Marcus Mariota (at New York Giants) - Mariota was a dud against the Jaguars last week, but they made Andrew Luck a fantasy bust the week before, and Derrick Henry kept all the touchdowns to himself in Week 14. The Giants defense has come alive recently against backup quarterbacks, but they have given up rushing scores to quarterback in two of the last four weeks and dual threat quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Josh Johnson have given them trouble this year. Mariota is a safe QB2/Superflex option and reasonable QB1 if you are looking at Jameis Winston or Aaron Rodgers as your other option.
Derek Carr (at Cincinnati) - Carr has actually thrown for multiple scores in three of the last four weeks and he has generally been a solid start against subpar defenses. That’s exactly what he’ll face in Cincinnati this week. The Bengals recently gave up four passing scores to Baker Mayfield and four total scores to Drew Brees at home, and the Tampa, Carolina, and Atlanta offense lit them up for at least three total quarterback touchdowns earlier this year. Carr is a safe QB2/Superflex and another option for favorites trying to avoid an Aaron Rodgers/Jameis Winston whammy in tough road matchups.
Jeff Driskel (vs Oakland) - Driskel hasn’t had that breakthrough game yet, but this week against Oakland could be good to folks who plug him in as a cheap DFS option or desperation QB2/Superflex. Only Case Keenum failed to account for two scores against them this year in 13 games and even Keenum had a rushing score, which is possible for Driskel because of his athleticism. If you need any more encouragement to exploit this matchup, Josh Rosen, Nick Mullens, and Ryan Tannehill all threw for three scores against Oakland.
Josh Johnson (at Jacksonville) - Johnson was one of the better plays of Week 14 in only 20 minutes of play. That was against a Giants defense that was in garbage time mode, but the Jaguars defense just looked like garbage against the Titans last week and could be January tee time setting mode. Johnson will give them some looks they haven’t seen as a strong runner and resourceful passer, and just might come through as a desperation QB2/Superflex or DFS GPP play.
Damien Williams (vs Los Angeles Chargers - Thursday) - Williams has been the second Chiefs running back to go from the waiver wire to our lineups in the last month. He doesn’t offer the per touch value add that Spencer Ware does and the team might not trust him to the extent that they trusted Ware, but Williams was effective in the red zone last week and he’s versatile. He’s worth an RB2/flex start in PPR leagues.
Justin Jackson (at Kansas City - Thursday) - Melvin Gordon III’s status is still uncertain, but the Chargers called up a running back from the practice squad this week, which suggests that Gordon might not be active this week. Even if he is, the team could take it easy if Gordon isn’t totally comfortable playing on his recently injured knee, which makes Jackson at least a flex even with an active Gordon. If Gordon is inactive, Jackson has a terrific matchup and looked like a difference maker in limited action against the Steelers two weeks ago. Kansas City’s run defense has been exploited by many teams this year and the Chargers should look to run the ball more to minimize the Chiefs possessions, which points towards Jackson getting a decent amount of work in any scenario.
Kenneth Dixon (vs Tampa Bay) - The reality is that Dixon is the most talented back on the Ravens roster, and now the coaches appear to be waking up to that. He outproduced Gus Edwards last week on about half of the touches, and after the game John Harbaugh said that Dixon’s role should grow. The Ravens should be able to remain run heavy against a fading Bucs team in front of a friendly home crowd. It only helps that the Bucs have allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing backfields in more than half of their games this year.
Doug Martin (at Cincinnati) - Martin has actually scored in three straight weeks, and he has a good matchup to make it four, and possibly even with a much better yardage line this week. You have to go all the way back to Week 1 to find a game where an opposing back didn’t score against the Bengals. Four of the last five and six of the last eight games opposing backs have accounted for multiple scores against Cincinnati, and they’ve allowed at least 100 rushing yards to opposing backs in four of the last five weeks, with two weeks of over 200 rushing yards allowed.
Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith (vs Arizona) - Coleman and Smith have low ceilings, but a touchdown and solid total yardage line is in the cards this week with the Cardinals visiting Atlanta. Opposing running backs have scored against Arizona in 11 out of 13 games, and the two games without running back scores were against a gimpy Matt Breida and an Oakland backfield that still accounted for 190 total yards. Opposing backfields have also averaged over eight receptions a game against Arizona over the last three games, with none coming in lower than six receptions to help the case for Coleman and Smith desperation flex plays in PPR leagues.
Robby Anderson (vs Houston - Saturday) - Anderson’s considerable talent came to surface last week despite the matchup against the Bills and Tre’Davious White, and this week he’ll get a much more vulnerable Texans secondary. Teams like the Giants, Dolphins, and Browns have all put up at least 200 receiving yards by wide receiver, and Andrew Luck went over 300 wide receiver yards in both matchups. The Texans haven’t limited the production of any top end wide receiver groups because they haven’t really faced any. Quincy Enunwa is out for this matchup, so Anderson should dominate targets.
DaeSean Hamilton/Tim Patrick (vs Cleveland - Saturday) - Denzel Ward is out again with a concussion, so the Broncos receivers will get to face the Browns without their #1 corner on Saturday. Courtland Sutton was supposed to be the #1 receiver when Emmanuel Sanders went out with a torn achilles, but Hamilton and Patrick both got more targets than him, and Sutton got banged up and played fewer snaps than them last week. He also had fewer snaps than Hamilton two weeks with Sanders on the field. Hamilton is the PPR play here with his route-running meshing well with Case Keenum’s penchant for the safe pass. Patrick is the boom/bust desperation play after showing up much better in the downfield passing game than Sutton last week.
Dede Westbrook (vs Washington) - Westbrook was maybe the lone bright spot for the Jaguars in their humiliating Week 14 loss at Tennessee. Cody Kessler was doing a good job of throwing on the move and placing the ball in good spots for Westbrook, including on his touchdown that featured one of the best toe taps of the season. This week, a demoralized Washington team that gave up three scores to Giants receivers last week is on tap. They also gave up two scores to Eagles receivers the week before that, and a huge game to Amari Cooper the week before that. They also allowed at least 200 receiving yards to opposing wideout groups for three straight weeks from Week 8 to 10.
Dante Pettis (vs Seattle) - Pettis has scored in three straight weeks, and one of those weeks he scored twice and hung 125 yards on his Week 15 opponent, Seattle. The Seahawks defense put on a show against the Vikings on Monday, but previously to that they had allowed a 100-yard game or wide receiver score in six straight games. Marvin Jones Jr and Brandin Cooks were two of the receivers to go for 100 or more during that stretch and they both combine the route running and speed that has made Pettis a December star so far.
Mohamed Sanu (vs Arizona) - Sanu isn’t a sexy play, but he’s a reliable bet for 4-6 catches against Arizona, and maybe more if Patrick Peterson shuts down Julio Jones like he did in 2016, when Jones went for 4-35 and Sanu collected 8-65. Taylor Gabriel also scored twice in that game, and his current counterpart Calvin Ridley has been struggling, which could cause Matt Ryan to favor Sanu over Ridley in progressions. Before facing the toothless Lions passing game last week, the Cardinals had allowed a wide receiver score in eight straight games.
Anthony Firkser (at New York Giants) - The Harvard rookie has been earning a lot of trust from Marcus Mariota lately, with at least three catches in four straight games, including a score in one and at least 40 receiving yards in three of them. The Giants defense has been soft against tight ends, allowing big weeks to nondescript groups like the ones the Texans and Saints roster and at least seven catches to opposing tight ends for four straight weeks before facing the Tarik Cohen spree and Mark Sanchez follies the last two weeks. Firkser is a fine high floor streamer this week.
Antonio Gates (at Kansas City - Thursday) - Gates has been a crapshoot play this week, but he could roll a seven in your lineup if you’re desperate. The Chargers backfield could be down to a third string starter at running back. Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler have accounted for 53 red zone opportunities this year, more than the rest of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends combined. If Philip Rivers is looking to turn the red zone into a comfort zone, Gates makes too much sense considering that they are one of the top touchdown hookups in NFL history. Did we mention that the Chiefs have given up five touchdowns to tight ends in the last three weeks? How about the fact that four of them went to Gerald Everett, Lee Smith, and Maxx Williams?
Vernon Davis (at Jacksonville) - Jordan Reed is likely out this week, which opens up Davis to be the #1 target for Josh Johnson with the best corner duo in the NFL likely blotting out a mediocre to poor wide receiver group. Davis had three receptions from Josh Johnson last week and Davis had either a touchdown or over 60 receiving yards in over half of the ten games that Reed missed last year. The Jaguars have given up seven scores to tight ends already this year, including touchdowns for Mo Alie-Cox, Dallas Goedert, and Jordan Leggett.