Fire and Ice – Week 15

It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.

On Fire:

Quarterbacks:

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys

Matchup – Oakland Raiders

It seems like Dak Prescott is finally learning to be effective without Ezekiel Elliott on the field. Prescott looked borderline unstoppable in the first half of the season. All that changed after Zeke’s suspension was finally upheld when the second year quarterback had a four game stretch where he failed to throw more than 180 yards in any contest and had eight turnovers to just three touchdowns. Prescott seemingly is getting back on track as he dissected the Giants secondary for 332 yards and three touchdowns last week. I think he has a strong chance to put up decent numbers again this week against the Oakland Raiders.

Phillip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs

Phillip Rivers has been on an absolute tear over the last few weeks and shows no signs of slowing down. The veteran quarterback has thrown for at least 315 passing yards in three consecutive games and has a total of 1,097 yards and six touchdowns over that span. At this point there’s just no way you’re benching this guy. This offense is clicking on all cylinders, and Rivers is playing like a young man again. This week’s matchup against the 28th ranked Chiefs pass defense is particularly inviting. He’s a must start.

Blake Bortles – Houston Texans

Matchup – Houston Texans

Blake Bortles has been incredibly average this season for the most part. Fortunately for fantasy owners, it appears he may be getting hot at the right time of the year. Bortles has thrown multiple touchdowns in back to back games for the first time this season (I’ll let that sink in for a moment) and has thrown for at least 260 yards in each contest. He’s also recorded three straight 20+ point outings, which is another first this year. Considering the Jaguars will take on Houston at home this week, Bortles is a strong play. He’s only 20% owned, so any Carson Wentz owners out there should grab him immediately.

Running backs:

Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – Green Bay Packers

Just about everyone thought Jonathan Stewart was done when the Panthers drafted Christian MacCaffrey in the draft. While the veteran has certainly given up a fair share of the backfield work to the rookie, it looks like he’s coming alive when it matters most for fantasy owners. Stewart has either rushed for at least 110 yards or scored a touchdown in four consecutive games. Perhaps a more impressive stat is the fact hat Stewart scored three touchdowns against an imposing Vikings defense last week when he only found the end zone four times during the entire season beforehand. For that reason I’m a little apprehensive about him moving forward. However, I won’t talk you into walking away from a heater. Play Stewart at your own risk.

Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers

Matchup – Carolina Panthers

The Packers obviously give zero shits about Aaron Jones winning them the game last week. I honestly thought this backfield would’ve been a little more even in terms of touches, but it’s clear that Jamaal Williams is the rookie to own in Green Bay. I certainly don’t blame them whatsoever. Williams is clearly a very talented player and has proven himself to be an asset in both the rushing and passing game. The rookie running back has now scored five touchdowns in the last three games, so it would be ludicrous for the Packers to tinker around with a good thing. While Carolina’s run defense has been solid, they’ve been vulnerable at times this season. I’m on the Jamaal Williams wagon until the wheels fall off.

Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions

Matchup – Chicago Bears

I realize the Lions can’t just give up on running the football. However, that’s exactly what they should do. Ameer Abdullah was a preseason sleeper that hasn’t exactly panned out this season. We all know Theo Riddick as the third down running back in this offense, but he didn’t disappoint while filling in for his teammate this week. Riddick had nearly 100 total yards last week against the Buccaneers and found the end zone twice. We’ll just overlook the fact that he only gained 29 yards on ten carries due to his role in the passing game. If Abdullah continues to miss time, the Riddick is an intriguing option this week against the Bears.

Wide receivers:

Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs

It’s easy to have a short memory when it comes to fantasy football. Tyrell Williams was a blessing for the Chargers last season after Keenan Allen was injured and lost for the season. Unfortunately, he has been mostly an afterthought for Phillip Rivers this year. That didn’t stop Williams from putting up his best numbers of the season against the Redskins last week, however. He had four catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in the win, which is the second time in three weeks he’s found the end zone. I’d like to say this is a sign of things to come, but I’m thinking these past few weeks have been anomalies in what has been a mediocre season for Williams. He’s best left on the waiver wire.

Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams

Matchup – Seattle Seahawks

Cooper Kupp has been on a roll over the last few weeks and is without a doubt Jared Geoff’s favorite target while Robert Woods recovers from injury. Kupp had the best game of his young career against the Eagles last week as he caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. This marks the second time in three weeks the rookie has passed the century mark, and he now has at least five catches and 60 yards in four consecutive games. Robert Woods is expected to return this week, so I don’t know if Kupp continues to put up these types of numbers after his teammate returns. He is, however, certainly worth adding to your roster if he’s available. His ownership is currently under 70%.

Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars

Matchup – Houston Texans

I’ve been telling you all to pick up Dede Westbrook for a few weeks now. The rookie had been seeing a lot of attention from his quarterback and was targeted 19 times in the two games leading up to last week. All of that attention translated into Westbrook’s best game of his young career as he had five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks last week. That brings the rookie’s production over the last three weeks to 17 receptions on 27 targets for 200 yards and a touchdown. There’s a strong possibility that Westbrook is still available as he is only owned in 15% of leagues. Go grab this kid immediately.

Tight ends:

Trey Burton – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – New York Giants

Owners with the foresight to grab and play Trey Burton in the absence of Zach Ertz deserve a pat on the back. Burton caught five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams last week and is the clear go to tight end when Ertz is sidelined. Unfortunately, this is undoubtedly short lived. Zach Ertz will likely return this week, and Burton is destined to fall by the wayside once again. Even if Ertz isn’t able to make it back, Burton would be a risky play with Nick Foles under center after Carson Wentz’s unfortunate knee injury.

Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers

Matchup – New England Patriots

It’s not really a huge surprise that Jesse James had the best game of his career when you consider that Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards against the Ravens last Sunday night. James finished with ten receptions on 12 targets for 97 yards. Pittsburgh hasn’t really had a viable tight end for fantasy football purposes since Heath Miller left, and Jesse James has been a sleeper candidate for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, there are simply too many mouths to feed in this offense for this kind of production to continue, and Big Ben won’t be throwing for 500 yards each week. Consider James’ big game an outlier.

OJ Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matchup – Atlanta Falcons

I think Cameron Brate’s days as the top receiving tight end for Tampa Bay may be numbered. We all assumed that would be the case, but OJ Howard has slowly been getting more involved in the offense down the stretch. The rookie has three games with at least 50 receiving yards in the last four weeks and finished the day with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown against the Lions last week. I think he’s worth a tentative add to your roster if you’re needing help at the tight end position.

Ice Cold:

Quarterbacks:

Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs

Matchup – Los Angeles Chargers

Those that trusted Alex Smith after his bounce back game against the Jets two weeks back were sorely mistaken and disappointed last Sunday. After looking like an MVP, Smith finished with 268 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception against the Raiders. That’s around ten fantasy points, which more than likely put fantasy owners in a tough spot in what should be the first week of the playoffs for most leagues. I just don’t see how you can trust Smith at this point, and I’m not too confident in him this week against a Chargers team that is making a late season push for the playoffs.

Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons

Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In case you haven’t realized it yet, Matt Ryan is not an every week starter at the quarterback position this season. While just about everyone expected some regression, Ryan’s play has been extremely inconsistent. I understand the Saints defense is much better than they’ve been in the past, but the fact that the former MVP threw three interceptions and only one touchdown is a little surprising. I would normally look at this matchup with Tampa Bay and be somewhat optimistic. Unfortunately, Matt Ryan simply isn’t a very reliable fantasy quarterback this season.

Josh McCown – New York Jets

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

This may seem a little insensitive after Josh McCown left the game last week with a broken hand. I hate seeing players get hurt just as much as the next guy, but McCown’s play against Broncos before the injury was particularly terrible. The veteran completed just six passes for 46 yards and had two turnovers in three quarters of play. That’s not exactly what I expected from McCown after two consecutive 30 point fantasy performances. Considering his impressive play at times, it’s tough to see McCown’s season end on such a low note. Especially when you think about what this team has done when expectations for them were so low.

Running backs:

Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints

Matchup – New York Jets

How happy do you think Drew Brees is that he no longer has to carry this offense by himself? The one two punch of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has made New Orleans one of the most dominant backfields in the league, which is so odd to think about. Unfortunately, Mark Ingram has been up and down as of late while Kamara has been borderline unstoppable. Ingram carried the ball 12 times for just 49 yards last week against the Falcons, which is even more disappointing when you consider that New Orleans was without Kamara for just about the entire game. While Kamara’s success has come at a detriment to Ingram, the veteran running back is still a viable fantasy option this week against the Jets.

Lamar Miller – Houston Texans

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

I really thought we were going to see Lamar Miller at his finest last week against a struggling 49ers run defense. That obviously wasn’t the case as Miller rushed for 53 yards on 17 carries, which makes last week the third straight game where he’s failed to rush for at least 60 yards. In fact, Miller hasn’t hit the 70 yard mark since week five of the season. Miller’s upside this week is extremely limited against the stout Jacksonville defense. He’s a low end flex play at best.

Christian McCaffery – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – Green Bay Packers

I was fairly confident in Christian McCaffery heading into last week’s matchup with the Vikings. I believed Minnesota’s defense would shut down the running game and force Carolina to throw the ball, which is where McCaffery shines. What I did not think would happen was Jonathan Stewart rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. The veteran has just one other 100 yard game and four total touchdowns this entire season, so last week’s performance was incredibly surprising. It also caused McCaffery to have the worst fantasy output of his young career. The rookie has been a valuable asset for the Panthers this season, and he should get back on track this week against Green Bay.

Wide receivers:

AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

As an AJ Green owner I can tell you the biggest downside of having him on your roster is the complete lack of consistency. Considering the erratic play of Andy Dalton, it’s not like we can put all of the blame on Green’s shoulders. The veteran superstar was coming off a big 77 yard two touchdown performance against the Steelers heading into last week’s matchup with the Bears but was only able to haul in five catches for 64 yards in that contest. Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t terrible numbers. I just feel like this kind of production has become the norm for Green this season. I don’t expect a bounce back effort against an intimidating Vikings defense this week.

Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matchup – Atlanta Falcons

Any hopes that Mike Evans would return to form with Jameis Winston back under center have been quickly dashed over the last two weeks. Outside of the game against the Jaguars, Evans has posted both of his two season low performances in back to back weeks with his starting quarterback back on the field. Evans has caught four passes for just 58 yards in the last two games, and it’s odd to think about how much better he was playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Considering the connection Evans and Winston have proved to have in past seasons, it’s certainly possible that the star receiver could get back on track this week against Atlanta. Don’t be shocked if he continues to struggle, however.

Robby Anderson – New York Jets

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

Well it was nice while it lasted. Robby Anderson was on a hot streak over the last several weeks where he had either 100 yards receiving or a touchdown in six consecutive games. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off the wagon big time for Anderson against the Broncos last week as he caught three passes on six targets for just 27 yards. The bigger issue here is the fact that Josh McCown suffered a broken hand, which should make Bryce Petty the starter for the Jets moving forward. Robby Anderson was a waiver wire sensation this season that likely won his owners more than a few matchups down the final stretch of the season. I’m not too confident in Petty being able to get the ball to Anderson without seeing a game out of him first.

Tight ends:

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Los Angeles Rams

What. In. The. Hell. Happened. Jimmy Graham has been one of the most consistent tight ends in the league this season, which is why I’m completely dumbfounded as to how exactly he didn’t log a single catch against Jacksonville. Graham had nine touchdowns in eight games heading into last week and has been one of the few plug and play tight ends this season, which is what makes this game so irritating. I can only assume this was simply just a down game where Seattle was outmatched by a superior defense. Graham should bounce back this week against the Rams.

Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

Delanie Walker’s play over the last several weeks is actually pretty impressive when you consider how bad Marcus Mariota has been this season. This offense was supposed to be a high powered juggernaut this year. Instead we’ve seen DeMarco Murray struggle, and Mariota has four more interceptions than touchdown passes. The one weekly starter on this offense we haven’t had to think too much about has been Walker, but his five catches and 42 yards was his worst production since week six. At this point in the season you’re likely starting Walker regardless of the matchup, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he struggles again considering Mariota’s poor play this season.

Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – Green Bay Packers

I received a ton of Greg Olsen questions on our twitter account over the weekend. My advice was to wait and see if he could make it through a whole game before rolling him out there. Well, the good news is that Olsen was on the field for all but five offensive snaps last week. The bad news is he was targeted just one time and finished without a single catch. The assumption is that Olsen should be more involved this week as long as he is able to be on the practice field and reconnect with Cam Newton. On the flip side, I’m still apprehensive to start him in my lineup if I have more stable options at tight end.

As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

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