By Steve Silverman
(CBSLA/CBS Local) — Many of the NFL’s high-flying offenses have returned to earth in recent weeks. The Chiefs and Rams are both coming off of losses. The Saints have won two straight, but averaged only 20 points in those games. Even the Patriots, who usually surge in December, managed only 10 points in last week’s loss to the Steelers.
While scoring among these teams is down, the skill players who drive those offenses remain among the best options for daily fantasy. Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are pretty good at finding the end zone. Todd Gurley is still, well, Todd Gurley. Even Ezekiel Elliott, whose Cowboys were shut out by the red-hot Colts, leads the League in yards. So you may notice some familiar names among the top daily fantasy players.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City at Seattle, FD Proj. – 27.4 points
After last week’s loss to the Chargers, the Chiefs have no margin for error. However, Mahomes has been coming through since Week 1, and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t come through here. In addition to his powerful arm, Mahomes has excellent touch and reads defenses well. He averages 8.8 yards per pass and has thrown 45 TD passes.
2. Tom Brady, New England vs. Buffalo, – 26.0 points
The Patriots have had back-to-back opportunities to win the AFC East and failed in both of them. They get another opportunity at home against the Bills. It’s basically impossible to see Tom Brady lose three games in a row. He should have a big day, and the Pats win the AFC East title.
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis vs. N.Y. Giants – 24.8 points.
The Colts are basically the hottest team in the NFL, at least among teams that are on the outside of the playoff structure. They are going to need the Ravens or Steelers to lose, and they must keep on winning if they want to play postseason football. Look for the red-hot Andrew Luck to add to his 34 TD passes as the Colts get the best of the Giants.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Pittsburgh – 24.0 points
The Saints have slowed down on offense the last four weeks. And while they are likely to end up with the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, Brees and head coach, Sean Payton, would like to see the Saints show off their offensive prowess. This could be the game that Brees and the Saints get back on track.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers at N.Y. Jets – 22.8 points.
This has been a brutal year for the Packers, who have been eliminated from the playoffs. Beyond that, but they have not won a road game this year. This is their last chance, and look for Rodgers to put up a strong showing against the Jets.
1. Todd Gurley, L.A. Rams at Arizona – 20.2 points
The Rams have dropped two games in a row and doubt has started to creep in. The defense is causing quite a few problems, and the offense has slowed down some with Jared Goff slumping. Whether or not Goff picks it up against the Rams, don’t bet against Gurley. He should be in line for 100 yards and a touchdown.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas vs. Tampa Bay– 19.4 points
The Cowboys should be in serious bounce-back mode after getting blanked by the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucs have perhaps the most porous defense in the league, and it could be a huge day for Elliott. He leads the NFL with 1,349 rushing yards, and could be good for 150 yards in this game.
3. Nick Chubb, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati – 18.6 points
The Browns are still alive for a playoff spot. They may need a near miracle to get there, but it’s a huge improvement from previous years. The Browns have a brilliant future with Baker Mayfield at quarterback and Chubb at running back. Chubb has rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns, and he will get to 1,000 yards before the end of the season, perhaps in this game.
4. Saquon Barkley, N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis – 16.6 points
Barkley has his hands full in this game, as he faces a tough Indianapolis defense that shut out the Cowboys. Barkley was held in check by the Tennessee Titans last week, but it’s difficult to see Barkley getting stopped two weeks in a row.
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans vs Pittsburgh – 15.9 points
The Saints always get a big lift from Kamara, who is as dangerous of a receiver as he is a running back. Kamara runs with power and excels at bouncing out of tackles. He should be able to exploit the Pittsburgh defense.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston at Philadelphia – 17.6 points
Once Hopkins makes his first catch in any game, he becomes one of the top receivers in the NFL. He can run and has excellent reach, but his best asset is his hands. Any time he gets his hands on the ball, he makes the catch. Hopkins has caught 94-1,321-11 so far, and he should cause quite a bit of damage against the Eagles.
2. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh at New Orleans – 16.8 points
The Steelers broke their losing streak against the Patriots in Week 15, but it doesn’t get any easier in this game. The Steelers have to take on the best team in the league in the Saints, and they have to go on the road to do it. If they are going to win this game, Brown has to come through with a huge effort. He is certainly up to the job, being the best receiver in the league.
3. Davante Adams, Green Bay at N.Y. Jets, – 16.0 points
The Packers are finishing off a disappointing season in the next two weeks, and this is their last opportunity to win a road game. Adams is Aaron Rodgers’ best receiver, and he should get the best of the Jets secondary. Adams has caught 100-1,315-12, and he builds on those numbers against the Jets.
4. Julio Jones, Atlanta at Carolina – 15.2 points
The belief here is that the Panthers left it all on the field in Week 15 against the Saints, and they really won’t have much to play for in this game. Jones is a remarkable athlete, who should torch the Carolina secondary. Look for Jones to have at least 100 yards against the Panthers.
5. Amari Cooper, Dallas vs. Tampa Bay – 14.2 points
Cooper has been a difference-maker for the Cowboys since coming over at the trade deadline from the Oakland Raiders. He has excellent acceleration and is a top run-after-catch guy. The Tampa Bay defense is not going to come close to slowing down Cooper, and he has a big day here.
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City at Seattle – 12.8 points
The Chiefs have to win this game if they want to hold on to first place in the AFC West, and Kelce is a warrior on the field. He will have to be at his best against the hard-hitting and physical Seahawks.
2. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis vs. N.Y. Giants – 10.4 points
It continues for Ebron, as he nears the end of this career year. Ebron has been spectacular, with 59 receptions for 662 yards and 12 touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s Brown has 13 TD catches, and he is the only receiver with more scoring plays.
3. George Kittle, San Francisco vs. Chicago – 9.4 points
Kittle has a tough assignment this week, as the 49ers host the Bears. Chicago has already clinched the NFC North, and Matt Nagy’s team hopes to earn a bye week in the NFC playoffs. However, Kittle is an excellent athlete who excels at picking up yardage after the catch. If the Bears take this game lightly, Kittle could have a huge day.
4. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia vs. Houston – 8.8 points
Ertz is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and he has already caught 101 passes for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns. The Texans are going to concentrate on stopping Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, but the tight end should find a way to make some plays when it matters most.
5. Rob Gronkowski, New England vs. Buffalo – 7.8 points
The Patriots need to win this game, but they have learned this year that Gronkowski may not be the receiver he has been in the past. He seems to have problems getting open, and that’s something that the Patriots have to adjust to. However, the Pats are back at home after road losses to Miami and Pittsburgh, and they should do a much better job there against the Bills. Gronkowski has at least five receptions and gets into the end zone once.