If you’re still reading this column, congratulations. You’re either in the fantasy football playoffs this weekend, or you just really like football. Either way, glad to have you on board. We’re rounding the corner and headed for home, with just two weeks left in most standard fantasy leagues, although some leagues go the distance through Week 17. In any event, now more than ever, it is very important to mine those last-minute free-agents who could put your lineup over the top. Either that, or some of these guys are worth squirreling away in the event your opponent, or future opponents, has a glaring weakness. You could keep them from improving by simply stashing away potential help on your bench.
Good luck in Week 15!
Donnie Avery, WR, Indianapolis: Avery hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers, and he probably should have had a touchdown grab last weekend, but was unable to haul it in against the Titans. Still, he has a pair of scores in the past three games, and he has been targeted at least eight times in each contest during that span. He has the potential to be a solid WR3/4 or ‘flex’ play if he and QB Andrew Luck can get on the same page. Luck likes to throw his way, as is evidenced by the targets, and a 100-yard game with a score wouldn’t be out of the question in Houston, because the Colts aren’t likely to find much success on the ground.
Joique Bell, RB, Detroit: Bell rolled for 49 yards on 12 carries, and he had a total of 96 yards from scrimmage thanks to his soft hands out of the backfield. Bell was targeted seven times, which is a stat those in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues will certainly smile about. As long as Mikel Leshoure is healthy, Bell’s fantasy ceiling is a bit limited, but if he can get 12-16 touches per game down the stretch, he isn’t a terrible ‘flex’ play.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington: There are indications coming out of D.C. that QB Robert Griffin III (knee) will sit this week due to the knee injury he suffered late in the overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. Cousins came off the bench cold, engineered a game-tying touchdown drive with a scoring strike to WR Pierre Garcon, and then finished off the Ravens by leading his team to a field goal in OT. Cousins isn’t the flashy guy RGIII is, but he should be a decent caretaker of the offense, especially against a Browns defense which has improved, but still ranks 23rd in total defense.
Kai Forbath, PK, Washington: If you need a fantasy kicker, like to play the matchups, and more importantly like to roll the dice, then Forbath might be for you. He has drilled all five of his field goal attempts over the past three games, while piling up nine extra points for an average of eight points per game. This week, he might see more field goal opportunities in Cleveland, especially if Cousins starts. A stalling offense near the red zone with a solid, yet inexperienced QB, might mean Forbath hits double-digits in production.
DuJuan Harris, RB, Green Bay: We’re not suggesting Harris be plugged into starting fantasy lineups immediately, especially going against a stout Chicago Bears defense this weekend, but he is an intriguing player worth rostering going forward for those still alive in their playoffs. Harris made his first NFL start in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions, rolling for 31 yards on seven carries with a score. At the very least, he will be considered as part of a three-headed rushing monster with Alex Green and Ryan Grant going forward. If he can secure a bulk of the carries, he would be a useful ‘flex’ option in the final two weeks, but he is just reserve-worthy this weekend.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago: Jeffery was back from knee surgery, and he found the end zone in Week 14 at Minnesota. He nearly had a second score but flubbed one in the third quarter. The rookie has been a little uneven and injury-prone this season, but he has displayed some playmaking ability when he is on the field. The Packers are rather marginal against the pass, allowing 235.2 yards per game through the air, so he could emerge as a useful WR4 or ‘flex’ play for Sunday’s game.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia: Maclin has been shuttled to the waiver wire lately by a lot of fantasy owners with an itchy trigger finger. And yes, he has struggled since, even before the changeover from Michael Vick (concussion) to Nick Foles. But, Maclin was targeted 13 times last weekend in Tampa Bay, and he was on the receiving end of the last-second heroics by Foles in the final seconds of the Week 14 win against the Buccaneers. Maclin finished with nine grabs, 104 yards and the score. It was his first visit to the end zone since Week 10, and his first 100-yard game since Week 6. He shouldn’t be considered as anything more than a WR3/4 or ‘flex’ play, but he has WR2 potential against a Bengals pass defense facing a short week to prepare for a quarterback with not a lot of game film.
Rams DST, St. Louis: The St. Louis Rams defense isn’t usually thought about as a top-tier option, but they have managed three defensive/special teams scores over the past three weeks while allowing just 14.0 ppg. In addition, the Rams have piled up 10 sacks, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a safety during the span. They’re not quite elite level for fantasy owners, but in a matchup at home against Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder, the Rams might be worth a look. They have also allowed less than 100 yards per game on the ground during the span, so don’t be scared off by the specter of RB Adrian Peterson running wild. He won’t.