Johnny Manziel, Browns
The smart money is on Manziel taking over as the Cleveland Browns starter this week against the Indianapolis Colts. He replaced an ineffective Brian Hoyer in a big game this week against the Buffalo Bills, finishing 5 of 8 for 63 yards and adding 13 yards and a touchdown on the ground. With just one touchdown in his last four games and six interceptions in his last three, Hoyer’s days as the Browns starter appear to be over.
Colt McCoy, Redskins
McCoy has thrown for 691 yards with three touchdown passes and a single pick in his two starts this season, averaging 27.2 PPG in those games. There aren’t any indications the Washington Redskins plan to go back to RGIII and the next four weeks feature opposing passing defenses each ranked 19th or lower.
Geno Smith, Jets
I know that nobody in their right mind would start him but I had to have him here to point out that he threw only eight passes in the first 58 minutes of this week’s Monday night game. Wow. That’s unheard of.
Tre Mason, Rams
Yes, it was the Oakland Raiders. Yes, a huge chunk of his yardage came on a 89 yard touchdown run and a 35 yard touchdown reception. However, Mason is very clearly capable of delivering explosive plays on a regular basis and he is getting plenty of opportunity, averaging 20.4 touches per game over the St. Louis Rams’ last five games. While we can’t expect 164 total yard, three touchdown performances every week from him, he certainly has the look of a solid RB2 the rest of the way.
Steven Jackson, Falcons
Sjax seems to have found some late season mojo in his 31 year old legs, reaching double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games. This week, he needed just 18 carries to top 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 12 of the 2012 season. With upcoming opposition running defenses ranked 29th, 10th, 23rd and 19th and averaging 18 touches per game over his last five games, Sjax seems primed to finish the season strong.
Marion Grice, Cardinals
With Andre Ellington‘s status in doubt for this week’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Grice may get an opportunity to start. However, he would likely share the load with recently signed Michael Bush and Stepfan Taylor so this one is a lukewarm MU.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Another lukewarm endorsement goes out to Stewart. He ran well this week with 85 yards on 12 carries while also hauling in a pair of receptions for 25 yards. He should be in line for a workhorse role with DeAngelo Williams out with a broken hand. However, even though the Panthers face some baby bum soft run defenses in the coming weeks, you can be sure that Stewart won’t take advantage of this golden opportunity. Why? Because he never does.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals
After a string of solid performances, Hill managed just 52 yards on 17 touches this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and followed up that performance by questioning the team’s game plan. Head coach Marvin Lewis responded by questioning Hill’s running ability (paraphrasing a bit there). That’s never a good thing.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Let’s face it – his huge week wasn’t exactly surprising. Entering Week 13, Hopkins had averaged 9.6 targets per game over his last five games. This week against a sorry Tennessee Titans squad, he caught all nine of his targets for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns, all career highs. The Texans face passing defenses ranked 27th, 20th, 29th and 27th over the next four weeks.
Stedman Bailey, Rams
After setting a career high with 89 receiving yards in Week 12, Bailey followed up that performance by setting a new career high with 100 receiving yards this week against the Raiders. It would have been even better had the Rams not put on the brakes in their 52-0 blowout win. Bailey seems to have a solid rapport with quarterback Shaun Hill and could be useful in larger leagues over the balance of the season.
Keenan Allen, Chargers
After a lacklustre first ten games of the season, Allen is getting hot at just the right time with 17 receptions for 225 yards and three touchdowns in wins over the Rams and Ravens. Here’s hoping his sophomore slump remains a thing of the past.
Robert Woods, Bills
Sammy Watkins has been injured and ineffective, opening the door a crack for Woods, who has 13 receptions for 189 yards and a score on 18 targets over the past two weeks. Of course, the Bills are led by Doug Marrone so there’s a chance he decides to increase the role of journeyman Chris Hogan at Woods’ expense.
Reggie Wayne, Colts
Seven receptions for 41 yards in his last two games and just one touchdown over his last seven games, Wayne is clearly struggling.
Sammy Watkins, Bills
Injuries (including an injured hip this week), poor quarterback play and maybe, just maybe hitting the rookie wall have all conspired to see Watkins manage just 13 receptions for 105 yards and no touchdowns on 29 targets over his last four games. At this point, Watkins owners shouldn’t be afraid of sitting him on their bench.
Corrdarelle Patterson, Vikings
Not sure it’s public knowledge yet as to why Patterson barely saw the field this week (including not playing a single snap in the first half) but I do know that his fantasy value is at an all time low.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers
While a letdown was to be expected after his marvellous four game run (310 yards and six touchdowns), Bryant’s fantasy owners have seen a precipitous decline over his last two games. In games against the Titans and Saints (not exactly the stoutest defenses in the league), Bryant has managed just three receptions on nine targets for 34 yards.
Coby Fleener, Colts
Fleener owners just might get rewarded at precisely the right time. With Dwayne Allen out of the lineup since Week 9, Fleener has topped 100 receiving yards in two of his last three games and is averaging 13.9 PPG over his last four games. Also helping matters are the continued struggles of Reggie Wayne.
Jordan Reed, Redskins
It’s about time. Reed finally rewarded his fantasy owners this week, catching nine of 11 passes against the Colts for 123 yards. With 18 targets in the two games Colt McCoy has started, expect him to be solid as long as McCoy stays under center.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
While his production hasn’t plummeted over the past six games (390 receiving yards and 6.5 PPG), it’s worth noting that Olsen hasn’t scored in any of those games.
In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:
Doug Martin, Bucs – Getting the touches (31 in his last two games) but still not doing enough with them.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Love his potential but his 134 yard, two touchdown performance isn’t repeatable give the low number of targets he usually gets (more than five just once all season).
Chris Johnson, Jets – Sure, he topped 100 receiving yards for the first time as a Jet but it won’t take long for opposing defenses to figure out the Jets won’t let Geno Smith throw the ball. Oh wait, the Dolphins had it figured out by the 2nd half.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans – Six touchdowns was sweet but also a fluke. There is a reason he was benched earlier this season by first year head coach Bill O’Brien. It’s because he’s not that good.