Ten Things We Learned in Week 15 (Fantasy Football)
Week 15 brought chaos in so many ways. So many star players had duds, and fantasy scoring seemed lower than usual, and crazy upsets. We also got to see some random breakout performances. Not only did we have all of that, but we had our first games moved in 2021 due to Covid. It was a brutal week for the start of the fantasy football playoffs. As of writing this article, there are still several games left to be played, but here are the major storylines and things we learned on Sunday in Week 15.
1. Covid Outbreaks May Impact Fantasy Playoffs
The NFL postponed three Week 15 games on Friday, moving the Las Vegas Raiders vs. the Cleveland Browns to Monday and moving the Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks vs. the Los Angeles Rams games to Tuesday. We went all season long without having a serious enough outbreak to have a game moved or postponed, and now fantasy managers are trying to play guessing games with who may or may not play in the most critical time of year. There is hope that the NFL won’t cancel these games, but we may see more games get moved if the number of cases continues to rise. Fantasy managers need to have some plans in place because this can alter a lot of league playoffs.
2. Travis Kelce Comes in Clutch
If you were able to make the fantasy playoffs with Travis Kelce on your roster and were playing in Week 15, then chances are you will be advancing to the semi-finals. Kelce showed up in a big way for fantasy managers with a career-best fantasy day. Kelce caught 10-of-13 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. It has been somewhat of a down year for Kelce when it comes to blowup games, saving his blowup game for the fantasy playoffs.
3. We are blessed to watch Herbert vs. Mahomes for the Foreseeable Future
Two young, elite quarterbacks that play in the same division are going to bless us with great football for a long, long time. Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes had some rough moments in Week 15, but it turned out to be a great game to watch in the fourth quarter. Herbert finished with 236 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown as well. Mahomes had roughly four fantasy points in the first half of the game but finished with 35 points. He threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns. The two quarterbacks are elite in both real football and fantasy football, and we are lucky to be able to watch them battle in the years to come!
4. Arizona Loses to Detroit
In one of the most shocking upsets imaginable, the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Detroit Lions in Week 15, 30-12. It was a rough outing for Kyler in what should have been a great matchup for fantasy. Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes in the win. The Lions now have two wins on the season and are no longer in last place. As for the Cardinals, the loss hurts their hopes for a bye week in the playoffs. The bye would be immensely beneficial for the Cardinals to get healthy and get an extra week for DeAndre Hopkins, who has been rumored to be available later in the playoffs, back from his injury.
5. Amon-Ra St. Brown is a PPR Stud
As I just mentioned, the Detroit Lions beat the Cardinals, and rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown played a big role in the victory. St. Brown caught 8-of-11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He has had at least 11 targets and eight receptions in each of the last three games. In PPR leagues, St. Brown has scored 24.8, 15.3, and 23.5 over the last three games. He is becoming a focal point of the offense, and with T.J. Hockenson out, he may now be getting massive volume for the remainder of the season. He also gets a nice matchup against the Falcons in Week 16, so fantasy managers should be able to start him with confidence as a safe floor and high ceiling option, especially if they need a spot start with all of the craziness going on.
6. Duke Johnson Emerges From Nowhere
In one of the most surprising and random breakouts in recent memory, Week 15 brought us Duke Johnson rushing for 107 yards on 22 carries and rushing for two touchdowns. He also added a reception for 20 yards. As of writing this article, Johnson is the RB1 of the week. Johnson now plays for the Miami Dolphins, if you did not know, which most people likely did not because of his fantasy relevance being basically zero. This week, he received more playing time, with Myles Gaskin being limited after coming back from Covid-19. The big day was a surprise because he has only played in one other game this season before now and hasn’t been relevant for fantasy in over a year. The 22 carries that he received was actually a career-high. Johnson is known to be more of a pass-catcher and has only had seven games in his career (92 games) with double-digit carries. The 22 carries he received is 4.5% of his total career carries. Who knows if the breakout will continue, but it’s likely not worth playing him in the fantasy playoffs.
7. Mark Andrews is Coming for That TE1 Spot
We talked about Travis Kelce‘s big game earlier, but one thing to note is that Kelce may miss out on finishing as the TE1 overall for the first time in five years. Mark Andrews had himself a beast of a game in Week 15, catching 10-of-13 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He has been dominating all year and has a shot at dethroning Kelce as the TE1. With just three games left in the NFL regular season, Andrews leads Kelce in PPR scoring formats by 8.2 fantasy points. The battle for TE1 in 2021 will be something to keep an eye on and should be a fun thing to watch unfold.
8. Buccaneers Shut Out by Saints
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football in Week 15, with the Saints coming out on top 9-0. It was an abysmal night for the Bucs and Tom Brady. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans left the game with injuries and did not return. As I have written about previously in this series, Brady has struggled against the Saints at times. He threw for 214 yards and an interception. Leonard Fournette had a modest day in PPR scoring. Overall, it was a massive disappointment of a game from one of the league’s top offenses with many pieces that have carried teams to the fantasy playoffs.
9. James Robinson is Safe Again
Now that Urban Meyer has been fired from head coaching duties for the Jacksonville Jaguars, I think it’s safe to play James Robinson again. In the last two games, Robinson had struggled, posting a combined 2.4 fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring. There were strange rumors about Meyer and Robinson, but in his first game without Meyer, Robinson scored 16.3 fantasy points. He had 75 rushing yards and a touchdown. Robinson will be a great play next week, as he is going against the New York Jets.
10. Chuba Hubbard is a Risky Play in the Fantasy Playoffs
Chuba Hubbard has been fantasy-relevant since Christian McCaffrey has been dealing with injuries throughout the year. However, he is likely a trap play in the fantasy playoffs. In Weeks 3-8, during the first chunk of games that McCaffrey missed, Hubbard looked like a great pickup, averaging 3.8 targets per game. Hubbard has only received one target in the last two games. In Week 15, Ameer Abdullah emerged as the pass-catching back, reeling in 4-of-4 targets for 48 yards. Due to the struggling Panthers’ offense and low passing game work, Hubbard should not be in fantasy lineups. That is unless you have to play him, especially with the Buccaneers’ and Saints’ top run defenses next on the schedule.