If you’re still reading our fantasy football weekly columns, chances are you’ve advanced to at least the semi-finals of your league. Congrats! We’re proud of your and all your effort, but the time for celebration is later. There’s only one thing left to do, and in the immortal words of Tom Berenger, that is “Win the whole fu**in thing”. Name that movie!
Our Week 15 matchup primer will help you make some crucial playoff decisions by discussing widely owned, but not auto-start players that have both excellent and poor matchups. As always, please feel free to post agreement or dissent in the comments, and shoot us your questions in the forums. Good Luck!
Despite his generally below-average 2014, I’d love to use Brees this week. If you have him on your roster and somehow survived last week (I’m thinking you might have had a bye) then you have to give him a mulligan and throw him right back out there this week. Chicago gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs and you know Brees is itching to not only exact some payback, but also keep his Saints in the NFC South playoff race.
Big Ben has blown up in a big way in 2014 – he’s the #5 fantasy QB on the year. Not too shabby for a guy who went undrafted in many standard leagues a couple of months ago. He’s at home against the ‘middling’ Falcons pass defense, but the numbers are a sham because Atlanta has faced deficient QBs (Stanton, Hoyer) two out of the last three weeks. Antonio Brown and company should light up the Falcons secondary just like the Packers did – I’d consider Ben a high-end QB1 this week.
My concern about Morris last week was well-placed apparently. Morris ended Week 14 with more carries (eight) than yards (six). That’s really tough to do, but the Redskins were thoroughly dominated by a playoff –caliber Rams defense. I actually like Morris a ton better this week. He had one of his better games of the year against the Giants in Week 4, scoring over 16 fantasy points. Plus, there’s no doubt that over his career his numbers have been much, much better when Robert Griffin III is in the game, and it’s looking more and more like the Griffin III show this coming weekend. Add it all up and you simply have to run Alf out there one more time.
I loved what I saw from Bell and the Lions over the last two weeks. He’s put together back-to-back 20+ point fantasy days, and it looks like Detroit has finally figured out how to sustain a running game. With the Packers ahead of them at 10-4, Bell figures to be heavily implemented in the game plan throughout with the Lions in win-now mode to keep pace in the playoff hunt. Finally, Bell ran up 16+ fantasy points against this same Vikings defense on 20 total touches during Week 6.
If you had told me three months ago that Tate would be #13 overall in WR headed into Week 15, I simply wouldn’t have believed you. I actually did expect big things from Tate after leaving Seattle, but not this big. Put simply, he’s been a monster opposite Calvin Johnson, and an even bigger monster when Johnson sits. I expect Minnesota to throw everything they have at Megatron this week (probably to no avail) and take their chances with Tate. He’s in line for a huge game and unless you have truly elite options is a no-brainer start.
I know Joe Haden has a massive reputation, but in 2014, I’m just not seeing the numbers that match it. If we assuming he always covers the #1 wideout, he’s given up 10+ point games to Julio Jones, Antonio Brown (twice), Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, and most recently, T.Y. Hilton. Color me unimpressed, and I’m certainly not worried about Green coming off his 33 point shellacking of the Steelers. On paper the matchup looks to be about average, but I don’t buy it at all. I’m firing on all cylinders for Green this week at home.
New Orleans has actually allowed the ninth-fewest points to opposing TEs, but this is about opportunity. We know Brandon Marshall is out for the season, and that means more targets for Bennett. We also know Marshall’s replacement is a rookie who probably doesn’t have the full trust of Cutler – more targets for Bennett. Finally, we know neither of these teams can play a lick of pass defense, and therefore expect the game to be high scoring. The Black Unicorn is now the second highest scoring fantasy TE on the year – Fire him up in all leagues and get ready for Monday night.
I don’t care. You’re starting him. He’s used to the cold weather, on a roll, and has eviscerated the best pass defenses on his schedule since Week 3. There’s also a little smoke and mirrors action going on here: Buffalo has faced the Jets twice, Cleveland once, Miami twice, and Minnesota once. There’s not a top 10 QB on any of those teams. Don’t over-think this one – Write Rodgers into your lineup in pen.
Brady faced Miami in Miami in Week One. Now, keeping in mind that early-season Brady was quite different than the current version, it’s still important to note that he only scored 10.26 fantasy points. To be fair, that was on the road, and it was before the emergence of Brandon LaFell and the re-emergence of Rob Gronkowski. Brady has thrown no less than two scores in any game since Week 4. Miami, meanwhile, allows the second lowest total points to opposing fantasy QB. Something has to give here. Miami is a middling run defense, and I can totally see Bill Belichik going run-heavy here and pummeling the Dolphins into submission. I wouldn’t bench Brady for Johnny Manziel, but if you were trying to decide between Brady and Roethlisberger, Cutler, Rivers, Ryan, or Romo, I’d give heavy consideration to running one of the non-Brady options out there.
Shoelace had a really nice four game stretch there, but I’m over him. He’s scored below 6 points in his last three games, and the Jags offense is still a vast work in progress. Worse yet, he’s on the road this week against the top-ranked run defense of the Baltimore Ravens. It’s not that I’m downgrading him from a RB2 to a RB3 – I think he’s literally unusable in any format except super deep leagues. I just want no part of this matchup whatsoever. If you can survive him on the bench this week, however, he might be worse considering next week against Tennessee.
Here’s an interesting stat for ya: Matthews has played in six total games. He’s totaled 44 yards rushing or less in four of those six games. He’s been over 100 yards only once, and 32 of those yards came on a single run. In his last two matchups against run defenses ranked similarly to Denver, (BAL and NE) he’s averaged 42 yards rushing per game. So tell me why I should be so optimistic about this Sunday? I don’t love him not only due to Denvers prowess in defending the run, but also because gameflow is likely to dictate a ton of San Diego passing, which isn’t exactly Matthew’s forte. I’m not sure I’d use him this week, and I’m not sure I’d use him next week against SF. Feel free to drop him if you need a roster spot to grab an extra defense or a final handcuff.
Anquan Boldin | Colin Kaepernick | Frank Gore | Vernon Davis
I want no part of this completely desiccated SF offense against Seattle, in Seattle. None of them. The loss to the Raiders last week was a thing a pure ineptitude, and after a loss like that I just don’t think you can trust any of these skills players for the remainder of the season.
Hopkins played against the Colts as recently as Week 6, where he wheezed to a one-catch, 12-yard performance. With Andre Johnson potentially sitting out with a concussion this week, one would have to assume that Hopkins will get the Vontae Davis treatment, reserved for top flight enemy WRs. Hopkins has been a stud this year while also pulling a disappearing act from time to time, and I feel like this is one of those weeks where he’ll be rendered invisible. The Texans should try to attack the Colts on the ground, with Arian Foster and it seems very possible that Hopkins will disappoint.
See Brady, Tom. I think that Edelman sees more than his share of Brent Grimes, but also the Miami defense has just been generally solid against the pass. This feels (to me) like a New England smash-mouth game. Edelman also has five games of six fantasy points or less, so its’ clear he can be completely removed from the game plan at will, either by the offensive scheme or the defensive coverage. He’s been a top-25 WR on the year, but I wouldn’t rate him higher than a WR3 for this coming week.
Coby Fleener | Dwayne Allen
When the Colts faced the Texans earlier in the season, the combined Fleener / Allen duo was held under to exactly 12 fantasy points, with no touchdowns scored. The pattern we’ve seen is that when one of them sits, the other one blossoms, but when they split the work, there’s no clear play. Houston allows the third-fewest points to the TE, but some of that has to be thrown out because they’ve somehow played the entire year without facing Gronk, Graham, Julius, Bennett, or Olsen. Regardless, they’re still a strong team against the TE while remaining an all-systems-go matchup for opposing WR. I expect Luck and company to put up a ton of points here as usual, but it feels like they will be skewed more toward Hilton, Wayne (if active) Moncrief, and Nicks.