Week 15 marks the semi-finals for most fantasy leagues. Congratulations to those still hanging around and best of luck. Optimizing your lineup is crucial at this point in the season so be sure to check out Ian Hartitz’ WR/CB Matchups before I break down Thursday’s game and dive into the injuries around the league.
Thursday Night Football
This week’s installment of Thursday Night Football features the New York Jets traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Ravens are heavy favorites and are anywhere from 15.5-point favorites all the way to 17.5 depending on the sportsbook. This is substantial movement since opening as 14.5-point favorites. The line could have been even higher if QB Lamar Jackson hadn’t limited with a quad injury throughout the week. The potential league MVP is listed as questionable but has gone on record saying that he would play. If you have him, you are starting him in fantasy.
The Jets Defense has been surprisingly stout according to most efficiency metrics, ranking 1st in rushing success rate allowed (36 percent) and 15th in passing success rate allowed (45 percent). Beyond being strong on a per-play basis, the Jets rushing defense is allowing the lowest explosive run rate (eight percent) and 11th best explosive pass rate (8 percent). In terms of overall stats, the Jets have only allowed 100-or-more total rushing yards in four games this season. Despite being a strong defense by the numbers, the Ravens should still be able to have their way. Lamar Jackson presents a matchup that’s impossible to prepare for and is incredibly difficult to slow down. I’m still starting Mark Ingram with confidence as a heavy home favorite. He has multi-touchdown upside given the expected score and game script. Mark Andrews is listed as questionable for Week 15 after getting knocked out of last week’s game. He was able to get in two limited practices after missing Monday’s workout and will likely be a game-time decision. I’d bank on him playing a limited role in this one. Marquise Brown draws a good matchup against the Jets but is tough to trust after struggling as of late.
The Jets Offense seemingly turned the corner after Week 9, scoring 34 points in three straight games. When contextualizing the high scoring we see it came against the Giants, Raiders, and Washington. Three of the worst defenses in the league. He then put up a dud against Cincinnati’s awful secondary and was just passable against the Dolphins. This matchup against the Ravens will be a steep jump in competition. The Baltimore pass defense is even better than their 5th ranked passing defense (success rate allowed) would suggest after early-season struggles due to injuries. They rank 2nd in passing success rate allowed from Week 7 on. The run defense is still a bit susceptible and ranks just 19th (48 percent). With Le’Veon Bell back from his late-night bowling adventures, the Jets could try to establish a solid ground game to attack the Ravens. Unfortunately, the Jets rank just 30th in rushing success rate on offense and haven’t been able to get much of anything going behind their poor offensive line. WR Robby Anderson has been on a roll but draws a tough matchup against the Ravens secondary. He’s a dicey flex play even after scoring 17-or-more PPR points in three consecutive games. Jamison Crowder will likely draw Marlon Humphries in the slot and has just seven catches in his last three games combined. He’s not startable for me. Given the tough matchup, Sam Darnold is off the streaming radar this week.
Prediction: 24-13 Baltimore
Raiders RB Josh Jacobs’ MRI came back clean but it’s unclear if he’ll play in Week 15. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport originally reported that Jacobs is “expected to play” but coach John Gruden didn’t guarantee it. Gruden said “We’ll see what happens in the next couple days. It doesn’t mean he’s going to play, but I’m glad the reports are positive." Jacobs wasn’t able to play in Week 14 but has been utilized in a workhorse role otherwise. If he does play, he draws a good matchup against a Jacksonville defense that has all but given up at this point.
Will Fuller (hamstring) remained limited at Wednesday's practice. Fuller was expected to play last week after getting in multiple limited practices but ended up sitting against the Broncos. In a tough divisional matchup against the Titans, I’d expect Fuller to give it a try. He’s a boom-bust flex play for fantasy purposes.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and James Conner were both full participants in Wednesday's practice. This is the first time either player has practiced since Week 11. Devlin Hodges is still in at quarterback though and won’t immediately force JuJu Smith-Schuster back to fantasy relevance. Juju’s a dicey start against the strong Buffalo secondary. Conner will likely see a good amount of playing time with Jaylen Samuels unlikely to suit up. Conner’s return forces Snell back to occasional short distance and early-down work.
Devonta Freeman (knee) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice. Even though he missed practice he’s still expected to play this weekend against San Francisco’s banged-up defense. He’s a fringe RB 2/3 based on receiving usage alone even though the matchup looks tough on paper.
Derrick Henry (hamstring) was sidelined for Wednesday's practice which is reportedly part of the Titans “maintenance plan.” It’s a situation to monitor regardless as Henry was forced from last week’s game and didn’t have a carry in the fourth quarter. If Henry continues to miss practice Dion Lewis should be picked up as the handcuff.
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Gerald Everett (knee) remained sidelined for Wednesday's practice. He’s reportedly making progress but isn’t quite there. Tyler Higbee is a viable streamer if Everett remains out. … David Njoku (knee) was a limited participant for Wednesday's practice. He is an interesting streamer according to the flow chart which notes the Cardinals are very bad at defending opposing tight ends. … SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reports Eli Manning is "likely" to start in Week 15 against the Dolphins. This might be Eli’s last chance in the limelight in a Giants uniform, and he draws a good matchup against the Dolphins' pitiful defense. … NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports Mike Evans (hamstring) is out for the season. This is just the nail in the coffin as the original report on Tuesday broke this news.