What We Learned in Week 15 (Fantasy Football)
If you’re still here, congratulations. Let’s seal the deal and grab those #FootClan titles. Remember: it’s ALWAYS fine to brag once you’ve won. A trophy isn’t just a trophy, it’s a permission slip to spend four months talking smack to your good friends, coworkers, and family members. Don’t take the high road, the altitude will make your ears pop. Fantasy football should be fun, and winning is more fun than anything. Best of luck to all of you, and for some last-minute notes – here’s what we learned in the semifinals:
Miles Sanders is The Real Deal
If you started Sanders this week, major props to you. He’s been a top-five fantasy running back since week 12 and if you’ve been rolling him out on a weekly basis, you likely just won your fantasy matchup and are headed to the championship. Sanders has always been someone the dynasty community loves, and it was just a matter of time before he took over. The Doug Pederson RBBC narrative hasn’t been squashed because Boston Scott is still heavily involved, but Sanders has been so good that he’s overshadowed the workload a bit. The Eagles have a dynamite offensive line and Sanders is a really talented back who should be fantasy relevant for years to come. I don’t personally want to overpay for him in dynasty leagues because of Pederson’s tendency to split the backfield, but Sanders should keep the 1A role going forward and his floor should be solid. The Eagles are fighting for a playoff spot so if Jordan Howard is sidelined again, feel free to roll him out for the big game.
Lamar Jackson is the MVP
It’s that simple. I don’t have much more to say, his stats make the argument for me and the eye test reinforces it even more. Jackson has been a revelation for the NFL and fantasy football and if you drafted him this year you’re likely in the championship. It feels like every person you speak to wants to start the conversation about Jackson’s longevity no matter what he does, and I’m not going to do that. Jackson is a Steven Spielberg blockbuster movie that’s worth the price of admission every time he steps on the field. Can we just enjoy the show for once, and stop poking holes in the faulty security system at Jurassic Park? Some things don’t need to be ruined with logic or nonstop questioning and should just be enjoyed at face value because they’re fun. Watching Lamar Jackson play is fun. He should run away with the MVP award this offseason and we can just add that rushing total to his record-breaking season while we’re at it.
The RB1 in Minnesota Will Dominate
Dalvin Cook going down is a sight we’ve seen too many times in the last couple of seasons, and this past weekend wasn’t any easier to handle. I truly hope Cook is good to go, but the optics of the situation weren’t good. Since we’re obligated to discuss the fantasy impact of him likely missing a game, it’s Mike Boone time. Alexander Mattison was ruled out early this past week so I’d be surprised if he suited up in week 16, but if he does then he’s immediately the guy and you can ignore this entire paragraph. Regardless of which player gets the bulk of the carries, the scheme in Minnesota is too good to avoid. We saw Boone step right in and produce at a high level when Cook went down, so we should expect something similar if Cook sits for four quarters. Keep an eye on the injury reports to determine which guy is worth the waiver claim.
Jameis Winston is The Most Confusing QB of All Time
Jameis Winston has the chance to finish the season with 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. That statistic is absolutely mind-blowing when you take a step back. Is it just me or does Winston require an egregious interception within his first five passes in order to have a big game? Is he simply Jameis before a pick, and turns into Famous Jameis once it’s out of the way? I honestly don’t know. He’s one of the better arm talents when things are going well, and he’s one of the worst signal callers I’ve ever seen when they aren’t. Winston has always been a great fantasy asset and this year was no different, but his real-life future has to be in jeopardy sooner rather than later. No super bowl winning quarterback turned the ball over 30 times, and they likely never will. Winston is a blast for fantasy purposes and a headache otherwise. He’s truly the most confusing player I’ve ever watched, but I’m certainly going to keep watching.
It’s Your Last Chance to Buy The Drake
When an under-the-radar player has a huge fantasy game, one of two things happen. Either people think it was a fluke, and they will be eager to “sell high”, or the player becomes impossible to trade for. Someone like Tyreek Hill sealed his fate with one game on primetime last season because the peripherals of the situation lead everyone to believe Hill was the real deal. Kenyan Drake scored four touchdowns this weekend, so this is one of those feast or famine situations. From the small window of discussion I’ve seen today, it doesn’t seem like people are touting Drake as a huge asset going forward they’re just chalking it up to a good game. I’m here to tell you that’s too calm of a reaction. Find the person selling Drake thinking it was a fluke, and buy high on him in dynasty. Drake has always been a dynamite talent, and David Johnson is falling off a cliff. Chase Edmonds has been back for two weeks and hasn’t touched the field, and Drake keeps performing when he gets the work. Kliff Kingsbury comes from the new school, and he knows what to do when a player dominates on Sunday. As long as they can sort out Drake’s contract in Arizona, he should be their undisputed RB1 in 2020, but his price hasn’t even gotten close to that. Go trade for Kenyan Drake, and reap the rewards a year from now.
It’s The End of an Era
All four of these guys were staples of the league for almost two decades alongside Peyton and Big Ben. Watching both Rivers and Eli fade into the abyss these past two years has been tough, but thankfully Brees and Brady have picked up their slack for the most part. It’s very clear that all four of these guys are approaching the ends of the line but two of them are going through some rough times before they get there. Phillip Rivers almost retired this past offseason, and sadly it appears like that may have been a better call in terms of his legacy. He’s been downright awful this year, and his trademark ‘zip’ has fallen off significantly. Rivers will likely retire in a few weeks, but even if he doesn’t I’m sure the Chargers are ready to move on. Eli is getting a much-deserved curtain call these past few weeks, but his future is pretty up in the air. Brees is still playing at a high level, but the offense is drastically dialed back in terms of how often they throw downfield. Even the GOAT himself has been declining in the past two seasons, but the Patriots have done so much to adjust to it that it hasn’t been as obvious. This may be it for all four of these guys, and the end of an era for all of us who grew up watching them run the league.
AJ Brown is a Beast
This isn’t really new information, but I prefer to see a player dominate multiple times in all facets of the game before I jump on the hype train. When it comes to AJ Brown, consider me a passenger. Brown is the second coming of Andre Johnson and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. Brown is racking up numbers as a rookie and is one of the toughest players in the league to guard for opposing quarterbacks. He’s not a burner by any stretch, but he’s an elite route runner with tremendous hands and size. Brown has a mental connection with Ryan Tannehill and has already pushed Corey Davis to the second spot on the depth chart in the blink of an eye. He’s an obvious dynasty target but will be incredibly difficult to acquire, for good reason. Brown has been a league winning flex play these past couple of weeks and that should continue in championship weekend since the Titans are fighting for the playoffs.
Zeke is Still Zeke (for now)
Finally! The players who we drafted at the top of the board performed like they should have all season. Zeke and Barkley came through when owners needed it the most, and Zeke found the end zone twice which helped carry fantasy players into championship weekend. The Cowboys have throttled back his passing work this year, he only has 44 receptions through 14 games compared to last year when he finished with 77. The biggest change this past weekend was his two touchdowns that can vault a running back from a solid play to a week winner. Zeke is still Zeke, but his passing game usage may be an issue going into next year at the very top of the board. You’re never benching Zeke, but I have some contrarian advice for dynasty players: it’s time to sell him. Before you blow up my Twitter feed, hear me out. Zeke has over 1100 carries under his belt, and he’ll be 25 this summer. Players historically fall off a cliff production-wise after 25, and few of them saw the workload Zeke has this early in his career. We didn’t want to believe it with DJ, Melvin Gordon, or even Tevin Coleman…. but it’s pretty much a guarantee that Zeke will slow down as early as next season. Get out from under the fire while he’s at peak value, and you’ll be happy you did.
CMC Capped a Historic Season
If you drafted CMC and you aren’t in the championship, something went wrong. Christian McCaffrey has been so ridiculously good this year that he’s basically broken fantasy football. The PPG gap between him and the next best running back (Dalvin Cook) is the same amount as the gap between Cook and…… James White. McCaffrey is in a tier all by himself this season, and the advantage he has given fantasy owners is one we haven’t seen since the late 2017 run by Todd Gurley, and the 2006 season by LT. Looking back on draft boards it seems kind of foolish that we didn’t unanimously take him at the #1 spot since he’s so involved in the passing game, but that’s something we can learn for next year. McCaffrey is a truly special talent who has been a fantasy cheat code, and someone who should be a no brainer at the top spot in 2020.
The #FootClan is Amazing
This has nothing to do with what we saw this week, it’s just a personal statement. This will be the last week I write this article for most of the FootClan since we don’t allow week 17 championships (right?!). What I learned this year was that the support for this site is incredible, and the support for the guys that run the best podcast in the industry is unprecedented. I felt just a small fraction of the impact the Ballers have this year, and I was very honored and blessed to contribute to the site. This was my first season doing so, and I look forward to switching to dynasty mode for the offseason. If you enjoyed this series, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter (@TheFFGator) and let me know what you want to see more of next year. I will be shifting over to dynasty content for a while, but my work will still be with the Ballers and available on the site. I hope you learned a lot this year, and hope you had a blast regardless of how your season finished. I use Twitter a fair amount more than most people and enjoy interacting with as many of you as I can during the summer months. Shoot me a follow, throw me a gif, start an argument if you feel the need to and let’s all get better. See you on the other side of the trophies, y’all.