Week 14 was “The Red Wedding” episode of the 2014 fantasy football season as more star players bit the dust than any week this year.
If you own Peyton Manning and are still standing, then chances are your team had earned a bye last week.
There is no rest for the weary as we plow forward into week 15 and the players that will lead your teams to victory.
Without further ado…
Tony Romo, DALLAS at Philadelphia: We will give Romo the benefit of the doubt that his miserable Thanksgiving performance against the Eagles was due to the short week and its effect on his back. With plenty of rest, Romo will take advantage of a defense that’s given up 26 touchdowns through the air while only picking off 10 passes. Look for Romo and the Cowboys offense to exact some revenge Sunday night.
Matthew Stafford, DETROIT vs. Minnesota: The Lions offense is beginning to fire on all cylinders and Stafford is averaging 350 yards passing in his last two games. He has also tossed five touchdowns without an interception in those games. Geno Smith just put up 254 yards and a score against the Vikings…Geno Smith. Get ready to see the Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson show all day long - a must fantasy football start.
Ben Roethlisberger, PITTSBURGH at Atlanta: Big Ben finally had a nice road game and it came versus a solid defense and a team that he had historically struggled against. He now gets to face a Falcons defense that has allowed 10 touchdowns in the last six games. Yes, we trust Roethlisberger to shine again away from home.
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA vs. Pittsburgh: Over his past three games, ‘Matty Ice’ has tossed eight touchdowns and only three interceptions. He’s also averaged 336 yards passing during that time. The Steelers have allowed at least two touchdowns to quarterbacks in seven straight games. This is going to be a big week for Ryan.
Colin Kaepernick, SAN FRANCISCO at Seattle: If Kaepernick couldn’t produce against the Oakland Raiders on the road, there is no hope that he will do anything at Seattle. Whoever the new coach is in San Francisco next season, getting the kid back on track should be job one. Avoid at all costs this week.
Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI at Cleveland: Dalton continued his up and down play with two passing touchdowns last week. He put up over 300 yards passing along with a career long 20-yard touchdown run. This week he faces a much stiffer test in a Browns defense that just held Andrew Luck in check. It’s hard to shake that Week 10 performance in which Dalton completed 10-of-33 passes for 86 yards and three interceptions against Cleveland. Bench him.
Ryan Tannehill, MIAMI at New England: Tannehill stumbled badly last week in a favorable matchup at home. There is no way we are going to trust fantasy playoff success by counting on him at New England this week. In the last five games, the Patriots have held Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers to a combined total of seven touchdown passes. There are better options than Tannehill.
Joe Flacco, BALTIMORE vs. Jacksonville: Flacco has bolstered his last two performances by racking up a rushing touchdown in each of the games to accompany two touchdown passes. That is not something to be counted on to continue on a weekly basis. Flacco has topped two rushing touchdowns for a season only once (2012). The Jaguars defense has been stout of late against quarterbacks, holding them to merely three total touchdowns (one rushing) in the past three games.
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QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA:
Coming off a less than impressive line in a loss to the Ravens, Tannehill is in for another tough one as the Dolphins head to New England for Week 16. Though the Patriots do not rank too highly in passing yards allowed per contest, they have done very well defensively at home. They held Matthew Stafford to 0 TDs and 1 interception in a blowout, and let up 2 TDs to the great Peyton Manning while forcing him to throw 2 interceptions as well. Tannehill and the Dolphins offense is nowhere near as impressive as that of Stafford's Lions and Manning's Broncos. Expect Ryan Tannehill to have great difficulty getting things going, and he is not a recommended start in 2 QB leagues.
RB Ryan Mathews, SD:
It comes as no surprise, but Ryan Mathews is once again battling injury. The injury-prone 27-year-old tailback from Fresno State has been dealing with injuries for the entirety of his 5 year career, missing 17 total games thus far. The status on his ankle injury is unknown at this point, but he is being considered 50-50 for San Diego's contest with the Broncos. Even if Mathews plays, he faces a Broncos defense that ranks second in allowing just 72.8 rushing yards per contest. Consider the brittle-boned Ryan Mathews nothing more than a weak RB3 play.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI:
Jordan Matthews will look to bounce back from a weak performance against Seattle, as he and the Eagles face a much weaker defense opponent in the Dallas Cowboys. The last time the two teams squared off in Dallas, Matthews went for a line of 4-51-1. The Cowboys pass defense ranks 25th as they surrender an average of 251.9 passing yards per game, and the big athletic rookie wideout is a tough guard to begin with. Look for Mark Sanchez to look toward the receiver he trusts most in Jordan Matthews, and expect him to go off in a very favorable match up as a high-end WR2 with major upside.
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN:
Jeremy Hill is facing a great matchup in his first game since taking control of the backfield, as the Bengals head to Cleveland for Sunday afternoon. The Browns rank 26th in allowing 129.5 rushing yards per game. Expect the rookie to have a field day against the Browns, with multiple opportunities to reach the end zone as he has also taken over as their goal line back. Last time the 2 teams met, Hill was able to rush for 4.6 yards per carry, and now as the single feature back, he should be able to do some serious damage. Hill can be used as a middle of the pack RB1 for Week 15 and should be a good fantasy football start option.
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RB Fantasy Football News -
The Miami Dolphins have plenty of talent and are in the hunt for a Wild Card birth in the AFC. Their biggest issue is that they aren't using their most productive offensive player, running back Lamar Miller. Dolphins fans and fantasy owners can't understand why the Dolphins don't utilize their could-be top 5 fantasy RB more given the fact that he's averaging 4.8 Yards Per Carry and 6.5 Yards Per Reception.
In RB news, Miller is only averaging 12 carries per game and the only reasonable explanation can be that the coaching staff doesn't want to wear him out. However, if the Dolphins keep up their current playing style, Miami will miss the playoffs altogether and the entire team can take a nice long rest waiting for next year's season to begin. The Dolphins have not won back-to-back games since Week 9 and face a hungry Patriots squad on the road in freezing Foxborough where the high temperature won't be a lick over 40 degrees.
Miami will try to become the first team to beat the Patriots in New England all year. Miami is one of three teams to beat the Patriots this year, so they have the required pieces to win, but this Patriots team is a far different beast than the team they beat back in Week 1.
The Dolphins have to pretty much win out and have some things go their way to even have a chance to squeak into the playoffs. The only way this will happen is if they feed Miller the rock and ride him until the wheels fall off.
If Miami boosts Miller's touches to between 18-20 carries per game, they will increase their chances of winning games and give fantasy owners the boost they have been waiting for all season long. More volume would transform Miller from a high-end RB2 to a solid RB1 for the remainder of the year and beyond. But this can only happen If Miami comes to their senses and allows Miller to play a more significant role in the team's offense.
Stay tuned to ASL RB fantasy news for the most up to date info!
TE Fantasy Football News -
Fantasy football TE owners hoping to ride Jimmy Graham and his injured shoulder into the playoffs and beyond have been left for dead in fantasy football leagues across the country.
Many people dropped a first round draft pick on the all-star tight end who has all but disappeared since Week 10 when he blew up the 49ers with 76 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
It’s been all down hill since then, as Graham has scored less than three fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games. The New Orleans offense is usually on point this late in the season, but this year has been very different as Graham’s production has vanished.
This fantasy football stud has not been living up to his name and his skid couldn't have come at a worse time for fantasy owners. It seems unfathomable that the great Drew Brees would be struggling to get this freak of an athlete the ball during the game, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
A maddening Week 13 road matchup against the Steelers saw fantasy TE stud Graham register ZERO CATCHES ON ZERO TARGETS. As fantasy owners know all too well, Week 13 is usually the final week of the regular fantasy season that determines who makes the playoffs and who doesn't.
Week 14 turned out to be even worse for fantasy owners as they counted on Graham to break out of his slump. Instead, they watched him collapse at home against the Carolina Panthers where he converted 11 targets into 3 catches for a whopping 25 yards and no touchdowns. Some of those were bad throws, but what really hurt were the inexcusable DROPS.
Brees has been a shell of himself these few past games too and his performance directly correlates with Graham's success. Graham has been a bright spot at the tight end position for years now and despite this painful slump, that's not likely to change any time soon. Unless fantasy owners have another top 5 tight end riding the pine, Graham needs to be started yet again in all formats against the punchless Chicago Bears.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
DB Trumaine Johnson, St. Louis
Trumaine Johnson missed the first eight weeks of the season with an injury, which has been a running theme for him during his first three NFL seasons—nicked up and missing games. However, his return to full-time action over the past few weeks has helped with a massive resurgence in the St. Louis Rams defense…one I would argue is now among the top-3 most talented in the NFL.
Johnson has some Richard Sherman like qualities as a CB…really he’s more of a Safety playing CB. He is 6’1”+, 205+, and hits ball carriers like a punishing Strong Safety. Because he is a little slower (4.5+) and not as agile, he often gives up a cushion in coverage to WRs…so he sees a lot of short passes caught in front of him, but then he closes like a linebacker and tries to blow-up the receiver-which is great for IDP/Fantasy purposes. He is a DB that sees a lot of action.
In the past three games, Johnson has averaged 6.7 tackles per game. Over his last four games, he has posted 1.7 PDs and 0.8 INTs per game. He has had an instant impact playing a lot of CB, but moves to a quasi-Safety or OLB from time-to-time. Facing ARI and NYG during the next two weeks, he should provide ample opportunity to push IDP numbers.
LB Craig Robertson, Cleveland
I was so focused on rookie Christian Kirksey when Karlos Dansby went down, that I didn’t catch 3rd year pro Craig Robertson making a move—he’s up to 10.8 tackles per game the last four weeks.
Robertson was an undrafted free agent out of North Texas in 2011, who has been productive for the Browns the last three seasons…but playing his best (FF-output) ball as of late. He is average athletically (4.75+), but a high effort guy…100+ tackles in each of his final two seasons in college. He led the Sun Belt conference in tackles in 2010 (133).
As long as Karlos Dansby is out, Robertson has a chance to post double-digit tackles and is one of the better fantasy pickups for the short term.
DB Bene Benwikere, Carolina
The Panthers dumped Antoine Cason, and installed rookie Bene Benwikere as their new starting CB last week. He answered the bell (FF-wise) with 8 tackles, 2 PDs, and a pick.
Benwikere was a CB/S hybrid for much of his college career, switching to CB later…and picking off 12 passes in his final two season of college play. In his senior season, he was 2nd in all the NCAAs with seven interceptions. He’s not a burner (4.6+) speed, but is agile with a great vertical (40.5”). He is solid…and the type of CB who will get picked on a lot the rest of the season…meaning nice opportunity for PDs and tackles.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups -
1. RB Andre Williams, NYG:
With starting tailback Rashad Jennings limited with an ankle injury from the previous week, Andre Williams turned in a very impressive performance. The rookie HB took 24 carries for 131 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown on the ground. With Jennings' health still a lingering issue, and the Giants having no hope of making the playoffs, they may decide to look to Williams to finish out the season as their starter. However, the rookie's stellar performance should be taken with a grain of salt as it occurred when facing the league's worst rush defense (allowing 141.5 yards per contest). Expect Andre Williams to continue to receive a significant workload, and he is one of the best fantasy pickups around as an RB2.
2. RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR:
Jonathan Stewart had himself a spectacular game as the Panthers destroyed the Saints on the road. Stewart took advantage of the absence of DeAngelo Williams (sat out with a finger injury), taking 20 carries for 155 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown. He made quick cuts, and was able to break away for a 69 yard touchdown, which is the longest of his 7 year career. Though this comes against the Saints' 29th ranked rush defense, which allows 133.5 rushing yards per game, Stewart has another easy opponent ahead of him in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stewart could be added and started immediately at RB2 in fantasy formats across the board.
3. WR Charles Johnson, MIN:
Charles Johnson has definitely solidified himself as the starting X receiver, as he has proven to be much more effective than Cordarrelle Patterson. Johnson has been given a higher snap count as of late, and has secured 15 catches for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns in Minnesota's last 4 games. Johnson may put up inconsistent performances due to weak QB play, but he will continue to see a ton of action and build rapport with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Johnson is tough to sell as an immediate starter for next week, due to a tough match with the big bad Lions defense, but he is worth a look as a WR3 with major upside in keeper leagues.
4. RB Kerwynn Williams, ARI:
Williams has the chance to take over as the starting running back from here on out due to workhorse Andre Ellington's placing on I.R., on a Cardinals team destined to make the playoffs. Williams received his first NFL carry (second-year player) against the Chiefs a week ago, yet he wound up taking control of this "committee" approach as he turned 19 touches into 100 yards (5.3 yards per carry) on the ground. He wound up out-touching fellow HB Stepfan Taylor, as Taylor turned 6 carries into 19 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry), adding 1 catch for 7 yards. Expect Williams to continue to be the lead back in Arizona, and he can be added as a high-end RB2 with a decently high ceiling with a workload around 15-20 carries per game.
QB Fantasy Football News -
Broncos QB and perennial stud fantasy QB Peyton Manning has a long U-G-L-Y history of choking in the playoffs. The Broncos might have won the game against the Bills today, but Manning shot down fantasy owners during Week 14 with his worst performance in nearly six years of professional football.
This was a game where Peyton looked a lot more like his little brother Eli.
He finished with a disastrous stat line completing 14 of 20 passes for a scant 173 yards, NO TOUCHDOWNS and two picks. In standard and PPR leagues, he finished with two lousy fantasy points and sent many fantasy owners crashing out of the playoffs.
Even for the fantasy owners who are able to squeak through to the next round, their confidence in Manning has been shaken. Everybody has a bad day, but this was the first game where Manning had failed to record a touchdown since 2010.
Manning’s amazing streak of 51 straight games with a touchdown fell three short of the mark set by Drew Brees between 2009-2012. But many fantasy owners who crashed out of the playoffs may be cursing Manning’s name until next year's fantasy draft.
Stay tuned to Fantasy Focus for the latest QB news and QB fantasy news.
RB Fantasy Football News
Raiders running back Latavius Murray is in RB news as he has received a green light this week after making his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol. There’s been some question about his workload for Week 14, but he’s clearly the only Raiders fantasy RB worth plugging into fantasy lineups.
The Raiders are an organization known for bad decision making, but even their coaching staff should be able to understand that Murray gives the team it’s only possible shot for victory against their cross-bay rival, the San Francisco 49ers.
What really limits Murray’s potential for Week 14 is that the 49ers have a very stingy run defense that ranks fifth in the league and has held six different teams to under 100 rushing yards this season. However, the Niners run defense is clearly wearing down giving up 125 yards and a score to Alfred Morris during Week 12 and surrendering more than a 100 yards rushing last week to Marshawn Lynch.
If the Raiders are smart enough to give Murray the rock at least 15 times, he could rack up close to 100 yards with at least one score. That kind of production will help any fantasy team that’s looking for a playoff spark.
Keep reading ASL RB fantasy news for the best information this season!
RB Fantasy Football News
Rashad Jennings fantasy owners have been really pleased the last few weeks as the fantasy RB scored more than 20 points in PPR leagues and has had three straight weeks with double-digit fantasy points.
Jennings sat out the Giants final two drives after injuring his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. Before his injury, Jennings racked up 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. In RB news, Jennings hadn't practiced all week and was a limited participant on Friday.
Jennings made it clear after yesterday's practice that even if he does play, he won't be anywhere near 100%. According the the Giants coaching staff, Jennings would likely split carries right down the middle with backup RB Andre Williams.
The Giants also signed Chris Ogbonnaya on Tuesday which is not what Jennings owners wanted to see. Jennings' injury comes at a horrible time for fantasy owners as it's the first week of playoffs in a majority of the leagues and the Giants are playing the Titans who give up the fifth most points to Running Backs this season.
Jennings owners need to keep a close eye on Jennings' pre-game warm-up and see if he is active. He could end up being a top 10 RB in Week 14 if he's healthy enough to suit up. Keep a close eye on Jennings on Sunday morning and make sure you have a replacement ready.
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1. QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT:
Roethlisberger has shown glimpses of greatness this season with some huge performances, but this week should be a lull of sorts as the Steelers take on their division rivals in Cincinnati. Cincy's defense is starting to play at an elite level, as they have allowed 13 points or less in each of their last 3 games. Roethlisberger will have a tough time making plays against this stout pass defense, despite having playmakers like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Big Ben is also dealing with an injury to his throwing hand that could limit his big play capabilities. Consider Roethlisberger nothing more than a weak QB2.
2. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI:
McCoy has exploded as of late, totaling 289 yards and 2 touchdowns in Philly's last two games combined, but do not expect similar production for week 14. Shady McCoy has finally taken off this season, but has a very difficult matchup at home this week against a punishing Seattle defense. The Hawks rank 4th (tied with the Ravens) in allowing just 86.3 rushing yards per contest, and have not allowed a rusher to reach 30 yards on the ground during their last 2 games. Expect the red-hot Seattle defense to pressure McCoy and company significantly, and take away the opportunity for big plays to be made. McCoy should not be used as anything more than a middle-of-the-pack RB2.
1. RB Frank Gore, SF:
Gore is coming off a 28 yard rushing performance, but has the perfect chance to turn things around versus the hopeless Oakland Raiders. The Raiders rank 27th in surrendering 130.5 rushing yards per game, and Frank Gore should have a field day with them. Oakland took on the St. Louis last week, and allowed Rams RB Tre Mason to pick up 117 yards and 2 TDs on just 14 carries, and expect their defense woes to continue. Gore will find plenty of running lanes to exploit, and can be implemented into starting lineups as a high RB2 with RB1 potential in fantasy leagues across the board.
2. WR Kenny Stills, NO:
Kenny Stills will look to keep the ball rolling as he comes off a 5-162-1 spectacular performance, as the Saints took down the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stills was targeted a team-high 6 times, comfortably being used as Drew Brees' number one option. This trend should continue as the Panthers will look to limit Jimmy Graham's effectiveness, likely leaving Stills with single coverage for most of the contest. The Panthers rank 17th in allowing 243.5 passing yards per game, making them decent at best. Expect Kenny Stills to continue to shine in Brandin Cooks' absence, and to pan out as a high-end WR2 this week, with low WR1 potential for the rest of the season. He is a good fantasy football start option.
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