WEEK 15 PREPARATION
FANTASY THOUGHTS THAT COULD PROPEL YOU TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
If you survived Tom Brady's lackluster Week 14, you're set up nicely for Week 15 - It goes without saying, Tom Brady is an excellent quarterback to have for the fantasy playoffs. Don't look too deep into his struggles against Miami on Monday night. If you had a bye or were able to weather the storm of his poor production, you should be rewarded this week against Pittsburgh. The Steelers have allowed 86 points in the last three games and opposing quarterbacks have tallied 7 touchdown passes with only 1 interception in that same span. Those quarterbacks are named Hundley, Dalton and Flacco. A guy like Brady seems like a given to produce similar numbers at worst. The point total in this battle is expected to be high, plus Brady will get Rob Gronkowski back to help his arsenal of weapons. All signs point to Brady being a key fantasy producer in Week 15.
Nick Foles to the rescue - If you lost Carson Wentz, don't be afraid to insert Nick Foles into your lineup. When Foles entered the game last week the Eagles offense didn't change one bit. Foles resumed where Wentz left off and was able to move the ball effectively. Foles doesn't have the rushing and evading ability that Wentz has, but he's capable of leading the Eagles offense. This week's matchup at the New York Giants is a favorable one. The Giants have allowed five games of 3+ touchdown passes and 8 games of 2+ touchdown passes. In all, opposing quarterbacks have thrown 26 touchdown passes against New York this season. I can understand the hesitancy to start Foles in a fantasy playoff week, but for DFS purposes, Foles is an excellent target.
Devonta Freeman can help lead you to the Championship Game - Atlanta will travel to Tampa Bay for a Monday night matchup against the Buccaneers. With playoff implications on the line, look for Atlanta to come out strong against the Bucs who have lost three straight games and seven of the last nine. Tampa Bay can play spoiler in a game where they will honor Jon Gruden at halftime, but facts are facts - their defense has played poorly lately and it looks like they won't have their big front line presence of Gerald McCoy (biceps injury) for the rest of the season. The Bucs have allowed six rushing touchdowns in the last three games and Atlanta may be without Tevin Coleman (concussion) making Freeman the team's top running back weapon. Freeman himself has played well recently, including a 24-91-1 game against New Orleans last week. When it's all said and done at the end of Monday night, Freeman may be the deciding factor to determine whether or not you advance to Week 16.
Carolina has been on fire running the ball lately. Jonathan Stewart might benefit once again - Carolina has rushed for 767 yards since Week 10 (192 per game), which is second most in the league, despite playing in one less game than New Orleans who have 779 yards rushing. The decision to play Stewart last week against Minnesota was not a popular one based on matchups, but Stewart finished with 103 rushing yards with three touchdowns. Carolina totaled 216 rushing yards on the Vikings, who prior to the game, had allowed a maximum of 115 rushing yards to any team all season. This week Carolina will host Green Bay who have allowed an opposing back to rush for 95 yards in each of the last three games. The odds are in Carolina's favor and if Aaron Rodgers returns, look for the Panthers to control the game with a sound, consistent rushing attack that will consist of Stewart, Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey.
Consider Dede Westbrook vs Houston - My buddy Scott Fish tweeted this nugget of information that directly relates to Westbrook this week. As you can see, speedy receivers have done some damage against Houston's secondary. Westbrook has 6, 6, and 5 receptions in the last three games, and last week he finally found the end zone. Another big "stepping stone" game could be in store for him this week.
Goodwin (4.27 40) vs HOU: 6/106— Scott Fish (@ScottFish24) December 12, 2017
Richardson (4.40 40) vs HOU: 6/105/2
Lockett (4.40 40) vs HOU: 6/121
Cooks (4.33 40) vs HOU: 5/131/2
Hilton (4.34 40) vs HOU: 5/175/2
Dede Westbrook (4.34 40) vs HOU: Week 15
Stay with the hot hand this week
Aside from the known stud commodities, I would put a chip down on these backs and receivers this week:
Samaje Perine, WAS - Washington has relied on Perine as their main rusher since Week 11 and he has put forth decent numbers, particularly volume since taking over as the starting back. In addition to two 100-yard games, he has 10 receptions in the last three games.
Theo Riddick, DET (PPR) - Riddick has performed well in Ameer Abdullah's absence the last two weeks, amassing three touchdowns and 11 receptions with 62 and 93 total yards. Abdullah is expected to be back in Week 15, but Riddick will continue to see rushing reps, plus his regular role as a receiver.
Kenyan Drake, MIA - The Dolphins may have found their future at running back in Kenyan Drake. In the last two games he has 48 carries for 234 yards and 1 touchdown, with 8 receptions for 100 yards. Miami will play at Buffalo in Week 15, so beware of the weather. Buffalo has allowed at least 146 rushing yards in five of the last six games.
Alex Collins, BAL - The Ravens have a new lead back in Alex Collins who has scored five touchdowns in the last four games, including at least one in each game. He is not utilized as a dual threat, but he will see an occasional pass. The Ravens will go on the road to Cleveland this week who have allowed five 100-yard rushers this year, three of which came in the last five games.
Devin Funchess, CAR - Carolina's identity on offense is their ground game, but Devin Funchess is one who can produce for you this week. He has scored in three of the last four weeks and has four touchdowns in the same span. This week's opponent Green Bay has allowed 15 touchdowns to wide receivers, including at least one in 8 of their 12 games.
Marquise Goodwin, SF - The 49ers are a more potent offense with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. In his two starts (both wins), Goodwin has averaged 7 receptions for 103 yards. Tennessee has not allowed a touchdown to a wide receiver since Antonio Brown had three in Week 11. Having said that, Goodwin's expected volume should be enough for you to consider him as an option for your starting lineup.
Jordy Nelson, GB - This one isn't exactly a hot hand, but it's one to highly consider. All bets are off if Aaron Rodgers does not play this week, but if he does, Jordy Nelson is someone who needs to be back in your lineup. In six games with Rodgers, Nelson had 6 touchdowns and he averaged 5 catches per game. Without Rodgers, Nelson's high yardage game is 35 yards and he has zero touchdowns.
Mohamed Sanu, ATL - The Falcons "other" receiver has five touchdowns this season, in 12 games. All came in different games, giving him a 42% chance of scoring any given week. Combine that with Tampa Bay's 15 touchdowns allowed to wide receivers and I like his chances of reaching pay dirt this week.
Defenses to target this week
- Give me New Orleans at home against the Jets who will be starting Bryce Petty instead of Josh McCown (broken hand).
- Minnesota vs Cincinnati. I expect the Vikings to right the ship and give Cincinnati all kinds of problems at home.
- Philadelphia at New York. I generally shy away from defenses on the road but the Eagles are a team I'm willing to roll the dice on. The Giants have all but ended the season and I can envision a butt-kicking from Philadelphia as they prepare to move forward without Carson Wentz.
- Jacksonville vs Houston. This is a no brainer. The league's top defense will face the Texans at home. Houston is expecting to start T.J. Yates at quarterback this week. Expect heavy sacks, a few turnovers and a defense that will limit Houston on the scoreboard.
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