The Fade returns for a Week 15 walkthrough of the players you may want to consider taking a pass on when constructing your tournament lineups. Before taking a look at this week’s selections, let’s take a peek at some of the factors that will heavily impact ownership percentages, starting with Week 15’s projected high-scoring affairs.
This Week’s Projected High-Scoring Games
- Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars. Jaguars -3, 49. The improving Jaguars welcome a Falcons team to town that has hit the skids after starting off 6-1 by losing their last six games.
- Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants. Panthers -4 ½, 48. The NFL’s lone unbeaten team travels to New York to face a team that seems to relish facing undefeated teams.
- Green Bay Packers @ Oakland Raiders. Packers -3, 48. The Packers travel to the West Coast and would be wise not to sleep on a competitive Raiders team that just upset the Broncos.
- Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles. Cardinals -3 ½, 51. Eagles fans that were hoping for a high-powered Chip Kelly offense in 2015 will get to witness the Bruce Arians version of a high-powered offense on Sunday Night.
- Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints. Saints -3, 51. The Monday Night game is devoid of playoff implications but could have plenty of fantasy points on the menu.
We’ll find plenty of this week’s chalk plays form the above five games, especially in the final two games of the week. Both of the primetime matchups have forecasts that call for points and will attract plenty of attention in DFS circles. We can expect plenty of interest in the Cardinals offense and the passing games of both the Lions and Saints in Week 15. Cam Newton is front and center in the MVP discussion and will continue to see a healthy ownership percentage, while Blake Bortles is no longer flying under the radar as a sneaky-good DFS option with 10 touchdowns over his past three games.
Popular Matchups to Exploit
- Saints vs. QBs. The Saints held Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers in check last week, but a season of being torched does not get erased from the collective DFS memory very quickly.
- Falcons vs. RBs. The Falcons run defense is the latest wheel to fall off the bus in Atlanta.
- Ravens vs. WRs. A poor Ravens secondary was absolutely torched by Russell Wilson last week to the tune of five touchdowns.
- Raiders vs. TEs. Some narratives just won’t die. A Raiders team that struggled mightily in the early part of the season against Tight Ends continues to be a popular target.
- Browns vs. DEF. The Browns pulled out a win last week against the 49ers but travel to a hornet’s nest in the Pacific Northwest this Sunday.
Death, taxes and the quarterback that is facing the Saints in 2015 being a popular DFS selection – some of life’s more predictable occurrences. We can obviously make a case for selecting players that benefit from each of the above matchups, but we can also expect them to be among the highest-owned of the week. That’s where we need to dig a little deeper and ask ourselves the following – are any of these matchups simply too good to pass up, even with an ownership percentage that is projected to be pretty high?
Using the Saints vs. QBs as an example, we know going in that Matthew Stafford will have plenty of supporters this week. But is Stafford someone we can’t live without in Week 15? Looking at his recent production, the answer resides in the no column. Over the past two weeks, Stafford has thrown for two touchdowns in each game but failed to score more than 18.0 points in either. Decent production, but certainly not output we would be unable to overcome. Perhaps the answer lies in gaining some exposure to the passing game via Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate – both very reasonably priced – or even a GPP flier on Eric Ebron (the Saints have allowed some big days to opposing tight ends).
Last Week’s Heroes
- SEA QB Russell Wilson. Wilson again takes up residence in the heroes’ column thanks to torching the Ravens for five touchdowns.
- PIT RB DeAngelo Williams. Williams has scored 20+ points in three consecutive games and found the end zone twice last week.
- SEA WR Doug Baldwin. Three more touchdowns for Baldwin last week, bringing his three-week touchdown total to eight.
- WAS TE Jordan Reed. Reed caught all nine of his targets last week and converted that into 120 yards and a score.
- Carolina Panthers DEF. All the Panthers did last week was shut out the Falcons, sack Matt Ryan five times and force four turnovers.
It’s pretty safe to say that the sizzling combo of Wilson and Baldwin will find its way onto many DFSers short lists for Week 15. In Williams, Reed and the Panthers, we have three reliable performers in matchups that don’t necessarily shout ‘play me.’ We can expect enthusiasm to be slightly tempered for these three, but can still expect them to be just below the highest-owned players at their respective positions.
On to this week’s candidates, we can expect the below players to be among the highest-owned players of the week. Some of them may look too good to pass up at first glance, but others may be similar to our earlier example of Matthew Stafford – awfully tempting, but perhaps not the kind of output we can’t live without. We’ll kick off Week 15’s top fade candidates with the quarterback position.
Carson Palmer, $7,000
This week’s Sunday Night affair is a matchup between what was expected to be a high-powered offense in the form of the Eagles and an actual high-powered offense in the form of the Cardinals. Palmer has tossed 31 touchdowns and thrown for 4,003 yards this season. He’s absolutely thriving in a Bruce Arians offense that is not afraid to strike deep and should have his way with an Eagles secondary that has been torched by many opposing signal callers in 2015. A primetime game with a projected total greater than 50 points will draw plenty of eyeballs to the screen and spur plenty of DFSers to click Palmer’s name while finalizing their lineups. Take a pass on Palmer for some differentiation, but be sure to gain some exposure to the Cardinals passing game for what should be a high-scoring affair.
Russell Wilson, $7,000
There’s en fuego and then there’s the roll that Russell Wilson has been on of late. Wilson has been playing out of his mind with 17 total touchdowns over his past four games with his lowest fantasy output over that stretch coming in at 25.4 points. His salary is finally starting to creep up but that won’t deter many from rostering Wilson this week – and who can blame them? The Seahawks are rolling, the backfield is banged up and all signs point to another solid day for Wilson against the Browns. Wilson is one of the tougher players to fade this week, but to separate our lineups from the pack, we’ll have to do just that.
David Johnson, $5,700
Johnson will be another popular Cardinal this week due to his potential output, but it’s his low price that will really send his ownership percentage to the stratosphere. For $5,700, we can roster a pass catching back who has touched the ball 24 times in each of the last two games and produced 100+ combined yards in both of them. Another 24 touches on Sunday in one of the week’s projected highest-scoring games could lead to a fruitful return for Johnson, a fact that will unfortunately not go unrecognized by many. Painful as it may be, we’ll have to pass on Johnson for a little uniqueness in Week 15.
Devonta Freeman, $7,500
Remember when Devonta Freeman was lighting up the league and scoring 35+ points at a clip? I do too. We can fondly reminisce about Weeks 3 through 6 of the 2015 fantasy season, but the reality is that we are in Week 15 and Freeman has only reached 20+ points twice since then. We’re still being charged a premium for employing Freeman’s services on a weekly basis as he comes in as the most expensive running back for Week 15. Many will swing for the fences and hope that Freeman can capture a little lightning in a bottle against the Jaguars, but we’ll take a pass and save some much-needed salary cap space by pivoting to a back that’s been more consistent of late.
Doug Baldwin, $5,800
Baldwin has been the unquestioned top target of Russell Wilson during his prolific run and the duo has made a habit of putting points on the board. Over the past three weeks, Baldwin has found the end zone eight times and produced no less than 26.4 points at a ridiculously low price. His salary is finally starting to head north as well, but is nowhere near being a deterrent in relation to his potential output. We can expect the duo of Wilson and Baldwin to be one of the more popular stacks of Week 15. While others chase the points, we’ll try to zero in on the next big thing.
Jeremy Maclin, $5,500
Maclin is another unquestioned top target in a great spot this week. He’ll face off with a Ravens team that was just torched for five touchdowns by the aforementioned Seahawks and look to be ripe for the picking as they pray for the season to end. Prior to last week’s game that was impacted by the elements at Arrowhead Stadium, Maclin was on a nice little run of his own with 18 catches for 255 yards and three scores over a two game stretch in Weeks 12 and 13. Maclin should bounce back nicely this week and we can be confident that the Chiefs offense will be a popular target against a Ravens team that looked like they threw in the towel in Week 14. His low price makes him that much more appealing, making him a tough but necessary fade for Week 15.
Rob Gronkowski, $7,700
Gronkowski returned to action last week and as expected, he didn’t miss a beat. He hauled in four passes for 87 yards and a score – solid output on the field, but a little disappointing for those expecting a monster fantasy outing. Therein lies the problem with Gronkowski: as the highest-priced tight end each week, we almost need the monster outings to justify rostering him. Unfortunately, we can’t pinpoint exactly when they will occur, making Gronkowski a fade candidate almost every week. In the case of this week, the Patriots should have their way with the Titans and Gronkowski could have a big hand in the festivities. But for a little uniqueness – and a lot of salary savings – we’ll take a pass on Gronkowski and look elsewhere for our tight end.
Richard Rodgers, $4,300
Rodgers only hauled in one pass in Week 14, thankfully it was of the three-yard touchdown variety. Many will look for a bounce back this week due to something we mentioned up top: some narratives never die. The Raiders were absolutely awful against tight ends in Weeks 1 through 4. The label has stuck even though they have improved somewhat against the position. The Raiders have allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this season – the most in the league, but six of them occurred in the first quarter of the season. It’s fair to keep tight ends facing the Raiders on the radar each week, but they are simply not the plug and play matchup many make them out to be. We’ll pass on Rodgers and look for a tight end facing a team with more recent struggles against the position.
Seattle Seahawks, $4,200
In addition to their recent offensive exploits, the defense of the Seahawks is trending up as well as they’ve held opponents to 13 total points over the last two weeks. A home game against the Cleveland Browns looks like an awfully appealing spot for the Seahawks defense to continue its renaissance and we can safely pencil them in as one of the week’s most popular defensive choices, despite the hefty price tag. When looking for fade candidates on a weekly basis, a good place to start is with the matchups that appear to be of the plug and play variety. The Seahawks clearly fit the bill for that category.
Kansas City Chiefs, $3,700
The Chiefs defense is another unit that has been rolling over the past few weeks, even more so than the Seahawks. Over their past seven games, the Chiefs defense has posted double digit points in six of them. They have a great chance to make it seven of eight against a struggling Ravens team and will surely capture plenty of attention for tournament lineups. Similar to the Seahawks, we’ll be passing on some nice potential upside by fading the Chiefs defense, but to stand out from the crowd it’s a move we’ll have to make.
That concludes The Fade for Week 15. Some tough choices lie ahead of us as always, but to enter the promised land that is the top of the leaderboards, we'll need to bypass the noise and steer away from some of the week's projected top plays. Thankfully we don’t have to fade all of Week 15’s chalk plays- just the right ones. Best of luck this weekend!