Follow the signal callers for the Bears, whoever starts is a must-start in the fantasy playoffs, if you don’t have your guy already. Josh McCown has played marvelously, most likely earning him a contract next season to compete for a starting job. He is in his mid-30s, but so are some other surgeons at the helm such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. McCown is flourishing with a crafty coach and dynamic athletes, keeping Chicago in the playoff picture. Jay Cutler is also in a contract year, and the starter was playing at a high level before the groin and ankle hindrances. If for some reason one is still available, scoop him up just in case he’s the guy for the next week. McCown is probably on somebody’s roster, but there’s a chance that Cutler is available after missing action.
Dolphins Quarterback, Ryan Tannehill
After back-to-back 300-yard outings, Ryan Tannehill managed three scores with an interception against Pittsburgh last week, Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick Labeau usually feasts on young quarterbacks, reeling Tannehill back in with a 200-yard performance. Tannehill has thrown 5 Tds in the past couple of weeks. Last time he played New England was on the road, in the midst of team issues he didn’t eclipse 200 yards although he threw for a pair of scores. He has found rhythm as of late and excelling in the thick of the playoff hunt, the Patriots head to Miami with division and wildcard implications. He is facing a team that allowed Big Ben to throw for 400+ yards, and last week Jason Campbell ended up with 391 yards and three TDs. Tannehill has an underneath weapon in Brian Hartline, deep threat Mike Wallace drawing the safeties to help, and versatile tight end Charles Clay beating linebackers downfield.
Packers Quarterback, Matt Flynn
Heading to Dallas with the status of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers unclear, Matt Flynn should be able to get you the numbers you need if you don’t have a clear-cut option at QB. The Cowboys have the worst defense in all of football. So, while this appears to be a plug & play based on the matchup, you roll with the prime time players in the playoffs regardless of the matchup. If you need him, Flynn threw 24-32 against another weak defense, Atlanta. That’s only 8 incompletions, going for 258 yards with a TD and a pick. Green Bay might do the fantasy world a favor by declaring Rodgers’ status by Wednesday, definitely worth a stash until word comes out. I shouldn’t have to say this, but if someone really dropped Aaron Rodgers, pick him up immediately.
Jaguars Running Back, Jordan Todman
Jacksonville has been revived, winning four of their last five games, including three straight. This has been a different team playing with pride after an 0-8 start, hampering any chance that Tennessee and Cleveland had at the playoffs when they faced off. With some players, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” they will predictably get banged up and miss time. Maurice Jones-Drew is a fan-favorite but it is what it is, and the next guy in line is Jordan Todman who was creaping into MoJo’s carries as of late. Touching the ball 26 times in the past trio of games, Todman gets the nod if Jones-Drew is sidelined, coming off a triple-digit performance (123 total yards). In case you missed it, Bobby Rainey and the Buccaneers ran all over the Bills in a route, and gaining the lead on a team results in running the ball more. In the back of my mind I will admit, that the offensive threat of Denard Robinson could get more snaps and looks too. The former Michigan QB has played in the backfield, as a receiver, and on special teams this season. Obviously, he is a threat to throw on trick plays, a couple notches lower than the value present by Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings.
Packers Running Back, James Starks
Eddie Lacy is hobbled with an ankle injury, and this is obviously a better play with Aaron Rodgers under center. It’s an interesting option to consider even if Matt Flynn is at the helm, Dallas doesn’t really stop anybody and middle linebacker Sean Lee is banged up again. Once upon a time James Starks was a fantasy football savior, and last week Lacy played through the pain but wasn’t productive. A lot of times health is the key, especially for a team with playoff hopes still alive, even at running back you want the guy that gives you the best chance to win.
Vikings Running Backs
Piggybacking off the health factor, although they are at home against a yardage-friendly defense in the Eagles, Adrian Peterson got carted off with a sprained foot and Toby Gerhart tweaked his hamstring. The next guy in line if both couldn’t give it a go, is Matt Asiata. Gerhart has shown flashes that he be a starting running back in this league, although his exposure has been limited behind a MVP. Hamstring injuries are no joke as Gerhart is doing everything he can to play. Asiata has only participated on special teams this season and understandably so, unfortunately the back from Utah has a history of injuries. In the playoffs you have to be cautious will guys lower on the depth chart, especially when the list consists of breaking a leg and tearing a knee. Coming into the draft, the second year player was though to make a position switch to fullback, he doesn’t have extensive experience there but to be positive he did have a nose for the endzone in college.
Vikings Wide Receivers
Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson are getting involved with quarterback Matt Cassel. The thing is, Christian Ponder is expected back this week and he favors the tight end although he is going through growing pains. The absence of Adrian Peterson would benefit the passing game for whoever is under center, as they have a yardage-friendly matchup at home in the dome. Philadelphia comes to town on a hot streak, the red-zone defense is tough but they allow you to move the ball up and down the field, especially through the air. Considering the defense isn’t containing many opponents, the Eagles might get a lead early and force Minnesota to throw more than usual. Playing Jennings or Patterson isn’t the worst risk in the world, they both have upside here if you need a 3rd option at the position. Jennings has been the possession receiver with Patterson getting hand-offs and returnings kicks/punts. They are utilizing the rookie in a variety of ways that would make him the better play than the veteran, more so without A.P.
Texans Wide Receiver, DeAndre Hopkins
In what has been an up-and-down rookie season, DeAndre Hopkins has had his moments and he certainly has a favorable matchup in week 15. Granted, the main man is Andre Johnson and they do love to pound the rock, but it’s not the same Houston team that handled their business in recent seasons. In a division game, Indianapolis will absolutely put full focus in covering Johnson, and the cover-2 has been quite friendly to 2nd receivers. Hopkins hasn’t scored since week 7, however he’s topped 70 yards in the last two contests. If you need a 3rd option, this is a guy gaining momentum and facing single coverage with a friendly matchup on paper. Definitely play more dependable options on your roster, even if they have so-so matchups.
Packers Wide Receiver, Randall Cobb
Just stay tuned in on the recovery of Randall Cobb. The explosive receiver developed into Aaron Rodger’s go-to guy in a short amount of time. Fracturing his leg earlier in the season, he might be on track to return along with Rodgers for a playoff run. Green Bay is a smart franchise that won’t jeopardize the health of their players though, so knowing he might not return this year you have to keep an eye on this guy even if he’s catching passes from Matt Flynn instead.
Ravens Tight End, Dennis Pitta
Joe Flacco’s favorite target returned from a hip injury last week to make his season debut in the nick of time. Baltimore is jockeying for wildcard playoff position, with slim hopes of catching Cincinnati at the top with a 2-game advantage. Pitta got 11 passes thrown his way against a struggling Minnesota defense, catching 6 of them for 48 yards and a touchdown. To remind you about his prominent role in the offense, Pitta scored in three of four playoff games last year, including the Super Bowl. Last regular season he was beginning to breakout: 94 targets, 61 receptions, 669 yards, and 7 TDs. On the road in week 15, however weather won’t be an issue in Detroit’s dome, and tight ends have had success against the Lions.
Broncos Tight End, Jacob Tamme
Last season Jacob Tamme placed third on the team in receptions and yards. Last week he stepped into the slot when receiver Wes Welker got knocked out of the game. Tamme hauled in all 4 of his targets for 47 yards from the same quarterback that jump-started his career with the Colts a few years ago. Some stats about that win over Tennessee, Denver dropped 7 passes and lost 5 fumbles in the cold, so adding a Peyton Manning weapon that caught every pass sounds low-risk with high-reward. Filling in for starter Julius Thomas a few weeks ago, Tamme grabbed 5 balls for 47 yards and a score. That is if you need him however, you aren’t going to bench your best players but he will see snaps in two-tight end sets and as a slot receiver with Welker out on Thursday Night Football when the Chargers struggling secondary comes to town.
Tampa Bay Tight End, Tim Wright
He’s not getting as many targets as he did when first inserted into the lineup, and San Francisco is an elite defense that is on a roll. All that has to be said here, is that Wright would be an absolute reach but the 49ers have given scores up to tight ends this year. Given that silver line, I hope you have a better option at tight end before it comes to this. If you lost Rob Gronkowski you should have snatched a tight end before reading this article, but this is a long-shot option if you’re desperate.