Maybe I shouldn’t lead off the article this way, but in the interest of transparency I have to confess that I lost all three of my playoff matchups last week. One and done. It was a sad, dark, pathetic day. But, to my.. credit, all of those performances can be attributed to my failures on draft day. My week-to-week waiver wire and sleeper picks are still spot on. So ignore the results, and consider the following Week 15 sleeper list a fool-proof guide to Week 2 of the fantasy playoffs. A week that I will not be participating in… But first, a quick recap of our hits and misses from Week 14 (and their performances in ESPN standard leagues).
Hits: Bilal Powell (29), Andy Dalton (16), Dontrelle Inman (13), Bengals (10)
Misses: Derrick Henry (4), Sterling Shepard (3). Ladarius Green (2)
Meh: Jameis Winston (8)
Joe Flacco has put up huge numbers in two straight weeks, throwing for over 700 yards and six touchdowns over that span. Somehow, that production has only translated to a 6% starting rate on Yahoo.
Philadelphia has been average defensively in 2016, but they’ve allowed fantasy performances of 20+ points to opposing quarterbacks in five of their last seven games.
The Ravens need a win to keep their AFC North hopes alive, and I look for Flacco to give deep-league owners a chance to prolong their fantasy playoff lives in Week 15.
Wins and loses don’t matter to fantasy owners. That’s good for anyone rolling out Colin Kaepernick in Week 2 of the fantasy playoffs. Despite losing his last eight games, Kaepernick is the tenth-highest scoring quarterback across fantasy football over the last four weeks.
Look, Colin Kaerpernick is by no means a great quarterback. He’s not even particularly good. But he’s proven productive when given ample opportunity in Chip Kelly’s offense, and on Sunday he gets a Falcons team surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing signal callers. Add in Atlanta’s league-worst 3,578 passing yards allowed, and you get a guy who deserves better than a 13% starting rate in Yahoo leagues.
McKinnon has now led the Vikings in carries in four straight weeks. His increased workload hasn’t translated to huge production on the ground though, turning 32 carries into just 103 yards since Week 12.
But McKinnon has caught 11 balls on 12 targets the last two weeks. And on Sunday he gets a matchup with a Colts defense allowing the eighth most fantasy points to opposing backs in standard Yahoo leagues.
Adrian Peterson was expected to return to practice on Wednesday, but he’s not getting on the field this week. McKinnon’s started by just 28% of Yahoo owners, but he makes a great option as long as AP is out and he maintains the lead role over Matt Asiata.
Tevin Coleman has scored twice and averaged nearly ten carries a game since returning from a hamstring injury in Week 12. He’s still way behind Devonta Freeman on the Falcons’ depth chart. Fortunately for Coleman, that won’t matter when San Francisco and its historically bad run defense travel to Atlanta in Week 15.
Just take a look at some of the games the 49ers have given up to opposing running back tandems in 2016. The Patriots’ duo combined for 27.7 fantasy points in standard Yahoo leagues in Week 11. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers had 31.2. And in Week 9, Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower went off for 46.8.
Coleman is started by 30% of Yahoo owners, but I think he’s a great option across the board this weekend.
Few receivers have been more productive than Pierre Garcon over the past four weeks, but somehow he’s unowned or riding the bench in four out of five Yahoo leagues.
With the emergence of Jamison Crowder, Garcon has been able to take advantage of some of the weaker elements of opposing secondaries. He’s led Washington’s receivers in targets in three of its last four games, scoring twice and amassing nearly 300 yards over that time.
Carolina travels to Washington in Week 15, bringing its Josh Noman-less, bottom feeder secondary with it. Look for Garcon to capitalize on Monday night in D.C.
Taylor Gabriel has been one the hottest receivers not named Brown or Beckham throughout the second half of 2016. It’s only translated to a 25% starting rate, but it’s past the point for owners to be questioning Gabriel’s fantasy relevance.
He has five touchdowns since Week 8, and Atlanta’s offensive reliance on Gabriel has seemed to increase every week since the midpoint of the season.
Much like its run defense, San Francisco’s secondary ranks among the bottom in the league in every major statistical category. With or without Julio Jones in the lineup, Gabriel remains a great play in Week 15 against the 49ers.
Green burned me last week, but Le’Veon Bell was more to blame for that than anything. The Steelers’ tight end is still a critical part of Pittsburgh’s offense whenever Bell isn’t out there scoring three times and getting 38 carries.
Green is started by a shade over 30% of Yahoo owners, which is about right. But the targets keep adding up, and they have to materialize into something. I expect Green to rebound in Week 15 against a Bengals team that’s one of the worst in the league defending tight ends.
Buffalo’s defense isn’t great this year, but this is more about the matchup than anything. Not surprisingly, the Browns have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing defenses in standard Yahoo leagues in 2016.
Bad weather is expected in Buffalo on Sunday, and I can’t see the Browns turning the conditions into any kind of significant offensive output. The Bills have a solid floor but an unexciting ceiling in Week 15.