Welcome to Week 15’s Fantasy Football Rundown. What you’ll find here is at least one sentence on every fantasy viable player in each game this week, including both the Saturday and Sunday slates. There’s a lot to talk about. I would highly recommending using your browser’s search function if you’re looking for a particular player.
Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos
Josh Allen and the Bills head to Denver for a bout with a Broncos defense barely able to provide more resistance than the Mile High air. While injuries have robbed the Broncos of much of their front-seven, a suspension to top cornerback A.J. Bouye further decimates their secondary. Allen is, once again, a Top 5 QB.
There’s not a defensive back in Denver that can come close to hanging with No. 1 WR Stefon Diggs. Diggs will be in contention for overall WR1 honors this week.
Filling in flawlessly for the injured John Brown (ankle) over the last three weeks, breakout rookie Gabriel Davis has scored in each contest, making plays both in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, as well as acting as a complimentary downfield receiver. With Brown out another week, should be started where rostered as a high-end flex play with a touchdown-likely performance on tap.
Even with Davis’ ascension, slow receiver Cole Beasley has managed back-to-back double-digit target games over the last two weeks. His floor remains as high as ever. Like Davis, Beasley’s a high-floor/high-ceiling flex play with exceptional upside in full-point PPR formats.
No. 4 WR Isaiah McKenzie is viable in DFS only.
Tight end Dawson Knox has finally begun seeing regular passing game usage but he’s yet to register a stunning showing. Knox is too unreliable to be started in season-long formats at this time.
On paper, this is a great match-up for the Bills backfield as the Broncos have allowed the 6th-most rushing yards (1,703) and the 4th-most rushing touchdowns (17) in the league this year. QB Josh Allen has established himself as a prolific rusher at this point, but he tweaked his knee in Week 12 and his rushing attempts have noticeably dropped over the last two weeks. With this in mind, there’s reason to believe that lead back Zack Moss could see a flex-worthy workload this week. But confusingly, Allen has yet to even be limited in practice with said knee injury, so it’s tough to know if the dual threat quarterback is returning to full health, and therefore likely to get back on the rushing-horse, so to speak. Keeping in mind that there’s terrible risk, Moss can be started as a flex option in deep multi-flex leagues, given the seemingly good situation.
Change of pace back, Devin Singletary is just to risky to trust outside of DFS.
2nd-year quarterback Drew Lock has his work cutout for him this week as his top receiver, Tim Patrick is likely to see shadow coverage from one of the league’s best cover corners, Tre’Davious White. It’s best to look elsewhere for a streaming option.
As mentioned above, reliable X-receiver Tim Patrick has a brutal duel on his hands. Tre’Davious White has given opposing receivers fits all year. In the fantasy playoffs, Patrick can only be trust to return high-floor status, with a ceiling far down the rungs of potential outcomes.
In their team building process, Buffalo put priority on establishing their perimeter coverage and have yet to find an answer when it comes to covering slot receivers — and tight ends. Since Buffalo’s Week 11 bye, slot receivers Keenan Allen (4/10-40-1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/7-55-1) have posted solid numbers. Tight ends Hunter Henry (7/10-76) and the San Fran duo, Jordan Reed/Ross Dwelley (combined for 5/6-61-1), have had great outings as well. Broncos Slot receiver K.J. Hamler has clearly gotten over his early-season injury issues, as evidenced by his Week 13 outing where he turned 2 catches into 86 yards and 2 touchdowns. If you’re in the fantasy playoffs and strictly in need of a match-up-based, streaming flex option, Hamler fits the bill. Understand though, Hamler will be working on a low volume of targets so the potential for a bust is there. Stud pass catching tight end Noah Fant returned to practice on Wednesday and recorded a full practice participation, seemingly indicating that Fant has finally recovered the illness that kept him from taking the field last week. Although it’s been a while since we’ve seen much from Fant, this is a great spot for him to get his 2020 season back on track. He’s a solid Top 12 option at the position.
Wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and DaeSean Hamilton are sort of lost in the shuffle with Denver currently fielding a deep receiving corps. Jeudy can be considered for DFS purposes only.
Regardless of opponent, No. 2 back Phillip Lindsay has been unable to surpass 2.2 yards per carry in each of the last three contests, battling knee and hip injuries. At this point, one has to wonder if the team would be better served shutting him down for the year. The injuries are, evidently, not bad enough for them to do so though. So for now, he’ll run into brick walls and belongs on fantasy benches. Lead back Melvin Gordon, on the other hand, has seemingly found his groove in the Broncos’ offense, playing well as of late. Gordon gave us a fright to start the week, missing practice with a shoulder injury. He returned in a limited capacity on Wednesday though so we’re riding with Gordon as mid-tier RB2 against a Buffalo front seven allowing 97.8 rushing yards (12th-most) and 0.8 rushing scores per game.
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers
Although Green Bay has Jaire Alexander locking horns with whichever top receiver the team sticks him on, he’s only one man. As a unit, the Packers’ secondary has corralled just 8 interceptions (7th-fewest), while knocking down 52 passes a thoroughly mediocre number. With D.J. Moore returning from the COVID-19/Reserve List, Teddy Bridgewater’s wide receiver is back at full capacity, keeping him firmly on the QB1/2 borderline for Week 15.
The aforementioned Moore and fellow perimeter receiver Robby Anderson should take turns running routes against Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, the latter of which has allowed a ho-hum 391 passing yards, 5 passes defended, and 2 touchdowns through eight games played, per PlayerProfiler.com. Both receivers have played top notch football this year and can be counted on as mid-tier WR2s at worst.
Players who regularly run routes out of the slot, a la Adam Thielen (Week 1 - 6/8-110-2), Emmanuel Sanders (4/5-56-1), Randall Cobb (8/10-95), Richie James (9/13-184-1), and Danny Amendola (6/7-66), have bashed the Packers’ defense for fantasy-friendly outings this year — and none of them have the added bonus of minor running back treatment that Curtis Samuel does. The 4th-year, electric play-maker carries an outrageously high-floor into his Week 15 match-up. Samuel is a high-end flex play with WR2 upside.
Wide receivers Pharoh Cooper and Brandon Zylstra aren’t seeing enough work to be deployed in any format this week.
Tight end Ian Thomas is, sadly, not fantasy-relevant this year.
With wizard-like running back Christian McCaffrey unlikely to play this week (quad/money invested by the team), Mike Davis is back in action as Carolina’s lead back. While Green Bay has played well against rush-only backs, holding the position to 1,426 rushing yards (11th-fewest) and a mediocre rushing TD total (13), dual threats have ravaged them for an added 5.8 receptions per game (5th-most) and the most RB receiving yards per game, 50.8. In Week 14, Davis tied his 4th-highest season total snap share, 73%, indicating the team’s brief interlude with a bevvy of backups siphoning off touches has ended. He’s a back-end RB1 for fantasy football’s semi-finals. Trenton Cannon and Rodney Smith pose little season-long threat to Davis. If DFS, Smith — being the recent favorite for No. 2 work — is the preferred long-shot option.
Aaron Rodgers should have no issue toying with the Carolina Panthers’ rookie-made defense, en route to a Top 3 finish this week.
Book Davante Adams for 7+ catches, 100+ yards, and 1+ touchdowns. He’s the overall WR1.
As evidenced by his zero-catch outings, Marquez Valdes-Scantling carries a terrifyingly low floor. If in need of a high-risk/high-reward flex play though, MVS could be your guy. Running a quarter of his downfield-role routes out of the slot, the 3rd-year receiver profiles similarly to both K.J. Hamler (2/3-86-2) and Justin Jefferson (7/13-70-2) who have had stellar showings against this secondary unit in back-to-back games.
In an attempt to preserve Allen Lazard, who had in-season core muscle surgery, for the playoffs, the team is deploying him at a severely reduced rate. If in need of a floor play, Lazard is a candidate but understand that he has a terribly low ceiling.
Equanimeous St. Brown can be considered in DFS-only as the Packers’ No. 2 designated deep threat.
Tight end Robert Tonyan has seen 5 targets in each of the last four games and has failed to catch just one of them. Solidifying his elite TE1 status, he’s scored a touchdown in each of the aforementioned games as well — proving his mettle, regardless of opponent. He’s a Top 5 option this week.
Lead back Aaron Jones’ snap share hopped up to 70% last week, for the first time since Week 3. In the preceding three weeks, Green Bay had largely scaled back his workload, in an attempt to keep him healthy for the playoffs, a la what they’re doing with Allen Lazard. Fantasy managers should temper expectations for Week 15 and the Week 14 spike was likely due to the importance of beating the Detroit Lions, a divisional opponent/key win for playoff seeding. Given Jones’ extremely efficiency and the Panther’s overall inability to slow opposing backfields — 22 .5PPR PPG allowed, 8th-most in the NFL — Jones can be trusted to return mid-tier RB1 value, which should be enough to keep one’s playoff campaign humming.
No. 2 back Jamaal Williams is a high-floor/capped ceiling RB3/flex play.
Sunday 10:00am PST
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys
With both teams wielding mid-to-high per game snap totals, SF at DAL has a shot to provide a bevvy of usable fantasy assets. Unfortunately for Niners’ QB Nick Mullens, much of San Fran’s production is likely to come via manufactured run game touches, rather than some sort of gun-slinging game plan. He’s just a low-end QB2/high-end QB3 this week.
When No. 1 WR Deebo Samuel injured his hamstring on the first play of the game last week, breakout rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk took the bull by the horns, hauling in 10 of 16 targets for 119 yards. Samel’s hamstring is likely to keep Samuel out for multiple weeks, making Aiyuk a potential league-winner. Hefty double-digit workloads with carries and punt returns sprinkled on top delivers a high-end WR2 ranking to Aiyuk this week, against a Dallas defense allowing 33.7 .5PPR PPG to opposing wide receivers, 6th-most in the NFL, and beyond!
Of the remaining SF WRs, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Richie James, and River Cracraft, Bourne is the only one with a stable enough snap share to be trusted in season-long leagues this week. As evidenced by his red zone target market share, the team really does like Bourne. He’s a high-floor flex play with a low-double-digit fantasy ceiling. The other three receivers are all dart throw options in DFS.
The sudden increase in No. 3 tight end Charlie Woerner’s snap share hasn’t helped the fantasy prospects of No. 1 and 2 tight ends, Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley in recent weeks and Reed’s overall deployment wasn’t something to write home about to begin with. The latter maintains high-end TE2 usage, given head coach Kyle Shanahan’s affinity for him, but his ceiling really isn’t high enough for spiked week potential.
The team’s true No. 1 tight end, George Kittle, is unlikely to return from Injured Reserve this week. That said, it’s something to monitor as he has returned to practice. Should he play, he’d slide in behind Travis Kelce as the No. 2 tight end of the week.
Lead back Raheem Mostert re-injured his healing high-ankle sprain last week and started this week off with a DNP practice designation. Even if he’s able to play on Sunday morning, he’s impossible to trust. Jeff Wilson Jr. is now in the driver’s seat in a must-start situation. Dallas’s front-seven has been sledgehammered by opposing running backs this year, allowing 23.3 .5PPR PPR, 6th-most in the NFL to the position. Wilson is a talented rusher in his own right but his prospects are greatly increased, running in the Shanahan scheme. For Week 15, he’s a high-end RB2.
Neither Tevin Coleman, nor Jerick McKinnon are threats to steal much work. Both can be left in fantasy free agency.
The 49ers’ defense might limit QB Andy Dalton’s ability to find his fantasy ceiling this week but he’s surrounded by talent. Consider Dalton a mid-tier QB2, buoyed by his dearth pass catching play-makers.
The return of Richard Sherman has been a boon for their defense, but he’s no reason to fear No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper in fantasy this week. Sherman rarely shadow covers, opting instead to lock down one side of the field. The solution for Cooper? Line him up on the opposite side. With Dalton at the helm over the last four weeks, Cooper has delivered one ceiling performance along side three extremely high floor outings. He’s a locked-in Top 15 option at the position.
Slot receivers have had up-and-down showings against SF this year, which puts CeeDee Lamb on uneven footing. His high-floor capabilities remain intact but it’s tough to trust him for a ceiling performance. Lamb is just a mid-tier flex this week.
Michael Gallup simply cannot be trusted in crunch time. Keep the volatile receiver out of your starting lineup this week.
After a glimmer of hope a month ago, tight end Dalton Schultz has fallen out of fantasy favor. Underwhelming performances over the last three weeks combined with San Fran’s league-best tight end coverage unit — just 6.4 .5PPR PPG allowed, fewest in the NFL — render Schultz a bad, bad option at the position this week.
Update 12/20/20 8:59am PST: Zeke is Out, due to his calf injury. Tony Pollard is a mid-to-high RB2 based on his expected 20+ touch workload.
Ezekiel Elliott is apparently dealing with a calf bruise and it’s significantly impaired his ability to produce. It’s entirely possible that it’s actually a sprain, but regardless, calves heal slowly and this could be a real issue for Zeke this week. Week 14’s game against Cincinnati remained competitive until the 4th quarter and No. 2 back Tony Pollard was just 1 carry and 1 target behind him. Both backs are being cautiously ranked as mid-to-high flex options for the time being.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team
Toggling to the appropriate columns on Sharp Football’s Play Frequency/Situational Run:Pass Ratios page, we can see that the Seahawks have tragically scale back their early-down, 1st-half passing over the last four weeks to just a 54% rate. Against the Washington Football Team’s league-best defense, that practice is likely to cost Seattle points. Of course, for the NFL’s 2nd-most accurate passer this year — Wilson’s 5% Completion Percentage Above Expectation trails only Kirk Cousins’ 5.1 — that fact doesn’t drop him out of the position’s Top 12. Wilson falls to the QB7 spot, but it still firmly on the QB1 radar for the fantasy playoff battle.
Washington has done a good job of limiting the passing production of their opponents with their fearsome pass rush, currently generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks 24.4% of the time, the league’s 9th-highest clip. As a result, wide receiver corps are producing at the 4th-lowest .5PPR PPG rate, 26.1. That said, standout X-receivers/downfield play-makers (James Washington - 2/4-80-1, Diontae Johnson - 8/12-71-1, Amari Cooper - 6/8-112-1, Marvin Jones Jr. - 8/10-96-1, Darius Slayton - 2/4-41-1, Marquise Brown - 4/8-86, and DeAndre Hopkins - 8/9-68-1) have gotten the job done. Seattle’s primary perimeter threat, D.K. Metcalf remains firmly on the WR1 radar this week.
Unfortunately for slot receiver Tyler Lockett, the talented veteran has a rough outing ahead. A victim of Pete Carroll’s reduction in passing, producing at a far lower rate than he was earlier this year, Lockett will be forced go to work in tougher, more obvious pass-play situations against a Washington coverage unit that’s largely held slot receivers in-check. The dynamic receiver can only be trusted as a high-floor flex.
Nos. 3 and 4 wide receivers, David Moore and Freddie Swaim, offer DFS consideration, given their recent successes and increased deployment. They are far too risky for season-long purposes though.
Sharing snaps and targets, with no clear-cut top dog, neither Jacob Hollister, nor Will Dissly offer trustworthy prospects this week. Both are zero-floor/touchdown-dependent TE2s.
Although it’s possible that former 1st Round Draft pick Rashaad Penny makes his long awaited return from Injured Reserve this week, his presence is more likely to threaten the job security of No. 2 back Carlos Hyde, whose propensity towards yards per carry totals landing under the 4-yard mark cannot inspire confidence, despite what Pete “Alright, Alright, Alright” Carroll has to say. Per Next Gen Stats, Hyde somehow managed to play worse than expected against the lowly New York Jets last week, producing a Rush Yards Over Expectation result of -7.
Washington’s front-seven will, no doubt, make lead back Chris Carson work for every yard this week, but Pete Carroll determination to establish the run keeps Carson’s workload voluminous and their commitment to him strong. He’s a back-end RB1. Hyde is unusable and Rashaad Penny should be rostered in all formats.
Washington quarterback Alex Smith (calf) has been ruled out, so 2nd-year signal caller, Dwayne Haskins, will return to take the helm this week. In short, Haskins’ returns is great for Terry McLaurin as the duo had a stellar connection earlier this year, and mostly terrible for everyone else. Do not start Dwayne Haskins this week.
Through the first four weeks of the season, when Haskins was under center, Terry McLaurin was averaging 9.75 targets, 6.5 catches, 96.75 yards, and 0.25 touchdowns, good for the 11th-highest .5PPR point total (58.0) during that span. Seattle’s defense has improved as of late, but they still comfortably lead the league in passing yards allowed (3,833) by 105 yards and are generating pressure on opposing QBs at a middling rate of 22.1%. McLaurin is safely a Top 15 option at the position this week.
The only players to turn in usable fantasy outings during Haskins’ initial four game stint were McLaurin, one-offs by TE Logan Thomas and Dontrelle Inman, and hard earned showings by RB Antonio Gibson who is listed as Doubtful for this week’s game. Dice can be rolled on Thomas if in desperate need of a tight end option but really the only player worthwhile is Scary Terry. J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber are just low-end, ill-advised flex plays.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Week 15 offers blow-up potential for all of Chicago’s standout players. Carried by Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky remains a mid-tier QB2, with Top 12 potential, against Minnesota Vikings’ secondary that’s allowed the 8th-most passing yards this year (3,336) and the 6th-most passing touchdowns (26).
Allen Robinson will contend for overall WR1 honors this week as no Vikings’ DB can come close to hanging with him.
Downfield receiver Darnell Mooney offers boom/bust flex potential as the Vikings are allowing 34.7 .5PPR PPG, 3rd-most in the league. He’s had a tough time producing though and is better considered for DFS. Same goes for slot receiver Anthony Miller.
Just when rookie tight end Cole Kmet was looking like a locked-in Top 12 option last week, the washed up Jimmy Graham steals the show with a touchdown. Kmet and Graham’s workload disparity, 7 respective targets to Graham’s 4, calms our fears though. Kmet’s Week 15 outlook is also enhanced by Graham evidently tweaking his hip during practice this week. With the veteran seemingly questionable to play, Kmet can be counted on for a high-floor outing, at worst.
With No. 2 back Cordarrelle Patterson playing as merely a change of pace back/kick returner, lead back David Montgomery has been feasting on bellcow treatment for weeks now. the Vikings’ injury-decimated front-seven (LB Anthony Barr and DE Danielle Hunter - Injured Reserve and Eric Kendricks (calf) already declared out), Montgomery should cruise his way to Top 12 results this week.
The Bears’ typically strong secondary is in dire straits this week with perimeter cornerback Jaylon Johnson was unable to practice all week (foot) and is generously listed as Questionable this week, while slot cornerback Buster Skrine has already been ruled out (concussion). As a result, Vikes’ QB Kirk Cousins, currently boasting the league’s best accuracy mark with a 5.1% Completion Percentage Above Expectation, remains a mid-tier QB2 with back-end QB1 upside.
Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson should get back on track this week, given the aforementioned defensive back injuries. As mentioned by Dwain McFarland mentioned on this weeks’ Fantasy Football Hustle podcast, Justin Jefferson excels against man coverage, the preferred defensive scheme of the Chicago Bears. Both receivers are Top 15 options at the position.
As stated above, slot corner Buster Skrine is out this week, which makes Vikings’ slot receiver Chad Beebe a viable streaming option for those in need of an albeit risky match-up-based flex play.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph has already been deemed Out this week (foot), clearing the runway for a Irv Smith Jr. liftoff against a Bears’ defense allowing 12.7 .5PPR PPG, 3rd-most in the NFL. Smith is a Top 12 play at tight end this week.
It took 34 touches for Dalvin Cook to produce high-end RB2 value when these teams met in Week 10. With Alexander Mattison still questionable to return after undergoing an appendectomy a few weeks back, Cook should see another monster workload this week, ensuring his elite RB1 status.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
By and large, the Patriots’ offensive players are tough to trust in the fantasy playoffs. The connection between QB Cam Newton and Jakobi Meyers has fizzled. Newton’s posted three single-digit fantasy performances this year, including one that actually went into the negative point column — Week 7, -0.2 points.
RB Damien Harris can be considered as a low-end flex option but he’s currently battling an ankle injury. It’s best to avoid this roster in crunch time.
As evidenced by the performance of Offensive Rookie of the Year contender, Justin Herbert in Week 13, starting a rookie quarterback against a Bill Belichick defense is a risky prospect. It’s fair to note that Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa will be uniquely suited to challenge the Sith Lord, given the fact that his coach is a Belichick disciple, but in the playoffs, we can find more secure options. Like his Week 15 counterpart, Cam Newton, Tua is just a QB3.
Update 12/20/20 9:00am PST: DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki are all out this week. Lynn Bowden Jr. rockets to elite flex territory. In some formats, Bowden is both WR and RB-eligible. Great start. Dulham Smythe and Adam Shaheen should see an increase in volume at TE but facing the Patriots is rough.
The status of Miami’s receiver corps is up in the air this week with both DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant nursing hamstring injuries. Both seem truly questionable to play. While Mack Hollins and Antonio Callaway make for awfully risky fill-ins, rookie WR/RB Lynn Bowden Jr. provides heaps of intrigue. Bowden paced the team in catches (7) and yards (82) last week and he’s got a shot at a repeat performance this week. Should Parker sit, Bowden can be safely started as a high-floor, high-ceiling flex play. Bowden offers increased value in formats where he can be started at both WR and RB.
Tight end Mike Gesicki has been a target hog over the last two weeks, catching 14 of 17 for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns. With his shoulder injury looking like it won’t keep him out, Gesicki’s can be counted on as a high-end TE1 option. Although his workload should carry him, it’s fair to note that New England has limited opposing tight ends to just 7 .5PPR PPG this year, 3rd-fewest in the NFL.
Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen would make for boom/bust options, should Gesicki sit.
With Salvon Ahmed looking like he’ll finally return from his shoulder injury, DeAndre Washington’s grasp on lead back duties is suddenly in doubt. If Ahmed sits, Washington can be flexed. If Ahmed is available, he’s a toss-up flex play.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens
Injuries have hit the Ravens’ defense nearly as hard, numbers-wise, as COVID-19 did, with key players — DE Calais Campbell (calf), CB Marcus Peters (calf), CB Jimmy Smith (ribs/shoulder), CB Devontae Harris (ankle), and CB Tramon Williams (thigh) — largely unable to practice, yet likely to be out there on game day, limping around in whatever capacity they can muster.
As a result, re-installed QB Gardner Minshew has a shot at returning mid-tier QB2 value. His prospects are not strong enough for playoff consideration though.
The pass catching corps is entirely up in the air as D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, and Laviska Shenault all offer low-floor/high-ceiling potential. Consider the latter, Shenault, to be of the highest floor. One of Cole or Chark should have a good day but knowing who is a roll of the dice. Chark has the strongest rapport of the group, with Minshew, but his recent performances instill little confidence.
Tight end Tyler Eifert can’t be trusted this week.
This writer’s favorite player of 2020, James Robinson, once again garners rock-solid RB1 treatment in the fantasy playoffs. The Ravens have allowed steady production to opposing backfields this year; 91.6 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 5.4 receptions, 40.2 receiving yards, and 0.3 receiving touchdowns. The dual threat back is more than capable of exploiting their deficiencies.
Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson has seemingly worked out the kinks that were slowing his rushing production earlier in the year, as evidenced by his 9.9 yards per carry over the last two weeks. Averaging 11 attempts per game during that span and now primed to take on a bottom-dwelling Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense, Lamar has serious 100+ rushing yard potential. He’s this week’s 3rd-ranked quarterback.
No. 1 WR Marquise Brown was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List on Wednesday of this week but, as is tradition, the NFL is expected to fast track is star back into action ahead of Week 15’s bout with Jacksonville. As evidenced by every box score that the Jags have to offer this year, opposing wide receivers have demolished their secondary for gaudy days all season. Brown is a high-end WR2 with a great shot at a long touchdown.
Slot receiver Willie Snead IV is a low-floor/high-ceiling flex play, as is speedster Devin Duvernay. The latter brings added value via his kick return responsibilities.
Miles Boykin is not fantasy-relevant at this time.
As evidenced by their 11.6 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing tight ends, 8th-most in the league, tight end Mark Andrews has a shot at staying within scoring-reach of Travis Kelce. He’s an elite TE1 play.
Although he’ll have to share rushing work with both Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards, rookie J.K. Dobbins has soundly taken over lead back duties at this point. Against a Jags’ front that’s allowing a whopping 25.9 .5PPR PPG to opposing RBs, 3rd-most in the league, Dobbins bears high-end RB2 potential here. Although we’d like to see more passing game work from Dobbins, the team’s recent pile of red zone carries that they’ve heaped on him is mighty encouraging for his fantasy ceiling. Edwards, meanwhile, carries a delightfully high flex-floor. He can be counted on as a 10-12-point scorer this week.
Mark Ingram is not fantasy-relevant.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Things are falling nicely into place for a Tom Brady-based game plan on Sunday. When it comes to passing yards (3,663) and passing touchdowns (26) allowed, ATL is Top 6 (most) in both categories. Their secondary, likewise, has gator-armed passes all year, recording just 44 passes defended and 9 interceptions — Bottom 10 in both categories. Relatedly, lead back Ronald Jones had surgery to repair a broken finger on Tuesday and was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List on Wednesday. There’s little chance of him playing this week. As a result, fantasy managers should confidently roll with Tom Brady as a Top 15 option.
Week 15 provides get-right spot for both Mike Evans and slot receiver Chris Godwin. Evans, a touchdown machine in 2020, already just one touchdown shy of his personal season-best (12). He’s a safe WR1. Godwin, likewise, garners high-end WR2 consideration.
Antonio Brown has shown us that he’s not the receiver he once was, now more of a high-end No. 3 option. He’s only a factor in full-point PPR multi-flex leagues.
Scotty Miller deserves strong DFS consideration as a long-touchdown candidate.
Rob Gronkowski carries a sky-high TE1 ceiling against an Atlanta Falcons defense offering 12.4 .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends, 4th-most in the league.
Leonard Fournette should be considered the favorite for early-down work but LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be involved to unknown degrees. None of the three bear confident-flex status.
The only member of the Falcons’ offense that should be in fantasy lineups this week is Calvin Ridley. Whenever Julio Jones is out, as he is this week (hamstring), QB Matt Ryan flails away. Ridley, on the other hand, gets treated to double-digit target volume, locking him in as a safe and sound Top 12 WR play.
Russell Gage, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheus, and tight end Hayden Hurst should be nowhere near a playoff lineup.
The backfield has devolved into an ineffective three-way committee, rendering Todd Gurley and Co. completely useless.
Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans
The 5-8 Lions are apparently trying to wheel their banged up franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, out for a bout with the Titans this week. Early-week reports indicated that Stafford’s rib injury was bordering on excruciating. Should he actually be able to play, he’s got a decent match-up on his hands against a Titans defense that’s allowed 3,557 passing yards (5th-most) on the year and 28 passing touchdowns (T-1st-most). Stafford would be a serviceable streamer.
With Kenny Golladay out again this week (hip/contract), Marvin Jones Jr. would continue warranting locked-in WR2 treatment while slot man Danny Amendola could be started as a high-end flex option in full-point PPR leagues. Mohamed Sanu is up for DFS-consideration only.
Again, assuming Stafford is in this week, T.J. Hockenson, .5PPR’s TE3 in scoring, would be primed to continue his reign of terror.
In his return from extended absence (concussion), rookie back D’Andre Swift operated concretely as the team’s lead back last week. Tennessee’s defensive-front is being brutalized for 22.3 .5PPR PPG by opposing backfields, the 7th-highest clip in the league. Regardless of quarterback, Swift can be treated as a high-end RB2 for this one. Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson should be nowhere near a playoff starting lineup.
After combing through Chase Daniels’ career box scores, it’s clear the the journeyman passer doesn’t have a positional favorite to target, he just locks onto the best players on the team and launches it. Should Daniels get the start, Marvin Jones Jr. and T.J. Hockenson would retain something like 70% of their Stafford-based value. Daniels won’t be as accurate but he should look their way early and often.
If Matthew Stafford plays, that would bode very well for all of the Titans’ passing game pieces as Stafford will be able to provide a far more competitive game script that Chase Daniels could. Regardless, this is Derrick Henry’s world and everyone else is just living in it. As mentioned in the Tiered Running Back Rankings piece, “Detroit is Top 2 in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed. Derrick Henry is No. 1 in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns”. Henry needs just 9 rushing yards to beat his personal season-best of 1,540 and just 468 rushing yards, over the next three games, to join the 2,000-yard rushing club. Don’t be surprised if he only has 268 to go when the dust settles after this game. He’s this week’s No. 1 ranked back.
Although it might be done on limited volume, QB Ryan Tannehill should have a highly efficient day on Sunday, en route to a Top 12 finish. The Lions have allowed 3,430 passing yards (7th-most) and 26 passing touchdowns (6th-most) this year while generating the league’s 4th-worst QB pressure rate, 17.8%%. Accordingly, 2nd-year stud receiver A.J. Brown should have no issue trouncing Detroit’s hapless defense. He’s a locked-in WR1.
As always, Corey Davis comes with the understanding that he’s, perhaps, the most variant fantasy asset in the NFL. He could get game scripted out for single-digit yards, or he could rip the lid off of the defense on his way to a long touchdown. Start him and a high-risk/high-reward flex play with Top 15 upside.
Given the low passing volume expectation, Cam Batson and Kalif Raymond are not suitable options for Week 15 season-long leagues.
With four capable tight ends seeing the field every week, none of them hold strong enough value to start confidently in the playoffs. Jonnu Smith is a reasonable dart throw for those purposes though — as well as a decent DFS option.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
With Brandin Cooks cleared to play (neck), Deshaun Watson heads to Indy with his No. 1 WR back in the fold. Although it’s a tough match-up, as the Colts are allowing just 17 FPPG to opposing signal callers (8th-fewest), the fast paced nature of Indy’s offense should draft Houston into a fantasy-friendly game script. Watson’s dual threat dynamism counts for a lot in this one as well — Indy has been torched by red zone QB rushing, allowing four QB rushing touchdowns over their last six games, including Watson, himself, in Week 13. Accounting for overall tough match-up, Watson is the 8th-ranked quarterback in our Rankings this week.
Brandin Cooks breakneck speed, combined with his No. 1 WR status in Houston make for an appetizing WR1 option.
Slot receiver Keke Coutee must’ve been licking his chops on the plane to Indianapolis, thinking about the 8/9-141 stat line he hung on them just two weeks ago. Consider the speedy slotster a high-end flex play/low-end WR2.
In his two games of being called up from the practice squad, No. 3 receiver Chad Hansen has seen 7 targets in each contest, catch a total 12 balls for 157 yards, doing everything necessary to keep Isaiah Coulter out of the coaching staff’s minds. Hansen is a high-floor flex play with intriguing upside in DFS.
Neither of the tight ends, Jordan Akins, nor Darren Fells can be trusted here.
With No. 2 back Duke Johnson Jr. (neck) unlikely to play after failing to practice on Thursday and Friday, lead back David Johnson will get all the work he can handle on Sunday. Indy has played very strong defense against opposing running backs this year but a 20+ touch workload as Deshaun Watson’s running back secures Johnson a spot in the mid-tier of the RB2 ranks.
The Houston Texans’ defense presents no impediments to Philip Rivers and his outrageously high floor. Producing between 17.8 and 21.4 fantasy points per game over the last month, Rivers retains high-end QB2 status, hosting the division rival Texans.
Akin to his team’s primary running back, it took a while but No. 1 WR T.Y. Hilton has now produced a multi-week strong showing, ripping up box scores against the fantasy-friendly, Titans, Texans, and Raiders. With another date with the Texans on tap, fantasy managers can keep the show going with Hilton this week as a high-end flex play. He and Rivers are finally on the same page, just in time for the 9-4 Colts to make a playoff push.
It’s possible for stud rookie Michael Pittman Jr. to have a bounce-back week this week but Rivers’ newfound adoration for the veteran Hilton seems to have dropped Pittman’s ceiling. The latter is best left for DFS purposes. Same goes for No. 3 WR Zach Pascal.
Eerily similar to one of their other division rivals, the Tennessee Titans, Indy features a three-man tight end committee — a practice that’s worked wonders for the team but confounded fantasy managers all year. While Jack Doyle’s target market share stays consistently low, both Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton have seen enticing target totals off-and-on this season. While the Texans don’t play especially stout defense against pass catching tight ends, the situation is too dicey to trust in the fantasy playoffs. For DFS purposes, die can be rolled on both of them.
It just so happens that Week 13’s game against this very same foe was Jonathan Taylor’s coming out party. Since kickoff that day, the talented rookie back has piled up dual threat yardage and touchdowns en route to the highest .5PPR RB point total of the last two weeks. Trust Taylor as a rock-solid RB1 for your Week 15 playoff game.
Backfield-mate Nyheim Hines garners high-end flex appeal/back-end RB2 consideration.
Jordan Wilkins is just a handcuff.
Sunday 1:05-1:25pm PST
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Although Jalen Hurts’ Week 14 -0.7% Completion Percentage Above Expectation left a little to be desired, his 106 rushing yards certainly didn’t. As we’ve discussed all year, the Cards’ front-seven has been riddled with injuries — namely the Injured Reserve trio of DE Chandler Jones and interior linemen Corey Peters and Josh Mauro. ILB De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) will return to play this week but seeing as how Friday was the first time he’d logged a full practice participation since Week 13, he’s unlikely to be playing at 100%. Hurts’ exceptional rushing ability, combined with an injury-plagued front-seven, rocket the rookie signal caller into the thick of the QB1 ranks.
The installation of Hurts at QB is certainly exciting for the city of Philly, but the rookie’s presence has cemented the Eagles as being a two-tight end team for the majority of offensive snaps. Given that slot receiver Greg Ward (74%) and deep threat Jalen Reagor (68%) were the only two receivers to play over 45% of the team’s snaps, this WR group doesn’t have much to offer for fantasy purposes. Of course, the recent track record of slot receivers facing the Cards’ secondary (ie. Cole Beasley - 11/13-109-1, Tyler Lockett - 9/9-67-1, and Cooper Kupp - 8/9-73) Ward has an outside shot at returning high-end flex value for those in desperate need of a streaming option. Reagor, unfortunately, is going to see a healthy helping of Patrick Peterson this week, making him an unappetizing flex option.
Travis Fulgham and Alshon Jeffery shouldn’t be anywhere near a playoff lineup.
The return of washed up tight end Zach Ertz over the last two weeks, has unfortunately taken a bite out of Dallas Goedert’s passing game pie. Making matters worse, Arizona has solved their years’ long issue of covering tight ends, limiting the position to just 7.9 .5PPR PPG, 5th-fewest in the NFL. While Goedert still deserves TE1 treatment, he’s gone from Top 5 status to the 8-12 range. Ertz is just a handcuff at this point.
For whatever reason, Wentz’ benching meat a work horse workload for lead back Miles Sanders last week. As noted in the Tiered Running Back Rankings, where Sanders takes the overall RB9 spot, his 81% snap share was the 2nd-highest he’d seen all year. Sanders finished as the 3rd-highest scoring RB on the week. With the aforementioned rash of injuries across the Cardinals’ defensive line, Sanders should run wild this week.
Boston Scott is the preferred handcuff.
We now know that Kyler Murray has largely recovered from the throwing shoulder injury he suffered in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks due to his return to regularly carrying the football last week (14 carries - 47 yards). For whatever reason, the Eagles’ notoriously talented defensive line has pulled a Magikarp when facing a mobile quarterback. As eveidenced by the studly rushing lines of players like Lamar Jackson - 9-108-1, Daniel Jones - 4-92 and 9-64-1, and even Ben DiNucci boosted his bottom line with 5 carries for 22 yards. Murray returns to the elite QB1 ranks for Week 15.
Cardinals No. 1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, has stormed his way back into high-end WR1 status after two great games against tough opponents, the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has been order to clear the runway for Hopkins this week with the Eagles likely down three of the starting defensive back unit — cornerback Darius Slay (concussion) is questionable, while cornerback Avonte Maddox (knee) and safety Rodney McLeod (ACL) have been placed on Injured Reserve. Likewise, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are suddnely flex-viable in very deep, multi-flex leagues. In those types of leagues, Fitz could be considered in full-point PPR formats, while Kirk’s downfield boom/bust settings-neutral.
KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella, if active, are worthwhile DFS options.
Miniscule target totals be damned. Tight end Dan Arnold has thrust his way onto the TE1 radar after the non-DeAndre Hopkins’ recievers failed to rise to the occassion while Kyler Murray’s shoulder healed. Arnold’s 31.0 .5PPR points over the last three weeks rank 8th at the position and Philly’s Rodney McLeod-less status gives Arnold real-deal streaming value.
Pass catching/No. 2 back Chase Edmonds posted back-to-back DNPs on Wednesday and Thursday before managed just a limited practice participation designation on Friday. His odds of playing, or being effective if he does, are very low. From a pure rushing standpoint, the Eagles have allowed 1,655 rushing yards (10th-most in the league) and a whopping 18 rushing touchdowns (3rd-most) on the year, Although Kyler Murray will certainly steal some of the ground work, Edmonds’ likely absence gives Drake access to a workload of well over 20 touches. Count on Drake as a high-end RB2 this week.
New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams
If active, Jamison Crowder (calf) deserves mild DFS consideration. For season-long fantasy purposes, all Jets players should be completely disregarded. Do not start a New York Jet in Week 15.
The biggest thing working against the Rams’ fantasy assets this week is game script. Although it’s likley that their studs will be involved in the impending shellacking, it’s possible that the passing game components just don’t get enough work in before the game gets out of hand. What that in mind, Rams QB Jared Goff does have a great match-up on his hands. The Jets have allowed the league’s 2nd-most passing yards, 3,728, and the most passing touchdowns this year, 28. Goff is a high-end QB2.
X-receiver Robert Woods and slot receiver Cooper Kupp are both Top 15 options at the position.
Downfield receiver Josh Reynolds is liable to house a long one, but shouldn’t be considered outside of very deep leagues due to the game script factor.
Van Jefferson’s outside shot at garbage time production gives him DFS viability.
The Rams’ tight end position poses a problem. Their starting duo of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett routinely nuke each other’s box score potential, on a weekly basis, but the Jets’ defense is allowing 14.5 .5PPR PPG, the highest weekly total in the league. If in dire straits, one could roll the dice on either player. Higbee would be the preferred option.
Stud rookie back Cam Akers has run away with the starting job over the last two weeks, en route to the 6th-highest RB .5PPR point total during that span, 36.3. In what should be clock-killing blowout of the hapless Jets, Akers is a Top 15 play.
Darrelle Henderson Jr. is the preferred handcuff.
Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints
The return of Drew Brees to the Saints’ lineup wonderfully increases the scoring potential of both teams as the two offenses will play off of each other’s successes. Patrick Mahomes retains his seat on the throne as this week’s top-ranked quarterback.
Regardless of how good the Saints’ tight end coverage, Travis Kelce is match-up proof. He’s the No. 1 TE in fantasy. Likewise, No. 1 WR Tyreek Hill will once against to to war with Davante Adams for rights to the overall WR1 claim. He’s an elite play, despite the stout Saints’ defense.
After that, things get murky. Mecole Hardman carries low-floor/high-ceiling value but is far too risky to be started in season-long leagues. He’s a worthwhile bench stash in case something happens to Tyreek Hill though. Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins have reasonably high floors but their ceilings leave a lot to be desired. Ignore the trio in the fantasy playoffs.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, unfortunately, can’t be counted on for a ceiling game here. The Saints are playing league-best defense running backs, allowing just 15.2 .5PPR PPG to the position. CEH is just a mid-tier RB2.
Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams are just handcuffs.
The good news is Drew Brees is back. The bad news is Michael Thomas is out. The All Pro wide receiver likley came back too early from his high-ankle sprain and re-agreavated the injury. Here’s hoping he’s able to recover soon as the Saints are in contention for the No. 1 overall playoff seed. Through Thomas’ six-game absence earlier this year, Drew Brees averaged 20.15 FPPG, 13th-most in the league, and Alvin Kamara took over as the team’s No. 1 pass catcher. The latter racked up a whopping 147.0 .5PPR points — the highest total at the position — despite the Saints having a Week 6 bye. Brees immediately retusn to back-end QB1 status while Kamara sails up to the No. 2RB spot on the week.
For the duration of Thomas’s absence, slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders becomes a volume-based WR2. The return of Drew Brees also bodes well for tight end Jared Cook, who immediately resumes his top notch TE1 status.
Tre’Quan Smith deserves DFS consideration.
Latavius Murray is just a handcuff.
Sunday Night Football: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Browns quarterback seems to have finally found his groove in of Kevin Stefanski’s system, racking up the 2nd-highest fanasty point total over the last two weeks against Tennessee and Baltimore. The Giants’ are allowing just 15.9 FPPG, 3rd-fewest in the league though so Mayfield should be considered as more of high-end QB2 with QB1 upside.
Slot receiver Jarvis Landry has a tough night ahead of him as the G-Men have limited opposing slot receivers to totals well below their season average. He’s just a high-floor/ flex play.
Perimeter, downfield receivers Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones offer interesting prospects though as New York’s allowed resonable outings to receivers on the outside inrecent weeks (ie. DeAndre Hopkins - 9/11-136, D.K. Metcalf - 5/8-80, and Tee Higgins - 5/5-44-1). Beneficiaries of Mayfield’s hot Weeks 13 and 14, Higgins and DPJ deserve high-floor/high-ceiling flex potential.
Update 12/19/20: Thanks to a great catch by reader feslenraster, we’ve noted that stud Giants’ CB James Bradberry was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List this week, drastically enhancing the outlooks of Browns perimeter receivers, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins.
The Browns’ tight end trio of Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku are all expected to play this week, kneecapping each other’s fantasy potential.
Not only are the Giants’ allowing 21.7 .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields, 9th-most in the league, the Browns’ running back duo have absolutely demolished opponent front-sevens in five weeks it’s been since Nick Chubb returned from his knee injury. From Weeks 10-14, Chubb and Hunt have totaled the 2nd and 13-most .5PPR points at the position, 95.5 and 62.7, respectively. Chubb takes the No. 3 spot in our rankings this week while Hunt is at No. 22, with easy Top 15 upside.
In a bizarre twist of fate, former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, is now the Giants’ tight ends coach and with NYG’s offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, unable able to fulfill his play-calling duties because he recently tested positive for COVID-19. Head coach Joe Judge has asked Kitchens to fill in for Garrett and call plays this week. This poses two issues for the Giants’ offense. One, Kitchens is an archaic minded, “3rd-yards and a pile of dust“ coach who can’t run a modern NFL offense. Two, the Browns are intimately familiar with his play-calling tendencies.
If interested in learning more about Freddie Kitchens’ fluky rise, this episode of Breaking Big Blue with Jordan Raanan is a recommended listen. Guest Evan Silva details how Kitchens was more or less given credit for the successes of offensive staffer Ken Zampese, “the guy behind the offense”. Then-GM John Dorsey backed his pal, Kitchens, and Zampese was kicked to the curb.
With backup QB Colt McCoy expected to start while starting quarterback Daniel Jones nurses hamstring and ankle injuries and stud pass catching tight end Evan Engram a late add to the injury report (calf), the Giant’s’ offensive outlook is bleak. Running back Wayne Gallman had been a small bright spot for the team this year but at this point, the backfield has devolved into a committee.
Do not start any Giants in your Week 15 playoff match-up.