Josh Allen (vs New York Jets) - Allen has been an elite fantasy quarterback over the last two weeks on the back of his running ability, just in time to possibly be trusted as a QB2/Superflex/streamer for the playoffs. Allen had three rushing touchdowns in the four games he started and finished before his injury, and the Jets made Matt Barkley look like a good quarterback the first time these two teams met in Week 10.
Baker Mayfield (vs Carolina) - Mayfield had his worst half as a pro in the first half last week at Houston and then responded by becoming first quarterback to throw for 350 or more yards in a half since Tom Brady did it in 2012. Freddie Kitchens has revitalized this offense since becoming the offensive coordinator, sending Mayfield on a string of multi-touchdown games that only ended last week because Antonio Callaway fumbled at the goal line. This week he gets a Carolina defense that has given up multiple pass touchdowns in every game this year except Week 1 against Dallas and Week 11 against the depleted Lions passing game.
Derek Carr (vs Pittsburgh) - Carr has been almost impossible to predict this year, but we can at least see that his best games have come at home against Cleveland, Indianapolis, and last week against Kansas City. In those games, he has thrown for at least 244 yards and three scores. The Steelers defense has recently given up two passing scores to Case Keenum, and their defensive scheme somehow left a linebacker on Keenan Allen too many times last week, so they could be vulnerable to a mismatch player like Jared Cook this week.
Jaylen Samuels (at Oakland) - Samuels is going to share with Stevan Ridley this week, but the coaches benched Ridley after a fumble earlier this year and trusted Samuels to back up James Conner even after it became clear that Le'Veon Bell wasn’t coming back this year. Samuels has been able to score twice in the last month in limited action, including in a high pressure situation last week. He’s a vastly better receiver than Ridley, and whatever the Steelers plan is to split the work going into the game, there’s a chance Samuels outplays Ridley and gets more work as the game goes on. Oakland had given up over 100 rushing yards in six straight games before last week, and they’ve given up over 150 in half of their games this year, so there’s something to exploit there for the strong Steelers offensive line.
Justin Jackson (vs Cincinnati) - Austin Ekeler will get the start, but it’s Jackson who could be the finisher against the terrible Bengals run defense. Vontaze Burfict can’t seem to stay healthy and the Bengals offense isn’t going to do their defense any favors keeping them off the field via long drives. Jackson was magnificent in the fourth quarter against the Steelers and had a flexworthy game on basically one drive. He only played 14 snaps last week and had four plays of at least 11 yards. He could score again this week against a Bengals defense that has allowed multiple running back scores in four of the last seven games.
Nyheim Hines (at Houston) - Hines scored two touchdowns against the Texans in the first matchup, although Marlon Mack wasn’t healthy for that one. Since the loss of Jack Doyle, the Colts running game has stalled out, and Hines was worth more as a receiver last week in the loss to the Jaguars than Mck was worth as a runner. Andrew Luck appeared to lean on Hines as his #3 receiver last week, and that should be a recipe for a solid game in a contest that could approach the 37-34 shootout we saw in the first matchup.
Jeff Wilson (vs Denver) - Wilson is next in line for the 49ers in the backfield with Matt Breida already ruled out. He ran with reckless abandon and showed some skills as a receiver, piling up 134 total yards after Breida hurt himself in warmups. Denver hasn’t given up a score to a running back in the last four weeks, but they have allowed at least five running back receptions in the last three games and San Francisco has had a productive running game any time they fielded a semi-healthy Breida or Raheem Mostert.
LeGarrette Blount (at Arizona) - Blount has run with renewed vigor in the last two weeks, and he’ll get the best matchup he’s had since he became the lead back this week in Arizona. The Cardinals offense isn’t capable of running away from anyone, so Blount should get at least the 16-18 carries he’s gotten as a starter, and we know he’s the first option on goal to go downs. Big, bruising backs like Jordan Howard, Adrian Peterson, and Latavius Murray have all gotten over 20 carries and a score against Arizona, and they’ve allowed four rushing touchdowns over the last two weeks and 15 on the year.
Courtland Sutton (at San Francisco) - The season-ending achilles injury for Emmanuel Sanders opens the door for Sutton to become the #1 receiver for the Broncos for the rest of the year. Denver has a low volume pass offense, but Sutton gets the deep targets, one of which he converted into a touchdown last week. This week, he draws a 49ers secondary that gave up four scores to wide receivers last week alone vs. Seattle on only 17 attempts. They gave up multiple scores to wideouts in five other games this year, including against the high-flying Cardinals and Giants passing games.
Antonio Callaway (vs Carolina) - Callaway had one long touchdown called back by penalty and then caught a deep ball only be stripped at the goal line. He’s been creating deep separation consistently, and he and Baker Mayfield are getting on the same page in the vertical passing game. This week, Callaway gets a young outside corner from the Panthers secondary that has been giving up big plays all year. Four of the last five weeks they have given up multiple scores to wide receivers, and the most likely Browns receiver to break a long one this week is surely Callaway.
Zay Jones, Robert Foster (vs New York Jets) - Do we dare trust the Bills virtually non-existent at times passing game with our season on the line in Week 14? Well, just a few weeks ago this Jets secondary made Matt Barkley look like Jim Kelly as Robert Foster was able to turn three catches into 105 yards and Zay Jones caught eight balls for 93 and a score. Josh Allen came alive as a passer last week, hitting Jones for two scores and missing an easy throw that could have been a third. While Foster only caught one ball for 27, he had a deep touchdown against the tough Jaguars secondary the week before, and he’s the obvious choice to harness Allen’s ability to extend plays and his prodigious arm strength. The Jets season is swirling down the drain and this passing game could give them a push over Niagara Falls.
Demaryius Thomas (vs Indianapolis) - Thomas has been a red zone specialist for Deshaun Watson, and there’s a good chance he’ll catch at least one more score in this one, in addition to having his highest catch and yardage totals as a Texan. In the first matchup with the Colts, Will Fuller V had 4-49 and a score before leaving with a hamstring injury, and Keke Coutee broke the record for receptions in a debut. The Colts haven’t faced many good offenses since then, but know that receivers such as Terrelle Pryor, Brandon LaFell, Seth Roberts, Tajae Sharpe, and Leonte Carroo have caught touchdowns against them this year.
Michael Gallup (vs Philadelphia) - Gallup had his highest catch total as a pro last week when he caught five balls for 76 yards, and he should have had a long touchdown to cap his night, but Dak Prescott missed him badly when he was open behind the defense. This week, he and Prescott are facing a banged up Eagles secondary that could easily create more opportunities for Gallup to get free behind the defense again this week.
Mark Andrews (at Kansas City) - Andrews has already displayed great chemistry with fellow rookie Lamar Jackson, catching five balls for 140 yards in three games on only five targets. That target number could go up significantly this week if the Chiefs can force the Ravens into a more pass-heavy game script by opening up a lead, and one of the achilles heels of the Chiefs defense has been defending the tight end. They have given up at least 50 yards or a score to a tight end in every game this year. The player best poised to cash in on that trend this week is Andrews.
Jordan Thomas (vs Indianapolis) - The Texans have three viable receivers at tight end, which can make it difficult to pinpoint a play, but the most recent hit was Thomas with his touchdown last week, which brings his total to four in the last five games. He was in on almost as many snaps last week as #3 receiver DeAndre Carter, and he has played at least 50 percent of the snaps in each of the last six games. Fellow rookie tight ends Dallas Goedert and Chris Herndon have also scored on the Colts this year.
Ian Thomas (at Cleveland) - Speaking of rookie tight ends, another rookie Thomas got back on the field for even more snaps last week after Greg Olsen’s foot finally gave way. Ian Thomas had five catches for 46 yards in the loss to Tampa, and he should be favored by Cam Newton this week as Newton plays through a shoulder injury that limits his ability to throw downfield. He’s facing a Browns defense that has allowed four scores to tight ends in the last four games, and 10 catches to Austin Hooper plus six to CJ Uzomah during that stretch.
Antonio Gates (vs Cincinnati) - Old man Gates could bail you out with a score this week if you are desperate for a tight end and nothing else is out there on the waiver wire. He has gotten in on at least 24 snaps in each of the last three games after only doing that in Week 1 before Week 10, and he’s facing a Bengals defense that is generous to everyone. Tight ends have scored seven times against them this year, and only teams with rookie tight ends and the Saints have failed to either score or post a decent PPR stat line (for a tight end) against them.
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