WEEK 15 PREPARATION
9 FANTASY THOUGHTS THAT COULD PROPEL YOU TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
9. Can we trust Jordan Reed on MNF vs Carolina? Reed defied the odds and started last week only to have one target and one catch for 10 yards. The matchup against Philadelphia was not a good one, but Reed has proven to be matchup-proof in the past. He is dealing with a grade-3 AC shoulder separation which means he has three torn ligaments. He claims to have full range of motion, but he is definitely not playing pain free. Carolina has allowed the third most PPR points to tight ends this year including that same ranking over the last three games. Tight ends have scored four touchdowns against the Panthers in the last four games. Reed is expected to be active, the only question is how involved will he be? He could be in line for a big game in front of a national audience.
8. Is Kenneth Farrow worthy of starting vs. Oakland this week? - The loss of Melvin Gordon III (hip) is a devastating setback to your lineup that will be difficult to replace. Kenneth Farrow was the immediate replacement for the Chargers after Gordon went down. He proceeded to rush 16 times for 55 yards including 6 receptions for 23 yards. Farrow will have a full week of practice with the first team and is expected to handle the majority of the carries and touches against Oakland. Look for 70 total yards and 4-6 catches for Farrow. He won't be a RB1 option for your team, but he's a decent option if your other alternatives aren't as rosey.
7. Tampa Bay at Dallas - First to 17 wins? - This game looks to be a low scoring battle. Dallas has allowed 18 points per game over their last six games, while Tampa Bay has only allowed 12.8 points per game in their last five games, all wins. Dak Prescott was throttled last week against the Giants and their strong pass rush that forced him into rushing passes and throwing inaccurate balls. As a result, Dallas could only muster 7 points. The Buccaneers have a similar pass rush that could give Prescott some of the same challenges. The home advantage will help the rookie standout quarterback, but we know what rattles him and that's rushing his passes. You may want to shy away from secondary fantasy options in this game like Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Tampa's Cameron Brate and even Dez Bryant, who has been known to be quiet against tough defenses. If Prescott struggles, Bryant will too.
6. Alshon Jeffery returns this week - The Bears will get Alshon Jeffery back this week after his four game suspension for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) has ended. He is back to practice and will face off against the Packers in Chicago in Week 15. Green Bay has allowed quarterbacks to reach 20+ completions in six of the last seven games and Matt Barkley has accomplished that feat himself in two of his last three games. There's a good chance that he'll be able to do it again this week. It's entirely possible that a team may have dropped Jeffery after hearing about the suspension. If he's on the waiver wire, go get him. If he was stashed on your roster, get him in your lineup. He is expected to put up WR2 numbers this week against the Packers and their less than average secondary, who are even more vulnerable on the road.
5. Don't Overlook Carlos Hyde - Carlos Hyde's shoulder injury appears to be a thing of the past as evidenced by his 193 yards rushing on 17 carries last week against the Jets. This may be an uphill battle against Atlanta in Week 15, but know this - Atlanta has given up six touchdowns to running backs in the last four games. Carlos Hyde is no slouch, totaling 8 touchdowns himself this year despite missing three weeks of action. Don't be surprised if Hyde has a garbage time score to go along with a decent box score of 100 total yards.
4. These defenses could win your week - Sometimes it's the last addition on your roster that wins the week for you. Some weeks your kicker can make the diference - just ask those who went against Nick Novak and his five field goals last week. Other weeks it's your Defense/ST that drives the victory. There are a few stream-worthy defenses that have excellent matchups this week. If any of these are available on your waiver wire, get them and insert them into your lineup.
BUF vs CLE - Cleveland has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing defenses this year.
HOU vs JAC - Jacksonville leads the league with a -17 turnover ratio.
MIA at NYJ - The Jets were embarrassed by Indianapolis in their last home game. Bryce Petty has a few turnovers in him
ATL vs SF - SF has lost their last 12 games and must travel cross-country to face the upstart Falcons who recently throttled the Rams in their cross-country road trip.
NYG vs DET - The Giants are 6-1 at home and are HOT right now. Matthew Stafford has a finger injury on his throwing hand that could spell trouble.
3. Is it finally Kenneth Dixon time? Last week against New England, Kenneth Dixon surpassed 40 snaps for the first time this year. It was also the first time he had more carries than Terrance West. Dixon is the future of the Ravens running game and he proved it by totaling 19 touches with a score, including 8 catches in the loss against the Patriots. Only David Johnson has more targets and receptions (31/22) than Dixon (19/16) among running backs since Week 12. The Ravens may have passed the torch over to Dixon and we're going to get a glimpse of what 2017 will be like in these next few games. This week the Eagles come to Baltimore who have allowed five rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last four games. Dixon is shaping up to be a decent play who could give you much needed points in your quest for a championship.
2. LeSean McCoy is an excellent play this week. The Bills will host the Browns in what looks like a perfect matchup for McCoy. The weather is turning for teams in the northern states and this battle of Lake Erie is no different. Running backs tend to thrive in bad weather games, particularly home running backs. McCoy has 13 catches in the last two games and he has scored a touchdown or exceeded 100 yards rushing in each of the last four games. Cleveland has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns to running backs this year and have given up two 100 yard rushers in the last three games. This is a great matchup for McCoy in what could be a "win it for Rex" game. Rex Ryan is a players coach and you can bet his players will want to win for him, especially with writing on the wall that he could be let go after the season. They also don't want to be the team that loses to the 0-13 Browns. All aboard McCoy this week.
1. Falcons for the win - Atlanta hosts San Francisco - The Falcons have a Vegas team total projection of 32.5 points, which is incredibly high. The 49ers have lost 12 straight games and have been a doormat for opposing defenses, especially running backs. Last week Bilal Powell joined Jordan Howard, LeGarrette Blount, Mark Ingram II, Jacquizz Rodgers, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Christine Michael and Fozzy Whittaker as the 10th running back to rush for 100+ yards against San Francisco. Of those ten 100-yard rushers, seven also scored a rushing touchdown and five of them scored more than one touchdown. Devonta Freeman and/or Tevin Coleman could have a field day this week. The passing game also figures to make some waves with or without Julio Jones (toe). Look for Taylor Gabriel and Aldrick Robinson (if no Jones) to see an uptick in production.
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