It’s Week 15 and that means it’s the fantasy semifinals and we rely on our studs now more than ever to get us that one last push to the championship. Maybe because it’s 2020 or maybe because it’s a simple as being fantasy football, but this week had numerous big names either inactive or flop.
Unlike other weeks in the season, you’re likely playing against an opponent who has an equally stellar lineup. They had to get this far and a successful team cannot afford even one player to bomb.
If you were lucky and had a player blow up on your starting roster, then perhaps you were able to skate by or your whole team had an amazing week. Either way, congratulations if you have locked in a win, and good luck if you need some big performances (or non-performances) in tonight’s matchup between the Steelers and the Bengals.
It’s sad, but the saying that “misery loves company” is often true. Sometimes, a nice vent about a player who burned you could just the medicine you need to cope with a potential Week 15 loss.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had been on a downhill spiral for a few weeks and he was (logically) due for a comeback against Washington. However, there wasn’t much need for Seattle to get the win through the air when they had three healthy backs in Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, and Rashaad Penny. Penny is freshly back since his ACL tear last year and he only touched the ball twice for six yards, but Carson and Hyde combined for 118 of the Seahawks' 180 rushing yards which include the 50-yard touchdown run by Hyde. Wilson threw for only 121 yards and a touchdown and also had an interception. Seattle came away with the win, so far real football, it was great. For fantasy, not so much.
At the running back position, fantasy managers have come to rely on Panthers Mike Davis while Christian McCaffrey remains sidelined. While his ceiling isn’t normally the highest of the running backs, you can usually count on him to give you a solid floor in a good matchup. The Panthers faced off against the Green Bay Packers who are ranked 28th against the run for the season. They had allowed the fourth-most touchdowns to the position with 13 and the second-most in receiving touchdowns.
Despite the nice season-long numbers on paper, what they didn’t tell you was that the Packers have done a much better shoring up their run defense. They have allowed only rushing touchdowns in the last four weeks and only one receiving touchdown in that time. They limited Davis to only 59 yards rushing with two receptions for two yards and 8.1 points.
Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake was disappointing against the revamped Eagles Defense with only 26 yards and two receptions for 14 yards. His counterpart, Chase Edmonds, once again got all the glory with 15.6 points on 47 yards, three receptions, 19 yards, and a receiving touchdown.
The Rams brought us back down to earth for our expectations for Cam Akers. Unfortunately, Akers was a victim of a negative script against the Jets. Yes, the Jets got their first win of the season against the Rams at SoFi Stadium. QB Jared Goff struggled but they couldn’t turn to the run because they played from behind the entire game after the Jets put 10 points on the board before Los Angeles was able to score. Akers finished with only 7.2 points on 63 yards rushing and one reception for a loss of one yard.
If the QB and RB classes were disappointing, get ready for the duds in the WR room. There were several that let us down including Tyler Lockett, Christian Kirk, Robby Anderson, Amari Cooper, and let’s just say all of the Denver receivers. Lockett’s disappearance has been trending in that direction with the emergence of DK Metcalf’s dominance but it was even more painful watching Wilson being unable to throw the football. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray had eyes for DeAndre Hopkins when he wasn’t targeting every other receiver on the team. Even TE Dan Arnold outscored Kirk’s 6.3 on three receptions for 33 yards. Robby Anderson was bottled up with only two receptions for 21 yards, and Amari Cooper saw only three targets for 10 yards in the Cowboys' 41-33 victory over the 49ers.
The Broncos had no chance against the Bills, so hopefully, you weren’t in a position to have to play one of them. Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler combined for only five receptions while the Broncos leaned on RB Melvin Gordon and TE Noah Fant.
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The Cat’s Meow
All right, enough with all the negative talk. Aside from the disappointments, some pretty great gems pulled through, and maybe even made up for the players who flopped.
Let me just start by saying that I did not believe in Jalen Hurts. I thought his performance last week could have been due to a lack of film, lucky scrambling, and a bit of good luck. I had no idea he was going to blow up against a tough Arizona defense with 37.82 points and lead all quarterbacks at the end of Sunday. He had 338 passing yards and three touchdowns in addition to 63 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. It was epic.
On the other side of the ball, Kyler Murray comes in as the QB4 with over 400 yards, three touchdowns, 29 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown to finish with 33.14 points.
The Bills' Josh Allen and the Titans' Ryan Tannehill both scored over 37 points and they each had two rushing touchdowns. Lamar Jackson is heating up in the nick of time as the Ravens trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had 243 passing yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a rushing touchdown to finish with 29.22 points.
Outside of our top-five, Matt Ryan had an excellent bounce-back game against the stout Buccaneers Defense with 27.84 points. Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady, and Baker Mayfield also finished with 20 points or more.
The top-five running backs feature some surprising names including Tony Pollard who filled in for Ezekiel Elliott who a surprise inactive Sunday morning. He had explosive plays both rushing for 69 yards and two touchdowns as well as six receptions 63 yards and 31.2 points to lead the running backs from Sunday.
I know I am repeating myself, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway. I hope you traded for David Montgomery when you had the chance. He has had his fourth game above 20 points with 29.2 against the Vikings with 146 yards, two touchdowns, and a reception for 16 yards. His Week 16 matchup is another great one against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Another surprising name is Washington’s J.D. McKissic who was heavily involved in the offense. He rushed 13 times for 51 yards but made his fantasy money in the passing game with nine receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown to finish Week 15 as our RB4 with 25.7 points.
Not so surprising were Dalvin Cook with 26.9 and Derrick Henry with 25.2. I will point out that Henry’s bottom line could have been even higher if it hadn't been for Darrynton Evans vulturing one of his touchdowns.
I want to give a shoutout to the Texans' David Johnson who exploded in the passing game. He didn’t score a touchdown and only rushed 27 yards, but he had 11 receptions for 106 yards and 24.3 points for his best of the season.
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley feasted in Julio Jones’ absence with Matt Ryan battling against Tom Brady (again) and the Buccaneers. He finished with 32.3 points, 10 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins was our Sunday WR2 with a cool 30 on nine receptions, 169 yards, and a touchdown. Ridley and Hopkins aren’t all that surprising but seeing Marvin Jones finish as the WR3 certainly is. Lions QB Matt Stafford was banged up with rib injuries and a thumb injury but played anyway. He targeted Jones 10 times for 112 yards and a touchdown in their loss to the Titans. Stefon Diggs another 20 plus game against the Broncos with 130 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. But Zach Pascal (not T.Y. Hilton) rounds out our top-five receivers thanks to his two touchdowns on five receptions and 79 yards.
We already saw TE Darren Waller ball out on Thursday, but Washington’s Logan Thomas was hot on his heels with 23.1 points with QB Dwayne Haskins under center. It doesn’t matter to this young man who is in at QB, he finds a way to score points. Although he didn’t score a touchdown, he did have a whopping 13 receptions for 101 yards against the Seahawks. Of course, Travis Kelce is in our top-five with 22.8 points. That’s news only if he’s not in the top-five, but it was a nice surprise to see Broncos TE Noah Fant finally have a nice day. He also stayed in the game the whole time, too. He had eight receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown to give him 20.8 points. To wrap up our top-five, Ravens Mark Andrews had a second game in the double-digits with 20.6 points for 96 yards and a touchdown.
We had nine other tight ends finish with double-digits Austin Hooper, Tyler Conklin (tight end for the Vikings), Dawson Knox, and Jordan Akins. If you had to start any of these tight ends in a desperation play, it paid off pretty well.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire was carried off the field with a leg injury after landing awkwardly on his bent knee. … Eagles WR Jalen Reagor was questionable with an ankle injury. … Rams RB Cam Akers headed to the locker room but did return to the game. We’ll need to keep an eye on his status for Week 16. … 49ers RB Raheem Mostert limped off the field. … Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas sported an air cast on the sideline after kickoff. … Saints QB Jameis Winston was placed on the COVID-19 list. … Ravens RB Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch.