Fantasy by Jay Skurski: Don’t sleep on these potential late-season difference-makers - The Buffalo News
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Fantasy by Jay Skurski: Don’t sleep on these potential late-season difference-makers

If this column means something to you this week, congratulations.

That means you’re either in the fantasy postseason, or still have something to play for in Week 14.

As such, here’s a look at a few sleeper players who could swing the results in your favor this weekend:

Shane Vereen, RB, New England: He’s seen his point total go up in the past three weeks, and scored a touchdown on one of his 15 touches in Week 14. Vereen is especially solid in points-per-reception leagues. He has 21 catches the past three games.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona: Rookie Andre Ellington sat out last week for the Cardinals, giving Mendenhall the chance to put up season highs for carries (18) and yards (76). He didn’t reach the end zone, but his opponent Sunday, St. Louis, has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle: Baldwin has at least 60 yards receiving in his past four games, and has scored touchdowns in three of them. The matchup is tough this week against San Francisco, but Baldwin is worthy of being a No. 3 or flex receiver.

Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed 28 passes to Wright over the last month. There is a good chance the Titans will be chasing points Sunday against Denver.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta: After watching him in Toronto last Sunday, I’m convinced Ryan is a good quarterback just having a down season. Ryan threw for 311 yards and a touchdown against the Bills, and faces a Green Bay team on Sunday that was beaten up on Thanksgiving Day by Detroit. With Roddy White once again healthy and a running game that’s started to pick up steam, Ryan is once again relevant for fantasy purposes.

Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis: Cook smoked the Cardinals for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. It’s been downhill since then, but he gets the rematch with Arizona on Sunday. The Cardinals have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including six in the past three weeks.

Oakland defense: The Raiders have a good matchup against the Jets on Sunday. New York has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, and has allowed 15 or more fantasy points in four of the past five games to defenses. Oakland scored a defensive touchdown last week, and has been a decently consistent unit.

Gordon going crazy

Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon is the hottest player in fantasy football. Just look at these numbers over the past three games – 29 catches, 623 yards(!) and four touchdowns.

Gordon has 64 catches for 1,249 yards and seven touchdowns in just 10 games played. Projected over a 16-game season, that works out to a pace of 102 catches, 1,998 yards and 11 touchdowns. That would be the most single-season receiving yards in NFL history. Gordon already has entered the record books by becoming the first receiver in league history to post back-to-back 200-yard receiving games.

Given that he was suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon is also one of the best values in fantasy football. His average draft position was 110 in CBS Sports leagues.

Gordon’s upcoming schedule includes a trip to New England on Sunday, then a home game against Chicago. If he keeps it up, he could decide several fantasy championships.

Analyzing the Bills

Running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have a good chance of going back-to-back weeks with solid fantasy production. The Tampa Bay run defense has allowed an average of 5.0 yards per carry and 343 yards over the past three weeks.

Spiller (149 yards, one touchdown) and Jackson (78 total yards, two touchdowns) both put up big fantasy days against Atlanta in Week 13. They continue to hurt the other’s value, but are worthy of being in your lineup Sunday.

Bills receiver Stevie Johnson has fared well against Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, but with only one touchdown since Week Three, it’s hard to trust Johnson as a fantasy play.

Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson has had a solid fantasy season with 61 receptions, 963 yards and five touchdowns. Jackson, however, has been limited in practice because of a hamstring injury. He’s a solid start if he plays, so keep an eye on the inactives Sunday morning.

Bucs running back Bobby Rainey had a huge game in Week 11, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. But Rainey has been mostly bottled up the past two weeks, gaining just 98 combined yards without scoring. The Bills’ run defense has allowed a combined 370 yards and five touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past five weeks.

He should get 20 touches Sunday, which makes Rainey a good flex option, or No. 2 running back in deeper leagues.


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