High Hopes, Low Ceilings in the First Round
Week 15 is a tricky one; loaded with tough match-ups and late season uncertainty. That uncertainty starts at the running back position in week one. Barkley, Zeke and McCaffery are projected at the top by DRAFT, however, they face tough match-ups that give them low ceilings.
Barkley faces off against the Titans; who rank 27th in run defense; only allowing more fantasy points than the Bears, Saints, Ravens, and Cowboys. Even more challenging for Barkley: they’ve allowed the least receiving yards to running backs this season (334), and 0 touchdowns through the air to running backs. Similar challenges exist for CMC,even though the New Orleans name is a tempting trap. The Saints started slow,but over the last 4 weeks their rush defense is 2nd best in the league. They’ve allowed just 201 rushing yards and 1 touchdown over the last month. Zeke faces similar challenges against a reborn Colt’s defense that’s allowed the 9th least fantasy points to opposing running backs over the last 4 weeks.
Instead of these 3, I’m sticking to Gurley as my first round running back of choice. Instead of a red-hot defense fending for playoff contention, Gurley gets a depleted Eagles defense scraping it’s way to the end of the season, likely without their staring quarterback. The Eagles have allowed 537 rushing yards (2nd most), 4 touchdowns (4th most), 196 receiving yards (4th most), and 2 receiving touchdowns (2ndmost) over the last 4 games; totaling the 2nd most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
The 2nd Round is for WRs
There’re few options at running back once you venture into the second round, with the exception of Mixon or Fournette I’m pivoting to wideout. In particular I’m targeting JuJu and DHop. Smith-Schuster is coming off a WR6 finish in Week 14. Over the last 4 weeks, he’s torched Jacksonville,Denver, the Chargers, and Oakland for 35 receptions and 552 yards. In Week 15,he gets the Patriots-who have allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the last 4 weeks than the Chargers, Raiders, and Jaguars. Hopkins faces off against the 25th worst passing defense on the season; the Jets have also allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing wideouts over the last 4 weeks. That’s enough for me to go big on this big redzone threat.
3 Upside Targets in the 3rd Round
Winning big in DRAFT usually means hitting on a risky type player. I see 3 of those upside plays going consistently in the 3rd,and even early 4th, rounds. First up: Tarik Cohen, who scored players big when he went off in Week 13 for 186 total yards, and 12 receptions.He followed that up with 89 total yards and 4 receptions against a Rams defense that’s allowed the 10th least fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In Week 15 he gets Green Bay, who have allowed the 14th most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Cooper is falling in draft position because of his tough match-up this week, still Cooper finished as WR in Weeks 12 and 14. I’m also willing to roll the dice on Dalvin Cook; who has at least 75 total yards in each of his last 3 games, and 2 total touchdowns. In a Week 15 must-win match-up he faces a Miami Dolphins defense that’s allowed the 8th most rushing yards to opposing running backs this season.
4th Round TE Pivots
Tight Ends are always enticing on DRAFT, especially in 6-team formats. This week, however, I’m okay with 3 of them. My top choice is absolutely the man I (and likely you) have been fading all year: Gronk. We saw flashes of the old Gronk last week (8 receptions, 107 yards, 1 touchdown). This week he gets Pittsburgh, who he has a history of dominating. The Steelers have also allowed the 5th most fantasy points to the tight end position this season (104 receptions, 853 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns). Ebron has been much more consistent (TE2 on the season) and is averaging 63 receiving yards and a touchdown per game since Week 12. Kittle has a much tougher match-up (Seattle has allowed the 3rd least fantasy points to tight ends this year),but he just dropped 210 receiving yards and is clearly the only option the 49ers feel comfortable relying on.
5 Quick Fire Round 5 QBs
This is a week I highly recommend you wait on QB for: my top 2 ranked Quarterbacks of the week (Mahomes and Rivers) both played on Thursday Night Football. That should leave you with these 5 options, that all have differing upside.
Deshaun Watson is facing off against a Jets team that has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, making him a fantastic stack with Hopkins (mentioned above) for big play potential.
Jared Goff will be available likely all the way to the end,after the worst performance of his short career in Week 14. The Eagles,however, have allowed the 2nd most passing yards this season and the 3rd most fantasy points over the last two weeks. Stack that with the QB8 on the season, and a likely high time of possession for the Rams and I see no reason to fade.
Andrew Luck continues to prove that volume is king: he’s thrown for at least 37 attempts in his last 3 games, and over 30 times in 10 of his 14 games, while performing as QB7. He’s thrown for at least 3 touchdowns in 6 of his 14 games, and of at least 340 yards in 2 of his last 3 games. Dallas isn’t a great match-up but they’ve allowed the 16th most passing yards and 9th most passing touchdowns over the last 4 games-so they’re beatable.
Lamar Jackson has finished as QB14, QB11, and QB15 since taking over for Flacco. This week, at home, he gets the Buccaneers-who have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Vegas pegs this game at 46.5, a high total compared to Baltimore’s usual lines, with an implied total for the Ravens of 26; that’s enough upside for a round 5 pick for me.
Mitch Trubisky gets a beaten-up Packers defense in Week 15;who have allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the last 4 weeks. Even with 2 weeks missed, Trubisky is QB15 on the season; and will likely be faded because of two weak performances against the Rams and Vikings. Trubisky, however, has 4 games with over 300 passing yards this season, and 5 games with more than 40 rushing yards, including 4 total rushing touchdowns.