Fantasy Football Mailbag: Wednesday 12/14/16

Fantasy football research never stops, and roles change drastically from one week to the next. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

Have a question about a certain player, team, strategy, or anything football? Shoot us a question on Twitter or send an email to, and we can talk anything fantasy football related -- even daily fantasy football.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Email submission from Manuel Olivares:

I need help with my teams starting lineup. I'm in the playoffs and will be facing the #1 seed. Here is my team. I need some advice on my receivers. This is a 14 team standard scoring. We start 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE and Flex. However, our Flex is RB/WR/TE spot. i actually been using both TE. Wilson, TY Hilton, Watkins, Tyrel Williams, T. Boyd, AJ Green, Hyde, Stewart, Ivory, Kelce, Olsen. TY, Hyde and Stewart our locked in. I need help filling in the rest. As for my QB, well there is no one left in the FA list. Flacco, Brock, Bradford and Wentz. I'm hoping for Russell to turn it around next game.

Thankfully, Manuel has a good quad to choose from here. Let's focus on the two wide receivers and flex just to get a chance to gush over Sammy Watkins and dream about the potential return of A.J. Green.

Watkins came back to play 94.2% of the Buffalo Bills' snaps last week, his highest snap rate of the season, even including the two games before he went on injured reserve. He has 25% of the Bills' targets the past two weeks, and with a matchup against the Cleveland Browns -- who rank 32nd against the pass, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics -- we should be willing to roll the dice on him in a game where the Bills may not need to throw much.

As for Green, he's potentially returning to practice Wednesday after missing all but three snaps in the past four games. Despite sitting that time, Green still has 22.12% of the team's targets for the year, and he was at a 28.65% target market share when he went down. If he can come back, it's wise to plug him in. If not, then Tyrell Williams is an acceptable flex over Greg Olsen.

Email submission from Victor Valenzuela:

Should I start Russell Wilson or Jameis Winston this week? thanks

It can be scary to go back to Russell Wilson after his complete dud in Week 14, and Jameis Winston is facing a Dallas Cowboys pass defense that has struggled mightily ever since cornerback Morris Claiborne went down in Week 8. Even with those concerns, though, it's Wilson we'd likely prefer to roll with here.

The luxury that the Seattle Seahawks possess is that they'll be at home in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks have averaged 28.67 points and 392.33 yards per game at home this year compared to 14.57 points and 327.86 yards per game on the road. The Rams have numberFire's 12th-ranked pass defense, so matchup isn't an overwhelming concern in this instance.

It's understandable to worry about a rush-heavy script for Wilson with the Seahawks 15-point favorites. However, in a study we did last year on numberFire, we saw that quarterbacks who were 10-point favorites averaged 1.91 touchdowns and 0.50 interceptions per game. That gives Wilson a rock-solid floor in this matchup. With the Seahawks' implied team total of 26.75 more than a full touchdown higher than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' mark of 19.5, Wilson holds the edge here.

Email submission from Courtney Griffin:

QB - Can't trust Brees - Arizona D has been good all year and he seems to have taken a liking to throwing interceptions, he's close to being dropped. But he has been consistent all year and with two bad games I could see a big one as they need to win. Matt Ryan is my play at the moment though, however, they have SF which makes me feel Atlanta will run a heap. So who to choose? Eli Manning is floating around on the Waivers too..

A lot of the process we applied to preferring Wilson over Winston also applies to Matt Ryan this week. The Atlanta Falcons are heavy favorites over the San Francisco 49ers, which -- as Courtney mentioned -- could lead to plenty of rushing. But the point expectation in that game is so high that Ryan's still hard to sit.

The 49ers have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in five separate games this year. None of those five quarterbacks have exceeded 40 pass attempts, and two players reached the mark on just 30 attempts. Opponents average 70.31 plays per game against the 49ers, so this is a safe volume range to expect for Ryan, and it means our outlook for him should be solid despite the script.

It's worth mentioning that Drew Brees' spot this week isn't overly awful. Thanks to an over/under of 50, the New Orleans Saints' implied team total is respectable at 23.75. The Saints and Arizona Cardinals rank third and 19th in situation-neutral pace, according to Football Outsiders, so there should be plenty of plays to go around in this game. That's enough to prop up Brees' floor in a tough matchup.

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