The first week of the fantasy playoffs is almost over, so there is still hope for those of you with Giants or Dolphins in your lineup. Although this article is about those who had outstanding performances this week, most people are talking about the studs who let them down when they needed it the most. Andy Dalton will be one of the guys talked about, as he injured his thumb on his right hand making a tackle after throwing an interception in the first quarter. Luckily this didn't hurt A.J. Green, as he was still able to put up a great performance. Every year this happens, so it is important to remember that you had the right thought process behind starting Dalton, as no one would have thought he was going to get hurt so early in the game.
After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not. Starting this week since most fantasy playoffs will be going, I will start to talk about player's values as it pertains to 2016 as well to help give you readers that are out of it something to look for as well.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 14.
QB - Russell Wilson 292 Passing Yards, 5 TD's, 1 Rush for 6 Yards, 31 Fantasy Points
Is Wilson going to slow down at any point the rest of the season? At this point I am inclined to say no. This was now his third consecutive game with 30+ Fantasy points. He went from being a top 5 QB at the beginning of the year, then down to a midtier streaming QB, and now is back in the top 5. Keep on using him, as he won't be stopped by any of his opponents down the stretch. Wilson's draft stock for 2016 keeps on rising, and at this point he has put himself back into the top 5 at QB's again. I believe the offense will continue to look like this next year, even when Graham makes his return.
QB - Blake Bortles 250 Passing Yards, 3 TD's, 4 Rushes for 17 Yards and 1 TD, 2 Fumbles Lost, 25 Fantasy Points
Has there been a bigger surprise at the QB position this year than Blake Bortles? All this guy has done is put up big numbers all year long. He went virtually undrafted in practically every league, as not a single person expected this breakout season. For the rest of the season you are going to continue starting him, but the big question isn't that. The question is, where exactly do you rank him going into next season? I can't possibly rank him inside my top 5, as there are too many other QB's I trust more than him. Bortles does however make his way into my top 10 going into next season. I don't expect any regression in his stats, as he appears to be getting better each and every week. The guys I would have above him going into 2016 are: Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer for sure. After that Bortles is directly in the conversation with the other guys for the 8th spot.
QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick 263 Passing yards, 3 TD's, 3 Rushes for 23 Yards, 24 Fantasy Points
Fitzpatrick is on a three game streak of his own like Wilson, as he has now gone for 24+ Fantasy points in his last three games. The biggest reason for these kind of numbers is the weapons he has at his disposal. Brandon Marshall has been playing like he was only a few years ago, and Eric Decker has been showing that he isn't just a Peyton Manning byproduct. Fitz has a decent schedule down the stretch facing the Cowboys, Patriots, and the Bills. I would rank him in my top 10 for each of those weeks. For the 2016 season, Fitzpatrick finds himself in the top 15 consideration at the position. The problem with him though is that he is a bit lie Alex Smith from a fantasy standpoint. He will probably rank higher at the end of the year then where he gets drafted, but the upside of the other QB's will push them ahead of him on draft night.
RB - Isaiah Crowell 20 Carries for 145 Yards and 2 TD's, 1 Catch for 9 Yards, 26 Fantasy Points
Why must you do this to us Crowell? We had all finally coped with the fact that you just were not a good Running Back anymore. Apparently playing with Johnny put some life back into his legs or something. I am skeptical though that this can continue, especially considering who his opponent is next week. I fully expect Crowell to have another bad game where he goes and averages around 3 yards per carry against Seattle next week, so don't buy into this performance. For next year, Crowell will be nothing more than a late round flier, as I expect Duke Johnson Jr. to be implemented as the starter over the offseason, as he is the more versatile back.
RB - Todd Gurley 16 Carries for 140 Yards and 2 TD's, 1 Catch for 7 Yards, 26 Fantasy Points
After going through a tough two game stretch, Gurley finally had a good performance for his fantasy owners. I think the two tough games can be chalked up to him facing the Bengals and the Cardinals, two teams that have some of the best run defenders in the league. Gurley should be viewed as a top 5 back in two of his upcoming games, and a top 12 play when he faces the Seahawks in week 16. For next year, Gurley is a first round pick, and is in consideration for top 5 at the position. With so many of the other top players at the position succumbing to injury, Gurley has shown that he has overcome that knee injury, and is ready for an even bigger role going into 2016.
RB - James Starks 11 Carries for 71 Yards and 1 TD, 4 Catches for 32 Yards and 1 TD, 22 Fantasy Points
So Eddie Lacy got the start on Sunday, and to be honest, he looked like the better back than Starks. McCarthy I am sure noticed this, as it was Lacy who was out on the field when they needed big runs against the Cowboys. Starks should be viewed as a premium handcuff to Lacy at this point. Only in desperation should you be starting him in your FLEX spot going forward. For next year draft him as a handcuff, as Lacy should be able to solidify that starting job for next year again. Starks will be one of the most important handcuffs on draft day, along with DeAngelo Williams.
WR - Doug Baldwin 9 Targets, 6 Receptions for 82 Yards and 3 TD's, 26 Fantasy Points
I don't have much more to say about Baldwin at this point. I have written enough about him in the past weeks that it doesn't matter what I say. Baldwin is the top receiver in this new Seattle offense, and should be treated among the WR1's now. For next year, Baldwin is an interesting study. I feel at this point that he will be in contention for my top 20 if he ends his season on a decent note. If he keeps playing at a level like this however, he will find himself at least in my top 15.
WR - Ted Ginn Jr. 3 Targets, 2 Receptions for 120 Yards and 2 TD's, 24 Fantasy Points
So Ginn Jr. caught the ball this week. That's nice I guess. I can't trust this guy on a week to week basis, as his hands have let him down too many times for me to trust him as anything more than a top 35-40 option going forward. If you need someone with big risk reward potential, then Ginn Jr. is going to be your guy to use. For 2016, Ted Ginn Jr. should be an afterthought in drafts, as Kelvin Benjamin is making his return. Not only that, but I expect Devin Funchess to take an expanded role in the offense as well. This will relegate Ginn Jr. down to the 3rd or 4th receiver and return man for them.
WR - Tyler Lockett 7 Targets, 6 Receptions for 104 Yards and 2 TD's, 22 Fantasy Points
I mentioned in my WR Rankings to keep an eye on what Lockett does, as he was featured in the offense against the Vikings last week. This week the Seahawks did more than just try and get him the ball in space, they threw him the ball down the field. This is big for the development of his value, as you can trust him more going forward knowing Wilson will look for him more than five yards down the field. Going forward Lockett will be at least in my top 30 WR's, and possibly higher depending on the matchup in that given week. For 2016, Lockett should be viewed as a nice option as a WR3, who has the upside to become a WR2. This is one guy however you don't want to go overboard on in drafts. I think his upside will be limited to a top 20 guys though with Rawls, Baldwin, and Graham also in that offense.
TE - Jordan Reed 9 Targets, 9 Receptions for 120 Yards and 1 TD, 18 Fantasy Points
Reed is a top 5 TE for the rest of the season. His value for next year however is one that involves a little more talking about. If only you could trust Reed to stay healthy for a full season. When Reed is healthy, he plays like a top 5-7 guy at the position. The problem is that he has yet to make it through a full season worth's of games yet. As long as Kirk Cousins is still the starting QB next year, I would be comfortable drafting him in the top 5 at the position. The guys he would be behind are: Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, and Gary Barnidge. Currently Reed is slightly ahead of Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham for me, as his points plus a replacement level guy in the weeks he is hurt should be better than them.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Matthew Stafford 245 Passing Yards, 2 TD and 1 INT, 15 Fantasy Points
I couldn't find another QB I wanted to write about, so I decided to put Stafford here to remind everyone who he is playing next week. Stafford will get his turn to face the hapless Saints defense next week. While they held Winston to only 13 Fantasy points, I don't expect that to happen again here. Even bad defenses can have a good week every once in a while. Stafford has been throwing the ball all over the field, and I don't see the Saints of all teams slowing him down.
RB - Tim Hightower 28 Carries for 85 Yards and 1 TD, 1 Reception for 10 Yards, 15 Fantasy Points
Really Sean Payton? What are you doing? Do you realize that the 28 carries that you gave to Tim Hightower, a guy who had been out of the league for 3 years before signing midseason, was more than you gave to Mark Ingram in any single game this season? This just frustrates me, as Ingram was the 4th best RB before his injury put him on the IR last week. If only Ingram saw this kind of work, who knows how good he could have been. For the time being though, Hightower is a top 15 back the rest of the way, as it appears he will be seeing 20 touches a game, along with the goalline work.
WR - Donte Moncrief 10 Targets, 3 Receptions for 52 Yards and 0 TD's, 5 Fantasy Points
Moncrief as I have said before is the receiver you don't want going forward. While he did get 10 targets this week, the targets that are going to Hilton are going to be more consistent. Not only that, but Hilton will also be put in better spots with the type of routes he runs. I am writing about Moncrief here though because he presents some big value going into next year. With Luck coming back presumably fully healthy, Moncrief has the opportunity to become a top 15 receiver, and is someone you won't have to draft that high. In a keeper league in the offseason see if you can buy low on him, as he will breakout next year.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.