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Fantasy Overview, Week 15 - Footballguys

The Fantasy Playoffs are upon us. This week I help you prepare for your Week 15 matchups with 7 thoughts worth thinking. 

WEEK 15 PREPARATION

7 THOUGHTS WORTH THINKING

Some of you may disagree with these thoughts and opinions, but that's fine. I like to follow stats, trends, and matchups. These thoughts are based on those observations.

1. Load up on Saints this week - As if you didn't know this already, the Saints have a great matchup against reeling Carolina. This may be a road game on Monday Night, but the Panthers defense has fallen apart. Take a look at the below tweet showcasing their defensive ineptitude in their last five games, five consecutive losses. Keep in mind, New Orleans swept the Panthers last year in three games (one in the playoffs).

2. Should you start Derrick Henry this week? The last ten years have seen six running backs top 200 yards rushing and 3+ touchdowns in the same game. This is how they fared in the following game.

Derrick Henry, TEN (2018 Week 14) What will he do for an encore?
Le'Veon Bell, PIT (2016 Week 14)- 23 carries, 93 yards, 0 touchdowns, 5 receptions, 38 yards, 0 touchdowns. - Result (18.1 PPR points)
Jonas Gray, NE (2014 Week 11) - He didn't play in the next game, but the following game he had 1 carry for 4 yards, 0 touchdowns. - Result (0.4 PPR points)
Alfred Morris, WAS (2012 Week 17) - 16 carries, 80 yards, 0 touchdowns - Result (8.0 PPR points)
Arian Foster, HOU (2010 Week 1) - 19 carries, 69 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3 receptions, 69 yards, 0 touchdowns - Result (16.8 PPR points)
Jerome Harrison, CLE (2009 Week 15) - 39 carries, 148, 1 touchdown (20.8 PPR points)

Only one of the five scored a touchdown in his follow-up game and two had 8 PPR points or less. Interestingly enough, four of the five examples occurred in Week 11 or later. The Titans play at NY Giants this week who have not allowed a rushing touchdown in the last two games (vs Chicago and at Washington). It's possible that Henry will see a decent number of carries, but this is a road game that will probably have a different game script. Henry accomplished 238 yards rushing on only 17 carries. He's the only player with 200+ yards rushing and 3+ scores that did so with less than 20 carries. Henry also has 10 days between games which helps his cause, plus he's 6'3, 247 pounds and is capable of handling the workload. Despite all of that, the likelihood of him having another big game is slim, especially because his longest rush prior to the 99-yard run last week was a mere 16 yards. It seems as if there is a small degree of trust and a large degree of hope with Henry. Start at your own risk.

3. Is Kenneth Dixon is fantasy relevant this week - Kenneth Dixon came on strong last week and gained 59 yards on 8 carries, including a 3-yard goal line score early in the 2nd quarter. He also added a 21-yard reception. Gus Edwards has been the high-volume back for Baltimore lately with 17, 23, 21, 16 carries in the last four games, but Dixon has been stronger and more decisive in his runs. He is starting to see more looks in the offense, plus he has better skills as a receiving back. This week's matchup vs Tampa Bay is favorable for the ground game. Both Edwards and Dixon could have value with Dixon seeing additional looks as a receiver. 60 yards and a score is possible for Dixon, which makes him a decent what-the-heck flex option.

4. Bengals and Raiders for the win - The Bengals will host the Raiders this week in a battle of porous defenses. The Bengals run defense is their weakness, whereas the Raiders biggest weakness is their pass defense. Jeff Driskel could have a surprise week with 200+ yards and two touchdown passes. The loss of A.J. Green makes Tyler Boyd a fantasy relevant receiver, especially this week against Oakland. The Raiders have allowed an average of 2.3 passing touchdowns per game this year, 1.5 of those going to wide receivers. Tyler Boyd is an excellent start this week, as a result. On the Oakland side of the ball, consider Doug Martin as a one-week flier. Cincinnati has allowed opposing running backs to reach 27 carries for 132 yards and 1.5 touchdowns on average since Week 11. Doug Martin has been the high volume carrier on the team reaching double-digit carries in each of the last seven games. He has quietly scored in three straight games and now he has a marquee matchup against the Bengals. It would be better if this were at home, but a road game in December at Cincinnati, losers of 7 of 8, may not be that intimidating. Martin could be the flex player that secures your trip to the Championship game.

5. Melvin Gordon III just in the nick of time or Justin Jackson to save the day - Melvin Gordon III is still only practicing on a limited basis and may not be ready for the Thursday battle against division rival Kansas City. The Chargers are hoping he'll be available for this pivotal game, but he's a true game-time decision. Austin Ekeler may not be available either after suffering another neck stinger injury, which he was also treated for a concussion. If Ekeler and Gordon are out, it opens the door wide open for Justin Jackson to see the majority of the team's rushing volume. The Chiefs aren't the best matchup for the Chargers ground game, but volume is one of the biggest factors of success and Jackson may definitely have that factor on his side. Monitor the news as the Thursday game approaches. If Gordon is out, Jackson becomes a very interesting and intriguing fantasy option.

6. Surprise quarterbacks this week - Nick Mullens recently tossed for 400 yards against Seattle, at Seattle! He'll face them again this week in the friendly confines of his home field. Seattle is a different team on the road and may be looking past this game to next week's battle vs Kansas City at home. They are also coming off a short week. In his five games as a starter, Mullens has accumulated the following passing yards and touchdown stats: 262-3, 250-1, 221-1, 414-2, and 332-2. That's not too shabby. Let's see what he can do against Seattle this week. It would not be a surprise to see him throw for 200+ and 2 touchdowns, minimum. Jeff Driskel is another quarterback who could surprise us. As mentioned earlier, Oakland struggles against the pass. They have allowed less than two touchdown passes only twice. Once was against Case Keenum and the other was Lamar Jackson. Driskel may find some December luck in a favorable matchup.

7. Philip Rivers vs Kansas City on Thursday Night - what to expect? After a quick glance at Rivers' history against the Chiefs, he has lost each of the last nine games against Kansas City. His last win was on the road in 2013. In those last nine games against the Chiefs, he has 9 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Now the good news - Rivers passed for 424 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first meeting against the Chiefs. Yes, it was a home game, but is any Chargers game lately really a home game? There was an abundance of red in the crowd, even for Week 1. What's more enticing? The Chiefs have allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Since Week 11 they have allowed an average of 3 touchdown passes per game which includes Jared Goff, Derek Carr, and Lamar Jackson. Can Rivers propel your team to the Championship game? If Melvin Gordon III is out, consider Rivers a good fantasy start in what may be a pass-heavy game. If Gordon does play, Rivers may wind up with similar yardage in a slightly different game script. Ultimately, he's a good, but not great matchup. The best case scenario is a game that features constant scoring. Los Angeles has scored 25, 20, 22, 45, 33, and 26 points in their last six games. Conversely, Kansas City has allowed 23, 21, 14, 51, 33 and 24 points in their last six games. That's an average of 28.5 scored for LA and 27.6 allowed by KC. The Vegas total is 53 and the Chiefs are favored by 3.5. Both teams should be in the mid-upper 20s in this game, which is a good indicator of fantasy success for Rivers.

Good luck this week. Go earn your ticket to the Championship Game.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com