Don't let Kaepernick's big game fool you - He's a fantasy disaster


NFL Trends


 — From Weeks 11-16, Peyton Manning was the 20th ranked Fantasy PPG (4pts per pass TD) QB, just behind Mark Sanchez. How the mighty have fallen! If Denver gets bounced in the first-round of the playoffs, then I think the odds Peyton retires is like 30-70…and that will send shockwaves through many Dynasty/Fantasy entities (Demaryius, Julius, Sanders, et al).

 — Jermaine Gresham has 4 TDs in his last five games. His yards and reception counts have been so-so (until MNF), but he is scoring TDs. In the critical game in Week 17, he is a suddenly hot TE option.



 — HOU is still in the playoff hunt, and faces JAC at home this week. Blake Bortles is going to get destroyed by the Texans defense that has its secondary healthy again—plus that Watt guy.

 — It hasn’t mattered all FF-year, BUT Bishop Sankey could take 15+ touches against an Indy defense that has nothing to play for this week. Antonio Andrews probably sees some time too.



 — I would be FF-worried that Mark Sanchez gets the start, and then Matt Barkley then comes in quickly—or at least playing the 2nd-half. Philly has nothing to play for in Week 17.

 — Zach Ertz catch counts in each game since Sanchez took over, before his 15 catch game in Week 16: 1-1-4-4-0-2-1. Week 16 was a blip…plus you might have Matt Barkley a lot in Week 17. Be careful of the trap of looking at last week alone with Ertz.

 — Silas Redd fell off in the ‘Roy Helu role’ in Week 16, and there was a move to Chris Thompson as the RB target guy—Thompson had 3 targets, Redd zero last week. Thompson would be an option for deep NFL fantasy sleepers for PPR in Week 17.



 — Honestly, I missed this. I watched SD-SF, and thought Colin Kaepernick had some huge, splashy game. He broke the long run in that game, which was FF-cool, but did you know he had just 114 yards passing with 1 TD/0 INT. Even in an offensive explosion, he's an awful passer and a far cry from the list of best fantasy football keepers.

 — Dontrelle Inman could be the secret weapon against KC this week: 7 catches for 79 yards on 9 targets in Week 16, his debut…or he is is a weapon that gets ignored. Philip Rivers has shown before that he’ll stick with his tried and true guys.

 — FYI, the best RB the Chargers had Saturday…Ronnie Brown. He might take a shock amount of work Week 17.



 — Damien Williams: 6 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD on 6 targets in this game. Those are obviously nice numbers, but I was impressed with the way he was catching the ball. I never noticed how nice a receiver he was. My bad. Nice hands. He could be a Week 17 sleeper on more carries to go along with this growing role in the passing game.

 — IDP Dion Jordan…memba him? He had 5 tackles and 1 sack last week…a sign of life for the former #3 overall draft pick in 2013.

 — Charles Johnson catch counts since his Week 11 ‘breakout’: 3-2-4-5-3. Man, do I wish the Vikings would go to another level with Cordarrelle Patterson.



 — Torrey Smith 10 TDs in his last 11 games. How much has he raised his pending free agency value? Honestly, he has really not done much more than be ‘the guy on the field’. I haven’t seen him taking tops off defense or dominating opponents—I’ve just seen him open as Steve Smith gets a lot of coverage heat.

 — Justin Forsett’s last three games rushing numbers: 13.3 carries for 46.0 yards (3.5 ypc) per game.

 — IDP D.J. Swearinger is supposed to be a big tackle producer, but in his last six games: 4.2 tackles per game.



 — After several weeks of being inactive, or barely used…Reggie Bush took over the lead role early in the game last week: 7 targets, 6 catches, 98 total yards and 1 TD. He’s back to ‘normal’ (whatever that means) for Week 17.

 — Last two weeks for IDP rookie LB Christian Jones: 12.0 tackles per game as a starter. He’s got nice odds of 10+ tackles again this week. I’m not a huge fan long-term, but he’s working right now.

 — After racking up five 100+ yard games from Weeks 4-10, Golden Tate has not hit the century mark in his last six games. He’s been under 65 yards in three straight games.



 — IDP DT Kawann Short in the last three weeks: 3.3 tackles, 0.7 sacks per game

 — IDP rookie CB Pierre Desir in his first heavy playing time Week 16: 7 solo tackles, 2 PDs

 — I have not trusted Jonathan Stewart since DeAngelo Williams went down, but in his last four weeks: 19.5 carries, 109.3 yards, 5.6 ypc per game. I was the fool. Foolish because I love Stewart, I’m just so used to holding an empty bag with him. I back on his side, which means he’ll have one of his limbs ripped off on the first play this week.

 — He missed a game, and had a BYE, but from Weeks 11-16…Cam Newton has been the highest scoring (PPG) QB in Fantasy (4pts per pass TD)—22.8 PPG.



 — Jacquizz Rodgers took the majority of carries with Steven Jackson down in this game, but I’ll take Devonta Freeman for FF-output in Week 17. Freeman out-gained Rodgers 84-32 yards in this game.

 — I’d be worried about anything Saints-related on offense this week. I can’t imagine Drew Breeswill play much, if at all this week. Anyone normal would sit Brees in Week 17, but if I know the NFL…he’ll play most of the game risking the entire franchise’s future.



 — The last two weeks of IDP Safety Brad McDougal: 12.0 tackles, 0.5 PDs per game. This has developed out of nowhere. He started out in college (Kansas) as a WR, but moved to Safety and racked up 182 tackles in his final two seasons. He has bounced around the NFL a little, but has made a splash the last two weeks. He’s a solid, not special athlete, but has great instincts and is a willing tackler.

 — Charles Sims last three weeks of rushing yards in games: -4, 34, -1. He is averaging 2.4 yards per carry. I told you…

He is a solid receiver at RB, though.

 — Josh McCown’s last five games: 4 TD/7 INT…10 TD/13 INT on the season. It is criminal that he is still playing QB for Tampa.

A new season of “Play The Draft” is coming in January 2015. Look for our FFM contest and prize package to be announced soon. Play The Draft’ website 



 — Last three weeks for Albert Wilson: 4.0 rec. for 69.7 yards on 6.7 targets per game. He is becoming more integrated each week.

 — The last five games of catches for Martavis Bryant: 2-1-4-3-1 (2.2 per game). He’s rapidly becoming Terrance Williams for FF.

 — Shock number: How many times has Jamaal Charles rushed for 100+ yards this season? How about…once. Week 11 against Seattle. Just one rushing TD in his last five games as well.



 — In his last nine games, IDP Jamie Collins is averaging: 8.3 tackles, 0.8 stuffs, 0.2 Forced Fumbles. Every time I looked up at this game…Collins was in the middle of the action.

 — If Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady steps foot on the field in Week 17, I will absolutely lose my mind.

 — Assuming the Pats play Week 17 as a preseason game, Jimmy Garoppolo is a decent play, and Brandon Bolden is one of the best fantasy sleeper picks as well.

 — IDP Calvin Pryor with more playing time Week 16: Nine tackles in this game (but only 3 solo).



 — Rookie NYG IDP Devon Kennard over the past six games: 5.7 tackles, 0.8 stuffs, 0.3 Forced Fumbles per game. He’s a deep sleeper IDP for Week 17.

 — Finally, Kenny Britt makes me look good after getting excited about his situation weeks ago…and it’s also happening once I gave up on him. He had a career high 9 catches for 103 yards in this game. Thanks!!

No thanks against Seattle this week.

 — Rookie NYG IDP Kerry Winn the last two weeks: 5.0 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 PD, 0.5 INTs per game.



 — Buffalo’s run defense is terrific, as we all know. The Bills had a ton to play for in Week 16.Latavius Murray ran like a boss against them. He is going to be a star—and thus, our computer scouting models are genius. You thought we were crazy ranking Murray as a #1-2 RB in the 2013 draft class with Le’Veon Bell?

We’re only about two weeks away from College Football Metrics opening for 2015!! Can you believe it?

 — This game marks Sammy Watkins having three or fewer catches in five of his last six games, and under 75 yards receiving in six of his last seven. He did score a TD for the first time in seven weeks.

 — IDP Miles Burris the last six weeks (much of this with Sio Moore hurt): 7.2 tackles per game, and 13 tackles in this contest.



 — It is possible Zurlon Tipton will get 15-20+ touches in Week 17. After all, he was the top Indy RB last week!! It was in garbage time.

If they announce he is starting this week, you know…I’m all in for Week 17. I don’t place Tipton on a level with a Latavius Murray. I just think he is really good (one of the best in the 2014 NFL Draft), and is more talented on anyone on the Colts right now.

 — Donte Moncrief is one of the most overrated WRs from the 2014 NFL Draft. He’s OK, but football analysts act as if he is up with the top guys in the class. He’s been a joke when Indy most needed him this season. In the last three games: 5 catches on 11 targets for 38 yards…total in all three.

 — Terrance Williams drives me nuts. He has 0-2 catches in a game in nine of his last 10 games, and 11 of his last 13 games. He has yet to hit 80+ yards in a game this season. He does have 8 TDs this season…on his 34 catches YTD.


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 — These are the kind of moves that matter…

The #1 Fantasy scorer (4 pts per game) in total FF-points from Week 9-16 is…Russell Wilson.

He was also #1 in Fantasy PPR (4pts per pass TD) from Weeks 11-16, among those QBs who did not miss a game (Cam was 0.1 higher in PPR but missed a game with injury).

All these time ranges were at the same time I was proclaiming Wilson as your only hope to take down Luck-Rodgers for the future in Dynasty. Guess what? He took them out this year down the stretch. He single-handled saved many of our Fantasy seasons.

Hey, we do the best you can in the draft leading into the season, but this makes two years I have delivered some major gifts to you at QB mid-season: Foles last year, Wilson this year. Those who took my draft advice of two QBs before others get their first…if your 2nd one was Wilson…how’d that work out? Guess, not taking that 3rd RB in the 7th-round of a redraft worked out after all!

 — Let me just say this: If Logan Thomas starts, and plays a full game, he will get sacked a minimum of 5x. I wish he was playing a DST that needed the Week 17 game, because then he might go down 10x.

 — Sure, now Luke Willson does something. I cry about him on and off for two years, to no avail, but as soon as I strike him from my mind—two TDs and 139 yards this week. It’s a blip—he only had three targets. There is no uprising here, as much as I’d like to see one.


R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM

Panthers, Falcons battle for the NFC South


How strange is it that the 9-6 Eagles are already out of the playoffs, but the team to make it from the NFC South will be below .500 for the season? To put this into perspective, 19 other teams (more than half the league) would be in first place if they played in the NFC South including the Browns, Bills, Dolphins and Niners.

Week 17 will feature multiple games of great importance, none more significant than the NFC South battle between the Panthers and the Falcons. The winner will take the division, while the loser misses out on the playoffs, and rightfully so. It may sound a little farfetched, but just because the teams feature weak records, does not mean they can't be effective in the playoffs.

The Panthers should beat the Falcons with ease as long as Cam Newton's healthy enough to play at an elite level, and could be dangerous in the postseason. In NFL player news, the Panthers running game is starting to come around, as Jonathan Stewart looks healthy and explosive, picking up 437 yards (on 5.6 yards per carry) and 2 total touchdowns in his last 4 games, which has been a treat for fantasy football owners. The running game provides some solid contrast to Cam Newton's passing attack, and they also have some talent on the other side of the field as well.

Carolina's overall defense can be stifling, as they rank 10th in allowing 343.3 total yards per contest. In the past 3 games in particular, their defense has been tremendous in giving up a combined 40 points (13.3 points per game).Their pass defense is especially good, ranking 9th in surrendering 228 passing yards per game, which will come in handy should they face off against the likes of Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, all NFL fantasy legends.

Expect Cam Newton and company to take down the Falcons in Week 17, and don't be surprised if they make a run in the playoffs.


Odell Beckham Jr. brought many fantasy owners to the promised land


NFL player news - 

1) Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Giants - And the award for the 2014 Fantasy Football Postseason MVP goes to (drum roll, please) Odell Beckham Jr. Averaging 26 points over the final three-game stretch, Beckham’s competitor was Dez Bryant, with 17. In four of my five leagues, the owner holding the trophy has Odell Beckham on their roster (including myself). Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Antonio Brown, Randall Cobb, Calvin Johnson, and even Marques Colston. Each of these guys deserves high praise for rock steady point production in the playoffs.

2) LeVeon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh - Had LeVeon Bell not dropped a 13 in the title game, he would have been the easy choice for MVP. However, with a 41.5 and 23.9 the two weeks prior, odds are Bell is the reason you’re playing in Week 16. DeMarco Murry also had a yeoman's effort on Sunday after playing through the obvious pain of a broken hand. Despite playing with one arm, Murray still delivered a courageous 11 NFL fantasy points.

3) Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks - While Beckham tore up the entire postseason, my Week 16 MVP goes to Marshawn Lynch. In what was supposed to be a brutal matchup in Arizona, Lynch went Beast Mode for a league best 23.3 fantasy points. I know of countless leagues won on his signature run. Credit is also due to a number of first round running backs who lived up to their billing. Finishing inside the top ten in postseason scoring we find Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte and Arian Foster. Running backs are still the foundation to a fantasy title

4) Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks - Remember the preseason, when everyone was saying “Russell Wilson can’t score. He plays in a run-based offense, behind a mediocre line, opposite a stout defense"? 846 rushing yards and six touchdowns later Wilson has finished 6th in fantasy scoring on the season. He saved his best for last, exploding in Weeks 14-16 producing 28.6 fantasy points, including a championship week best 39.75 points! BOOM.

5) Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys - Odds are if you limped into the playoffs starting Matt Ryan, Tony Romo or Eli Manning, the future was bleak. Struggling for most the season, each of these veteran signal callers looked more like a fading QB2, than a title contender. All they did was deliver elite level production finishing 2nd, 3rd and 5th in playoff fantasy scoring. The common bond; each has a stud WR1, a solid WR2, plays opposite a sub-par defense, while having a plus schedule (although Eli vs. St. Louis was unexpected). While Ryan produced a respectable 20 points on Sunday, if you started Manning or Romo, wear your ring proudly.

6) Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers - Preceded only by Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez (with much love to Mike Ditka and Kellen Winslow Sr.), Antonio Gates is amongst the forefathers of the tight end revolution. At the twilight of his career, when everyone said he was washed up and injury prone, Gates continues to show why he has a place reserved in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Finishing fourth in fantasy scoring on the year, Gates delivered a game for the ages Saturday night. When the smoke cleared, Gates had rewarded fantasy owners with an astounding 21 fantasy points. Amongst the greatest to ever put on a pair of cleats.

6) Joique Bell, RB, Lions - Although we are more than satisfied when elite players produce, it’s the outliers who show up late and elevate our team from good, to league champion . Winning the Postseason Sleeper Award is Joique Bell (although a big game from C.J. Anderson on Monday night could sway the vote). After a tumultuous season in which he finished 16th in RB production, Bell had three RB1 performances averaging 16.7 fantasy points per game, good for 5thplace. Jonathan Stewart and Matt Asiata are two other names who jump off the list. After being liberated from their team’s committee, both rewarded fantasy owners ballsy enough to start them with top-eight production. Put them in your draft plan.




Matt Ryan is hoping for another banner day against the Saints


The hits just kept on coming last week as big name performers once again came up small in crunch time. Yes, I am looking at you Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and LeSean McCoy.

It’s been a brutal fantasy playoffs season so far and if you are still standing (in most leagues) on championship weekend, you have certainly earned it. Or, at least you’ve made it this far without Peyton Manning producing.

Let’s take a look at those players we feel will lead your team to that coveted league title.


Matt Ryan, ATLANTA at New Orleans: Ryan is on a roll having put up an average of 348 passing yards per game over the past three weeks with eight touchdowns and only three interceptions in that timespan. In the first meeting with New Orleans, he finished with 448 passing yards and three touchdowns. We like Ryan this week as a fantasy football start.

Matthew Stafford, DETROIT at Chicago: It was the Thanksgiving Day game against Chicago that started the streak Stafford is on. He’s thrown six touchdowns with only one interception in his last three outings and will carve up a Chicago defense that appears to be mailing it in.

Tony Romo, DALLAS vs. Indianapolis: You give Romo a full week to prepare and a pain-killing injection and he has been lethal. Tossing out the Thanksgiving Day nightmare against Philadelphia when Romo couldn’t even practice prior to the game, and he has thrown 13 touchdowns in his last four games. Trust Romo this week.


Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI vs. Denver: The rollercoaster that is Dalton is on a downward spiral as he once again came up empty last week against Cleveland. He’s managed to top 15 fantasy points in only three of his last nine games. The Denver defense has allowed merely four touchdown passes in the last three games while intercepting five passes in that stretch.

Ben Roethlisberger, PITTSBURGH at Kansas City: This is a tough matchup for Roethlisberger as Kansas City has allowed only five touchdowns in the last four games to quarterbacks. After back-to-back six touchdown games, Roethlisberger has totaled only seven touchdowns over the last five games. There are better matchups this week.

Eli Manning, NEW YORK GIANTS at St. Louis: Manning heads into a hornets nest in Week 16 after tearing up the hapless Washington defense. Few defenses are as hot as St. Louis, who has racked up 17 sacks and 10 turnovers in its last four games. Be thankful if you started Manning last week and be smart by benching him this week.

For the latest in fantasy sit start advice, keep reading ASL!

Jay Cutler desperately needs a change of scenery


QB Fantasy Football News -

The Chicago Bears shocked the NFL world this week when they announced that they have benched their 100-million dollar quarterback, Jay Cutler. After suffering under some of the worst coaching the NFL has seen in a long time, the Bears predictably used Cutler as the team's scapegoat.

In QB fantasy news, Coach Marc Trestman will be starting Jimmy Clausen (fantasy QB dud) in Cutler's place and many people are speculating that the Bears will now release Cutler or trade him at the end of the season. Cutler may be gone, but Trestman will not be far behind after what the team has done since his arrival. 

There's no guarantee that Cutler is being banished from Chicago, but the embattled quarterback desperately needs a change of scenery.

Was it a good decision to bench Cutler? Who knows, but given the fact that Cutler can't win with all the weapons at his disposal, and the lack of emotion he displays, it wouldn't bother many Bears fans if Cutler has taken his last snap in Chicago.  

Let's take a look at one team in each division that could benefit from having Jay Cutler under center. 

AFC West:

The Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs are all content with their QB's so the only possible place Cutler might end up is Oakland. Derek Carr has shown signs of being the future in Oakland but the Raiders and their fan base doesn't seem too excited about the Raiders winning in the near future. Cutler could provide some off-season buzz for a very passionate fan base and a team with some young talent.

AFC South:

There are two teams that could be a nice landing spot for Cutler. Houston and Tennessee are both in need of a QB, but if given the choice, Cutler would much prefer playing for Houston. Adding Cutler to the Texans would make them an instant playoff contender and Cutler would greatly benefit from joining a team with a good defense and a head coach that gets the best out of his quarterbacks. Of all the logical landing spots, Houston sounds like the best fit to me.

AFC North:

There may not be a good fit in the AFC North. Two teams teams have a Super Bowl winning QB, one recently signed a 100-million dollar contract and the other just drafted Johnny Football in the first round. Depending on how Johnny Football plays in the last two games may determine of Cutler would be a good fit in Cleveland. As of now it looks like there is no fit in the AFC North.

AFC East:

The Jets and the Bills might be good fits for Cutler if they don't see a future with EJ Manuel or Geno Smith. The Bills appear to be the better fit considering they have an excellent defense, a lot of young talent on the offensive side of the ball and are a decent QB away from posing a decent threat to New England. 

NFC West:

The Rams would be a great fit for Cutler. They have stellar defense and are a playoff-caliber team if they were in pretty much any other division in football. Since Sam Bradford can't stay healthy and can't be depended on, Cutler would provide some reliability and be a QB that won't be afraid to but heads with the likes of Seattle and Arizona.

NFC South:

The Tampa Bay Bucs might also be the best possible fit for Jay Cutler of any team. They are coached by the former Bears Coach, Lovie Smith, and Cutler actually had some decent years in Chicago under Smith. The Bucs have some good weapons on offense and Coach Smith should be able to shore up the defense in the near future. If the Bucs can keep Vincent Jackson, they will have two monsters on the outside and they may be able to get Doug Martin back on track which would give them a very good chance to win the division in one or two years. Whether Cutler ends up in Tampa Bay will be a clear indication of how positively Lovie Smith feels about Cutler's ability to be franchise QB.

NFC East: 

With the status of RGIII in limbo, Cutler may actually be a good fit in Washington. Washington has some weapons on the offensive side of the ball and the defense ranks well against the run. Cutler may be a good fit and exactly what Jay Gruden wants to fit his West-Coast system. Cutler would love playing in a division where defense is optional and with Cutler in Washington, the Redskins could cause some headaches for for the Eagles and Cowboys.

NFC North:

There likely won't be any interest from the  NFC North since each team has had a front-row seat to the dumpster-fire known as Jay Cutler. Minnesota would be the only possible place that Cutler can land and it doesn't seem likely given the fact that the Vikings drafted Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

For the most up-to-date QB news, stay tuned to Fantasy Focus!

LeSean McCoy left fantasy owners with nothing to celebrate but the end of the season


Fantasy Sit Start


1. RB LeSean McCoy, PHI:

McCoy can still shake up defenses with his agility and elusiveness, but his value is taking a hit as he's losing goal-line opportunities. Just last week, he rushed 16 times for 64 yards (4.0 yards per carry), but fellow back Chris Polk was the one to hit the end zone twice, and Darren Sproles picked up a TD as well. McCoy will have a tough time picking up the same high rate of yards per carry against the stout Redskins defense, as Washington ranks 7th in allowing 101 rushing yards per game. Expect Shady McCoy to put up low-end RB2 numbers as he continues to lose goal-line work.

2. RB Frank Gore, SF:

Gore is dealing with a concussion, and though he is on pace to start in Saturday night's game, don't expect him to get too much work in. With the 49ers having no chance of making the playoffs, they may not want to risk him re-injuring himself. San Francisco plays a decent rush defense in the Chargers, as San Diego ranks 13th in surrendering 108.6 rushing yards per contest. This may very well be a game where Kaepernick leads the team in rushing (and carries for that matter as well), as Gore can rest up in what could be one of his last 2 games with the team. Consider Gore a weak RB3/Flex play for Week 16


1. RB Tre Mason, STL:

Mason is a strong play in fantasy leagues across the board as his match up gives him great appeal for this week. On Sunday, the Rams host the Giants, who struggle heavily defending the run. New York ranks 30th in giving up 135.1 yards per game, and the young tailback will exploit the running lanes provided for him with ease. Coming off a poor performance (13 rushes for 33 yards), this is a great opportunity to bounce back. Mason is a solid fantasy football start as a high-end RB2 with major upside.

2. RB Mark Ingram, NO:

Mark Ingram is in a position to succeed, as the Saints take on a porous Falcons defense as they try to solidify their position atop the NFC South. Atlanta ranks 20th in allowing 117.4 rushing yards per game, and the young tailback should get some goal-line work as well. Ingram had a solid game last week, as he took 17 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown, and will look to keep the ball rolling. Ingram should receive 20+ touches, and should be considered a very appealing RB1 play this week. 


Will Compton should produce strong numbers against Philadelphia


Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups - 

LB Will Compton, Washington
Will Compton is a very athletic, high-effort, but raw IDP linebacker who is seeing more playing time due to the injury to Keenan Robinson. During the past two games, finally getting serious playing time, Compton has averaged 11.5 tackles, 7.0 solo tackles, 0.5 TFLs per game. He should be playing heavy again in Week 16, where he’ll face run-heavy Philadelphia. He might be good for 10+ tackles this week. Compton is not a super-talent, but he is working hard, has NFL athleticism, and most of all, has clear opportunity right now.
CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland
First and foremost—Justin Gilbert is a very talented IDP CB. However, he is just a rookie—and is very raw. It’s easy to lose track of Gilbert, despite the fact that he was the #8 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played right away for Cleveland, but was struggling in coverage (to put it mildly). He was ‘benched’ for all intents and purposes, and played sparingly for weeks. Of late, injuries have crushed the Cleveland secondary, and Gilbert is getting more playing time.

Gilbert has 0.9 PDs per game in his last eight games, much of that not starting or playing a ton. Two weeks ago, he picked off a pass and took it back for a 23-yard TD. That’s his hidden value as a DB/CB…he was an all-world return man in college. Arguably, one of the greatest return men in the history of the NCAAs. When Gilbert gets his hands on the ball, he’s electric. He is a TD waiting to happen…he’s good enough that you might see him take some plays on offense in the future. Perhaps, even this week.
Joe Haden is questionable for Week 16, and they may force Gilbert into a pure starting role…and he faces either Cam Newton or Derek Anderson—it should be a fair opportunity for a pick. If Gilbert starts, and gets picked on--he might get his hands on an interception, and then watch the fireworks on the runback.
LB Kavell Conner, San Diego
Kavell Conner has been playing more and more as the season wears on, and now might have a clear shot at a full start in Week 16 with the season-ending injury to starting ILB IDP Donald Butler.
In the last five weeks, Conner has posted two games with eight tackles, while averaging 6.2 tackles and 0.2 sacks per game in that span.
Conner is not as physically gifted as the aforementioned Will Compton, but he is more experienced…and like Compton, Conner is in line to play a full game as a starter. He should be good for at least eight tackles this week, with a chance at popping double-digits. He also may nab a sack against the extremely sack-able Colin Kaepernick. One of the better fantasy pickups for this week.
*Our annual Fantasy Football Metrics.com Dynasty Stash 2014 package of reports are posting/updating through Weeks 16 and 17, and we are adding an IDP-only Dynasty Stash report as well. Go to Fantasy Football Metrics.com for more information.
-- R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.”


Even if he plays, DeMarco Murray might not be your best fantasy option


The following are a few crucial fantasy injury updates:

With DeMarco Murray's availability currently up in the air, he may not be a recommended start for this week’s fantasy league playoffs. With Murray questionable and possibly a game-time-decision, owners should look toward solid alternatives in fellow Cowboys tailback Joseph Randle or Panthers back Jonathan Stewart.

Randle is more than just Murray's handcuff option, he is an immediate low-end RB1 as he has thrived in the Cowboys offense. Though it may be a small sample size, Randle is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on the season (34 carries for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns). Dallas faces a mediocre defense in the Colts, as Indianapolis ranks t-16th in allowing 110.4 rushing yards per contest.

Joseph Randle would receive the bulk of the carries in Murray's potential absence and could very well break 100 yards for the contest behind the dominant offensive line for the Cowboys.

If Randle is unavailable, Jonathan Stewart is another solid option at halfback. Stewart (who is not shy to the injury updates list) has been red-hot as of late with 42 carries for 228 yards (5.43 yards per carry) to go along with one rushing and one receiving touchdown.

In other NFL injury updates, fellow back DeAngelo Williams should be returning, but expect Stewart to retain the feature back role. He and the Panthers have a very favorable match up with the Browns. Cleveland ranks 31st in the league by allowing 137.6 rushing yards per game.

Stewart should be started regardless, but he is more than suitable as a DeMarco Murray replacement.

Aaron Rodgers had ZERO answers against the Bills defense


One week Peyton Manning blows it for you in the playoffs and now its Aaron Rodgers dropping the ball. What a terrible couple weeks it's been for these fantasy football so called “studs!” Hopefully you are still in contention for some NFL fantasy hardware even in spite of these quarterback woes.

Now lets take a look at what the damage really was for these two guys. During Week 14, Manning threw for a woeful 173 yards and two interceptions against a dominating Bills defense. That same vaunted Buffalo defense then held Aaron Rodgers to a minuscule 185 yards and two interceptions during Week 15. Those types of weeks are not what fantasy owners had in mind for their supreme quarterbacks during fantasy crunch time. One thing that both of those punishing weeks have in common is the opponent. The Buffalo defense has proven again and again that they are for real by stopping both of these Hall of fame caliber shot callers.

So the question is, if you own one of these two quarterbacks, can you give them another chance? The answer has to be yes. Chances are if you are still in the playoffs, its because of one of these guys not in spite of. In a week where your team absolutely needs to perform, you’ve got to roll with your big guns.

In NFL player news, Aaron Rodgers has had an MVP type season and should bounce back easily in week 16. The Green Bay Packers are facing the 2-12 Tampa Bay Bucs next week and Rodgers should again show fantasy owners why they drafted him on draft day. The Buccaneers defense has allowed the ninth-most passing yards per game this season and only four other teams have permitted more passing touchdowns. Start Rodgers with full confidence next week.

The matchup is not so sweet for Peyton Manning next week. They face a hot Bengals defense that shut out Johnny Manziel and the Browns last week. But let’s not get carried away and even put Manziel and Manning in the same sentence. Manning and the Broncos still have a first-round playoff bye to play for so look for Manning to be at his best this week. With the resurgence of the Bronco’s running game Peyton has not been putting up such gaudy fantasy numbers as he has earlier in the season but you have to trust Peyton this week unless you have another top 5 quarterback with a better matchup – sat Andrew Luck against Dallas.

The moral of the story is to start the players that have gotten you here thus far. Even though Rodgers and Manning have had a couple of skids late in the season, they are still fantasy football studs. These two guys are the best options at quarterback and are still “must-starts” in fantasy land.


Johnny Manziel: Overblown, Over-Hyped and downright awful


— Well, how was that for a Johnny Manziel (10-18 for 80 yards, 0 TD/2 INT) debut? Manziel was once at the top of the list of fantasy sleeper picks, but is now a total bust with the added bonus of having locker room and off-field issues at every turn.

I realize rookie QBs can flounder early. This wasn’t a floundering…it was one of the worst QB performances you will have ever witness. I would have expected this from Logan Thomas or Ryan Lindley, etc., if/when they were thrown ‘into the fire’ off the bench never having played with the 1st-team in the regular-season…but you would expect a little better from a 1st-round draft pick. This is the guy that many of the mainstream football analysts touted as their initial #1 QB and/or overall prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. Manziel’s performance in this game was abysmal.

Someone needs to find that homeless man who told the Browns’ owner to “draft Manziel,” and fire him.

Manziel had two interceptions in this game. He should have had between four and six of them. His downfield throws that were actually completed were all blind throws that were mostly wounded ducks than actual NFL passes. This was an embarrassment to the NFL…’this’ being when Manziel’s payroll check clears the bank this week.

The Carolina-DST (Cleveland’s next opponent) is suddenly in-play for Week 16 title matches and is one of the better NFL fantasy sleepers for this week.

Will the Browns wait a year to admit their error, or will they draft another QB in 2015? Either way, the Browns are screwed unless they dig up the right veteran QB next year (and it’s not Hoyer). Josh Gordon (3 rec/ for 48 yards on 4 targets) and Jordan Cameron (1 rec. for 4 yards on 1 target) will be FF-disappointments for the foreseeable future as well.

This will not help the emerging Browns-DST either, because the turnovers, lack of field position, etc. is too tall a hill to climb.

This is a total unraveling for a franchise that three weeks ago was worrying about the playoffs. They now have to worry about their franchise getting flushed back to becoming a constant source of ridicule…again.

Our College Football Metrics.com studies saw the Manziel bust coming…with specifics on what he was doing on the field in college, and why it would be an issue in the pros.

Don’t lose track of Browns’ practice squad QB Connor Shaw…it might be all they have at a certain point. Likely, he’ll never get a fair shake despite being a similar, better QB than Manziel in the SEC in their final seasons. You can see his detailed scouting report on College Football Metrics.com as well.

Best Fantasy Football Keepers - 

 — Jeremy Hill (25 carries for 148 yards and 2 TDs, 1 rec. for 4 yards on 1 target) had a nice game here. We did not think Hill could carry an offense in the NFL…projecting that he would be more of a complimentary guy, which is an NFL trend these days. I’m not blown away by Hill, but I see he is better than we statistically scouted.

What I would like to celebrate on Hill: We did tell you, for a year plus, that Gio Bernard (15 carries for 79 yards, 3 rec. for 24 yards on 3 targets) was just an average/good NFL RB prospect…and by no means a high-end, main-carry guy in the NFL. His Fantasy-Dynasty stock is plummeting quickly.

 — IDP Craig Robertson (10 tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT) is white hot the past few weeks. He was one of our deep sleepers for Week 15, and he delivered again this week. In the last five games: 10.6 tackles, 0.4 PD, 0.2 INTs per game. He has double-digit tackle in four of those last five.


R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM