1:00PM ET Games
Carolina @ NY Giants
Panthers-Giants has a 48-point game total with visiting Carolina favored by five. Ron Rivera's club boasts a robust 26.5-point team total. ... With Jonathan Stewart (foot) out for Week 15, expect Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and the Panthers' defense to do the heavylifting as Carolina tries to stay undefeated in the Meadowlands. A 5-foot-9, 193-pound fourth-year UDFA, Fozzy Whittaker profiles as a low-volume scatback, while rookie Cameron Artis-Payne has been a healthy scratch since Week 7. Neither is a safe bet to out-produce FB Mike Tolbert, who is certainly capable of handling double-digit touches if need be. Newton has a chance to be a usage machine against the G-Men, who rank 18th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and 25th against the pass. When the Giants faced fellow dual-threat Colin Kaepernick in Week 5, Kap posted a top-ten fantasy week. Cam is a little bit better than Kap. ... Although Rivera stated this week that Whittaker or Tolbert will draw the nominal running back start, beat writers expect a three-way timeshare that also involves Artis-Payne. Sometimes schemed scoring-position touches even with Stewart healthy, Tolbert looks to be the strongest bet for a touchdown in the group. Artis-Payne has played one snap since the first month of the season. Typically used as a passing-down specialist, Whittaker's outlook seems bleak in a Panthers offense that throws passes to running backs more infrequently than any team in the league.
Newton's targets since Carolina's bye week: Greg Olsen 74; Ted Ginn 55; Devin Funchess 35; Jerricho Cotchery 34; Corey Brown 28; Stewart and Ed Dickson 15; Tolbert 11; Whittaker 9. ... Likely to serve as the Panthers' primary means of ball movement this week -- along with Cam's arm and legs -- Olsen gets a pristine Week 15 matchup with a Giants defense permitting the third most fantasy points to tight ends. Only Rob Gronkowski is a better TE1 play than Olsen this week. ... Having hit pay dirt four times in his last two games, Ginn will primarily do Week 15 battle with Giants RCB Prince Amukamara, whom Pro Football Focus has charged with 162 yards and two touchdowns allowed in the past two weeks. Although their cornerbacks are talented, the G-Men are vulnerable to vertical stretchers like Ginn because they have no pass rush, forcing their corners to cover far longer than is ideal. New York has given up the third most completions of 20-plus yards (51) in the league this season. Touchdown regression is inevitable for Ginn, but another solid game could be in the cards in another plus matchup and in a game where Carolina is likely to have reduced run-game success. Ginn has emerged as Cam's clear-cut No. 1 receiver this season. Funchess, Cotchery, and Brown are fighting for scraps.
As five-point home dogs against the Panthers, the Giants have a team total of 22.5. My bet is the G-Men will struggle to get there versus a Carolina defense that has permitted more than 16 points in just one of its last five games. ... Despite his four-touchdown torching of Miami on Monday Night Football, Eli Manning will be virtually unusable in fantasy leagues against the Panthers' shutdown defense. Ranked third in the league in sacks (40) and first in interceptions (21), Carolina has yielded a league-low 69.6 rating to enemy passers. Only four teams have allowed fewer touchdown passes. The Panthers can limit Odell Beckham's impact on perimeter routes with Josh Norman, and the Giants' offense has little else to offer. On paper, this projects as a long day for New York's passing and rushing attacks. ... For a game, at least, the Giants committed to Rashad Jennings as their clear-cut lead back in Week 14 against the Dolphins. Making several critical runs over the course of the game, Jennings amassed 24 touches while Orleans Darkwa managed four, Andre Williams three, and Shane Vereen two. This week's matchup is daunting versus a Carolina run defense that ranks No. 4 in Football Outsiders' DVOA, and the Giants could revert to a four-man backfield at the drop of the hat. For Week 15, however, Jennings is the best option for fantasy owners in late-season desperation mode.
Eli's targets since the Giants' Week 11 bye: Odell Beckham 36; Rueben Randle 18; Will Tye 17; Dwayne Harris 12; Vereen 10; Jennings 7; Jerome Cunningham and Hakeem Nicks 4. ... Some folks panicked when Norman matched up with Brandin Cooks in Week 13. Although he did not get much of his production against Norman, Cooks still emerged with a 6-104-1 stat line. Others panicked when Norman matched up with Julio Jones in Week 14. Julio didn't burn up Norman, but he did catch seven balls for 88 yards. Beckham has run nearly 25% of his routes in the slot, where Norman does not travel. OBJ remains a WR1 play in season-long leagues and a tempting DFS tournament option. Julio's ownership rate dropped to roughly 1% due to fears over Norman's coverage last week. ... Harris has cleared 50 yards once in his last six games, but he does have an attractive draw in Cortland Finnegan, who has replaced overmatched Colin Jones as Carolina's slot corner after being signed off the street. Randle's matchup also looks good in theory against RCB Charles Tillman, who is 34 years old and hasn't played since November 15 due to persistent knee woes. Despite the plus draws, usually unproductive Harris and Randle are mere dart-throw options. ... Tye has scored a touchdown or cleared 70 yards in three straight games. He's a low-end streamer this week against a Carolina defense that can match up successfully versus tight ends due to its speed at linebacker. Ranked 18th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, the Panthers held Jacob Tamme to a 4-26-0 receiving line last week.
Score Prediction: Panthers 24, Giants 17
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Tennessee @ New England
Titans-Patriots has a 47-point total with host New England favored by 14. The Pats' team total is mouth-watering at 30.5 points. ... Especially after losing power back LeGarrette Blount (hip) for the season, the Patriots' game plan should be straightforward against a Titans defense getting eviscerated by the pass. Over the last six weeks, enemy passers have gone 139-of-204 (68.1%) for 1,761 yards (8.63 YPA) with a 16:2 TD-to-INT ratio against Tennessee. These are the last three quarterbacks to have faced Dick LeBeau's defense with their weekly finish in parentheses: Derek Carr (QB6), Blake Bortles (QB6), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB4). Especially with Rob Gronkowski back, I like Tom Brady to have a huge day. ... Brandon Bolden took over as the primary inside runner following Blount's Week 14 injury, logging a team-high 16 carries on 51% of the snaps. Passing-down specialist James White mixed in for five touches on 39% of the downs. The Week 15 matchup is mediocre for both against a Titans defense that's held opposing RBs to 556 yards and two touchdowns on 145 runs (3.83 YPC) over the last month and a half. Superior between the tackles and plenty versatile in his own right, Bolden is the top fantasy bet as the Patriots' favorite for clock-killing runs and scoring-position work. White is a skilled receiver and offers some PPR appeal, but he's been entrusted more than six touches in just one game this year.
Back from his hyperextended knee in last Sunday's win over the Texans, Gronkowski began the game on a snap count before logging 22 of New England's final 24 non-kneel-down snaps. He notched a 4-87-1 receiving line on four targets, looked powerful and explosive on the field, and should be a near-full-time player versus Tennessee. Gronk is again fantasy's overall TE1 play against a Titans defense submitting the 12th most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Slot receiver Danny Amendola has logged at least eight targets in four straight games and has a plus draw Sunday after Jets slot man Eric Decker ripped Tennessee for 7-74-1 last week. The Titans gave up 6-113-2 to Raiders slot man Seth Roberts in Week 12. ... Brandon LaFell's disappointing 2015 continued against the Texans, finishing under 40 yards for the third straight week. He did have a touchdown negated by a penalty and is still averaging eight targets per game. Since losing top CB Jason McCourty (groin surgery) to I.R., the Titans have struggled mightily against big-bodied perimeter receivers Brandon Marshall (6-125-1), Allen Robinson (10-153-3), Amari Cooper (7-115), and Robinson again (5-113). LaFell (6'3/211) is a sneaky bet for a bounce-back week. ... Keshawn Martin caught a two-yard touchdown in last week's win over Houston, but he drew only four targets and has failed to hit 50 yards in all six of his 2015 appearances. With Gronk, Amendola, and LaFell all healthy again, Martin belongs on waivers in season-long leagues.
As two-touchdown underdogs in Foxboro, the Titans' team total is minuscule at 16.5 points. ... This is a rough draw for OROY candidate Marcus Mariota, taking on a Patriots team that ranks 11th in pass-defense DVOA and second in the NFL in sacks (42) with the league's ninth lowest passer rating allowed (83.1). These are the last seven quarterbacks to face New England with their fantasy finish in parentheses: Brian Hoyer (QB30), Sam Bradford (QB23), Brock Osweiler (QB25), Tyrod Taylor (QB25), Eli Manning (QB6), Kirk Cousins (QB25), and Ryan Tannehill (QB24). Mariota can only be taken seriously as a two-quarterback-league starter this week. ... Game flow figures to torpedo the fantasy viability of Titans rotational backs Antonio Andrews and David Cobb. Coach Mike Mularkey's pledge this week to install Bishop Sankey as a passing-down specialist further muddies the workload distribution. Look elsewhere for sleepers.
One of Mariota's biggest Week 15 obstacles is the Patriots' likely ability to contain top weapon Delanie Walker. Second-level coverage mavens WLB Jamie Collins and SS Pat Chung are major reasons why New England gives up the fifth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. No opposing tight end has cleared 60 yards against the Patriots since Week 1. Walker remains an every-week TE1 in season-long leagues, but there are better options on the board at better prices in DFS. ... Barring a surprise return from the ghost of Kendall Wright (ribs), my guess is we'll see Harry Douglas covered by Malcolm Butler with Logan Ryan and perhaps safety help on Dorial Green-Beckham. Ryan plus a safety (and sometimes a linebacker to cut off the slant) held DeAndre Hopkins to 3-52-0 in last Sunday night's win over the Texans. Douglas has scored one touchdown in his last ten games, clearing 30 yards twice during that span. No thanks.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34, Titans 21
Buffalo @ Washington
The game total on Bills-Skins is 44 with Rex Ryan's club favored by one. Buffalo's team total is 22.5 points in D.C. ... Despite last week's emotional letdown in Philadelphia, LeSean McCoy remains the strongest fantasy bet on Buffalo's side, and his DFS ownership rate may irrationally dip after Shady burned investors who unsuccessfully strolled down narrative street. McCoy still totaled 100-plus yards for the seventh straight game and will do Week 15 battle with a Redskins team that ranks 17th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA while ceding 4.45 yards per carry to enemy backs. McCoy is a top-five RB1 play. ... Tyrod Taylor has shown a high floor-ceiling combination over his last three games, posting consecutive fantasy finishes of QB5, QB7, and QB12 against the Texans, Chiefs, and Eagles. The Redskins rank 22nd in pass-defense DVOA and 27th in sacks (24) with a 17:6 TD-to-INT ratio allowed over their last eight games. Taylor is a solid bet for top 10-15 quarterback stats this week. Probably the biggest concern for skill-position players in Bills-Redskins is this game's likely slow pace. Both Buffalo and Washington rank bottom 12 among NFL teams in offensive plays per game.
Tyrod's targets since the Bills' Week 8 bye: Sammy Watkins 47; Robert Woods 38; McCoy 30; Charles Clay 27; Chris Hogan 20. ... The rest of Buffalo's pass catchers get a boost with Clay (back) not expected to play in Washington. Clay will be replaced by Chris Gragg, who was targeted twice in three quarters off the bench last week. ... Per PFF's Mike Clay, the Redskins have allowed a league-high 16 touchdown passes to perimeter wide receivers. As Watkins runs nearly 60% of his routes at right cornerbacks, he will primarily square off with Redskins RCB Quinton Dunbar, an undrafted rookie who predictably couldn't hang with Alshon Jeffery (6-107-1) last week. ... Although Woods is coming off the second 100-yard game of his three-year career, his Week 15 outlook is dim against Redskins LCB Bashaud Breeland. Breeland has Pro Football Focus' No. 6 overall cornerback grade among 116 qualifiers this season. With Clay sidelined, Woods may still see enough volume to be worth a look in deep PPR leagues.
The host Redskins have a team total of 21.5 points. ... Quarterbacks who get the ball out quickly like Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Andy Dalton have had passing success on Rex Ryan's Bills. Quarterbacks who use more time in the pocket like Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford, and Andrew Luck have struggled against Buffalo. Kirk Cousins is mid-pack or worse in this regard, ranking 17th among 31 qualified passers in PFF's Time to Throw metric and 20th in Time to Attempt. Although Cousins has been far better at home (12:2 TD-to-INT ratio) than on the road (6:9) this year, my bet is his box score will be pedestrian in Week 15. ... The Redskins have utilized Matt Jones as their lead runner in two straight games, giving him touch totals of 19 and 20 on snap rates of 62% and 63% against the Cowboys and Bears. Alfred Morris logged 6 and 11 touches on 12% and 31% of the downs. Washington clearly wants Jones to grab hold of its feature back job, but the fantasy returns have been minimal with weekly PPR finishes of RB39 and RB26. Still, plenty of owners are simply starved for touches at fantasy football's most injury-riddled position. In Week 15, Jones looks like a reasonably safe bet for 17-22 touches against a Buffalo run defense that ranks bottom five in Football Outsiders' DVOA.
Cousins' target distribution since DeSean Jackson returned from his early-season hamstring tear: Jordan Reed 36; Jackson 30; Pierre Garcon 27; Jamison Crowder 22; Chris Thompson 14; Jones 10; Derek Carrier 7; Morris 4. ... Jackson is expected to play Sunday despite being noticeably hindered in last week's win at Soldier Field, spending extended time on the sideline and managing 43 scoreless yards on four targets. Dealing with a "patella contusion," D-Jax publicly expressed concern with his health early in the week. Already a boom-bust type when at full strength, Jackson seems like an especially poor bet to boom this week. ... Reed was unstoppable (9-120-1) in what appeared to be a difficult Week 14 matchup with the Bears. The Bills have also been stingy versus tight ends, but Reed has now topped 90 yards in two of his last three games and will benefit if Jackson is at all limited by his injury. ... Garcon hasn't scored a touchdown since he filed an October lawsuit against a DFS operator for using his "likeness" on their website, after promoting that same DFS company on his own Twitter page. Karma, fella.
Score Prediction: Bills 23, Redskins 20
Kansas City @ Baltimore
Chiefs-Ravens has a 41.5-point total with Kansas City favored by 7.5. The Chiefs' team total is 24.5 points at Baltimore. ... The Ravens' defense remains an appealing quarterback matchup, giving up the overall QB1 fantasy week to Russell Wilson last Sunday and a combined score of QB13 to Josh McCown/Austin Davis in Week 12. Baltimore has dipped to 30th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA, allowing the NFL's fifth most passing TDs (27) and ranking 20th in sacks (28). Although Alex Smith is understandably not regarded as an alluring fantasy quarterback, he should be capable of returning top-15 numbers in this spot. Stout up front but pass-rush deficient, Baltimore plays "funnel defense" by halting run games and hemorrhaging production in the air. It certainly helps that Smith is averaging 40.3 rushing yards per game over the last six weeks, with two rushing TDs in that stretch. ... After suffering a painful rib injury in last Sunday's win over San Diego, Spencer Ware appears likely to either be inactive or limited in Sunday's date with the Ravens. Before Ware emerged onto the scene in Week 11, Charcandrick West had amassed touch totals of 24, 24, and 27 in consecutive weeks. West looks headed for another 20-plus-touch effort at Baltimore, which poses a challenging run-defense matchup with just 389 yards and one touchdown allowed on 115 carries (3.38 YPC) to opposing tailbacks since its Week 9 bye. West has hit big in seemingly tough matchups before, however, finishing as the overall RB8 in PPR scoring against Pittsburgh, the RB3 against Detroit, and the RB2 at Denver. West should be viewed as a high-end RB2 if Ware is active and a locked-in RB1 if Ware is not.
Smith's target distribution since the Chiefs' bye week: Jeremy Maclin 42; Travis Kelce 31; Albert Wilson 20; West 11; Ware 6. ... Notable receiving lines allowed by the Ravens since their Week 9 bye: 6-104-2 (Tyler Lockett), 6-82-3 (Doug Baldwin), 6-90-1 (Travis Benjamin), 8-74 (Brian Hartline), 7-74 (Jermaine Kearse), 5-62-1 (Allen Hurns), 5-51-1 (Allen Robinson), 3-63-1 (DeVante Parker). In DFS and season-long leagues, I think Maclin is the nuts among mid-range WR2 plays this week. ... Also working to Maclin's benefit is the fact that Baltimore permits the second fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends. The Chiefs' probable pass-first approach keeps Kelce in TE1 conversation, but his tough matchup figures to raise the ceiling of Maclin.
The Ravens' team total is just 17 points against the red-hot Chiefs. ... Over its last eight games, Kansas City has held enemy quarterbacks to a combined 170-of-301 passing (56.5%) for 1,881 yards (6.25 YPA) and a 9:16 TD-to-INT ratio. The lone fantasy-viable commodity in Baltimore's pass-catcher corps is Kamar Aiken, who ranks 17th among wideouts in PPR scoring over the last five weeks on target counts of 14, 8, 10, 11, and 7. Aiken has shown a stable floor amid turmoil at quarterback, and drew a team-high 21 targets in Matt Schaub's Weeks 12-13 starts. ... Buck Allen has been useful in PPR leagues to this point, but his rushing efficiency is abysmal over his last four games (3.37 YPC) and last week's lost fumble could potentially threaten Allen's playing time with Terrance West behind him. Making matters worse, Allen faces a worst-case Week 15 matchup for his skill set. Not only does Kansas City rank top eight in run-defense DVOA, but the Chiefs have surrendered the third fewest receptions in the league to running backs. I'll be starting Allen on a few of my playoff rosters this week, but I'm not feeling good about it.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 24, Ravens 13
Houston @ Indianapolis
With Brian Hoyer sidelined indefinitely by his second concussion in the last month, T.J. Yates has a chance to be the Texans' starter for the remainder of the season. In a seemingly impossible Week 11 spot start against the Jets, Yates stunningly produced a top-16 fantasy week in a Bill O'Brien offense that has proven incredibly quarterback friendly. Yates' matchup is much easier this time around, facing a Colts defense that has allowed the fifth most passing touchdowns in football (27) and ranks 29th in sacks (22). Houston does not run the ball well, and Indianapolis is nursing injuries to both RCB Vontae Davis (knee) and LCB Greg Toler (knee, hamstring). It may seem crazy, but I kind of like Yates as an extreme-desperation streamer this week. ... Chris Polk has taken over as the Texans' lead runner, logging touch totals of 13 and 13 on snap rates of 39% and 40% in Weeks 13-14. Alfred Blue did not play in last week's loss to New England. Unfortunately, the continued involvement of Jonathan Grimes and Akeem Hunt render Polk a weak flex play in one of the league's murkiest and least-effective running back committees.
Yates' target distribution this season: DeAndre Hopkins 18; Nate Washington 8; Cecil Shorts 6; Ryan Griffin 5; Grimes 4; Blue 2. ... Yates has targeted Hopkins on 38% of his pass attempts. For perspective, Julio Jones leads the NFL in team target rate at 32%. Yates knows where to go with the ball, and on those 18 targets he has connected with Hopkins seven times for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Hopkins went 5-118-2 against Darrelle Revis' Jets with Yates at quarterback in Week 11. The shaky health of Davis and Toler, plus this game's indoor environment should all work in Hopkins' favor. ... Even with Hopkins drawing Revis' shadow coverage in Week 11, Shorts (2-51-0), Washington (2-13-0), and Griffin (2-6-0) failed to capitalize on their plus draws. One of them may have a decent game against the Colts. I don't pretend to know who it'll be.
The fantasy outlook is bleak on Indianapolis' side with Andrew Luck (kidney) sidelined at least one more week. 40 years old, increasingly turnover prone, and unable to complete each of the Colts' last two games due to injuries, Matt Hasselbeck simply should not be playing as much football as he has this season. Indy's offense embarrassingly managed nine points in last week's date with Jacksonville's leaky defense. ... T.Y. Hilton has stayed relevant on sheer talent, notching four top-30 PPR finishes among wide receivers in Hasselbeck's six starts. On Sunday, Hilton will run most of his routes at Texans LCB Johnathan Joseph, who has a top-five coverage grade at Pro Football Focus. ... Donte Moncrief (foot) spent the week in a protective boot and has managed weekly PPR finishes of WR32, WR89, WR43, WR17, WR77, and WR56 in Hasselbeck's starts. If Moncrief can't play against the Texans, the Colts would turn to some combination of Phillip Dorsett, Andre Johnson, and Griff Whalen across from T.Y. ... The Colts' tight ends haven't been worth fantasy discussion in months. ... Frank Gore is averaging 2.82 yards per carry over his last six games, and has one rushing touchdown during that span. The Texans offer an above-average matchup for opposing run games, but Gore has a painfully low ceiling and a roughly five-point fantasy floor. The Colts are obviously aware of Gore's decline, giving Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton 11 combined touches in last week's loss to Jacksonville.
Score Prediction: Texans 20, Colts 17
Atlanta @ Jacksonville
Perhaps this is putting (way?) too much faith in Atlanta's reeling offense, but I love the over on this game's 48-point total. I also realize that Matt Ryan burned me in a similar spot two weeks ago at Tampa Bay. But I am intrigued by him as a contrarian DFS play this week. Excluding last Sunday's date with injured 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, these are the last seven quarterbacks to have faced the Jags with their weekly fantasy finish in parentheses: Marcus Mariota (QB1), Philip Rivers (QB4), Mariota again (QB10), Joe Flacco (QB4), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB12), E.J. Manuel (QB9), Brian Hoyer (QB6). 27th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA, Jacksonville plays "funnel defense" by shutting down run games and forcing opponents to attack with the pass. The Jaguars are also likely to score a lot of points on Atlanta's talent-deficient defense, creating shootout possibilities. Ryan has played miserably and obviously comes with a lot of risk, but he still ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards (3,705) and there is reason to believe he offers a high Week 15 ceiling. ... The Jags are hard to run on, holding enemy backs to 594 yards on 178 carries (3.34 YPC) over their last eight games. Devonta Freeman should still be able to do damage via the passing game, where Jacksonville is allowing the second most receptions in the league to running backs. Freeman has five or more catches in seven of his last ten games. Since returning from a concussion two weeks ago, Freeman is second on the Falcons in targets.
Ryan's targets in his last two games: Julio Jones 27; Freeman 16; Justin Hardy 10; Jacob Tamme and Roddy White 9; Nick Williams 6; Patrick DiMarco 5; Tevin Coleman 1. ... The Jaguars have been torched by boundary receivers in their last three games, giving up 4-132 to T.Y. Hilton, 5-119-1 to Dorial Green-Beckham, and 5-65-1 to Dontrelle Inman. Julio escaped last week's trip to Josh Norman Island with a very respectable 7-88 receiving line and is the overall WR1 play in fantasy this week. ... Jacksonville has also been torn to pieces by tight ends, ceding 11-117-2 to Ravens TEs in Week 10, 12-139 to Titans TEs in Week 11, 5-72-2 to Chargers TEs in Week 12, and 10-103-2 to Titans TEs (again) in Week 13. Only the Saints, Raiders, and Giants have yielded more fantasy points to the position. After back-to-back slow games, this one sets up nicely for a rebound performance from Tamme. He's one of the top TE1 streamers on the board.
The Jags' team total is just below 26 points versus Atlanta. ... Everything you want in a fantasy quarterback, Blake Bortles has shown a high floor with multiple touchdown passes in eight of his last nine games, and a high ceiling with five top-six QB1 finishes in that span. Jacksonville shouldn't struggle to move the ball on Week 15 opponent Atlanta, which ranks 24th in both run- and pass-defense DVOA according to Football Outsiders, and is dead last in sacks. Bortles is cash-game viable in DFS pretty much every week. ... The bottom has fallen out on the Falcons' run defense, which has been hammered for a combined 91-471-5 (5.18 YPC) rushing line by Panthers, Bucs, and Vikings RBs in its last three games. As T.J. Yeldon (knee) is not expected to face Atlanta, feature back duties will go to explosive Denard Robinson, who ran 4.43 coming out of Michigan and is averaging 4.59 yards per carry with five TDs and 20 catches over his last 16 NFL games. The Jaguars trust "Shoelace" in scoring position, as he mixed into goal-line packages with Yeldon healthy earlier in the season and hit pay dirt from a yard out in the fourth quarter of last week's drubbing of the Colts. Forget "RB2"; I expect Robinson to be a true every-down back in this cupcake matchup and would treat him as an immediate RB1.
Julius Thomas led the Jaguars in Week 14 targets (7) and arguably has the easiest path to box-score production in Jacksonville's pass-catcher corps this week. Whereas Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will take turns running pass patterns at shutdown LCB Desmond Trufant, Thomas will contend with the linebackers and safeties in a Falcons defense that lost field-general SS William Moore to a year-ending ankle injury last week. Atlanta's Cover 3 is particularly vulnerable on seam routes, where Thomas presents major matchup issues. The Falcons, Jaguars, and Seahawks are the three teams that run Cover 3 most. Respectively, they've given up the fourth, sixth, and tenth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. ... Based on where they normally line up, Hurns will do slightly more Week 15 route running at Trufant while Robinson contends just a bit more with Falcons RCB Robert Alford. Alford was the primary burn victim of Ted Ginn (2-120-2) last week, also giving up a short touchdown to Panthers No. 2 TE Ed Dickson. Although I feel more comfortable using Robinson in DFS this week, I'd still be confident in Hurns as a WR2 in season-long leagues. Hurns runs over 30% of his routes at slot corners, where Atlanta recently reinstalled Phillip Adams after benching him at midseason.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 28, Falcons 23
Chicago @ Minnesota
Bears-Vikings has a 43-point total with Minnesota favored by 5.5. The Vikings' team total is just above 24 points. ... Against a Bears team that ranks dead last in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA, this is a game the Vikings should be able to control with their high-volume rushing attack. As Minnesota played Week 14 on Thursday night, Adrian Peterson's 30-year-old legs will have had ten days rest before Sunday's bout with Chicago. These are Peterson's last five rushing lines against the Bears: 20-103, 35-211, 26-100, 31-154-2, 18-108. If the Vikings are going to hit their lofty team total, it will almost certainly come on Peterson's back. ... Much improved in pass defense recently, Chicago has permitted just seven touchdown passes in its last seven games. Teddy Bridgewater has one multi-passing-touchdown game on the year, and has cleared 200 yards twice in the last seven weeks. At best, he's a bottom-barrel two-QB-league start.
Teddy's targets over his last four games: Kyle Rudolph 29; Stefon Diggs 26; Jarius Wright 15; Peterson 11; Mike Wallace and Jerick McKinnon 10; Rhett Ellison and Matt Asiata 7; Zach Line and MyCole Pruitt 4. ... Although the Bears have given up scant production to tight ends over the course of the season, performances by Broncos TEs (11-146) and Redskins TEs (10-127-1) against Chicago in the last month have brought that noisy metric into doubt. The Bears could not cover Jordan Reed (9-120-1) last week. Rudolph is not nearly as athletic as Reed, but I like his chances of leading the Vikings in Week 15 receiving. ... Diggs dusted Chicago for 6-95-1 when these teams met in Week 8, but the rookie has cleared 50 yards in just one of his ensuing six games, and Bears CBs Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter have been playing lockdown coverage ever since. As alluded to above, this is a game where the Vikings should be able to ride Peterson, limiting their reliance on perimeter receivers in a tough matchup. Diggs is a weak WR3 play.
As 5.5-point road dogs, the Bears' team total is under 19 points against the Vikings. ... These are the last five quarterbacks to face the Vikings with their fantasy finish in parentheses: Carson Palmer (QB8), Russell Wilson (QB4), Matt Ryan (QB28), Aaron Rodgers (QB11), and Derek Carr (QB10). Working against Jay Cutler is Chicago's low total and the Bears' run-game commitment, which has continued to drain Cutler's pass-attempts volume. Cutler has been passable with some upside against Minnesota since Mike Zimmer took over as coach, notching weekly fantasy finishes of QB13, QB19, and QB2 in three meetings. I like Cutler purely as a floor play for owners scuffling at quarterback. ... The better matchup is in Chicago's backfield versus a Minnesota run defense that ranks 22nd Football Outsiders' DVOA and has allowed a 90-plus-yard rusher in four straight games (Eddie Lacy, Tevin Coleman, Thomas Rawls, David Johnson). Muddying the outlook for Bears running backs, however, is Chicago's Week 14 reversion to a near-even split after Matt Forte appeared to surge ahead of Jeremy Langford the previous week. In last Sunday's loss to the Redskins, Langford out-snapped (52%), out-touched (14), and out-targeted (7) Forte (48%, 11, 2) despite Forte's superior fantasy stats. I do like Forte to be the 1A to Langford's 1B this week, but not by much. Forte is a mid-level RB2 play at Minnesota. Langford is a high-end flex option.
Averaging over 11 targets in eight 2015 appearances, Alshon Jeffery's stat lines in three career meetings with Zimmer's Vikings are 11-135-1, 2-34-0, and 10-116-1. We're dealing in very small sample sizes here, of course, but it's perhaps notable that Jeffery's two big games occurred at Soldier Field, while his 2-34-0 number took place in Minnesota. Regardless, Jeffery eviscerated Xavier Rhodes in these clubs' Week 8 meeting and is one of the highest-floor WR1 plays on the board this week. ... In Martellus Bennett's (I.R., ribs) two missed games this season, Zach Miller has logged snap rates of 100% and 95% with receiving lines of 2-10-1 (seven targets) and 5-85-1 (six targets). Cutler noticeably looks Miller's way in scoring position, resulting in five touchdown connections over the last six weeks. Miller would stand to benefit on the off chance Rhodes contains Jeffery. ... Finally back from his knee injury in last Sunday's loss to Washington, Eddie Royal got the start opposite Jeffery and played 90% of the Bears' offensive snaps. Royal was targeted just twice, however, and has cleared 50 receiving yards in 1-of-7 games this year.
Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Bears 20
4:05PM ET Games
Green Bay @ Oakland
Returning to The Black Hole after their Week 14 upset of the Broncos, the Raiders host the Packers as three-point dogs in a game with 47-point total. Oakland's team total is 22 points. ... After holding enemy running backs to 3.05 yards per carry and just two rushing touchdowns in their previous five games, the Packers were gashed for 16-162-1 (10.1 YPC) rushing by Cowboys running backs last week, ceding several long runs to Darren McFadden and Robert Turbin. On the year, Green Bay ranks 19th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. For Latavius Murray, more concerning than Week 15 matchup is his poor recent play; Murray has averaged 2.99 YPC with two touchdowns and just ten receptions over the last five weeks. Murray is a volume-driven RB2 in season-long leagues and a tournament-only DFS play. ... The Packers have played stout pass defense this season, ranking No. 8 in DVOA, No. 7 in passer rating allowed (81.5), and No. 7 in sacks (35). I still like Derek Carr's chances of turning in a low-end to mid-range QB1-caliber performance. Green Bay may be without top cover man Sam Shields (concussion), while Carr has thrown multiple touchdown passes in 7-of-8 games since Oakland's Week 6 bye. Carr is fantasy's No. 12 overall quarterback this season. I think this game has some sneaky shootout potential; the 47-point total is fifth biggest on the 16-game Week 15 slate.
Carr's target distribution since the bye: Michael Crabtree 72; Amari Cooper 69; Clive Walford 30; Seth Roberts 29; Mychal Rivera 24; Murray 20; Marcel Reece 13; Andre Holmes 12. ... Zeroed out by Aqib Talib in Week 14, Cooper is a solid bet to bounce back against the Packers, particularly if Shields can't go. Cooper still has eight or more targets in six of his last seven games. When not having to deal with Talib, Darius Slay, and Darrelle Revis, Cooper has feasted on mediocre cornerback play this year. ... Crabtree has been held under 60 yards in five straight weeks, but his PPR floor has held relatively steady with four-plus catches in every game this season. Crabtree does get a challenging Week 15 draw against impressive Packers rookie LCB Damarious Randall and slot CB Casey Hayward. I still like the Raiders' chances of passing-game success enough in this matchup to fire up Crabtree confidently as a fantasy WR3. ... Rookie TE Walford established season highs in snap rate (65%) and targets (7) in last Sunday's upset of the Broncos. Walford finished with a 3-47 receiving line, also losing a 20-yard gain when replay overturned a beautiful toe-tapping sideline catch. As the Packers have struggled to defend tight ends all year long, Walford is worth a look for fantasy owners interested in a TE1 streamer. I've become a big fan of Walford's game and plan to target him in Dynasty trades this offseason.
Favored by three in Oakland, the Packers' team total is 25 points. ... In Mike McCarthy's first game as playcaller after he stripped the duties from OC Tom Clements, Green Bay featured a run-first approach as Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 35-195-2 (5.57 YPC) rushing in a 28-7 rout of Dallas. Lacy logged 56% of the snaps and 25 touches, running for 100-plus yards for the third time in his last four games. Starks hit pay dirt twice on 15 touches, playing 38% of the downs. Oakland has played stout run defense over the last month, holding Broncos, Chiefs, Titans, and Lions backs to 209 yards and one touchdown on 71 carries (2.94 YPC). Still, Lacy will be a high-floor RB1 so long as he continues to handle voluminous workloads. Starks is a flex consideration. ... The Raiders' pass defense has taken steps forward due to personnel changes in the backend and Khalil Mack's edge-rushing dominance, though Jack Del Rio's unit still yielded a top-13 quarterback finish to Alex Smith in Week 13, the QB14 week to Marcus Mariota in Week 12, and the QB7 effort to Matthew Stafford in Week 11. Before eventually succumbing to Mack, Brock Osweiler piled up completions at will against the Raiders' vanilla Cover 2 last week, beginning the game 21-of-24 passing with the heavy bulk of his damage coming in the middle of the field. McCarthy's run-game commitment may theoretically limit Rodgers' ceiling, but it's also conceivable the Packers struggle to run on run-tough Oakland. Rodgers should be fired up as a confident QB1 play.
Rodgers' targets with McCarthy calling plays: Randall Cobb 12; James Jones 7; Starks 4; Davante Adams 3; Richard Rodgers and John Kuhn 2; Lacy, Justin Perillo, and Jared Abbrederis 1. ... McCarthy aggressively schemed Cobb the rock in last week's win over Dallas, often aligning Cobb in the backfield and feeding him a season-high 11 touches. Spending almost the entire game in the coverage of Cowboys linebackers and safeties, Cobb's 90 total yards were his most since early November. Cobb has another plus Week 15 matchup with struggling Raiders slot CB T.J. Carrie, who has Pro Football Focus' No. 102 coverage grade among 104 qualified corners over the last three weeks. ... Adams is safe to write off as a Week 15 fantasy option against LCB David Amerson, Oakland's best cover man. Adams has been held under 40 yards in four straight games. ... Jones' shortage of volume is always a concern, but he's a reasonably good bet to hit pay dirt against Raiders RCB Neiko Thorpe, who was benched in Week 13 before returning to the lineup as D.J. Hayden's replacement in last week's upset of Denver. Jones is worth a look as a dart throw in this favorable draw. ... After "breaking out" in the Packers' Week 13 Thursday night win over Detroit, TE Rodgers logged just 48% of Green Bay's Week 14 snaps and caught one of his two targets for a three-yard score. Always a touchdown-or-bust streamer, Rodgers has cleared 50 yards in just 1-of-13 games this season. The matchup is obviously favorable against an Oakland defense permitting the second most fantasy points to tight ends, including Broncos TEs Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels' combined 10-117 number last week.
Score Prediction: Packers 27, Raiders 23
Cleveland @ Seattle
Browns-Seahawks has a 43-point total with Seattle favored by 14.5. As monster home favorites, the Seahawks' team total is nearly 29. ... In his five-touchdown demolition of the Ravens, Russell Wilson became the first player in NFL history to post four consecutive games of at least three passing scores, zero picks, and a completion rate of 70% or better. In Week 15, Wilson will face a Browns pass defense that has yielded the NFL's seventh most passing TDs (26) and ranks 26th in DVOA. Minus Thomas Rawls (ankle) and Marshawn Lynch (abdomen), expect Seattle to continue to lean on Wilson's arm. Cleveland's defense has allowed an average of 27 points over its last six games. To boot, Wilson will play this game on #NarrativeStreet after Browns coach Mike Pettine answered "no" when asked Wednesday if he considers Wilson a top-ten NFL quarterback. Get em, Russ. ... The Seahawks cut DuJuan Harris after he averaged 2.3 yards per carry with a lost red-zone fumble off the bench in last Sunday's win over the Ravens. Fred Jackson played 44% of the downs and gained 23 yards on eight touches. Always an ardent promoter of competition, coach Pete Carroll opened the tailback job to an in-practice battle this week after Seattle signed Bryce Brown and old pal Christine Michael off the street. Fullback Derrick Coleman is also in the mix for carries. Based on game flow, the Seahawks probably won't have much use for glorified blitz-pickup specialist Jackson against the Browns. C-Mike, Brown, and Coleman could conceivably end up sharing early-down work. This is the league's most volatile backfield, and unfortunately a situation to avoid in fantasy lineup decisions.
Wilson's targets since the Seahawks' Week 9 bye: Doug Baldwin 40; Tyler Lockett 23; Jermaine Kearse 21; Fred Jackson 10; Luke Willson 9; Cooper Helfet 7. ... Baldwin's PPR finishes since the open date are WR5, WR31, WR1, WR6, and WR1. While touchdown regression will eventually hit Baldwin, his sample size of elite production is big enough that Baldwin should be treated as a legitimate WR1. In Week 15, Baldwin will run most of his routes at Browns slot corner K'Waun Williams, whom Pro Football Focus has charged with a 65% completion rate and 108.3 passer rating on throws into his coverage. ... On an absurd run of efficiency, Lockett has caught 20 of his last 22 targets for 280 yards and four TDs. No longer a return-specialist only, Lockett has matched his season high in targets (7) in back-to-back games and will mainly do Week 15 battle with 32-year-old LCB Tramon Williams and sixth-round rookie RCB Charles Gaines. Lockett's floor should be supported by Seattle's running-game woes, and his ceiling is no fluke. At worst, he's an upside WR3/flex play versus Cleveland. ... Kearse is harder to take seriously as a fantasy option with four goose eggs on the season and only one game above 50 yards since October. ... Willson dropped a touchdown pass in last Sunday's romp over Baltimore. He has managed receiving lines of 2-36-0 and 1-8-0 since Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon in Week 12.
As 14.5-point dogs at The Clink, the Browns' embarrassing team total is just over 14 points. ... Johnny Manziel's weekly fantasy finishes in five career games played start to finish are QB18, QB11, QB23, QB24, and QB35. Although Manziel has shown improvement in his last two starts, the first was garbage-time fueled in a 30-9 loss to Pittsburgh, and the second came in last week's 24-10 win over the hapless 49ers with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson combining for 33-223-2 (6.76 YPC) rushing. Now facing a Seahawks team that ranks sixth in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA, Manziel won't have the assistance of a running game this week. The Browns lost leading Week 14 receiver Brian Hartline (collarbone) for the season against San Francisco, while Travis Benjamin figures to be no Week 15 match for Richard Sherman. Having gone eight straight quarters without allowing an offensive touchdown, the Seahawks are the top D/ST play of the week. ... Gary Barnidge is the Browns' best shot at generating passing offense versus a Seattle defense surrendering the tenth most fantasy points to tight ends. With stat lines of 6-65-1 and 5-84-1 in Manziel's last two starts, Barnidge's matchup is upgraded by the expected absence of SS Kam Chancellor (tailbone). ... Whereas the Seahawks have limited opposing running backs to 131 yards and one touchdown on 47 carries (2.79 YPC) over their last four games, they have given up receiving lines of 8-40 (Shaun Draughn), 7-88 (DeAngelo Williams), 7-12 (Vikings RBs), and 5-44 (Buck Allen) during that stretch. Crowell has little shot of running on Seattle. Johnson is worth flex discussion in PPR leagues.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Browns 6
4:25PM ET Games
Cincinnati @ San Francisco
The game total on Bengals-49ers is 40.5 with Cincinnati favored by 4.5. Now quarterbacked by 2014 fifth-round pick A.J. McCarron, the Bengals' team total is 22.5. ... No longer capable of playing spread offense in the absence of Andy Dalton (thumb) and Tyler Eifert (concussion), Cincinnati's best approach will be to put Jeremy Hill in I-formations behind road-grading FB Ryan Hewitt and run with power. The Bengals did just that when Eifert missed Week 13 with a neck stinger, gashing the Browns on 33 rush attempts compared to 23 passes. Hill ran for 22-98-1 in that game and has a favorable matchup Sunday versus a San Francisco team that ranks 30th in run-defense DVOA. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson gutted the Niners for 33-223-2 (6.76 YPC) rushing last week. Particularly at his low cost, Hill is an attractive DFS tournament play and an upside RB2 in season-long leagues. ... Giovani Bernard managed 35 yards on six touches in the Eifert-less Week 13 game. Gio is a low-floor flex with McCarron under center. ... McCarron acquitted himself well off the bench in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, showing a willingness to challenge vertically and executing four scoring drives in the final three quarters. The Bengals will likely handle McCarron far more conservatively in a game they should control with their power rushing attack and defense, while the matchup isn't as favorable as it appears against a 49ers defense that's permitted just five passing touchdowns in six home games. Expect an efficient, low-volume effort from McCarron, whose optimal utilization is game management.
McCarron's target distribution off the bench last week: A.J. Green 8; Marvin Jones 7; Mohamed Sanu 5; Gio 4; Tyler Kroft 3; Hill 2. ... Fantasy owners should maintain confidence in Green with McCarron at quarterback, particularly after the two hooked up five times for 115 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. In what figures to be a simplified, mostly one-read passing offense, Green should be the go-to option on the vast majority of Sunday's pass plays. San Francisco has allowed the fourth most yards in the league to opposing wide receivers. Green went 5-128-1 when Eifert missed Week 13 against the Browns. ... Jones also produced (5-55-1) in the Week 13 game, although Jones is harder to trust considering Cincinnati's quarterback downgrade and this game's low-scoring projection. Short on upside, Jones has cleared 70 yards in just 1-of-7 games since the Bengals' bye. ... Third-round rookie TE Kroft will take Eifert's place after drawing only one target in his Week 13 spot start, catching it for 17 yards. Kroft spent almost that entire game blocking and figures to play a similar role against San Francisco.
As 4.5-point home dogs versus Cincinnati, San Francisco's Week 15 team total is 18 points. It's an aggressive approximation for a 49ers offense that's mustered point totals of 10, 20, 17, 13, and 13 in Blaine Gabbert's five starts. ... The small-sample jig appears to be up for Gabbert, whose pocket presence has melted in his last two games. Against the normally pass-rush-barren Bears and Browns, Gabbert has absorbed 13 sacks during that two-week stretch, including a whopping nine in last Sunday's humbling loss to Cleveland. Ranked eighth in the league in sacks (34) and No. 7 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA with the NFL's sixth lowest passer rating allowed (81.4), the Bengals are a much tougher foe. Fantasy owners should be excited to fire up Cincinnati's D/ST. ... The Bengals have played shutdown run defense since SLB Vontaze Burfict's return, holding enemy backs to 350 yards on 108 carries (3.24 YPC) in their last six games. The arrow is teetering downward on Shaun Draughn, who managed two catches and lost 27% of the 49ers' snaps to Travaris Cadet last week. Averaging just 3.41 yards per carry, Draughn's window for fantasy relevance was strongly tied to his full-time running back usage. No longer a full-time player, Draughn is a low-end RB2/flex in a tough Week 15 matchup.
Gabbert's target distribution this season: Anquan Boldin 34; Draughn 30; Quinton Patton 23; Vance McDonald 19; Torrey Smith 15; Blake Bell 9; Jerome Simpson 8; Bruce Ellington 6; Cadet 4. ... Boldin has failed to clear 40 yards in back-to-back games and gets an imposing Week 15 draw with Bengals slot CB Leon Hall, who has Pro Football Focus' No. 12 grade among 116 qualified cornerbacks. Boldin has shown minimal upside and a low floor with Gabbert under center. ... Battling back and toe injuries, Smith played only 48% of the 49ers' Week 14 offensive snaps. Smith has caught two passes or fewer in all five of Gabbert's starts and will run most of his Week 15 routes at RCB Pacman Jones, who's been Cincinnati's top cornerback this season. ... Back from his concussion, McDonald is a sneaky TE1 streamer option this week with Boldin and Smith both in tough spots. The Bengals have allowed a league-high 83 receptions to tight ends this season. Before going down, McDonald logged snap rates of 84% and 90% with stat lines of 4-65-1 and 6-71-1 against the Seahawks and Cardinals in Weeks 12 and 13. I would venture to guess McDonald might be the best bet for a touchdown on San Francisco's roster this week.
Score Prediction: Bengals 24, 49ers 17
Miami @ San Diego
The game total on Fins-Bolts is 45.5 with host San Diego favored by 1.5. The Chargers' team total is 23.5 points. ... If Melvin Gordon is ever going to have a big game during his lost rookie season, it's going to happen this week. Very arguably in spite of their own good, the Bolts have stayed committed to Gordon for the last six weeks, wherein he's averaged 17.2 touches per game amid constant negative game flow. The Chargers are catching the Dolphins traveling across the country on a short week. Miami ranks 23rd in run-defense DVOA. I think the Chargers show up big in this spot, get a lead, and continue to feed their rookie first-round pick. I like Gordon as a flex play in season-long leagues and as an ultra-cheap DFS option. ... Despite his decimated supporting cast, I also like Philip Rivers to rebound in what may be the Chargers' final game at Qualcomm Stadium. Down to 31st in pass-defense DVOA, the Dolphins were Eli Manning's slump buster in Week 14 and over their last eight games have been shredded for 192-of-289 passing (66.4%), 2,351 yards (8.13 YPA), and a 20:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Miami has allowed the third most passing touchdowns in football (28) and ranks 22nd in sacks (26). Rivers' upside may be capped by the limitations of the players around him, but he should offer a solid floor in this cake draw.
If you buy into #NarrativeStreet, give Antonio Gates a long Week 15 look as a reasonably-priced DFS option. Not only has Gates produced as a top-eight PPR tight end over the last two weeks, he is taking this game especially seriously. "If this is our last game (in San Diego), I want to make it my best game," Gates told the Union-Tribune San Diego this week. "I want to make it a game to remember. I don't want to go out as a loser." Wideout injuries have essentially left Gates as the last man standing in San Diego's pass-catcher corps, particularly as a red-zone target. Look for Rivers to proactively get Gates a touchdown this week. ... Gates' fantasy appeal would be enhanced if Stevie Johnson (groin) and Ladarius Green (ankle) can't play. Although it hasn't shown up in the box score, Green has played more snaps than Gates over the past three weeks. ... Malcom Floyd and Dontrelle Inman have plus Week 15 draws with Dolphins perimeter corners Brent Grimes and Jamar Taylor. Injured 34-year-old Floyd has played exceptionally poorly since returning from his torn shoulder labrum, however, and Inman is coming back from a scary neck strain. If forced to choose from the two, Inman is the preferred option against burnable RCB Taylor, who is Pro Football Focus' No. 113 cornerback among 116 qualifiers.
As 1.5-point dogs at Qualcomm, the Dolphins' team total is 22 points against the Chargers. ... Despite a close score and at times a lead, Miami made the infuriating decision to abandon Lamar Miller in the second half of last Monday night's loss to the Giants after Miller parlayed seven carries into 69 yards and two touchdowns in the first two quarters. He toted the rock five times in the second half. A reasonable thinker might expect the Dolphins to not make the same mistake again, especially in a Week 15 matchup with a Chargers run defense that ranks 31st in DVOA and hemorrhages 4.95 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Reasonable thinkers the Dolphins are not, as shown time after time since Miller was drafted. The good news is Miller remains one of the NFL's most efficient backs (5.1 YPC in back-to-back seasons) and is capable of delivering useful fantasy production on limited volume. The bad news is fantasy owners will continue to have to worry about awful coaching getting in the way. ... Excluding a Week 12 game against the Jets where Ryan Tannehill piled up a bunch of garbage-time stats, these are Tannehill's last six weekly fantasy finishes: QB17, QB26, QB15, QB16, QB24, and QB24. San Diego's pass defense is not good. And neither is Tannehill.
Tannehill's targets since Rishard Matthews left Week 12 with fractured ribs: Jarvis Landry 39; DeVante Parker 20; Kenny Stills 13; Jordan Cameron 10; Damien Williams and Dion Sims 8; Miller, Greg Jennings, and Jay Ajayi 6. ... Slot man Landry's Week 15 matchup is hard to predict. It would look good if the Chargers left third-round rookie Craig Mager at slot corner as they did last week. It would look tough if the Chargers moved top CB Jason Verrett inside to shadow Landry, something Verrett has done to No. 1 receivers throughout the season. Verrett has only played 10% of his snaps at slot corner, however. Regardless, Landry is a solid WR2 play in PPR leagues at San Diego. ... After hitting pay dirt in Weeks 12 and 13, Parker crashed back to Earth in last Monday night's loss to the Giants, running bad routes, showing suspect ball-tracking ability, and managing 16 scoreless yards on five targets. Clearly still a raw, developing player, Parker is a boom-bust WR3/flex option against the Chargers. Parker will become virtually unusable if Matthews (ribs) returns to play. ... San Diego has given up lots of fantasy points to tight ends, but so too have the Giants, against whom Cameron managed 35 scoreless yards while being out-targeted by No. 2 tight end Sims. Cameron still hasn't drawn more than five targets in a game since mid-October and belongs firmly on waiver wires.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Dolphins 20
Denver @ Pittsburgh
Broncos-Steelers has a game total of 44.5 points with host Pittsburgh favored by 6.5. The Steelers' team total is 25.5 against Denver's shutdown defense. ... Whereas Ben Roethlisberger has feasted on cake matchups against Indianapolis, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Oakland this year, in parentheses are his fantasy finishes against solid pass defenses or better: Cincinnati (QB25, QB22), Seattle (QB10), St. Louis (QB30), New England (QB12). The Broncos rank No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA and lead the NFL in sacks (44), and have allowed the second fewest passing touchdowns (13) in football. The Patriots did provide the Steelers with something of a blueprint for moving the ball against the Broncos in Week 12. Emphasizing a ball-out-quick, pass-first attack, New England piled up 42 passes compared to 16 rushes in its 30-24 loss to Denver. With an inferior supporting cast to Ben's, Tom Brady finished that week as fantasy's overall QB9. ... DeAngelo Williams is unlikely to get much going on the ground against the Broncos, but Denver has shown selective vulnerability to enemy backs in the air. Brandon Bolden and James White combined for a 6-89-1 receiving line in the Patriots' Week 12 loss to Denver. Charcandrick West dropped 3-92-1 receiving on the Broncos in Week 10. DeAngelo Williams has finished as a top-seven PPR back in 5-of-7 starts and should stay locked into lineups even in this tough draw.
Ben's target distribution over his last six games: Antonio Brown 77; Martavis Bryant 53; Heath Miller 38; Markus Wheaton 33; Williams 23; Jesse James 9; Darrius Heyward-Bey 6. ... Denver does not ordinarily play matchup-based cornerback coverage, but it wouldn't be surprising if DC Wade Phillips made an adjustment against the NFL's most dangerous passing offense. If he does, my guess is we'll see Chris Harris shadow Brown with Aqib Talib on Bryant and Bradley Roby on Wheaton. All of the Broncos' corners have played exceptionally well this season, creating tough matchups for Steelers receivers. ... Brown is worth starting in season-long leagues because he's one of the best receivers in the game. ... Talib sometimes has mental lapses and Bryant has drawn eight-plus targets in all but one of his 2015 games. This week, Martavis is probably best viewed as a boom-bust WR3. ... Perhaps the biggest sleeper for a big game on Denver's side is Miller. Injury ravaged at safety, the Broncos gave up 6-96-1 to Raiders TEs in Week 14, 9-79 to Chargers TEs in Week 13, and 12-147-2 to Patriots TEs in Week 12. Coming off a ten-catch game against the Bengals, Miller could become Ben's go-to safety net if Pittsburgh's wideouts don't get open.
I like the under on Denver's team total (19) this week. Brock Osweiler hasn't led a touchdown drive in seven quarters, while the Broncos' offensive point totals are 10 and 12 in their last two games. Against the Patriots, Chargers, and Raiders in Weeks 12-14, Osweiler managed weekly finishes of QB25, QB24, and QB22 while averaging 248 passing yards with a 2:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Osweiler lost his composure in the second half of last week's loss to Oakland, becoming frenetic in the pocket and settling for innocuous checkdowns all game. If Osweiler turns in another poor performance, coach Gary Kubiak will have to give serious consideration to turning back to Peyton Manning. ... The outlook of Denver's running game is also bleak against a Steelers run defense that ranks No. 7 in Football Outsiders' DVOA with just three rushing TDs allowed to running backs in 13 games. Ronnie Hillman (12-20) was completely ineffective on the ground in last week's loss to Oakland and is averaging 3.30 yards per carry over his last seven games. Juwan Thompson (5-8) added nothing against the Raiders. C.J. Anderson will try to play after missing Week 14 with an ankle injury. This is a situation to avoid in fantasy lineup decisions.
Osweiler's targets during his three-week backslide: Demaryius Thomas 33; Emmanuel Sanders 23; Vernon Davis 14; Owen Daniels 13; Hillman 11; Thompson 7; Anderson and Bennie Fowler 5; Andre Caldwell 4. ... Although Demaryius is no longer making big plays downfield due to Osweiler's checkdown tendencies, Thomas has hit pay dirt in two of Osweiler's four starts, posted a 10-95 receiving line in another, and drew 13 targets in the fourth. Demaryius is the strongest Week 15 fantasy play on Denver's roster against a Pittsburgh defense A.J. Green ripped open for 6-132-1 with A.J. McCarron at quarterback last week. ... The Broncos' second strongest fantasy bet is Davis, who out-snapped (75%) Daniels (65%) in last Sunday's loss to the Raiders, parlaying nine targets into a 7-74 stat line. The Steelers allow the seventh most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Sanders' three receiving lines in Osweiler starts are 6-113-0, 3-19-0, and 2-17-0. No longer being force fed high-percentage targets and now being utilized in a high-volatility, Torrey Smith-like role under Kubiak, Sanders has devolved into a boom-bust fantasy WR3 option. Osweiler's utter inability to complete vertical passes is killing Sanders.
Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Broncos 13
Sunday Night Football
Arizona @ Philadelphia
Cardinals-Eagles has a 50.5-point total -- second highest of Week 15 -- with Arizona favored by 3.5. The Cards visit Philly with a 27-point team total. ... These are the last six quarterbacks to face the Eagles with their weekly finish in parentheses: Tyrod Taylor (QB12), Tom Brady (QB3), Jameis Winston (QB2), Matthew Stafford (QB2), Ryan Tannehill (QB16), and Matt Cassel (QB6). That's five QB1 finishes in six weeks, with a 19:4 TD-to-INT ratio allowed to enemy passers since Philly's Week 8 bye. Fresh off ten days rest following Arizona's Thursday night win over Minnesota, Carson Palmer is an elite fantasy play. The Philly pass rush has managed one sack or fewer in three of its last four games and was especially nonexistent in last week's narrow win over Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor's pocket was squeaky clean. ... Since taking over as Arizona's feature back two games ago, David Johnson has logged touch totals of 24 and 24 on snap rates of 71% and 81%. Over its last seven games, Philadelphia has coughed up 905 yards on 184 carries (4.92 YPC) to opposing running backs while dipping to 21st in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. In addition to providing Arizona with an upgraded rushing attack, Johnson is winning one-on-one battles against linebackers in man coverage. With Andre Ellington (turf toe) likely out at least one more week, Johnson is a high-floor, high-ceiling RB1 play in Philadelphia.
Palmer's targets over the last two weeks: Michael Floyd 21; Larry Fitzgerald 17; John Brown 13; Johnson 10; Darren Fells 5; J.J. Nelson 4. ... The arrow on Fitz is teetering down with Arizona's perimeter receivers healthy. Scoreless since Week 8, Fitzgerald's yardage totals have dipped in four straight weeks (130, 90, 66, 55, 41), and his Week 14 target count (6) was his lowest since October. While Fitzgerald's ceiling has clearly taken a hit, he still has five or more catches in all but one game this season. A Week 15 concern for Fitzgerald is Philly's stingy middle-of-the-field coverage. The Eagles permit the third fewest fantasy points to tight ends, and Fitzgerald runs tight end-type routes. On the Cardinals' base-offense slot snaps, expect Fitzgerald to frequently line up against Eagles FS/slot CB Malcolm Jenkins, who has Pro Football Focus' No. 1 coverage grade among 86 qualified safeties. ... Although Brown's deep-game skill set suggests he might be a volatile fantasy asset, Brown has shown a high floor with 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in eight of his last nine games. On paper, Brown has the best matchup in Arizona's receiver corps against LCB Byron Maxwell, who has been the Eagles' worst corner this season. ... Floyd has also demonstrated consistency with a better ceiling than Brown, topping 100 yards and/or scoring a touchdown in six of his last seven games. Very quietly, Floyd has led Arizona in targets (12, 9) in back-to-back weeks. He should be teed up confidently against Eagles rookie RCB Eric Rowe.
As 3.5-point home underdogs against Arizona, the Eagles' team total is 23.5. Offensively, Philly has not scored more than 23 points since Week 9. ... Since returning from his shoulder injury and concussion two games ago, Sam Bradford has managed fantasy finishes of QB23 and QB23 against New England and Buffalo. In Week 15, Bradford gets another tough draw against an Arizona pass defense that ranks No. 5 in Football Outsiders' DVOA with the NFL's third lowest passer rating allowed (78.1). As the Cardinals play tight man coverage and the Eagles' receivers struggle to win against man, this is a forbidding matchup for Bradford. ... With Ryan Mathews back in the fold in last Sunday's win over the Bills, the Eagles used a near-even three-way timeshare in the backfield. Mathews started and logged 15 touches on 26% of the snaps. Darren Sproles handled nine touches, playing 35% of the downs. DeMarco Murray touched the ball 13 times on a 32% snap rate. My bet is we'll see more of Mathews and Sproles than Murray versus Arizona, but team rushing success is unlikely on Philadelphia's side. Over their last three games, the Cardinals have held Vikings, Rams, and 49ers RBs to 174 yards and one touchdown on 59 carries (2.95 YPC). Arizona's defensive front is fresh and healthy after ten days rest.
Bradford's target distribution in the last two weeks: Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz 11; Sproles 9; Nelson Agholor 8; Riley Cooper 7; Josh Huff and Brent Celek 3; Murray and Ryan Mathews 2. ... The Cardinals haven't allowed an opposing wide receiver to clear 70 yards since Week 8. They can make Agholor irrelevant with Patrick Peterson's shadow coverage, and should feel comfortable with Tyrann Mathieu on banged-up Matthews (back) in the slot. Neither Agholor nor Matthews figures to be a Week 15 factor. ... The lone Philly pass catcher with a shot at a decent fantasy night is Ertz, who set a season high for catches (7) in Week 10, scored his first touchdown of the year in Week 13, and set another season high for receiving yards (98) in last Sunday's win over Buffalo. Arizona gave up 9-144 receiving to Vikings tight ends last week.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 27, Eagles 20
Monday Night Football
Detroit @ New Orleans
Lions-Saints has a 51-point total -- highest of Week 15 -- with host New Orleans favored by three. The Saints' team total is 27. ... These are the quarterbacks that have faced the Lions since their Week 9 bye with their fantasy finish in parentheses: Aaron Rodgers (QB7), Derek Carr (QB26), Mark Sanchez (QB22), Rodgers again (QB8), Case Keenum (QB32). Although Detroit's pass-defense metrics have improved after a number of matchups with non-starting-caliber quarterbacks, DC Teryl Austin's unit shouldn't be viewed as a shutdown force. Drew Brees has accounted for 18 touchdowns in six home games this season, compared to eight TDs in six road affairs. Brees' completion rate (71.5%/64.1%), passer rating (111.2/84.6), and yards-per-attempt average (8.43/6.83) are all significantly better at home. In a potential shootout indoors, Brees' ceiling is as high as any quarterback in fantasy this week. ... Tim Hightower took over as New Orleans' feature back in the absence of Mark Ingram (shoulder, I.R.) last week, parlaying a team-high 29 touches into 95 total yards and a touchdown on 71% of the snaps. C.J. Spiller played only 19% of the downs and hurt his chances of seeing increased work by managing nine yards on six touches. The Lions sprung run-defense leaks in last Sunday's loss to St. Louis, yielding 23-161-2 (7.00 YPC) to Rams running backs. While he obviously lacks the dynamic running ability of Todd Gurley, Tim Hightower is suddenly a high-volume workhorse in a fast-paced, sometimes high-scoring offense and will be an every-week RB2 down the stretch.
Brees' targets since the Saints' Week 11 bye: Ben Watson 28; Brandin Cooks 23; Willie Snead 16; Marques Colston 15; Brandon Coleman 11; Spiller 8; Josh Hill 6; Hightower 1. ... With target totals of 9, 8, and 11 since the open date, Watson has asserted himself as an every-week TE1. The Lions allow the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Cooks figures to be shadowed on perimeter routes by Darius Slay, though Cooks was also shadowed on perimeter routes by Josh Norman in Week 13 and still went 6-104-1 receiving, dusting Panthers FS Kurt Coleman for a 54-yard TD. Cooks moves around as much as any wideout in football and is an upside WR2 play in this potential high-scoring shootout. In his career, Cooks has seven all-purpose touchdowns and is averaging 70.2 yards in 11 home games. He has six TDs with a 60.7-yard average in 12 career road affairs. ... Pretty clearly over his midseason calf and knee injuries, Snead played 72% of New Orleans' Week 14 snaps and parlayed eight targets into 122 yards on seven catches. Snead is another movable receiver, and least likely to draw Slay's coverage. With at least eight targets in each of his last four healthy games, Snead warrants WR3 treatment at worst and is arguably a WR2 in PPR leagues. ... Colston caught two touchdowns in last Sunday's win over the Bucs, his second and third of the year. He hasn't hit 40 yards since Week 8 and lacks fantasy value.
Three-point dogs at the Superdome, the Lions' team total is a tick below 24 points on Monday night. ... Although Jameis Winston failed to capitalize last week due in large part to the Saints' dominance in time of possession (37:22) and the second-quarter loss of Vincent Jackson (MCL), New Orleans remains an inviting matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. The Saints have stiffened slightly since Dennis Allen replaced Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator three games ago, but they've managed only three sacks during that stretch with an 8:3 TD-to-INT ratio allowed. On the year, New Orleans has yielded league highs in touchdown passes (36) and QB rating (114.2). Matthew Stafford has an 11:2 TD-to-INT ratio since Detroit's Week 9 bye, and is averaging 265.2 passing yards per game in that timeframe. Indoors against a bad pass defense and in a game that offers the highest over-under of Week 15, Stafford should be viewed as a high-floor QB1 play with lots of upside in a Lions offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in pass attempts. ... New Orleans has gotten even worse against the run since Allen replaced Ryan, surrendering a combined 72-367-3 rushing line (5.10 YPC) to Bucs, Panthers, and Texans running backs over its last three games. Unfortunately, the Lions' backfield has become impossible to trust after Theo Riddick (10 touches), Joique Bell (9), and Ameer Abdullah (9) shared the workload evenly in last Sunday's loss to St. Louis. Riddick does have low-end PPR flex appeal with five or more catches in four straight games. The Saints are allowing the sixth most receptions to running backs.
Stafford's targets since the Lions' Week 9 bye: Calvin Johnson 45; Golden Tate 43; Riddick 31; Eric Ebron 20; Bell and T.J. Jones 11; Lance Moore 9; Abdullah and Brandon Pettigrew 8. ... As the Lions played Week 13 on Thursday night, Week 14 last Sunday, and will play Week 15 on Monday night, Johnson's 30-year-old legs should be fresh having played just one game in the previous 15 days. Running most of his routes at right cornerbacks, Megatron should frequently draw Saints RCB Brandon Browner in this one, albeit likely with safety help over the top. Either way, this is a strong matchup for Megatron on paper. Browner is the NFL's worst starting cornerback. ... On the off chance the Saints do contain Calvin, Tate would be the primary box-score beneficiary. A volume monster again, Tate has tallied consecutive target totals of 8, 11, 10, and 10 with reception counts of 8, 7, 8, and 9. Tate is the WR8 in PPR leagues over the last month. Tate also has a plus draw with slot CB Kyle Wilson. ... The Saints have allowed the most receiving yards and fantasy points in the league to tight ends, but Ebron's weekly yardage totals over the last month are 0, 28, 9, and 27 on target counts of 2, 3, 2, and 5. Ebron's outlook is boosted by Pettigrew's (ACL) absence, however. When Pettigrew missed time and Ebron was active early in the season, Ebron's receiving lines were 5-43-1, 4-61-0, 2-22-0, and 5-89-1. With Megatron a virtual lock for double teams, Ebron may be the top TE1 streamer of Week 15.
DFS Players: Lions at Saints is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders' top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups this weekend in daily fantasy football.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Lions 23