Lineup Prep: Week 15

2017-12-13 08:53:55
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Rivers is red hot right now

Well, if you are reading this, congrats. This means you likely made the playoffs and have a chance to win your league title. This is a great achievement and you should be proud of this accomplishment. Just remember, now that you are in, anything can happen. The best regular season team doesn't always win. Hopefully, your team gets hot at the right time and makes a run in the playoffs. Good luck. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

The loss of Carson Wentz is devastating to the Eagles and all his fantasy owners. It is going to be a hard one to overcome all around. Plus, you have to factor in his teammates, which are impacted with him out of the lineup. The entire receiving corps is adversely impacted going forward. Nick Foles will do his best but he isn't Carson Wentz. The only positive for fantasy owners might be the trio of backs for the Eagles. The Eagles could rely on a very good running game more going forward, giving these backs a slight boost the rest of the fantasy season. It is a shame to see a young star like this hurt right before the playoffs are about to start.

So how do you replace Wentz for this week? Well, if you don't have a viable backup, I would consider guys like Blake Bortles, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jay Cutler. I think all three will put up decent numbers this week and could help lessen the sting of the loss of Wentz. These guys aren't going to be elite options, though, so hopefully the rest of your team can pick up the slack in Week 15.

I think I said the same thing last year at this time but Russell Wilson is some kind of talent. He is producing at a huge clip right now for fantasy teams, making all his owners tough ones to beat as the fantasy playoffs open. Wilson has already set an NFL record for a season with 17 fourth quarter touchdowns. He comes up big when everything is one the line. I would be thrilled if I had Wilson in my lineup as the fantasy playoffs are about to open.

Another guy I am really impressed by right now is Kenyan Drake. You can see now why the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi. Drake is the real deal. He can make plays between the tackles, on the outside and in the passing game. He is the complete package. He also has big-time moves in space. If you haven't watched him yet this year, do yourself a favor and check out a Dolphins game before the season is out. He is a fantasy player on the rise, capable of being an elite fantasy back.

Hopefully, we don't have any star players get hurt early in games this week. It was a killer for all the Alvin Kamara owners to see him go out with a concussion early in his game last week. Injuries happen, but when they happen to one of the best fantasy players in the game at the start of a game, that spells trouble for all his owners. Let's hope the first week of the playoffs is filled good health.

The Chargers offense is rolling right now. They are another team full of players I would be happy to have on my fantasy roster for the playoffs. Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry are all on their games right now. This offense is very potent and can put up a ton of points and yards on a weekly basis. The Chargers offense is clicking at the right time for fantasy teams.

Tom Brady sure came up big for his fantasy owners last week, right? We all saw that coming, seeing Jay Cutler outscore Brady in the game. It is pretty clear that Brady likes to have Rob Gronkowski in the offense. Plus, the Dolphins did a masterful job of getting physical with the Patriots receivers, which was a great game plan. The Patriots don't have the biggest group of receivers, so pressing them on the line might be the game plan to stopping this offense going forward. This might be a reason why the Patriots signed Kenny Britt, a big, physical receiver. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots can rebound from last week and get it rolling again.

We talk about the good but how about the bad this year. I have two things that stand out to me when it comes to the bad. First, it is Marcus Mariota. I really thought he was going to have a huge season and take that leap to elite fantasy quarterback. He hasn't been near that this year. In fact, I think he has taken a step backwards from last year. I didn't see this coming at all with Mariota. My also big disappointment is the entire Raiders offense. These guys are all failing to live up to preseason hype. Derek Carr is 18th in fantasy quarterback scoring. Ouch. Michael Crabtree has been alright, but Amari Cooper has been a disaster. And Marshawn Lynch is producing better of late, but still not coming near his preseason projections. Lynch is 27th overall in fantasy running back scoring.

News and Notes: Free agent kicker returner and receiver Devin Hester officially announced his retirement Tuesday. Hester ends his career with14 punt-return touchdowns and five kickoff-return scores. . . . .The Patriots signed recently released receiver Kenny Britt on Tuesday. Britt signed a two-year deal with the Patriots and will look to make an impact with the team down the stretch.

HOT PLAYS

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins. Drake is red hot for fantasy teams, having two straight 100-yard games. He amassed 193 total yards last week against the Patriots. Drake is sixth in fantasy running back scoring his last three games. He is a dual threat that is making big plays on a weekly basis. He is looking like the franchise back for the Dolphins for years to come. Drake has a matchup to continue his strong play this week against the Bills. Buffalo does very well against the pass but struggles to stop the rush. The Bills are 27th against the run, allowing 123.7-rushing yards per game.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. Roethilsberger threw for more than 500 yards last week against a team that had not allowed a 300-yard passer all season. He is first overall in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three games. He has multiple scores five straight games and two four-touchdown games during that stretch. He is playing great football right now and should continue that against the Patriots in Week 15. New England allowed Jay Cutler to throw three touchdowns against them last week. The Patriots are 29th against the pass and allow the eighth most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens. Collins has clearly emerged as the lead back for the Ravens and is taking advantage of his chances. He is fifth in fantasy running back scoring his last three games and up to 21st overall for the season. Collins has touchdowns four straight games and coming off his second 100-yard game of the season last week. Collins should keep his hot ways this week against the Browns, a team that allowed 165-rushing yards to the Chiefs last week.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons. Sanu had one of his best games of the season last week, finishing with six receptions for 83 yards and a score. He has scores four of seven games. He has been a consistent red-zone target for the Falcons and getting a few more weekly receptions of late, adding to his value. Sanu plays the Bucs, a team he had eight receptions against just three weeks back. Tampa allows the most fantasy points to receivers and are dead last against the pass, allowing 276-passing yards per game.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Rivers is playing his best football of the season right now. He has three straight 300-yard games and is fourth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three games. Rivers has multiple scores four of five games. He plays the Chiefs this week, a team that allows the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Chiefs are just 28th overall against the pass.

COLD PLAYS

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals. Dalton had a string of good games until last week, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. He had four straight multiple touchdown games before that showing. Dalton gets another tough test this week against the Vikings, a team that allows the sixth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Minnesota ranks fifth overall against the pass, allowing just 205-passing yards per game.

Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins. Stills was red hot until last week, catching just two passes for 18 yards against the Patriots. He has been up and down much of the season, though, serving as the No. 3 receiver for the Dolphins. Stills is more of a matchup play than a weekly starter. And a matchup against the Bills isn't a great one for Stills. The Bills can't stop the run but shutdown the pass, allowing the third fewest fantasy points to receivers for the season.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants. Darkwa is the clear No. 1 back for the Giants, having double-digit carries six straight games. Unfortunately, his production hasn't been good despite the work. He has fewer than 35-rushing yards three straight games. Darkwa was worth some spot starts just a few weeks back but that isn't the case anymore, especially this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia allows the fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers. Williams is playing some great football right now, having 95 or more total yards four straight games. He is the lead back for the Packers and getting a lot of work in that role. The likely return of Aaron Rodgers clouds things a little for Williams, though. The Packers could move back to a more pass-heavy offense with Rodgers back at the helm. And a matchup against the Panthers is a concern for Williams. Carolina is third against he rush and allows the sixth fewest fantasy points to running backs. Williams could cool off in Week 15.

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs. Smith looked back to his old ways Week 13 but that didn't carry over to last week. He didn't play bad but failed to score a touchdown. Smith has one or no scores three of his last four games. He is a hard guy for fantasy teams to trust right now with his recent production. Things probably don't get any easier for him this week against the Chargers, a team that allows the fourth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. San Diego ranks third against the pass, allowing 200-passing yards per game.

SLEEPERS

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Stewart has suddenly become fantasy relevant once again. He had a huge three-touchdown game last week and has touchdown three straight games. He also has 100-yard games two of three. He is never a sure thing because of his erratic yardage totals but he has been more consistent lately, which is encouraging. He has a favorable matchup for Week 15, playing the Packers. Green Bay allows the sixth most fantasy points to running backs. Stewart has a good chance to find the end zone once again.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. Foles gets his chance to lead the Eagles high-powered offense the rest of this year. He has started in the past and produced well at times. Foles knows this offense and seems a good fit for what they are trying to do. He has some potential in the right matchup. And this week is a good one for him. Foles plays the Giants, a team that allows the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks. New York is 31st against the pass, allowing 266-passing yards per game.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars. Cole is starting to get more work in the Jaguars passing attack. He has touchdowns two straight and at least two receptions seven straight games. He has been a top big-play threat for the Jaguars and should get more chances to stretch the field in Week 15. The Jaguars play the Texans, a team that is 26th overall against the pass. Cole is worth a look as a No. 3 receiver in this matchup.

Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks. Davis has become the No. 1 back for the Seahawks, getting most of the work at running back the last few weeks. Davis has 31 carries his last two games and at least 64-rushing yards in each of those games. His numbers aren't off the charts but decent. He has a chance for season highs this week against the Rams. Los Angeles has struggled to stop the rush this year, allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. The Rams rank 28th against the run, giving up 124.1-rushing yards per game.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints. Ginn has been quiet the last few weeks, having four receptions for 37 yards his last two games. They were tough matchups against two good pass defenses, facing the Panthers and Falcons. Remember, he had 13 receptions the two games before those duds. Ginn is capable of the big game any week in this offense. Don't be surprised if one of those happens this week against the Jets. New York allows the seventh most fantasy points to receivers for the season.

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Chargers/Chiefs, Eagles/Giants, Cardinals/Redskins, Rams/Seahawks, Patriots/Steelers, Falcons/Bucs.

Low Scoring Games: Ravens/Browns.

jeff@rtsports.com