Fantasy Football

Week 15 lineup calls: Wide receivers

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Michael Harmon

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Lineup calls: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | D/ST

It’s just another week. Right?

OK, so those lineup decisions for this week and all of your waiver claims take on more significance in this second season. Reading the tea leaves of injury reports and “coachspeak” is more difficult than ever as you hang on every syllable and consult body language experts.

Fantasy owners anxiously await additional information about Matt Cassel and Aaron Rodgers as we head toward the end of the practice week. Cassel is talking up his return to action while Kansas City coach Todd Haley uses the usual euphemisms about game-readiness. As for Rodgers, he may not play.

How are you Dwayne Bowe and Greg Jennings owners feeling right now?

Top Wide Receivers

(Other than Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Lloyd, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Malcom Floyd, Marques Colston, Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker)

Kenny Britt vs. Houston

Britt clearly won’t be ceding targets to Randy Moss anytime soon. He was quiet in his return to the field in Week 13 (four receptions for 39 yards), but the 10 days or rest and work with Kerry Collins should yield big results against the Houston secondary this week. Glover Quin may have done well to slow Anquan Boldin in Week 14. This is a different downfield challenge.

Pierre Garcon vs. Jacksonville

Garcon was one of the big stars of Week 13 with a two-touchdown performance against the Titans (six-reception for 93 yards). He’d caught five or more passes in four consecutive games prior to that Week 14 breakout effort. Garcon is a strong WR2 this week against the Jacksonville secondary in this huge divisional showdown.

Santana Moss at Dallas

Moss and the Redskins have been maddening this season, but you know that he’s going to be targeted frequently by Rex Grossman. He’s caught multiple passes in 12 of 13 games and had been limited to 40 or fewer receiving yards in three of four games prior to his late-touchdown effort against the Buccaneers.

Moss has played well historically against the Cowboys, having averaged nearly six receptions with 89.3 receiving yards in 11 career games (four touchdowns). He caught six passes for 77 yards in the first meeting this season.

Mike Williams (Tampa Bay) vs. Detroit

Williams is dealing with a minor knee injury, but he’s expected to be ready for a full load this week against the Lions. It was his second shutdown effort in the past three weeks. However, you’re still looking at the top receiver on a contending squad in a huge spot.

He’s scored in four of the past seven games and remains Josh Freeman’s go-to receiver. The recent surge in production from both Kellen Winslow and Arrelious Benn can only help to create opportunities in this home tilt.

Deion Branch vs. Green Bay

Branch has now scored in three consecutive games and has found his groove with Tom Brady. In the past five games, Branch averaged 5.6 receptions and 93.8 receiving yards. Don’t fear the opponent in this one. This offense is clicking on all cylinders right now, and Branch will have his opportunities.

Jeremy Maclin at New York Giants

Maclin was a non-factor in Week 14 against the Cowboys, thus ending a streak of eight consecutive games with at least eight receptions. He bounces back in a big way this week against New York, against whom he logged nine receptions for 120 yards in Week 11.

Mike Wallace vs. New York Jets

I like Wallace’s moxie. “I’m a pretty good player, too” was his response when asked about Sunday’s game against Darrelle Revis and the Jets. He’s been a consistent target for Ben Roethlisberger, having topped 75 receiving yards in five of his past six games. I believe there will be opportunities downfield, particularly given the issues at safety (Jim Leonhard is on injured reserve and Eric Smith is injured).

Johnny Knox at Minnesota

Knox was one of many Chicago players stopped by a combination of the Patriots’ defense and the weather. He’s still on the radar this week against the sinking Minnesota squad. Knox has caught multiple passes while averaging 64.75 yards per game in eight consecutive games.

He logged five receptions for 90 receptions in the first meeting in Week 10. With the playoffs on the line, look for the Chicago offense to rebound from the Week 13 debacle.

Santonio Holmes at Pittsburgh

You’re not going to see Holmes drop another pass like he did in Week 13 for a long, long time. Known for making the spectacular play, Holmes let a sure touchdown fall straight through his hands. He’s averaged 4.6 receptions and 68.9 receiving yards per game with four touchdowns since that first start in Week 5.

He’s certainly motivated this week against his former mates and will have his opportunities downfield. However, Holmes shan’t be roaming free downfield, and Mark Sanchez’s recent struggles leave me concerned. He’s a solid WR2 with upside, although I’m not holding out hope for a touchdown.


Derek Hagan vs. Philadelphia

Hagan slides back onto the radar given the latest round of injuries to befall the Giants’ receiving corps. Steve Smith left Monday’s game with a hamstring injury, while Mario Manningham was sidelined by a quadriceps injury. Top option Hakeem Nicks returned to the fray (seven receptions for 96 yards against the Vikings), but these injuries loom large for this Week 15 showdown against the Eagles.

Hagan recorded a single catch against the Vikings following a seven-reception effort against the Redskins in Week 13. He claims the sit-down possession role vacated by Smith.

Robert Meachem at Baltimore

Meachem was shut out in the Week 14 win against St. Louis. However, I’m putting him on the board as the off-receiver in this week’s huge showdown with the Ravens. Meachem had caught multiple passes in eight of his previous nine games with six efforts of at least 50 receiving yards (five touchdowns). He’s probably a fourth receiver this week, but there’s upside here.

Louis Murphy vs. Denver

Murphy scored for the first time since Week 2 in the loss. Murphy caught six passes for 59 yards against the Jaguars, his fourth consecutive game with multiple receptions. He’s on the radar as a potential low-end WR3 this week against the Broncos, but his ceiling will be determined primarily by his proximity to cornerback Champ Bailey.

Michael Jenkins at Seattle

With 30 or fewer receiving yards earned in the past three weeks (he scored in Week 13), Jenkins is certainly a longshot wire option this week. However, this week’s glorious matchup against the Seahawks represents an intriguing possibility. The Seahawks rank 31st against opposing receivers at 281.5 yards and 1.8 touchdowns allowed per game.



Stevie Johnson at Miami

I can’t get back on the bandwagon. With the exception of his huge effort in Week 11, Johnson has been virtually invisible for the past six weeks. He’s finished three of his past five games with 42 or fewer receiving yards (68 against Pittsburgh in Week 12).

Johnson does still register as a low-end option in PPR leagues (multiple receptions in every game), but his production in standard formats leaves me wanting.

Anquan Boldin vs. New Orleans

Boldin teased you with his 118-yard, one-touchdown effort in Week 13. He then put up a bust-worthy three receptions and 41 receiving yards while being checked by Glover Quin of the Texans. This was Boldin’s fifth performance with 50 or fewer receiving yards in the past six weeks. He’s still a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3, but I’m not holding my breath for a huge output.

Sidney Rice vs. Chicago

Rice offered one of the few bright notes in an otherwise dismal Monday performance from Minnesota that was overshadowed by myriad stories. He caught five passes for 60 yards in that contest, his second straight five-reception performance. If nothing else, we’re seeing that Rice is healthy and recovered from his hip surgery.

He represents a difficult option this week against the Bears with the quarterback position in flux once again.

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