Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.
ARIZONA AT ATLANTA
Falcons running back Tevin Coleman’s disappointing season has been discussed at great lengths, but things have gotten even worse for the impending free agent over the past two weeks. Rookie running back Ito Smith has earned more touches in each of the past two weeks and has routinely looked like the better option. Smith has been dealing with a knee injury that has him questionable for this game, while Coleman may have cost himself a chance at a huge free agent contract.
The Cardinals are just playing out a terrible season. Rookie receiver Christian Kirk is on the injured reserve list. Superstar running back David Johnson has struggled despite a coaching change. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has only two fantasy finishes inside the top 20 scorers at his position. These are the types of games where teams take an extended look at young players. That began last week as undrafted rookie receiver Trent Sherfield led the Cards with 77 yards on five receptions last week. This is the time of year dynasty owners are searching for players to stash for the off-season and Sherfield could be a good option.
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TAMPA BAY AT BALTIMORE
This was the week that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh finally admitted that rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson was the team’s starter even as veteran Joe Flacco is finally healthy. This could mean that Flacco’s time with the team is coming to an end as he will surely not be happy serving as a backup for the remainder of his three years under contract with Baltimore. In his four starts, Jackson has weekly finishes of QB13, QB15, QB11 and QB12. Flacco also has four games inside the top 15 fantasy scorers, though it took him nine starts to get there.
Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson will once again miss the Buccaneers game with a thumb injury. This will give another opportunity to second-year receiver Chris Godwin, who managed just one catch on ten targets last week. That performance is not as bad as it seems when you consider that only one of those ten passes was deemed catchable, per Pro Football Focus. Facing the Ravens, this might not be the week to gamble on Godwin as Baltimore has allowed only three WR1 games this season.
DETROIT AT BUFFALO
The. Bills have been eliminated from playoff contention, making their move to dump veteran receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes a couple weeks ago a wise one. That transaction allowed more time for young receivers Zay Jones, Robert Foster and Isaiah McKenzie. Since the team’s week 11 bye, that trio has produced four top-24 fantasy receiver games. With rookie quarterback Josh Allen putting up better numbers as a runner than a passer, the upside is limited for these three wideouts but all are worth watching and stashing as the off-season nears.
Although the Lions remain mathematically alive for a playoff spot, they are yet another team simply playing out the season. The Lions will be without running back Kerryon Johnson and wide receiver Bruce Ellington and quarterback Matthew Stafford is questionable for the game, though he is expected to play. Under new head coach Matt Patricia, the Lions have tried to transform themselves into a run-heavy team, resulting in one of Stafford’s worst seasons of his career. With almost no options in the passing game, it is difficult to see Stafford turning things around in the final three weeks.
GREEN BAY AT CHICAGO
Through the first nine games of the season, Bears tight end Trey Burton was a TE1 six times, making good on the breakout season that many had projected after he signed with Chicago as a free agent following last season. Over the past month though, Burton has been a complete non-factor, combining for just seven receptions in four games and posting fantasy finishes of TE38, TE30, TE51 and TE31. The Packers have been pretty stingy against opposing tight ends this season too, making Burton’s outlook even worse.
The Packers are in a difficult spot, facing the Bears defense in a must-win situation, trying to keep their paper-thin playoff hopes alive. The Bears have allowed only three top-ten fantasy games to opposing quarterbacks all season and none since week seven. I realize many fantasy players rely on the “start your studs” theory but this is a difficult spot to trust Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
OAKLAND AT CINCINNATI
Even in a lost season for the Bengals, sophomore running back Joe Mixon continues his high level of play. Last week, Mixon played one of his best games, finishing as the RB5 thanks to 138 total yards and a touchdown. This week’s matchup at home against the Raiders should be much kinder, giving Mixon an excellent chance to produce his seventh RB1 game of the season. Mixon will draw consideration late in the first round of dynasty startup drafts this off-season.
One player I am becoming enamored with late in the season is Oakland running back Jalen Richard. The speedy pass-catching specialist is enduring a cold streak with a pair of weekly finished outside of the top 50 fantasy backs in two of the past three games. With that said, he’s shown some exciting ability this season, catching 84% of his targets, which is third-best among running backs with at least 30 targets. Like Amari Cooper before him, I am starting to hope Richard gets an opportunity with another team and he will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
DALLAS AT INDIANAPOLIS
The Colts are just barely on the outside looking in at the final wildcard spot in the AFC. That makes this game against the Cowboys a must win. Making the task even more difficult is the iffy status of star wideout T.Y. Hilton, who exploded for 199 yards last week. Hilton is dealing with an ankle injury that has him listed as questionable and kept him out of practice all week. Though it is a very small sample size, Luck has actually averaged more fantasy points this season in the two games Hilton missed than the 11 he’s played. Regardless, this matchup will be a difficult one against the Cowboys defense that has only allowed three QB1 games all season.
Despite the success of so many Cowboys over the past few weeks, it is impossible to ignore what wide receiver Amari Cooper has done in his six games with Dallas. During that span, Cooper leads all receivers in fantasy points, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. As a result, his dynasty value is quickly recovering from the purgatory that was Oakland. Last week, Cooper scored three times and put up a career-high 217 yards. This matchup won’t be as easy though as the Colts have allowed one WR1 game on the season.
WASHINGTON AT JACKSONVILLE
The Jaguars are planning to move on from benched quarterback Blake Bortles this off-season, which is no surprise at this point. They also gave up a mid-round draft pick for veteran running back Carlos Hyde, who didn’t even see a carry last week. This string of poor front office decisions have handcuffed the Jags on the field. This week might be their last chance at a strong fantasy performance as they face the beaten down Redskins, who allowed 40 points to the Giants last week, the first time they had put up that many points since week eight of the 2015 season. This could mean another RB1 game for Leonard Fournette, who struggled last week and was suspended for the previous game.
I’m not really sure the Redskins have anything to look forward to in this game, or even the rest of the season, and maybe longer. Bother quarterback Alex Smith and rookie running back Derrius Guice are dealing with the effects of infection following their respective season-ending surgeries, while tight end Jordan Reed is unlikely to play the remainder of the season. Receiver Josh Doctson and running back Chris Thompson are both questionable for this game. No team is more ready for the season to end. Oh, and by some miracle, the Redskins are actually still in the playoff hunt.
MIAMI AT MINNESOTA
The Dolphins are surely still feeling the effects of their amazing comeback win last week, defeating the Patriots with no time remaining on the clock. That game featured a huge performance from wide receiver Kenny Stills, who struggled during the weeks quarterback Ryan Tannehill was out of the lineup. Stills looked strong in week one but it took until last week for him to post another 100-yard game with his 8/135/1 game against the Pats. Stills has averaged only 4.8 fantasy points in games without Tannehill this year compared to 13.1 fantasy points with him.
After a frustrating performance in week 14, the Vikings canned offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who was being pegged as a head coaching candidate just a few weeks ago. He was replaced by Kevin Stefanski, though most expect head coach Mike Zimmer to be making the key decisions. Zimmer wants to establish the run, which could be good news for Dalvin Cook. Cook has endured a frustrating second season, filled with injuries and inefficient performances. Cook has been held to 40 rushing yards or less in five of his eight games and hadn’t logged an RB1 game until week 13.
TENNESSEE AT NEW YORK GIANTS
Last week, the Titans lost tight end Jonnu Smith for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This will mean more opportunity for another second-year tight end Anthony Firkser, who was already eating into Smith’s playing time. After playing sparingly for most of the season, the Harvard product began seeing serious time a month ago. Once Smith exited the game last week, Firkser saw a season-high 40% of the offensive snaps. He’s also been a top-18 fantasy scorer in three of the past four games.
For the second straight week, the Giants will be without superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham, who is dealing with a quad injury and simply seems ready for the season to end. The Titans defense has not been easy on opposing offenses, having allowed only seven top-24 performances to opposing backs, the second-best number in the league. They’ll have the work cut out for them against rookie Saquon Barkley, who is widely considered the best back in the league already. Barkley has also risen to the top spot in our latest dynasty ADP data, leapfrogging Rams back Todd Gurley.
SEATTLE AT SAN FRANCISCO
The Seahawks will be without rookie running back Rashaad Penny, who is dealing with a knee injury. While Penny has provided only a minimal roadblock for second-year starter Chris Carson, this matchup with the 49ers is an ideal spot for a running back. San Francisco has allowed 11 top-24 fantasy games to opposing backs and Carson has four straight games as fantasy RB2.
The 49ers are expected to have running back Matt Breida back on the field and it will be interesting to see how the backfield touches are distributed between he and Jeff Wilson, who has finished as the RB8 and RB28 over the past two games while Breida was on the sidelines.
NEW ENGLAND AT PITTSBURGH
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has endured a disappointing season, by his standards. Last week, Brady enjoyed his best game of the season, passing for 358 yards and three touchdowns and finishing as the QB1 for the week. He’ll need that much and more to defeat the Steelers and clinch the AFC East for yet another year.
There was a sliver of hope in the middle of the week but as the huge AFC game nears, it has become apparent that the Steelers will be without starting running back James Conner again this week. Rookie Jaylen Samuels is expected to get the start again with veteran Stevan Ridley being mixed in against his former team. The Ridley “revenge game” narrative is somewhat interesting, but Samuels has the upside. Even with only 11 carries for 28 yards last week, Samuels managed an RB14 finish, thanks to his perfect seven for seven as a receiver, good for 64 yards.
PHILADELPHIA AT LOS ANGELES RAMS
We learned this week that Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz has a fractured vertebra in his back and will be shut down for the remainder of the season. With the Eagles all but eliminated from playoff contention, this is not a surprising decision given the injury. That puts Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP and the player who started the season for Philly, back under center. This will be a huge opportunity for Foles, who will be a free agent this off-season. He should already be on a roster in super-flex leagues.
The Rams enter this Sunday night game coming off their second loss of the season as they struggled to get their offense going against the Bears last week. Though they are still in position to claim a bye, the Rams defense is becoming a major concern. Dating back to their week nine loss to the Saints, the Rams have a pair of losses, close wins over Kansas City and Seattle and a 14-point win over the struggling Lions. If the Eagles and Foles make this close, there is reason to panic in Los Angeles.
NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA
Though the Panthers are mired in a five-game losing streak that has them in danger of missing the playoffs, there is a lot of good news coming out of Carolina for dynasty owners. Second-year receiver Curtis Samuel and rookies D.J. Moore and Ian Thomas have been bright spots over the past month. Samuel’s role has been steadily increasing and he’s finished as the WR34 or better in each of the past four games. The rookie Moore has obviously taken over the role as Carolina’s WR1 and he too has finished as a fantasy WR3 or better in each game in the past month. Thomas took over for an injured Greg Olsen and has back to back games as a TE1. Olsen himself managed only three top-12 fantasy games through the entire season.
Saints rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith remains an enigma. The early-season injury to veteran Ted Ginn offered Smith the chance at serious playing time, though he’s often failed to turn that into fantasy points. Smith has shown massive upside with WR5 and WR3 finishes this year but he’s finished outside of the top 30 receivers in every other game this year, including six games in which he failed to record a catch. Facing the shaky Panthers defense might look like a good spot for Smith but he has only six receptions on the road this season. Smith caught ten passes in week 11 and 12 catches in all other games combined.
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