February 07, 2016

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has "told people close to him" that he plans to retire this offseason.

There were reports last offseason that he was strongly considering retirement so it comes as little surprise that he plans to do so after an injury-marred 2015 season.

Battling hamstring injury early and having abdominal surgery later in the season, Lynch was anything but Beast Mode. Lynch missed more games (nine) than he played (seven) and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, his lowest average since 2010 when he was traded by Buffalo to Seattle.

Lynch finished the year with 111 carries for 417 yards and three touchdowns plus 13 catches for 80 yards. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls rushed for nearly twice as many yards (830) and averaged a league-best 5.6 YPC.

Since 2011, Lynch's first full season in Seattle, he ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (5,774) behind LeSean McCoy (5,970) and Adrian Peterson (5,893) and first in rushing touchdowns (51).

Going into 2016, Rawls will be a top-10 fantasy running back and a solid second-round pick in 2016 fantasy football drafts.

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January 31, 2016

Report: Calvin Johnson to retire

A couple of weeks ago, there were reports that suggested Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson could retire this offseason.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Megatron has told his family and the team that he plans to retire. In turn, coach Jim Caldwell has asked Johnson to take his time in deciding his future before making his final decision.

That said, Schefter's source says that Johnson is "pretty content with his decision."

While he wasn't fully healthy, Johnson played his first full 16-game slate in three seasons in 2015 and finished the campaign with 88 catches for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns. It was Johnson's sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season.

Back in 2012, Megatron broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage record with 1,964 yards.

In his career, Johnson has 731 receptions for 11,619 yards (27th-most all-time) and 83 touchdowns (22nd-most). Among qualified leaders, only Atlanta's Julio Jones (95.4/G) has more receiving yards per game in his career than Johnson (86.1/G).

The loss of Johnson would obviously diminish the fantasy football outlook of Matthew Stafford while also providing a boost to that for Golden Tate.

Aside from Johnson and Tate, only Lance Moore (337 yards) and T.J. Jones (132) exceeded 100 receiving yards among the team's wide receivers. Running backs Theo Riddick (697), Joique Bell (286) and Ameer Abdullah (183) and tight end Eric Ebron (537) all had more yards than Jones and Moore is a 32-year-old unrestricted free agent this offseason.

More than likely, the Lions will address their lack of receiver depth in free agency in March and/or the NFL Draft in April.

[Check out my early 2016 NFL Mock Draft and 2016 NFL Mock Draft Database]

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January 23, 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Joey Bosa to the Titans, Jared Goff to the Browns

It's nearly impossible to nail a mock draft minutes before it starts -- let alone more than three months beforehand.

With this update of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft, the goal is to highlight some prospects and potential fits at this point. It's fair to say, this mock will likely look a lot different in the days leading up to the draft than it does today.

With that said, here is my (still) way-too-early 2016 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Tennessee Titans (team draft history): Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

It's certainly possible that the Titans go with Laremy Tunsil here to better protect second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota as no team surrendered more sacks than the Titans last season. With this pick, however, Bosa gives them someone that can get after opposing quarterbacks. Over his three seasons in Columbus, Bosa had 51.0 tackles for loss and 26.0 sacks.

2. Cleveland Browns (team draft history): Jared Goff, QB, California

Here are the final four quarterbacks still playing football this season: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer. Granted, Manning is not playing like the five-time MVP Manning, but it's no secret that it's virtually impossible to win a Super Bowl with a question mark at the most important position in sports. Since their return in 1999, the Browns have had nothing but question marks at the position. With a new coaching staff and front office, it would make sense to start over and try to fix their biggest problem.

3. San Diego Chargers (team draft history): Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi

Injuries were a huge issue last season, but the Chargers offensive line ranked 32nd by PFF. Perhaps the top prospect overall in this year's draft class, Tunsil allowed only two sacks over 29 games at Ole Miss and none in his six games this season. This would surely be a welcome selection by Philip Rivers.

4. Dallas Cowboys (team draft history): DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Former Cowboys VP Gil Brandt suggested that the Cowboys pick could come down to Bosa, who's off the board in this mock, and Buckner. Even with the high-profile and controversial signing of Greg Hardy, who becomes a free agent this offseason, the Cowboys generated only 31 sacks, tied for 25th in the NFL.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars (team draft history): Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

There is a lot to like about Ramsey -- his elite size (6-1, 202), athleticism (potential Olympian?) and positional versatility. Jacksonville ranked 29th in pass defense and only three teams intercepted fewer passes last season.

6. Baltimore Ravens (team draft history): Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

The Ravens signed Eugene Monroe to a five-year deal only two offseasons ago, but he has missed five-plus games in each of his two seasons with the club. Cutting him would save the team $6.5 million against the cap.

7. San Francsico 49ers (team draft history): Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

While the Niners gave Torrey Smith big money last offseason, Anquan Boldin turns 36 in October and will become a free agent in March. Treadwell may lack elite speed, but he has excellent size, strength and hands.

8. Miami Dolphins (team draft history): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

A knee injury ended his season and collegiate career prematurely, but the versatile and ultra-athletic linebacker was the Pac-12's Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the year. Despite some splash free-agent moves, the Dolphins defense ranked near the bottom of the league in 2015.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (team draft history): Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

No defense allowed a higher completion percentage (70.0) than Tampa Bay and despite facing the seventh-fewest pass attempts (540), they allowed the fifth-most passing touchdowns (31). While he lacks ideal size, the three-time All-SEC selection had 10 interceptions in his three seasons in Gainesville.

10. New York Giants (team draft history): Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

The Giants have a number of defensive ends set to hit free agency including Jason Pierre-Paul. Lawson led college football with 25.5 tackles for loss last season.

11. Chicago Bears (team draft history): Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, Ragland led Alabama in tackles and tackles for loss. While he may have some coverage limitations, he will help shore up a run defense that allowed 4.5 yards per carry last season.

12. New Orleans Saints (team draft history): A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

The Saints ranked second-to-last in total defense (413.8 yards per game) and last in scoring defense (29.8 points per game). Ranking 31st in both pass and run defense, the Saints allowed a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry last season. Robinson will help shore up the Saints leaky run defense.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (team draft history): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

With prototypical size (6-5, 235) and playing in pro-style system, FCS to the NFL is a big jump for Wentz, but it also wouldn't be a shock if he were the first quarterback off the board. Or at least, off the board by this point in the draft. With Sam Bradford about to become a free agent and Chip Kelly out, the Eagles could find their quarterback of the future in Wentz.

14. Oakland Raiders (team draft history): Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

A redshirt sophomore and top-five high school recruit, Alexander helps to fill one of the team's bigger needs. Even with the now-retired safety Charles Woodson having a strong season (five interceptions), the Raiders ranked 26th in pass defense and D.J. Hayden has not lived up to his (high) first-round expectations.

15. St. Louis Rams (team draft history): Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

The Rams make the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles with many talented players on their roster, but quarterback is a clear weakness. The team traded oft-injured Sam Bradford for Nick Foles, but he isn't the long-term answer. With more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (seven) last season, Foles was eventually benched in favor of Case Keenum. While it may be better for him to sit and learn for a season, Lynch has an intriguing complement of physical traits.

16. Detroit Lions (team draft history): Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE, Mississippi

With a number of their defensive linemen about to enter free agency, the Lions could look to add reinforcements to their defensive front. The nation's top recruit coming out of high school, perhaps his on-field production did not entirely live up to the hype. And while there are the obvious off-field concerns, there is no denying the physical tools.

- Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2016 NFL Mock Draft

- For more mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database.

- Fantasy Football Rankings for the Conference Championship Games

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January 20, 2016

Conference Championship Games: Fantasy Football Playoff Tight End Rankings

Here are my Championship Game tight end rankings:

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (at DEN)

There were some (health) concerns with Gronkowski going into Saturday's game as he missed practice time during the week to get pain-killing injections in his knee and reports suggested his back was a bigger concern than his knee. In typical Gronk fashion, however, he hauled in seven receptions for 83 yards and two scores. In Week 12 against the Broncos, Gronk had six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown and he has as much upside as any player at any position this week.

2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Scoring the fifth-most fantasy points among tight ends during the regular season, Olsen led Carolina in receptions (77), targets (123) and receiving yards (1,104) and scored seven touchdowns. On Sunday, Olsen finished with six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. Olsen should led the team in targets and production this Sunday as well.

3. Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

After Gronk and Olsen, there is an enormous dropoff in these rankings. Daniels has had some productive outings this season, but he has 15 receiving yards (or less) in three of his past four games.

4. Darren Fells, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

In last week's win over the Packers, Fells had two receptions for 14 yards. While he had four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Fells has three or fewer receptions in every other game this season.

5. Virgil Green, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

Green set (modest) career highs this season with 12 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown, but he has been held without a catch in seven games as well.

6. Vernon Davis, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

Davis has rare athletic traits for a tight end and he has four games with more than 60 yards this season, but he has not been targeted since Week 15.

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Conference Championship Games: Fantasy Football Playoff Wide Receiver Rankings

We're down to the final three games of the NFL season with both Championship Games this weekend.

With four elite quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning), there are plenty of solid wide receiver options this weekend. I'd feel comfortable starting any of my top-six fantasy receivers.

With that said, here are my Championship Game Wide Receiver rankings:

1. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (at DEN)

Before breaking his foot in Week 10, Edelman was averaging a career-high stat line of 6.78/76.89/0.78 on nearly 10 targets (9.78) per game. Returning this past week, Edelman had a number of drops, but he finished the game with 10 receptions for 100 yards and was targeted on 16 -- or 38.1 percent -- of Tom Brady's 42 pass attempts. While he may not see 16 targets once again, Edelman should be one of the most targeted and productive receivers of the weekend.

2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

It was a week to forget when Thomas the faced the Patriots the first time this season. Targeted 13 times, Thomas had just one reception for 36 yards and plenty of drops. In addition, that was the only regular-season game in which Thomas had less than 50 yards this season.

Despite an average of more than 11 targets per game, Thomas did not finish as a weekly top-10 fantasy receiver until Week 17. (That said, he finished as the weekly WR11/WR12 three times during the season.) Given his expected volume of targets, however, it wouldn't surprise me if he finished as a top-scoring receiver this weekend.

3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Fitzgerald started slowly in the Divisional Round with only a six-yard reception in the first half, but he finished Saturday night's game with eight catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. During the regular season, Fitzgerald set a career high with 109 receptions for 1,215 yards, his first 1,000-yard season since 2011, and nine touchdowns. While he extended his scoring streak to three games on Saturday, Fitzgerald ended a five-game streak of games with 55 yard or less.

4. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

Sanders had four 100-yard games this season and one of those happened in Week 12 against the Patriots. In that game, Sanders had six catches for 113 yards on nine targets.

5. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Brown had a solid, if not spectacular, performance against the Packers with five catches for 82 yards on nine targets. Even though Brown had scored in three of his final four regular-season games, he had closed the season with three consecutive games of 45 yards or less.

6. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Over the final eight games of the regular season, Floyd exceeded 100 receiving yards five times. Not only did all five of his 100-yard games occur during that span, but Floyd failed to reach 60 yards in any of his games before that stretch. Floyd had just three catches for 26 yards on Saturday, but two of his three receptions were touchdowns. Whether or not Floyd is shadowed by Josh Norman, I'd expect him to at least see more of Norman than any other Cardinals receiver.

7. Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Not only did Ginn score a career-high 10 touchdowns this season, but he even had a stretch of three consecutive games with multiple touchdowns. Last week, however, Ginn had a total of only 11 (rushing) yards. While Ginn had four multi-touchdown games this season, his weekly volume of targets was inconsistent.

8. Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (at DEN)

Five targets. Three catches. Six yards. Not good. Facing the league's top-ranked pass defense and stingiest defense to fantasy wide receivers, LaFell is unlikely to exceed his Week 12 output -- four catches for 36 yards -- against the Broncos.

9. Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

After having the best game of his career in Week 17 (7/120/1), Funchess was targeted only once and finished with one catch for 12 yards. From Weeks 5 to 17, Funchess scored a touchdown in every other game so perhaps he's due? Seriously though, he's the biggest of the team's wide receivers and he will likely only have a productive fantasy outing if he finds the end zone.

10. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (at DEN)

With Edelman back, Amendola had just three targets on Saturday (compared to Edelman's 16) and turned them into two catches for 18 yards. With a full complement of pass-catchers, Amendola is no better than third in line for targets behind Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.

11. Corey Brown, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Brown had exactly three catches in each of the team's final four regular-season games with more than 50 yards in three of those games. With two catches for 22 yards in the Divisional Round, Brown is nothing more than a low-upside, low-floor option this week.

12. Keshawn Martin, New England Patriots (at DEN)

Martin had two receptions for 57 yards on four targets against the Chiefs on Saturday. Beyond Edelman and Gronk, the team's pass catchers are unreliable fantasy options.

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January 19, 2016

Conference Championship Games: Fantasy Football Playoff Running Back Rankings

This weekend's games feature a game with a pair of workhorse backs and committee backfields in the other.

It should come as no suprise that the two NFC workhorses top the list, followed by the AFC backs.

That said, the Broncos actually give fantasy owners two viable options. As Denver attempts to take some pressure off Peyton Manning, who hasn't looked like Peyton Manning this season, both of the team's running backs should get double-digit touches.

On the other hand, the Patriots running back situation is generally one to avoid, now and usually, as it's never clear how Belichick will allocate the workload to their backs.

With that said, here are my Championship Game Running Back rankings:

1. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Finishing as a top-five weekly fantasy running back in three of his five regular-season games as a starter, Johnson has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL since taking over for an injured Chris Johnson. The rookie had a modest outing against the Packers with 15 carries for only 35 yards and six catches for another 43 yards, but he's still my top-ranked running back this weekend.

In his six games as a starter, Johnson has amassed a total of 105 carries for 477 yards, 23 receptions for 259 yards (on 37 targets) with five combined touchdowns. The Panthers allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards (88.4/G) this season, but Johnson's versatility gives him a solid floor and plenty of upside. In fact, the Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs among the remaining four teams alive in the postseason.

2. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Despite the difficult matchup and month-long absence, Stewart ran the ball well in his return to the field on Sunday. Not only did Stewart rush for 106 yards and two scores on 19 carries, but it was the first 100-yard rushing game against the Seahawks since Jamaal Charles did so in 2014.

Before exiting Week 14's game against the Falcons with a foot injury, Stewart had eight consecutive games with 20-plus carries. While the matchup against the Cardinals is a challenging one, The Daily Show should be in store for another heavy workload.

3. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

It was a rough start to the season for Anderson, a first- or second-round pick in most 2015 fantasy drafts, but he's been very productive since November. Extending his touchdown streak to three games, CJA now has 15 carries in back-to-back games. Since Nov. 1st, Anderson has a total of 100 carries for 612 yards -- 6.12 YPC (obviously) -- and six touchdowns plus 14 catches for 94 yards.

4. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

Even though Hillman (16) had more carries than Anderson (15) last week, he gained just 38 yards. That said, Hillman has a minimum of 13 touches in nine consecutive games. Despite the steady workload as part of this committee, Hillman has definitely been outperformed by CJA over the past couple of months. With both backs likely to get double-digit touches, however, both are worth starting this week in playoff leagues and/or DFS contests.

5. James White, New England Patriots (at DEN)

Hardly involved in the team's win over the Chiefs, White had just three touches -- one carry for five yards and two receptions (on three targets) for 39 yards. White had only one game with double-digit rushing yards (14 in Week 11) during the regular season, but he had been much more involved in the passing game down the stretch.

Over his final five regular-season games, he had 28 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 35 targets. Even though the team's pass-catchers are healthy again, White should be more involved, especially as a receiver, this weekend although he's too risky to trust over any of the top-four options this week.

6. Steven Jackson, New England Patriots (at DEN)

The good news is that Jackson led the team in rushing. The bad news is that he had just 16 yards on six carries. There may be some upside given that there is always the chance that Jackson gets a goal-line opportunity or two. Then again, there is just as much of a chance that Tom Brady will vulture a goal-line rushing score on a QB sneak (like on Saturday).

7. Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

There's the potential that Tolbert get a goal-line opportunity, but he is third in line for those opportunities behind quarterback Cam Newton and Stewart.

8. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Ellington had three carries for three yards and did not catch his lone target on Saturday. He should only get a handful of touches as a change-of-pace option to Johnson on Sunday.

9. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Artis-Payne will give Stewart an occasional breather, but he had just three carries for seven yards and one reception for one yards on Sunday.

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January 18, 2016

Fantasy Football Playoff Quarterback Rankings for Championship Game Weekend

Going into the Conference Championship Games, we get a pair of chalk matchups featuring the top-two seeds in each conference.

That said, it's the first time the NFL has featured a pair of 1-vs.-2 matchups in both Conference Championships since the 2004 season.

And while Peyton Manning may not be playing like Peyton Manning any more (or ever again), we get another edition of Tom Brady-vs.-Peyton -- Version, 17.0. Five of those 17 matchups (will) have occurred in the playoffs.

Here are my Championship Game Quarterback rankings:

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. ARI)

Among the quartet of quarterbacks playing on Sunday, Newton has the most upside due to his dual-threat abilities. Not only did he throw for 3,837 yards and a career-high 35 touchdowns, but Newton ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns as well. In addition, Newton threw a career-low 10 interceptions. Scoring more fantasy points than any other quarterback this season, Newton finished as the weekly QB1 in five of his final nine regular-season games.

The Cardinals have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Both games this weekend are projected to be close, but the Panthers are favored in the game with the higher over/under.

2. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at CAR)

Scoring the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks this season, Palmer set career highs in passing yards (4,671) and touchdowns (35). More impressive than his overall stats, however, Palmer was remarkably consistent throughout the season. Excluding Week 17 when he played just a half, he either threw for 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in 14 of 16 games including Saturday's win over the Packers.

On paper, the matchup is difficult as the Panthers have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. When jumping out to huge leads, however, the Panthers have struggled to clamp down in the second half over the past month or so.

Seattle's Russell Wilson threw for 366 yards and three scores on Sunday despite a 31-0 halftime deficit. Meanwhile, Eli Manning nearly led the Giants back from a 35-7 third-quarter deficit as the team scored four second-half touchdowns against the Panthers in Week 15.

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (at DEN)

With a healthy complement of pass-catchers, Brady threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's win over the Chiefs. The Broncos have limited opposing quarterbacks to the fewest fantasy points this season, but Brady threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns against them in Week 12. In that game, the team was missing Julian Edelman, who was targeted 16 times last week by Brady.

4. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)

In Sunday's win over the Steelers, Manning threw for 222 yards and no touchdowns (or interceptions) although Denver had six drops on Sunday. While Manning has the most favorable matchup this weekend, the team will look to rely heavily on their ground game and 1-2 punch of C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman. Despite being the all-time leader in NFL history in both passing yards and touchdowns, Manning has the least upside and lowest floor of any starting quarterback this weekend.

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January 16, 2016

Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Divisional Round of Playoffs

There are a number of key injuries at running back heading into this weekend's game.

While DeAngelo Williams has been ruled out, two of my top-three running backs return after an extended absence this weekend. The most (injury) uncertainty at the position is in Kansas City with Spencer Ware listed as questionable, but the Chiefs and Patriots kick off the weekend's slate of games so fantasy owners will know his availability early.

Here are my Divisional Round Running Back rankings:

1. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. GB)

Excluding Week 17, Johnson finished as a weekly top-five fantasy running back in three of his four other starts to close the season. One of those games was against the Packers in Week 16 when Johnson carried the ball nine times for 39 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 88 yards in the 30-point blowout. Even though this game should be closer, no team is projected to score more points than the Cardinals this weekend based on Vegas odds. Assuming it's closer and the Cardinals don't score a pair of defensive touchdowns again, Johnson should get roughly 20 touches this time around and is my clear top-ranked fantasy running back for the week.

2. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)

Trying to figure out Beast Mode is not easy and after practicing fully before the Wild Card round, he decided to not fly to Minnesota for the team's matchup against the Vikings. Going into this weekend's games, Lynch has said that he's "ready" and he was on the team's flight to Carolina.

With Lynch declaring himself ready, he should get approach 20 touches against the Panthers. In his first matchup against Carolina, Lynch had 17 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown.

3. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)

Before leaving Week 14 early, Stewart had eight consecutive games with 20-plus carries, a streak that began in Week 6 in Seattle. The matchup against the Seahawks is a difficult one as no team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs, but Stewart had success in their first matchup. In that game, The Daily Show carried the ball 20 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

4. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (at NE)

Returning to practice on Thursday, it appears that Ware will be ready to go on Saturday in Foxboro. With a total of 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Ware has exactly 16 carries in each of his past two games. Given the uncertain status of Jeremy Maclin (high-ankle sprain), the Chiefs will likely rely heavily on their ground attack with Ware getting the largest share of the workload.

5. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)

Anderson had 15 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in Week 17 against San Diego and has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back games. Since November 1st, CJA has carried the ball 85 times for 540 yards (6.35 yards per carry) and five touchdowns over nine games. With Peyton Manning under center, I'd expect the Broncos to rely heavily on their rushing attack even though it's easier to exploit the Steelers through the air than on the ground.

6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)

In their first matchup against the Cardinals, the Packers scored a season-low eight points in a 30-point blowout. And in general, the Cardinals have been stingy in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs (fifth-fewest this season). That said, Lacy was one of the team's few bright spots in their first matchup as he rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries and added a 28-yard touchdown reception.

7. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)

Against the Chargers last week, Hillman carried the ball 15 times for 117 yards and a touchdown and added two receptions for 10 yards. While I prefer CJA, Hillman has a minimum of 13 touches in eight consecutive games.

8. James White, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

More valuable in PPR formats, White has a total of 28 receptions over his final five games of the season. With a total of 336 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns during that span, White averaged 11.52 fantasy points per game in standard-scoring formats and 17.12 in (full) PPR formats.

9. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (at NE)

Last week, West had just eight carries for 26 yards and one catch for nine yards in the team's 30-0 shutout over the Texans. His eight carries were his lowest since October 11th when he had seven carries against the Bears. West is more involved as a receiver than Ware, but Ware figures to get the larger share of the workload and goal-line opportunities. If the team falls behind early, however, it wouldn't surprise me to see West have a productive week (especially in PPR formats) and get five-plus receptions.

10. Fitzgerald Toussaint, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DEN)

As noted above, DeAngelo Williams (foot) will miss another game. Toussaint wasn't efficient in Saturday's win over the Bengals as he gained only 58 yards on his 17 carries, but he had a total of 21 touches for 118 yards. Once again, Toussaint should get the most opportunities among the team's backs.

11. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)

Starks gained 65 yards on 14 touches and scored a touchdown last week against Washington. Compared to his first matchup against the Cardinals (three carries for 11 yards), Starks should have more opportunities this time around.

12. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)

Michael carried the ball 17 times for 102 yards against the Cardinals in Week 17 and he added 21 carries for 70 yards last week in Minnesota. With Lynch expected to play, however, Michael's workload should be significantly reduced against the Panthers.

13. Steven Jackson, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

In two games with the Patriots, Jackson has 21 carries for 50 yards (2.4 YPC) and a touchdown plus one 20-yard reception. It's possible that he gets a goal-line opportunity, or two, and the largest share of the early-down carries, but it wouldn't surprise me if those touches/opportunities went to Brandon Bolden.

14. Jordan Todman, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DEN)

Todman actually rushed for more yards (65 yards on 11 carries) than Toussaint and looked more explosive despite getting roughly half the touches. With Williams sidelined, however, Todman could still see double-digit touches once again.

15. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

Bolden has double-digit touches in four consecutive games with a total of 201 yards from scrimmage on his 53 touches including nine receptions. It's hard to trust any Patriots running back, but Bolden and Jackson should both get some early-down work on Saturday.

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January 13, 2016

Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Divisional Round of Playoffs

Going into the best (football) weekend of the year, there are a number of injuries among the top tier of fantasy positions. And although a couple of quarterbacks are dealing with injuries themselves, it appears that all of the team's normal starters will be ready to go on Saturday or Sunday.

Five of the quarterbacks playing this weekend finished among the top-seven fantasy quarterbacks in 2015. Two of the other three quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger -- missed multiple games.

Big Ben actually led the NFL in passing yards per game (328.2), but he may be without his best weapon and Manning is the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Yet both are ranked in the bottom-half of my fantasy quarterback rankings for the weekend.

Here are my Divisional Round Quarterback rankings:

1. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. GB)

Not only did he score the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015, Palmer was remarkably consistent throughout the season. Excluding Week 17 when Palmer sat the second half, Palmer threw for 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in 13 of 15 games including Week 16 against the Packers (265 yards and two touchdowns).

In addition, Palmer and the Cardinals are the biggest favorites of the weekend in the game with the highest over/under. Therefore, no team (obviously) is projected to score more points than the Cardinals (28.5) based on Vegas odds.

2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)

Not only did he score the most fantasy points in 2015, but Newton finished as the weekly top-scoring fantasy quarterback in five of the past nine weeks. In fact, he has finished as a top-six weekly fantasy quarterback nine times this season. Newton threw for 3,837 yards and a career-high 35 touchdowns while rushing for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns as well.

Only the Broncos have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Seahawks this season, but Newton had a solid fantasy outing (19.76 fantasy points, QB11) in his first matchup this year. In Week 6, he threw for 269 yards and a touchdown and ran for 30 yards and another score although he threw two interceptions.

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)

Over the final seven regular-season games, Wilson averaged 272.29 passing yards and 3.43 touchdowns per game, but he completed just 13-of-26 attempts for 142 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Wild Card win over Minnesota. On a positive note, the weather should be much warmer in Carolina this weekend. That said, the Panthers have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. KC)

Sustaining a high-ankle sprain in the regular-season finale, Brady is expected to be ready for Saturday's matchup against the Chiefs. In addition, the offensive line will certainly have their hands full with one of the top pass rushes in the NFL. On a positive note, however, Brady should have healthier offensive linemen this week in addition to getting back trusted target Julian Edelman. Before shutting out the Texans on Saturday, the Chiefs closed the regular season allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)

It was only the second time this season that the Packers scored at least 35 points and Rodgers threw multiple touchdown passes for the first time since Week 14. That said, he threw for only 210 yards in a relatively favorable matchup against Washington, who had allowed 341.25 passing yards per game over their past four games.

Counting Sunday's win, Rodgers has averaged 220.13 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game over his past eight games. Only a couple of weeks ago, Rodgers and the Packers were blown out in Arizona as he threw for 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)

It was a year to forget for Manning, but he had an opportunity to take over for Brock Osweiler in Week 17 and help lead the Broncos to a win. (That said, I don't think the problem was Osweiler.) Going forward, Manning begins the postseason as the starter and he gets the most favorable matchup on the board. Only the Giants and Saints allowed more passing yards than the Steelers this season.

While the way to exploit the Steelers defense is through the air, the Broncos should rely heavily on their rushing attack and defense this weekend. Despite missing much of the season, Manning threw 17 interceptions (second-most behind Blake Bortles, 18) and only nine touchdowns this season.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DEN)

First things first, it appears that Big Ben will be under center for the Steelers on Sunday. As virtually every player is fighting through some ailment this late in the season, an injury to a quarterback's throwing shoulder is obviously a big concern.

The matchup itself is challenging as the Broncos have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, but Antonio Brown is currently in the concussion protocol as well. His absence would significantly damper Roethlisberger's outlook. On a positive note, however, Big Ben threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos in Week 15.

8. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at NE)

In Saturday's 30-0 win over the Texans, Smith led the Chiefs to an 11th consecutive win. Smith extended another streak as he threw for less than 200 yards for the sixth consecutive week. During that six-game span, Smith has thrown 25 pass attempts or less each week.

Facing stiffer competition this week, the Chiefs are unlikely to play most of the game with the lead. So, perhaps that leads to more pass attempts. That said, Jeremy Maclin is dealing with a high-ankle sprain, which puts his status for Saturday's game in serious jeopardy. And if he is able to go, how effective will he be?

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January 09, 2016

Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Wild Card Round of Playoffs

It's a weekend of a potentially low-scoring games -- no game has a higher over/under than 46.0. And two of the four games have over/unders set a 40.0 (or less).

Of the teams playing this weekend, only Washington and Pittsburgh rank in the top half of the league in most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. On the other hand, five of the eight defenses playing this weekend ranked among the 10 stingiest defenses to fantasy quarterbacks.

With that said, here are my fantasy quarterback rankings for the Wild Card Round of the playoffs:

1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CIN)

Since returning from injury in Week 8, Big Ben has scored 21-plus fantasy points in six of nine games. During that nine-game span, Roethlisberger has averaged 335.67 passing yards per game with a total of 17 touchdowns. In addition, he has 334-plus yards in six of his past eight games.

Two of Roethlisberger's worst games during that stretch have come against the Bengals: 8.48 and 9.88 fantasy points. In those two games, he threw only one touchdown and four interceptions. It's certainly possible that Roethlisberger has another dud against the Bengals, but I would expect the Steelers to be more pass-happy than usual with DeAngelo Williams sidelined for this week's game.

2. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (vs. GB)

Full of confidence heading into the postseason, Cousins has the team's offense firing on all cylinders at the right time. Even with Cousins sitting in the second half of last week, he has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in his past three games.

Dating back to Week 7, he has posted an impressive 23:3 TD-to-INT ratio and he actually has more rushing scores (four) than interceptions thrown over that stretch. During that 10-game span, Cousins has finished as fantasy's QB1 three times and QB2 once. Moreover, he has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in seven of those 10 weeks including each of his past four games.

Like the team itself, Cousins has been even better at home than on the road. Excluding Week 1, Cousins has accounted for 19 touchdowns -- 15 passing and four rushing -- with no interceptions at FedEx Field. It feels weird to write, but I have much more confidence in Cousins than the other quarterback in this game.

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at MIN)

With multiple touchdowns in only one of his first nine games this season, Wilson has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven consecutive games going into the postseason. During that seven-game span, he has thrown at least three touchdowns six times and has averaged 3.43 touchdowns per contest.

Even though the Vikings were middle of the road in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, five of the other seven teams playing this weekend have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In his first matchup against the Vikings, Wilson threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at WAS)

Especially on offense, the Packers haven't looked like the Packers this season. Even though he played a full 16-game season, Rodgers scored the seventh-most fantasy points in 2015. The other six times that he played a full season (15 or 16 games), Rodgers finished as fantasy's QB1 or QB2. In his tenure as the team's starting quarterback, Rodgers set career lows in completion percentage (60.7), Y/A (6.7) and QB rating (92.7) and his TD% (5.4) was his lowest since his first year (2008) as a starter.

It is a favorable matchup for Rodgers, however, as Washington has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. And among playoff teams, no team has allowed more. That said, Rodgers has no 300-yard games in his past seven games, a span during which he has averaged only 221.6 passing yards per game.

5. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at HOU)

Steady, but with little upside, Smith has thrown for less than 200 yards in five consecutive games. In addition, he has thrown for under 200 yards in half of his games this season. That said, he has multiple touchdown passes in four of his last six games and he threw for a season-high three touchdowns against the Texans in Week 1. Most of Smith's upside comes from his rushing ability as he ran for 498 yards this season.

6. Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans (vs. KC)

It's been a crazy season for the Texans as four different starting quarterbacks have won games for them this season. It's been an up-and-down season for Hoyer, who was benched in Week 1 against the Chiefs. Among teams playing this weekend, no team threw it more than the Texans (619 attempts). Since Week 5, however, the Chiefs have allowed just one weekly top-12 fantasy quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, QB5 in Week 12).

7. AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. PIT)

For at least one more week, McCarron will get the start over Andy Dalton (thumb). With modest production, McCarron has thrown for 200 yards or less in his final three regular-season games. He did, however, throw for a season-high 280 yards in his first start, which was against the Steelers. In his four starts, McCarron has compiled a 6:2 TD-to-INT ratio.

8. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (vs. SEA)

Coming off a 99-yard performance against the Packers, Bridgewater has barely averaged 200 passing yards this season (201.94/G). In addition, he has thrown multiple touchdowns in only two of 16 games. Due to Seattle allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season and the Minnesota's run-heavy play calling, his upside is limited. In fact, he threw for 118 yards, no touchdowns and one interception against the Seahawks in Week 13 for 2.92 fantasy points even though they were blown out.

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January 03, 2016

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 17 (Hanson)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season:

New England Patriots -10 over Miami Dolphins (2 units)

With home-field advantage potentially on the line, the Patriots will have something for which to play in the regular-season finale. If the Patriots were to lose and the Broncos were to win, New England would be the No. 2 seed. Historically, the Patriots have closed the season strong as they have covered 12 of their last 15 Week 17 games.

And if you ask Miko Grimes, the opinionated wife of Brent Grimes, she's not a fan of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. She recently tweeted, "how many people does Ryan Tannehill have to get fired before you realize he's the problem." If anything, it just adds more problems for this under-performing team that can't wait for the offseason to begin.

The good news with the Patriots, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is that they are never afraid to pour it on. Despite the large spread, I expect them to take it to the Dolphins -- and then Miko to take to Twitter.

Green Bay Packers -3 over Minnesota Vikings (2 units)

The season hasn't gone as planned for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this season, but here they are playing for the division title in regular-season game No. 256 of 256. Minnesota held Rodgers to a season-low 47.06 completion percentage in their first matchup, but Rodgers and the Packers have historically been tough to beat at Lambeau Field.

The Vikings will rely on Adrian Peterson to carry to load, but the Packers did a solid job at limiting him to only 45 yards (and a touchdown) on 13 carries in their first matchup this season. Despite the struggles this season, it comes down to trust in a prime-time matchup -- Rodgers at Lambeau or Teddy Bridgewater on the road? Give me Rodgers every day of the week.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 17 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season:

Pittsburgh Steelers -11.5 over Cleveland Browns (5 units)

The Steelers need a win in Cleveland and some help by Buffalo to make the playoffs. I actually think the Jets would be a harder playoff matchup for the Patriots since the Steelers pass D is so bad, so the conspiracy theory crowd needs to relax. I believe everyone who was burned by the Steelers last week will be rewarded in this one. The Browns secondary is banged up, and that should lead to a monster game for Ben Roethlisberger and all his weapons. Steelers smoke the Browns, 38-17.

New Orleans Saints +5.5 over Atlanta Falcons (5 units)
Falcons vs. Saints -- Over 53.0 (3 units)

Julio Jones has a legit shot at breaking two NFL records today. Jones needs 17 receptions to break Marvin Harrison's single-season record of 143, and he needs 243 yards to break Calvin Johnson's record of 1,964 yards. The Falcons are playing one of the leagues worst pass defenses, so I think this is actually attainable.

Another reason I think so is the QB on the other side. Drew Brees looked great last week in a home win vs. the Jaguars. Brees and the Saints offense should be able to put up some points in this one, and in a predicted shootout, I trust Brees more than I trust Matt Ryan, who has been pretty bad this year. I like the Saints to win on the road, and I believe Julio falls a little short of the record (15-195-1). Saints, 41-31.

Philadelphia Eagles +5.5 over New York Giants (5 units)
Giants vs. Eagles -- Over 51.0 (4 units)

This game has so many narrartives, it isn't funny. We have the Odell Beckham F/U game after being suspended by the NFL. We have the Eagles F/U game after getting rid of Chip Kelly. We also potentially have the Giants playing their final game with coach Tom Coughlin. Both defenses are awful, which should lead to a lot of points. If you are playing DFS today, then load up on this game as I project this game to be the highest scoring of the week. Both QBs throw for over 300 yards, but the difference I think is DeMarco Murray, who I think will have a huge game today. Eagles squeak out a win on the road, 38-37.

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Week 17 Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Martavis Bryant is listed below as a "start" for Week 17. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 17 with him as my starting one of my starting wide receivers.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned both Antonio Brown, Allen Robinson and Bryant and started only two receivers, you should start Brown and Robinson -- and in turn, bench Bryant.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my fantasy football rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 17:

WR - Eric Decker, New York Jets (at BUF)

Few players, at any position, have been as consistent as Decker this season. With a minimum of 80 yards and/or a touchdown in every game this season, Decker has scored at least 8.1 fantasy points every week and he has scored the 10th-most fantasy points among receivers through Week 16.

Interestingly enough, Decker has finished as a top-10 weekly fantasy wide receiver in only one game this season. Coincidentally though, it was Week 10 against the Bills.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)

In his first seven games, Floyd never reached 60 receiving yards in any game. Since then, however, Floyd has five 100-yard outings in his past seven games played. The matchup against the Seahawks is poor on paper as the Seahawks have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to the position, but Floyd had his best game of the season in his first matchup against Seattle (7/113/2).

WR - Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)

Across the board, the Steelers passing attack disappointed fantasy owners in a prime Week 16 matchup against the Ravens. Bryant himself had just one catch for six yards on three targets. In fact, Bryant has now finished outside the top-36 fantasy receivers in three consecutive weeks: WR50, WR39 and WR92, respectively.

Before his three-game rough patch, however, Bryant had 623 yards and six touchdowns in his previous seven games. Not only have the Browns allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, but Bryant had six catches for a season-high 178 yards and a touchdown against them in Week 10.

WR - Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)

Cooks started the season slowly, but his breakout has occurred over the second half. Not only does Cooks have 100-plus yards and a touchdown in three of his past four games, but he has a total of eight touchdowns in his past eight games. (Cooks scored only once in his first seven games this season.) During that eight-game span, Cooks has finished as a top-15 fantasy wide receiver six times.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 17:

WR - Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)

Three targets. Fifteen yards. 1.7 fantasy points. While that was what fantasy owners got from Cobb in Week 16 and all of those were season lows, it's been a terribly disappointing season for Cobb's fantasy owners. Since Week 4, Cobb has scored double-digit fantasy points only once (Week 9) and that was his only top-24 weekly performance. Also since Week 4, Cobb has finished as the weekly WR50 (or worse) in seven of 12 games.

WR - DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (at DAL)

Typically a boom-or-bust fantasy option, D-Jax has scored 12-plus or less than five fantasy points in every game this season. Listed as questionable on the injury report, Jackson (knee) is likely to have his snaps limited in a meaningless game. Regardless of the game's outcome, Washington is locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC.

WR - T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN)

Although his final numbers will be solid, it has been an up-and-down season for Hilton as Andrew Luck has missed the majority of the season. Or has been dealing with injury when on the field. With Luck and Matt Hasselbeck ruled out for Week 17, the starting quarterback will be Ryan Lindley or Josh Freeman, both of whom signed with the Colts on Tuesday. Enough said.

WR - Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (at MIA)

Although LaFell has 35 more receptions than I do, he and I are tied with zero touchdown receptions on the season. LaFell had just one catch for 19 yards last week and now has 36 yards or less in four of his last five games.

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January 02, 2016

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 17 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season:

New York Jets -3 over Buffalo Bills (5 units)

Week 17 is always one of the hardest to gauge, but the best thing to do is to look for must-win games and obvious mismatches. This week, the Jets are in a must-win game, as if they win on the road, than they will punch their ticket to the playoffs. For all of the bragging and defensive résumé that Rex Ryan brings, the Bills have actually taken a step back this year. And to me, it looks like they already have their car engines running in the parking lot just ready to get to the offseason.

I love the Jets this week, as they are able to stop the run, as they give up a league-low 81.5 yards per game, 3.7 yards per carry, and only 2 TDs on the year. Also, the Bills have a terrible secondary, as they allow opposing passers to get 258 yards per game. I love Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with Ryan Fitzpatrick this week, and also you will see the Jets front-seven just shut down Karlos Williams, as the Jets ride their hot streak into the playoffs.

St. Louis Rams -4 over San Francisco 49ers (4 units)

Although the Rams had their playoff game last week against the Seahawks, who they always play tough, this week they get another obvious mismatch in visiting San Francisco. Even though it appears that the Rams will be shutting down their stud running back Todd Gurley, they still have plenty of ground game options with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham. I love this duo going up against a 49ers run defense that allows 125.8 yards per game, 4.0 yards per carry, and 19 touchdowns on the year. The 49ers have just appeared to be overwhelmed this year under rookie coach Jim Tomsula, and I expect this game will not be kind to the Santa Clara faithful.

Washington Redskins +3.5 over Dallas Cowboys (5 units)

I had to do a double take here on this game, as how could a playoff team be getting 3.5 points to a team playing it's fourth starting quarterback of the year? Kellen Moore was really fun to watch at Boise State, but he is just not a pro QB, and I can't believe he will actually be favored in this game, even if Washington has nothing to play for. Washington will want to go into the playoffs with rhythm, and they will certainly out grind Dallas on the ground this week, as the Cowboys allow 119.2 yards per game, and a robust 4.2 yards per carry. Look, I don't care if Gruden may be resting the starters, and heck even if RGIII is active and taking meaningful snaps, I would still favor Washington, but every now and then you get a late Christmas present, and here it is.

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Week 17 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Rashad Jennings is listed below as a "start" for Week 17. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 17 with him as my starting quarterback.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned Adrian Peterson, DeAngelo Williams and Jennings and started only two running backs, you should start Peterson and Williams -- and in turn, bench Jennings.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my fantasy football rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 17:

RB - Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)

Hightower carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added three catches for 47 yards as he scored the most fantasy points in Week 16. Hightower now has 29-plus touches in two of three games and he has finished as a top-24 fantasy running back in each of those weeks: RB7, RB24 and RB1, respectively.

The Saints are 5.5-point underdogs, but no game has a higher over/under than this one (53.0). In addition, the matchup is favorable as the Falcons have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. PHI)

Since getting single-digit touches in Weeks 12 and 13, Jennings has a minimum of 16 touches in three consecutive games with an average of 19 per contest over that stretch. Exceeding 100 yards from scrimmage in each of those three games, Jennings has averaged 12.83 fantasy points per game and he has finished as the RB20, RB6 and RB17, respectively, in those games.

Jennings closes the season with a favorable matchup against the Eagles, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Since Week 10, the Eagles have allowed five top-10 fantasy running backs and 10 top-24 weekly running backs.

RB - Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (at CIN)

After a pair of dud performances, Allen rushed 18 times for 79 yards and a touchdown and added five catches for 35 yards last week. Since taking over as starter for the injured Justin Forsett, Allen has finished as a top-15 fantasy running back in four weeks and outside the top-50 in the other two weeks. With 31 receptions over those six games, Allen has been even better in PPR formats, but he is a solid RB2 this week in either format given his expected volume.
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RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (at SF)

In 12 games this season, Mason has a total of 57 carries for 163 yards (2.86 YPC) and no touchdowns. So, why is he listed as a start? Todd Gurley is listed as doubtful, which opens the door for Mason to get a sizable workload in a favorable matchup. Mason had 163 touches (18.11/G) over his final nine games last season. While he may not get 18 touches, it's certainly reasonable for him to get 12 to 15 touches (or more) and the 49ers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 17:

RB - DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)

The good news is that Chip Kelly has been fired. Murray, who has seven carries in his last two games combined, should see a larger workload in Week 17. That said, it's unclear by how much his usage will increrase. With a favorable matchup against the Giants, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs, Murray is worth a dart throw in large tournaments in daily, but I'm not sure I'd trust in a head-to-head matchup for a title in Week 17.

RB - Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks (at ARI)

Just a couple of weeks ago, Michael was the most-coveted waiver-wire fantasy running back. Unfortunately, he followed up his 16-carry week with six carries for six yards and two catches for 14 yards in Week 16. Technically, Michael's eight touches led the backfield, but Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson both had seven touches apiece. In an unfavorable matchup -- Arizona allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs -- and with an uncertain workload, Michael should remain on your bench.

RB - Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at DAL)

Last week, Morris had 17 carries, which was a four-week high, but he managed to turn them into only 49 yards. Alf had finished as a top-26 fantasy running back in three of his previous four games, but it's unclear how much work he'll get in Week 17 as Washington locked up the division (and their playoff seeding) with a win last week.

RB - Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (at CHI)

Abdullah has a minimum of nine touches in each of his past six games with an average of 12.5 per game over that span. That said, he has exceeded 13 touches only once during that span. With some terrific matchups during that stretch (e.g., 49ers, Saints, Eagles, etc.), Abdullah has finished as a top-24 weekly fantasy running back only once during that six-game span. The Bears have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but Abdullah is more of a flex option this week given his steady, but not heavy, workloads.

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Week 17 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Matt Ryan is listed below as a "start" for Week 17. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 17 with him as my starting quarterback.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned both Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan, you should start Big Ben -- and in turn, bench Ryan.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my fantasy football rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 17:

QB - Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. PHI)

With Odell Beckham Jr. suspended for Week 16, Manning and the Giants offense in general struggled against the Vikings. With the return of OBJ this week and the favorable matchup against the Eagles, however, Eli has the perfect opportunity to bounce back for fantasy owners -- provided your league extends into Week 17 and you're still alive after his dud last week.

Before last week, Manning had thrown four touchdown passes in back-to-back games and multiple touchdowns in six of his past seven outings. In fact, he has thrown a total of 22 touchdowns over his past eight games.

His first game against the Eagles (189 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) was a disappointment, but the Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In their past eight games, the Eagles have surrendered 24 touchdowns through the air plus one QB rushing touchdown (Tom Brady).

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)

Just as we had all expected, Bortles finished Week 16 as the fourth-best fantasy quarterback in 2015. While he turned the ball over 20 times (16 interceptions and four lost fumbles), Bortles was a consistent weekly fantasy producer this season. Entering Week 17 with five consecutive top-eight weekly outings including three top-five finishes, Bortles has finished inside the top-10 weekly quarterbacks in 10 of 15 games.

It's not a plus matchup on paper, but Bortles threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans in Week 6. And despite his three interceptions in that game, he finished with 22.94 fantasy points, the sixth-most that week. Seventh in my Week 17 rankings, I expect Bortles to close the season with a sixth consecutive top-eight outing.

QB - Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)

Never a stud performer, Ryan had been a consistently solid mid-QB1 type of fantasy quarterback. From 2010 to 2014, Ryan had finished as the QB7 or QB8 in four of five seasons. Even though Julio Jones leads the NFL in both receptions and yards with an outside chance at breaking Megatron's single-season receiving yards record, Ryan has been a huge disappointment. Entering the final week of the regular season, he sits at QB19 in fantasy points scored.

Fortunately for Ryan, he has a chance to end the season on a positive note with a matchup against the Saints. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than New Orleans this year. In his first matchup against the Saints, Ryan threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns. It's possible that Ryan gets his second game of the season with 300-plus passing yards and multiple touchdowns this week.

QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (at BUF)

Against the Patriots on Sunday, Fitzpatrick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns as he scored 23.14 fantasy points, fourth-most in Week 16. It was his third top-four outing in five games and fourth top-eight performance over that same span.

With one more touchdown pass, Fitzpatrick will take sole possession of the single-season franchise record for passing touchdowns. Over his past eight games, Fitzpatrick has compiled an 18:5 TD-to-INT ratio and has averaged 276 passing yards per game. In addition, he has 134 rushing yards and a score during that stretch.

Given that the Steelers lost to the Ravens last week, the Jets now maintain control of their playoff destiny. If they win, they are in the playoffs. While there are plenty of games with postseason intrigue, there's even more incentive for the Jets to play their starters with their playoff berth not yet clinched -- as opposed to several other teams playing for seeding only.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 17:

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)

Kudos to Rivers for managing to score the 11th-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through this point of the season given how poorly he (and the team's offense) has played lately. The anti-Russell Wilson, if you will, Rivers started the season strong with multiple passing touchdowns in all but one of his first eight games.

In his seven games since that point, however, he has thrown zero touchdowns three times and one touchdown twice. Stated differently, he has thrown multiple touchdowns in just two of his past seven games. To be fair, a significant portion of his struggles has to do with the lack of (healthy) offensive talent around him.

With a matchup against the Broncos, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, it's unlikely that Rivers bounces back enough from his last matchup against Denver (6.08 fantasy points) to have a top-12 performance.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at KC)

Carr has just one top-12 weekly finish since Week 11. In those six games, Carr has scored 15.16 fantasy points or less four times. One of those six matchups was the first time he faced the Chiefs this season (13.32 points, QB20). Not only have the Chiefs allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points this season, but they have allowed only one top-12 weekly finish (Tyrod Taylor, Week 12) from Weeks 5 to 16.

QB - Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (at DAL)

In his past nine games, Cousins has finished as fantasy's QB1 in three weeks and the QB2 in another. With 300-plus yards and four passing touchdowns in each of his past two games, Cousins has helped Washington clinch the NFC East division with an 8-7 record. That is part of the problem — at least in terms of Cousins' fantasy outlook for this week.

With their playoff seeding already cemented, Cousins is unlikely to play the full game especially given that the Redskins do not have a first-round bye. Coach Gruden has even said that his snaps are "still to be determined" even though he will start. Even with a full allotment of snaps, however, the matchup wouldn't be favorable for Cousins as the Cowboys have limited opposing quarterbacks to the eighth-fewest fantasy points this season.

QB - Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)

After a breakout 2014 season, 2015 has been an utter disappointment for Tannehill and the Dolphins in general. Tannehill enters Week 17 having thrown zero touchdowns in back-to-back games and only two touchdowns in his past four games combined. (Granted, he does have a rushing touchdown over that stretch as well.) The Patriots have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 17

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January 01, 2016

2015 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings

Prior to serving his one-game suspension in Week 16, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham. Jr. had scored double-digit fantasy points in seven consecutive games with an average of 20.17 (standard scoring) per game.

Even though his 100-yard game streak ended at a franchise-record six games, Beckham extended his scoring streak to five games. Over his past seven games played, Beckham has 49 catches for 872 yards and nine touchdowns.

While most fantasy leagues end in Week 16, Beckham will look to redeem himself with a strong outing to close the season.

Fortunately for fantasy owners, the matchup is about as good as it gets. Heading into the final week of the season, only the cross-state Steelers have allowed more fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Eagles.

With 25/26 yards on Sunday, Beckham (2,701) will tie/pass Randy Moss (2,726) for most receiving yards over a player's first two NFL seasons. That said, Moss played all 32 games in his first two seasons; OBJ has missed five games.

[Coincidentally, Beckham is second for most receptions (182) over the first two seasons; ex-LSU teammate Jarvis Landry (188) ranks first.]

Julio. Jones: 78 yards shy of becoming 3rd NFL 1,800-yard receiver

With nine catches for a season-high 178 yards and a touchdown, Atlanta's Julio Jones was the top-scoring fantasy receiver last week despite the difficult matchup against the Panthers.

Going into Week 17, Jones has a total of 193 targets and double-digit targets in 13 of 15 games.

Not only does Jones lead the NFL in targets, but he also leads the league in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,722), both of which have shattered his previous career highs of 104 and 1,593, respectively.

If Jones finishes with at least 78 yards in Week 17, he'll become one of only three NFL players to ever have an 1,800-yard season along with Calvin Johnson (1,964 in 2012) and Jerry Rice (1,848 in 1995).

Trailing Megatron by 243 yards, it's obviously highly unlikely that Jones catches his single-season record. That said, Jones' career high (259 yards) is greater than the amount needed so it's not impossible.

Jones closes the season against the Saints, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on wide receivers:

  • After failing to exceed 100 yards in four consecutive games, Houston's DeAndre Hopkins finished with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Titans last week. Shattering his previous career highs across the board, Hopkins has 104 catches for 1,432 yards and 11 touchdowns. The first time Hopkins faced the Jaguars this season, he led all receivers in fantasy points with a 10/148/2 slash line.

  • Jacksonville second-year receiver Allen Robinson continued his scoring streak with a 6/151/1 performance against the Saints on Sunday. Not only has Robinson scored in five consecutive games, but he is tied with Doug Baldwin for the league lead in touchdowns (14) this season. Robinson has exceeded 50 receiving yards and/or scored a touchdown in every game since Week 2. Meanwhile, the other Allen (Hurns) scored twice last week and he now has 10 scores on the season.

  • Speaking of receivers that have scored in five consecutive games, Seattle's Doug Baldwin scored only once last week, but he extended his touchdown streak to five games. With a season-high eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, Baldwin now has 29 catches for 484 yards and 11 touchdowns over his past five games. The matchup against the Cardinals is difficult, but Baldwin had 7/134/1 in his first matchup against them in Week 10.

  • Arizona's Michael Floyd has come on strong with five 100-yard games in his past seven games. Floyd has a minimum of eight targets in all but one of those games. Even though the Seahawks have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, Floyd had his best fantasy performance (7/113/2, 23.3 fantasy points, WR2) in his first matchup against the Seattle.

  • After seeing his seven-game scoring streak end in Week 15, Jets receiver Brandon Marshall had eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Patriots. Marshall has a franchise-record 101 catches for 1,376 yards and a career-high 13 touchdowns. In a win-and-you're-in scenario, Marshall should see plenty of targets in Week 17.

  • Saints second-year wide receiver Brandin Cooks started the season slowly, but the breakout has occurred over the second half. Not only does Cooks have 100-plus yards and a touchdown in three of his past four games, but he has a total of eight touchdowns in his eight most recent games. (Cooks scored only once in his first seven games this season.) Will the momentum continue? The Falcons have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points this season and Cooks had just four catches for 41 yards in his first matchup this season, but I have Cooks ranked inside my top-10 receivers for Week 17.

Below you find my Week 17 Fantasy Football WR Rankings:

1. Odell Beckham, New York Giants (vs. PHI)
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)
3. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (vs. JAX)
5. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (at BUF)
6. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)
7. Eric Decker, New York Jets (at BUF)
8. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BAL)
9. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)
10. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (at CHI)
11. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (at ARI)
12. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)
13. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (vs. SD)
14. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. OAK)
15. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CAR)
16. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)
17. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)
18. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
19. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
20. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)
21. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)
22. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (vs. SD)
23. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)
24. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (at KC)
25. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at CHI)
26. Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (at CIN)
27. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN)
28. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)
29. Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)
30. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at KC)
31. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (at DAL)
32. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (at ARI)
33. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (at SF)
34. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings (at GB)
35. Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns (vs. PIT)
36. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
37. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)
38. Rueben Randle, New York Giants (vs. PHI)
39. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BAL)
40. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (vs. STL)
41. James Jones, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)
42. Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans (at IND)
43. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN)
44. Nate Washington, Houston Texans (vs. JAX)
45. Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (at MIA)
46. Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks (at ARI)
47. Keshawn Martin, New England Patriots (at MIA)
48. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (at DAL)
49. Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers (vs. TB)
50. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (at MIA)

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 17 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season:

Pittsburgh Steelers -11 over Cleveland Browns (4 units)

Week 17 is always tough to pick because you never know how coaches are going to decide to play it. They may rest players and try to see what they have in some younger guys, or they may treat it as any other Sunday. There are some games where it is easier to predict what coaching will do, and in this case, the Steelers are playing for their season.

After a huge stumble last week against Baltimore, they'll need help from the Bills to get in, but I think Pittsburgh will show up this week the way I expected them to last week. The Browns will be going with Austin Davis at quarterback and I just don't see a way that they can keep up with the high-powered offense of the Steelers. This one should be over quickly in a 38-10 type of game.

New Orleans Saints +5.5 over Atlanta Falcons (3 units)

Everyone seems to love the Falcons here, coming off a huge win against the formerly undefeated Panthers. Julio Jones needs 17 receptions and 243 yards to break single season receiving records in both categories. I love Julio, but he's unlikely to get either record, even against the Saints terrible defense. I've watched too much of the Falcons this year to be fooled by the previous week's performance.

Sometimes teams get up for big games. Prior to that win, Atlanta had been terrible and I expect them to come back down to earth. I think the Saints have a decent chance to win here, but either way, I'm certainly not laying 5.5. I'll take Julio in DFS all day, but his individual stats aren't going to win them the game. Take the points.

New England Patriots -10.5 over Miami Dolphins (4 units)

I'm not sure what I think this spread should be, but it just doesn't feel high enough - even at 10.5. The Patriots have been decimated by injury, but they could put you and me out there against Miami and easily win this one. The Dolphins had a little surge after firing Joe Philbin midway through the season, but that has long since passed. I don't think that they can hang for long here. It feels like a big win for the Pats and a free coffee at Dunkin Donuts Monday morning for those of us living in New England.

Green Bay Packers -3 over Minnesota Vikings (5 units)

I don't know why, but I like the Packers to win and cover here. I admit I'm still in love with Aaron Rodgers and no matter how terrible his receiving corps is or how often he's been getting pressured in the pocket, I just believe. The Vikings look like one of the more fraudulent playoff teams this year and I'd pick them as least likely to win a playoff game of the teams in. I think they falter against Green Bay and the Packers gain a little momentum going into Wild Card weekend. Give the three.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Despite starting only nine games this season, Pittsburgh's DeAngelo Williams enters Week 17 with the third-most fantasy points among running backs, trailing only Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.

With 17 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns plus six catches for 53 yards last week, Williams scored 27.3 fantasy points, the second-most of the week. Last week marked the fifth time this season that Williams has finished as a top-four weekly fantasy running back.

In his nine starts, Williams has a total of 173 carries for 793 yards (4.58 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns plus 33 catches for 307 yards. In fact, his 11 rushing touchdowns on the season is tied for the NFL lead with Freeman.

Going into the final week of the regular season, Williams is within striking distance -- only 101 yards shy -- of his third 1,000-yard season and his first since 2009.

Extremely consistent, Williams has either exceeded 100 rushing yards and/or scored a touchdown (or two) in all but one start. In other words, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in eight of nine games as a starter with an average of nearly 20 fantasy points (19.56) over that stretch.

My top-ranked fantasy running back for Week 17, Williams has a great matchup against the Browns. Not only have they allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, the Browns rank last in the NFL in rushing defense (135.0 YPG allowed).

That said, Williams only start with single-digit fantasy points was his first matchup against the Browns in Week 10.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on running backs:

  • The player that scored more fantasy points than DeAngelo last week: Saints running back Tim Hightower (28.9). Hightower carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added three catches for 47 yards. Hightower now has 29-plus touches in two of three games and he has finished as a top-24 fantasy running back in each of those weeks: RB7, RB24 and RB1, respectively. This week, he faces the Falcons, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.

  • On Thursday, St. Louis Rams rookie Todd Gurley sat out another practice and was in a walking boot, which obviously puts his Week 17 availability in jeopardy. In 13 games, Gurley has rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns, both of which are third-most in the NFL. Gurley has scored in three consecutive games and eight of his past 10 games. The 49ers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and Gurley posted a 20/133/1 line against them in Week 8.

  • Oakland's Latavius Murray gained 117 yards with a touchdown on 24 touches last week against the Chargers. Murray has averaged 19.53 touches per game and has a minimum of 16 touches in all but one game this season. While he doesn't have a great matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, Murray gained 97 yards with a touchdown against them in Week 13.

  • Arizona's David Johnson had just nine carries, and 12 touches, against the Packers in Week 16, but he once again finished as a top-five weekly running back. Johnson has finished as a top-five running back in three of the past four weeks and as a top-24 fantasy running back in six consecutive weeks. Even though he has only 147 touches this season, Johnson has scored the seventh-most fantasy points among running backs and a total of 13 touchdowns -- eight rushing, four receiving and one return.

  • Over his past nine games, Green Bay's Eddie Lacy has finished as a top-16 fantasy running back five times and outside the top-50 weekly running backs four times. Which one will fantasy owners get this week? The Vikings have limited opposing running backs to the eighth-fewest fantasy points this season. Against the Vikings in Week 11, however, Lacy had his first 100-yard game of the season on 22 carries.

Below you find my Week 17 Fantasy Football RB Rankings:

1. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)
2. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)
3. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (at GB)
4. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)
5. Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)
6. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (at SF)
7. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CAR)
8. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (vs. WAS)
9. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at KC)
10. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN)
11. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. OAK)
12. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)
13. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (vs. DET)
14. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. PHI)
15. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
16. Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (at CIN)
17. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)
18. James White, New England Patriots (at MIA)
19. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BAL)
20. Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears (vs. DET)
21. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)
22. Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at BUF)
23. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. SD)
24. Bilal Powell, New York Jets (at BUF)
25. Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)
26. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BAL)
27. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (vs. SD)
28. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers (vs. TB)
29. Alfred Blue, Washington Redskins (at DAL)
30. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
31. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
32. Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)
33. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (at CHI)
34. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. PIT)
35. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
36. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at DAL)
37. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks (at ARI)
38. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CAR)
39. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (at CHI)
40. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)
41. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. OAK)
42. Steven Jackson, New England Patriots (at MIA)
43. Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)
44. Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (at IND)
45. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
46. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (at MIA)
47. DuJuan Harris, San Francisco 49ers (vs. STL)
48. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (vs. PIT)
49. Shane Vereen, New York Giants (vs. PHI)
50. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (at CHI)

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December 31, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 17

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 17?

Sean Beazley - Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles ( NYG), $3,600

This is the final full NFL slate of the year, and boy does it have some dream matchups to target. Spending up on elite WRs in cash games has been my recipe to success this year, and this week all five of the top-priced wideouts have great matchups. I have tinkered with a number of different rosters to try to get 2-3 to fit in my cash lineup. Luckily, DraftKings pricing has been extremely soft this year.

One player who will be the centerpiece of all my cash games this week is Eagles TE Zach Ertz. Ertz has a cake matchup vs. the Giants, who are near the bottom of the league vs. the pass. Ertz has finished the season strong posting 26/298/1 on 37 targets in his last three games. At a bargain price of $3600, Ertz really only needs 11 DK points to pay off his salary. Ertz paired with a sub 6K QB, and a bargain-bin priced defense (like Dallas) can really open up your options this week.

Brendan Donahue - Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles ( NYG), $3,600

The Eagles have finally started to make Ertz one of the focal points of their offense, but unfortunately for them it was too little too late. Ertz certainly isn't going to help DeMarco Murray gain any more yards by blocking, but he can catch the ball as evidenced by his 21 catches in the past two games. Sam Bradford has been targeting him early and often with 30 targets in the past two games and he has a great matchup this week against the Giants, who give up the most points to opposing TEs on the season. Draftkings has him at only $3,600 this week and he should easily outperform his salary.

Kevin Hanson - Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (vs. PHI), $9,000

Certainly, I'm not going out on much of a limb to suggest Beckham, but my most common stack this week will be Eli Manning and OBJ. And with some other values on the board, I feel comfortable with cash-game and tournament lineups that feature Eli/OBJ plus Julio Jones ($8,500).

Before his one-game suspension, Beckham extended his touchdown streak to five games even though his 100-yard game streak ended at six games. Over his past seven games, Beckham has a minimum of 19.6 fantasy points in every game and an average of 29.74 per contest. Averaging nearly 100 yards (99.71/G) and a score (0.93/G) this season, OBJ should be targeted early and often by Manning in a premier matchup. Only the Steelers have allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (PPR/DK scoring) this season.

Dan Yanotchko - Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets (at BUF), $6,500

This week I am big on Eric Decker of the Jets at $6,500, as he has a great matchup in a must-win game. Decker splits in the last four games: 38 targets, 24 receptions, 69 YPG, and 3 TDs. Decker caught six balls for 85 yards and a TD in the last game against a Bills secondary that allows 253 yards passing and 28 TDs.

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