Raiders at Chiefs, 8:25 p.m. Thursday
Fire ‘em up: Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper, Spencer Ware, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, KC D/ST
These are all pretty obvious names here, and even with Derek Carr playing MVP type football the Chiefs D/ST is capable of huge plays (Google: Eric Berry vs. Atlanta)
Leave ‘em on your bench: Jeremy Maclin
Returning to game action for the first time in more than a month, Tyreek Hill has emerged as Alex Smith’s #1 WR target, and Travis Kelce has been getting a ton of looks (32 targets last 3 games). If you’re desperate, you can start Maclin over a guy like Michael Floyd or Cameron Meredith, but I don’t feel great about it.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Raiders D/ST
The Raiders are tied for eighth in team interceptions with 11. Kansas City is capable of putting up points, but the Chiefs still have the ultimate game manager in Alex Smith as their QB, and their passing offense is ranked 21 nd round: st in terms of pass yards in the NFL. You can probably do better, but you could do way worse.
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Redskins at Eagles, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder, Rob Kelley, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed will play despite questionable tag: An obvious must start. You can leave Vernon Davis on the bench.
Matthews is scheduled to return after missing Week 12’s matchup with Green Bay. He may have had a clunker vs. Green Bay in Week 11, but prior to that, Matthews had 44 targets in the prior 4 games.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Ryan Mathews, Vernon Davis, Wendall Smallwood, Dorial Green-Beckham, Pierre Garcon, Eagles D/ST, Redskins D/ST
If you’re desperate, Davis could be a play, but Philadelphia has allowed just 33 receptions total to the tight end position this year.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Darren Sproles
Carson Wentz threw the ball a season-high 60 times against the Bengals. Because I expect the Eagles to trail the Redskins and continue their free fall this season, they will be forced to pass a ton, and Sproles is their passing down back.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Texans at Colts, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Andrew Luck, Donte Moncreif, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Frank Gore, Lamar Miller, Texans D/ST
Lamar Miller may have been a fantasy disappointment through the fantasy regular season, but he is still getting the workload. Indy’s defense allows the fourth-most yards per rush attempt in the NFL.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Dwayne Allen, Will Fuller, Phillip Dorsett
I can’t believe I’m telling you to bench Allen after his 3 TD performance against the Jets on Monday night, but Houston has allowed 3 TDs all year to the tight end position. He may have helped some people get into the playoffs, but let’s leave it at that.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 C.J. Fiedorowicz
On the flip side, while the Colts D may have allowed only 4 TDs to tight ends, they have allowed 18 more receptions to the position than Houston’s defense, and almost 4 more yards per catch. Fiedorowicz has received 25 targets over the last three games.
(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
AP/Eric Christian Smith
Bengals at Browns, 1 p.m. Sunday
Weather concerns: Another 1-2 punch with storm systems. Cleveland will most likely already have snow on the ground going into their home game at Paul Brown Stadium. Widespread snow will be falling on Sunday afternoon, with temperatures in the lower to mid 30s. Expect 3+” of snow out of this system before Monday. – LR
Fire ‘em up: Jeremy Hill, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert, Terrelle Pryor, Bengals D/ST
I’m interested to see how many times RG3 looks Pryor’s way (he did seven times in Week 1), but he is a must start every week no matter what.
Leave ‘em on your bench: RG3, Andy Dalton, Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge, Rex Burkhead, Duke Johnson
Yes, Dalton has a great matchup this week, but Cleveland’s pass defense is not as bad as their run defense (tied for second-worst in the NFL in terms of yards allowed). And do you really expect the Bengals to being playing from behind, forcing Dalton to pass? Me neither. You can do better. And don’t even think about playing RG3.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Brandon LaFell
While maybe you shouldn’t start his QB, if you’re in a deeper league (or one in which you need to start three WRs along with a flex), you could do worse than LaFell. The former Patriot has received 23 targets over the past three games and the Bengals have given up the 10 nd round: th-most fantasy points to wideouts this year.
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Broncos at Titans, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Rishard Matthews, Delanie Walker, Broncos D/ST
Denver may allow the least amount of passing yards per game, but Rishard Matthews was a model of consistency in the month of November, getting 35 targets while scoring four touchdowns over four games. You could do better in a shallow league, but I’m still OK with starting him.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Marcus Mariota, Kendall Wright, Justin Forsett, Devontae Booker
Yes, the same Marcus Mariota who probably got you to the fantasy playoffs should be left on the bench in Round One. Denver is tied with Arizona for the least amount of TD passes allowed. Stream someone else. Coach Gary Kubiak said that Forsett and Booker will split work this week, so no thanks.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Titans D/ST
See the write up on Devontae Booker. Yes, he’s getting the looks, but he hasn’t been effective (has not topped 4.0 yards/carry since Week 7) and Tennessee allows 92.3 rushing yards per game which is seventh-best in the NFL. And c’mon, Trevor Siemian isn’t Tom Brady.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP/Nam Y. Huh
Cardinals at Dolphins, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Devante Parker, Jay Ajayi, Dolphins D/ST, Jarvis Landry, Cardinals D/ST
Arizona has the third-best pass defense in the league in terms of yards allowed in the air, so if you’re in a very shallow league, I prefer Parker over Landry even if Patrick Peterson is shadowing him.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham, Kenny Stills
I like how Carson Palmer has looked Gresham’s way 16 times in the past two games, but you’re in the playoffs and you can do better on the waiver wire. J.J. Nelson is not getting the looks he used to in the middle of the season.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Michael Floyd
Yes, the Michael Floyd in a contract year that was supposed to have a huge season for a team making a push to the Super Bowl. He’s still not playing well, but with John Brown dealing with a sickle cell trait, Floyd is the #2 wideout in this offense against a mediocre secondary. Floyd saw the most targets he’s seen last week (eight) since getting thrown to 11 times in Week 3. So if you’re desperate, I’m OK with rolling the dice on Floyd.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP/Ross D. Franklin
Bears at Lions, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Matthew Stafford, Jordan Howard, Theo Riddick, Golden Tate
Detroit has a pretty good run defense, but Jordan Howard has been outstanding since assuming the role of starter over Jeremy Langford. Theo Riddick seemingly can’t run the ball, but he’s received 21 targets in the pass game in the last 3 weeks so you know he will be involved in the offensive game script.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, Cameron Meredith, Marquess Wilson, Matt Barkley, Lions D/ST, Bears D/ST, Logan Paulsen, Eddie Royal
Chicago’s defense has only allowed one tight end to top 50 yards all season — you can do better than Ebron. No thanks on Marvin Jones, who’s battling injury and hasn’t been fantasy relevant in months. No thanks on any of the Bears passing game, too.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Anquan Boldin
If Marvin Jones plays, then I would probably recommend keeping Boldin on the bench, but Anquan has seen 21 targets in the past 3 weeks and the Bears do give up the 13 nd round: th most fantasy points to WRs this season.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP/Nam Y. Huh
Steelers at Bills, 1 p.m. Sunday
Lake effect snow possible from tonight to Saturday — dying off Saturday with a total of 2” – 4” with THAT system. Then another system will move through the region, spreading snow into the region on Sunday afternoon with amounts less than 2”. Temperatures will be in the lower to mid 30s with a southerly breeze around 15 mph. – LR
Weather Concerns: Fire ‘em up: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Ladarius Green
It’s not the best matchup for Big Ben this week, as Buffalo has given up the 11 th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. But give me the guy who commands a Top 8 passing offense with the best WR in the game Antonio Brown to throw to. And Ladarius Green has entered must-start territory as he has been targeted on 29 percent of his snaps this year.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Tyrod Taylor, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, Charles Clay, Bills D/ST, Steelers D/ST
Other than the big play ability of Sammy Watkins, you should want nothing to do with the Buffalo passing offense, ranked last in the NFL in terms of overall net yards.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Mike Gillislee
This is not an endorsement to start the journeyman running back from Florida. But if you’re in a very deep league and are desperate, keep in mind that Gillislee scored 2 TDs last week vs Oakland and has four in his last three games. I’d play Gillislee over a guy like Christine Michael, Wendell Smallwood or Denard Robinson.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Chargers at Panthers, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Melvin Gordon, Jonathan Stewart, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen
How sick do you think Carolina is of hearing how they could use Josh Norman these days? Their secondary has allowed the third-most passing yards in the NFL this year, a year after allowing the least amount of yards per attempt (6.2). Williams is the more obvious play, but I’m ok with getting Inman in your lineup too, as he has found the end zone in consecutive games.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Ted Ginn Jr., Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Panthers D/ST, Fozzy Whitaker, Devin Funchess
You heard it here: Tedd Ginn’s three-game TD streak comes to an end against an improving SD secondary, which I’ll highlight below. Avoid Chargers tight ends as Gates and Henry seem to be in a rotation.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Chargers D/ST
The Chargers have the most INTs in the NFL with 15 and are taking on a reeling Panthers team who want this nightmare season over less than a year after making it to the Super Bowl to be over. Rookie DE Joey Bosa has been a force since entering the starting lineup as well, registering 5.5 sacks in eight games.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Vikings at Jaguars, 1 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Vikings D/ST, TJ Yeldon, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph
I’m reluctant to tell you to start McKinnon or Asiata, but if you’re in need of an RB2 or flex, one of these guys could make sense as Jacksonville has the 24 th-ranked run defense. I’m not reluctant to tell you to start Minnesota’s top 5 defense against an awful Blake Bortles. Keep an eye on Chris Ivory’s status, as he practiced Wednesday, but was limited. If he plays, I would keep both of the Jacksonville RBs on the bench.
Leave ‘em on your Bench: Marquise Lee, Adam Thielen, Sam Bradford, Blake Bortles, Any Jacksonville TE, Cordarrelle Patterson, Laquon Treadwell
Jacksonville has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to WRs this season. So other than Stefon Diggs and his big-play ability, I’m reluctant to recommend any other WRs in this Vikings offense, which is far from prolific to begin with.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Allen Robinson
“Sleeper” might not be the right word, only because if you’re an A-Rob owner, I’m sure you’ve voiced your displeasure numerous times about how he disappointed you on numerous occasions this season. But hey, Robinson got double-digit targets last week, and went through a stretch in November where he scored a TD in three straight weeks. If you’ve got the fortitude to throw him in your flex this week, I ain’t mad at ya.
(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
Jets at 49ers, 4:05 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Matt Forte, Carlos Hyde, Brandon Marshall, Bilal Powell.
The 49ers have the worst run defense in the NFL, so Forte is an obvious start. If you’re in a deeper league I’m OK with firing up Powell too as he actually out-snapped Forte last week despite getting out-touched 12-1. If you remember, last year Powell came on very strong down the final stretch of games and it wouldn’t surprise me to see that again. Carlos Hyde hasn’t found the end zone since Week 5, but he did get 20 touches last week against the Bears.
Leave ‘em on your Bench: Vance McDonald, Torrey Smith, Quincy Enunwa, Austin-Sefarian Jenkins, Quinton Patton
The only one out of this list I could maybe see an argument for starting is Vance McDonald, only because the Jets allowed 3 TDs to Dwayne Allen in the Monday night blowout. But with six catches for 69 yards combined over the past two games, you can do better.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Colin Kaepernick
Alright, hear me out. Kaepernick killed a lot of people’s chances to get into the fantasy playoffs after he was benched during a solid fantasy matchup with the Bears after failing to complete a pass in the snowy first half. That being said, Kaepernick has a nice matchup against the 10 nd round: th-worst pass defense in the NFL and if you believe in the narrative of playing “ticked off,” this would be the game where Colin does just that after getting benched in favor of the lowly Blaine Gabbert last week.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Falcons at Rams, 4:25 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Kenny Britt
Julio Jones is an obvious must start, but he is battling turf toe and did not practice Wednesday. Atlanta has the worst pass defense in the NFL and Kenny Britt has seen 33 targets the past four games.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Taylor Gabriel, Lance Kendricks, Austin Hooper, ATL D/ST, LA D/ST, Jared Goff, Mohamed Sanu
Sanu will be upgraded to a “fire ‘em up” if A) he practices this week (he missed Wednesday’s session with a groin injury), and B) Julio Jones is ruled out Sunday. Same applies for Gabriel: If Julio is out, I’m fine with inserting Taylor into your flex spot.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Brian Quick
See “fire ‘em up” where I mention how Atlanta has the worst pass Defense in the NFL. Quick saw eight targets in Week 13, hauling in five catches. If Tavon Austin plays this week it will hurt the amount of looks Quick will get, but his status is uncertain after missing last week with a chest injury.
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Saints at Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m. Sunday
Fire ‘em up: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Doug Martin, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, Brandin Cooks, Jameis Winston
Jacquizz Rodgers may be earning an expanded role, but even with Charles Sims activated off IR, I believe this is Doug Martin’s job to lose. He’s got a juicy matchup against a Saints defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs this season. New Orleans has the second-worst pass defense in the league behind Atlanta so expect Winston to chuck it quite a bit. On the other side of the football, Tampa has given up the 12 th-most fantasy points to QBs and is sixth-worst in terms of passing TDs allowed (22). Also: Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner was the second lowest graded corner, according to Pro Football Focus in Week 13.
Leave ‘em on your bench: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Tim Hightower, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, Josh Hill
If Mark Ingram/Doug Martin have any lingering injuries, any of these RBs could move up to the “fire ‘em up” category. I can’t trust Willie Snead anymore — he’s been held below 40 yards receiving three straight games.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2 Freddy Martino
Who is Freddy Martino? Many of you were asking this question when Adam Humphries and Cecil Shorts went down against the Chargers last week, but Martino caught 4-of-4 targets and suddenly has some upside against a bad Saints secondary. If you’re desperate, Martino could warrant consideration over guys like Devin Funchess, Chris Hogan and Cameron Meredith.
(Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Cliff McBride
Seahawks at Packers, 4:25 p.m. Sunday
UPDATE, 12/9/2016, 9:30 p. m.: Snow will fall during the Packers game and could accumulate up and over 5.00″ by the time it’s all said and done! This could be a pretty significant snow for the Lambeau field so plan ahead for fantasy concerns. Winds will not be an issue but obviously the snow will make for slick conditions.
Snow showers possible Saturday night or Sunday morning — just a little too early to determine the speed of the next system. Snow showers either way will start to die down by the afternoon on Sunday so snow showers won’t likely be an impact during the game, but there will be some snow on the ground and it will be cold either way. Temperatures will be chilly, around the 30 degree mark either way. – LR
Weather Concerns: Fire ’em up: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Thomas Rawls, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, SEA D/ST
The Packers are in the bottom third of the league in terms of defending the tight end, having allowed 71 catches and five touchdowns to the position on the year. Both defenses are in the Top 10 in terms of rushing yards per attempt, but I’m still OK with rolling out Rawls again, who scampered for two TDs last week.
Leave ’em on your bench: Ty Mongomery, James Starks, Jared Cook, Jermaine Kearse, Christine Michael, GB D/ST
Ty Montgomery looked like the more effective back last week, but regardless you should avoid the Packers running game all together.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2nd round: Tyler Lockett
Lockett disappointed his owners who drafted him in the fifth-sixth rounds this year; heck, I even saw fourth round in some leagues. He had his best game of the year in Week 13, and Green Bay gives up the most yards per attempt at 8.2 in the league, so I like Lockett’s chances of a big play even with the weather concerns.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Christian Petersen
Cowboys at Giants, 8:30 p.m. Sunday
Weather concerns: There is a possibility of light rain showers, a very cold rain, on Sunday night. Temperatures will hold steady in the mid to upper 30s. – LR
Fire ’em up: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Rashad Jennings, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Odell Beckham Jr., Jason Witten
I’m a bit reluctant to tell you to start Prescott, as I believe there could be better options in terms of streaming on your waiver wire if you’re in a more shallow league. But outside of last week’s performance against a stout Vikings defense, Prescott is a huge reason why you got to the playoffs. It’s not like the Giants secondary is anything special either: They have allowed the 25 th-most passing yards in the league this year.
Leave ’em on your bench: Cowboys D/ST, Giants D/ST, Will Tye, Terrance Williams, Victor Cruz, Roger Lewis, Eli Manning
When undrafted rookie Roger Lewis is playing more snaps than Victor Cruz, that should tell you that you won’t be salsa dancing into the second round if you start Cruz.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2nd round: Sterling Shepard
The rookie out of Oklahoma has scored a TD in four of his past five games and is second among rookie WRs with six TDs on the season. If the Cowboys have a weakness on this team, it’s in the back end of their defense, where they are fourth-worst in terms of passing yards allowed.
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Tom Pennington
Ravens at Patriots, 8:30 p.m. Monday
There is a chance of some snow/rain on Monday night, depending on what happens with the system above. Right now, it looks as if enough warm air will move in during the course of the evening that anything that starts as snow will transition into rain. There is high confidence that precipitation will fall. It just depends on what kind. Temperatures at the surface will only top out in the 30s. – LR
Weather concerns: Fire ’em up: Tom Brady, Patriots D/ST, LeGarrette Blount, Terrance West, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace, Dion Lewis
Baltimore may have the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, but if you drafted Blount, he is a big reason why you got to the playoffs and you can’t leave him on the bench. Julian Edelman has seen 40 targets over the past three games, and Malcolm Mitchell has stepped in as the No. 2 passing option with the Gronkowski injury.
Leave ’em on your bench: James White, Joe Flacco, Martellus Bennett, Dennis Pitta, Baltimore D/ST, Chris Hogan
It’s hard to tell you to bench “Elite” Joe Flacco after he thrashed the Dolphins last week, but the Patriots’ secondary is stronger than Miami’s, allowing just 6.9 yards per pass attempt. If you’re in a deep league, I’m OK with starting Pitta after he received 11 targets last week and scored twice, but the Patriots have allowed just three TDs to tight ends all year.
Sleeper who can advance you to the 2nd round: Kenneth Dixon
If the Ravens want to move the ball against New England’s defense, their best bet might be throwing the ball to Dixon out of the backfield. The Ravens allow the fifth-most receiving yards to the running back position, and Dixon has looked like the more explosive back compared to T-West on a week-to-week basis since returning from his early season injury.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
We’ve all made that crucial fantasy football mistake before, starting a dud while sitting a stud and costing ourselves the week. WTOP’s Chris Cichon breaks down every game this weekend to help you make sure you don’t cost yourself a playoff game. Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts adds her weather notes in games that may be affected.