December 30, 2022, 8:03 pm
Cardinals (+185) @ Falcons (-4.5): O/U: 42
Bears (+210) @ Lions (-6): O/U: 52.5
Jaguars (-3) @ Texans(+150): O/U: 43
Broncos (+540) @ Chiefs (-12.5): O/U: 45
Dolphins (+120) @ Patriots (-2): O/U: 41
Cardinals @ Falcons
Key Storylines/What to Watch
Arizona has announced David Blough will be the starter for them against the Falcons which cannot bode well for our Cardinals receiving options in fantasy. Of course whether it’s David Blough or Trace McSorley doesn’t make a difference for us as both are not options themselves, while they are serious downgrades to other options. Probably the only option we are interested in is James Conner who has scored seven touchdowns in his last six games and will be a top-option at running back. DeAndre Hopkins is the only receiver we can trust as his talent has overcome quarterback play before and the position is getting thinner as other teams have similar issues. Hopkins also suffered a knee injury Friday and that will need to be monitored before kickoff on Sunday.
Desmond Ridder is still the guy for the Falcons but not for our lineups as he has yet to prove that he can be a reliable fantasy option. Tyler Allgeier has been the talking point for many since his recent streak of outperforming starter Cordarrelle Patterson. With how well Allgeier has been playing, we have to imagine that the Falcons will look to get him more work at the expense of Patterson who seems to be out of gas. Drake London seems to have built a decent floor in PPR leagues as he is just about the only option involved in the Falcons passing game and he can be viewed as a WR3 that shouldn’t sink your team.
RB James Conner: Conner has been the Cardinals only reliable source of fantasy points for Arizona and he gets a good matchup against a Falcons team that is 18th against running backs this season. If Hopkins misses, Conner could be the entire offense for Arizona as their offensive situation looks like one of the worst in the league at this point.
RB Tyler Allgeier: Allgeier is a potential championship winner as he has been phenomenal the last couple of weeks and he gets to take on the league’s 28th worst run defense against RBs.
RB Cordarrelle Patterson: Patterson hasn’t exactly been fantasy gold over these last few weeks but he is still seeing the touches to warrant a viable option for fantasy. Even with his 12-15 touches, he can make a big play happen. He is in the mix as a RB3/FLEX play that has upside this week.
WR Greg Dortch: Dortch had the big game last week, gaining 22 PPR fantasy points and with Hopkins being added to the injury report this late in the week, this could be a week he repeats that success.
Bears @ Lions
Key Storylines/What to Watch
Moving on from a fantasy dud matchup to a potential fantasy gold matchup, the Bears’ Justin Fields appears primed to have a big performance. After struggling with a tough Buffalo defense, he finds himself in Detroit which has the league’s worst defense against fantasy quarterbacks. Khalil Herbert returned but in limited fashion which allowed David Montgomery to receive 20 touches. The Lions have had a tough run defense as of late but with the projected volume for Montgomery, he is still a solid RB2 option. We can look elsewhere for pass-catchers as the Bears have no viable fantasy starts at wide receiver. Cole Kmet can still be a viable start as he is Fields’ top receiver but even with that title, he will be seen as a low-ceiling play.
Detroit’s recent string of success came to a screeching halt last week against the Panthers but they will look to make a playoff case against the Bears at home. Jared Goff continued his fantasy success last week and is poised to extend his stretch of good performances against the 25th worst defense against fantasy quarterbacks, making him a viable option in a week with sketchy quarterback play around the league. The run game for Detoit was truly awful last week, giving us some pause before considering them as options this week. We know D’Andre Swift is too talented to be given just five opportunities but we have to understand that that type of workload is in the cards for him. Jamaal Williams hasn’t been fantasy relevant in the last three weeks so moving on from him appears to be the play. Amon-Ra St. Brown is still the receiver we want to utilize and he remains must-start while D.J. Chark could be the sneaky play we need this week as well.
QB Justin Fields: Coming off his worst performance since Week 3, Fields will look to bounce back against the team he dropped 41 fantasy points against the last time he faced them. His upside with the Bears wanting to finish the season strong makes a good case for Fields to be a top option this week.
QB Jared Goff: Both quarterbacks are in play in this matchup that boasts a 52.5 over/under line. Goff didn’t have to do much the last time these teams met, but this time will be different with more on the line for the Lions this week. Goff could see 40-plus pass attempts again as they fight for a playoff spot.
RB Khalil Herbert: Herbert returned from injury last week and was limited. He could look to improve on his eight touches and pick up where he left off before his injury and split or take over the backfield in the process.
WR D.J. Chark: Chark has been a solid WR2 in three of his last four weeks and with teams focusing more on St. Brown, he could make for a valuable deep threat for Goff. He is the type of player that can have a big day with just one play.
Jaguars @ Texans
Key Storylines/What to Watch
A matchup with little true meaning for the playoffs as the Jaguars are more interested in their matchup with the Titans next week as that matchup will determine the division winner. Trevor Lawrence is currently questionable for this matchup but it appears he will be out there in a tough matchup for quarterbacks as teams find a lot of success on the ground. That makes Travis Etienne a solid play against the league’s worst run defense and Etienne has looked better over the last two weeks as opposed to when he was struggling Weeks 12 through 14. Christian Kirk must still be started while Zay Jones is more of a FLEX play especially after his dud last week in a weather game. Evan Engram has been on a tear over the last four weeks and with the position the way it is for fantasy currently, he will be a top-10 option this week as we hope it continues.
One of the teams with the fewest fantasy options is the Texans who should play a scrappy game. Davis Mills will make another start but he is not someone to target for fantasy. Royce Freeman led the team in carries with 17 last week in the upset win, but he only mustered 38 total yards. With that type of volume, he can be in the RB3/FLEX mix but he is not someone we are looking to start. Brandin Cooks will be starting in his second game since returning from an injury and he remains an uninspiring WR3, joining the sadness of the other receivers in that range.
RB Travis Etienne: Probably the only player in this matchup we can be excited to start is Etienne who can be projected to have a huge day. There isn’t a better matchup for him as we should be sure to have Etienne in our championship lineups.
WR Chris Moore: With Brandin Cooks back, Moore makes for more of a dart-throw than someone we are looking to start. Even with Cooks back, Moore led all receivers in snaps last week and could look to repeat that and turn some of those targets into fantasy points as he did in the past.
WR Zay Jones: He may have graduated from this section of our articles over recent weeks, but after Week 16, many people may have moved on. Understandably so ,however, this could be the type of game he gets back on track as last week was a matchup against the weather as well.
Broncos @ Chiefs
Key Storylines/What to Watch
The Broncos will play their first game without fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett and find themselves double-digit underdogs against the rival Chiefs. Russell Wilson has had a truly terrible season in all facets and remains unusable in fantasy’s most important week. Latavius Murray has led the team’s backfield since Melvin Gordon departed and though his production has been inconsistent, he can be a viable start with his goal-line job and volume. Courtland Sutton has been removed from the injury report and can be inserted back into lineups as a non-exciting WR3 play while Jerry Jeudy has been consistent and playing well which makes him a start as well. Greg Dulcich has been placed on IR which means this team has no tight end options we can consider starting.
Kansas City finds themselves as double-digit favorites in yet another matchup this season, this time against rival Broncos who are mostly playing for dignity at this point. Kansas City still has a lot to play for as the Bills are contesting them for the top seed and a bye which means we will get an all-out effort from Patrick Mahomes who has been the league’s most consistent QB1 this season. Isiah Pacheco has been getting the volume with carries but not catching passes limits his ceiling in PPR formats while Jerick McKinnon has taken over that role and has been a steady PPR RB2 lately. Juju Smith-Shuster didn’t have a great game last week along with the rest of the pass-catchers since Mahomes completed just 16 passes, but he should get back on track as he has been Mahomes’ top target and that will continue. Marquez Valdez-Scantling was shut down last week but with Mecole Hardman ruled out, he could be in line for some action this week. Travis Kelce is the top tight end option and there is no chance you don’t start him this week.
QB Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes is a must-start even against a tough Broncos defense. The last time he faced this team, he threw three touchdown passes and we can expect a similar scenario this time around as they will try to take the top seed in the AFC.
RB Isiah Pacheco: For those in non-PPR formats, Pacheco is a better start as his volume is valuable. We just need him to get more involved in goal-line situations as he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 13.
RB Jerick McKinnon: The other side of the Chiefs running back coin is McKinnon who will be more valuable in PPR formats as his pass-catching has been a critical part of the Chiefs offense.
TE Travis Kelce: Mahomes most trusted receiving option is Kelce who has been the position’s most consistent player and will be started in all championship matchups he is rostered in.
WR Marquez Valdez-Scantling: Valdez-Scantling put up a goose egg last week but with his deep-threat ability, all he needs is one play to pay off in fantasy and Denver has been prone to giving up fantasy points to the position lately.
RB Chase Edmonds: Edmonds finally got a crack at things with his new team, though it was in garbage time. His eight touches aren’t nothing and if he can be involved in the passing game, he can be the Broncos’ Jerick McKinnon.
Dolphins @ Patriots
Key Storylines/What to Watch
Miami will look to hold on to playoff spot against a tough Patriots defense as the crowd behind them gets larger and their hold on the spot is loosening. Teddy Bridgewater will make his first appearance since Week 6 and will try to will this team into the playoffs. For fantasy, we will have no interest in Bridgewater outside of dire situations. Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert split the workload last week and that will likely continue, making both risky starts this week. Neither are really involved in the passing game but with Bridgewater starting, that could change. However, it will be a fool’s errand to try and predict how exactly this situation will play out, making both options flexes at best. Something that we can actually count on is the production of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill as even Bridgewater should have the capacity to get the ball in their hands and have them work their magic after the catch.
New England is currently outside of the playoffs looking in and will probably need help getting in even if they can manage to win out. Mac Jones will do what he can to try but as far as fantasy goes, he is off our radar unless desperation sets in. Rhamondre Stevenson has been this team’s best fantasy option but that was without Damien Harris who is expected to play this week. Harris lowers Stevenson’s ceiling, but he will still need to be in lineups as he has been productive with Harris active. Jakobi Meyers scored his first touchdown since Week 8 last week and he can be a useful WR3 or FLEX as he has been the Patriots best pass-catcher for most of the season. The Patriot DST has scored double-digit fantasy points in three-straight weeks and with a backup coming to town that trend could continue, making this unit a solid start.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson: The player the Patriots will rely on most is Stevenson who has been a bit inconsistent lately but is also prone to having big performances even with Damien Harris healthy.
WR Tyreek Hill: Hill has proven to be a must-start no matter what adversity comes his way as his ability after the catch makes him too valuable to consider benching.
WR Jaylen Waddle: Much like Hill, Waddle’s YAC ability makes him a must-start regardless of who is starting at quarterback.
QB Teddy Bridgewater: With the current state of quarterback play around the league, many are needing to make a change at quarterback in fantasy and Bridgewater should be at the top of managers’ lists needing to make a change. In Teddy’s last start, he earned 22 fantasy points and could hit that marker again.
WR Kendrick Bourne: Bourne had the big game last week, catching six passes on nine targets for 100 yards and a touchdown while also being involved in the run game. Bourne has big-play upside and if you’re in need of a sneaky high ceiling play, Bourne could get you there with a big play.