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Week 15 Fantasy Football: Last-Minute Lineup Advice

Dave Major offers some last-minute advice for the fantasy football playoffs.

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams
Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams

Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) is tackled by New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) during the first quarter of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Stewart tore his MCL in last week’s game in New Orleans. Once again, DeAngelo Williams will reclaim sole possession of the Panthers’ backfield. Since 2008, when Williams has played without Stewart in the lineup, he has averaged 16.9 touches for 90 total yards and 0.4 touchdowns. Carolina is in the playoff hunt, and their hopes will run on the legs of their eight year veteran rusher.

Jay Cutler has been officially named the starter for Chicago’s trip to Cleveland this week. The Josh McCown experiment has come to a close, but respectably. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will return to their full stud values. Cutler should be picked up and started on your fantasy football squads where available and needed. The former Vanderbilt quarterback is a free agent in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. He has completed 63.0 percent of his passes this year, while throwing 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Matt Forte should also receive a downgrade based on the quarterback shuffle. In 2013 games when McCown has started, the running back received an average of 25.4 touches for 149.4 total yards and 0.6 scores. With Cutler starting this year, Forte has averaged 21.5 touches for 105.5 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is probable for Sunday Night Football against the Steelers. He missed a couple days of practice this week with an illness. Gio Bernard will spell the starter, while continuing to work heavily on passing downs. On the season, Green-Ellis has rushed 193 times for 662 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and six scores, while Bernard has made 131 carries for 620 yards (4.7 yards per attempt) and four scores. The rookie backup has added 47 receptions for an additional 403 yards and three touchdowns, while Green-Ellis has caught three passes for another 12 yards.

Jason Campbell will make his sixth start for the Browns this week. It is also his second consecutive game since missing action for a concussion. Willis McGahee has been declared out for the game, and Chris Ogbonnaya will start in his stead. The backup has done well this year, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Ogbonnaya has earned 83 touches for 515 total yards and two touchdowns this season.

Reggie Bush said he expects to play Monday Night Football against the Ravens this week. Owners deserve to be skeptical after he missed last week’s crucial game in the fantasy playoffs. Bush is on pace for his best season to date. He is set to receive 306.8 touches for 1,775.5 total yards and 6.8 scores. Holding a place open for him past Sunday could be a high-risk, high-reward move for daring owners. If he doesn’t start, you may have wasted a starting slot.

Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle in last week’s game against Atlanta. After missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, the rookie is listed as probable for Sunday’s showdown in Dallas. Since week five, no one has rushed for more yards than Lacy. He has also recorded 28 more rushes (212) than any other back during that time. The former Alabama rusher is on pace for 317.5 touches, 1,366.3 total yards and 8.8 touchdowns. Pretty remarkable start for a promising young player. Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out, meaning another hard-to-watch affair with Matt Flynn. It seems like an eternity since he set the franchise record with six touchdowns in Week 17 of 2011. With Green Bay this year, Flynn has completed 62.5 percent of his passes, while throwing two scores and two picks. James Starks should be on the radar, but only in case anything happens to Lacy.

LaVon Brazil missed practice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and is questionable to play against Houston this week. The second year receiver has been getting more attention recently. Over the last three weeks, Brazil has caught nine passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Any missed time means the targets should return for Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton.

Maurice Jones-Drew did not practice this week, and has been listed as doubtful for Sunday’s contest against Buffalo. He pulled his hamstring in last week’s win over the Texans. Backup Jordan Todman practiced without limitation on Thursday and Friday, and is probable to start this week. After the starter left the game in Week 14, Todman received eight touches for 35 yards and a score. Denard Robinson is listed second on the team’s depth chart, but was held to two carries for a lost yard last week. For whatever reason, it seems Jacksonville has decided to jump past “Shoelace” Robinson to Jordan Todman for the replacement role.

Lamar Miller sustained a concussion against Pittsburgh in Week 14. After Miller touched the ball eight times for 33 yards, backup Daniel Thomas came in to rush 16 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Miller practiced in full this week, and it was reported that his concussion was not serious. He is not listed on the injury report, which means that all signs point to Miller making his 14th start of the year this week.

Adrian Peterson suffered a foot injury last week, but MRI and CT scan results showed no structural damage. He is questionable for this week’s game, but could be a game-time decision. Backup Toby Gerhart is also questionable, but with a strained hamstring. The team has yet to make a decision on who, if either, of these backs will start or play Sunday. The best player in football said, “It’s pain there, but it’s at the point where you have to suck some of the pain up.” Christian Ponder has been removed from the injury report, after passing concussion tests this week. It’s a good thing, too. The starter has a distinct effect on Peterson. In 2013 games without Ponder, Peterson has averaged 14.8 touches for 74.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. When Ponder has started in 2013, Peterson has earned a mean of 26.3 touches for 121.6 total yards and one score.

Rob Gronkowski was officially placed on injured reserve this week, ending his season. The 6-foot-6 tight end tore his ACL and MCL against Cleveland in Week 14. Wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were both declared out for this week’s game in Miami. More attention is coming to Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and new starting tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards last week, while also rushing three times for nine yards and a touchdown.

Rashad Jennings is probable to play Sunday. He missed last week’s game with a concussion suffered on Thanksgiving Day. Jennings passed all concussion tests this week, and should start again for Oakland. In the five games leading up to his concussion, Jennings averaged 21.2 touches for 119.2 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game. Darren McFadden was ruled out, and Matt McGloin will start the final three games for the Raiders.

Percy Harvin was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Giants. The electric young receiver returned to football in Week 11, when he caught one pass for 17 yards. That may be the final stat line for Harvin’s 2013 almanac entry. Ian Rapoport suggested that “Holding him out until the playoffs is a real option.

Michael Crabtree is probable for Sunday in Tampa Bay, but will likely be facing off against Darrelle Revis. Since returning two weeks ago, the fifth year receiver has made six receptions for 108 yards.

Delanie Walker practiced fully all week, and is probable to start Sunday against the Cardinals. Despite missing a game last week with concussion symptoms, Walker remains the 13th best tight end in receptions (45). The 6-foot-1 tight end is also 18th among all tight ends in receiving yards (454), and ninth in touchdowns (5). Walker has already set career bests with all those numbers. His career day came in week 11, when he made 10 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Jordan Reed did not practice this week, and has been ruled out for Week 15. The rookie tight end is reportedly done for the season, according to Fox Sports writer Ross Jones. He was on great pace through the first nine weeks of the season, before being injured in Week 11 in Philadelphia. Among all tight ends up to that point, Reed was seventh in targets (58), sixth in receptions (44), and eighth in yards (487). Continuing at that pace would have given him a season of 78.2 grabs for 865.8 yards and 5.3 touchdowns. Look for Kirk Cousins to hand off plenty to Alfred Morris against Atlanta’s 30th ranked rush defense.

Stats and data courtesy of and


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