Eric Karabell Football: Fantasy NFL

2014 recap/2015 preview: Wide receivers 

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
11:17
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Odell Beckham Jr.Al Bello/Getty ImagesOdell Beckham Jr. scored the second-most fantasy points in history by a rookie WR ... in 12 games.
Rookies aren’t supposed to make a significant impact in fantasy football, which is why the 2014 season was so historic. Sure, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants was unbelievable, and there’s more info on him ahead, but he wasn’t alone. Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kelvin Benjamin of the Carolina Panthers also amassed outstanding freshman campaigns, along with Sammy Watkins of the Buffalo Bills, Jordan Matthews of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins and others. Veterans were productive as well, but let’s hear it for the first-year wide receivers, for we had never seen a class even remotely as productive as this.

2014 recap/2015 preview: Running backs 

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
9:54
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CJ AndersonEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesDespite just 17 carries through Week 9, C.J. Anderson was able to finish 11th in standard fantasy points among running backs for the 2014 season.
There was one fairly obvious first overall pick in fantasy football drafts for the 2014 season, and unfortunately that guy, a pretty famous running back, was able to perform in only one game, and not because of injury. This news might imply that the season was doomed for those who had the first pick or for the running back position in general, but there were plenty of positives as well, surprises that weren’t the least bit relevant way back when we were initially drafting. Gone are the days when a fantasy owner must logically and universally use his/her first selection on a running back, but they shouldn’t be ignored, either. As we did with quarterbacks a week ago and will with wide receivers in a week, let’s recap what occurred at this critical position while also looking ahead, longing for every first-round pick to work out.


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Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew LuckMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports; Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports; Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsRussell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck were all among the top three QB scorers in 2014.
The 2014 fantasy football season was far from a record-breaking one for quarterbacks, certainly not the like the year before. Nobody came close to tossing 55 touchdown passes. Nobody reached 5,000 passing yards. While the position remains deep (at least in comparison to running backs!) and full of high-level statistical performers, in the end the quarterback spot was actually a bit disappointing thanks to an ordinary December. Still, even ordinary performers, which they are not, are worth discussing and because it’s January, it’s the time of year we break down the top fantasy positions in this space, looking back and ahead while discussing the good, the bad and the Jay Cutler.


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Player rankings for playoff fantasy games 

December, 30, 2014
12/30/14
10:38
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Tom Brady, Peyton Manning & Andrew LuckGetty ImagesHow should you value Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck for your playoff team?
The fantasy football regular season ended in exciting fashion, and now it’s time for the playoffs. They should be even better, and what better way to enjoy them than with your own postseason pool? ESPN offers the free Gridiron Playoff Challenge, with scoring and roster construction similar to ESPN standard formats, but perhaps you and your buddies/co-workers/whoever have something else planned. Get in the game, and hopefully the rankings below will aid in securing a quality roster.

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Four Downs: Rookie WRs shine in 2014 

December, 28, 2014
12/28/14
11:20
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BeckhamRobert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham Jr. had at least six catches and 90 yards in each game after the Giants' Week 8 bye.

First down: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. ended his amazing rookie campaign in Sunday's Week 17 with yet another outstanding performance, catching 12 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles, worth 24 points in ESPN standard leagues. Then again, we've come to expect this from Beckham, the obvious choice for fantasy full-season MVP honors. Consider that Beckham made his delayed season debut in Week 5, and from that point on he was not only fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver, but the lone running backs to outscore him were Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys. Congrats to Beckham, undrafted in most ESPN leagues but most critical in the end, and also the most popular wide receiver on fantasy-championship-round rosters.

The overriding story of the 2014 fantasy football season is a bit larger than simply Beckham's heroics, as he led an historic crew of first-year wide receivers becoming more than relevant in our game, but indispensable pieces that carried us to meaningful December matchups. Week 1 rookie wide receiver stars included Kelvin Benjamin of the Carolina Panthers, Brandin Cooks of the New Orleans Saints and Allen Hurns of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Week 2, Sammy Watkins of the Buffalo Bills broke out; in Week 3 it was Jordan Matthews of the Philadelphia Eagles and John Brown of the Arizona Cardinals, and soon after Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Martavis Bryant of the Steelers and Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins were fantasy mainstays as well.


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Backfield breakdown entering Week 17 

December, 23, 2014
12/23/14
12:53
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We’ve spent considerable time this awesome fantasy football season discussing the historic rookie wide receiver class -- which includes my pick for overall fantasy MVP in New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. -- that we often overlook what has generally been an ordinary crew of first-year running backs, save for Jeremy Hill of the Cincinnati Bengals and, at times, Tre Mason of the St. Louis Rams, Isaiah Crowell of the Cleveland Browns and Andre Williams of the Giants. As we get to the final week of 2014 and update our RB depth chart one final time, several rookies could still make an impact to help fantasy owners

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Four Downs: Andrew Luck disappoints 

December, 21, 2014
12/21/14
9:07
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LuckTom Pennington/Getty ImagesAfter scoring 14-plus points in his first 14 games this season, Andrew Luck had a goose egg Sunday.
For all those who decide their fantasy championships in one weekend of Week 16 games, thereby avoiding the occasionally frustrating final week (when several stars see their playing time compromised), we give you the sad story of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. This fantastic player entered Sunday as fantasy's No. 1 overall scorer with 322 points, an exemplary 23 point-per-game average and a tasty road game pending with the Dallas Cowboys, a team not exactly known for defensive exploits and with a sub-.500 record in home games this season. So what happened in Week 16, the biggest game of the year for most fantasy owners? Well, Luck and those relying on him weren't so lucky (pardon the pun). By the time Luck was pulled, with his team waxed 35-0, he had scored nary a fantasy point. Just like you and me.

Let's just say fantasy owners weren't pleased, even if the move made perfect sense. Zero points? Heck, even Johnny Manziel managed to score a fantasy point this weekend, and he didn't even play half the game.

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Week 16 flex rankings 

December, 18, 2014
12/18/14
11:42
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Eddie LacyBenny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsEddie Lacy has picked the right time to play some of his best ball.
Well, the fantasy football season is nearly over, but don't say that to those still playing for something. It's all about what's ahead, and hopefully the players you choose for your flex position can contribute positively. Several of the players on the most championship-round rosters in ESPN leagues have been among the most productive players of late, and you'll find those names near the top of the rankings. Then again, some of the recent strugglers, such as a certain Chicago Bears running back and Denver Broncos wide receiver, also remain in high regard. Regardless, here are the latest flex rankings, combining the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends into one group.

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 16 and beyond, and happy holidays!

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: He's only three points behind the top spot for non-quarterbacks in standard scoring this season, and Bell didn't have surgery for a broken hand this week.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Remember back in September when so many wanted to flat-out cut the guy? Double digits in fantasy scoring 10 of 11 contests since then.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Had an eight-game streak of scoring in double digits broken in a tasty matchup against Oakland last week, but don't sit him now. This is another fine matchup.

4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: I actually think he will play and won't be hampered much from the injury, but please make sure Sunday afternoon the team has him active.

5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Skewered the Bears the last time, and really ought to do so again. Not much is in the way.

6. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Not the easiest matchup and it would help to have an actual NFL quarterback handing off to him, but still an elite option.

7. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: Surprise! And really, he's having a terrific season. The reason for his bump here is, well, it's the Bears.

8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: His quarterback isn't doing so much lately, but Thomas had 18 fantasy points last week.

9. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Probably the most reliable, consistent player in all of fantasy football, quarterbacks included. That counts for a lot.

10. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

11. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Man, imagine if he just catches that 94-yarder, so much would have been different! Maybe this week!

12. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

13. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Yes, he didn't have much success the last game versus Detroit, but I'm treating him as an elite player, because he is. Is more than capable of making a big play or two regardless of the team's quarterback play.

14. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos

15. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

16. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: He's likely going to rush for 1,000 yards this season. Admit it, that would have shocked you back in August!

17. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Contingent on him playing, of course, but his team really does need him. And he's really, really good.

[+] EnlargeBeckham
Al Bello/Getty ImagesOdell Beckham Jr. has carried many fantasy teams to the championship game.
18. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: He's good, too. Matchups don't matter. Don't overthink it. No wide receiver is on more ESPN finalists than this fellow.

19. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: The disappointment continues, now we can't be sure he gets the goal-line looks.

20. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles

21. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers: Five-game drought since last touchdown, but nice matchup.

22. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

23. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: The Cowboys can be thrown on. This team has become reliant on Hilton, too.

24. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens

25. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: Also doesn't matter which cornerback covers him. Or, as we saw Sunday, which quarterback throws to him.

26. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Kittens!

27. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins

28. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Rookie could end up leading the league in touchdowns.

29. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Rookie is ninth among all running backs in standard scoring. Wow!

30. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

31. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: If the statistical trend continues, he'll score only four points this week. I don't think the trend continues.

32. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

33. Tre Mason, RB, Rams

34. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: He might not admit it, but you know he wants to score a touchdown against his former team and keep them from playing in January. Actually, he will admit it.

35. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots

36. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Don't worry about Julio Jones in White's case. He'll be OK regardless.

37. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: As long as some of the footballs Jay … um, I mean, Jimmy Clausen launches are in his general direction, he can produce enough numbers.

38. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: This is his best three-game run of stats since 2010. It'd be surprising if the return of DeAngelo Williams messes that up. Stewart, on the other hand, can mess it up.

39. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

40. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: Coming off his best game of the season, though the Vikings do nice work against the pass.

41. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

42. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

43. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: We can all blame the team's excellent quarterback play, but some of this is clearly on Gordon, too.

44. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts

45. Golden Tate, WR, Lions: It's the Bears, so Tate and Megatron can each thrive.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Graham
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsJimmy Graham's numbers have declined at the wrong time for fantasy owners.
46. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: We keep ranking him well, but he's not putting up the numbers. He's a good tight end, but at flex, you can do better.

47. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

48. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: I like him, but on this team, with that O-line, it's tough for him to reach his potential.

49. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: I'd call this a good rank for him. Imagine that back in August.

50. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

51. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers

52. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Gronk is the only tight end with more fantasy points this season. This guy is good.

53. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: He and Andre Ellington will end up overdrafted in 2015. Sorry, but that's the likely scenario based on how their teams will use them.

54. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens

55. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: So Jay Cutler, the No. 9 fantasy QB, loses his job, but Colin Kaepernick, the No. 18 QB, gets to keep flailing away. This week he gets Boldin back on track, though. Kind of.

56. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: He's probably too injured to really help anyone at this point, even if he's suited up.

57. Marques Colston, WR, Saints

58. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: He's starting again, though it might be a bit tough to tell statistically.

59. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

60. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: Bill Belichick giveth, and taketh away.

61. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Should be in line for volume touches, but it's not a pleasant matchup.

62. Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings

63. Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons: This rank assumes Julio Jones plays. If he does not, move Harry up 25 spots or so.

64. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets

65. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals

66. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers

67. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: Looked a lot more special a month ago.

68. Terrance West, RB, Browns: Has never really looked special.

69. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints: He should be doing more. I want to rank him better.

[+] EnlargeMalcom Floyd
Jake Roth/USA TODAY SportsMalcom Floyd becomes the Chargers' No. 1 receiver this week with Keenan Allen out.
70. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers: No more Keenan Allen, but it's dangerous to rely on Floyd.

71. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: This is assuming Frank Gore doesn't play, but hedging because Hyde could sit with injury, too. If he does, I'd put Alfonso Smith here.

72. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

73. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Not the second half of the season people expected.

74. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Here comes the three-touchdown game!

75. Eric Decker, WR, Jets: Comes off his fifth double-digit fantasy effort. Hey, nobody thought he'd be great.

76. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

77. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

78. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: Honestly, who cares what this team's wide receivers are doing? The team could make the playoffs. That seems to matter more. And Kelce is good.

79. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Should be just fine with 70-year-old Jim Hart at QB. (Look him up.)

80. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans: It's his job again. Nice work by the Titans this season!

81. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins

82. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

83. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

84. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts

85. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

86. Nate Washington, WR, Titans: Sneaky pickup for this week.

87. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys

88. Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs: We keep talking about Hyde and Christine Michael as dynasty stashes, but imagine if Davis had a line on a starting job. Wow.

89. Stedman Bailey, WR, Rams

90. Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys: Murray should play. If he doesn't, I'd rank Randle near where Doug Martin is.

91. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: A little too hurt to put up numbers, but it's tough to rely on Donte Moncrief.

92. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions

93. James Jones, WR, Raiders

94. Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers

95. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

96. James Starks, RB, Packers

97. Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars

98. Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears

99. Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys

100. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals

Others: Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots; Davante Adams, WR, Packers; Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs; Delanie Walker, TE, Titans; Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears; Robert Woods, WR, Bills; C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills; Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers; Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers; Chris Johnson, RB, Jets; Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens; Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers


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Backfield breakdown entering Week 16 

December, 16, 2014
12/16/14
1:01
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The most prolific non-quarterback in fantasy football this season could be leaving us at the worst possible time. Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, No. 8 overall in fantasy points, broke a bone in his left hand in Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles and underwent surgery Monday. The team remains hopeful Murray, with nearly 1,700 rushing yards -- 400 more than anyone else's total -- can handle his normal workload in Sunday’s critical matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, but fantasy owners need to plan ahead.

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Week 15 flex rankings 

December, 11, 2014
12/11/14
11:47
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C.J. AndersonRon Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe red-hot C.J. Anderson has emerged as a must-start player every week.
For many in ESPN leagues, this is going to be the final week of the fantasy season, as it's the playoff semifinals and, well, someone's going to win each matchup and someone's going to lose. Hopefully you're on the winning side, and these rankings, along with the multitude of information provided by me and my far smarter colleagues at ESPN Fantasy, worked to inform and entertain you along the way. So, here is the latest compilation of the top running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all in one tidy list. Whether you're trailing or leading, pick the best options.

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 15 and beyond!

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: He's certainly on his way to finishing as fantasy's top non-quarterback. Matchups no longer matter with him.

2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Regularly torches the Colts, and this weekend shouldn't be any different. Nice to see him healthy again.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Like Foster, he's achieved great success against this week's foe, the Raiders. Well really, who hasn't?

4. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: He might end up with more than 100 receptions. I'd like to see that, actually.

5. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Still really, really good, and still really, really healthy. For those who thought it wasn't possible.

6. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles

7. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: Tough to be too concerned about a player with 22 or more fantasy points in four of five games.

8. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: There's literally nobody else we can count on for this many receptions and yards every week. Brown is amazing. Only two running backs have outscored him.

9. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens

10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: With more than 300 receiving yards the past two weeks, there are clearly no concerns here.

11. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Topped 100 rushing yards against the 49ers a few weeks ago, and now he's meeting them at home.

12. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: Peyton Manning is going to be just fine.

13. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

14. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

15. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: I think he would have played more had Monday's game been closer. Tough matchup this week, though.

16. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants

17. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Assuming the Bears aren't up 28 in the first half, Ingram should get his touches.

18. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Well, that was quite the Monday night performance. Could have been better without the hip injury. I think he'll play this week.

19. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: No more Brandon Marshall, so expect better statistics. And they were already really strong.

20. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

21. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins: We expected he'd struggle against the Rams. He shouldn't struggle against the Giants.

22. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos

23. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: Stop worrying about the other active Lions running backs! They don't matter!

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsJeremy Maclin's touchdown catch was one of the Eagles' few offensive bright spots on Sunday.
24. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: Perhaps not as valuable with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, but still a legit threat.

25. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

26. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Hey, Johnny Football has a strong arm. He's going to be throwing and running.

27. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Can't say it matters much to me that he "likes to snuggle," but good for him. Snuggle with the football twice in the end zone, OK?

28. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: He saw 20 of the team's 23 rushes last week. Forget about Jonas Gray. Blount's the guy.

29. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: Wonderful matchup this week, even if he shares the carries. If he scares you, because he hasn't topped six fantasy points since Week 8, I understand. But it's the Titans!

30. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Look, he's struggled statistically when Joe Haden covers him. It's a fact.

31. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: Did fine in Week 1 with Derek Anderson at quarterback. Will do fine again.

32. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

33. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants

34. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: From 35 fantasy points to 4. Welcome to fantasy football.

35. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

36. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints

37. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons: Double-digits for fantasy in five of six games. Are your starting running backs doing this?

38. Golden Tate, WR, Lions: Has predictably slowed down since Calvin Johnson returned.

39. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts: The boom and bust backfield. Herron is boom.

40. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns

41. Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Would not go into Julio Jones' spot should Jones sit. But White would move up 10 spots or so.

42. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: Forget everything that happened to this offense in the Seattle loss. The Eagles can't beat elite teams. Dallas is not elite.

43. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Remember, he's done quite well in his career against the Broncos.

44. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: At least the Raiders figured out their other running backs aren't any good.

45. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: If he goes another four years before his next 100-yard rushing game, that's a really big problem.

46. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

47. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins

48. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: He has two 20-point games in his past five outings. But the next guy has been more consistent. I say use 'em both.

49. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots

50. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints: Drew Brees will be more successful this week. It's the Bears.

51. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

52. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

[+] EnlargeJeremy Hill
John Grieshop/Getty ImagesJeremy Hill has emerged as the Bengals' running back worth starting.
53. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: Yep, I'd prefer Hill in the Bengals' backfield.

54. Tre Mason, RB, Rams

55. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets: Could be his second 100-yard rushing game of the disappointing season. But one shouldn't expect it.

56. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins: No guarantee he plays this week, but his absence clearly affected the offense.

57. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

58. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: I'm worried about Andre Ellington for next season, and Bernard is similar. It's why teams are reluctant to give too many touches to players like this.

59. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: Was finally heard from in Week 14.

60. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

61. Terrance West, RB, Browns: Getting plenty of touches and isn't really the backup here. Of course, it's not about the running game this week.

62. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Odd season for him. Scored his most points in Week 14, but the two games in which he has touchdowns are his No. 3 and 4 games of the season. Bottom line is he's been disappointing.

63. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

64. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Yeah, enough is enough. And this is the highest-ranked 49er.

65. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

66. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: Got sweet revenge in his return to Cleveland by rushing for 30 yards. Yawn.

67. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Breakout performance or merely a result of facing the Titans? Giants fans probably don't want to know the answer.

68. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: Would have been better had he just not suited up for the game at all.

69. Marques Colston, WR, Saints

70. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers

71. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts: Reggie Wayne has not been shut down for the season due to his injury, so be careful in overrating Moncrief's chance.

72. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

73. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

74. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

[+] EnlargeMarquess Wilson
Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsCan Marquess Wilson come close to matching Brandon Marshall's production?
75. Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears: Figures to start and thrive with Marshall out, but he's no guarantee.

76. Eric Decker, WR, Jets: Value goes up assuming Percy Harvin sits, but then again, he's still No. 76. Didn't go up too much.

77. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

78. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: I'm not betting on a repeat performance against the Rams.

79. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans

80. Ben Tate, RB, Vikings: Someone has to run the ball, and the Vikings claim he'll get a chance.

81. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers

82. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

83. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: His name seems way out of place in this spot, but are you really sure he'll play and see enough targets? Didn't you think that last week?

84. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars: Nice season for him. From starter to the bench to only relevant again because Denard Robinson is done for the season. Don't invest. Jordan Todman probably gets a chance, too.

85. Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings

86. Nate Washington, WR, Titans

87. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

88. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions: It doesn't matter what round you drafted him in. It's not happening.

89. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: Yeah, same with him. Still think he's the best rookie running back?

90. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

91. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

92. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

93. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants

94. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles: A few months ago, everyone loved him. But he doesn't get rushing attempts or targets anymore.

95. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Three touchdowns or bust. Take the bust side.

96. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: Sure, blame it all on Colin Kaepernick if it makes you feel better.

97. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

98. James Jones, WR, Raiders

99. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals

100. Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars

Others: Alfred Blue, RB, Texans; Larry Donnell, TE, Giants; Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs; Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens; Robert Woods, WR, Bills; James Starks, RB, Packers; Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs; Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens; Anthony Dixon, RB, Bills; Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars; Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos; Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers; Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets; Kenny Britt, WR, Rams


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Drew Brees and Jimmy GrahamEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesThinking of benching Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham in Week 15? Think again. They face the Bears.
The rampant complaining about Drew Brees and the underachieving New Orleans Saints seems a bit misplaced in the fantasy football world because, after all, this remains a productive group of fantasy football performers. What has happened recently is not unlike what happens to plenty of other options; when the team faces a favorable matchup, we get outstanding statistics. In tougher matchups, the team struggles. And then every so often something a bit unexplainable occurs, such as in Week 14 when the Saints’ offense, at home against a miserable Carolina Panthers defense, couldn’t do much with it.

This week, however, the Saints meet the Chicago Bears.

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 15 

December, 9, 2014
12/09/14
1:09
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Minnesota Vikings fullback -- let’s be fair, that’s kind of what he is -- Matt Asiata has been the clear choice in the team’s backfield the past few weeks since the unfortunate Jerick McKinnon season-ending injury, which seems a tad shortsighted. Asiata is a large, wide fellow who does several things well (block, catch passes, convert short touchdowns), but he’s not particularly quick or possessing what one would call the standard running back qualifications of hitting a hole, galloping through it and gaining many yards. So the fact that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Monday that he’d like to get Ben Tate and Joe Banyard more involved in the offense should be regarded as a positive, if it actually occurs; notably so for Tate owners

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Week 14 flex rankings 

December, 4, 2014
12/04/14
11:04
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Le'Veon BellAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarLe'Veon Bell has 57 fantasy points in his past two games.
It's often said that the roster decisions made during fantasy playoff time are the most difficult, but I'd disagree with that theme. There's just more on the line because a wrong decision could be the final one of a season, but the basic thinking doesn't change. When comparing two or more options, myriad factors enter the fray, but it comes down to doing the research and finally choosing one player over the others, and that's it. And don't look back. As we continue with the weekly flex rankings, take this information for what it is, one man's perspective. Use your best instincts, pick a roster, and hope for the best.

And as always, best of luck to all in Week 14 and beyond!

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Bell's quarterback appears concerned about his running back's overuse, but that shouldn't be a problem this month. Perhaps next year, though.

2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Expect him to light up the Jaguars, as usual.

3. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: No 20-point games for a while, but he remains productive no matter what else goes on around him. And honestly, don't bother with a handcuff option. You're never going to use Joseph Randle in December.

4. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers

5. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Should go back to plenty of touches this week, so no concerns here.

6. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Faces a Chicago defense that has been very kind to opposing wide receivers the past month.

7. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

8. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs

9. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos

10. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens: Don't laugh, he's fourth in the NFL in rushing. I keep pointing this out to some degree for its shock value, I suppose, but we still don't see him treated as a top-10 RB.

11. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: He's certainly in a happy place. Yes, he's a must-start. In other words, if you have him, start him.

12. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

13. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Looked special again on Thanksgiving, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking it was the Bears, and they are really, really bad at covering wide receivers.

14. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

15. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers

16. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Has been running well of late, but now he faces the Seahawks. Yeah, there's some concern.

17. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: Didja know he's fourth on his own team in fantasy points this season? Doesn't seem like it, right? Has scored double digits in 4-of-5, he'll end up No. 1.

18. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: Candidate for fantasy MVP honors when one considers his original value. Currently tied for 11th among all flex-spot eligible options. Wasn't drafted that way!

19. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Really doesn't matter who's slingin' the football his way. But Gordon is already showing signs of general indifference on route running, which is troubling.

20. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: Fantasy gold. G-O-L-D.

21. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

22. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

23. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: He has four 100-yard rushing games this season. The guy leading these flex rankings has three. Just pointing that out.

24. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: Viewed as a disappointment, but he's already at 82 catches for 1,169 yards!

25. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants: Missed practice with a sore ankle, and the team signed running back depth, so yeah, it's no lock he suits up this week.

26. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: Limited in practice with a sore hamstring, but you'll know Thursday at dinner if he's playing.

27. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers

[+] EnlargeTre Mason
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonHow can Tre Mason follow up his huge 33-point game against the Raiders?
28. Tre Mason, RB, Rams: Oh, if only all our running backs could face the Raiders every week during the playoffs. If only.

29. Joique Bell, RB, Lions: I'm not particularly worried about any other Lions running backs, as this top 100 more than insinuates.

30. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: Oh no, only 16 fantasy points in two weeks! Panic time! Sound the alarms! (Don't worry, he's safe. Perfectly safe.)

31. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

32. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: You can't convince me he all of a sudden stinks because he's simply too old. The entire offense is a mess. This week it gets the Raiders. I'm still buying.

33. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: Facing the Cowboys is easier than facing the Lions. Yep, that's what I think it's all about. Rinse. Repeat.

34. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Good thing Monday's game didn't end at halftime, when he had no yards!

35. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles: If Mark Sanchez looks Maclin's way six times while Richard Sherman is defending, I'll be surprised. But we rank Maclin well in case the Eagles find ways to get him open, which they should.

36. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins

37. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

38. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: I'll set the over/under this week at 11.5 targets. You know he's gotta be angry about Week 13, and he probably let his coaches and teammates know it.

39. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

40. Golden Tate, WR, Lions

41. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: With double-digit fantasy points in 6-of-8 starts, you bet I find it odd he's not close to 100 percent owned in ESPN leagues. But hey, he's owned in my leagues.

42. Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots: Another fellow who deserves more attention. He's really productive now.

43. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Ditto for him.

44. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals: He just looks better than the smaller fellow with whom he's competing for time. I wouldn't recommend using both of them in the same lineup. I would prefer to avoid both.

45. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals

46. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots

47. Daniel Herron, RB, Colts: A fine Week 13 statistically, but don't expect him to do much better than that. He's still sharing touches in a pass-heavy offense.

48. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: He's slowing down statistically, and he faces the Lions.

49. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

50. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns: The other guy in the backfield is having trouble holding onto the football, or else he'd be ranked in this spot. Big week for Crowell if he intends to keep the starting role. It's not just the quarterback situation on this franchise!

51. Roddy White, WR, Falcons

52. Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars: Sorry, but lately we're not impressed.

53. Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

54. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints

55. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos: Tight end colleague Virgil Green is such an effective blocker that Thomas owners might not be pleased at how many snaps their guy plays.

56. Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

57. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: Hey, if all they're gonna do is hand the football off to the running backs, we'll play along! Ivory is a high-upside play, in theory.

58. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

59. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsSammy Watkins has just nine fantasy points over the past four games.
60. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: Awfully quiet over the past month, and the Broncos really aren't a great matchup.

61. Steve Smith, WR, Ravens

62. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Certainly more valuable in PPR formats, but he still has value.

63. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots: Same as Edelman, really. Except eligible at the more scarce position.

64. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

65. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers

66. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: With the Colts playing in Cleveland this weekend, expect many Browns fans to recall the monster trade of last season. Or not.

67. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

68. Marques Colston, WR, Saints

69. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Sure, you can choose to believe that his solid Week 13 showing is the new normal. But this rank strongly suggests I don't.

70. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: The risk with Stewart is more about durability. Wouldn't you hate to see him leave a December game in the first quarter with injury if you activated him?

71. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: He's actually healthy.

72. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: Perhaps next season more fantasy owners will pass on the rookie running backs and look at wide receiver.

73. Robert Woods, WR, Bills

74. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: Might play, but it's dangerous to invest.

75. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings: Might also play, and it's also dangerous. He really hasn't done much statistically.

76. Terrance West, RB, Browns: If Crowell sits, West moves into his slot in these rankings.

77. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Perhaps we'd like to all believe that the 49ers will produce a bloated 30-point lead early, sit Gore, and let Hyde do his Tre Mason impression. But has that really happened in any other Raiders game this season?

78. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Regression is a pain in the you-know-what.

79. Marion Grice, RB, Cardinals: If we exalted him to top-30 status here, it would more than imply that Andre Ellington was the main problem. And he wasn't. The offense is the problem.

80. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

81. Stedman Bailey, WR, Rams

82. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

83. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: Sleeper pick in theory since the Eagles' secondary is generally a problem, but Russell Wilson just doesn't look his way much.

84. Andre Williams, RB, Giants: Moves up if Jennings sits, but he doesn't look special, regardless of matchup.

85. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans

86. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: Relying on most tight ends is problematic, even the better ones.

87. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints

88. Chris Johnson, RB, Jets: He ran for 100 yards! Finally! Don't let that sway you into thinking all is well now.

89. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings: Disappointing performance in Week 13 but again, if McKinnon sits, this guy has proven he can score touchdowns.

90. Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings

91. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: Has been cleared to play, but not knowing the potential touches and seeing the schedule, it's tough to invest in him as an active player.

92. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals

93. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

94. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers

95. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: If you ask me to name one tight end who could push one of the big three out, it's him.

96. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

97. Percy Harvin, WR, Jets: Still think he's a great player?

98. Eric Decker, WR, Jets

99. Alfred Blue, RB, Texans

100. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins

Others: Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders; Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys; Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts; Kenny Britt, WR, Rams; Roy Helu, RB, Redskins; James Starks, RB, Packers; Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars; Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers; Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns; Reggie Bush, RB, Lions; Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks; Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals


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Tony RomoTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsDespite Tony Romo's poor performance in Week 13, he should remain a fantasy starter.
The Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears might have laid the proverbial eggs -- turkey eggs, of course -- on Thanksgiving, but this is not the week to start abandoning strong fantasy options. Rip on quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler all you like for their proclivity to throw footballs to the other team, for a lack of January success, off-field nonsense or whatever, but track record is important and these are top-10 quarterbacks. And perhaps most importantly on Thursday night these guys will be throwing plenty against each other’s weak defenses and piling up the fantasy points, bringing others along for the ride.

I’m certainly not the fantasy owner/analyst who recommends blindly sticking with the players who got you this far, because it implies that one ignores valuable information that doesn’t allow one’s top lineup to be represented. In other words, consider all possibilities, but don’t simply activate someone solely due to season numbers. In the case of Romo and Cutler, that’s not the overriding factor.

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Backfield breakdown entering Week 14 

December, 2, 2014
12/02/14
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Things suddenly don’t look so promising for the 9-3 Arizona Cardinals, and it’s not only because the defending champion Seattle Seahawks appear back on track and poised to catch them in the tough NFC West. The Cardinals can’t score points, and running back Andre Ellington has become a significant part of the problem. For weeks, Ellington -- likely hobbled by a season-long foot injury -- has struggled to find running room in a predictable offense with a limited quarterback, and now his availability for the Week 14 game against the Kansas City Chiefs is in question because of an even more troublesome hip injury. In some ways, fantasy owners get a gift here. Ellington owners continued to stubbornly play him despite performance that dictated he didn’t deserve it, with statistics paling in comparison to the first half of his season. Now it’s obvious this isn’t someone to rely on.

The question becomes what happens to the Arizona offensive game plan if Ellington sits out a week or more.

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