What a wild and crazy end to the regular season (in fantasy football) this week was. The Ravens passing game erupted; the Bengals showed they are not done this season; the Bears defense put up stud numbers; Dwayne Allen, Dennis Pitta and Tyler Lockett made noise from the fantasy waiver wire; and Colin Kaepernick took another knee on the sideline, this time due to a benching. All-in-all, it was a spectacular week for football fans!
With the regular season over for fantasy football, owners will now turn their attention to the playoffs. The waiver wire is a barren wasteland filled with landmines that are sure to hurt you more than help you. The only thing you should be looking for on the waiver wire is streaming options at kicker and defense. You might be able to find something at TE, but I highly doubt there is anything worth grabbing at this point.
As far as streamers go, I'd look at kickers like Nick Novak, Kai Forbath, or Matt Prater, in that order. For defenses, just play whoever plays the Browns, 49ers, and Bears.
Looking at the waiver wire, the only guys worth grabbing this week would be Justin Forsett as a stash, Mike Gillislee as a handcuff, and possibly Robert Griffin if you have an I.R. spot you are looking to fill soon.
Joe Flacco – Ravens: If you are one of the 5 people lucky enough, or desperate enough, to play Flacco in the week leading up to the fantasy football playoffs, then you were rewarded with the #1 overall fantasy player in Week 13. Flacco carved up the Dolphins defense like a surgeon this week, racking up 381 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and throwing 1 interception.
The 381 yards were his highest since Week 2 of 2015, and will likely remain his highest for some time. The Ravens are a running team that throws more mid-range passes for completions and 1st downs, than touchdowns. He's MUCH more of a QB2 than a QB1, and should drop back there in Week 14 when he hits the road to take on the Patriots.
Andy Dalton – Bengals: All I've heard the past week is how the Bengals are out of the playoffs (essentially), and how their offense is going to sputter without A.J. Green at WR. Well, that sure wasn't the case this week as Dalton lit up the Eagles for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns. Dalton put up a 130.0 passer rating this week, a season high.
Dalton showed just how vulnerable the Eagles secondary really is, and fantasy owners reaped the rewards. The Bengals head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in Week 14, where he will remain a QB1. Trust me when I say that this Ohio rivalry game will either be a complete and total blowout, or it will be a dogfight to the bitter end.
Jordan Howard – Bears: In a game in which only 33 passes were attempted (combined by both teams), Howard ran the ball 32 times for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. With snow and wind affecting the game, the Bears chose to run behind Howard, and it paid off in the way of a 26-6 victory on Sunday.
The 49ers are a terrible team, in every way imaginable. With that said, you can pretty much fire up whoever plays against them for the rest of the year and feel pretty good about it. Howard, though, has been one of the bright spots on the Bears this season, and someone I was hyping way back in Week 2 of the season. He's a low-end RB1 for Weeks 14, 15, and 16, but shouldn't be used in Week 17 against the Vikings.
Thomas Rawls – Seahawks: Rawls was a BEAST in the first half of Sunday's game against the Panthers, racking up 103 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns before halftime. After halftime, the Seahawks set the cruise control, coasting to a 40-7 victory, and leaving Rawls with 106 rushing yards and 2 TDs.
Rawls will be a RB1/2 against the Packers in Week 14. The Packers run defense has been hit-or-miss this season, shutting down Lamar Miller this week (22 yards and no touchdowns), but giving up HUGE games to Rob Kelley (137 yards and 3 TDs) and DeMarco Murray (123 yards and a TD) in recent weeks.
Tyler Lockett – Seahawks: Lockett locked down the WR1 status in PPR formats this week when he racked up 75 yards rushing, 5 receptions, 63 yards receiving, and 58 return yards against the Panthers. Lockett has long been viewed as a WR with legitimate skills, but he hasn't been able to become involved in the passing game enough to be worth owning in most fantasy formats. That will change this week.
Lockett gets the Packers in Week 14, which is good. But he's also the No. 4 option in the Seahawks passing game behind Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, and Jermaine Kearse. If you need a WR for the fantasy playoffs, Lockett is worth owning for his upside. But I wouldn't count on him doing again what he did this weekend.
Golden Tate – Lions: With Marvin Jones Jr. out for the Lions this week, Tate was the only WR for Matthew Stafford in the passing game. Tate was targeted 10 times, hauling in 8 of them for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Jones essentially disappeared after Week 3, forcing Tate to step up and take on the de facto No. 1 WR role. Tate isn't consistent, with receiving totals of 79, 27, 77, and 145 yards over the past 4 games. He's an upside WR2 against the Bears in Week 14.
Dennis Pitta – Ravens: Pitta finally showed up in the 2016 season, reeling in 9 of 11 targets for 90 yards and 2 TDs on Sunday. The Ravens drew up the perfect game plan against the Dolphins: attack the middle of the field. Thankfully for Pitta, that is where he earns his paycheck.
Pitta hadn't scored in 17 games leading up to this one, and he isn't likely to score again this season with the Patriots, Eagles, Steelers, and Bengals left on the schedule. Pitta is a mere TE2 with low upside, and someone I wouldn't bother burning a waiver wire add on this week.
Dwayne Allen – Colts: Speaking of TEs that had massive weeks, but will drop back to TE2 territory, say hello to Dwayne Allen. Allen torched the Jets on Monday night for 72 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.
Allen is in a battle with Jack Doyle for targets at TE for the Colts, making him a risky play every single week. Tight end is always a boom-or-bust position in fantasy football, but owning Doyle or Allen emphasizes that even more. Be aware, and beware.
Chicago Bears defense: There is nothing better to boost your spirits on defense this season than playing the 49ers offense. The weather in Chicago was about as nasty as it gets, causing the sunny San Francisco 49ers to struggle to find anything to latch on to offensively on Sunday.
In the end, the Bears' injury-riddled defense held the 49ers to 6 points, while racking up 6 sacks and a safety. It was an amazing game by a defense virtually unowned in fantasy football. If you played the Bears this week, I want proof! If not, leave them on the waiver wire where you found them.
Drew Brees – Saints: It's not often that Brees makes the losers list, but he did this week when he failed to take advantage at home of a terrible Lions secondary. Brees managed to throw for 326 yards on Sunday, but didn't have a single touchdown pass or run, while throwing 3 INTs to a defense that previously had 7 all year.
Chalk it up as a bad week for Brees, from a guy dealing with some injury issues, and move on. Brees gets the Bucs this week, and should return to QB1 status. He's one of the few QBs who you can just set in the QB spot and forget about for 16 weeks of the year.
Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: Kaepernick was widely regarded as one of the highest-projected QBs for Week 13 because he faced a Bears defense that has given up 14-plus fantasy points to QBs in every game this season except one. Well, I too fell victim to the 49ers 2016 curse because I picked Kaepernick and even started him in a few of my DFS leagues.
The 49ers yanked Kaepernick in the 4th quarter, when he had managed to complete just 1 pass (yes, that's not a typo) for 4 yards! The weather was a major factor with it being windy and snowing in Chicago, but 1-5 passing for 4 yards is 100 percent unacceptable for a QB at ANY level, let alone at the NFL level.
With the 49ers now 1-11, and losers of 11 straight games, you have to wonder how much longer 49ers C.E.O. Jed York will let Coach Chip Kelley and Kaepernick ruin his franchise.
Devonte Booker – Broncos: To call Booker a catfish is giving him too much credit, because fried Catfish tastes good! Booker managed to run the ball 18 times for 35 yards and scored 1 touchdown. The Jaguars closed running lanes and stopped him at the line of scrimmage time and time again, forcing the Broncos to turn to Kapri Bibbs before he suffered a high ankle sprain that cost him the rest of the season.
The Broncos claimed Justin Forsett off waivers on Monday, making Booker's value equal to being tied to a rock and dropped into the ocean. Forsett is not the RB he used to be, but there are whispers that Bibbs was going to take over as the starting RB had he not landed on Injured Reserve. Booker can be dropped if you can find something worth owning.
Todd Gurley – Rams: Gurley's owners have to hate fantasy football after burning a 1st round pick on a guy who's run for a season-high of 85 yards on the ground. Gurley was an elite RB in his rookie season, finishing 28th overall in 2015. This year, Gurley is finding that he has to be much more involved in the passing game just to maintain top-40 value.
Gurley can't be cut, but his owners can't expect much more than RB2 numbers from their No. 1 overall pick. Gurley gets a chance for fantasy success this week as he takes on a Falcons defense that gives up the 5th-most fantasy points to RBs at 21.5 PPG. But given his history, I wouldn't be quick to put him in my DFS lineup.
- Side note: The Rams extended Head Coach Jeff Fisher's contract through the 2018 season, which is mind boggling when you consider he is about to become the losingest coach in NFL history! When he loses this week to the Falcons, he will tie Dan Reeves with 165 loses. Then in week 15 he will likely set the only record no coach wants when he loses to the Seahawks.
Mike Evans – Buccaneers: Mike Evans is one of the few WRs you can count on every single week because he is the most targeted WR in the NFL with 138 this year. However, this week the Chargers managed to limit him to just 3 of 6 receiving for 38 yards, no touchdowns, and a 2-point conversion.
For Evans, this week represents his worst game of the season. Fantasy owners have to just thank God that he had this game now, and not next week when the first round of the playoffs begin. Look for him to bounce back in a big way against a Saints secondary that gives up 24.2 PPG (14th-most) to fantasy WRs. The Bucs have nobody else at WR, so Evans could see 20-plus of those 24.2 points.
Sammy Watkins – Bills: Watkins was iffy to even play this week, and the Bills seemed content to just run the ball behind LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee rather than throw with Tyrod Taylor. Watkins did play 49-of-72 snaps this week, up from 25 of 55 in Week 12, but managed to catch just 3 of 9 targets for 38 yards and no touchdowns.
The Bills have a favorable fantasy playoff schedule, facing the Steelers, Browns, Dolphins, then Jets. The problem is the Bills are letting Taylor throw the ball an average of 29 times a game, severely limiting what Watkins can do. With the Bills refusing to commit to Taylor as their long-term QB, and Watkins value relying on the QB to throw the ball, it's going to be a rocky final 4 games for him.
- P.S. Shout out to Shanna Claus, whose son (Nick Lewis) was mentioned in last week's article under the Bills section. Shanna is a Jaguars fan, and I was told she nearly lost her mind when she saw her son's name on the website. Thank you for being a Jaguars fan Shanna, and we forgive you for raising a Bills fan!
Greg Olsen – Panthers: Where to start with the Panthers this week? Cam Newton was benched for the first series after he failed to wear a tie on the team flight. Derrek Anderson drew the start, promptly throwing an INT to LB Michael Morgan. Newton came in on the next series, but the momentum was already on the Seahawks' side.
Olsen finished the game with 3 catches for 30 empty yards. Olsen has been held to 45 yards or less in 4 straight games, and 52 or less in 6 straight games. Some will say he is due for a breakout, but that isn't likely to happen until he takes on the Falcons in Week 16.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: The Eagles were getting pumped as a fantasy defense this week given the injuries to A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard of the Bengals, but that wasn't to be as the Bengals offense put up 32 points on the Eagles defense this week.
Defensively, the Eagles were able to recover 2 fumbles but they didn't have a sack or interception to their credit. The Eagles defense started off the season hot, scoring 15-plus fantasy points the first 3 weeks, but have since failed to record double-digit fantasy points in 4 of their last 6 games. The Eagles have the Redskins, Ravens, Giants, and Cowboys to finish the regular season, putting them on my fantasy waiver wire.