Week 15 NFL Matchup Preview Part Two
Be sure to check out Part One of our Week 15 NFL Matchup Previews.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
1:00 PM EST
Detroit Lions at New York Giants
QB Matthew Stafford: Matthew Stafford has had a very good season for his fantasy owners and may have led you to the playoffs, but this week is probably best to send him to your bench. He has a finger injury that has led him to try wearing a glove along with taping the finger, which has impacted his passes. The Giants pass defense is allowing the 3rd least points to opposing QBs, making this a bad start for Stafford.
RB Dwayne Washington: Theo Riddick appears to be trending towards out again this week, leaving Dwayne Washington as the primary ball carrier for Detroit. Against a tough Giants defense, Washington shouldn’t be in your starting lineup considering the Lions are 29th in rushing yards and have just 5 rushing TDs.
WR Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin: Golden Tate has returned to WR2 status in PPR leagues, but is on the low-end facing a tough Giants secondary. Marvin Jones had a decent flex game last week and Anquan Boldin has 3 TDs in his last 5 games and 7 total on the season, but with Matthew Stafford’s finger injury and the matchup, avoiding Jones and Boldin is probably a good idea.
TE Eric Ebron: The Giants have been a decent matchup for TEs, but Ebron hasn’t had the huge volume or the red zone usage to be anything more than a floor play at TE in PPR leagues, with limited upside.
QB Eli Manning: The Giants find themselves in an interesting position. They are 2 games behind Dallas in the NFC East and leading the way for a wildcard spot. But with the two victories over Dallas, winning out could vault them into the #1 seed if the Cowboys stumble down the stretch. This game is important because it could come into play as a tie-breaker if the Lions lose their division lead. With so much on the line for the Giants, you would expect them to do their best to play ball control and keep the Lions off the field. Eli Manning hasn’t been very fantasy relevant; he hasn’t exceeded 200 passing yards in any of his last three games. He’s best left on the bench.
RB Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins: At this stage, you need to win and playing a Giants running back isn’t going to give you the best shot at that. They rank 30th is rushing yards and have just 5 rushing TDs. There are better options.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard: Odell Beckham is a stud and a must start. Sterling Shepard had a nice target volume, but that fell off last week. He’s a TD-dependent WR with little upside due to the conservative passing game.
TE Will Tye: The Lions are a good matchup for TE streamers, but the lack of involvement and overall passing volume in New York limits Will Tye to a desperation TE play.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
QB Ben Roethlisberger: The narrative is that Ben Roethlisberger is not as good on the road as he is at home. After a poor game last week in Buffalo, some owners may be a bit scared off of Roethlisberger. The Bengals are a better matchup than the Bills, ranking 11th in points allowed to opposing QBs, including 21 passing TDs. Roethlisberger is a low-end QB1.
RB Le’Veon Bell: The Bengals have allowed the 10th most points to opposing RBs. This could get ugly. If you’re facing Le’Veon Bell in your semi-final matchup, I’m sorry.
WR Antonio Brown: The 2016 season has been rough for a lot of fantasy WRs, but Antonio Brown has been one of the constants. He’s a must-start.
TE Ladarius Green: The target volume is intriguing and the Bengals have allowed the 3rd most points to opposing TEs. Ladarius Green is a great start this week.
QB Andy Dalton: Andy Dalton has been a decent fantasy QB, even without A.J. Green. The Steelers are surprisingly allowing the 8th least points to opposing QBs. Dalton is not a player to count on for a big game but has the potential for a decent floor. He’s a mid-pack QB2.
RB Jeremy Hill: Getting involved in the passing game has boosted Hill into the must-start territory. He’s getting massive rushing volume and has 11 receptions on 13 targets in his last 3 games. He’s a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside against a Steelers defense allowing the 4th most points to opposing RBs.
WR A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell: There is an outside chance that A.J. Green returns to action this week, but he’s doubtful. The name is enticing, but can you really trust him to get a full workload? I would rather see a full week of practice before trusting him. Use at your own risk. Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell are both doing enough to be a flex play in PPR leagues, but nothing more.
TE Tyler Eifert: With 4 TDs in his last 3 games, he’s the primary target for Andy Dalton in the red zone. He’s a must start TE.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
4:05 PM EST
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals
QB Drew Brees: Drew Brees was at the center of the QB-pocolypse last week. He hasn’t thrown a TD since week 12. But Fantasy Football is a weekly game and the road matchup this week with the Cardinals defense allowing the 4th least points to opposing QBs doesn’t inspire confidence for Brees owners. While the TDs are missing, the volume has remained, with over 40 passing attempts in both of his recent games. He’s a low-end QB1.
RB Mark Ingram, Tim Hightower: The Saints backfield is a mess and the coaches are not even attempting to run the ball with just 23 RB rushing attempts in the past two games combined. A banged up Mark Ingram and an inefficient Tim Hightower should not be trusted in fantasy lineups in a faceoff with the Cardinals defense who have allowed the least points to opposing RBs in the entire league. Move along.
WR Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Willie Snead: The Saints offense has fallen off the rails the past few weeks and culminated with a somewhat surprising inactive status for Michael Thomas last week. Brandin Cooks has been a solid WR2 in PPR leagues and should be in the same realm this week. If Michael Thomas can get in a full practice Friday he should be good to go as a WR2 as well. If Michael Thomas returns to action, Snead is relegated to flex status. Mind-blowing stat: The most recent passing TD by a Saint was from Willie Snead in Week 12.
TE Coby Fleener: Coby Fleener hasn’t been a consistent target and a matchup with the Cardinals defense allowing the least points to opposing TEs is a bad combo. Look elsewhere for your TE.
QB Carson Palmer: A home game against the Saints is usually a recipe for fantasy points. Carson Palmer has plenty of passing volume recently and multiple TDs in each of his last 5 games. He’s a solid QB streaming option.
RB David Johnson: This is the stuff fantasy dreams are made off. Great matchup for the #1 RB in the land.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson: Larry Fitzgerald continues to be the only Cardinals WR to trust in your lineup, even after his Week 14 dud. He’s should still be a solid WR2. J.J. Nelson has a bit of boom potential in a flex slot after the release of Michael Floyd and the continued absence of John Brown.
TE Jermaine Gresham: Has Bruce Arians finally realized that he’s allowed the call plays that target the TE? It appears so, as Jermaine Gresham has 23 targets over has past three games and 5 receptions in each. Gresham has pushed his way into the low-end TE1 ranks for Week 15.
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
QB Colin Kaepernick: The Falcons secondary is getting torched by everyone, giving up a league-high 26 passing TDs. It’s not outlandish to project Colin Kaepernick for a better fantasy day than studs like Drew Brees or Tom Brady. He’s a solid QB1 and honestly has #1 QB upside. There is also the potential for him to get benched and kill your day. There may not be a QB with a more boom/bust outcome thank Kaepernick. Go big or go home!
RB Carlos Hyde: The carry volume is there for a solid RB2 ranking
TE Garrett Celek: Vance McDonald was doing well, but Garrett Celek is the next man up as the primary receiving option for the 49ers. The Falcons have allowed the 6th most points to opposing TEs making Celek an interesting streaming option.
QB Matt Ryan: The 49ers “defense” is epically bad and the Falcons need to win to stay atop the NFC South. Matt Ryan is a safe QB starter.
RB Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman: The 49ers are allowing (by a wide margin) more points to opposing RBs than any other team in the league. They are allowing over 170 rushing yards per game and a league-high 19 rushing TDs. Devonta Freeman is a great RB1 this week and Tevin Coleman sneaks into the RB2 ranks.
WR Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel: While the Falcons need to win, they have ruled Julio Jones Out for Sunday. In a game they should win and are 14 point favorites at home, they’re playing it safe with their stud WR. Taylor Gabriel should again be the beneficiary of a Julio Jones absence and is a high-end WR2.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
4:25 PM EST
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
QB Tom Brady: All the signs in the world are pointing to the Patriots attacking the Broncos on the ground. The Broncos are #1 against the pass but allowing the 4th most rushing yards. Benching Tom Brady for this matchup makes sense in most cases and is probably the safe play for most fantasy owners looking to get to the championship game. However – if you’re bold and feel like zigging when everyone zags; Tom Brady could be an interesting contrarian play in DFS games. It would be a total Belichick move to come out throwing it 50 times against Denver, doing the opposite of what everyone expects.
RB LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, James White: The expectation is that the Patriots focus on the run and attack the weakness of the Denver defense. This should put LeGarrette Blount in the back-end of the RB1 ranks. Dion Lewis and James White haven’t been involved enough to be started in the semi-finals.
WR Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell: Julian Edelman has 7 or 8 receptions in each of his past 5 games and has a low of 73 yards in that time. While the matchup is tough, Brady to Edelman is rolling and there is no reason to not expect him to post decent PPR numbers. Malcolm Mitchell has emerged as a solid, TD-dependent WR2 with a flex floor. The matchup moves him more towards the flex level.
TE Martellus Bennett: The Broncos “weakness” in the pass defense is to TEs. Martellus Bennett is getting over some nagging injuries, but should be a solid TE start.
QB Trevor Siemian: Strictly looking at his recent stats, you’d think Trevor Siemian is a possible streaming option. But his recent games have not been against a defense remotely close to the Patriots. He’s ok for 2QB leagues, but single QB leagues.
RB Devontae Booker, Justin Forsett: No thanks. Nothing to see here for your semi-finals games.
WR Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders: Both players are rock solid WR2’s each week. They may not win you the week, but you can feel confident in a solid floor.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
QB Derek Carr: Derek Carr was a key part of the QB-pocolypse last week, but you need to look past that for Week 15. He has a solid matchup with the division rival Chargers defense. While the Raiders are in a fairly comfortable spot to make the playoffs, they must win to stay in the hunt for the AFC West division title and a round 1 bye. Expect Carr to have a better connection with his WRs. He’s a solid QB start.
RB Latavius Murray: Latavius Murray continues to dominate the RB touches in Oakland and is a RB1 for fantasy owners.
WR Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree: The connection between Derek Carr and Amari Cooper has been a bit off the past few weeks, but the injury to Michael Crabtree could boost Cooper’s targets a bit. Crabtree is dealing with a finger injury that shouldn’t cause him to miss the game, but may hamper his receptions. Cooper is a solid WR2 while Crabtree is a low-end WR2/flex.
QB Philip Rivers: The Raiders are allowing the 9th most points to opposing QBs and the loss of Melvin Gordon should just increase the passing volume for Philip Rivers. He’s a solid start at QB.
RB Kenneth Farrow, Ronnie Hillman: The rookie filled in decently after starter Melvin Gordon left with a hip injury last week. With reports indicating that Melvin Gordon is unlikely to play this week, it looks like Farrow will likely have enough volume to be an RB2, but can you trust it? Ronnie Hillman could also see work limiting the upside of the rookie.
WR Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman: Both Charger WRs should be solid WR2 plays. Both have been getting volume and have big play potential. This game could turn into a shootout as well.
TE Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry: In team TE leagues, the combination of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry has been really good. Individually, they limit each other’s upside. Gates has been a decent floor play, while Henry is TD-dependent. In a matchup with the TE-friendly Raiders, both have streaming potential.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
8:30 PM EST
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
QB Jameis Winston: The matchup is ok, but the possibility of the Cowboys playing a slow, ball-control game plan may limit Jameis Winston’s volume, limiting him to a mid-level QB2 ranking.
RB Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims: Doug Martin has been the subject of plenty of speculation for a reduced workload, but when the game ends, he’s still getting the volume and red zone work to be a low-end RB1. Neither Jacquizz Rodgers or Charles Sims have the workload to be considered for starting lineups.
WR Mike Evans: The only Buccaneer WR worth starting in fantasy games. Mike Evans is a solid WR1.
TE Cameron Brate: Cameron Brate continues his string of fantasy relevant performances and gets a matchup with a Cowboys defense allowing the 7th most points to opposing TEs. He’s a great TE start this week.
QB Dak Prescott: The Buccaneers defense has really stepped up their game during their 5-game winning streak, but they haven’t faced an offensive line like Dallas. Dak Prescott has 2+TDs in 9 of 13 games, providing a great floor for your QB spot. The upside is capped by the strong running game and a resurgent Buccaneers defense.
RB Ezekiel Elliott: One of the few must-start RBs all year long, he’s performed well, even in tough matchups.
WR Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley: Many owners are still stinging from his 1/10 line from last week, but he’s a threat to score a TD every week, making him a low-end WR1. Cole Beasley continues is low-upside, high floor status in PPR leagues and is a safe flex play.
TE Jason Witten: Sadly, there is no reason to start Jason Witten at this point.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2016
8:30 PM EST
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins
QB Cam Newton: Cam Newton is dealing with soreness in this throwing shoulder, but MRI results have shown there is no damage. He should play Monday night, but the injury may cause some throwing issues. The matchup is decent and his rushing ability keeps him in the bottom end of the QB1 ranks.
RB Jonathan Stewart: The Redskins have been very friendly to opposing RBs, allowing the 8th most points to them. Jonathan Stewart hasn’t cracked 100 rushing yards this year and has been a TD-dependent RB2. The matchup and TD potential makes him a low-end RB2.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn Jr.: The passing game as a whole for the Panthers has been a bust. The recent trend for Kelvin Benjamin has him as a flex play at best, even in a decent matchup. Ted Ginn is also nothing more than a TD-dependent flex play.
TE Greg Olsen: What a tale of two halves. The first half of the season, Greg Olsen was almost unstoppable. He averaged 6 receptions and just over 100 yards per game with 2 TDs. Since the bye week, Olsen hasn’t exceeded 5 receptions and has just one game over 55 yards, last week’s 87-yard performance. His second half drought could be coming to an end, with a prime-time matchup with the Redskins defense allowing the 4th most points to opposing TEs this year. Some owners may have soured on him, but this is a great week to keep him in the lineup.
QB Kirk Cousins: Kirk Cousins has quietly established himself as a must-start QB1. A matchup with the Panthers secondary allowing the 6th most points to opposing QBs is just another reason to believe Cousin could be a Fantasy playoff hero two years in a row.
RB Rob Kelley: There is just enough volume available for the rookie to be a RB2 play in most leagues. The upside is almost non-existent, but there is a decent floor on sheer volume.
WR DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garçon: All three Redskins WRs are getting enough volume to be fantasy relevant. DeSean Jackson has a huge ceiling against a Panthers defense that has allowed plenty of big TDs this year. Both Jamison Crowder and Pierre Garçon are solid WR2s.
TE Jordan Reed: All signs point to an increased workload for Jordan Reed as he gets over his shoulder injury. The Panthers matchup is especially exciting, as they have allowed the second most points to opposing TEs this year. Rule: 86.