By: Conner Handel
Zach Miller – Bears TE
With the slew of injuries to the Bears receiving corps, Miller has turned into one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets. Martellus Bennett’s season is over and with his loss Miller has taken on the Bears top tight end duties. He has certainly taken advantage of the increased role, accumulating five touchdowns in the past six games. That’s nearly twice as many scores as Bennett all season, three touchdowns. Miller is dealing with an illness but should be good to go Sunday. Aside from Alshon Jeffery, he is the only member of the receiving corps to record more than two catches last week. Look for him to once again have a big role, especially in the red zone.
Texans – D/ST
The Texans have been a disappointing fantasy defense this year, especially given the plethora of talent they have on the D-line between J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney. But this week they are a must-start. Why, you ask? Charlie Whitehurst. Without Andrew Luck, the Colts have already been giving up plenty of points to opposing defenses, allowing three defensive touchdowns the last two weeks, but now they will lean on their third-string quarterback. In his brief appearance last week, Whitehurst completed just 2-of-8 passes and threw a pick. Look for his struggles to continue and the Texans D to flourish.
Michael Floyd – Cardinals WR
This one is not as sneaky, but you could really fill-in just about any Arizona wideout here, facing the Eagles who have given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other team. Floyd has dealt with a hamstring injury late this season, but since week 12 he appears to have returned to form. He is coming off consecutive 100-yard performances on a combined 12 catches. He has reached the century-mark in four of his last five games and has scored four touchdowns in that span. Look for him to continue his dominance against one of the NFL’s weakest secondaries.
Bench the Buzz
Javorius Allen – Ravens RB
Since Justin Forsett went down in week 11 Allen has been a huge component of the Raven’s passing game with 26 catches and two touchdowns in four games. That number is slightly inflated due to a 12 catch performance in week 13, but that’s still about five catches a game in the other three. He has not been nearly as effective on the ground, failing to reach 70 yards rushing in a game or record a single rushing touchdown this year. It helps Schaub is expected to start again at quarterback, but the Chiefs have been dominant against running backs this year allowing the fourth fewest points. Look for Allen to put together a second consecutive sluggish performance this week.
Bryce Brown – Seahawks RB
This goes for ANY Seahawks running back after Rawls suffered a season-ending broken ankle last week. Carroll said he plans on “riding the hot-hand” at running back, a phrase fantasy owners hate. And it’s not like there are just a couple mouths to feed. There are three. Bryce Brown, Fred Jackson, and Christine Michael. There is really no telling for sure who will get the first crack at starting duties, but if longevity tells us anything it would have to be Jackson, the only running back the Seahawks have not parted ways with at some point this year. But Jackson has not rushed more than seven times in a game this season. Brown is the one receiving a lot of hype, but he has not recorded an NFL carry in about a year and a week. One of the three could end up having a big week, but not even a single coin flip could tell you which one.
Fozzy Whittaker – Panthers RB
Jonathan Stewart has put together quite the season so far, as he is fourth in the league in rushing yards and just 11 yard shy of 1,000, but the Panthers will have to look to someone else Sunday with him sidelined with a foot injury. Coach Ron Rivera said his replacement will likely be third-year back out of Texas, Fozzy Whittaker. But he has never attempted double-digit carries in a game and will also compete with Mike Tolbert and Cameron Artis-Payne for touches. With all that congestion in the backfield and no track record of success for Whittaker, it would be wise to steer clear of him this week.