Week 15 kicks off a bit early for those in the fantasy playoffs with the Lions and Bears facing off in a NFC North matchup and the Chiefs and Chargers battling for the AFC West title on Saturday afternoon and night. With the college football season wrapping up and just a smattering of bad bowl games, the NFL takes advantage every year and puts a couple games on Saturday. We also miss out on the main slate this week on the primetime games as the Falcons and Bucs exchange pleasantries Monday night and the Cowboys look to stay in the playoff race taking on the Raiders Sunday night. All that adds up to 11 games for us to breakdown on Sunday’s main slate. Check out the podcast here to listen along as you build your lineups. Let’s get to it!
Some fun lines this week and the few that I want to focus in on are the Packers/Panthers, Jets/Saints, and Rams/Seahawks.
The Packers opened as +2 dogs on speculation that Rodgers would indeed suit up. As reports came out that he might not be cleared or be ready to play, the line moved to Packers +6 and the over under steady at 45. Once word was out Wednesday that Rodgers was a go, the line shot back to GB +2.5 and the o/u up to 47. I think this shows how much Vegas values a QB and an all-star QB at that.
The Rams/Seahawks game is also a fun one to watch in the betting lines leading up to it as the Rams were essentially a pick ‘em early on with the line settling at Rams +3 as of writing. It seems the injury to watch here is on the Rams o-line as Andrew Whitworth might be out which would be a big blow to Goff’s blindside.
The Jets/Saints game has one of the most lopsided lines on the season with the Saints favored by 16 points! To add to the chaos, the o/u is set at 47.5 giving the Saints an implied team total of 32 – one of the largest of the season. For reference, the two other games this week with teams favored by double digits barely sneak over 40 points with implied team totals of 27 and 25 respectively.
Nick Foles (5500|6000) Nick is coming at a cheap price and is in a really good matchup. Taking on the Giants defense who have allowed the most DK points to the QB this season (Tied with Houston) and the second most passing yards. People will also assume Foles is a bad QB after his stint with the Rams imploded but no QB has flourished under Jeff Fisher. It’s fun to look around the league and see the 3 QBs previously handling snaps under Fisher all flourishing with their new teams.
Ben Roethlisberger (6700|8000) This is the biggest matchup of the week. Last week we saw Big Ben pass for over 500 yards. His lowest yards in a game this season was 216 way back in week 4. The time for Ben to be considered done is over and this week it is going to be a shootout. I can’t imagine the Patriots being able to shut down the fast wide receivers in Pittsburg. In his last 4 games he has thrown an average of 49 passes for 33 completions, and 12 total TD to only 3 INT. I can imagine Big Ben’s ownership to be high but this game has the potential to blow up the stat sheet.
Tom Brady (7600|8800) Is it fair to say that watching Tom Brady play is boring? He typically comes in, connects on most of his passes, and quietly leads the league in passing yards and walks his team into the playoffs. However, last week the Pats failed to convert on and third downs and Brady did not have a great showing (233/1 with 2 INT). This game is a must win for the Patriots if they want to stay at home for every playoff matchup. This game feels like it is going to be huge and the Steelers can match the Patriots punch for punch. If you want to pay up at QB either Tom or Ben is your guy.
Blake Bortles (5700|7400) Bortles has been great in his last 2 games totaling 578 yards and 4 TD. This week he is taking on the Texans who have not been the greatest looking defense of late. This season they have let up the most DK points/week to the QB with 21.31. Blake has weapons, especially with the emergence of Dede Westbrook.
Jimmy Garoppolo (6300|7300) Jimmy has looked very good in his small sample size. Game 1 starting he has 293 yards, and in Game 2 he surpassed that 300 yard threshold with 334. Jimmy and Marquise Goodwin have been clicking since Jimmy started (8/99 on 8 targets and 6/106/0 on 12 targets). I think that this connection will continue to get better in this medium-high scoring matchup. The only point of contention here is that the Titans defense has been pretty good against the QB, falling in the middle of the pack to points allowed.
Cam Newton (6400|7900) Cam is taking on the terrible GB defense with Aaron Rodgers coming back. This means that Cam is going to have to make some stuff happen. In his last 5 Cam has averaged 66 yards on the ground, which is equal to 150 passing yards. That provides him with a very safe floor and combined with his 209 passing yards/ game and 5 rushing TD makes him a strong cash QB play.
Mark Ingram (8200|8300)/Alvin Kamara (8600|9100) The stat of the week here is the Jets have given up 5 runs of over 40 yards this season. We all know the explosive abilities of Kamara and Ingram so it should be a slam spot for both to bust off some big runs. With the game flow expected to be Saints by a billion, I expect a lot of Ingram/Kamara running out the clock.
Kenyan Drake (5800|6500) This is your cash game play this week. He is still the only viable back in Miami with Damien Williams out and torched the Pats on Monday night. His reward for that outing is the Bills who let Frank Gore run rampant in the snowglobe last Sunday.
Latavius Murray (4900|6200) McKinnon looks to be out and Kyle Rudolph is questionable/doubtful meaning that Murray could become the guy to catch those short passes early on and run the clock out late in the game when the Vikings are leading as home favorites tend to do. The Bengals defense has not looked great in the last 4 weeks, giving up the most DK points/ game with 32.52, and the third most rushing yards. This is a great cash play and I will definately be using him.
Le’Veon Bell (9300|9400) How do we not talk about Lev. He is averaging 28.85 opportunities/game. That is a stupidly huge number. He runs the ball. He catches the ball. He is involved in every aspect of their game.In 3 of his last 4 games he has gotten double digit targets, and he has a huge game this week. The Patriots have to somehow shut down Bell, Ju-ju, and Bryant, not leaving much at home to stop Bell. If the Steelers play this one smart they will run the ball to get their points and leave the Pats no time to make their offense work.
Marquise Goodwin (6000|6600) He has quickly become Jimmy’s go to guy, now posting over 65 yards in 6 straight games. Originally billed as a deep threat, hes evolved to a volume guy with Jimmy under center. What is even crazier is the 49ers are favorites against a current playoff team. Even if they weren’t favored, this game should be very close and there should be no limits on Goodwin catching balls.
Devin Funchess (6600|7300) Funchess is the only viable target in Carolina and the past few weeks we have been targeting WRs against the Packers. Mike Evans put up a dud while Josh Gordon provided a lot of value for his price. Further, since the trade of Kelvin Benjamin, Funchess is averaging numbers that would equate to the 4th ranked WR on the year. He’s caught 4 TDs in 5 games and is hauling in 5 balls a game.
Dede Westbrook (5100|5700) He finally had is first TD last week against a strong Seahawks D and gets the Texans struggling pass D this week. His price has risen substantially but he is a guy the Jags want to get the ball to. Bortles is having half a resurgence year and the last few weeks with Westbrook in the lineup, he has been a viable QB 2 for fantasy.
Davante Adams (6800|7300) Back when Davante was working with Mr. Rodgers early in the season he caught 4 TD in 5 full games (not counting the game that Rodgers got hurt after only 4 passing attempts). These two are capable of connecting to make good things happen, and if you believe in Aaron Rodgers coming out party then you should believe in Davante.
Jamison Crowder (5600|6800) The Arizona Cardinals are in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy production allowed to the WR. They have Patrick Peterson who can pretty much shut down one guy on the other team. This means that he will most likely be shadowing Josh Doctson, leaving Jamison Crowder with a great opportunity to have a bunch of targets. In his last 6 he is averaging 9 targets and 85.5 yards per contest. He has only found the endzone once in that stretch (well only 1 on the season) but his increased workload should give him more opportunity to find the promised land.
Nelson Agholor (4400|6000) Yeah, Wentz is out, but Nick Foles is not a bad QB. He’s not as inventive as Wentz, but he can still connect with his WRs. They are taking on the Giants, who are essentially down to using the stadium security in their secondary. In the last 2 games Agholor saw 12 and 11 targets. I don’t think he will be that high, but if he can see 7-9 targets, reel in 5 or 6 and get 70-80 yards then he will get you 12-14 points. At $4400 he will be getting about 3x and if he finds the end zone then he will smash his value. Comeon Nelly!
Zach Ertz (6000|7900) Nick Foles is a competent, NFL QB. Jeff Fisher is not a competent NFL head coach. Is it ironic that Case Keenum (T-1st NFC), Jared Goff (T-3rd NFC), and now Nick Foles (T-1st NFC) are free from his wrath and leading their teams to top seeds in the NFC? Sure. Regardless of the coaching, the last time Foles was on the Eagles, he was a pro-bowl QB. People forget he also came in and beat Jared Goff. I think Ertz’s value will be down this week thanks to his injuries and QB but this is as good a spot as any to fire up Ertz. He torched the Giants in Week 1 for 8/55/1.
Rob Gronkowski (7300|8500) Gronk comes back from him one-game suspension in a game he historically does well in. The matchup on paper looks poor but you have to factor in the Steelers ailing defense with Joe Haden out and Ryan Shazier fighting for feeling back in his legs. With Shazier in the lineup, the Steelers LBs are fast and big and can cover Gronk. Without, they simply don’t have the manpower. In games where the implied total is over 50, Gronk scores a TD. To further this point, Gronk did not score in the other game this season where the implied total was over 50 so he should be a lock for 1.
Ben Watson (3800|4900) The former Patriot great is still alive and actually well in Baltimore where he has become Joe Flacco’s quasi safety net. He’s quietly had a great season and is reliable, especially in a + matchup vs the Browns.
Let’s take a quick look at the QBs starting in Week 15 that either did not play in the NFL last year or were not the Week 1 starter.
Out of this list, we can target 4 of these QBs who have proven to be great matchups for opposing DSTs.
TJ Yates – The Texans draw the Jags who surprisingly let up 27 points to the Seahawks but the last 14 were on flukey long TD catch and runs. This week, they get TJ Yates who is worse than Tom Savage and we remember what happened to Savage earlier this year when he faced the Jags. 4 Ints later, and Deshaun Watson is the starter for the 2nd half.
Bryce Petty – The Saints get a gift with Petty under center instead of McCown who broke his left hand. The Saints CBs are healthy and have been ballhawks all year. I expect at least 2 picks in this game and one returned to the house.
Deshone Kizer – If the Ravens had all-pro Jimmy Smith, I would like this matchup much more but alas he is out for the year with an achilles injury and Kizer has played much better with Josh Gordon in the lineup. Regardless, it’s still an AFC north clash and it always brings out the defense so the Ravens are a viable play.
Blaine Gabbert – Taking on the Redskins who have been riddled with injuries and a lack of motivation actually makes Gabbert seem like a better QB. I wouldn’t target the Redskins D this week but the history is there with him that he can turn the ball over.
Hard to score with your kicker when the offense he plays for only scores once and does not put him in position to kick FGs. So this week we are targeting projected high scoring games instead of our normal sure things.
Stephen Gostkowski (5000)
Chris Boswell (4800)
Will Lutz (5200)