Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
The audible cheer you heard in the distance earlier this week was from the owners of Green Bay Packers wide receivers in fantasy. The news Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) is returning has the tendency to do that. Rodgers is likely to show rust early against the Chicago Bears, but we should fully expect that game to get ridiculously loose with two offensive-minded head coaches matching wits in a winner-take-all match for the NFC North.
Heck, even Randall Cobb (knee) might be active and an option Sunday.
Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson’s potential loss for the season finale to his lingering knee issue is Burleson’s gain. The veteran receiver is likely to be a large part of the game plan, even if Johnson plays in the limited capacity he did a week ago. The Minnesota Vikings defense has been one of the most abused units in fantasy against wide receivers, so if you need a fill-in option, feel confident in the targets Burleson—and perhaps even Kris Durham—will get here.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
Cooper’s season started precariously, but it will finish with him impacting your fantasy championship. Nick Foles has turned up the gas on Chip Kelly’s high-octane attack, and Cooper has been the alternative to throwing to DeSean Jackson all the time.
What is most likely to lure you into starting Cooper this week, though, are the struggles the Dallas Cowboys have had against the pass and wide receivers in fantasy. Cooper looks headed for a clutch double-digit week.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Despite the disappointing Week 16 performance against the Baltimore Ravens, we have surmised Amendola would be the leading option to pick up the slack for Rob Gronkowski‘s (knee) loss for the season. Amendola’s best production has come with Gronk out. Against the Bills—a team in the bottom 10 of fantasy against wide receivers and one that couldn’t stop Amendola in the season opener—we should feel confident starting the veteran slot receiver in all fantasy leagues.
Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers
This week lines up nicely for the secondary options in Cam Newton’s passing attack. First, Steve Smith is out, giving more regular snaps and targets to LaFell and Ginn. Then, the Panthers are facing an Atlanta Falcons defense that has been in the bottom 10 of fantasy against wide receivers all season.
LaFell or Ginn shouldn’t be receivers you’re anxious to get in your lineup in crunch time, but the circumstances have combined to make them at least viable options.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
You should fully prepare to be without Megatron for your fantasy finale, regardless of his “questionable” status. He is only listed that way after not practicing this week to give his opponents something to prepare for, we say. Megatron has tried to downplay reports he has played through a PCL tear, but the facts are he is not 100 percent and the Lions shouldn’t risk him seriously damaging that knee for 2014 with absolutely nothing to play for—save for coach Jim Schwartz’s job.
If Schwartz plays Megatron here and something bad happens, he might never be a head coach in the NFL again. Expect Johnson to be held out.
Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams
Just the mere menagerie you see here is enough to sit all of these guys. Throw in the facts the Rams are a running team with Zac Stacy’s emergence and Kellen Clemens is the quarterback don’t help either.
Oh, and by the way, the Seattle Seahawks are at home, coming off a loss and really, really good. Seattle is No. 1 against the pass, No. 1 against fantasy wide receivers and absolutely a defense to sit anyone against—particularly these marginal guys in crunch time.
David Nelson, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
The Jets will try to play spoiler in Miami to attempt to save Rex Ryan’s job, but their best chance of attacking the Dolphins defense will be to run right at it. It might open up something in the play-action game perhaps—like it did in Nelson’s recent two-touchdown performance—but you cannot trust Geno Smith against a decent defense. The Dolphins are at least that. They have been one of the best in fantasy against wide receivers all year, too.
Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy, New York Giants
If fantasy 2013 has taught us anything, it has been to be afraid, very afraid, of starting Eli Manning’s wide receivers. Even with Victor Cruz (knee) out for the season, Nicks hasn’t been trustworthy. Randle has been banged up, too.
Jernigan is coming off a productive week, and the Washington Redskins have been in the bottom 10 against fantasy wideouts, but sit all of your Giants receivers to keep your sanity this Sunday.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
The second-year receiver has blossomed into a reliable NFL and fantasy starter this season, but you cannot run him out there with any confidence this week. Not only has Carson Palmer been banged up physically and less productive statistically, the San Francisco 49ers defense is still one you don’t want to mess with if you can avoid it. You have better options on your bench than Floyd this week.
|1||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. Phi||4||+3|
|2||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. GB||2||0|
|3||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at Dal||9||+6|
|4||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. Bal||3||-1|
|5||Josh Gordon||Cle||at Pit||1||-4|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Den||at Oak||5||-1|
|7||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. GB||6||-1|
|8||Pierre Garcon||Was||at NYG||7||-1|
|9||Jordy Nelson||GB||at Chi||13||+4|
|10||Eric Decker||Den||at Oak||10||0|
|11||Andre Johnson||Hou||at Ten||14||+3|
|12||Julian Edelman||NE||vs. Buf||12||0|
|13||Danny Amendola||NE||vs. Buf||31||+18|
|14||James Jones||GB||at Chi||27||+13|
|15||Roddy White||Atl||vs. Car||20||+5|
|16||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. NYJ||18||+2|
|17||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Cle||8||-9|
|18||Vincent Jackson||TB||at NO||15||-3|
|19||Keenan Allen||SD||vs. KC||11||-8|
|20||Marques Colston||NO||vs. TB||16||-4|
|21||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. SF||17||-4|
|22||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Cin||22||0|
|23||Anquan Boldin||SF||at Ari||29||+6|
|24||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. Hou||25||+1|
|25||Michael Crabtree||SF||at Ari||24||-1|
|26||Brandon LaFell||Car||at Atl||37||+11|
|27||Riley Cooper||Phi||at Dal||21||-6|
|28||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Det||28||0|
|29||Mike Brown||Jac||at Ind||52||+23|
|30||Jarrett Boykin||GB||at Chi||36||+6|
|31||Doug Baldwin||Sea||vs. StL||35||+4|
|32||Calvin Johnson||Det||at Min||19||-13|
|33||Golden Tate||Sea||vs. StL||38||+5|
|34||Cordarrelle Patterson||Min||vs. Det||30||-4|
|35||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. Jac||23||-12|
|36||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. Den||43||+7|
|37||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. NYJ||26||-11|
|38||Randall Cobb||GB||at Chi||58||+20|
|39||Robert Woods||Buf||at NE||44||+5|
|40||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at Ten||62||+22|
|41||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. Phi||78||+37|
|42||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Was||33||-9|
|43||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. Bal||82||+39|
|44||Ace Sanders||Jac||at Ind||61||+17|
|45||David Nelson||NYJ||at Mia||74||+29|
|46||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. Car||39||-7|
|47||Andre Holmes||Oak||vs. Den||53||+6|
|48||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||at Mia||79||+31|
|49||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. Hou||45||-4|
|50||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Cle||46||-4|
|51||Da’Rick Rogers||Ind||vs. Jac||51||0|
|52||Lavon Brazill||Ind||vs. Jac||93||+41|
|53||Marquise Goodwin||Buf||at NE||92||+39|
|54||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Cin||67||+13|
|55||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Was||42||-13|
|56||Tavon Austin||StL||at Sea||97||+41|
|57||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. SF||32||-25|
|58||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. Hou||64||+6|
|59||Marvin Jones||Cin||vs. Bal||34||-25|
|60||Donnie Avery||KC||at SD||72||+12|
|61||Nate Burleson||Det||at Min||48||-13|
|62||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. Phi||63||+1|
|63||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||vs. Cle||50||-13|
|64||Chris Givens||StL||at Sea||101||+37|
|65||Ted Ginn||Car||at Atl||55||-10|
|66||Tiquan Underwood||TB||at NO||89||+23|
|67||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Det||83||+16|
|68||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Mia||65||-3|
|69||Lance Moore||NO||vs. TB||75||+6|
|70||Santana Moss||Was||at NYG||73||+3|
|71||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. TB||77||+6|
|72||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. SF||85||+13|
|73||Greg Little||Cle||at Pit||95||+22|
|74||Kris Durham||Det||at Min||47||-27|
|75||Vincent Brown||SD||vs. KC||86||+11|
|76||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. Jac||107||+31|
|77||Jason Avant||Phi||at Dal||81||+4|
|78||Rishard Matthews||Mia||vs. NYJ||71||-7|