier this week because of injury concerns.
The Falcons (2-7) may not be contending for a playoff spot, but showed last Sunday they still have plenty of life - and firepower - by throttling the Saints 26-9
NEW LOOK AT RUNNING BACK
If Devonta Freeman is held out with a sprained foot, as expected, the Falcons will have a new look at running back. The position was considered to be the team's deepest spot before Ito Smith was placed on injured reserve last week following a concussion and a neck injury.
Brian Hill played well behind Freeman last week and is expected to start. Former Panthers backup Kenjon Barner would be the top backup and Qadree Ollison, who was active for the first time against the Saints, could play a bigger role. Notably, Barner was used in the wildcat formation, filling the role formerly held by Mohamed Sanu before the receiver was traded to New England. There could be more direct snaps for Barner against the Panthers.
NEW KICKER IS A KEEPER
The Falcons may have found their kicker, at least for the remainder of the season, in Younghoe Koo. Koo made four field goals, including a career-long 48-yarder, in last week's win at New Orleans in his Falcons debut. Koo was signed after veteran Matt Bryant's second stint with the team didn't go well and Giorgio Tavecchio couldn't hold the job.
Koo was the NFC special teams player of the week following his successful debut. He made three of six field-goal attempts with the Chargers in 2017 and kicked for the Atlanta Legends of the short-lived Alliance of American Football earlier this year. Koo, from South Korea, played for Georgia Southern.
The Panthers drafted Greg Little in the second round earlier this year to be their left tackle, but two concussions have limited him to two games and one start this season.
However, Little has now been cleared from the concussion protocol and is expected to start Sunday at left tackle with Dennis Daley sitting bothered by a groin injury. The Panthers have won both games that Little has played this season.
Before last week's game, Atlanta ranked last in the league with only seven sacks. Suddenly the Falcons rediscovered their pass rush with six sacks against the Saints, including 2 1/2 by defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. Vic Beasley Jr., who has been unable to duplicate his 2016 production, when he led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks, added 1 1/2 sacks.
''To me, it was just a good example to show what we're capable of,'' Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. ''If we apply those things time after time, those are the results that we hope to get.''
MORE OF MOORE
The Panthers are getting more production of late out of second-year wide receiver D.J. Moore, who is coming off back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for the first time in his career. Moore had seven catches for 101 yards against the Titans two weeks ago and followed that up with a nine-catch, 120-yard performance last week against the Packers. Moore is leading the Panthers in receptions (54) and yards receiving (684). The next goal for him is getting into the end zone - he only has one TD catch.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin (ankle), running back Bilal Powell (ankle, illness) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) will not play Thursday night against the Ravens. Griffin and Powell are both officially out, while Thomas is doubtful to play. Daniel Brown and rookie Trevon Wesco will help fill in with Griffin out, but neither should be fantasy targets this week. Powell handled 19 carries for 74 yards with Le'Veon Bell (illness) out last week, but Bell is set to return on Thursday. He'll be a low-end RB2 in a tough matchup. Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder should see plenty of targets in the passing game with DT unlikely to play.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been a streamable quarterback over the last month, but fantasy owners who had been relying on the sophomore signal-caller may want to explore other options in Week 15. Darnold has played well in recent weeks with soft matchups but this Ravens Defense is a different animal than Darnold has seen lately. Baltimore allows the second-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks and Darnold will face them on the road in a short week. In the fantasy playoffs, Darnold is best left on the bench.
New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery (foot, hip) was limited in practice all week and is questionable for Week 15 against the Ravens on Thursday night. With Le'Veon Bell out last week with an illness, Montgomery had just nine carries for 31 yards and caught three passes for 30 yards. Bell is expected back Thursday night, so Montgomery will have zero standalone value if he's active, even though Bilal Powell has been ruled out. Josh Adams would be Bell's primary backup if Montgomery joins Powell on the Sunday inactive list.
The Detroit Lions placed wide receiver Marvin Jones (ankle) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he suffered his injury in the Week 14 loss to the Vikings on the final drive. Head coach Matt Patricia said he's unsure if Jones will need surgery. The 29-year-old had 62 catches this year for 779 yards and nine touchdowns. Fantasy owners unfortunately will not have Jones' services as they attempt to win a fantasy championship in the next couple of weeks. Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and Chris Lacy should operate in three-wide sets the rest of the way. Amendola will become a little more attractive in deep PPR leagues, but his upside remains limited with third-stringer David Blough at quarterback.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (quadriceps) and tight end Mark Andrews (knee) are both listed as questionable for Week 15 against the Jets on Thursday night. Jackson practiced in full on Wednesday and is fully expected to play. If you own Jackson, you're not benching him whatsoever in a great matchup. Andrews is obviously much riskier this week as a strong TE1 after his injury in Week 14, but he's a must-start fantasy tight end if he's playing. If he's out, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle should share tight end duties, with Hurst, who had a big game in Week 14, being the better streamer with TE1 upside.
Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder), who sat out in Week 14 against the Titans, had positive results from his MRI exam and is expected to return to action in Week 15 against the Jaguars, according to sources. Barring a setback this week, Jacobs should only have a one-week absence. Jacobs has been one of the most impressive running backs in the NFL in 2019, let alone among rookies. Fantasy owners might've been eliminated from the first round of the playoffs without him last Sunday, but they should get him back if they were able to advance. Against a Jacksonville team that has been getting destroyed on the ground in recent weeks, Jacobs will return to high-end RB1 status if he's active. Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard will go back to backup duties.
Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen (concussion) took part in individual drills Wednesday, Dec. 11, which was a moderate surprise to beat writer Joe Person.
Fantasy Spin: Olsen has a great matchup against the Seattle Seahawks this week if he's able to go. Olsen will be a low-end TE1 option in PPR leagues.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) said the team's playoff eligibility won't be a factor on if he returns this season. 'I would never quit on my team,' Hilton said. 'I signed up for 16 games. Some guys may shut it down and call it quits. I don't do that.'
Fantasy Spin: We still view him on the wrong side of questionable to return this season. If he's able to, he'd be a WR2 option. Zach Pascal should be a WR3 in the interim.
New York Giants TE Golden Tate (foot) was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Tate had just one catch for 11 yards with Eli Manning last week, but he has a great matchup against the Miami Dolphins if he can go this week. He'd be a high-end WR3.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) was limited in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: He was limited in practice last week as well, and he didn't play. Rhett Ellison (concussion) was also limited, and this situation remains in flux. If Engram goes, he's a midrange TE1. If he doesn't, Kaden Smith could be worth streaming again.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a floor-play only for a Week 15 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. Witten has seen plenty of targets lately, with seven in Week 14 and right in Week 13, but he's only come up with 11 catches for 79 yards total in both games. He's one of the least likely players in fantasy football to put up a goose egg in your lineup, but he's also very unlikely to put up a game-changing score, even in PPR. He's a tight end to play when you only need to reach a floor in your matchup, otherwise, even in a position as shallow as tight end, there are likely higher upside options on the waiver wire.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin is not a strong fantasy option for Week 15 despite a strong performance in Week 14. Jarwin caught six passes for 50 yards against the Bears last week, but it was the first time this season he'd even been targeted more than four times. He's likely to sink back into the two-or-three targets per game life this week against the Los Angeles Rams and makes for nothing more than a dart-throw tight end option.
Dallas Cowboys brand new kicker Kai Forbath is a decent option at kicker for Week 15 fantasy lineups. Forbath was signed to replace Brett Maher, who was released by the Cowboys earlier this week. Forbath has made just under 86 percent of his field goal tries in his career and made his only attempt this year as a member of the Patriots. He did miss one of his two extra points, though. Most leagues will have higher-upside guys available on the waiver wire, but Forbath is fine as a fill-in kicker if needed.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense is a middling option at best in a Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys defense has been generally disappointing this season, and this week they take on a Rams offense that looked like it finally figured things out in Week 14. There are likely better options on the waiver wire in most leagues, especially given this week's matchups.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is a solid choice in any Week 15 fantasy lineup. Cooper looked a bit slow in Week 14 due to his previous injuries, but he'll have had 10 days to heal up even more before the Cowboys take on the Rams on Sunday afternoon. With the Cowboys offense struggling somewhat of late and Jalen Ramsey likely attached to Cooper all day, Cooper's usual upside is a bit limited, making him more of a high-end WR2 this week.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a strong WR2 option for a Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams. With Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey likely shadowing Amari Cooper in this one, Gallup could be more of the first look for quarterback Dak Prescott than usual. Coming off a game in which he led the Cowboys in receiving with 109 yards, Gallup is a strong WR2 option with upside for Week 15.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb had a nice flash in the pan moment a few weeks ago, but it looks like he's settled back into fantasy irrelevance in most formats. Cobb saw at least seven targets for four games in a row from Week 9 to Week 12, but saw just eight balls thrown his way in Weeks 13 and 14 combined. That much smaller target share will likely continue in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Rams. Cobb is nothing more than a desperation dart-throw type wide receiver and is not a recommended starter in most formats.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to play in Week 15 and has a decent matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Prescott suffered a sprained left hand and an injured index finger on his throwing hand in Week 14's Thursday night loss to the Chicago Bears. With 10 days to rest, Prescott should be good to go against the Rams. Still, he's been struggling along with the whole Dallas offense of late and a possible flare up of the injuries won't help. Prescott hasn't been great on the field lately, but he's still been producing solid fantasy numbers. He's a low-end QB1 for Week 15.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott should be a solid fantasy contributor in a Week 15 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Elliott scored twice in Week 14 despite the Cowboys inexplicably going away from the running game for long stretches. Hopefully, coach Jason Garrett feeds his star running back in this one. Elliott comes in as a top-half RB1 for this matchup.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard should return from an ankle injury that kept him out of Week 14, but shouldn't be in any fantasy lineups. Pollard will be strictly a backup to Ezekiel Elliott in what is expected to be a close game. Elliott should be on the field for almost every snap, leaving Pollard to only reach relevance if the starter were to get injured. Most leagues will have someone with a clearer path to touches on the waiver wire. Pollard remains no more than a handcuff for Elliott owners.