We’re down to the final two weeks of the regular season, and plenty of teams still have a lot to play for. Even the teams that are likely on the outside looking in of this year’s playoff race still present fantasy options that need to be considered. Let’s get right into the Early Look!
Matt Ryan @ CAR ($7,200) – He has played great football over the last couple of weeks without Julio Jones ($8,100), proving to be a valuable cash-game option based on his ability to spread the ball around and consistently find the open man. There is no reason you should expect less than that same kind of 250+ yard two score game against Carolina. With Jones potentially returning to the lineup for this weekend, Ryan could suddenly find himself with upside again, as Jones definitely helps his ability to rack up big yardage totals against the weaker secondaries, like Carolina’s.
Kirk Cousins @ CHI ($6,800) – The lack of any touchdown throws this weekend seemed more fluky than anything else – it’s not often you see a QB throw for 315 yards on 47 attempts and not put one in the end zone. He is already up to almost 4,400 yards passing on the season, and even if his performances have seemed somewhat up and down throughout the year, that kind of volume provides a floor you can’t ignore and upside that makes him a consideration for any type of contest.
Tom Savage vs. CIN ($5,000) – As soon as he stepped on the field in place of Osweiler, it was obvious to anyone watching the game that he gave them a better shot of winning. He looked competent, and was getting the Texans’ skill players the ball and letting them make plays – which is basically the whole point of the position. Even DeAndre Hopkins looked involved. He completed almost 65% of his passes and averaged almost 12 yards per completion, numbers that will be good enough to produce real value for that price if he can keep them up against Cincy this weekend.
Jordan Howard vs. WAS ($6,300) – Howard has been one of the few bright spots for the Bears this season, as his game against Green Bay on Sunday marked seven in a row with at least 99 yards from scrimmage (he had 90 rushing yards and 23 through the air against the Packers). He also has scored five times over that same stretch, giving him plenty of consistency to go along with the upside he has flashed at times (four games with 20+ fantasy points since taking over as the starter).
Latavius Murray vs. IND ($6,200) – This past weekend he only saw 13 carries but still managed to turn them into 81 yards against the Chargers. That was on the heels of a stretch where he had been given 19 or more carries in three straight and four of five, and there is every reason to expect the Raiders to turn to the run game like that again this weekend against Indy. The Colts have a demonstrated track record of being terrible against the run, and while their offense has struggled at times this season, they are obviously explosive, so the Raiders wouldn’t mind keeping them off the field either. If Murray is ripping off big gains and matching his 4+ yard-per-carry average of the season, I expect to see him get plenty of work here.
Dion Lewis vs. NYJ ($4,100) – As always with the Pats’ backfield, it’s tough to pinpoint who will get the workload week-to-week. They have more than one running back they like, they utilize them in different ways, and if someone has a hot hand, they’ll change those pans on the fly. So, be warned. But Lewis proved he can do work on the ground this weekend with 95 yards on 18 carries, and he is clearly their best receiving back, making him a logical choice to find success against a Jets team whose strength on defense is an ability to stop the straight-ahead running game.
Odell Beckham, Jr. @ PHI ($8,600) – The thing about Beckham for me is that he seems, more than any other receiver, to be the only one responsible for his own production. Other receivers are reliant on a good system, or on good QB play, to put up big fantasy points – and while I certainly don’t think those things would hurt Odell, he doesn’t appear to NEED them. All he needs is a couple steps of separation on a slant and he can take it to the house. Against this Philly secondary, if they can manage to get the ball in his hands, I expect him to break one of those big plays and pay off the price tag.
Tyreek Hill vs. DEN ($5,900) – Denver is great at limiting wide receivers, but that only captures a portion of the way the Chiefs are deploying Hill in their offense right now. He IS their big-play ability – they don’t really have anyone else. So they will look to get him the ball in space a half-dozen times per game and look for him to make a big play – and he has the speed to make that happen against anyone, including this Denver defense. His 68-yard touchdown last weekend was his only play of the day (no catches on three targets), so his floor is obviously pretty low too, making him useful only in bigger GPPs for me.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. CIN ($5,200) – He has the talent to be the difference for your fantasy lineup – we know this. And with Tom Savage quarterbacking the Texans now, it appears Hopkins will be active and involved. He got targeted 17 times on Sunday, and showed a nice connection with Savage, finishing with 8 catches for 87 yards. Sadly, that was his second highest-scoring game of the season, but there is plenty of room to go up from there.
Zach Ertz vs. NYG ($5,300) – What he has been doing over the past three weeks just can’t be ignored, especially when it is the kind of production people have been predicting for two seasons now. With 25 catches on 36 targets in three games, he is as involved in the Eagles’ offense as any tight end in the league right now, and his 271 yards over that span is the kind of production you can only dream of from the position in most weeks.
Eric Ebron @ DAL ($3,600) – With a few injuries around the league, the tight end position all of a sudden seems even more shallow than it has in the past. For TEs in this range, you’re looking for a touchdown because the volume usually isn’t there. However, Ebron does have TD upside, even though he hasn’t scored since Week 1. He plays with a competent QB on a decent offense and was healthy enough to be out there for 51 snaps this past weekend (which was his fourth game in a row with four receptions).
New England Patriots vs. NYJ ($3,600) – It’s not exactly a groundbreaking revelation, but Belichick’s strategy on defense is to keep the other team from scoring points. “Bend, don’t break,” if you will. That gives this defense a nice floor, and especially at home against this Jets’ offense, they could find a few turnovers to give themselves plenty of upside as well.
San Francisco 49ers @ LA ($2,800) – There are not a lot of enticing options on the cheap end of the spectrum for defenses this week, and the 49ers only qualify by default against a Rams team that hasn’t accomplished anything on offense in weeks. They have only scored more than 14 points once in the last eight weeks, and have been held to 10 or fewer points in six of those.
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