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Survivor Guide: Week 15

by Mark Miller
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 15's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Sunday, December 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

 

*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game

 

Strong Play:

 

Detroit (vs. Minnesota) – The Vikings defense allowed the Jets to accumulate 410 yards in Week 14, so just imagine the type of numbers the Lions offense should be able to put up at home this weekend against Minnesota. Matt Stafford has really played well over his last two games, completing 76% of his passes for an average of 350 yards per game and a total of 5 touchdowns along with 0 interceptions. Calvin Johnson has been the biggest beneficiary reeling in 3 touchdowns on 19 catches while averaging 152 receiving yards. The running game behind Joique Bell has also been solid, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and he’s reached the end zone 3 times. I expect Detroit to shutdown Minnesota’s running game because I don’t expect Matt Asiata, who’s averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per carry on the season, or Ben Tate to do much against their stout run defense. Teddy Bridgewater eclipsed 300 passing yards for the second time this season last week, but he can thank Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright for their 56 and 87 yard touchdown receptions. Those two plays accounted for 46% of his passing yards. The Lions defense will not allow those same types of big plays to happen this weekend. Detroit has been a strong team at home with a 6-1 record while averaging a shade under 26 points per game at Ford Field. I expect them to improve to 7-1 at home making them a strong play this week in Survivor Pools.

 

Next 2 Games:

Minnesota: @ Miami, vs. Chicago

Detroit: @ Chicago, @ Green Bay

 

Baltimore (vs. Jacksonville) – Baltimore’s defense really stifled the Dolphins offense in Week 14, and this is something they should be able to repeat in Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although Lamar Miller averaged 4.4 yards per carry, they held him in check to only 55 rushing yards and only allowed the Miami receivers to 4 plays that netted them more than 13 yards. They should have similar success against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense that is only averaging 182 passing yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Jacksonville ranks 28th in run defense which means Justin Forsett should be in for a big game. The status for Torrey Smith is up in the air again this week, although it’s starting to sound like he won’t suit up, but Kamar Aiken should be able to fill his role and haul in 5+ catches. But obviously it will be Steve Smith that should get the bulk of the targets once again this week. Jacksonville has yet to win a game on the road and I expect them to remain winless on the road for at least one more week.

 

Next 2 Games:

Jacksonville: vs. Tennessee, @ Houston

Baltimore: @ Houston, vs. Cleveland

 

Green Bay (@ Buffalo) – The Packers continued their offensive outpouring against the putrid Falcons defense. But they needed every single point they put on the board because the secondary, most notably Sam Shields, couldn’t stop the one man wrecking crew that was Julio Jones. Aaron Rodgers attributes it to taking their foot off the pedal and relaxing with a 31-7 halftime lead. I can’t imagine that they will allow that to happen again this weekend against the Buffalo Bills. Green Bay’s defense will make sure to focus on shutting down Buffalo’s most dynamic offensive weapon, Sammy Watkins who just ripped off 7 catches and 127 yards in their loss against the Denver Broncos last week. Buffalo’s game plan should be running the ball and maintaining possession while chewing up the clock, but the issue is that they don’t have a RB that is capable of carrying the ball 20+ times. That was their issue last week which forced Kyle Orton to throw the ball 57 times. Due to the amount of pass calling plays, this led to Orton getting sacked 4 times and turning the ball over twice. Look for the Packers front 7 to blitz often and apply pressure on Orton. This could lead to Clay Matthews, who only has 5.5 sacks on the season, to become very friendly with Orton all game long and collect a sack or two. Over their last 5 games, Green Bay has averaged 40 points per game and they shouldn’t be nervous about traveling on the road to Buffalo because the Bills are 3-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I don’t believe this game will be a blowout, but Green Bay should have control of this game from start to finish.

 

Next 2 Games:

Green Bay: @ Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit

Buffalo: @ Oakland, @ New England

 

Decent Play:

 

Kansas City (vs. Oakland) – Don’t look now, but the Oakland Raiders have won 2 out of their last 3 games, and one of those wins came at the expense of this week’s opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from their debacle against the Rams, the Raiders have played fairly well and their defense has helped secure their two wins. Unfortunately, I see the Chiefs exacting revenge from 3 weeks ago and taking care of business at home while remaining in the AFC playoff hunt. The focus for the Chiefs defense will be containing Latavius Murray who’s had 4 runs of 15+ yards on 37 carries this season. This includes the 90-yard TD run he had against the Chiefs in Week 12. Derek Carr played well against the 49ers last week, and his offensive line did a nice job against the 49ers pass rush allowing just 1 sack. The last time the Raiders played the Chiefs, they had a lot of success on 3rd down, converting 50% of those plays into 1st down. I don’t believe they will have that same type of success this week. Kansas City has lost 3 straight, but as long as they control the clock and run the ball effectively with Jamaal Charles, they should be able to get the win and avoid being swept by the Raiders this season.

 

Next 2 Games:

Oakland: vs. Buffalo, @ Denver

Kansas City: @ Pittsburgh, vs. San Diego

 

Denver (@ San Diego) – The Broncos are a true double threat team now that they have a very successful running game behind CJ Anderson. But keep in mind, Anderson’s success came against the Dolphins and Chiefs, both of which rank 22nd and 31st, respectively, against the run. Anderson was finally held in check in his first true test of the season in Week 14 against the Bills 8th ranked run defense. He only averaged 2.8 yards per carry, but he still managed to find the endzone 3 times last week. Fortunately for Anderson, he should have a bounce back game against the Chargers that allowed Ronnie Hillman to run all over them for 107 yards on 20 carries the first time they played. I expect a balanced attack from the Broncos and I believe Peyton Manning should pick apart the Chargers’ secondary. Julius Thomas’ status is up in the air, but I would be surprised if he didn’t play this week. As for the Broncos defense, between Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, they should be able to get enough pressure on Phillip Rivers to cause him to make a mistake or two that could ultimately doom the Chargers and determine the outcome of the game.

 

Next 2 Games:

Denver: @ Cincinnati, vs. Oakland

San Diego: @ San Francisco, @ Kansas City

 

Seattle (vs. San Francisco) – The 49ers are in complete shambles right now and are a mess offensively. Jim Harbaugh has one foot out the door, Colin Kaepernick continues to be awful this season, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman refuses to rely on the running game. San Francisco gets to travel to Seattle this week and play their division rival as they battle for their playoff lives. NaVorro Bowman has been activated from the PUP list, but I don’t know how much time he’ll actually see on the field. I believe that the 49ers defense will keep them in the game, but the offense will continue to struggle to score points against a Seahawks defense that seems to get more dominant each week. The Seahawks defense has been so good that they just shut down the Eagles offense on the road in Philadelphia and allowed them to gain 139 yards of total offense. They have also only given up a total of 20 points during their 3 game winning streak and are currently 5-1 at home. If Seattle is still available to you this week, I recommend using them.

 

Next 2 Games:

San Francisco: vs. San Diego, vs. Arizona

Seattle: @ Arizona, vs. St. Louis

 

Indianapolis (vs. Houston) – Even though Andrew Luck led the Colts to a come-from-behind victory against the Browns last weekend, he had problems getting locked in and into a rhythm and struggled throughout the game. But let’s face it; the Colts were also fortunate that the Browns had started Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel. The Colts are also probably happy that they get to face Ryan Fitzpatrick for the second time this season as opposed to the injured Ryan Mallet. The last time these two teams played against one another, the Colts led at the half 24-0 and were in complete control of the game. They took the pedal off the gas in the 2nd half and allowed the Texans to creep to within 6 points and ultimately ended up winning the game after J.J. Watt’s 4th quarter touchdown cut the lead down to 5. Andre Johnson sustained a concussion last week and is questionable to play this week. Even if he does play, the Texans game plan will to pound the ball on the ground with Arian Foster and use him as their workhorse. Indianapolis will have the opposite game plan as Andrew Luck should bounce back and should have a big day along with T.Y. Hilton against the Texans 28th ranked pass defense. Houston currently sits one back in the playoffs, but this will be a very tough game for them to win on the road and I expect that they will ultimately fall to .500 on the year.

 

Next 2 Games:

Houston: vs. Baltimore, vs. Jacksonville

Indianapolis: @ Dallas, @ Tennessee

 

New England (vs. Miami) – The Patriots had to dig themselves out of an early 14-3 hole in San Diego last week, but the Patriots ended up scoring 20 unanswered points which propelled them to their 10th win of the season. The defense was a major reason they ended up winning the game and Keenan Allen was stranded on Revis Island all game. Jarvis Landry and Mike Wallace are in for a tough game and I expect that they will be slowed down by the Patriots secondary. These two teams played in the opening week of the season and the Dolphins came away with the win 33-20. But in that game, Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller dominated the Patriots defensive line and ran for 189 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per game. The Patriots run defense has improved since then and now rank 12th in the league. The Dolphins are without Moreno, so it will be on Miller’s shoulders to carry the load. As for the Patriots, look for LeGarrette Blount to be featured often in this game and get roughly 25 carries because the Dolphins have struggled stopping the run. Miami is in desperate need of a win after losing 3 out of their last 5 games, but Gillette Stadium hasn’t been too kind to them lately as the Dolphins have lost 5 straight games in New England. I expect that to be streak to be 6 straight after this weekend.

 

Next 2 Games:

Miami: vs. Minnesota, vs. NY Jets

New England: @ NY Jets, vs. Buffalo

Pittsburgh (@ Atlanta) – The Steelers’ explosive offense shouldn’t have any trouble lighting up the scoreboard in Atlanta this week. Between Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, they should combine for at the very least 200 yards, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that they will combine for 300 or more. Ben Roethlisberger has been having a stellar season and he should pad his stats this week and carve apart the Falcons’ Swiss cheese secondary. The Falcons had a valiant effort against the Packers on Monday night, but still fell short and lost 43-37. Matt Ryan practically threw to Julio Jones on almost every play and Jones delivered in a big way, reeling in 11 catches for 259 yards which accounted for 69% of Matt Ryan’s passing yards. Unfortunately, Julio Jones left the game late in the 4th quarter due to a hip injury and Jones’ status for this week is in question. Coach Mike Smith is hoping that Julio Jones plays, especially because they need to win this game to stay on top of the NFC South, but if Julio doesn’t play, you can bump the Steelers up a few more spots. If Julio does play, he should be able to have another big game, but just like their game against Green Bay, I don’t think it will be enough to beat the Steelers.

 

Next 2 Games:

Pittsburgh: vs. Kansas City, vs. Cincinnati

Atlanta: @ New Orleans, vs. Carolina

 

Risky Play:

 

Carolina (vs. Tampa Bay) – I originally had the Panthers listed as a decent play, but due to the fact that Cam Newton was involved in a car accident on Tuesday which resulted in him injuring his lower back, I had to downgrade the Panthers until we know more about whether or not he’ll be able to play. If Newton can’t go, which I expect, then Derek Anderson will fill in for him. In fact, Anderson’s only start this season came in the opening game of the year against the Buccaneers. The Panthers ended up winning that game 20-14 on the road in Tampa Bay. In that game, Anderson completed 24 of 34 passes for 230 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Anderson also targeted Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen on 59% of his passes and connected with both of them 14 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Anderson should lean on those two heavily once again while attacking Tampa Bay’s 24th ranked pass defense. The Panthers also looked rejuvenated on defense last week against the Saints, but I’m just a little skeptical that they will be able to repeat that same type of performance. Lucky for them, the Buccaneers can’t run the ball and have been averaging a miniscule 2.9 yards per carry during their 3 game losing streak. That should mean that the Panthers will focus on stopping the pass and limiting the damage from Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. If Carolina can have a successful pass rush and plays well enough on defense, they should still be able to win without Cam. Still, given the circumstances, I think they are a risky play this week.

 

Next 2 Games:

Tampa Bay: vs. Green Bay, vs. New Orleans

Carolina: vs. Cleveland, @ Atlanta

 

St. Louis (vs. Arizona) – This might not be a popular pick, but I’m not convinced that the Cardinals are as good a team as some people believe. Their secondary is overrated and Drew Stanton is a middle of the road quarterback. They are also without Andre Ellington and have also been a different team on the road than they are at home (7-0 at home, 3-3 on the road). The Rams on the other hand are playing some of their best football at the moment and I don’t believe it will be any different this week. This game will be won in the trenches between the Arizona offensive line that has allowed 15 sacks on the season and the Rams defense that has recorded 34 sacks over their last 8 games. If the Rams can get to Stanton often enough, they should be able to create turnovers and make Stanton miss his receivers which could result in a lot of 3-and-outs. I believe that Arizona will not find a way to win this week on the road in St. Louis and that the Rams will pull their record even at 7-7. It’s a risky play, but it’s one I’d have confidence in if the teams ranked above them have already been used in your Survivor Pool

 

Next 2 Games:

Arizona: vs. Seattle, @ San Francisco

St. Louis: vs. NY Giants, @ Seattle

 

Cincinnati (@ Cleveland) – Both the Bengals and Browns are coming off very bad losses that has led to the Bengals holding onto a half-game lead over the Steelers for the AFC North whereas the Browns fell to 7-6 and are now 12th in the AFC. The Bengals defense has been up and down this season, and they completely collapsed in the 4th quarter against Pittsburgh last week allowing the Steelers to score 25 unanswered points. Cleveland did a nice job on defense against the Colts for the majority of the game, and I expect that Joe Haden will shadow the Bengals’ A.J. Green. This should result in the Bengals running the ball early and often behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. As long as they have success running the football against the Browns who’ve allowed an average of 4.4 yards per carry, it should eventually open up the passing game and that could mean Mohammed Sanu gets involved in the action if Green is unable to get free from Haden. As for the Browns, they are finally going to Johnny Manziel, although it might be too late for them and Mike Pettine’s stubbornness may have cost him his team’s season. They will still fight and I expect Manziel to be creative with his arms and legs which could pose a problem for the Bengals defense. I expect the Browns to call plays that will get the ball in the hands of their best play maker, Josh Gordon, but also keep an eye on tight end Jordan Cameron who returned last week and caught 4 passes for 41 yards. This game isn’t a lock by any means for the Bengals, but if they can establish the run, I believe they will pull out the win.

 

Next 2 Games:

Cincinnati: vs. Denver, @ Pittsburgh

Cleveland: @ Carolina, @ Baltimore

 

Avoid:

 

NY Jets (@ Tennessee) – It’s probably shocking that I have the Jets in bold after I wrote last week that they are a team you can just about pick against every week. Well, the Titans are at that level as well. I’m certain Chris Johnson has had this game circled on his schedule all season because he gets to make his return to Tennessee for the first time since being released by the Titans. The Jets will go run heavy with Johnson and Chris Ivory and they should split at least 30 carries. The Titans were just destroyed by the Giants last week and they lost quarterback Zach Mettenberger to a shoulder injury and it looks as though they’ll be turning to Jake Locker this week. Kendall Wright may be able to burn the Jets secondary, but I expect this to be a sloppy game and one that I’d avoid.

 

Next 2 Games:

NY Jets: vs. New England, @ Miami

Tennessee: @ Jacksonville, vs. Indianapolis

 

NY Giants (vs. Washington) – Washington fell victim to the Rams in Week 14 being shutout 24-0. Robert Griffin III even made an appearance after Colt McCoy was removed from the game after he suffered a neck injury. As of right now, it’s unclear if McCoy will miss any time, but if he does, Jay Gruden will turn to RG III to make the start against the Giants. The Giants looked like a good NFL team last week, but then again, it was against the Titans. Andre Williams had a huge day rushing 24 times for 131 yards while helping the Giants snap their 7 game losing streak. The Giants will make sure to mix it up in the passing game and running game against Washington, but I think the Giants will struggle running the ball. Washington has been prone to getting beat in the passing game at times, so that could mean Odell Beckham should continue to shine this weekend.

 

Next 2 Games:

Washington: vs. Philadelphia, vs. Dallas

NY Giants: @ St. Louis, vs. Philadelphia

 

Philadelphia (vs. Dallas) – The Sunday Night game of the week is a battle for NFC East supremacy. The Eagles got the best of the Cowboys two weeks ago and beat Dallas on the road 33-10. Dallas has had some extra time to rest after playing last Thursday night, but I’m not sure that is going to matter this week. Unlike last week against the Seahawks, I expect Philadelphia to be able to move the ball which means Dallas is going to have problems with Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy once again. Romo had one of his worst games of the season against the Eagles, but he should have a big bounce back game along with Dez Bryant on Sunday night and of course we can also expect DeMarco Murray to get his 100 yards. I believe this will be a back-and-forth game and will come down to the team that has the ball last. I recommend avoiding this game.

 

Next 2 Games:

Dallas: vs. Indianapolis, @ Washington

Philadelphia: @ Washington, @ NY Giants

 

New Orleans (@ Chicago) – These two teams are absolute train wrecks right now and can’t be trusted in Survivor Pools. Chicago is a mess on both sides of the ball and will be without Brandon Marshall for the rest of the season whereas New Orleans’ defense continues to be one of the worst in the league, but the positive is that their offense has been explosive at times. Although both teams are 5-8 on the season, the Bears have nothing to play for whereas the Saints are still fighting for the NFC South title and I believe that is a strong enough reason to take the Saints this week if you are forced to.

 

Next 2 Games:

New Orleans: vs. Atlanta, @ Tampa Bay

Chicago: vs. Detroit, @ Minnesota

 

Week 15 Survivor Pool Rankings:

 

1.    Detroit Lions

2.    Baltimore Ravens

3.    Green Bay Packers

4.    Kansas City Chiefs

5.    Denver Broncos

6.    Seattle Seahawks

7.    Indianapolis Colts

8.    New England Patriots

9.    Pittsburgh Steelers

10.    Carolina Panthers

11.    St. Louis Rams

12.    Cincinnati Bengals

13.    NY Jets

14.    NY Giants

15.    Philadelphia Eagles

16.    New Orleans Saints

Mark Miller
Mark Miller writes the Survivor Picks column for Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter.