TEam by Team News and Notes Heading into Week 14
Buffalo: E.J. Manuel gets a plus matchup this week against a Bucs pass defense that has allowed a passing TD in every game this season and 2 or more in each of the last 8 games. WR Marquise Goodwin is Probable and will play despite a calf injury. It was hoped he would get more playing time despite Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods returning last week but he was playing as the clear #3 WR behind them. RB's Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller continue to have their ups and downs and their time share makes it difficult to really trust either in a tough road matchup this week.
Miami: RB Daniel Thomas is listed as Questionable after getting in a limited practice on Friday. Thomas was believed to be in jeopardy of going on injured reserve after suffering a serious ankle injury week 12, but he's trying to push past it. Personally I'll be surprised if he's active this week. The Dolphins should be using the last 4 games to see if Lamar Miller can handle being a true featured RB and whether rookie Mike Gillislee has any potential for the future; not trying to rush back a RB who has consistently struggled to average better than 3.8 yards per rush attempt when healthy. WR Mike Wallace gets to face his former team. We'll see whether he dominates or gets dominated. My guess is he'll do pretty well in his return to Pittsburgh.
New England: It's uncertain if RB Stevan Ridley will be made inactive again this week. Bill Belichick says Ridley's being inactive last week wasn't punishment for fumbling, but that's laughable. LeGarrette Blount dominated rushing duties and performed well enough that he should do so again week 14. Tentatively expect Ridley to be inactive again and for Blount to be the primary rushing RB. Shane Vereen is still best fantasy upside of al Pats RB's. WR Aaron Dobson has been ruled OUT with a foot sprain. With WR Kenbrell Thompkins Questionable and considered a game time decision because of a hip injury, the Patriots re-signed Austin Collie to provide them with some depth at the position. Expect Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman to dominate WR targets. TE Rob Gronkowski is fully expected to play despite being listed as Questionable with the arm/back/hamstring injuries he's been playing through each week.
New York Jets: WR Jeremy Kerley is Probable and is expected to play after missing the last few weeks with a dislocated elbow injury. However, it's hard to trust him as a fantasy consideration with Geno Smith struggling so much the last few games. Santonio Holmes is also Probable but after he played only 3 snaps week 13 I wouldn't trust him with his hamstring and foot injuries. WR Stephen Hill is Questionable with a knee issue but he should be active. However he's dropped to being only the 4th or 5th WR on the Jets.
Baltimore: There's been a lot of talk of TE Dennis Pitta possibly returning to play this week but he still hasn't been activated off the IR/Designated for Return list yet. The Ravens can do that at any time so there's a chance he could play but I wouldn't be counting on it. I see week 15 as a likelier return date for him. Pitta has missed all season recovering from August hip surgery. RB Ray Rice makes a nice fantasy RB2 this week. Rice appears to have settled in as a weekly matchup play recently and this week he has an excellent matchup. Joe Flacco gets a great matchup too and could very well finish as a top 12 fantasy QB this week.
Cincinnati: This will be a telling week in the development of QB Andy Dalton. He's struggled mightily once the temperatures turned cold the last 2 seasons and it's going to be cold this week at home against a Colts defense that has been pretty bad in recent weeks. Dalton will either be really big, or he'll flop. Dalton is the key to all Bengals offensive players this week in a plus matchup.
Cleveland: Jason Campbell will start after getting cleared from the concussion that caused him to miss week 13. Alex Tanney will likely be his backup as Brandon Weeden is OUT with a concussion he suffered week 13. WR Josh Gordon has gone over 100 receiving yards in 6 of 10 games played this season and has caught double digit passes for over 200 yards in each of the last 2 games. Gordon is amongst the elite fantasy WR's despite weak QB's throwing him the ball. RB Willis McGahee appears to have re-taken the top spot in the RB rotation, but whether that can relied on every week going forward is uncertain. I wouldn't trust him.
Pittsburgh: RB Le'Veon Bell is Probable and will start without issue after passing all of his concussion tests this week. Bell was laid out on Thanksgiving night but he'll be fine for week 14. Bell has been a solid fantasy RB since returning from his preseason foot injury and is a borderline fantasy RB1 this week.
Houston: The Texans fired their head coach, Gary Kubiak, after their 11th straight loss. Wade Phillips is the interim coach to close out the last 3 games of the season. Case Keenum is to remain the starting QB over Matt Schaub.
Indianapolis: A tough stretch for Andrew Luck gets even tougher this week on the road against Cincinnati. Luck s barely playing a fantasy QB 2 of late. WR T.Y. Hilton is Probable with a minor shoulder injury and will be fine, but historically he struggles in games played outside. While Donald Brown is finishing the 2013 season as the top RB over Trent Richardson, those in dynasty leagues would be wise to try acquiring Richardson as I believe he will be one of the most undervalued RB's heading into 2014 fantasy drafts.
Jacksonville: Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a hamstring injury Thursday night but he is tentatively expected to be okay for week 15. If MJD is limited at al next week, Jordan Todman would likely take on a bigger offensive role.
Tennessee: TE Delanie Walker is Questionable but unlikely to play because of a concussion. Walker didn't practice at al this week. With fellow TE Craig Stevens also Questionable with a concussion, Taylor Thompson is likely to be the starter with recently signed Visanthe Shiancoe the backup. WR Kendall Wright has been a solid receptions and yardage producer of late but he's been lacking TD's; I get a feeling he gets in the end zone this week against Denver. Ryan Fitzpatrick makes for a nice sneaky fantasy play with the matchup.
Denver: TE Julius Thomas is Probable and will return after missing the last 2 weeks with a knee injury. It's been a while since Wes Welker had a big game and after Eric Decker blew up last week it's now Welker's turn for a huge game. If not this week, it will happen week 15. Montee Ball is getting more playing time as the Broncos try to make sure Knowshon Moreno is fresh for the playoffs. Moreno is still a strong fantasy RB1 and Ball makes a RB3 or flex option.
Kansas City: TE Anthony Fasano is OUT with both knee and concussion injuries. Sean McGrath will be the Chiefs top TE this week and makes a nice sleeper play with a good matchup against a Redskins defense that is bad against the pass. QB Alex Smith has been putting up some quality fantasy stats of late and should again with the matchup. It's no coincidence that as Smith has done better, WR Dwayne Bowe has been putting up better numbers. Bowe has caught a TD in 2 of the last 3 games. Dexter McCluster has been putting in some good games lately for those in the ppr format. He has 17 catches for 156 yards in the last 3 weeks.
Oakland: RB Rashad Jennings is Questionable and is still awaiting final clearance to play in an actual game after suffering a concussion on Thanksgiving Day. While tentatively expected to play, there's a chance he won't. With Darren McFadden OUT with an ankle injury and Jeremy Stewart also OUT with ankle and knee injuries, there's a chance Marcel Reece could end up being the Raiders featured RB this week. WR Denarius Moore is OUT with his shoulder injury so Andre Holmes will again start in his place.
San Diego: Eddie Royal is Questionable with toe and chest injuries after not practicing all week. This is the same routine as last week and Royal was inactive week 13. The exact nature of the chest injury hasn't been revealed but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a ribs injury. I doubt he plays this week and even if active is a weak fantasy option. TE Ladarius Green continues to get more playing time and likely is going to be worth a consideration by the TE desperate even though he is the #2 TE behind Antonio Gates.
Dallas: WR Dez Bryant is Probable and will be fine despite a back issue. RB DeMarco Murray is likely to explode against a Bears run defense that has allowed an average of 226 rush yards and 5 rush TD's in their last 3 games. With it expected to be VERY cold Monday night, I'm a little down on QB Tony Romo's chances for a big game.
New York Giants: Brandon Jacobs is Doubtful because of his chronic knee issue. He's likely to be inactive which means Peyton Hillis will be active and the top backup to Andre Brown. WR Victor Cruz hasn't caught a TD since week 4. He also has had only 1 game in that span with over 90 receiving yards. Cruz isn't even performing like a fantasy WR2 and I've stopped believing that he's due for a big game. Eli Manning on the road in San Diego doesn't seem like a likely place for an explosion of fantasy points.
Philadelphia: TE Zach Ertz is Probable despite a minor shoulder injury. Those who jumped all over him after his unsurprising great game last week against the Cardinals (who are the WORST defense against opposing TE's) are likely to be disappointed if they expect that was his breakout game and sign of things to come regularly the remaining games of the 2013 season. Tough matchup for RB LeSean McCoy but you never sit your studs; just temper expectations.
Washington: TE Jordan Reed is Questionable and considered a game time decision after he suffered a relapse last week in his recovery from a concussion. It's a great matchup but he's very risky to trust as a fantasy starter. We're going to learn a lot about the Redskins this week as their season has been spinning out of control and they are at home this week against a Kansas City team that has lost 3 in a row.
Chicago: Jay Cutler is OUT but word is that he could return in week 15. Josh McCown will start in his place again and makes a strong play against a Dallas pass defense that has been awful most weeks. Both WR's Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are strong plays. RB Matt Forte could also be a top fantasy RB this week as Dallas has struggled defending the run lately too.
Detroit: RB Reggie Bush is tentatively expected to be fine for his usual role despite being listed as Questionable with a calf injury that caused him to sit out practices Wednesday and Thursday. Bush was able to put in a limited practice on Friday and should be okay. However, this could mean an uptick in offensive snaps for Joique Bell, putting him in RB2/3 territory this week.
Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers remains OUT with his collarbone injury. Matt Flynn starts again and looks to bounce back after a horrible game on Thanksgiving. Luckily this is a much better matchup against a Falcons defense that has struggled this season. However, if the Packers lose, there's a possibility the Packers throw in the towel on the season and shut down Rodgers for the last 3 games. He's now two weeks past his anticipated return date and it's fair to wonder if the injury is worse than we've been told. It's also fair to wonder if the Packers do concede the season whether they'll bother bringing back Randall Cobb in week 15 from the IR/Designated for Return list. At least Eddie Lacy should be a great play this week.
Minnesota: Matt Cassel is expected to start with Christian Ponder OUT with a concussion. What's odd is that no one has actually said that Cassel will definitely be the starter over Josh Freeman. But it is expected. RB Adrian Peterson is fully expected to play without issue despite being Questionable on the injury report with the groin injury that's been bothering him the last few weeks.
Atlanta: TE Tony Gonzalez is Questionable but is expected to play through the toe injury that has bothered him the last few weeks. RB Steven Jackson appears to finally be looking like the RB we expected to see at the start of the season. While Jacquizz Rodgers remains the top backup to Jackson, Antone Smith continues to shine when given his all too few opportunities to run with the football. It's likely too late in the season for Smith to get much of an increase in playing time, but keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues. WR Roddy White finally had a good game, but it remains to be seen whether that was a sign of a great finish to the season or just a one week thing. I still prefer Harry Douglas as the more reliable, higher upside fantasy option.
Carolina: All 3 of RB's DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert are listed as Probable and they will each be active and play; meaning that none can be trusted as a reliable fantasy option. WR Steve Smith has been putting up reliably mediocre fantasy points but he's capable of a big game at any time and after the Saints got torched through the air last week look for Cam Newton to take a few shots Smith's way this week.
New Orleans: With all 3 of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram healthy, the unpredictable nature of their RBBC is in full swing. Thomas is the best bet of the group, but he's not a sure thing. It's nice to see that TE Jimmy Graham isn't on the injury report at all. Look for Drew Brees to bounce back after his worst game of the season last week. The Saints have a tough matchup on paper, but Carolina hasn't played against a QB anywhere near Brees's level yet this season.
Tampa Bay: WR Vincent Jackson is tentatively expected to play despite being listed as Questionable with a hamstring injury. Jackson was able to practice in limited fashion both Thursday and Friday. With Jackson kind of gimpy it won't be a surprise if Tiquan Underwood makes a strong sleeper play this week.
Arizona: Carson Palmer is Questionable and considered a game time decision because of an elbow injury suffered week 13. Tentatively he is expected to start, but he could be on a short leash if the injury is obvious when he throws passes in the game. Drew Stanton is his backup. RB Andre Ellington is Probable and should play close to his usual amount of offensive snaps after missing week 13 with a knee injury. TE Rob Housler is Questionable and while expected to play despite ankle and hip injuries, he is not a recommended fantasy play.
St. Louis: RB Zac Stacy faces a tough test this week against a strong Arizona run defense. Stacy has performed most every week though since being inserted as the starter ad he is still worthy of being a fantasy RB2. His top backup is Benny Cunningham. Former starter Daryl Richardson has been inactive recent weeks and likely will be again. While the WR corps remains a guessing game, it does appear that rookie Steadman Bailey is starting to get more playing time. TE Jared Cook makes a strong play against the team he torched for 146 yards and 2 TD's back the first week of the season. Arizona has gotten no better defending TE's since then.
San Francisco: WR Michael Crabtree came through his first game action in week 13 without any setbacks in his Achilles injury and he isn't on the week 14 injury report. Look for him to continue to get back into game shape and be more effective each week as it goes on. His return pushes Mario Manningham down to being the 49ers #3 WR. Manningham will play despite being listed as Questionable for week 14 with a knee issue, but he isn't a fantasy factor this far down the pecking order. Returning from a broken foot injury suffered earlier in the season is rookie WR Quinton Patton. But Patton is too far down to be anything more than a dynasty stash for future seasons.
Seattle: WR Percy Harvin is OUT with a hip injury. Harvin reportedly aggravated his hip in his only game action of the season back in week 11 and now it's likely that Harvin won't play again in the regular season so as to rest it up and hope he can be effective in the NFL playoffs. WR Golden Tate is Probable and will be fine despite a minor hip injury.