Andy Dalton (at CLE) - Dalton is an easy call this week even though he is not going to have AJ Green or Giovani Bernard. He was lights out against the Philadelphia without those two weapons last week, and in Week 14 he draws the feeble Browns defense. Only a sinking Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ben Roethlisberger playing in high winds failed to post multiple scoring passes against the Browns. Dalton himself had 308 yards and two scores on only 28 attempts in his first matchup with the Browns this year.
Joe Flacco (at NE) - Flacco has momentum, as he is coming off of his best outing of the year, a 381-yard, four touchdown effort against the Miami Dolphins. This week, he travels to Foxboro to face a defense that recently surrendered multiple passing scores to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick. The Patriots pass defense looks ok on paper, but they haven’t faced stiff competition this year. Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton both accounted for multiple scores against them, and Russell Wilson threw for three scores in Foxboro. Flacco should be good enough to at least be a high floor streamer, with shootout upside potential.
Robert Griffin III III (vs CIN) - It’s not 100% certain Griffin will start, but all reports point towards his being re-installed as long as he doesn’t have a disastrous week of practice. He always has the risk of rust and in-game injury, but Griffin also comes with the upside of a swift running quarterback who will take multiple deep shots to Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman. Consider Griffin your biggest boom/bust quarterback play this week as long as the weather in Cleveland isn’t too harsh.
Brock Osweiler (at IND) - Don’t laugh. Osweiler actually had 269 and two touchdowns in the first meeting with the Colts, and he has been playing mediocre to adequate football lately. Andrew Luck is at home and clicking with all of his receivers, who are healthy right now. Chances are Osweiler will have to open up the pass offense and should have success against a Colts pass defense that was very generous to opposing quarterback until they faced the Jets last week. Before that matchup, three of the last four teams to face the Colts posted three passing touchdowns.
Dion Lewis (vs BAL) - Lewis was trending up in snaps and touches in his first two weeks back, but his growth as a fantasy option stopped in Week 13. That is, if you look at the stat line. The reality is that Lewis actually had all but one of his touches in the first half. If the game with the Rams was competitive, he might have notched 15 or more touches. This week he gets the Ravens #1 ranked run defense, which likely means less Blount and more of Lewis and James White. This is the week to unleash Lewis in PPR leagues.
Derrick Henry (vs DEN) - The Broncos are known for their pass defense, but their run defense gets a pass because it isn’t examined or tested as often. The Raiders recently gashed the Broncos for over 200 rushing yards, and even the lowly Jaguars had two different backs go over 50 yards last week. The best game plan for the exotic smashmouth Titans is lots of running. Demarco Murray has been slowing down and the team was reportedly discussing using backup Derrick Henry more in short yardage. He already has 60 yards and a score in two of the last four games, and that stretch included a calf injury. The Titans could come out of the bye with a lot more Henry and the Broncos are the perfect opponent to spring him on.
Rob Kelley (at PHI) - Kelley has been quiet for two weeks now, but those were both losses that saw the team playing from behind for long stretches. Against the unraveling Eagles this week, Washington has a good chance to control this game and get Kelley at least 20 carries and a good shot at a score, if not more than one. The team has said that they want to get Kelley more involved, the Eagles are unlikely to throw off their plan.
Rex Burkhead (at CLE) - Burkhead was much more effective than Jeremy Hill last week on fewer touches. Against the Browns this week, he could follow in the footsteps of backup running backs who have unusually large opportunity against Cleveland. Four of the last six teams to face the Browns gave their backs at least 30 carries, and the fifth and sixth had 28 and 24 running back rush attempts. Burkhead isn’t a strong option, but 60-80 total yards with a shot at a garbage time score is a reasonable outcome for him.
Justin Forsett (at TEN) - It is very risky to plug in a player in his first week playing for a team, but Forsett isn’t in his first week playing for Gary Kubiak. He had the best season of his career by far playing for Kubiak in Baltimore in 2014, and Forsett’s understanding of the zone blocking running scheme is refined to say the least. Devontae Booker has been constantly banged up and underperforming and at least one Denver beat writer opined that Kapri Bibbs was poised to overtake Booker before he got, necessitating the signing of Forsett.
Robby Anderson (at SF) - Anderson is deep sleeper this week, but one that could come through with one of the biggest scores of Week 14 if he is used in the same way he was in Week 13 and Bryce Petty is better throwing the deep ball. Anderson had 12 targets, including many deep balls that saw him separate from coverage only for Petty to miss him. The San Francisco pass defense is among the worst in the league, so the lapses for Anderson to convert big plays will be there. Even with Petty’s inefficiency last week, Anderson still had a 40-yard score.
Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd (at CLE) - Take out the wind-aided loss to Pittsburgh, and the Browns have allowed passing scores to multiple wide receivers in four of the past six games. One of the off games was Jason Witten’s huge outburst in Week 9, and the other was a Ryan Fitzpatrick game on his way swirling down the drain. Andy Dalton played one of his best games of the year last week against Philadelphia, including a score to LaFell as part of a 5-95 line and 4-66 from Boyd. Both are high floor plays with a strong WR2 ceiling.
Ty Montgomery (vs SEA) - Montgomery resumed his role as the shotgun back in the second half of the win over the Texans last week after James Starks and Christine Michael fizzled out. He was successful with 35 yards on five carries, and it follows that the Packers would allow him to play the role for the whole game against the tough Seahawks defense in Week 14. Montgomery comes with the risk of an uncertain role and maybe even a snap count related to his sickle cell condition, but Montgomery also has a high PPR ceiling and he has been a good fit as both a runner and receiver when Packers go to a spread offense.
Will Fuller V (at IND) - Fuller is coming on, with two games of at least 59 receiving yards and four catches in the last two weeks. He is getting healthy-ish just in time for the showdown with the Colts. He missed the Week 6 win over the Colts when Brock Osweiler actually threw for 259 yards and two scores. Fuller will be facing a Colts pass defense that let Robby Anderson get loose deep more than once last week, resulting in a 40-yard score and another almost big play that Anderson couldn’t hold onto, so the speedy Texans deep threat should have a chance to make your fantasy week with one play more than once.
Malcolm Mitchell (vs BAL) - Three weeks is enough of a sample size to posit a bona fide trend. Here’s the trend with Mitchell over the last three games - if you play him, he rewards you. His snaps and targets both topped out in Week 13 without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, and it was his weakest game in the last three because he only had eight catches for 82 yards. Mitchell scored three times in the two previous games, and he should have frequent targets and chances to scores against the Ravens defense that encourages opponents to test their secondary more often than their defensive line.
Taylor Gabriel (at LA) - You might have forgotten Gabriel after he failed to score for the first time in five games in Week 13. He still had three red zone touches and was tackled at the one yard line in the loss to the Chiefs. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu are both banged up, so it’s not a stretch to see Gabriel getting a bigger opportunity this week against the Rams defense that has allowed six touchdowns to receivers in the last three weeks.
Vance McDonald (vs NYJ) - Many were burned by McDonald last week and might have trouble going back to him in Week 14. Colin Kaepernick is back at quarterback, and he should favor McDonald again. The bay area won’t see the cold weather and snow that slowed down Kaepernick and the Jets don’t seem inclined to slow down a tight end after Dwayne Allen easily scored three times against them on Monday night.
Coby Fleener (at TB) - Fleener’s weeks had been mostly landmines in our lineups until recently, when he put together 4-59 and 5-86 weeks in back-to-back games. He won’t have to share targets with Josh Hill in Week 14 because Hill is out with a broken fibula. The Saints will travel to Tampa to face the Buccaneers, who have still been giving up points to opposing tight ends while their defense has been surging. Jimmy Graham had 6-67 on an afternoon when nothing else worked for the Seahawks offense and Travis Kelce’s three 100-yard game streak began against the Buccaneers. Fleener’s floor and ceiling are high enough to merit a start this week and throughout the fantasy playoffs.
Jermaine Gresham (at MIA) - The Cardinals don’t throw enough to the tight end to make their starter fantasy relevant - at least that’s what we thought coming into this year. Along the way, Michael Floyd, JJ Nelson, and John Brown battled injuries and inconsistent play, and Arizona looked to Gresham to pick up the slack. He has had five catches in back-to-back games, and this week he faces the Miami defense that just gave up a 9-90-2 line to Dennis Pitta, who hadn’t scored all year heading into Week 13. The Dolphins have actually allowed five scores to tight ends over the last four weeks, so Gresham has a real chance to score for the second time in three weeks.
Lance Kendricks (vs ATL) - Kendricks had a five-game run between Weeks 4-9 that established him as a somewhat reliable fantasy play despite being in a poor offense. He has been quiet since Jared Goff took over, although Kendricks did post a 4-51-1 line against the Saints in Week 12. Week 14 is setting him up for another good game, as the Falcons offense could stake the road team to a lead and force Goff to throw more. If and when he does, he’ll be challenging a defense that has given up seven scores to tight ends this season. Nine different tight ends have had at least five catches and 35 yards against the Falcons this year. It’s clearly one of the matchup to exploit, the only question is whether Goff can effectively do it.
Dwayne Allen (vs HOU) - Allen might seem like an obvious play coming off of a three-score game against the Jets, but he is facing a Texans defense that has only allowed three scores and two games over 50 receiving yards to tight ends this year. The good news if you are considering Allen is that one of the scores and 50+ yard games came from Jack Doyle in Week 6 when Allen went down with an ankle injury. All in all, the Colts tight ends combined for seven catches and 104 yards that day. Allen could buck the trend with a hot Andrew Luck at the helm.
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