It’s the last week of the regular season in most fantasy football leagues. Here’s a look at who to start or sit.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers QB
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Since reclaiming the starting job in a Week 6 loss to the Bills, Kaepernick still hasn’t gotten a win. But from a fantasy perspective, he’s been fairly productive. In six starts, he’s thrown for 1,440 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 373 yards and touchdown. Kaepernick is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season — 296 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception and 113 rushing yards to lead quarterbacks in fantasy points with 34.14 in standard scoring leagues. The Bears’ defense has allowed the 14th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, according to Yahoo!, but its given up the 22nd most rushing yards to those quarterbacks. Kaepernick’s a low-end QB1.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins QB
Cousins continues to defy expectations. In a losing effort to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, he threw for 449 yards and three touchdowns. It was his second 400-yard game of the season and his third straight game without an interception. The Cardinals’ defense ranks second against the pass with 195.1 yards allowed per game. While he’s typically been a QB1 this season, with the tough matchup, he’s more of a QB2 this week.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals QB
Palmer just hasn’t been the same this season. The veteran is 22nd in fantasy points among quarterbacks after finishing fifth last season. Part of the problem has been a lack of protection behind a banged-up offensive line. The Cardinals changed personnel at three of the five spots last week in a loss to the Falcons, and the new unit actually fared better than the week before against the Vikings. Palmer was sacked by the Falcons just twice, though they did start to get to him later in the game. The Redskins are tied for seventh with 28 sacks, with Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy leading the way, so they should put plenty of pressure on Palmer. He’s been downgraded to a QB2 going forward.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers RB
Stewart is coming off one of his best games of the season. He rushed for a season-high 96 yards on 17 carries (a season-best 5.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in a loss to the Raiders. But the Raiders have allowed 116.9 rushing yards per game, 26th in the league. In his previous three games, Stewart had combined for just 112 rushing yards and 2.43 ypc. The Seahawks’ defense is tied for third at 3.5 yards allowed per carry, making Stewart more of an RB2 this week at CenturyLink.
Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens RB
After a flash of big-time fantasy production from Weeks 4 through 6, West has slowed down significantly. In his last five games, West has averaged just 37.2 rushing yards and scored once. In that same span, rookie Kenneth Dixon has seen an increased role, matching West’s 13 carries in last week’s win over the Bengals. Dixon also had four catches for 31 yards for a season-high 17 touches, and he took more snaps than West. The Dolphins’ defense has allowed only two rushing touchdowns in its last five games, which doesn’t bode well for West. He’s a flex at best this week and likely into the playoffs.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Ryan Mathews was out with a knee injury Monday, and he didn’t practice Wednesday, so his status is in question yet again. Smallwood, who’s been more involved in the Eagles’ offense the past three weeks, outcarried Darren Sproles last week and should do the same if Mathews is unable to play Sunday. But Sproles still is the better fantasy option than Smallwood — 31 snaps to 22, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bengals rank 28th against the run with 120.5 yards allowed per game, so Smallwood’s a nice flex option.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills WR
After missing eight games with a broken bone in his foot, Watkins returned last week and made three catches for 80 yards in a win over the Jaguars. Watkins missed practice Wednesday with foot soreness but returned Thursday, a positive sign that he’ll play Sunday. It’s a risky start, though, as Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn told reporters it’s unclear “whether he’s gonna play one play or 20 plays.” But even in a limited role against Jacksonville, he was healthy enough to beat Jalen Ramsey down the sideline for a 62-yard reception. The Raiders have been suspceptible to big plays -- they’ve given up 40 pass plays of 20 or more yards. As seemingly a big-play-or-bust option, Watkins is a WR3.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals WR
Since A.J. Green suffered a hamstring injury on Nov. 20, the Bengals have looked to Boyd in his absence. In his last two games, Boyd has 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Green is expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles, who have given up the seventh most fantasy points to wide receivers in standard scoring leagues, according to Yahoo! Boyd’s a solid WR3 option, especially in PPR leagues.
Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots WR
vs. Los Angeles
With Rob Gronkowski likely out for the season with a herniated disc in his back, Mitchell should continue to be a productive piece of the Pats’ offense. He has nine catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games, compared with seven catches for 95 yards and zero touchdowns in his previous eight games. Despite his increase in production, Mitchell still has been limited on the field. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan well outsnapped Mitchell, who played 47 percent of snaps, in a win over the Jets on Sunday. The 5-11 Mitchell is one of the team’s better red-zone targets, but against the top scoring defense, it’ll be hard to get in the end zone. Mitchell’s a low-end WR3 or flex.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans TE
at Green Bay
Fiedorowicz has been a consistent part of the Texans’ offense as a pass-catcher over the last eight games. In that span, he has 37 catches for 422 yards and three touchdowns. The third-year tight end is battling a shoulder injury and was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but he’s expected to play Sunday. The Packers are 31st in yards allowed per game to tight ends and have given up the seventh most fantasy points to tight ends in standard scoring leagues, according to Yahoo!, making Fiedorowicz a low-end TE1.