The first week of the fantasy playoffs was a terribly disappointing one for a lot of big-name players. Don’t worry, though. If the big-time failures of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and/or Jimmy Graham crippled your championship chances, you can still play daily fantasy football. Sign up below.
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Percy Harvin suffered an ankle injury in the Jets’ Week 14 loss to the Vikings that could sideline him for the rest of the season. He had an excellent game against the Vikings, but 2014 will be counted as yet another lost season for the once promising playmaker. Owed a non-guaranteed $10.5 million in 2014, it is conceivable Harvin’s stay in New York will be a short one. The Jets do not necessarily need the cap room, but $10.5 million is a lot to play a gadget receiver who cannot stay on the field. Wherever he ends up, Harvin will be nothing more than a moderate-ceiling, low-floor WR3 heading into the 2015 season.
Andre Johnson suffered a concussion after taking a big hit from Telvin Smith during the Texans’ win over Jacksonville. Johnson stayed on the turf for several minutes before walking off the field under his own power. He was quickly ruled out for the game and will now enter into the league’s concussion protocol. DeAndre Hopkins would be the unquestioned No. 1 if Johnson is unable to play Week 15 against the Colts.
Colt McCoy injured his neck against the Rams. McCoy was terrible enough to be benched before the injury, but this opens up the possibility of Robert Griffin III starting Week 15 against the Giants. That would be great news for Alfred Morris, who managed just six yards on eight carries against the Rams.
Zach Mettenberger re-injured his right shoulder against the Giants, and rumors are he is done for the season. If Mettenberger has played his final snap this season, it is tough to call his rookie campaign anything but a success. He flashed playing behind a crumbling offensive line for a crumbling team and at least showed he has the tools to develop into a serviceable quarterback in the NFL. Whether he will get a chance to ply his trade in Tennessee is the question. The Titans figure to have a high pick in the 2015 draft, and it would not be surprising if Marcus Mariota is high on their Christmas list.
Jonathan Stewart shredded the Saints for 155 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries Week 15. The performance was Stewart’s best single-game output since 2009 and was a promising showing for a player that has had his career ravaged by injuries.
The most impressive play of the game was Stewart’s 69-yard touchdown run to put the game away early in the third quarter. Stewart showed nice vision to cut back into open field before outrunning the Saints defense to the end zone. It was a vintage run.
We have all been burned by Stewart enough times before to know this good feeling will not last. Stewart will get hurt again or the Panthers will inexplicably give DeAngelo Williams half the work once he return from a finger injury and Stewart will once again be relegated to the fringes of the fantasy world.
Maybe this time is different, though. Cam Newton played his best game of the year against the Saints, and there is a strong possibility he has turned the corner after struggling with injuries up to this point in the season. A healthy Cam running the read option opens up big holes in the running game, and at only 27 Stewart still has some miles left on his tires, assuming he can keep from blowing one. Stewart is my favorite waiver wire add this week.
Vincent Jackson announced he is still a force to be reckoned with by catching 10-of-17 targets for 159 yards against the Lions on Sunday. With bewildered OC Marcus Arroyo inexplicably abandoning the run in what was a close game into the third quarter, Jackson was the only reason the Bucs moved the ball anywhere against Detroit. He seemed to be McCown’s go-to target when he was under pressure, and he delivered by making big play after big play.
Mike Evans played the Mike Alstott to Jackson’s Warrick Dunn on Sunday, catching two touchdowns despite gaining under 50 yards for the third straight week. Jackson still has not found the end zone since Week 5, but he does have two 100 yard games in his last three. He will be a decent FLEX play against the Panthers Week 15.
The health of Reggie Bush matters nothing to Joique Bell. Even with Bush back on the field, Bell dominated the running back work in Detroit. He had 18 of the 27 running back carries and out-touched Bush 23-12. Surprisingly, Bell has almost as many passing down snaps (23) as Bush had total snaps (24). It was obvious who the lead back was for the Lions.
The Lions have two cake matchups against the Vikings and Bears over the next two weeks, and with Matthew Stafford and the passing offense once again in sync, Bell is in a great position to finish the season strong. He will be a high-end RB2 the rest of the way.
Latavius Murray rushed 23 times for 76 yards in the Raiders’ surprising Week 14 win over the 49ers. He out-touched Darren McFadden 25-4, and out-snapped the “starter” McFadden 54-11. Maurice Jones-Drew had one passing down snap.
The Raiders talked a big talk about sticking with a committee approach, but it is clear to everyone Murray gives the team the best chance to move the ball. Murray struggled against the tough 49ers rush defense, but should be an excellent play against the Chiefs Week 15. At only $6500 on FanDuel, Murray is a value play in daily formats.
Stash and See
These players may not be worthy of a start Week 15, but they are certainly worthy of a roster spot.
Marqise Lee has 16 targets over the last two weeks and is making a case to be the Jags’ No. 1 receiver. … Donte Moncrief out-snapped Hakeem Nicks 50-18 against Cleveland. The clear No. 3 receiver in Indianapolis, Moncrief could see an expanded role with Reggie Wayne ailing. … Kamar Aiken played 48-of-66 snaps with Torrey Smith limited by a knee injury. … Kerwynn Williams led the Cardinals’ backs in snaps and is in line to be the lead back with Andre Ellington headed to injured reserve. He will be a risky start Thursday night against the Rams tough defense.
Josh Gordon caught 2-of-7 targets for 15 yards against the Vontae Davis-less Colts on Sunday. Gordon has caught a Cordarrelle Patterson-like 47% of his targets this season and has not found the end zone in the three games since returning from suspension. The poor performance led to reports after the game the Browns are unhappy with Gordon’s conditioning, route running and/or grasp of the playbook.
Even with all of those concerns, Gordon played 54-of-68 snaps against the Colts. It was the highest percentage of snaps for him this season and the most among Browns’ pass catchers, and if Brian Hoyer hits Gordon on a wide open long touchdown, those “concerns” probably never see the light of day. Gordon is a premier wideout and will be a solid start when Johnny Manziel (hopefully) takes over as the starter this week against the Bengals.
Peyton Manning failed to reach 200 yards passing for the second straight week and failed to record a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 10 of 2010. His performance against the Bills was the third sub-20 fantasy point performance from Manning in the last four weeks, and the 4.7 fantasy points were the lowest complete-game total for Manning since Week 13 of 2008.
The Bills stat line is excusable because Manning only attempted 20 passes, but he was truthfully bad against the Chiefs and Rams. Both are tough defenses, though, and I fully expect Manning to bounce back in the pristine weather of San Diego Week 15.
Jimmy Graham’s bandwagon has become considerably lighter the last two weeks. Graham followed up a Week 13 goose egg with a three for 25 performance against a Panthers team that had given up 100 yards or a touchdown to tight ends in four straight games. The word disappointing just does not do Graham’s two week run justice.
There is room for hope, however. Unlike his target-less performance in Pittsburgh, Drew Brees looked Graham’s way a team-high 11 times against the Panthers. As long as he keeps getting those targets, he is a good bet to put in week-winning performances. He is still a top option in a great matchup against the Bears Week 15, and he should be a nice value in daily.
Denard Rushed 10 times for 30 yards Week 14 against the Texans. It was his third straight game of less than 50 yards rushing, and he is only averaging 12 touches a game over the last two weeks. More concernedly, Toby Gerhart has seen his snap count increase in each of the last four games and saw the Jags’ lone red zone touch after Robinson made a big run to get Jacksonville inside the 10 in the first quarter.
Robinson has played well at times this season, but the Jaguars offense does not offer enough scoring chances for Robinson to be a quality fantasy asset in a limited role. Robinson needs to hover somewhere above 15 touches a game to be a reliable RB2, and that is simply not happening right now. He will be a risky play Week 15 against the Ravens.
These players are unlikely to make any noise this season. They are not must drops, but can be replaced without worry.
Cordarrelle Patterson scored negative fantasy points against the Jets. … Reggie Wayne is banged up, old and not playing well. … Rueben Randle is terribly inefficient and has seen his share of targets dramatically decrease the last three weeks. … Jonas Gray is well behind LeGarrette Blount in the Patriots’ pecking order. … Darren McFadden is clearly behind Latavius Murray on Oakland’s depth chart. … Vernon Davis is my new Danny Amendola. It is not going to happen this season.