All our week 16 content

Week 16 Upgrades, Downgrades, and Waiver Wire Wonders

by Matt Waldman, exclusive to Footballguys.com


The player movement in the Waiver Wire Report and the Upgrades-Downgrades Reports are based on analysis from the weekend's games and the previous week's Top 250 Forward Report by David Dodds and Bob Henry. This is a one-size-fits-all report so there are several players recommended to add, drop, or hold that may not fit your league's format. To learn the difference between the Waiver Wire Report and the Upgrades-Downgrades Report and the methodology behind them, read this article.

Quarterback

Upgrade

  1. QB Kirk Cousins, WAS
  2. QB Tim Tebow, NYJ
  3. QB Robert Griffin III, WAS
  4. QB Sam Bradford, STL
  5. QB Russell Wilson, SEA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. QB Tony Romo, DAL

Downgrade

  1. QB Jake Locker, TEN
  2. QB Matthew Stafford, DET
  3. QB Chad Henne, JAX
  4. QB Philip Rivers, SD
  5. QB Josh Freeman, TB
  6. QB Andy Dalton, CIN

Holding steady

  1. QB Tom Brady, NE
  2. QB Joe Flacco, BAL
  3. QB Colin Kaepernick, SF
  4. QB Eli Manning, NYG
  5. QB Carson Palmer, OAK
  6. QB Matt Ryan, ATL


Running Back

Upgrade

  1. RB Mike Goodson, OAK *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. RB Kregg Lumpkin, NYG
  3. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI
  4. RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR
  5. RB Curtis Brinkley, SD *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. RB Vick Ballard, IND
  7. RB Michael Turner, ATL
  8. RB Jackie Battle, SD *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  9. RB LaMichael James, SF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. RB Mark Ingram, NO
  11. RB Alfred Morris, WAS

Downgrade

  1. RB Jonathan Dwyer, PIT
  2. RB Ryan Mathews, SD
  3. RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN
  4. RB Bryce Brown, PHI
  5. RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL
  6. RB Bilal Powell, NYJ
  7. RB Isaac Redman, PIT
  8. RB Montell Owens, JAX
  9. RB Chris Johnson, TEN
  10. RB Trent Richardson, CLE
  11. RB Jamaal Charles, KC
  12. RB Justin Forsett, HOU

Holding steady

  1. RB Joique Bell, DET
  2. RB Ronnie Brown, SD
  3. RB Alex Green, GB
  4. RB Shonn Greene, NYJ
  5. RB Bernard Pierce, BAL
  6. RB Ray Rice, BAL
  7. RB Stevan Ridley, NE
  8. RB Ben Tate, HOU
  9. RB Mike Tolbert, CAR
  10. RB Robert Turbin, SEA
  11. RB Chris Wells, ARI
  12. RB David Wilson, NYG
  13. RB Danny Woodhead, NE


Wide Receiver

Upgrade

  1. WR James Jones, GB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. WR Michael Preston, TEN
  3. WR Domenik Hixon, NYG *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  4. WR Dez Bryant, DAL
  5. WR Danny Amendola, STL
  6. WR Brandon Gibson, STL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  7. WR Braylon Edwards, NYJ
  8. WR Rod Streater, OAK *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  9. WR Harry Douglas, ATL *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  10. WR T.Y. Hilton, IND
  11. WR Eric Decker, DEN
  12. WR Steve Johnson, BUF
  13. WR Julio Jones, ATL
  14. WR Andre Johnson, HOU
  15. WR Cecil Shorts, JAX

Downgrade

  1. WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
  2. WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ
  3. WR Roddy White, ATL
  4. WR Danario Alexander, SD
  5. WR Kenny Britt, TEN
  6. WR Josh Gordon, CLE
  7. WR Donnie Avery, IND
  8. WR Kendall Wright, TEN
  9. WR A.J. Green, CIN
  10. WR Andrew Hawkins, CIN
  11. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK
  12. WR Reggie Wayne, IND
  13. WR Kris Durham, DET
  14. WR Malcom Floyd, SD
  15. WR Jordan Shipley, JAX
  16. WR Randy Moss, SF
  17. WR Greg Little, CLE
  18. WR Emmanuel Sanders, PIT
  19. WR Davone Bess, MIA
  20. WR Micheal Spurlock, SD

Holding steady

  1. WR Jason Avant, PHI
  2. WR Riley Cooper, PHI
  3. WR Michael Crabtree, SF
  4. WR Victor Cruz, NYG
  5. WR Pierre Garcon, WAS
  6. WR Leonard Hankerson, WAS
  7. WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI
  8. WR Josh Morgan, WAS
  9. WR Louis Murphy, CAR
  10. WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG


Tight End

Upgrade

  1. TE Brent Celek, PHI *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. TE Jeff Cumberland, NYJ
  3. TE Anthony Fasano, MIA
  4. TE Dallas Clark, TB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  5. TE Jermichael Finley, GB *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  6. TE Lance Kendricks, STL
  7. TE Scott Chandler, BUF *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  8. TE Antonio Gates, SD
  9. TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL
  10. TE Heath Miller, PIT
  11. TE Dennis Pitta, BAL

Downgrade

  1. TE Marcedes Lewis, JAX
  2. TE Brandon Myers, OAK
  3. TE Vernon Davis, SF
  4. TE Clay Harbor, PHI
  5. TE Martellus Bennett, NYG

Holding steady

  1. TE Dwayne Allen, IND
  2. TE Zach Miller, SEA
  3. TE Tony Scheffler, DET


Kicker

Upgrade

  1. PK Steve Hauschka, SEA *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  2. PK Graham Gano, CAR *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***
  3. PK Sebastian Janikowski, OAK
  4. PK Kai Forbath, WAS *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM ***

Downgrade

  1. PK Lawrence Tynes, NYG
  2. PK Connor Barth, TB
  3. PK Phil Dawson, CLE

Holding steady


Team Defense

Upgrade

  1. TD Seattle Seahawks, SEA

Downgrade

  1. TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL

Holding steady

  1. TD Tennessee Titans, TEN


Quarterback

Upgrade

QB Sam Bradford, STL - Bradford did all of his damage in garbage time this week, but for fantasy owners 377 yards and 3 touchdowns is 377 yards and 3 touchdown -- you don't quibble over the process when next week the Rams quarterback draws a bad Bucs secondary. He's a solid gamble for similar totals in what will be the finale for most fantasy leagues. His matchup is better than Russell Wilson's, but his consistency hasn't matched the rookie. If you're a gambler, Wilson has a little more upside. If you're playing it safe, Bradford might be your man.

QB Kirk Cousins, WAS - Cousins didn't start the game well, throwing into coverage that generated a return and ultimately a Trent Richardson touchdown, but the rookie heated up, tossing 26-of-37 for 329 yards and 2 touchdowns, both on play action rolls to the right. The first was a 54-yard deep cross to Leonard Hankerson just behind three defenders and the receiver juggled the ball on the run and into the end zone. The second was a two-yard play action bootleg to Hankerson on the backside of the formation. Cousins has always been a smart, poised quarterback. He had a tendency to force throws while standing fast in the pocket or having eyes too big for his arm strength. He is not a waiver wire gem unless Robert Griffen is inactive in Week 16. Judging from the fact that Griffin practiced last week and the Redskins are still in the race for the NFC East Division, Cousins earns a big upgrade for his play but not his future role.

QB Robert Griffin III, WAS - The Redskins starter was inactive this weekend against the Browns and his backup, rookie Kirk Cousins, produced like a seasons veteran. Washington will face a revamped Eagles defense that his playing better and part of that improvement has been defensive end Brandon Graham's performance ever since the team trashed the Wide 9 and defensive line Jim Washburn to boot. Graham was a more heralded defensive end as a rookie prospect at Michigan than Jason Pierre-Paul and he's playing like it now that he's fully recovered from a 2011 knee injury. Griffin practiced last week, so he can't be far from being able to play. Although he'll be an upgrade if he plays, don't move him back to the top five this week until he proves his mobility won't be limited. Also, the Redskins might take its chances with Cousins for one more week. I doubt it, but prepare for that possibility this weekend if you're heading to your league's championship game.

QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - If someone in your league dropped Roethlisberger in order to add healthy player to get them into the playoffs, don't hesitate to pull the trigger. The Steelers' quarterback was 22-of-42 for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 14 and he followed that up in Week 15 with a 24-of-40, 339-yard, 2-touchdown, 1-interception day in a close game with the Cowboys. Roethlisberger looked like his old self -- pump-faking multiple times, buying time, and zipping the ball down field to his receivers. He connected on a perfectly-thrown 60-yard bomb to Mike Wallace to set up a Jonathan Dwyer one-yard run earlier, bought an insane amount of time in the pocket to find Heath Miller up the right sideline for a 30-yard score. Roethlisberger gets the Bengals next, which isn't a great matchup but still makes him a worthwhile low-end QB1.

QB Tony Romo, DAL - Romo went 30-of-42 for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns, only getting sacked once and managing to find Jason Witten in the middle of the field for his first score in the first half and Dez Bryant on a 24-yard touchdown in the second. The encouraging aspects of this performance was Bryant's play with a broken index finger that could require surgery at some point and the fact that Romo and the Cowboys played a clean, productive game against the Steelers. The Cowboys get the Saints next week in a game with meaningful playoff implications. If you have Romo on your squad entering Week 16, congratulations.

QB Tim Tebow, NYJ - Tebow is only best-considered in large leagues where there is literally no one available other than the likes of Brady Quinn, Christian ponder, or Ryan Lindley. That said, Tebow is capable of QB1 production as a runner against a team like the Chargers. I doubt this will happen if he's given a chance to start now that New York is eliminated from playoff contention, but his skills as a runner could make him a primary red zone threat. Personally, I don't think the Jets will get from Tebow what the Broncos did last year because the receiving corps, offensive line, running game, and coaching staff isn't as talented.

QB Russell Wilson, SEA - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Wilson scored four touchdowns, three of them touchdown runs on zone reads, in a demolition of the Bills. Wilson began the game 5-of-5 and finished 14-of-23 for 205 yards. The Seahawks quarterback continues to play smart, efficient football in combination with an effective run game and opportunistic defense. Wilson's 92 rushing yards helped him have one of the best days among fantasy quarterbacks in Week 15. The 49ers are next and a difficult draw for Week 16, but if you're desperate for a quarterback, Wilson has evolved into a different player than the one who posted 5.1 fantasy points against San Francisco in Week 7. Since then, Wilson has six, 20-point-plus fantasy totals in seven weeks.

Downgrade

QB Andy Dalton, CIN - The Bengals passing game has deteriorated since the loss of Mohammad Sanu and Andrew Hawkins knee injury. Although Hawkins has been back for a couple of weeks, Jermaine Gresham is also playing through a bad hamstring. The Bengals face the Steelers next. Although Dalton might be capable of a 300-yard, multiple-score day, I wouldn't bet on it.

QB Josh Freeman, TB - Freeman played a poor game against the Saints, tossing four interceptions in a 41-0 shutout by New Orleans. One of Freeman's errant throws was a deep cross intended for a wide-open Dallas Clark that should have resulted in a long touchdown rather than an underthrown ball. When a fantasy quarterback ruins what most considered a great fantasy matchup, it's time to take action. Although the Rams aren't a great defense they are good enough to consider other options after this debacle from the Buccaneers quarterback.

QB Chad Henne, JAX - Henne was able to find Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, including what should have been a 20-yard touchdown to Blackmon if not for an illegal substitution by lineman Guy Whimper that wiped out the score. The Jaguars get the Patriots, which isn't a bad matchup but you have to be pretty desperate to be thinking about him and rather exhaust the adds list above before keeping Henne or adding him.

QB Jake Locker, TEN - Locker's injuries have stalled his development and it showed tonight against a Jets defense where Locker frequently left the pocket after making one read down field. If fantasy owners could play Locker as either a quarterback or running back, I'd downgrade Lockers' 13-of-22, 149-yard performance because of his raw skill reading the field, his up-for-grabs throws that got Kendall Wright hurt in the second half, and some his tendency to throw the ball out of rhythm and inaccurately elsewhere. However, as a ball carrier, Locker is fast to the perimeter, isn't afraid to dive forward, and strong enough to get yards after contact. His 13-yard run was a nice display of toughness to win the game. In this case, I'd upgrade Locker as an RB. Unfortunately I can't. Drop Locker, grab Sam Bradford, or Russell Wilson, or whomever has been vastly underrated if your league has been stuck on the idea since Week 5 that Locker is going to be good this year. Although Locker gets the Packers next week, Green Bay is getting healthy enough at the right time that Locker isn't worth the risk.

QB Philip Rivers, SD - Rivers failed to hook up with his receivers against the Panthers after a decent day against the Steelers. The Jets are next, but Rivers' inconsistency makes him a player I'd stay away from in Week 16.

QB Matthew Stafford, DET - Stafford had two pick-sixes against the Cardinals and threw three interceptions total in surprising loss. Stafford's 24-of-50, 246-yard performance was another Calvin Johnson-heavy day, completing 10 of his passes for 121 yards to the receiver. This is part of the problem and fantasy owners shouldn't be patient with the Lions passing game in Week 16 against the Falcons. If you have a chance at a quarterback like Bradford, Wilson, or Roethlisberger, I'd drop Stafford in a heartbeat at a chance to take one of this trio in a re-draft league.

Holding steady

QB Tom Brady, NE - The 49ers defense sacked Brady and forced enough turnovers in this game that one might consider the Patriots starter a downgrade, but considering Brady lead a 28-point, second-half comeback and threw for 443 yards, connecting with Brandon Lloyd in a fashion that was probably too little, too late for most fantasy owners, I'd hold steady on Brady next week against the Jaguars. Brady still managed his fourth, 30-point fantasy effort in five weeks. What more do you want?

QB Joe Flacco, BAL - Much of Flacco's 254 yards and 2 touchdowns were generated in garbage time on a 31-yard seam route to Dennis Pitta and then a short flat route that Pitta took up the right sideline with a great display of balance and awareness to break and avoid tackles for a 61-yard touchdown. Otherwise you're looking at a subpar effort. I don't think you have to worry about a 162-yard, 0-touchdown, 1-interception outing next week against the Giants injury-riddled secondary, but Flacco and this Ravens offense is still trying to find its bearings after Cam Cameron got canned last week. He's a desperation play worth a gamble due to some big-play weapons and a banged-up opponent.

QB Colin Kaepernick, SF - The most impressive thing about Kaepernick's four-touchdown performance was that he did it on a big stage. However, don't count me in as those who consider it a sign that he's ready to become a consistent, elite QB1. Kaepernick continues to demonstrate a lack of touch and knowledge of ball placement and this is holding him back from making the most of Randy Moss and Vernon Davis. Both receivers should have had multiple touchdown nights in this game, but Kaepernick threw the wrong kind of pass twice to each receiver on red zone targets. The young quarterback is a fine talent and should eventually get there, but don't count on a four-touchdown game against an opportunistic, pressure-oriented Seahawks defense next week.

QB Eli Manning, NYG - Manning threw two early interceptions against the Falcons and Atlanta capitalized early enough that the Giants never recovered, getting shutout 34-0. Manning was 13-of-25 for 161 yards and generated just 4 fantasy points after two of three weeks with 29 fantasy points and no fewer than 20. He'll continue to draw the ire of fantasy owners with long memories of Manning's inconsistency. With the Ravens next, Manning should have a better day but convincing once-burned, twice-shy fantasy owners to consider him as a low-end QB1 will be difficult. I'd roll the dice and hold steady.

QB Carson Palmer, OAK - Palmer remains a viable choice for the desperate fantasy owner despite going 18-of-29 for 182 yards and no touchdowns against the Chiefs. Kansas City has a decent pass defense, but is a sieve against the run. The Panthers are up next week and while its defense has a strong pass rush, sacking the Chargers Phillip Rivers six times this weekend, the Raiders aren't as weak up front. Expect Palmer to rebound next week. He has 300-yard, multiple-touchdown upside, which is why I like him for those needing a prayer.

QB Matt Ryan, ATL - Ryan threw for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Giants at home this weekend in a 34-0 victory. Good production, but the Giants secondary is banged up and Roddy White's knee injury was bad enough that he was little more than a decoy in this contest that got out of hand early. Although Harry Douglas did a nice job from the slot and the Dirk Koetter offense designed some plays to get Douglas open by baiting the Giants defense with the threat of Julio Jones -- who scored touchdowns on a deep streak and a screen pass -- playing without White at full health is enough of a concern to hold steady on Ryan as a mid-range QB1 against the Lions in Week 16.


Running Back

Upgrade

RB Vick Ballard, IND - Ballard has 37 carries for 199 yards in the past two weeks and his 105-yard effort this weekend came against the Texans. The Chiefs defense should be an easier task, making Ballard a good RB2 next weekend.

RB Jackie Battle, SD - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Battle might be good for a goal line carry or two against the Jets since Ryan Mathews can't play. Even so, he'll be in a two-way split (at best) with Curtis Brinkley. Keep him in mind against the Jets now that Ryan Mathews has been placed on IR and Ronnie Brown is dealing with a bad hamstring.

RB Curtis Brinkley, SD - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The former Syracuse runner has been hanging around the Chargers as an occasional contributor for the past two years. He had 42 yards on 6 carries against the Panthers. Brinkley runs with good determination and patience. He's not particularly fast, but he has enough burst to hit the hole and get to the second level. Keep him in mind against the Jets now that Ryan Mathews has been placed on IR and Ronnie Brown is dealing with a bad hamstring.

RB Mike Goodson, OAK - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Another one of these championship gambles is Goodson, who had 89 yards on 13 carries, including a 43-yard gain, which was a far more efficient day than teammate Darren McFadden's 30 carries for 110 yards. Goodson is the better zone runner than McFadden and explosive enough to generate big plays. The Raiders face the Carolina Panthers next week, and this is Goodson's old team. Just like Mike Tolbert got two touchdowns against his old team this weekend, don't be surprised if we see enough opportunities for Goodson that he could be a nice gamble for the desperate that pays off.

RB Mark Ingram, NO - Ingram followed up last weekend's 13 carries for 68 yards with his best game of the season against a good run-stuffing Buccaneers defense, gaining 90 yards on 14 touches, including an 11-yard score where he broke tackles in the second level of the defense to reach the end zone. Ingram is still in danger of losing carries to Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles at any time, but if you have to gamble it's worth noting that Ingram has been the most consistent option of the three in recent weeks when it comes to workload. Ingram seems slated to earn red zone looks and 10-15 touches. The downside is 5-10 touches and no red zone looks. He's a risk play, against the Cowboys, but if he can produce against the Buccaneers run unit then he's worth a shot as a flex.

RB LaMichael James, SF - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The rookie from Oregon continues to look like there wasn't much of a transition required from his college football career to a role in the NFL. He ran hard, made defenders miss, and then after then Patriots mounted a 28-point second-half comeback at home, James flipped the field with a long kick return with 6:35 in the game and setup a touchdown pass to retake the league on the next play. James' vision, quickness, agility, and versatility are a boon for the 49ers and if Frank Gore is given a rest or gets hurt, the rookie will likely split time with Anthony Dixon. If you have Week 17 games, James might be one of those guys to consider. Otherwise, he's a big-play gamble in Week 16.

RB Kregg Lumpkin, NYG - Lumpkin isn't a waiver wire gem, but worth noting as an upgrade for deeper leagues that might need a third or fourth RB to start because he was used as a runner and receiver in shotgun sets. He doesn't have great burst, but he is a smart player with patience and power. He did lose a fumble in the Falcons game after he gained 42 yards on 9 carries, including a 22-yard gain where he avoided penetration at the line of scrimmage to find a hole. Expect Lumpkin to continue to earn time against the Ravens if Ahmad Bradshaw's knee injury keeps him on the bench another week. Again, this is only for the extremely desperate and to reflect movement of the player in the scheme of our Top 250-Forward reporting.

RB LeSean McCoy, PHI - McCoy should be back next week against the Redskins and he'll earn the majority of looks as Bryce Brown returns to his change-of-pace role. McCoy should be considered a strong RB2, at worst.

RB Alfred Morris, WAS - Despite the fact that the Redskins started a far less mobile rookie quarterback in Kirk Cousins, Morris still managed to post 87 yards and 2 scores against the Browns. Granted, Morris, 3.2 yards per carry was significantly lower than his 4.7, 5.6, and 5.3 averages during the past three, but it was still his best weekend of the past four starts. The fact he can still perform when defenses don't have to account for Griffin is a great sign for fantasy owners. He's a solid RB1 against an improved Eagles defense that still wasn't good enough to keep Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis from reaching 100 yards last week.

RB Michael Turner, ATL - Jacquizz Rodgers is coming! Jacquizz Rodgers is coming! The only thing Rodgers is doing is having his name come from the lips of everyone trying to anticipate his breakout. Turner has seven touchdowns in the past six games and five games in a row with a rushing score. Meanwhile Rodgers had one double-digit game in four weeks and that was the Tampa Bay game where I told you the Falcons game planned specifically to run plays they haven't run before, or since. The facts are this: Rodgers is a promising young back; Turner is an older back slowing down; and Turner is still being used in the red zone with the Lions next. Start Turner as your flex or low-end RB2 in larger leagues.

RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR - Williams has two straight games with at least 17 fantasy points and his 144 yards from scrimmage against the Chargers included two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Anyone who watches the Panthers knows that Williams and Jonathan Stewart function better as feature backs than a tandem in Rob Chudzinski's system. The Panthers face the Raiders defense that limited Jamaal Charles to 10 yards on 9 carries, but don't pay attention to that outcome. It's better to check out what they did against BenJarvus Green-Ellis (129 and a touchdown), Trent Richardson (72 and a touchdown), and Knowshon Moreno (119 and a touchdown) the three weeks prior. Williams is a must-start against Oakland.

Downgrade

RB Bryce Brown, PHI - LeSean McCoy is scheduled to return against the Redskins and Brown has faltered the past two weeks, continuing to fumble the ball and get hemmed in on outside runs that aren't working anymore. Brown is a great talent who still needs to mature. He's droppable this week if McCoy does return. He might surprise with a big run in limited time, but it might be best to shop around.

RB Jamaal Charles, KC - Charles earned 10 yards on 9 carries. It was a shockingly bad day for the Chiefs runner. If you still got to the championship on the heels of that performance, congratulations. Indianapolis is next, and Charles should be in for as big of a day we expected when he faced Oakland. Can he disappoint two weeks in a row? Possibly, but considering he had five consecutive games with no less than 87 yards and four of those five games were 100-yard days, I doubt it. Continue to start Charles as an RB1, but if you happen to be in a start-one RB league and have to make a decision based on a hotter matchup, Charles might be benchable.

RB Jonathan Dwyer, PIT - I have been telling the Steelers to hang the Primanti's sandwich on a longer fishing rod, but apparently they don't have the personnel to run down field behind Dwyer while he has the ball. Since the Redskins game in Week 8, Dwyer hasn't reached 60 yards rushing. Although he scored on a one-yard plunge this weekend in Dallas, he's a flex-play, at best, and not a very good one. He has 17 carries for 54 yards and a score the past two weeks and that's five yards better than his Week 13 totals against the Ravens.

RB Justin Forsett, HOU - Ben Tate is back, Arian Foster carried the ball 27 times, and the Texans are still jockeying for home field advantage in Week 16. Tate is a better gamble than Forsett so drop the former Cal star.

RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN - Knowshon Moreno's knee injury must have knocked some sense into his head, because he's running like the Athens version of Moreno rather than whatever got into him in Denver. Meanwhile Hillman's promise has been reduced to minor role. The Broncos have won the division but still are jockeying for playoff matchups, so don't expect Hillman to see extended time next weekend. He's droppable.

RB Chris Johnson, TEN - How does one justifiably downgrade a running back with 122 yards and a touchdown? Easy, when 94 of those yards came on one play and it took Johnson Weeks 13 and 14 to earn just a yard more than what he did on that run on Monday night. Johnson is a fine player, but the Titans had four new linemen starting this weekend and both penalties and lack of rapport is limiting Johnson's potential to consistently find openings. The Packers are ahead in Week 16 and Johnson will likely be on an offense playing from behind, which might earn him RB1 production in garbage time, but I'd prefer to have Johnson as my RB2 in value.

RB Ryan Mathews, SD - Mathews injured his clavicle and has been placed on IR.

RB Montell Owens, JAX - Owens is one of those players worth keeping in deeper leagues because he ran well this weekend, but simply didn't get enough opportunities to really thrive. The Patriots are tougher against the run so only keep him if you're desperate for a flex.

RB Bilal Powell, NYJ - Although Powell is dealing with a toe injury, he continues to run hard, demonstrates some nifty skills between the tackles to get extra yards, and some skill as a receiver. He made a diving catch in the first half to get a first down in tight coverage, showing awareness of the marker while laying out for the ball. One of Powell's inconsistencies has been pass protection. He struggled to make the right choices or sustain blocks in this game and this led to a few plays where Mark Sanchez had to make throws under pressure. Powell is best-considered a flex in large leagues because his injury will likely limit his workload to half of Shonn Greene's. The red zone chances may still be there, but with Mark Sanchez throwing four interceptions, there's a real possibility Tim Tebow could play next week now that the Jets our eliminated from playoff contention. That could hurt Powell's role.

RB Isaac Redman, PIT - Redman is second banana to Jonathan Dwyer and the Steelers running game has not been a productive fantasy option for the past four weeks. He also was helped off the field after a tough run up the left sideline against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter. Even if he's healthy enough for the Bengals, he's not worth the gamble.

RB Trent Richardson, CLE - Richardson has four touchdowns in the past two games, but he also hasn't average four yards per carry since Week 9 and hasn't cracked 50 yards rushing in the past two. Not a great sign for a runner about to face the Broncos defense who held Ray Rice and Doug Martin to 38 and 56 rushing yards respectively. Richardson, like Martin, should have a solid combined-yardage day, but he's more of a low-end RB1than borderline elite RB1 in Week 16.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL - Jacquizz Rodgers is coming! Jacquizz Rodgers is coming! The only thing Rodgers is doing is having his name come from the lips of everyone trying to anticipate his breakout. Turner has seven touchdowns in the past six games and five games in a row with a rushing score. Meanwhile Rodgers had one double-digit game in four weeks and that was the Tampa Bay game where I told you the Falcons game planned specifically to run plays they haven't run before, or since. The facts are this: Rodgers is a promising young back; Turner is an older back slowing down; and Turner is still being used in the red zone with the Lions next. Start Turner as your flex or low-end RB2 in larger leagues.

Holding steady

RB Joique Bell, DET - Mikel Leshoure outgained Bell this weekend, but prior to this weekend against the Cardinals, Bell has outgained Leshoure in three consecutive weeks and has looked better doing so. Bell routinely made the first defender miss or found a lane outside for bigger gains. He's also the more consistently used receiver, making a strong play this weekend on a flat route to convert a third down on a throw placed low and in. The Lions face the Falcons in the final week for most fantasy owners, and Bell makes a reliable flex-play with big-play upside due to what he can accomplish in space.

RB Ronnie Brown, SD - Ryan Mathews will miss the remainder of the season with a broken clavicle, so Brown will likely earn the majority of touches. However, the Chargers are also known for giving Curtis Brinkley and Jackie Battle the ball enough to keep Brown's upside limited to a flex-play.

RB Alex Green, GB - Green got the majority of the carries against the Bears, but 35 yards on 13 touches was about half the production from the same workload he had last week against the Lions. Unfortunately for Green, this workload isn't going to help a lot of fantasy owners. The Titans are next so Green should provide flex-production for the desperate.

RB Shonn Greene, NYJ - Greene was efficient against the Titans, but couldn't do much more than gain 68 yards on 13 carries because the Jets passing game couldn't move the chains. The Chargers are next, a better defense against the run, but another matchup where this game could be too ugly for casual viewing. Greene is best-considered a flex play, but can be used as a desperation No.2 if you must. With Bilal Powell dealing with a toe injury, Greene will likely earn twice the opportunities that Powell gets. This was the case tonight and should continue next week.

RB Bernard Pierce, BAL - He's Ray Rice's handcuff and if the Ravens can make the playoffs, Pierce might see more time down the stretch if Baltimore opts to rest Rice. He has over 70 yards in two games while spelling Rice. Pierce is a powerful back with better speed than many realize. He is making plays as a runner and receiver, which makes him a potential feature back for Week 17 fantasy championships if the Ravens were to sit Rice. Otherwise, he's not worth picking up in Week 16.

RB Ray Rice, BAL - Rice tends to perform well against the Bengals and he did have a 93-yard, 2-touchdown weekend against Cincinnati in the opener. In fact, Rice has four straight games against the Bengals with a touchdown and three straight with at least two scores in the same game. Coming off the heels of a 12-carry, 38-yard performance against the Broncos, and telling the media that the offense hasn't changed much, I would be willing to take the contrary bet that Rice will have a big day against the Bengals. He had a disappointing effort, but with 32 carries, 199 yards, and 2 scores in the two weeks prior, don't go overboard. Unless the hip pointer will bother him as much in Week 16, hold steady.

RB Stevan Ridley, NE - Ridley was held to 23 yards on 9 carries and he lost a fumble against the 49ers. So did Shane Vereen, so don't expect a change in Week 16. Ridley remains a low-end RB1 with the Jaguars up next. Start him with more confidence than you considered against San Francisco. If you're still alive, that is.

RB Ben Tate, HOU - Tate is the type of big gamble that can pay off for fantasy owners in Week 16 because if the Texans get an early lead against the Vikings, Tate could see enough carries to earn RB1 production. It's risk because the Texans will be playing for a bye in the playoffs after winning the AFC South this weekend. However, the ability is there and so is the opportunity. If you limped into your championship game, Tate might be that option to take a chance on.

RB Mike Tolbert, CAR - Tolbert scored two touchdowns against his old team and might get another chance to earn red zone looks against his old division rival the Raiders in Week 16. However, Cam Newton still tends to vulture goal line opportunities and Tolbert hasn't been consistent in the red area in terms of opportunities or production. He's a gamble at best for Week 16.

RB Robert Turbin, SEA - The rookie running back for the Seahawks continues to play well, including 108 yards on 20 carries in a 58-0 blowout of the Cardinals in Week 14 and another 31 yards in a 50-17 blowout of the Bills in Week 15. Turbin has developed into a decisive, physical runner. If Marshawn Lynch were to miss time, Turbin has enough skill to earn no worse than RB2-caliber production behind a good, young offensive line and a run-based offense that complements a stingy defense that will help keep the run game a viable part of the game plan. Turbin is a perfect luxury stash for fantasy owners with the room to add a player poised to produce if called upon in Week 17.

RB Chris Wells, ARI - The Cardinals can't throw and teams dare them to do so by stopping the run. I said last week that Wells might be worth a gamble as a flex against Detroit and he made good with three rushing touchdowns and 67 total yards. All three touchdowns were at or inside the five yard line and two came after interceptions that put the ball in the red zone. I don't expect a performance remotely this good against Chicago. If you're desperate, Wells is skilled enough to perform as a flex and the Cardinals pass defense is good enough to force Cutler into mistakes that Matt Stafford made this weekend. Otherwise, drop him for a position of need.

RB David Wilson, NYG - Wilson ran hard this weekend against the Falcons, but Eli Manning interceptions turned this game early and forced the Giants to throw the ball more often. Wilson continued to demonstrate good ball security and decision-making to take what he could find up the middle of the defense even when the opponent filled the gaps. The Giants get the Saints next week and Wilson could have huge day. Think Bryce Brown with better ball security. If you can use Wilson as a flex, he's a must-start. If not, he's a good gamble as a RB2 as long as Ahmad Bradshaw isn't back next week.

RB Danny Woodhead, NE - Woodhead had 61 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries in comeback mode for the Patriots on Sunday night against the 49ers. Don't expect the Patriots to be in comeback mode with pass-only formations against Jacksonville in Week 16. Woodhead is a desperation flex in large leagues at best, especially with playoff positioning still at stake.


Wide Receiver

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WR Danny Amendola, STL - Amendola returned from injury, scored a touchdown, and forced an observer in the back of the end zone to see his local optometrist after his celebratory spike. It was a full day for Amendola, who should have an even bigger afternoon against the hapless Buccaneers pass defense. He's a must start as a WR and possibly a WR2 for remaining teams in Week 16.

WR Dez Bryant, DAL - You have to be impressed with Bryant playing through an index finger injury that will require post-season surgery. His 59-yard, 1-touchdown effort was a good game for a player dealing with this type of injury. Although he had some drops and his four catches came on nine targets, he played with confidence, got open, and still caught he ball with his hands. I think he's still a WR2 with upside with the Saints ahead.

WR Eric Decker, DEN - Decker was targeted early and often against the Ravens this weekend, and his touchdown against cornerback Carey Williams was a deep streak up the left sideline where he worked past the jam, used a stutter-step to freeze the defender and blow past him for the catch. Decker isn't Jordy Nelson in terms of size-speed combination, but he is capable of deep routes as demonstrated this week and earlier this season against the Chargers. The Browns defense is next and Manning should be able to catch this unit napping enough to find Decker often enough to make him a nice WR2 for Week 16.

WR Harry Douglas, ATL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Roddy White's knee bothered him enough that the Falcons ran specific plays to work Douglas open. The slot receiver had a nice play on a slant and go where the Falcons used Julio Jones outside to bait the defense into thinking the play was a wide receiver screen. Matt Ryan executed a pump fake and hit Douglas up the left sideline behind Jayron Hosley for a long gain. Douglas also had a nice gain on a crossing route later for box score total of 83 yards on 3 catches. He might be called into further action against the Bears if White's knee doesn't show significant improvement.

WR Braylon Edwards, NYJ - Edwards' return to the Jets resulted in a 47-yard day on 3 catches. He adjusted well to the football on his limited targets, but I can't recommend him as a waiver wire gem this late in the season.

WR Brandon Gibson, STL - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Gibson had six catches for 100 yards and a game-winning touchdown on a throw behind coverage in the end zone late in the Week 14 contest and followed up with a 76-yard day against the Vikings, catching 6 balls. Gibson's scores tend to be these plays where he sneaks behind coverage, but this is his first decent stretch of consecutive weeks in several weeks. The Buccaneers defense is bad enough against the pass that Gibson has WR2 upside as a desperation-flex.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND - He has either 100 yards or a touchdown in three of his last four games and does a good job working open down the seams to accommodate Andrew Luck. He scored this weekend on such a play where Luck climbed the pocket and found Hilton running behind the safety down the middle of the field. Hilton is a boom-bust WR3, but a more consistent one lately than many in his current tier.

WR Domenik Hixon, NYG - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Hixon had three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown against the Saints and followed up with 80 yards on 5 catches against the Falcons, much of it went the game was still a contest. Hixon made some nice plays on seam routes and slants. He's an ideal third receiver in the Giants' offense when healthy enough to play and it looks like he's rounding back into form after a midseason injury. Hixon makes a good flex play against the Ravens. He's a little steadier than the rest of the options on this list despite having less upside.

WR Andre Johnson, HOU - Johnson continues to play like the stud he's been for so many years after a slow start in 2012. He had 11 catches for 151 yards and a score against the Colts this weekend and it was his fourth game of six with double-digit fantasy points. The Texans face the Vikings and Johnson should be good for another strong outing as a WR1.

WR Steve Johnson, BUF - Johnson is one of the better receivers against press coverage and demonstrated that against the Seahawks this weekend.

WR James Jones, GB - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Last week I said that Jones should be a low-end WR3 as long as Jordy Nelson is out. Jones wasn't a WR3, but he was a TD = 3 against the Bears. He caught a stop-fade, a crossing route, and a sideline streak for touchdowns in this game, making him a decided WR1 for Week 15. The Titans will offer enough favorable looks for Jones to be at least a low-end WR3 as long as Nelson is out.

WR Julio Jones, ATL - With Roddy White playing through a knee injury, Jones was the primary threat and he did a nice job of making plays against the Giants. His two touchdowns came on a deep streak up the left sideline and then a screen pass. Jones did most of his work on the perimeter and he should have similar success against the Lions.

WR Michael Preston, TEN - Preston is a tall, skinny prospect from Heidelberg in Ohio who has spent two years on the Titans practice squad. Preston demonstrated consistent hands, good effort working back to the ball and the ability to set up a more experienced cornerback like former top-prospect Kyle Wilson. Preston caught two passes for 31 yards, including a nice play in the middle of the field where he gained yardage after the catch for a 21-yard play. The second catch was an aggressive comeback to the quarterback. If Preston is called into action next week due to Kendall Wright's injury, he could surprise as a flex play. I'm not recommending him as a waiver wire gem because there are far more players with real track records to consider. However, if you're desperate, you can watch some of his college highlights at this address. I will say this about Preston, he uses his height well, he catches the ball after contact, and he demonstrates good awareness of the sideline.

WR Cecil Shorts, JAX - Shorts earns the upgrade because he's healthy and the Patriots secondary isn't good enough to contain him if Chad Henne has time. He's a solid WR2 for Week 16 because his past five starts have resulted in double-digit points.

WR Rod Streater, OAK - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Streater has three weeks with flex-WR3 production, accumulating 12 catches for 258 yards and a score during that span. He gets the Panthers during Week 16 and because the rest of this receiving corps isn't consistent, Streater is a good gamble. He has good deep speed and made some big plays in two of the last three games, so he's worth consideration.

Downgrade

WR Danario Alexander, SD - On December 12, Norv Turner told the media that defenses haven't adjusted to Danario Alexander after earning 33 catches for 555 yards and 5 touchdowns in his last 6 games. "He's still seeing a lot of single coverage, a lot of matchups where he's not getting the best (defensive back," Turner said. "He's getting the third DB, and he's taking advantage of it, and I think we're taking advantage of it, and Philip Rivers is." The Panthers shutout Alexander this weekend and I'm willing to bet they didn't do it with their third defensive back and single coverage. Thanks, Norv! I doubt the Jets will throw its third DB at Alexander next week. The bloom is off the rose folks; Alexander is better as a WR3 than a WR1.

WR Donnie Avery, IND - Avery is a boom-bust play with a somewhat difficult Chiefs matchup. He has struggled in recent weeks, earning 68 yards on 6 catches during the past two games. T.Y. Hilton remains the better option.

WR Davone Bess, MIA - Bess missed this weekend with a back injury. He might be back against the Bills so monitor before dropping if you need a flex. Even so, there may be better options so shop around.

WR Kenny Britt, TEN - What do the Jets and Packers have in common? Both play tight, press coverage and thrive against physical receivers. Although Britt had a three-game streak of at least nine fantasy points, the Jets broke that run and limited Britt to one catch for seven yards and often doubled the big receiver down field. If Kendall Wright misses next week, Britt may see enough double coverage that he'll have similar results. The Titans primary receiver is better off as a flex than a WR3.

WR Kris Durham, DET - Durham had one catch for 14 yards against the Bears and while he may do better against Atlanta, the former Seahawks draft pick isn't gelling with his former UGA roommate Matt Stafford. Patience isn't a virtue in Week 16 so drop him.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - The Cardinals receiver had 4 catches for 22 yards. He hasn't exceeded 30 yards in three weeks. Drop him and put this season out of his misery. Charles Tillman of the Bears is a physical corner capable of holding his own against Calvin Johnson. Without a good quarterback, Fitzgerald doesn't stand much of a chance for good fantasy production in Week 16.

WR Malcom Floyd, SD - Floyd had two catches for 39 yards and has a total of 9 catches for 110 yards in the past three weeks. Most of that yardage came three weeks ago with a 61-yard day against the Bengals. The Jets are next, the Chargers are on a downslide, and Floyd is a mid-tier receiver who isn't a match-up beater. He's a risky flex-play next week, at best.

WR Josh Gordon, CLE - Gordon makes a solid WR3 because of his ability to stretch the field, but with the likelihood of Champ Bailey plastered to the rookie, Gordon is a boom-bust fantasy start next week. He had eight targets against the Redskins, but Deangelo Hall and company held Gordon to 27 yards on 3 catches with a long of 12 yards.

WR A.J. Green, CIN - Green has been producing more like a WR2 than an elite WR1 in recent weeks. His six-catch, 57-yard, 1-touchdown day was solid, but not spectacular, as was his 9-catch, 85-yard effort in Week 13, and 3-catch, 111-yard effort in Week 12. Last week was his first touchdown in four weeks after scoring at least once between Weeks 2 and Week 11. When Mohammed Sanu was lost of the year, this passing offense has taken a downward turn. The Steelers are next and they held Green to one catch for eight yards and a score. Green's upside makes him a must-start, but his value next week is more along the lines of a high-end WR2 than a mid-range WR1.

WR Andrew Hawkins, CIN - Hawkins returned from a knee injury to post 47 yards on 5 targets against the Chargers in Week 14, but only managed a carry for nine yards in Week 15 against the Eagles. The Steelers are next and Hawkins only had two catches for 17 yards in the previous matchup. He has big-play upside, but this passing game is struggling across the board. When A.J. Green is having sub-par efforts, it's time to drop Hawkins for someone else in Week 16.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK - He's an inconsistent option who can't seem to make the catch on a good throw or run the correct route from on target to the next. The Panthers are ahead and it makes Heyward-Bey a viable option to consider as a flex in deeper leagues, but I'm not recommending him. Start at your own risk.

WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ - Kerley was limited to one reception for 11 yards and this culminates as three-game stretch where he has 8 catches for 75 yards. Compared to his 7-catch, 86-yard day against the Patriots before this horrific run of production, Kerley's value has dropped enough to drop him from your roster now that the Jets are out of playoff contention.

WR Greg Little, CLE - Last Week I said that Josh Gordon is the clear-cut primary option to Brandon Weeden and even if Little has a nice game against the Redskins, his best game this year was a 69-yard effort two weeks ago. Little had 5 catches for 74 yards against Washington, but I still don't see the upside when the vertical threats are Gordon and Travis Benjamin. Denver is next and I doubt Cleveland's receivers will match up well.

WR Randy Moss, SF - Moss continues to see a slow growth of meaningful targets with Colin Kaepernick under center. He had two good receptions that resulted in intermediate gains in Week 14 and then scored on a pretty pass and catch in the first quarter against the Patriots. The 49ers get the Seahawks next and Moss will probably be used in the slot to avoid Anthony Sherman. I mentioned last week that Moss might be a nice surprise against New England if desperate enough to gamble, but I'm more skeptical about using him against the Seahawks. I'd drop him for a player likely to earn more targets in Week 16.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, PIT - Mike Wallace redeemed himself last week with 11 targets and followed up with four catches for 95 yards against the Cowboys. The Bengals are next and Sanders is resuming his role as the Steelers' version of a flex-play. Not flex-worthy for fantasy owners though.

WR Jordan Shipley, JAX - Shipley looked like he had a future in Cincinnati after his rookie year, but he got hurt, and watched Andrew Hawkins take the job. Shipley found a role in Jacksonville in Week 14 with Cecil Shorts out and Michael Spurlock sent packing, catching five passes for 55 yards against the Jets. He's strictly an underneath option with some PPR upside, but limited big-play potential. Shorts is back, Shipley can be dropped.

WR Micheal Spurlock, SD - Spurlock was with the Jaguars until this month, but he made a nice transition to the Chargers' receiver-needy squad, catching all seven of his targets for 64 yards and providing a reliable underneath presence and run after the catch skill in Week 14. He did nothing in Week 15 and I wouldn't be patient with him if you need a Week 16 flex.

WR Reggie Wayne, IND - Wayne has single-digit fantasy outings during two of his past three weeks and was held to just three grabs for 14 yards, and one of them was a last-second diving catch at the end of the game to preserve a long-standing streak of three catches in every game. The Colts face the Chiefs next week. While Wayne remains a must-start in three-receiver leagues, he's a matchup play for smaller formats.

WR Roddy White, ATL - What has three games with six points or less in the last four and against the Giants he was playing with a knee injury that limited him. He caught two short passes in tight coverage for 16 yards against a decimated Giants secondary. The Lions are an even better matchup, but unless White's health shows significant improvement he's probably worth no more than a flex-play in Week 16.

WR Kendall Wright, TEN - Wright made a leaping play between two defenders on a deep post that was thrown up for grabs in the second half of this game. He landed with the weight of his side on the thigh of the Jets safety. The injury appears to be to his ribs, but that's just my amateur diagnosis. Monitor the news coming from a real physician in the coming hours. He may be droppable based on the diagnosis. Stay tuned.

Holding steady

WR Jason Avant, PHI - Avant is healthy enough to see the field and he made an immediate impact after missing almost a month. The Eagles receiver has 14 receptions and 256 yards during the past three weeks. Although those totals of decrease each week, Avant is still earning enough opportunities to warrant low-end flex play for the desperate. The Redskins are next and they give up a lot of production to tight ends. Although Avant isn't a tight end, his routes tend to be in the same area, making him a decent gamble.

WR Riley Cooper, PHI - Cooper is a lot like Jason Avant, but with more speed and athleticism. He's a physical player who adjusts well to the football and it has shown this month in limited time, scoring three times in the past five weeks. During the past three weeks Cooper has 15 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cooper remains worth a look because he's a more versatile all-around option than Jeremy Maclin, who has only begun to round into form as Nick Foles improves. The Eagles get Washington, and Cooper should have a shot at a good day against a defense that can give up big plays.

WR Michael Crabtree, SF - Crabtree's 107 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Patriots was a nice display of skill after the catch and adjustment to the football. It was Crabtree's third-straight game with at least seven catches and 93 yards. The 49ers face the Seahawks defense and Crabtree will likely see enough of Anthony Sherman to Earl Thomas to expect tempered results. Therefore, no upgrade to Crabtree; he remains a low-end WR2.

WR Victor Cruz, NYG - Cruz's three catches for 15 yards was a rough follow up to a two-week stretch with 13 catches 225 yards and a touchdown. However, Eli Manning's difficulty making accurate throws was part of the problem. The Falcons also spotted a tendency of Manning's targets in the flats and the corners successfully jumped timing routes twice that weren't assigned to them. Cruz did miss a couple of plays after safety Chris Hope launched his helmet into the receiver on a dig route that earned the Falcons a personal foul. Make sure Cruz doesn't show up on the injury report with a concussion even though he was healthy enough to return to the field. Otherwise, the Ravens should be a good matchup.

WR Pierre Garcon, WAS - Kirk Cousins did a fine job of spreading the ball around, finding five receivers enough times to give them between 47 and 65 yards. Garcon had 6 catches for 65 yards as a follow-up to a two-week stretch with Griffin where he had 13 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hold steady on Garcon, who should get Robert Griffin back, which may dictate more running and less spreading around of the football. However, Garcon is one of those primary targets. He should be started as a WR2 in any format.

WR Leonard Hankerson, WAS - Hankerson is a streaky player early in his career, but he had a nice day paired with rookie Kurt Cousins, catching a deep cross off play action behind three defenders for a 54-yard score. He nearly dropped the ball, but did a good job concentrating on the run to rein it in. He later caught a two-yard pass on a backside cross at the goal line off a play action boot. Not much changed with Hankerson's role with Cousins, the plays just worked this week.

WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI - Maclin and Nick Foles have generated some rapport in recent weeks. Maclin has four catches for 73 yards against the Bengals and he has 13 catches for 177 yards and score during the past two weeks. The Redskins a s step up from the Buccaneers offense from his 104-yard, 1-touchdown Week 14 matchup, but Maclin should provide low-end WR3 production for fantasy owners in Week 16.

WR Josh Morgan, WAS - Kirk Cousins did a fine job of spreading the ball around, finding five receivers enough times to give them between 47 and 65 yards. Morgan had 4 catches for 60 yards as a follow-up to a 3-catch 30-yard, 1-score afternoon versus Baltimore in Week 14. Hold steady on Morgan, who should get Robert Griffin back, which may dictate more running and less spreading around of the football. He's a gamble for flex-needy teams and generally not worth starting.

WR Louis Murphy, CAR - Murphy had two big-play targets in Week 14 that could have resulted in touchdowns if the throws were better. One was play action pass deep and Murphy easily beat his defender up the left sideline, but the pass was overthrown by a large margin. Later, Murphy caught a corner route at the right boundary of the end zone, but the pass was a little wide of target and Murphy could only get one foot inbounds. Murphy should continue to see big-play targets against his former team the Raiders, making him worth a desperation start in large leagues.

WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG - Nicks' three catches for 40 yards don't show him blowing past Asante Samuel on a deep post where the corner gave 10 yards of cushion and was still unable to recover from Nicks' burst. This was a surprising development to both the cornerback and fantasy owners that could have resulted in a touchdown, but Eli Manning overshot the receiver. Nicks is still an up and down WR2, but against the Ravens next week, I think he can take the Ravens secondary if Eric Decker managed. Hold Steady.


Tight End

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TE Brent Celek, PHI - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Celek has been cleared to play next week after a sustaining a concussion two weeks ago. With the Redskins on the schedule, he's worth a serious look if you need a tight end due to the matchup and improved play from Nick Foles.

TE Scott Chandler, BUF - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Chandler made the most of a soft spot in the schedule against the Rams to catch five passes for 71 yards, but it was Lee Smith who got the red zone work -- Smith's second short yardage touchdown in three weeks. Chandler followed up with a five-catch, 58-yard day against the Seahawks, which means the Dolphins should be a good opportunity for him to provide low-end flex production with TE1 upside if he gets a red zone target.

TE Dallas Clark, TB - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Clark had eight catches for 42 yards and got open for what would have been a long touchdown if Josh Freeman didn't underthrow the ball by five yards and give the trailing safety a chance to make the interception. His 12 targets tied Vincent Jackson for the team lead against the Saints. The Rams are ahead and this bodes well for those in need of a gamble during the fantasy playoffs. He's a better option for PPR leagues than standard formats.

TE Jeff Cumberland, NYJ - Cumberland made a couple of nice plays against the Titans, but one of them wasn't a 17-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter where he benefited from the Titans linebacker never turning back to the ball and appearing lost with his assignment. Cumberland has shown enough athleticism to compare with the likes of Zach Miller or Brent Myers, but he lacks the consistent quarterback play to be considered a viable option next week against the Chargers. He's an upgrade, but not a potential waiver wire gem.

TE Anthony Fasano, MIA - Fasano has 8 catches for 65 yards and 2 touchdowns in the past two weeks. This is enough for an upgrade and with the Bills ahead on the schedule he's possibly a waiver wire gem. I'm not ready to pull the trigger on that one just yet because we need to see if Davone Bess is back for Miami next week. If you are really in dire need for a tight end in a larger league and looking for a gamble, Fasano is worth adding to your list of speculative options but otherwise all bets are off.

TE Jermichael Finley, GB - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - Finley may be leaving Green Bay at the end of the year, but he managed 61 yards against the Bears and the Titans defense should offer another opportunity to make strong impression for scouts watching him at year's end. With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson still on the mend to varying degrees, Finley could have a better chance to see quality targets. Finley is a bigger gamble than Clark, Pitta, and Celek, but his upside might be just as strong.

TE Antonio Gates, SD - Gates scored a touchdown on a nine-yard pass 58 seconds into the fourth quarter and finished the day with 31 yards on 4 catches. It was his best fantasy total since Week 6 and his second-best day all year. He's nothing more than a flex-gamble against the Jets.

TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL - Gonzalez continues to play like a slower Heath Miller of the NFC. Although he's no longer the physical dynamo who ruled the AFC West with the Chiefs, he's almost impossible to cover in the red zone. Gonzalez scored on a short out where he navigated quickly through three Giants zone defenders trying to take him away from Matt Ryan. The Falcons get the Lions defense next week, and with Roddy White toughing-out a knee injury, Gonzalez gets a slight bump.

TE Lance Kendricks, STL - Kendricks has two touchdowns during the past four games, but he doesn't earn a waiver wire tag this week because his yardage totals remain at a steady range of 32-37 during this stretch of games. He's had three straight games with three catches and until he becomes a commodity with a good bet for 50-70 yards he's not worth adding to a roster.

TE Heath Miller, PIT - Miller continues to perform as a high-upside, low-downside TE1 this season, catching seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys. Miller and Ben Roethlisberger have one of the great QB-TE relationships in football today, which was demonstrated by a 30-yard score where Roethlisberger pump-faked four times in the pocket while buying time and Miller worked down the right sideline. The play culminated with a completion that Miller took much of the way to the end zone. Cincinnati is next and Roethlisberger and Miller are healthy and thriving. Miller is a nearly an elite fantasy commodity at the position and a must-start.

TE Dennis Pitta, BAL - Pitta has been productive for two weeks. He snared five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 and followed that with 125 yards and 2 touchdowns on 7 catches, most of them in garbage time against the Broncos. Despite the timing, the effort was great. He made a diving catch on a seam route breaking a little to the post, rolling into the end zone after laying out for the ball. Later, he took a short flat route to the right sideline, lowered his shoulder through a wrap, stayed inbounds, spun inside the oncoming defender and outran three defenders for a 61-yard touchdown. Pitta has been up and down the past month while New York isn't an easy fantasy matchup; the Ravens tight end is earning enough targets to consider as a TE1 if playing the waiver wire for tight ends.

Downgrade

TE Martellus Bennett, NYG - Bennett was held to 15 yards on 1 reception this weekend, but I expect a rebound against the Ravens, who gave up over 90 yards and a score to a player like Heath Miller a few weeks ago. Give Bennett a slight downgrade, because the Ravens defense is still good enough to limit the tight end to low-end starter production.

TE Vernon Davis, SF - Davis had a catch for 10 yards, but two of his targets were wide-open routes in the end zone where Colin Kaepernick didn't use the right pass to target his tight end. This is where the young quarterback needs to improve most -- pass selection. Once he does, Davis could thrive. However, at this point Davis is struggling mightily and little of it has to do with him as much as it is his rapport with the young quarterback. Drop him.

TE Clay Harbor, PHI - Brent Celek should be back this weekend after getting cleared by doctors to play.

TE Marcedes Lewis, JAX - Lewis had 12 catches for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns during the past four weeks prior to Weeks 14-15 where he's had 4 catches for 12 yards. The Jaguars face the Patriots next and all bets are off. The inconsistency is too maddening even with a decent matchup.

TE Brandon Myers, OAK - After a 14-catch, 130-yard, 1-score game three weeks ago, he has 3 catches for 22 yards in Weeks 14-15 combined. He might rebound against Carolina, but there are better options out there.

Holding steady

TE Dwayne Allen, IND - Allen has been an oft-mentioned option in this report during the season and it's because he continues to flash just enough productivity to consider as a desperation option with some red zone upside. Allen scored this weekend against the Texans, catching two passes for 36 yards, scoring on an eight-yard catch late in the third quarter. Allen continues to earn more time than Coby Fleener on a consistent basis, but still not generating enough catches to consider as anything more than a gamble against the Chiefs pass defense.

TE Zach Miller, SEA - Miller has two straight weeks with a touchdown, but only 5 catches for 57 yards to show for it. The 49ers are next and I wouldn't be surprised if Miller has 2-3 catches, but doesn't reach the end zone. He was shutout by the 49ers defense in the last matchup, so I am accounting for an improved passing game but not so improved that Miller is worth adding.

TE Tony Scheffler, DET - He's often targeted on intermediate corner routes or scramble plays up the sideline for bigger gains as well as red zone work, which makes him a reasonable gamble against the likes of the Falcons. He had seven targets against the Cardinals this weekend, which was second-most among Lions receivers. Monitor Brandon Pettigrew's progress from an ankle injury that made him inactive this weekend before taking a gamble.


Kicker

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PK Kai Forbath, WAS - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Redskins passing offense continues to perform well enough to keep Forbath in consideration when renting a kicker. Last week he was 3-of-3 with 2 PATs. This weekend he was 5-of-5 with 1 PAT. The Eagles defense is playing much better, but they are still vulnerable enough for Forbath to be a factor.

PK Graham Gano, CAR - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Panthers offense has heated up and the Raiders are next on the schedule. Gano is 4-of-4 in field goal attempts during the past two weeks and was 4-of-4 with PATs this weekend. He's a desperation addition, but worth considering due to the Panthers's recent performances and the Raiders ahead.

PK Steve Hauschka, SEA - *** POTENTIAL WAIVER WIRE GEM *** - The Seahawks offense has been on a tear thanks to Russell Wilson and the defense has been opportunistic with these early leads. Hauschka has 30 points in the past two weeks. The 49ers defense will probably cut that total in half next weekend, but it still makes Hauschka worth a look.

PK Sebastian Janikowski, OAK - Janikowski went 5-of-6 in the field goal department and accounted for all of the Raiders points in a 15-0 shutout of the Chiefs. Expect Janikowski to remain involved against the Panthers next week.

Downgrade

PK Connor Barth, TB - Barth had two straight double-digit games before posting just three points against the Eagles and then getting shutout by the Saints. The Rams game should give Barth a chance to rebound, but not enough to avoid a downgrade to a borderline committee option. Look for better matchups before rolling with him.

PK Phil Dawson, CLE - Cleveland's kicker had three straight games with at least eight points before posting just three extra points against the Redskins. The Broncos defense is next and I wouldn't be surprised if Dawson is limited to an extra point or two. Check your options on the waiver wire before doing so.

PK Lawrence Tynes, NYG - Tynes has gone missed two of his past three field goal attempts in the past three games. Tynes remains a low-end PK1, but the Giants offense makes him a less consistent option.

Holding steady


Team Defense

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TD Seattle Seahawks, SEA - Consecutive games with multiple interceptions, multiple sacks, forced fumbles, and defensive touchdowns make this unit dangerous. The 49ers are a terrific team but Colin Kaepernick's and his issues with ball placement on tightly covered routes will be tested against this good Seattle secondary. I expect a low-scoring game next week.

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TD Atlanta Falcons, ATL - Atlanta is next on the schedule and despite the Falcons dealing with a knee injury to Roddy White that limited him against the Giants, they managed a 34-0 shutout of New York and limited the defense to just one sack. Look elsewhere because the Falcons will likely use more of a short passing game to limit the Lions pass rush and do a good job of picking its spots deep with Julio Jones.

Holding steady

TD Tennessee Titans, TEN - Tennessee intercepted Mark Sanchez four times and recovered a fumble to seal one of the ugliest games in recent memory. Sanchez routinely threw the ball up for grabs in coverage that wasn't difficult to see for an NFL quarterback. Next week the Titans face Aaron Rodgers. Don't expect a similar performance.


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