Fantasy Football: Week 17 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 17 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers
Matt Ryan

Tier 2

Russell Wilson

Tier 3

Andrew Luck

Tier 4

Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Kirk Cousins
Matthew Stafford
Jameis Winston

Tier 5

Cam Newton
Blake Bortles
Alex Smith

Tier 6

Sam Bradford
Carson Wentz
Landry Jones
Carson Palmer
EJ Manuel
Andy Dalton
Joe Flacco

Tier 7

Colin Kaepernick
Philip Rivers

Tier 8

Matt Cassel
Tom Savage
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Robert Griffin III
Matt Barkley
Matt McGloin
Matt Moore

Tier 9

Jared Goff
Mark Sanchez
Eli Manning
Trevor Siemian
Paxton Lynch
Josh Johnson
Dak Prescott

Running Backs

Tier 1

David Johnson

Tier 2

LeSean McCoy
Devonta Freeman

Tier 3

Demarco Murray
Jordan Howard

Tier 4

Todd Gurley
Spencer Ware
Jacquizz Rodgers
Jerick McKinnon
Mark Ingram
Rex Burkhead
Jay Ajayi
Rob Kelley
Bilal Powell
Tevin Coleman
Thomas Rawls

Tier 5

Alfred Blue
Shaun Draughn
Frank Gore
Ty Montgomery
LeGarrette Blount
Latavius Murray
Jonathan Stewart

Tier 6

Darren McFadden
Isaiah Crowell
Dion Lewis
Chris Ivory
Terrance West
Fitzgerald Toussaint
Melvin Gordon
DeAngelo Williams
Ronnie Hillman

Tier 7

Devontae Booker
Kenneth Dixon
Byron Marshall

Tier 8

Derrick Henry
Paul Perkins
Alex Collins
Darren Sproles
Zach Zenner
Justin Forsett
Duke Johnson Jr.
James White
Tim Hightower
Rashad Jennings
Matt Asiata

Tier 9

Peyton Barber
Robert Turbin
Jalen Richard
Theo Riddick
Ezekiel Elliott
Charcandrick West
DuJuan Harris
Mike Gillislee
Cedric Peerman
Chris Thompson

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Mike Evans
Jordy Nelson
Julio Jones

Tier 2

T.Y. Hilton
Doug Baldwin

Tier 3

Brandin Cooks
Ty Montgomery
Michael Thomas
Eli Rogers
Julian Edelman
Davante Adams
Golden Tate
Demaryius Thomas
Allen Robinson
Sammy Watkins
Cameron Meredith
Brandon LaFell
Emmanuel Sanders
Tyrell Williams
Alshon Jeffery
Steve Smith Sr.
Larry Fitzgerald
Dontrelle Inman
DeAndre Hopkins
DeSean Jackson
Rishard Matthews
Marqise Lee
Michael Crabtree

Tier 4

J.J. Nelson
Tyreek Hill
Willie Snead
Mike Wallace
Odell Beckham Jr.
Adam Thielen
Kelvin Benjamin
Jarvis Landry
Pierre Garcon
Kenny Britt
Jordan Matthews
Amari Cooper
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Jamison Crowder

Tier 5

Tavon Austin
Mohamed Sanu
Marvin Jones Jr.
Anquan Boldin
Malcolm Mitchell
Robby Anderson
Corey Coleman
Quincy Enunwa
Ted Ginn Jr.
Taylor Gabriel
Brandon Marshall
Tyler Boyd
Jeremy Maclin
Cobi Hamilton

Tier 6

DeVante Parker
Kenny Stills
Sterling Shepard
Stefon Diggs
Chris Hogan
Adam Humphries
Bryan Walters
Jermaine Kearse
Jeremy Kerley
Will Fuller

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Travis Kelce

Tier 2

Greg Olsen
Zach Ertz
Kyle Rudolph
Jimmy Graham
Delanie Walker
Antonio Gates

Tier 3

C.J. Fiedorowicz
Eric Ebron
Charles Clay
Jack Doyle
Jordan Reed
Martellus Bennett
Jared Cook
Gary Barnidge
Jermaine Gresham
Coby Fleener
Vernon Davis
Jesse James
Dennis Pitta
Brandon Myers

Kickers

Matt Bryant
Adam Vinatieri
Cairo Santos
Mason Crosby
Dustin Hopkins
Stephen Gostkowski
Steven Hauschka
Justin Tucker
Matt Prater
Caleb Sturgis
Kai Forbath
Roberto Aguayo
Brandon McManus
Wil Lutz
Chandler Catanzaro
Jason Myers
Josh Lambo
Dan Carpenter
Ryan Succop
Dan Bailey
Graham Gano
Randy Bullock
Nick Folk
Nick Novak
Sebastian Janikowski
Chris Boswell
Phil Dawson
Robbie Gould
Greg Zuerlein
Connor Barth
Cody Parkey
Andrew Franks

Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Seattle Seahawks
Indianapolis Colts
Tennessee Titans
Oakland Raiders
Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers
New York Jets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Washington Redskins
Los Angeles Rams
Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans
Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers
Jacksonville Jaguars
Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons
Dallas Cowboys
Cleveland Browns
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants
Detroit Lions
Miami Dolphins
New Orleans Saints

Fantasy Football: Week 16 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 16 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Drew Brees
Andrew Luck
Tom Brady

Tier 2

Aaron Rodgers
Kirk Cousins
Matt Ryan

Tier 3

Derek Carr
Ben Roethlisberger
Cam Newton
Jameis Winston
Russell Wilson
Marcus Mariota

Tier 4

Dak Prescott
Philip Rivers

Tier 5

Tyrod Taylor

Tier 6

Matthew Stafford
Colin Kaepernick
Eli Manning
Robert Griffin III
Blake Bortles
Andy Dalton
Joe Flacco

Tier 7

Sam Bradford
Tom Savage
Matt Barkley
Carson Palmer

Tier 8

Trevor Siemian
Alex Smith
Carson Wentz

Tier 9

Matt Moore
Jared Goff
Bryce Petty

Order is restored at QB this week. The past couple of weeks we have seen elite QBs in tough spots with weaker QBs in great spots which had been complicating our decision making quite a bit. This week we get Brees in a good spot at home, Brady against the burnable Jets secondary, and Big Ben finally at home. Jameis Winston is the only real sneaky QB1 this week in a potential shootout at the Superdome. I would not want to be in the position of having to choose him or Russell Wilson vs. Ari this week, it’s that close. In 2 QB leagues we have some decent options in Tier 6. I like RG3 this week as a potential streamer there but pay attention to the developing story that Cody Kessler has actually led the team in 1st team practice snaps this week. With them having absolutely nothing to play for besides trying to not go 0-16…who knows if they’ll pull some stunt like using each QB for a half? Don’t let the Matt Moore 4-TD game hype lead you too astray this week. He isn’t even an option this week @Buf and enjoyed quite a bit of TD “luck” based on his low volume of pass attempts last week.

Running Backs

Tier 1

Le’Veon Bell
Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 2

David Johnson

Tier 3

LeSean McCoy

Tier 4

Jordan Howard
Demarco Murray

Tier 5

Todd Gurley

Tier 6

Latavius Murray
Spencer Ware
Devonta Freeman
Carlos Hyde
Jeremy Hill
Lamar Miller
Rob Kelley
Thomas Rawls
Jonathan Stewart
LeGarrette Blount
Bilal Powell
Jay Ajayi
Doug Martin
Mark Ingram

Tier 7

Ty Montgomery*
Frank Gore
Kenneth Farrow

Tier 8

Ryan Mathews
Isaiah Crowell
Terrance West

Tier 9

Justin Forsett
Adrian Peterson
Rashad Jennings
Kenneth Dixon
T.J. Yeldon
Tevin Coleman

Tier 10

Dion Lewis
Tim Hightower
Paul Perkins
Jerick McKinnon
Duke Johnson Jr.
Chris Ivory
Dwayne Washington

Tier 11

Charles Sims
Rex Burkhead
Darren Sproles
Devontae Booker
Jalen Richard

Tier 12

Robert Turbin
James White
Derrick Henry

*Also may be eligible as a WR. I would recommend using him as a WR if you can.

RB sees quite a bit of shake up this week as a lot of the studs are in tough spots while certain fantasy disappointments such as Todd Gurley have dream matchups. It’s unlikely many Todd Gurley teams somehow managed to make it to their league’s championship – but if so, he has a great chance to help bring home the trophy for them this week with a dream matchup against the 49ers sieve-like run defense. I tend to get a lot of slack for having Spencer Ware as a RB1 most weeks. Truth is, the negative opinion on him is mostly due to over reacting to short term results that have unfortunately seen him have some bad TD luck. The touches have been there, the yardage has been there to an extent as well, and the Chiefs don’t allow Alex Smith to have much TD share most weeks. The excess TDs usually funnel to Ware but has seen Char West and Tyreek Hill score rush TDs each since his last one. I can see the tide shift back in his favor and if he weren’t stuffed twice on the Titans goal line last week people might be much higher on him this week. It’s funny how such small margins of having a huge fantasy week can cloud the general consensus opinion. I tend to focus on what is predictive of future success and is why I stand pat that Ware is a fringe RB1 again this week. Let’s hope he doesn’t reward his owners with a lump of coal this week.

I’m guessing the Chargers don’t trot Melvin Gordon out there this week in a lost season. He is 3 yards shy of a 1k yard season so I can see them possibly letting him heal up enough to give him a few carries next week and reach that milestone. This means that we may need to rely on Kenneth Farrow’s bankable volume again this week in desperate spots. Again, my whole point isn’t that Farrow is some 2nd coming of Adrian Peterson, he certainly isn’t. However, in a season like this where RBs are scarce and more teams have 2 or even 3-way RBBC it’s nice having a RB who can get you 15-20 touches. I was simply driving that point home as opposed to having the masses almost “scouting” the player and saying his “pass protection woes may limit his work”. Just have to be careful over analyzing situations like that. The Chargers literally don’t have any other options. His only competition is Ronnie Hillman who we have plenty of film on and is considered to be poor in pass protection. Might as well see if the rookie, in Farrow, can improve on that with live game action. I’d be worried about his fumbling issue last week costing him some snaps but the matchup against the Browns should help negate that somewhat. Remember, we aren’t starting him over Carlos Hyde or anything. We aren’t even expecting much more than 60 total yards from him. We are simply plugging him in over a Darren Sproles type at the Flex if we are thin at RB.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Odell Beckham Jr.
Antonio Brown
Mike Evans

Tier 2

Jordy Nelson
T.Y. Hilton
Julio Jones

Tier 3

Brandin Cooks
Michael Crabtree
Julian Edelman
Ty Montgomery
Dez Bryant
Demaryius Thomas

Tier 4

Michael Thomas
Doug Baldwin
A.J. Green
Emmanuel Sanders
Dontrelle Inman
Tyrell Williams
Larry Fitzgerald
Rishard Matthews
DeAndre Hopkins
Golden Tate
Kenny Britt
Davante Adams
Alshon Jeffery
Willie Snead
Amari Cooper

Tier 5

Jordan Matthews
Jarvis Landry
Tyler Lockett
Mike Wallace

Tier 6

Jamison Crowder
Sammy Watkins
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Malcolm Mitchell
DeSean Jackson
Allen Robinson
Steve Smith Sr.
Robby Anderson
Ted Ginn Jr.
Pierre Garcon
Kelvin Benjamin
Cameron Meredith

Tier 7

Taylor Gabriel
Stefon Diggs
Marqise Lee
Sterling Shepard
Jeremy Maclin
Chris Hogan
Tavon Austin
Marvin Jones Jr.
Brandon Marshall
DeVante Parker
Kenny Stills
Cole Beasley
Tyreek Hill
J.J. Nelson

The status of Julio Jones and A.J. Green will shape the landscape at WR for Week 16. Julio has a fantastic matchup but is hard to trust after missing 2 straight games with a toe injury. If either are active you almost have to roll the dice on them. Even if they play “limited snaps” you have to keep in mind that they will most likely see high leverage snaps which will include obvious passing downs and/or red zone opportunities. They likely aren’t going to send Julio out to run block on majority of his “limited” snaps, these teams aren’t stupid. Pretty much all 3 main Saints WRs are in-play this week. I also think Inman/Tyrell make for safe WR2 this week against the Browns. Amari Cooper has been a pretty big disappointment in my eyes. He is way too inconsistent to even be in the WR1 discussion and his scary low floor has me thinking he’s more of an elite WR3 this week. Not sure if he’s even due for positive TD regression since Carr seems to look for Crabtree and even Seth Roberts when they near the goal line. DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson are in similar spots as Todd Gurley this week. They have been the biggest non-injury related busts of 2016 but are in spots to at least make up for it if their teams somehow made it this far. ARob is much more of a desperation Flex play but the Titans are one of the better teams to target with pass catchers as of late. It would be sweet, sweet justice if ARob goes off for 200 yards and 2 TD this week to help win Toilet Bowl matchups.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Greg Olsen
Travis Kelce

Tier 2

Cameron Brate
Delanie Walker
Kyle Rudolph
Jimmy Graham

Tier 3

Tyler Eifert
Zach Ertz

Tier 4

Antonio Gates
Martellus Bennett

Tier 5

Jordan Reed
Jason Witten
Eric Ebron
Coby Fleener
Vernon Davis
Ladarius Green
Jack Doyle

Tier 6

Ryan Griffin
Hunter Henry
Charles Clay
Jared Cook
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Jermaine Gresham
Gary Barnidge

My Antonio Gates needing 3 more TDs to break the all-time record narrative has fallen flat. I even called out Hunter Henry last week saying his run of 2/20/1 was over. Well, he stuck it to me with a 3/37/1 last week. My theory still stands and I like Gates against the Browns defense that Rivers will take out his frustration of the last few weeks out on. Cameron Brate poses some serious sit/start decisions this week as he is not only a reliable option now but he gets the Saints. I’d even consider starting him over Jimmy Graham if I was forced to today. Jordan Reed can’t be relied upon in championship matchups. Stay on top of the news but at this point you need them to force feed him a TD in order to pay off. He isn’t going to be able to rack up enough yards to provide the safe floor we want from him. On a side note, it is hilarious how we pretty much have a 3-way TEBC in Indy. Any given week either Doyle, Allen, or Swope can be fantasy relevant. Doyle is the only one I’d even consider but do not recommend playing that game of Whack-a-Mole right now. Very worried about Ladarius Green this week considering it’s believed that his lengthy absence this year was due to his concussion history rather than his off-season ankle surgery. It’s also a concern for players in the concussion protocol this week since most teams play on Saturday this week – giving them one less day to reach clearance. Green doesn’t play until Sunday but I think they hold him out as a precaution due to his personal history.

Kickers

Tier 1

Stephen Gostkowski
Matt Bryant
Sebastian Janikowski
Graham Gano
Dan Bailey
Adam Vinatieri

Tier 2

Dustin Hopkins
Steven Hauschka
Josh Lambo
Wil Lutz
Mason Crosby

Tier 3

Ryan Succop
Nick Novak
Roberto Aguayo
Cairo Santos
Justin Tucker
Greg Zuerlein

Tier 4

Randy Bullock
Caleb Sturgis
Robbie Gould
Dan Carpenter
Phil Dawson
Matt Prater
Connor Barth
Chris Boswell
Jason Myers
Brandon McManus

Tier 5

Kai Forbath
Cody Parkey
Chandler Catanzaro
Andrew Franks

Tier 6

Nick Folk

Again, I don’t need to be reminded that I have Justin Tucker way too low. I don’t just hand pick my K rankings I let my model do them for me. Believe me, I have incorporated as much as I can to give Tucker a boost this week. I have him rated out as pretty much the greatest K of all-time by a wide margin. Have to remember that the one thing that he can’t control….the Raven’s needing to drive down the field enough, stall, and then give him a FG opportunity is VERY luck driven. I’m pretty much factoring in that they almost intentionally do that at this point. He is also at Heinz Field which data will tell you it is the toughest place to kick. The Ravens also have a low team total that is under 20 points and are underdogs on the road which may cause them limited scoring chances and even put into a spot where a field goal won’t cut it and must go for it instead. Of course….after all of this I’m just guessing that Tucker will end up with 5-6 field goals. He defies all logic at this point. Start him if you have him.

Defense

Tier 1

New England Patriots

Tier 2

Kansas City Chiefs

Tier 3

Seattle Seahawks
Tennessee Titans

Tier 4

Green Bay Packers
Buffalo Bills
Los Angeles Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers
New York Giants
San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos
Cincinnati Bengals
Washington Redskins

Tier 5

San Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys
Oakland Raiders
Houston Texans

Tier 6

Miami Dolphins
Arizona Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Baltimore Ravens
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars
Chicago Bears

Tier 7

Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts
New York Jets

Fantasy Football: Week 15 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 15 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Matt Ryan
Kirk Cousins
Russell Wilson
Aaron Rodgers

Tier 2

Cam Newton
Tyrod Taylor
Andrew Luck
Dak Prescott
Derek Carr
Carson Palmer
Drew Brees
Tom Brady

Tier 3

Joe Flacco
Jameis Winston
Ben Roethlisberger
Philip Rivers

Tier 4

Eli Manning
Marcus Mariota
Alex Smith
Colin Kaepernick
Matthew Stafford
Sam Bradford
Andy Dalton

Tier 5

Blake Bortles

Tier 6

Brock Osweiler
Trevor Siemian
Carson Wentz

Tier 7

Matt Moore
Robert Griffin III

Tier 8

Bryce Petty
Matt Barkley

Tier 9

Jared Goff

This is another tricky week for QBs. People are surely going to be overthinking things just because the stakes are much higher now in the fantasy football playoffs. Instead of beating a dead horse by pointing out that Tom Brady has a brutal matchup I’d like to point out how to break down these decisions. It’s important to understand the different layers of a player’s expectations and how each player differs in that regard. Each player has their own unique “ceiling” and “floor” – not to mention their “average” projection can be farther off of their “median” projection. To put this simply – I base my rankings strictly off of my projections. By doing this I am essentially saying for Aaron Rodgers this week his projection is 18.4 standard fantasy points since if this week were to play out in full 1,000 times that his average fantasy score would be roughly 18.4 points. This certainly doesn’t mean that I expect him to get exactly 18.4 and anything he gets above or below that my projection can be classified as “bad”. We must embrace the randomness and volatility in this world and especially when it comes to fantasy football.

Having said that, looking at Tyrod Taylor’s projection of 17.3 points this week, he comes in higher ranked over Tom Brady at 16.4. So I’m saying to start Tyrod over Tom Brady, right? It’s not quite that simple actually. A lot of Tyrod’s production comes from his legs whereas Brady’s comes from his passing stats. Rushing stats are much more volatile week to week but also hold a lot of value in fantasy football scoring. Because of this, Tyrod stands to have much more inconsistent results which makes his potential for a real high scoring week (his ceiling) and a low scoring “dud” of a week (his floor) a greater gap then someone as consistent as Tom Brady. When it comes to making a sit/start decision in a tradition h2h season long fantasy format, you are more concerned about taking the player who has a higher floor – especially at the QB position. Since this is most likely a must-win week, don’t plan on pulling your hair our deciding to play Tyrod over Brady or Joe Flacco over Big Ben. In these tight decisions let’s just put the QB we drafted earlier in our drafts (for a reason) lead us to victory this week. Just keep in mind that their matchups aren’t ideal so we need to temper expectations some.

Running Backs

Tier 1

David Johnson
Le’Veon Bell

Tier 2

Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 3

LeSean McCoy

Tier 4

Latavius Murray
Devonta Freeman
Spencer Ware
Jay Ajayi

Tier 5

Jeremy Hill
Jordan Howard
Rob Kelley

Tier 6

Bilal Powell
Demarco Murray
Thomas Rawls
Lamar Miller

Tier 7

Doug Martin
Carlos Hyde
Jonathan Stewart

Tier 8

Tevin Coleman

Tier 9

Jerick McKinnon
LeGarrette Blount
Kenneth Farrow
Frank Gore
Kenneth Dixon

Tier 10

Todd Gurley
Mark Ingram
Isaiah Crowell
Ryan Mathews
Rashad Jennings

Tier 11

Justin Forsett
Terrance West
Matt Asiata
T.J. Yeldon
Theo Riddick

This week I feel like it’s a bit more beneficial if I spend use this space to help point out strategy at the position this week as opposed to cut and dry black/white decision making. The guy I’m highlighting at RB this week is Kenneth Farrow. We have already received the news that Melvin Gordon is set to miss this week. Kenneth Farrow is next up on the depth chart and while most people don’t have a clue who the UDFA out of Houston is – he is someone I am going to plug in this week in my fantasy football playoff team(s) in need. Most people can’t stomach the fact that they might have to play an undrafted RB with 36 career carries and 0 TDs. Let me help you feel a bit more relaxed about having to pull the trigger this week.

Some of the all-time fantasy football legends were undrafted: Arian Foster, Priest Holmes, Kurt Warner, Wes Welker…to name a few. Don’t let his draft status deter you. Go check out some of his YouTube highlights to see how he destroyed at the college level. To be fair, about 80-90% of the clips are just brutal college defense and weak attempts at tackling. Nonetheless, he has the physical ability to do some damage with the 15-20 touches he is likely getting this week. Unless you have DJ, Le’Veon, and Zeke as your RBs you can’t expect 100+ yards and multiple TDs each week. We are just begging for a 60-70 total yards with MAYBE a TD sprinkled in for Farrow this week and you should be in a better position to win. Yes, Ronnie Hillman could steal some passing down work. Yes, Rivers may just end up throwing it 60 times. I’ve seen all the reasons people are shying away from Farrow – and rightfully so. I just think that with their 5-8 “lost” season, they may be more inclined to audition Farrow to see if he can be a part of their RB plans for next year. If anything, give him some in-game experience to get better at pass protection as opposed to getting a look at journeyman Ronnie Hillman some work when we already have plenty of film on him to know what he can and cannot do. I am starting Farrow with confidence this week but not holding him to the lofty expectations I expect from someone like Le’Veon Bell.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Antonio Brown
Odell Beckham Jr.

Tier 2

Mike Evans

Tier 3

Jordy Nelson

Tier 4

Larry Fitzgerald
Doug Baldwin
T.Y. Hilton
Dez Bryant
Emmanuel Sanders
Michael Crabtree
Tyrell Williams
Demaryius Thomas

Tier 5

Julio Jones
Brandin Cooks
Amari Cooper
Jamison Crowder
Davante Adams
Sammy Watkins
Tyreek Hill
Julian Edelman
Rishard Matthews
Stefon Diggs
Michael Thomas
Jarvis Landry
Mike Wallace
DeAndre Hopkins
Steve Smith Sr.
Alshon Jeffery
DeSean Jackson

Tier 6

Golden Tate
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Kelvin Benjamin
Willie Snead
Dontrelle Inman
Taylor Gabriel
Kenny Britt
Adam Thielen
Ty Montgomery
Pierre Garcon
Marqise Lee
Malcolm Mitchell
Ted Ginn Jr.
Marvin Jones Jr.

Tier 7

Corey Coleman
Robby Anderson
DeVante Parker
Tyler Lockett
Jordan Matthews
Donte Moncrief
Brandon Marshall
Sterling Shepard
Cameron Meredith
Brandon LaFell
Cole Beasley
A.J. Green
Randall Cobb
Kenny Stills
Allen Robinson
Anquan Boldin
Chris Hogan
Will Fuller

The WR strategy I’m highlighting this week is how to handle Julio Jones. It is very important to stay up-to-speed on his status if you own him in season long. There is absolutely no reason to be making your decision set in stone this early in the week though. The nature of his injury is likely going to make him a true game-time decision again this week. This means that even Julio himself probably doesn’t know if he will be able to play or how effective he will be. It’s a highly risky situation even if he is active, but we all know he is good enough to take on that risk. Due to some cruel scheduling by the NFL for this game -they play in the afternoon games despite being a home team in the eastern time zone. This means you shouldn’t be making sit/start plans 3 days in advance – you need to be making back up plans. So all this means is that you need to add or save a WR that plays in the afternoon games or later in the event you won’t be using Julio. A player like Taylor Gabriel is ideal for this since he stands to gain the most if Julio is ruled out or is expected to be severely limited.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Travis Kelce

Tier 2

Greg Olsen
Jordan Reed
Tyler Eifert
Jimmy Graham

Tier 3

Delanie Walker
Kyle Rudolph
Antonio Gates

Tier 4

Cameron Brate
Martellus Bennett

Tier 5

Ladarius Green
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Zach Ertz
Jason Witten
Eric Ebron
Jermaine Gresham
Coby Fleener

Tier 6

Dennis Pitta
Hunter Henry
Vernon Davis
Jack Doyle
Daniel Brown

Antonio Gates is 2 TD shy of tying Tony Gonzalez for most TDs by a tight end. I feel like Rivers may start forcing him the ball in the red zone as soon as this week. Hunter Henry’s run of 2 catches 15 yards & a TD may come to an end this week if my theory is correct.

Kickers

Tier 1

Matt Bryant

Tier 2

Dustin Hopkins
Dan Bailey
Steven Hauschka
Justin Tucker

Tier 3

Cairo Santos
Chandler Catanzaro
Sebastian Janikowski
Josh Lambo
Kai Forbath
Nick Novak

Tier 4

Adam Vinatieri
Mason Crosby
Dan Carpenter
Stephen Gostkowski
Graham Gano
Brandon McManus
Wil Lutz
Phil Dawson

Tier 5

Robbie Gould
Randy Bullock
Matt Prater
Caleb Sturgis
Chris Boswell
Roberto Aguayo
Nick Folk
Andrew Franks
Ryan Succop

Tier 6

Jason Myers
Connor Barth
Cody Parkey
Greg Zuerlein

Defense

Tier 1

Buffalo Bills
Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers

Tier 2

Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans

Tier 3

Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Giants
New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers

Tier 4

Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons

Tier 5

Oakland Raiders
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos
Jacksonville Jaguars
Washington Redskins
Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions
Philadelphia Eagles

Tier 6

Chicago Bears
Indianapolis Colts
New Orleans Saints
Tennessee Titans
Los Angeles Rams

Tier 7

Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cleveland Browns
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers

Week 14: Who We Like

In conjunction with Sean Koerner’s “Week 14 Tiers” piece, I’m highlighting some players at each position that we particularly like or dislike. The methodology is: I compare our ranking for standard scoring to the expert consensus ranking, as of the TNF game (https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/rankings/qb.php). Remember that everything is relative! If we “dislike” an elite WR, it doesn’t mean you should bench him, just that we like him a little bit less than a couple other elite WRs. A player may be a good daily fantasy play due to his minimum price, while still not worthy of starting in 12-team leagues. This article was published after the Thursday game ended, so it will not include any Raiders and Chiefs players, even though they are included in the rankings.

QB We Like

Matt Stafford, DET (vs. CHI)

  • STATS Rank: 2
  • Expert Consensus Rank: 6

Detroit has one of the highest team totals this weekend (25.5) against the tanking Bears. They also have no run game to speak of. Stafford should move the ball with ease and is one of 3 QBs we project for 2+ TD. He should be a chalky daily fantasy pick, but his expert ranking indicates he may be under-owned.

Colin Kaepernick, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 11
  • ECR: 17

Would I start him in a 12-team head-to-head matchup, with my season on the line? No. But he has massive upside against a Jets secondary that had no clue how to defend and no interest in doing so against the Colts last week. He’s a nice high reward GPP play – plug him in and hope that grip issues in the snow last weekend were responsible for his off night.

QB We Don’t Like

Drew Brees, NO (@ TB)

  • STATS: 8
  • ECR: 1

Tampa’s defense has been awesome recently, limiting Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers in two consecutive weeks, with 2 INTs in each game. It’ll be tougher to totally shut down Brees, but they should minimize his production enough to prevent him from putting up one of the top scores of the week. The only fantasy relevant QBs more likely to throw INTs are Palmer, Rivers, and Big Ben.

Philip Rivers, SD (@ CAR)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 11

San Diego is only expected to score around 22 points, which is lower than any team with an elite QB not named Aaron Rodgers. San Diego loves to punch it in at the goal line (Gordon 10 rush TD vs. Rivers 25 pass TD), so if they don’t score that much, that’s bad for Rivers. He’s more of a QB2 than a QB1 against a decent defense.

RB We Like

Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 13
  • ECR: 16

He’s been productive over his last 3, averaging 17.3 carries for 81.0 yards with some catches mixed in. Those were all games the 49ers lost, with 2 of the 3 featuring “catch-up” offense mode. In a rare occurrence, San Fran is actually favored this weekend, so Hyde could get a chance to flash RB1 type ability.

Robert Kelley, WAS (@ PHI)

  • STATS: 14
  • ECR: 22

Philadelphia’s defense is slipping a bit, and they’re only mediocre against the run (4.1 YPC allowed). Fat Rob is now a workhorse back who we project for 18.5 carries, the same as players like Matt Forte and Jay Ajayi. That’s enough to make him a high end RB2 in a neutral matchup.

RB We Don’t Like

LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. PIT)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 4

He’s been so good recently, but for some reason, Buffalo has been giving Mike Gillislee goal-line carries. In fact, they announced that Gillislee is their goal-line back. It’s tough to rank McCoy in the top 5 when he’s not a 3-down, goal-line back. It’s especially tough to do so in a game when Buffalo is only expected to score 22 points.

Doug Martin, TB (vs. NO)

  • STATS: 26
  • ECR: 16

He’s expected to lose work to Jacquizz Rodgers, which takes him out of definite RB2 consideration for us. As bad as New Orleans is against the pass, they’re much better against the run, with under 4 YPC allowed and the 11th fewest yards allowed in football.

WR We Like

Demaryius Thomas, DEN (@ TEN)

  • STATS: 11
  • ECR: 16

We like both of Denver’s WRs and consider them both borderline WR1 IF Siemian ends up playing. Tennessee quietly has a bad, bottom-10 pass defense. Thomas and Sanders get such a large share of Denver’s receiving yardage and should combine for around 140 of Siemian’s 240 or so yards.

Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs. DEN)

  • STATS: 23
  • ECR: 39

This pick is more of a “we don’t hate him as much” type of pick. Yes, he’ll see a lot of Talib and Harris, but somebody will need to be on the receiving end of Mariota’s expected 200-225 yards. Also, Tennessee is expected to put up 22 points, which is low, but not “Denver ruined everybody’s fantasy day” low.

WR We Don’t Like

Golden Tate, Det (vs. CHI)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 13

He’s been good recently and a target monster, so he’s still a WR2 that you should not bench. But he’ll go often against the strength of Chicago’s defense, which is Tracy Porter. We think the targets and yardage will be a bit more spread out than usual, and, relatively speaking, guys like Eric Ebron are better value plays and Stafford stack partners.

Brandon Marshall, NYJ (@ SF)

  • STATS: 25
  • ECR: 21

He put up 15 yards last time Fitzpatrick wasn’t the starter, and he has only really shown chemistry with Fitzpatrick over the last couple years. The Jets have one of the lowest totals of the week at 20.5, so Marshall is looking at a lower share of a lower scoring game. That takes him out of our top 24.

TE We Like

Eric Ebron, Det (vs. CHI)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 9

We’re in-line with consensus at the top of the position, and Ebron is the closest thing we have to a sleeper. Stafford will produce against the Bears, but Porter may shut down Tate while Marvin Jones is still at least partially banged up. That leaves a lot of production for Ebron to absorb, making him a definite TE1.

Vance McDonald, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 19

He’s a GPP punt play and emergency season-long waiver add against a Jets D that gave up 3 TD to Dwayne Allen last week and had no idea how to defend the 2nd level.

TE We Don’t Like

Antonio Gates, SD (@ CAR)

  • STATS: 17
  • ECR: 11

He’s very TD dependent and hasn’t received more than 5 receptions in a game once this year. For the first time in a while, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, and Dontrelle Inman are all relatively healthy, as well. He gets a matchup downgrade if Luke Kuechly plays (currently questionable).

Fantasy Football: Week 14 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 14 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Andrew Luck

Tier 2

Matthew Stafford
Russell Wilson
Jameis Winston
Aaron Rodgers

Tier 3

Drew Brees
Kirk Cousins
Tom Brady
Cam Newton
Dak Prescott
Colin Kaepernick
Matt Ryan

Tier 4

Andy Dalton
Ben Roethlisberger

Tier 5

Marcus Mariota
Tyrod Taylor
Eli Manning
Derek Carr
Alex Smith
Philip Rivers

Tier 6

Carson Palmer

Tier 7

Carson Wentz
Joe Flacco
Brock Osweiler
Blake Bortles
Ryan Tannehill

Tier 8

Trevor Siemian
Robert Griffin III
Sam Bradford
Bryce Petty

Tier 9

Matt Barkley
Jared Goff

Week 14 poses a tricky QB week for those that are either starting the fantasy playoffs this week or fighting to make them in the last week of their fantasy regular season. Colin Kaepernick is about as high risk/reward as it gets right now. He should return to low end QB1 production this week off his legs alone but he is a real threat of his real-life passing woes getting him an in-game benching again any week now. His median expectation is still quite high and I love him in DFS tournaments this week. This does NOT mean I would start him over Big Ben, for example, since in h2h season long formats you should realize in tight spots it’s more about selecting the QB with the highest floor. Because of this I would think of Kaep in Tier 5 when it comes to making sit/start decisions. Big Ben, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan all have a mixture of bad matchups or struggle when playing on the road. They are all QB1’s still, just temper expectations a tad for them this week.

Running Backs

Tier 1

David Johnson

Tier 2

Le’Veon Bell

Tier 3

Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 4

Melvin Gordon
Spencer Ware

Tier 5

Demarco Murray
LeSean McCoy

Tier 6

Matt Forte
Jeremy Hill
Jay Ajayi
Jordan Howard
Devonta Freeman

Tier 7

Latavius Murray
Carlos Hyde
Todd Gurley
Rob Kelley
Frank Gore
Thomas Rawls

Tier 8

Jonathan Stewart
Lamar Miller
Devontae Booker
Doug Martin
LeGarrette Blount
Isaiah Crowell

Tier 9

Mark Ingram
Jerick McKinnon
Theo Riddick
Rashad Jennings

Tier 10

Terrance West
Tevin Coleman

Tier 11

Wendell Smallwood
Kenneth Dixon
Dion Lewis
Tim Hightower
Rex Burkhead
Darren Sproles

I’d like to echo from last week my point about simply avoiding the entire Eagles backfield situation if you can. If you don’t have to rely on anyone past Tier 7 you are in great shape this week. Lamar Miller and Doug Martin have the potential to jump up a tier or 2 based on their matchups but I just don’t like their health at the moment. Both teams are bulking up the workload of their backups this week making their volume less secure as a result. Blount faces the stingy Ravens rush defense making him an even more TD dependent RB this week. Of course he is always a good bet to get a TD making him a very tricky sit/start option this week. People might have to have a little blind faith in Jerick McKinnon this week as a RB/Flex play. On paper he should get the touches against a softer Jaguars run D making him a bit safer of a play then he appears looking at his game log. If Terrance West or Kenneth Dixon were to miss time, the other would likely become a Championship winning RB play the next couple weeks. The Ravens offensive line has been fantastic creating space for both to work with. Unfortunately they are the very definition of a RBBC currently.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Mike Evans
Antonio Brown

Tier 2

Odell Beckham Jr.
Julio Jones

Tier 3

Jordy Nelson
Dez Bryant
Amari Cooper

Tier 4

Larry Fitzgerald
T.Y. Hilton
Doug Baldwin
Michael Crabtree
Demaryius Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders
Julian Edelman
Tyrell Williams
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Brandin Cooks
Michael Thomas
Golden Tate

Tier 5

Jamison Crowder
Donte Moncrief
Rishard Matthews
Kelvin Benjamin
Kenny Britt
Brandon Marshall
Davante Adams
Jarvis Landry
DeAndre Hopkins

Tier 6

Tyreek Hill
Malcolm Mitchell
Allen Robinson
DeVante Parker
Stefon Diggs
Tyler Boyd
Marvin Jones Jr.
Brandon LaFell
Steve Smith Sr.
Mike Wallace
Willie Snead
Ted Ginn Jr.

Tier 7

Adam Thielen
DeSean Jackson
Pierre Garcon
Jordan Matthews
Sammy Watkins
Dontrelle Inman
Anquan Boldin
Taylor Gabriel
Sterling Shepard
Corey Coleman
Cameron Meredith

Tier 8

Cole Beasley
Randall Cobb
Quincy Enunwa
Michael Floyd
Mohamed Sanu
Will Fuller
Kenny Stills
Marqise Lee
Tyler Lockett

Tier 5 is the make it or break it tier this week. All of them are a mix of high risk/reward WRs that can go off any given week but hard to truly trust in Week 14. The only way to beat the Ravens stingy run/TE defense is on the perimeter. I think people will have a hard time trusting Malcom Mitchell this week but they need to trust him. With Danny Amendola out it assures us to see MM on the field most of the game. He also isn’t some UFA scrub that Belichick has molded into his system. MM managed to put up fantastic numbers on a run heavy Georgia team so the talent has always been there. With Gronk out he has also slowly become one of Brady’s favorite red zone target (5 total over the past 3 games). Having to play anyone from Tier 7 just pray that they get a long gain and/or TD but they are all hard to trust as they can get the short straw in their team’s passing attack any given week.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Jimmy Graham
Travis Kelce

Tier 2

Greg Olsen

Tier 3

Tyler Eifert
Delanie Walker
Cameron Brate

Tier 4

Eric Ebron
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Ladarius Green
Zach Ertz
Kyle Rudolph

Tier 5

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
Vernon Davis
Coby Fleener
Vance McDonald
Antonio Gates

Tier 6

Lance Kendricks
Dennis Pitta
Dwayne Allen

Seems to be safe to trust Kelce as a near #1 ranked TE going forward each week. I will always have in the back of my head the fear of either Alex Smith or Andy Reid not game planning around their play making TE. Cameron Brate is no joke and needs to be treated as an elite TE1 this week against the Saints. The Bucs WR corps is a bit banged up behind Mike Evans. If the Saints over plan for Evans it would be Brate who benefits the most – especially in the Red Zone. Don’t fall for Dwayne Allen’s three TD performance quite yet, a lot of fantasy coaches will be pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to plug him in over a struggling TE ready to bounce back – like Eric Ebron. Ladarius Green is another I am loving the next few weeks but some people may over react and consider him a top 5 option now. Teams are now aware that when he is on the field he is not there to block. They will watch the film and give him the attention he deserves. This may help get Eli Rodgers get some more looks as a result. Green also helps solidify Big Ben’s floor as a much needed weapon he has now outside of AB/Bell.

Kickers

Tier 1

Adam Vinatieri

Tier 2

Matt Prater
Cairo Santos
Matt Bryant
Dan Bailey

Tier 3

Stephen Gostkowski
Dustin Hopkins
Josh Lambo
Phil Dawson
Graham Gano
Roberto Aguayo
Stephen Hauschka
Caleb Sturgis
Mike Nugent

Tier 4

Nick Novak
Brandon McManus
Justin Tucker

Tier 5

Sebastian Janikowski
Wil Lutz
Ryan Succop
Mason Crosby
Kai Forbath
Nick Folk
Andrew Franks
Robbie Gould
Chandler Catanzaro
Dan Carpenter
Greg Zuerlein
Chris Boswell

Tier 6

Connor Barth
Jason Myers
Cody Parkey

A rare time you will see me discussing K but I think it’s warranted with Justin Tucker this week. I base my K projections based on data and how I have it set up. When it comes to Tucker, I have his skill set as probably the best K of all-time currently. However, he can’t create his FG attempts. The Ravens offense has been churning him out field goal attempts at a nearly unsustainable pace. This week it will be even tougher in a matchup against the Patriots and in a scenario they may be playing catchup and needing to be more aggressive than just settling for chip shot FGs all game like they have been. Also worth noting that the Ravens have the 5th highest “go for 2” rate in the NFL which ever so slightly lowers Tucker’s PAT attempt projections. If you have him, start him – just know why I just don’t blindly Rank him #1 each week simply because he is the best Kicker in the league.

Defense

Tier 1

Cincinnati Bengals
Minnesota Vikings

Tier 2

Detroit Lions
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos
Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Indianapolis Colts

Tier 3

Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington Redskins
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs

Tier 4

Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buffalo Bills

Tier 5

Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers
Chicago Bears
Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles
New Orleans Saints

Tier 6

Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants

Week 13: Who We Like

In conjunction with Sean Koerner’s “Week 13 Tiers” piece, I’m highlighting some players at each position that we particularly like or dislike. The methodology is: I compare our ranking for standard scoring to the expert consensus ranking, as of the TNF game (https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/rankings/qb.php). Remember that everything is relative! If we “dislike” an elite WR, it doesn’t mean you should bench him, just that we like him a little bit less than a couple other elite WRs. A player may be a good daily fantasy play due to his minimum price, while still not worthy of starting in 12-team leagues. This article was published after the Thursday game ended, so it will not include any Cowboys or Vikings players, even though they are included in the rankings.

QB We Like

Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. CAR)

  • STATS Rank: 5
  • Expert Consensus Rank: 8

Carolina’s defense is decimated, and without Kuechly, they’ll struggle to cover the intermediate level – not good against Wilson and Graham. We think an almost-healthy Wilson should run for around 20 yards while passing for another 250+.

Colin Kaepernick, SF (@ CHI)

  • STATS: 6
  • ECR: 9

He has taken back the reins from Wilson and Cam, as best QB runner in the league. In the last two weeks, Chicago has lost two important pieces for stopping a rushing QB, mobile linebackers Danny Trevathan (injury) and Jerrell Freeman (PEDs). We project Kap to rush for 50+ yards (high floor), while also doing damage with his arm (high ceiling) against a poor-to-average pass defense.

Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. MIA)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 26

This is more just about who should be below him – he should be ahead of guys like Matt Barkley and Carson Wentz on a weekly basis, while Bortles (Denver), Dalton (Philadelphia), and Tannehill (Baltimore) have tough matchups. He may be the least sexy but safest emergency QB2 on your waiver wire.

QB We Don’t Like

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. NYG)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 4

The Giants have a good pass defense this year, ranking top 7 in both Yards per Attempt and QB rating allowed. Ben averages 273 yards and 2.3 TD per game, and we expect stats just south of those, which is enough to bump him out of the top 5 below other elite options.

Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. KC)

  • STATS: 9
  • ECR: 5

He relied solely on Taylor Gabriel YAC last week against Patrick Peterson and Arizona, and he gets another tough matchup against Marcus Peters and KC. He’s shown his floor isn’t quite at a Rodgers/Brady level, with back-to-back mediocre games, and we expect him to fall short of 300 yards for the 5th time in his last 6.

Cam Newton, CAR (@ SEA)

  • STATS: 17
  • ECR: 13

We don’t even think he’s a borderline QB1 this week. Carolina is only expected to score 18.8 points against an angry Seattle team this week, lowering his ceiling, and he hasn’t cracked double digit rush yards since week 10, lowering his floor.

RB We Like

Matt Forte, NYJ (vs. IND)

  • STATS: 8
  • ECR: 10

He had his best 3 receiving games with Fitzpatrick under center, catching 3+ passes week 1, week 7, and last week. He has also run for 80 or more yards in 4 of his last 5 and faces a bottom 5 Colts run defense on Monday night.

Jeremy Hill, CIN (vs. PHI)

  • STATS: 12
  • ECR: 19

As Sean alluded to in his “Tiers” piece, Hill received a surprising number of targets in Cinci’s first game post-Gio. He’s now the rare workhorse who gets goal-line and passing-down work to himself, and faces a Philly defense that is only mediocre against the run (100+ yds/game allowed).

Thomas Rawls, SEA (vs. CAR)

  • STATS: 13
  • ECR: 20

If this game goes how Vegas expects it to, Seattle will win a low-scoring affair. Those are safe enough conditions for a workhorse RB. He gets a bump with Kuechly out, as well, as Carolina’s top ranked run D won’t be as stingy. Only David Johnson and Melvin Gordon are more likely to score a TD.

RB We Don’t Like

Jay Ajayi, MIA (@ BAL)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 14

Baltimore has arguably the best run D in the league, allowing just 3.4 yards per carry (2nd lowest), 4 TD (t-lowest), and 75 yards per game (lowest). Since his 3 straight huge games, he has posted 3 mediocre ones, failing to crack 85 total yards and averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. He’s not matchup proof.

Mark Ingram, NO (vs. DET)

  • STATS: 25
  • ECR: 16

He made us look silly last week, but he did it all on just 15 touches, getting out-touched by Tim Hightower. It’s tough to pencil him in for more touches this week, as Hightower also had an effective game, and he’ll rely again on big plays. He’s simply a high-risk, high-reward proposition right now, not a sure-thing RB2.

WR We Like

Mike Evans, TB (@ SD)

  • STATS: 1
  • ECR: 3

He’s simply a monster, in terms of ability and also target percentage. Over the last two weeks, he saw double-digit targets, 6+ receptions, and 100+ yards… primarily against Richard Sherman and Marcus Peters. He has a much nicer matchup this week, while Julio gets Peters and Antonio gets Janoris Jenkins. That’s enough to comfortably rank him #1.

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs. WAS)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 10

Josh Norman won’t follow him into the slot, where he does most of his damage. His targets dropped each of the last two weeks, but they should go up as Palmer looks to avoid throwing in Norman’s direction. We project him for 6.5 receptions, 3rd behind just Evans and Antonio.

Julian Edelman, NE (vs. LA)

  • STATS: 8
  • ECR: 15

With Gronk largely out of the picture over the last 3 weeks, he’s been arguably the biggest beneficiary, racking up 23 receptions for 259 yards. He’ll be a target magnet again this week and going forward with Gronk on the sidelines. Pencil him in or around 70 yards and an inflated chance of scoring a TD.

WR We Don’t Like

Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. NYG)

  • STATS: 3
  • ECR: 1

This is a good example of not taking it literally when we say we “don’t like” a player. We simply have him 3rd instead of his usual 1st, as he faces top-10 cover corner Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins previously held Dez, Jordy, and AJ Green to inefficient performances, and Big Ben has plenty of other weapons to utilize.

T.Y. Hilton, IND (@ NYJ)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 7

He simply does not have enough going for him to justify ranking him in the top 10 this week. He’s losing targets to Donte Moncrief and hasn’t seen double digits since week 7. He’s banged up, having exited his last game early. I’d avoid him in cash DFS games – too much risk.

TE We Like

C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU (@ GB)

  • STATS: 8
  • ECR: 11

We’re pretty close to consensus on most TEs, and I struggled to find a TE1 to discuss, so let’s go with C.J. for the 4th week in a row (or something). In a weak year for TEs, he’s been surprisingly consistent, with 5+ targets each week since week 4. If you don’t have Graham, Kelce, Eifert, or Olsen, he’s probably your best bet for 4 receptions and 40 yards.

Ladarius Green, PIT (vs. NYG)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 19

I mentioned Ben may need to look elsewhere if Janoris Jenkins shadows Antonio, and this could be where he looks. He mentioned wanting to get his talented TE more involved, and this is a great team to do it against. Linebacker is the weakest level of the Giants defense, and they’ve allowed big games to Witten, Reed, Ertz, Eifert, and Zach Miller. This is a high risk / high reward play that I like.

TE We Don’t Like

Zach Ertz, PHI (@ CIN)

  • STATS: 14
  • ECR: 9

Ertz has only exceeded 40 yards in 3 games this season. Philly’s defense is very good, and Wentz shouldn’t need to throw much to stay in the game against a low-scoring and depleted Cinci team. Ertz has a low floor, one that is likely to come into play this week, so we don’t view him as a TE1.

Fantasy Football: Week 13 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. Only If two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 13 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees

Tier 2

Tom Brady

Tier 3

Andrew Luck
Russell Wilson
Ben Roethlisberger
Colin Kaepernick
Matthew Stafford

Tier 4

Matt Ryan
Derek Carr
Kirk Cousins
Tyrod Taylor
Philip Rivers
Dak Prescott

Tier 5

Jameis Winston
Carson Palmer
Cam Newton
Eli Manning

Tier 6

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Alex Smith
Joe Flacco

Tier 7

Andy Dalton
Trevor Siemian
Blake Bortles
Carson Wentz

Tier 8

Brock Osweiler
Ryan Tannehill
Matt Barkley
Sam Bradford

Tier 9

Jared Goff

Week 13 presents another tight week at QB where we will see quite a bit of tough sit/start decisions at the tail end of QB1/QB2 this week. We used to be able to start Cam Newton in a tough matchup like he has @Sea this week since we could count on rushing stats if his passing production took a hit. I’m not so sure we can bank on 30+ rush yards from him this week so he is out of my QB1 this week. On the flip side, Russell Wilson appears to be nearing full health. I don’t think he will ever be 100% this year but 20+ rush yards a week is something we might be able to expect the next few weeks. Don’t overact to his dud last week, I think he is a solid QB1 this week. Betting against Dak Prescott any week this year has been a losing proposition – however, this may be the week I will do so. He has a tough matchup and I would consider him more of a high-end QB2 for TNF lineup decisions.

Running Backs

Tier 1

David Johnson

Tier 2

Le’Veon Bell
Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 3

Melvin Gordon

Tier 4

Jordan Howard
Spencer Ware
LeSean McCoy

Tier 5

Matt Forte
Devonta Freeman

Tier 6

Carlos Hyde
Lamar Miller
Latavius Murray
Thomas Rawls
Doug Martin
Devontae Booker
Jeremy Hill
Jay Ajayi
Theo Riddick
LeGarrette Blount

Tier 7

Todd Gurley
Frank Gore
Rob Kelley
Rashad Jennings
Tim Hightower

Tier 8

Jonathan Stewart
Mark Ingram
James Starks

Tier 9

Kenneth Dixon
Jerick McKinnon
Terrance West

Tier 10

Wendell Smallwood
Tevin Coleman
Dion Lewis
Bilal Powell
Chris Ivory
Matt Asiata
Ryan Mathews

At this point in the season it’s probably safe just to avoid the Eagles RB situation altogether. I liked what I saw from Jeremy Hill in his first game post-Gio season ending injury. He had a tough matchup against the stingy Ravens defense but he seemed to eat up a lot of the targets Gio would get in the passing game. People with solid RB depth may have a tough decision to make with Jay Ajayi this week against the previously mentioned stingy Ravens defense. A lot of people seemed to have jumped ship on Thomas Rawls after last week’s dud. He does have a tough matchup against the Panthers run defense on paper but with Luke Kuechly set to miss Week 13, I feel people are over-reacting to the matchup some. Also remember that their lack of RBs (they trust) means he is a lock for volume and likely to get the ever-so-valuable goal line carries.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Mike Evans
Antonio Brown
Julio Jones

Tier 2

Odell Beckham Jr.

Tier 3

Jordy Nelson

Tier 4

Larry Fitzgerald
Amari Cooper

Tier 5

Brandon Marshall
Doug Baldwin
Michael Thomas
Michael Crabtree
Dez Bryant
Demaryius Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders
Brandin Cooks
Stefon Diggs
Julian Edelman
T.Y. Hilton

Tier 6

Tyrell Williams
Donte Moncrief
Davante Adams
Golden Tate
DeAndre Hopkins
Jamison Crowder
Allen Robinson
Jordan Matthews
Mike Wallace
Kelvin Benjamin
DeVante Parker
Willie Snead
Tyreek Hill
Steve Smith Sr.

Tier 7

Kenny Britt
Quincy Enunwa
DeSean Jackson
Marvin Jones Jr.
Tyler Boyd
Dontrelle Inman
Jarvis Landry
Sterling Shepard
Randall Cobb
Cole Beasley
Cameron Meredith
Sammy Watkins
Taylor Gabriel
Marquess Wilson
Marqise Lee
Michael Floyd

One of the situations I will be monitoring closely this week is Tyrell Williams should injury. It’s believed to be a labrum “issue” with the same one he tore in college. I have torn my labrum before, admittedly playing co-ed beach flag football – but still….if I were to guess is that he has serious difficulties with his range of motion this week. However, by next week he should improve and it’s something I think he can fight out and finish out the season and get surgery after their season is over. He would have been a rock solid WR2 this week but now is more of a high ceiling/low floor WR3/Flex option. Brandin Cooks had one of the most disappointing games ever last week with 0 receptions when his team nearly put up 50 points. I can see him having a huge bounce back game so don’t do anything stupid like bench him for Tyreek Hill or something….

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Jimmy Graham

Tier 2

Travis Kelce
Tyler Eifert
Greg Olsen
Rob Gronkowski

Tier 3

Jordan Reed
Cameron Brate
Eric Ebron
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Antonio Gates

Tier 4

Jason Witten
Kyle Rudolph
Vance McDonald
Zach Ertz

Tier 5

Ladarius Green
Coby Fleener
Martellus Bennett
Vernon Davis
Lance Kendricks

Along with Brandin Cooks we had some pretty serious goose eggs at TE last week. Rob Gronkowski had an excuse as he left with an injury. I’m not so sure you can trust him this week since he is dealing with so many ailments in a game they will likely win with ease. Eric Ebron was the other massive letdown but is in a great bounce back spot @NO. Jimmy Graham is far and away the top TE option this week with a fantastic matchup vs. Car.

Kickers

Tier 1

Matt Bryant
Stephen Gostkowski

Tier 2

Josh Lambo
Wil Lutz
Adam Vinatieri

Tier 3

Dustin Hopkins
Chandler Catanzaro
Matt Prater
Stephen Hauschka
Cairo Santos
Sebastian Janikowski
Mason Crosby
Dan Bailey
Brandon McManus
Nick Folk
Justin Tucker

Tier 4

Caleb Sturgis
Phil Dawson
Chris Boswell
Dan Carpenter
Kai Forbath
Nick Novak
Mike Nugent
Connor Barth
Roberto Aguayo
Robbie Gould
Graham Gano

Tier 5

Jason Myers
Andrew Franks
Greg Zuerlein

Defense

Tier 1

Denver Broncos

Tier 2

New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers

Tier 3

Baltimore Ravens
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks

Tier 4

Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles
Chicago Bears
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets
San Diego Chargers
Jacksonville Jaguars
Arizona Cardinals
Washington Redskins
Oakland Raiders
Indianapolis Colts
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys
Kansas City Chiefs

Tier 5

Atlanta Falcons
Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints
Houston Texans
Buffalo Bills
New York Giants

Tier 6

Los Angeles Rams
Detroit Lions

STATS NBA DFS Preview: Westbrook Wednesday

Tonight’s slate is a bit smaller than the typical Wednesday slate. It’s bereft of super-duper stars, with guys like James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant all off tonight. This makes Russell Westbrook an obvious must-play, and hopefully this piece can help you find the value “scrubs” to put next to him in your “stars and scrubs” style lineup. Remember that all value that is discussed is based on Fanduel’s scoring and pricing. I try to highlight all injuries and some backup plans, but please be aware that surprise news WILL come out before or after lock. Good luck and enjoy the slate of the season!

Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers

Sacramento:

  • Cash and GPP: none
  • GPP only: Demarcus Cousins
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: none

Philadelphia:

  • Cash and GPP: Sergio Rodriguez
  • GPP only: Robert Covington
  • Fade: Joel Embiid
  • Injuries: Jerryd Bayless (out)

Sacramento Roundup: The spread isn’t huge, playing at Philadelphia with Embiid active, so there’s much less blowout risk than the typical 76ers game. Neither team in this matchup defends, but Sacramento plays at a slow pace, which makes this a middle-of-the-road game in terms of expected points. Cousins’ high usage makes him a constantly decent option, but I’d look elsewhere in cash today with his price adjusted up near $11k. Rudy Gay is in play – I prefer him to the more expensive Carmelo, but also prefer the much cheaper Wiggins and Otto Porter. Nobody else is relevant in a large slate: Barnes is productive but doesn’t have typical “bench blowout upside”, Collison isn’t as productive as similarly priced Schroder and Rubio, and Afflalo doesn’t put up stats.

Philadelphia Roundup: Sacramento doesn’t play defense, but their slow pace makes this more of a neutral matchup than a good one. Without a plus matchup, 76ers players are typically not recommended plays. The only recommended cash option is Sergio Rodriguez, who is the best bet to play close to 30 minutes and is the best PG you can get for well under $5k. Covington is always a GPP threat, especially as he’s been hot recently and re-earned his playing time. I would fade Embiid today – his minutes limit caps his upside, and there is enough other center value today (Lopez, Turner, Gasol to name a few).

Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors

Memphis:

  • Cash and GPP: Jamychal Green, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, Marc Gasol
  • GPP only: Wade Baldwin
  • Fade: None
  • Injuries: Mike Conley (out), James Ennis (out), Chandler Parsons (out), Vince Carter (out), Zach Randolph (doubtful)

Toronto:

  • Cash and GPP: none
  • GPP only: Kyle Lowry
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: none

Memphis Roundup: Memphis is decimated, down to 9 available rotation players, only 5 of whom are always in the rotation. The fact they’ll struggle to crack 90 points doesn’t matter when that 90 is distributed to only a few guys. Those few are all viable plays today. The three best values are Jamychal Green, Tony Allen, and Troy Williams, who should all play 30 or so minutes out of necessity and are all good bets for 20+ FDP at near-minimum prices. Marc Gasol is also a great cash play, projected for 37 FDP at just $7k (Drummond is projected for 38 FDP at $8.1k). Wade Baldwin is an intriguing GPP play to me – he isn’t guaranteed more than 12-15 minutes, but he averages 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals per 36 minutes and could go off if he absorbs a lot of Conley’s minutes.

Toronto Roundup: Memphis is the 3rd slowest team in the league, limiting Toronto’s upside in a game they should win. Memphis is also without half of its usual rotation, which means there’s serious blowout potential. A low scoring blowout would be a disaster, so no Toronto players are comfortable cash options. Lowry is a decent GPP option with Mike Conley out – it’s neck and neck between him and Isaiah Thomas for which PG below $8.5k is ranked higher. Derozan has almost become a constant GPP option, but it’s not a great matchup against Tony Allen, and he’s expensive.

Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics

Detroit:

  • Cash and GPP: Tobias Harris
  • GPP only: Andre Drummond
  • Fade: everybody else
  • Injuries: none

Boston:

  • Cash and GPP: none
  • GPP only: Isaiah Thomas
  • Fade: Al Horford
  • Injuries: Al Horford (probable)

Detroit Roundup: Boston has really tightened up their defense with Crowder and Horford in the lineup, and they’re no longer a defense to target in DFS. In a large slate, coming off a back-to-back, and without a great matchup, guys like KCP, Morris, and Ish Smith aren’t in play. Drummond is a GPP option, as he should have the freshest legs on the team after being ejected early last night, but he’s not as good of a value as Gasol or Turner at center. Tobias Harris is the best play on the team – he has played 33 minutes or more in 7 of their last 10 games and has averaged 39 minutes in the last 3 second legs of back-to-backs. He’s a good bet for somewhere around 25-30 FDP, making him a no-brainer play tonight at $5.3k.

Boston Roundup: Detroit has displayed a top-5 defense and a bottom-5 pace, so nobody on Boston sticks out as value. Isaiah is a decent play at PG, but primarily just in GPPs if you want to fade Russ or something (don’t do that in cash). I’d stay away from Horford, who is more expensive than Turner and Gasol with fewer projected FDP. Crowder and Bradley are both alright plays, I guess, but both have players at their position ranked higher for cheaper, such as Zach Lavine and Mo Harkless.

Washington Wizards at Oklahoma City Thunder

Washington:

  • Cash and GPP: Otto Porter
  • GPP only: John Wall, Markieff Morris
  • Fade: Bradley Beal
  • Injuries: Ian Mahinmi (questionable)

Oklahoma City:

  • Cash and GPP: Russell Westbrook
  • GPP only: Enes Kanter
  • Fade: Victor Oladipo
  • Injuries: none

Washington Roundup: Oklahoma City plays a fast pace and mediocre defense, so nobody on Washington is a horrible play, but nobody sticks out as great value, either. John Wall is the #2 PG behind Westbrook tonight, but you should just spend money on Westbrook. Otto Porter isn’t the type of player who should be “shut down” by Andre Roberson – he does his work without the ball, so he’s a decent option at SF (he and Wiggins are the two best cheap options). At PF, I prefer cheaper Jamychal Green or more expensive Tobias Harris to Markieff, but he’s always a GPP option playing 30+ minutes and costing less than $5k. Beal is the worst value of the bunch, as his price has been adjusted up to $7k after his recent hot shooting. His floor is too low for that price.

Oklahoma City: The matchup is fine, and Harden and AD are off tonight, so Westbrook is a no-brainer to build your team around. He may relish the matchup against Wall and be even more possessed than usual. Russ’s usage is so high, of course, that it’s tough to trust any of his teammates. At SG, I prefer Booker and Lavine to Oladipo at his price. Kanter is a per minute beast and played 28 minutes last game, so he’s a GPP option, but he also averaged just 19 minutes in the previous 4 games, so he’s not a cash option. You can do better than Adams at center tonight.

New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves

New York:

  • Cash and GPP: Kristaps Porzingis
  • GPP only: Carmelo Anthony
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: Joakim Noah (questionable)

Minnesota:

  • Cash and GPP: Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins
  • GPP only: Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Fade: Ricky Rubio
  • Injuries: none

New York Roundup: This should be a high scoring game, as neither team plays defense. Porizingis has passed Carmelo as the top Knicks’ DFS option, and you can never go wrong with him in lineups. Towns has surprisingly struggled to defend opposing centers, and Porzingis should get some minutes at Center, so an outburst is certainly possible. He’s neck and neck with Millsap for top PF (at the same price) tonight. Melo is also always an option – tonight I’d rather go more expensive with Jimmy Butler in a nice matchup, or cheaper with his counterpart Wiggins. There’s enough PG value to avoid using Rose tonight. No other Knick is interesting – even if Joakim Noah sits, O’Quinn and Hernangomez cancel each other out by playing around 20 minutes each.

Minnesota Roundup: The Knicks currently have a bottom 5 defense, and it’s been a team effort, with each position yielding average to above average production. Wiggins and Lavine both play 40 minutes most nights and both get up plenty of shots, so they’re both great plays tonight in any format. If you could roster 2 centers, Towns would be in play, but it’s tough to roster him over Cousins, Gasol, or Turner tonight. I put him as “GPP only” just in case he is a little extra juiced for the matchup against Porzingis. Rubio has seen his minutes drop below 30 as Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones are both in the rotation at PG, so he’s not as good of a cheap PG play as Schroder and Rondo. There’s enough value at PF tonight to avoid rostering Dieng, even though he could approach 30 FDP.

Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls

Los Angeles:

  • Cash and GPP: Lou Williams
  • GPP only: Brandon Ingram
  • Fade: everybody else
  • Injuries: Julius Randle (probable), Nick Young (out), D’Angelo Russell (out)

Chicago:

  • Cash and GPP: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson
  • GPP only: Nikola Mirotic
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: Dwyane Wade (questionable)

Los Angeles Roundup: Nick Young is out, and Metta World Peace can only absorb so many of his minutes, so we could see 30 minute games from Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams. Both are in play for 25-30 FDP, but Clarkson’s price was recently adjusted way higher than Williams’, so Sweet Lou is the better play at SG. No other Laker provides any value in a game in which they should struggle to top 100 points. Brandon Ingram is a somewhat intriguing GPP play at just $3.8k, as he may play 30 minutes and has untapped upside.

Chicago Roundup: The Lakers have a bottom 3 defense, and Chicago has the highest team total tonight. Their entire starting lineup is in play as cash options. Butler and Wade are the two best, even moreso than usual with the Lakers’ best swingman defender (Young) out. Note that Wade is a game-time decision, so don’t roster him in cash if you don’t know his fate before tip. Rondo, Gibson, and Lopez are all very solid cash options at their positions – Lopez is the weakest, just because you can only roster 1 center, and I’ve mentioned a million times already that I love Gasol and Turner tonight. If Wade does sit, Butler is a no-brainer building block, while Mirotic becomes a great option in all formats.

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio:

  • Cash and GPP: none
  • GPP only: Kawhi Leonard
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: entire team is at risk of being rested

Dallas:

  • Cash and GPP: Harrison Barnes
  • GPP only: Dwight Powell
  • Fade: everybody else
  • Injuries: Dirk Nowitzki (out)

San Antonio Roundup: This matchup of two of the slowest teams in the league has by far the lowest over/under tonight. With San Antonio favored on the 2nd leg of a back-to-back, as well, you have to be wary of random “DNP (rest)” announcements. They may not come before lock, so it’s just not worth rostering any Spurs in this matchup. I’ll leave Kawhi up there as a GPP-only option, as he is the #2 SF and makes for a nice “fade Butler” option for $600 cheaper.

Dallas Roundup: They can’t score against average teams, so they won’t be able to against the Spurs. Harrison Barnes is a constant cash option due to minutes and usage, and his price ($6000) hasn’t adjusted upward enough to reflect that. You can’t trust anybody else on the team. Dwight Powell is an interesting GPP punt play at $3700, coming off his best game of the season and an encouraging 26 minutes.

Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets

Miami:

  • Cash and GPP: Goran Dragic
  • GPP only: Hassan Whiteside
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: Dion Waiters (out), Tyler Johnson (questionable)

Denver:

  • Cash and GPP: none
  • GPP only: Jusuf Nurkic
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: Gary Harris (out)

Miami Roundup: Denver is a bottom 10 defense, despite an above-average defensive front-court. That means they get killed by other team’s scoring guards, and Dragic is the only Miami player that can capitalize on that. He’s a fine play at just $6800 (I’d rather have him than Lowry at $8k+). He has additional upside if Tyler Johnson misses another game. Have I told you yet that I like Gasol and Turner at center tonight? Hassan Whiteside has become as consistent and dynamic of an option as anybody in the NBA, but he’s not in my optimal lineups tonight. Nobody else on Miami is worth considering in a large slate.

Denver Roundup: Miami is a good defensive team and a slow team. Also, with Barton and Gallinari likely re-joining the rotation, usage will be very spread out. Therefore, there’s no good value here. The most intriguing GPP option is Jusuf Nurkic – he’ll be low owned against Whiteside, and Whiteside’s help-side blocks cover up the fact that centers score an above average amount against Miami.

Atlanta Hawks at Phoenix Suns

Atlanta:

  • Cash and GPP: Dennis Schroder, Paul Millsap
  • GPP only: none
  • Fade: Dwight Howard
  • Injuries: Mike Scott (questionable to make season debut)

Phoenix:

  • Cash and GPP: Devin Booker
  • GPP only: none
  • Fade: Eric Bledsoe
  • Injuries: T.J. Warren (out)

Atlanta Roundup: Phoenix often stinks and both teams run, so Atlanta players are definitely in play tonight. Millsap is the top PF option (slightly above Porzingis), and he’s a cash building block if you don’t spend on Jimmy Butler at SF. Dennis Schroder seems to be one of the only guys who didn’t have his price adjusted upward appropriately, so he’s one of the best cash plays of the day, at just $5600 and projected for over 30 FDP. Bazemore is a decent but “meh” option at SF, and there’s a chance Mike Scott debuts and eats into his minutes. I’d fade Dwight at center, for obvious Turner/Gasol related reasons.

Phoenix Roundup: Atlanta currently has the NBA’s top rated defense, so it’s tough to roster Phoenix’s cheap players. It’s even tougher to roster Eric Bledsoe, who is expensive ($1k+ more than Dragic and Teague despite lower projected FDP). He’s a fade. Len and Chandler cancel each other out, and Brandon Knight’s minutes have been slipping. Devin Booker is the best value on the team – his price is down to just $6k, and Atlanta’s defense is less great at preventing swingmen from scoring. Somehow and some way, Phoenix will score over 80 points, and Booker may get a lot of those.

Indiana Pacers at Portland Trail Blazers

Indiana:

  • Cash and GPP: Myles Turner, Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Thaddeus Young
  • GPP only: none
  • Fade: Glenn Robinson III
  • Injuries: Paul George (out), C.J. Miles (out), Kevin Seraphin (out)

Portland:

  • Cash and GPP: Maurice Harkless
  • GPP only: none
  • Fade: none
  • Injuries: Al-Farouq Aminu (out)

Indiana Roundup: Indiana is facing the league’s lowest-rated defense, and doing so without Paul George, so the team’s other scorers are in for potentially big nights. If Myles Turner plays anything close to 30 minutes, he could have a huge night, and we project him for 35 FDP, just a couple less than much more expensive Howard and Drummond. Who can guard him on Portland? Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, and Thaddeus Young are all very solid plays at their positions – at PG I prefer Dragic, at SG I prefer Lou Williams, and at PF I prefer Tobias Harris, but all three players are right there and could be vaulted into optimal lineups if anything changes. Glenn Robinson III is no longer a minimum price guy, and even his hot shooting games result in 20-25 FDP, so he’s no longer in play.

Portland Roundup: Despite Indiana’s defense tightening up recently (87.7 PPG allowed last 3 games), Vegas still expects Portland to score around 110 points. It’s no secret that Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will do around half of that scoring, but they’re priced appropriately. I’d avoid Lillard (he’s more expensive than John Wall, with similar projections), while C.J. makes a better play at a thinner SG position. Harkless has consistently played 30+ minutes and quietly has double-digit points (real life points) in 7 consecutive games. His price of $5k does not reflect a consistent, 20-30 FDP point producer, so he’s a great (albeit low-upside) cash option at SF. Mason Plumlee is the only other guy who may benefit enough from the high-scoring game to be a DFS option, but there’s too much other value at center today, including Robin Lopez for $800 cheaper or Turner for just $600 more.

Photos By: AP Photo/Ryan Kang/Darron Cummings/STATS Illustration

Fantasy Football: Week 12 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. Only If two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 12 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers
Ben Roethlisberger
Tom Brady
Dak Prescott
Russell Wilson

Can’t go wrong with anyone in this massive tier. Dak Prescott has established himself as having a massive floor and with his ability to get it done with his legs he has a sky high ceiling as well.

Tier 2

Drew Brees
Cam Newton
Marcus Mariota
Tyrod Taylor

Might be a bit surprising to see Tyrod Taylor sneak his way into this tier. His passing matchup on paper may seem a bit imposing but this is a week I can see him having a massive run game. They should lead must of the game and get him some designed run plays since that is the best way to attack this Jaguars’ defense.

Tier 3

Eli Manning
Derek Carr
Matt Ryan
Kirk Cousins

Wrapping up the QB1 for this week it may seem odd to see such big names this far down, but keep in mind- there are 0 teams on BYE this week so each position is going to be much deeper then we have been accustomed to the past several weeks.

Tier 4

Colin Kaepernick
Matthew Stafford

Kaepernick is a safe bet to see huge rushing numbers which makes his passing stats almost icing on the cake. I wouldn’t want to trust Stafford this week against the Vikings, especially since there are no Bye’s this week. However, if Terence Newman sits on the short week it would improve Stafford’s outlook a bit.

Tier 5

Philip Rivers
Blake Bortles
Ryan Tannehill
Carson Palmer
Jameis Winston
Brock Osweiler
Carson Wentz
Joe Flacco

This massive QB2 tier doesn’t excite me much this week for a standard 12-team, 1 QB slot league. These are 2 QB leagues only.

Tier 6

Scott Tolzien
Sam Bradford
Andy Dalton
Ryan Fitzpatrick

A pretty brutal tier to be looking at and saying “Hey, my QB is in Tier 6 this week!” Andy Dalton sees a massive hit in value after A.J. Green and Gio Bernard went down. He also has a pretty tough matchup against a stingy Ravens defense.

Tier 7

Josh McCown
Trevor Siemian
Alex Smith
Jared Goff

I can’t even endorse Goff is one of the best matchups you could ever ask for @NO. Do not fall for him this week.

Tier 8

Matt Barkley

Barkley is so terrible he gets the bottom tier all to himself. He makes the Titan’s defense a decent stream play this week.

Running Backs

Tier 1

Le’Veon Bell

Nearly the same situation as last week. This is a dream matchup for one of the most talented backs in the lead. With Andrew Luck out for this game it only helped solidify Bell’s huge workload this week as they should run it a ton trying to preserve their lead.

Tier 2

David Johnson
Ezekiel Elliott

Zeke could very well be the best RB in the NFL already in his rookie season. The only thing holding him back from having Tier 1 all to himself each and every week is just how much more DJ and Le’Veon are involved in their team’s passing attack.

Tier 3

Melvin Gordon
Jay Ajayi

Both of these workhorses have almost formed their own stud tier just behind the 3 main RB studs this year. Normally Demarco Murry would be here but MG3 and Ajayi have amazing matchups. Both teams may lean on each of their backs even more this week.

Tier 4

Demarco Murray

As I mentioned above, Murray deserves to be in the Tier above but it goes to show just how good the Tier 3 player’s matchups are. Da Bears defense will be without Jerrell Freeman this week making Murray an even better bet for a huge game.

Tier 5

Spencer Ware
Devonta Freeman
Rashad Jennings
Thomas Rawls
Devontae Booker
Todd Gurley
Lamar Miller
Frank Gore
Matt Forte

Wrapping up the RB1 this week we see some new names. Rashad Jennings may seem a bit like “points chasing” this week but he is not only trending up, but has a great matchup this week. I think you can start him with confidence this week. Thomas Rawls stock went up incredibly fast after the Seahawks decided to cut Christine Michael and then had C.J. Prosise suffer a significant injury.

Tier 6

Jordan Howard
Carlos Hyde
Rob Kelley
Jonathan Stewart
Doug Martin
LeGarrette Blount

This top-end RB2 tier is an incredibly good one since there are no teams on Bye this week and also because teams have gained more trust in who their workhorse RB should be. Rob Kelley has pretty much no involvement in the Skins passing game making him more of a TD dependent play in PPR.

Tier 7

Latavius Murray
LeSean McCoy
Tim Hightower
Theo Riddick
Isaiah Crowell
Terrance West
Jeremy Hill

We now get to a batch of RBs that have some serious question marks. There is a chance McCoy is unable to play after his finger injury. I would worry that he may be limited in the passing game even if he is active come Sunday. Don’t just assume Jeremy Hill is a RB1 this week after the Bengals lost Gio. It does help his long term value, but this week he is tough to trust against one of NFL’s best run defenses.

Tier 8

Chris Ivory
Mark Ingram

T.J. Yeldon could be set to miss some time due to injury which would make Chris Ivory a much safer play. However, no Jaguars RB should ever truly be considered safe by any stretch of the imagination. Ingram seems set to return from concussion but I still think it’s going to be a true 50/50 RBBC with Tim Hightower.

Tier 9

Jerick McKinnon
James Starks
Matt Asiata
Tevin Coleman
Ryan Mathews
Kenneth Dixon
Bilal Powell
Rex Burkhead
Mike Gillislee
Wendell Smallwood
Dion Lewis
Duke Johnson Jr.

This is the bottom of the barrel of RB3/Flex plays for this deep week with no byes. I was a bit surprised for how much love Smallwood received this week and who draw desperation #1 waiver or huge FAAB bids. It does make sense for someone desperate at RB and in a must-win. He can certainly jump up a few tiers if Mathews and/or Sproles sit but as of right now it seems they are both playing. This would make it very tough for me to trust him this week if he has Ryan Mathews vulture goal line work and Sproles resuming his 3rd down role…leaving Smallwood with scraps.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown gets Tier 1 all to himself this week. Even if Vontae Davis is active it won’t matter.

Tier 2

Julio Jones
Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell has the much better matchup out of the 2 but it’s not like you are having to decide which of these guys to bench this week, right?

Tier 3

Amari Cooper
Larry Fitzgerald

I think it may be a bit surprising to see these 2 so high and above the Tier below but these are 2 players I love this week and will likely be targeting in DFS as a result.

Tier 4

Mike Evans
Jordy Nelson
Dez Bryant
Jordan Matthews
Allen Robinson
Julian Edelman
Doug Baldwin
Stefon Diggs
Brandin Cooks
Michael Crabtree
Kelvin Benjamin
Rishard Matthews

This massive WR1/WR2 tier has some studs that typically don’t fall this far down but have pretty tough matchups this week. It’s sounding like Diggs has a real chance of missing this week and play’s on Thanksgiving so make sure to check his status and have back up plans ready if you have him. Also, be sure to not use your Flex spot on any of the 3 games on Thursday if you can. If you do so, you can force out a lineup decision you might have had on Sunday but can’t make due to Flex being used already!

Tier 7

DeAndre Hopkins
Michael Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders
Demaryius Thomas
T.Y. Hilton
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Mike Wallace
DeVante Parker
Brandon Marshall
Jarvis Landry
Kenny Britt
Golden Tate
Willie Snead
Steve Smith Sr.
Jamison Crowder
Tyrell Williams
Sterling Shepard

Only one standard fantasy point separates the top WR on this list to the last. It’s an important reminder to always remember how “rankings” are much more of a guideline rather than cold hard facts. Just because I have someone ranked higher doesn’t mean I think they have a 100% chance of outscoring that player…I do think his odds are better though. We are simply trying to stack the odds in our favor and accepting the results when they come in. I have almost given up figuring out what or when DeVante Parker will do something but he seems to be luring us owners in to playing him this week. Hopefully you aren’t forced to make that decision!

Tier 7

Corey Coleman
Pierre Garcon
Davante Adams
DeSean Jackson
Cole Beasley
Marqise Lee
Tyler Boyd
Brandon LaFell
Donte Moncrief
Will Fuller
Cameron Meredith
Mohamed Sanu
Eli Rogers
Randall Cobb
Quincy Enunwa
Malcolm Mitchell
Travis Benjamin
Marvin Jones Jr.

This impressive WR3/4 Tier is another reminder of how deep each position is this week since there are no teams on a Bye. Donte Moncrief gets a huge downgrade since Luck is set to miss their Thanksgiving game this week.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Jimmy Graham
Greg Olsen
Jordan Reed

With Gronk set to miss his second straight week, he allows the Tier below (most weeks) their chance to shine as the cream of the crop this week.

Tier 2

Delanie Walker
Tyler Eifert
Martellus Bennett
Travis Kelce

This is a frustrating Tier since any one of them could easily be the top TE this week but are a bit too inconsistent since their team’s offense can somehow make them disappear at times. Eifert is likely safe for season long but be careful to go all-in on him due to the Bengals injuries carving out a huge role going forward for him. The Ravens are a shut-down TE defense so be very careful.

Tier 3

Jason Witten
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Eric Ebron
Antonio Gates

If it weren’t for Eric Ebron this would be the “go out 10 yards, turn around, catch the ball, protect ball real tight and fall down” tier.

Tier 4

Zach Ertz
Kyle Rudolph

The last of the TE1’s. It’s hard to trust Rudolph ever since Norv Turner stepped down as offensive coordinator but he has a fantastic matchup against a Lions defense that has been sieve-like for TEs.

Tier 5

Cameron Brate
Lance Kendricks
Dennis Pitta
Austin Hooper
Vance McDonald
Jared Cook
Gary Barnidge
Julius Thomas
Coby Fleener
Charles Clay

This may be the Tier of streaming TEs a Gronk owner may have to tap into this week. Any one of them can have a pretty big game, just tough to pinpoint which one. Hooper has the most upside and most long term value with Tamme out long-term now but the Cardinals allow the fewest fantasy points to the TE position in the NFL so he is off my radar this week.

Week 11: Who We Like

In conjunction with Sean Koerner’s “Week 11 Tiers” piece , I’m highlighting some players at each position that we particularly like or dislike. The methodology is: I compare our ranking for standard scoring to the expert consensus ranking, as of the TNF game (https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/rankings/qb.php). Remember that everything is relative! If we “dislike” an elite WR, it doesn’t mean you should bench him, just that we like him a little bit less than a couple other elite WRs. A player may be a good daily fantasy play due to his minimum price, while still not worthy of starting in 12-team leagues. This article was published after the Thursday game ended, so it will not include any Saints or Panthers players, even though they are included in the rankings.

QB We Like

Andrew Luck, IND (vs. TEN)

  • STATS Rank: 3
  • Expert Consensus Rank: 6

Luck is an elite fantasy QB who needs to be top 4 unless he has a tough matchup. This week, Indianapolis is expected to score more points than every team except New England, so this is certainly not a bad matchup. He and Roethlisberger (consensus #5) should put up similar passing numbers (nearly 300 yards, 2+ TD), but we project Luck for 20 rushing yards and thus 2 additional fantasy points.

Matt Stafford, DET (vs. JAX)

  • STATS: 6
  • ECR: 10

Stafford is streaky, and he’s currently on a good streak (averaging 249 yards and 2 TD per game over his last 4). Jacksonville’s pass defense is closer to average than good, giving up few passing yards per game largely because their run defense is so much worse. Detroit has no run game, so Stafford should pass more than Jacksonville’s typical opponent. As long as he throws 30-35 times, he should put up around 250 yards and 2 TD.

QB We Don’t Like

Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. PHI)

  • STATS: 13
  • ECR: 8

Wilson looked great last week, but he had to throw a ton in order to outscore Tom Brady and the Pats. This week should be a low scoring affair against a defensive-minded Eagles team that held Atlanta in check last week. Also, for as good as Wilson looked throwing the ball, he still failed to eclipse 11 yards on the ground for the 7th consecutive game. When he’s not a rushing threat, he’s not an every week elite QB1, so he gets “borderline QB1” status this week against a top defense.

Derek Carr, OAK (vs. HOU)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 12

We don’t hate Carr this week, relatively speaking, but we do prefer Dak, Eli, and Bortles as QB1s. Houston has emerged as a top pass defense, ranking in the top 10 of yards per attempt and QB rating allowed. In a potentially low-scoring game in high altitude, we project Carr to attempt only around 35 throws rather than his typical 40, keeping him around 250 yards with no rushing stats and lower TD potential than other QB1s.

RB We Like

Todd Gurley, LA (vs. MIA)

  • STATS: 9
  • ECR: 13

Of course Gurley has struggled this year, but there are so few 4 down backs who catch passes, that he is still an every week low-end RB1. We project him for the 7th most touches this week (19.9), and the lack of efficiency bumps him down to 9th. The touches keep his floor quite high, though, and his ceiling is raised against a Dolphins team allowing 129 yards/game on the ground (3rd most in NFL). He’s a nice GPP play, as his talent, positive regression, a good matchup, and a new QB could all add up to a monster week.

Isaiah Crowell, CLE (vs. PIT)

  • STATS: 14
  • ECR: 21

Crowell has 5 rushing TD this year, despite Cleveland scoring just 17.5 points per game. At home against Pittsburgh’s mediocre defense, they’re projected to put up an above-average (for them) 19 points. No Brown is more likely to score than Crowell, for whom we project 0.47 TD, in line with guys like Latavius Murray and Carlos Hyde who are typically ranked well higher.

RB We Don’t Like

Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. OAK)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 10

Sean already noted in his “Tiers” piece that we are concerned with Miller’s workload given his nagging injuries and now also the high altitude in Mexico. Alfred Blue’s injury helps, but we still don’t see him exceeding 17 carries, which makes him TD dependent. In a potentially low scoring game, that’s not enough to make him an RB1, so he’s a bit overvalued this week.

Doug Martin, TB (@ KC)

  • STATS: 20
  • ECR: 15

Kansas City has only allowed 4 rushing TD, playing in a division with the likes of Melvin Gordon and Latavius Murray. Doug Martin is a poor bet to score on a day when Tampa is projected for under 20 points. Kansas City is favored by a whole TD, and if they get ahead early, Jameis will throw much more than Martin will run. This gives him a low floor to go with his low ceiling, making him a lower end RB2.

WR We Like

Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. ARI)

  • STATS: 11
  • ECR: 20

Diggs is a target monster, with 13+ in each of his last 3 games, including 13 receptions for 164 yards against Josh Norman and Washington last week. He moves all over and is by far the most talented player in his offense, making him matchup proof. We are less scared of the matchup against Patrick Peterson than most, although he takes little bit of a hit if Tyrann Mathieu suits up as well. Regardless, he’s a great bet for 6+ receptions – we only project Antonio, A.J., Evans, Fitz, Edelman, Tate, and Jordy for more receptions. All those names are top 16 WR options this week.

Tyreek Hill, KC (vs. TB)

  • STATS: 22
  • ECR: 36

Call him “Reek”! His consensus ranking will definitely go up upon news that Jeremy Maclin is out, but I still want to highlight him as a cheap DFS option and waiver wire must-add. 24 of his 41 targets have come in the last 3 weeks, including last week’s 10-catch breakout against Carolina. Even better, he has received 1 or 2 carries in each of the last 4 games, with 3 big plays out of the backfield. He has a very similar role to 2015 Randall Cobb – his QB isn’t as talented, but his QB also loves short passes. Against a Tampa team allowing the 3rd most yards per pass in the NFL, Tyreek is on the map as a WR2 this week, with a chance to maintain value going forward.

WR We Don’t Like

T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. TEN)

  • STATS: 10
  • ECR: 5

It’s a bit strange the consensus hates Luck enough to drop him to #6 QB, but finds the matchup nice enough to rank T.Y. as a top 5 WR. In our opinion, the matchup is nice, but Indianapolis is fully loaded with healthy weapons for the first time in a while. One of those weapons, Donte Moncrief, has stolen 15 targets over the last 2 games since returning from injury. We project T.Y. for closer to 5 catches than 6, which makes it tough to rank him above guys like Jordy and Cooper.

Davante Adams, GB (@ WAS)

  • STATS: 26
  • ECR: 17

Davante dominated targets when Cobb and/or Montgomery were hurt, averaging 15.0 targets over weeks 7 and 8, before returning to earth after. All of Green Bay’s WR should be active, and Ty Montgomery should see snaps at WR with Starks at RB. The more spread out passing attack hurts his volume and his value, and Washington’s solid and average pass defense doesn’t help. He’s more of a WR3 than WR2 when the Packers are at full strength.

TE We Like

Martellus Bennett, NE (@ SF)

  • STATS: 2
  • ECR: 4

New England is angry after last week, and their 32 projected points is by far the highest total of the week. Gronk isn’t playing, leaving Bennett as the 2nd most likely Patriot to score, behind Blount. We project him for 0.63 TD, putting him above everybody but Greg Olsen in terms of projected TE points. Of course, Olsen already played on Thursday, so Bennett is really our top TE for this weekend.

Lance Kendricks, LA (vs. MIA)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 22

We see Kendricks as a “why not?” dart-throw if you are in a real bind at TE. He at least gets targets – 7+ in 4 of his last 6 games and 7+ in 3 of the last 4. As with Gurley, the QB change to Goff certainly can’t hurt him. Not many TEs outside the top 12 have the upside he showed against Carolina 2 weeks ago (7 catches for 90 yards), so he’s a nice GPP play.

TE We Don’t Like

Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. GB)

  • STATS: 5
  • ECR: 2

He’s really our #4 TE excluding Olsen, and 2 through 4 are nearly interchangeable. I just want to point out that we like Bennett quite a bit more this week. I’ll take Bennett with the Pats projected for 32 points over Reed with the Redskins projected for 26.

Julius Thomas, JAX (@ DET)

  • STATS: 24
  • ECR: 11

No TE has been more consistent, but in Julius’s case, he’s been consistently underwhelming. He somehow has between 13 and 28 receiving yards in each of his last 6 games. He’s therefore extremely TD dependent, and he’s not enough of a Red Zone monster (4 TD this season) to justify ranking him as a TE1. It’s not like Jacksonville has an above average matchup either, projected for just 20.8 points. Guys like Fiedorowicz, Brate, Witten, and Pitta are all safer options with just as much upside.