Blake Bortles, JAX (vs HOU) - The idea of trusting Bortles in the playoffs has gotten less and less strange by the week. He’s had three straight quality fantasy weeks, and he’s facing a Texans defense that has given up three passing scores to Blaine Gabbert and a pair to Jacoby Brissett in recent weeks. Bortles only threw for 125 and a score in the Week 1 win at Houston, but he also only threw the ball 21 times. He’s thrown at least 27 times in each of the last four games, and averaged over 30 attempts in that span.
DeShone Kizer, CLE (vs BAL) - Kizer is clearly a more potent fantasy quarterback with Josh Gordon. He and Corey Coleman give Kizer a vertical threat duo against a Ravens secondary that is without their #1 corner (Jimmy Smith), a secondary that just allowed over 500 passing yards to Ben Roethlisberger. In the first matchup between these teams - without Gordon and only with Corey Coleman emerging from the loss with a broken hand - Kizer and Kevin Hogan combined for 300 passing yards.
Nick Foles, PHI (at NYG) - Foles isn’t an exciting play, but he’s a safe one. He has a long history in the Reid/Pederson system and should have a seamless transition to running the offense. He has a good offensive line and set of weapons around him, and he’s facing the Giants. The Giants have given up five multi-passing score games in the last seven, and at least 230 passing yards in every game of that stretch. CJ Beathard was a fantasy stud against them, accounting for three total scores, and Dak Prescott came out of his fantasy slump against them with three passing scores and 332 passing yards last week.
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (at DET) - Trubisky is only for the truly desperate (or as a QB2/Superflex), but there’s more there than you think. He accounted for two scores, including one on the ground last week, and he threw for a score while running for 53 yards in the first matchup with the Lions. Each of the last passers to face Detroit have posted two passing scores, and that includes Joe Flacco and Jameis Winston. Quarterbacks have scored on the ground against them three times in the last six games.
CJ Anderson, DEN (at IND) **Thursday** - Every time the Broncos win, CJ Anderson gets at least 20 carries. Or maybe it’s every time Anderson gets at least 20 carries, the Broncos win. No matter how you look at it, the Broncos should be favored to win this week at Indianpolis, which points to volume and a projection of 70-100 total yards for Anderson with a good chance at a score.
Samaje Perine, WAS (vs ARI) - Perine has been lackluster the last two weeks in Washington blowout losses, with 59 and 52 total yards. In the previous two games when Washington was much more competitive, he had 126 and 130 total yards, and a score in one of the games. They should be competitive at home against the Blaine Gabbert led Arizona Cardinals, and receiving back Byron Marshall got hurt last week, which could give Perine an even bigger role in the passing game.
Peyton Barber, TB (vs ATL) - We can’t play Barber unless he is announced as the starter, and even if he is, Dirk Koetter could still find a way to continue to give Doug Martin more work than he has earned. Hopefully, the meritocracy wins out, because Barber has the only 100-yard game by a Tampa back this year, and he averaged almost five yards a carry once he seemed to take over for Martin last week. Barber scored twice on the ground the first time these two teams met.
Rod Smith, DAL (at OAK) - Sometimes you just don’t argue with the trends. Smith has scored in three straight games, and last week he had a double dagger for the Giants with an 81-yard catch and run touchdown and a 15-yard rushing score to clinch the game. Smith posted a gain of at least five yards on seven of his other nine touches, including 14 and 15-yard gain. He’s hot and lightning might strike twice against the faltering Raiders defense that just let Kareem Hunt get going again last week.
Tarik Cohen, CHI (at DET) - Last week, Cohen looked like the explosive and dangerous back we were so jazzed by back in Week 1. The Bears were actually willing to give him 14 touches and he responded by turning that into 85 total yards. The 14 touches were his high since Week 1, when he had 13 against… the Lions, his Week 15 opponent. Cohen had 59 total yards and a score in that one, and he was an integral part of the game plan against the weak Lions run defense. He should be again this week, but the team has been erratic with their usage of Cohen this year,
Wayne Gallman, NYG (vs PHI) - Gallman is a real long shot this week, but he has outplayed Orleans Darkwa in two of the last three games. The Eagles run defense seemed impenetrable earlier this year, but Todd Gurley scored twice and averaged over seven yards a carry against them last week, and Mike Davis was good for 101 total yards against them in Week 13. Alfred Morris had 91 rushing yards against them in Week 11. If the Giants let Gallman take over, he could be a viable flex, especially in PPR leagues with his seven-catch performance last week.
Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole JAX (vs HOU) - The Texans just can’t handle vertical threats. Marquise Goodwin had 6-106 against them last week. TY Hilton 5-175-2. Paul Richardson 6-105-2. Tyler Lockett 6-121. Brandin Cooks 5-131-2. The pattern is clear. Westbrook and Cole both fit the bill, with Westbrook the better play, getting at least eight targets and five catches in each of the last three games. Cole has scores in each of the last two games, although on only three targets, so he’s more of an upside desperation/deep league play.
Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT (vs NE) - Martavis Bryant had an audition as the #2 receiver for the Steelers in two of the last three games, and he flopped. When Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards last week, Bryant only accounted for 33 of them. Smith-Schuster will be back from his suspension and probably functioning as the #3 target in the offense behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Last week the Patriots gave up two scores to Jarvis Landry, who has a similar game to Smith-Schuster, and Landry had eight games in each of matchups against the Patriots this year. Monitor his hamstring injury to make sure he’s full speed for this one.
Corey Coleman, CLE (vs BAL) - Defenses are going to focus on Josh Gordon, which should leave Coleman in lots of winnable one-on-one matchups. He scored last week and he has at least 62 receiving yards in three of the last four games. He should get at least 5-7 targets against a floundering Ravens pass defense that just gave up over 500 yards through the air.
Kendall Wright, CHI (at DET) - Wright is coming off of a ten catch, 107-yard performance, by far his best game of the year. This week, his Bears are going to Detroit, where shutdown corner Darius Slay should tangle with Dontrelle Inman outside, making Wright the most attractive target for Mitchell Trubisky.
Mike Wallace, Chris Moore, BAL (at CLE) - The Ravens pass offense has two straight games with multiple touchdown passes and this week they face a Browns defense that allowed two scores to Joe Flacco when they faced earlier this year. Wallace is nursing an ankle injury, and while he says he’ll play, we would like to see him get a full practice in. If Wallace is limited, Moore becomes more attractice, with Jeremy Maclin struggling and Moore scoring from 30 yards out last week and catching three balls in each of the last three games.
Adam Shaheen, CHI (at DET) - Shaheen had four catches and a score last week, his best game of the season other than his four catch and a touchdown performance against the Lions in the first matchup this year. Shaheen is probably the only member of the passing game that is slated for a long term role, so it’s in the Bears interest to use him more down the stretch. The Lions have been soft against the tight end, part of a five touchdown in the last four games run, which included Shaheen’s good game in Week 11.
O.J. Howard, TB (vs ATL) - Howard is coming off of a 4-54-1 game that dispelled any notion that Cameron Brate is necessarily more valuable than Howard when Jameis Winston is in at quarterback. The Falcons gave up 3-52 to Howard just three weeks ago. They’ve also given up three tight end scores and a 7-59 line to dad runner Jason Witten since Week 8. Howard has as high a ceiling as any tight end outside of the top 8 this week.
Ben Watson, BAL (at CLE) - Watson has been quiet as of late, but he had 8-91 in the first matchup with Cleveland, and the Browns have given up seven touchdowns and five 6+ catch games to tight ends since that game in Week 2.
Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (at WAS) - Seals-Jones production has tailed off the last two weeks, but this week he faces a Washington defense that has had multiple injuries at safety and inside linebacker. Washington has allowed three tight end scores in the last four weeks, and a 5-91 game to Coby Fleener. Seals-Jones still hasn’t had a game where he averaged less than 18 yards a catch.