Looking back at week fourteen, we saw winter arrive on the East Coast and play havoc with the early games last Sunday. There was the blizzard in Philadelphia and the LeSean McCoy second half thrashing of the Lions. There were the wacky and unbelievable happenings in snowy Baltimore in which there were five touchdowns scored over the final 125 seconds of the game. There was the late comeback from the San Francisco to snatch a victory in at home over the Seattle Seahawks, the Geno Smith experience producing against the Oakland Raiders, and the New England Patriots found another way to come back and steal a win at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Week fourteen meant a chance to clinch a playoff spot or just cement a spot on the couch for the playoffs. Also, another week of fantasy football means another week of hits and misses from this column. The hits: Roddy White, LeGarrette Blount, Andre Holmes, Bobby Rainey, Rashard Mendenhall, Brandon Myers, Marques Colston, and Josh McCown. The rest are classified as misses.
Remember: This column is not designed to spotlight the top options at each position. If you are looking for advice on start/sit options or top players at a specific position, check out our rankings and other columns throughout the week. This is going to be a weekly spotlight of one player from each game this weekend that has a shot to be a nice flex or last starting option (a WR3 or RB3 for example). Will they all produce a large number of points? No. These are nice lottery tickets to fill in on your team and give you a chance to steal the win.
Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Ryan has had his ups and downs throughout the 2013 season with all of the injuries on the offensive end for the Falcons. This week he will get the cure all named the Washington Redskins defense and their mess of a team as a whole. At home and with a healthy Roddy White to sling the ball to, Matt Ryan will have a monster game and is a top five option at the position this Sunday. Ryan throws for 350 yards and three touchdowns in a dominating performance over the lost Redskins.
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
Jason Campbell (Cleveland Browns) – The Cowboys defense may have been the worst unit I have seen in a long time during the Monday night game this past week. But, the Bears were not too much better at certain points of the game. The Browns know that they will need to sling the ball around in order to keep up with the Bears offensive attack. They also know that the Bears defense is depleted from the injuries and can be picked apart. Campbell threw for 391 yards and three scores at New England a week ago. While he may not put up those numbers again, I like his chances for a spot playoff start on your fantasy team given that he has Josh Gordon on his side. Campbell throws for 290 yards and two scores.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Da’Rick Rogers (Indianapolis Colts) – According to ESPN.com, Rodgers was on the field for “68 percent of his team’s snaps in the loss to the Bengals.” That is pretty high for a guy that had no catches on the season entering week 14. The Colts must like something about this guy to put him on the field that much and he has a chance to carve out a legitimate role given the rest of the Colts receivers are struggling to produce at all. Rogers could be a useful flex play given the matchup against the struggling Houston Texans and the fact that Andrew Luck is willing to target him on a regular basis if necessary. Rogers gets four catches for 65 yards and a possible score.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) – Tannehill has been producing big time over the past few weeks in the air and on the ground. Against the Steelers in the snow, Tannehill ran three times for 56 yards and threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad in the conditions he was facing. This week he gets the Patriots who gave up almost 400 yards passing to Jason Campbell and the Cleveland Browns a week ago. The best part of Tannehill is the fact that he is a pass/run option and has the ability to make people miss in the open field (former college receiver). I believe he will make things happen in both regards against a susceptible Patriots defense. Tannehill totals 270 yards passing and two touchdowns with 45 yards on the ground.
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Greg Jennings (Minnesota Vikings) – According to ESPN.com, “in the four games in which Matt Cassel has started or seen significant playing time, Jennings has been targeted 33 times, resulting in 21 receptions and three touchdowns.” Guess who is starting for the Vikings this week … it’s Matt Cassel. Jennings pulled in five for 53 yards in the blizzard in Baltimore a week ago. Now, as he gets back into the dome, Jennings has a chance to produce against one of the worst pass coverage teams in the NFL (Eagles are 31st in the NFL). Jennings gets five catches for 75 yards and a score.
Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants
Luke Willson (Seattle Seahawks) – Willson has the size and athleticism to be a big matchup problem to an opposing secondary. Luke Willson caught three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers a week ago. With Zach Miller banged up and questionable to play on Sunday, Willson has the chance to step up and take a bigger role in the offense. The Giants defense has come back to their struggling ways from earlier in the season and this is good news for the Seahawks making the cross country trip. Willson finds some holes in the secondary and gets three catches for 45 yards.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jordan Todman (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Maurice Jones-Drew is doubtful against the Bills and this means the running load is going to fall onto the shoulders of Todman. The Bills have been very weak against the opposing run games over their past few games, including a Bobby Rainey gashing touchdown a week ago. While Todman does not have the most explosive talent, he will be consistent enough to get 75 yards and a score against the Bills at home.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Phil Dawson (San Francisco 49ers) – After the early season lack of field goal opportunities, the 49ers have returned to their old ways of getting their kickers many chances at field goals throughout the game by stalling in the red zone over and over. Dawson has converted these chances to get seven field goals in the last two games. Tampa’s defense will provide some resistance to the 49ers attack and give Dawson another three field goals on the day.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Rashad Jennings (Oakland Raiders) – Rashad Jennings is practicing this week and Darren McFadden is not. This means that Jennings will get the full load of running attempts to further his dominating performance since taking over that role on the offense. While the Raiders struggle to pick a starting quarterback, they will need to rely on Jennings to pound the ball and move the chains. The Chiefs defense will provide a tough test, but Jennings gets 75 yards rushing and a touchdown.
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers
Chris Ivory (New York Jets) – Often seen as a flex play, I like Ivory more as a high RB2/low RB1 against the Panthers this Sunday. Geno Smith on the road is something that is a truly scary sight and the Jets will need to limit his opportunities to make mistakes against a top notch Panthers defensive unit. They will utilize the running game in order to control the clock and keep Cam Newton off the field. Ivory will get 20 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
Andrew Quarless (Green Bay Packers) – You are starting the usual Packers on offense as they face what is the worst defense in the league, the Dallas Cowboys. In addition, I see Quarless as a sneaky play at the tight end position this Sunday. He caught six passes for 66 yards and a score against the Falcons a week ago. The Cowboys defense is beaten and tattered off of the embarrassment on Monday night. Quarless will find some holes and get five catches for 60 yards and a possible score.
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans
Rashard Mendenhall (Arizona Cardinals) – As long as Mendenhall keeps finding the end zone, he will remain a nice flex play for your fantasy team. He notched 41 yards and a score against the Rams last Sunday. Now, he gets to face a weak run defense in the Tennessee Titans. Yes, he does split time with Andre Ellington. But, Mendenhall gets the red zone carries on a weekly basis. He gets 50 yards and a score on Sunday.
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams
Jared Cook (St. Louis Rams) – Going with a shot in the dark here with Cook. He has gotten six targets for three catches and 49 receiving yards in each of the last two games. The Rams will need to keep on slinging the ball in order to keep up with the New Orleans offense. Cook needs to step up and play a major role for the Rams offense as Kellen Clemens keeps trying to find him. Cook has a chance to be a sleeper in deep leagues this week by getting four catches for 55 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati Bengals) – He is in a time share in Cincinnati with Giovani Bernard, but that has not stopped him from getting three scores in the last two games. While Bernard provides the flash, Green-Ellis gives the Bengals the tough inside running, especially in the red zone. The Steelers have shown some weakness stopping the run (giving up 120 yards per game) and this can provide Green-Ellis another chance at a solid day. He gets 60 yards and a score on Sunday night.
Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions
Kris Durham (Detroit Lions) – Durham was shut out in the blizzard last week, but now returns to the warm and cozy dome on Monday night. Matthew Stafford and the Lions have shown that there is no letting up on their reliance on the passing attack. Durham provides Stafford with another big target in the passing game and he will look towards Durham throughout the night. Durham gets four catches for 50 yards.
As you head out into the rest of week fifteen in the NFL, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. This is all about filling that last flex spot in your starting lineup with a guy that has a good matchup or a solid chance of production. These guys are my best options for that to occur. I wish everyone luck in their fifteenth week of the season and hope your team continues the playoffs with another dominating performance.