Well, we made it. If you are reading this column today, then that means congratulations are very well in order for you, as you more than likely have survived long enough to have a chance to play this week in your league’s Fantasy Bowl. It’s takes a lot of skill, and more than a little luck to get this far in fantasy football. I myself had only one of my two top-ranked teams survive last week, and one of them was purely due to someone I grabbed off the report last week. My team that didn’t make it past last week lost by 0.55 points, in what turned out to be a tough one to swallow. I won’t go into all of the details of the bad luck that conspired keep this team from glory, it is enough to just list the names of the culprits: Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, Danario Alexander, Lawrence Tynes and me. Yeah, I am on the list as well because I inserted Alexander in my lineup and took out Eric Decker. It’s a quirky league that doesn’t have a true flex, but let’s you start 3RB/2WR if you like. I went with that alignment and sent Decker to the bench. As they say, the rest is history. But, thankfully I have one more team alive for the big prize, so I’ll once again look to the wire this week to upgrade where I can and look for a defense and K to plug in as I have been doing all year with my lone surviving squad. Good luck to you and all your teams this week.
Russell Wilson, SEA – If you’ve been a regular reader of this column and you had quarterback issues heading into the playoffs, hopefully you already had Wilson in reserve prior to last week’s 4 touchdown explosion against the Bills. Yes, he has a tough matchup against San Francisco this week, but with the way he has been playing, he still rates as a low-end QB1 this week.
Sam Bradford, STL – Bradford didn’t disappoint last week, delivering his best game of the season at home against the Vikings. This week he will travel to Tampa Bay, home of the league’s most generous pass defense. Danny Amendola should be one week healthier, making it even easier for Bradford to have another big fantasy day. I’m not sure I would want to trust my season to him, but if I was in a two-QB league I wouldn’t hesitate to throw him out there again.
Nick Foles, PHI – We warned you last week that Foles would face a tougher assignment against the Bengals, and sure enough he didn’t come close to matching his Week 14 output. But this is another week, and the Eagles are at home against the Redskins. The Redskins are a defense we have advocated picking on all season, and we’re not going to back off that now. Foles is a good bounce back candidate this week.
Kirk Cousins, WAS – The fourth-round rookie stepped in for an injured Robert Griffin III, and promptly showed that he was more than capable of having success in this league. We still don’t know at this point if RG3 will suit up this week, so you could do worse than turn to his backup if he can’t go.
Greg McElroy, NYJ – The Mark Sanchez era is finally over, much too late to save the Jets season. It seems like Rex Ryan is going to hand the ball to McElroy to be the starter, but the fans will be calling for Tim Tebow, who I expect will get more than the one series he did last week.
Week 15 Update:
Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill took advantage of the first of two juicy match-ups so if you grabbed him last week in a two-QB league, you might want to see if he can duplicate last week’s numbers against the Bills.
Brandon Weeden, CLE – The Browns rookie didn’t rise to the occasion last week, tossing a pair of interceptions and struggling to get the ball to his receivers. A long bomb to Travis Benjamin salvaged the day. With Denver and Pittsburgh to close out the season, there is no reason to hang onto him any longer.
Curtis Brinkley, SD – Ryan Mathews got hurt yet again, suffering his second broken collarbone of the year. This guy is Mr. Glass. The Chargers will likely employ a committee of three the rest of the way, but Brinkley will likely serve as the de-facto starter, and early down back. Ronnie Brown will be in the mix on passing downs and veteran Jackie Battle will get some short-yardage work. But the smart pickup, this week is Brinkley. He is better used on your bench as depth, but if you are desperate he should get 10-plus carries this week.
Mark Ingram, NO – Ingram has been a favorite whipping boy of anyone who has invested in him the last two years, but there are signs that he is finally settling into his role in this offense. It doesn’t hurt that he is finally getting double-digit carries on a consistent basis, because he is truly a volume runner. Like many of the names here this week, it’s tough to trust a guy sharing carries, but if you are going to go that route for your flex, at least go with the goal-line guy on an explosive offense.
Dexter McCluster, KC – The injury to Dwayne Bowe figured to open some targets for other players to step up and become fantasy relevant. While we speculated that it might be Jon Baldwin, but instead it was the diminutive RB/WR who led the team in receptions (7) and yards. He specializes in short, quick routes, so expect Stanzi to look his way often on Sunday. He is unlikely to register any carries, so don’t count on him as more than a desperation flex-play.
Danny Woodhead, NE – You just gotta love a player like Woodhead in real life, but for fantasy I just can’t stand players like this. You never know how involved he’s going to be in the offense, and that just makes him a shaky bet at production in any given week. His explosion last week came as the Patriots were frantically playing catch-up, getting Woodhead on the field in the hurry-up offense. Do you see the Patriots falling behind the Jaguars by multiple touchdowns this week? Me neither.
Mike Tolbert, CAR – Tolbert was kind of a surprise name to emerge last week, punching in a pair of short touchdowns against the Chargers. Usually the Panthers give Cam Newton those easy TD’s, so it will be interesting to see if Tolbert will get the same opportunities this week. It makes sense to let him earn his paycheck, while keeping the franchise QB healthy. Carolina gets the Raiders this week, and with Jonathan Stewart still side-lined Tolbert is a sneaky flex start this week.
Ben Tate, HOU – Justin Forsett is banged up, leaving Tate as the clear backup to Arian Foster to end the season. The Texans are still playing for home field advantage this week, but if they wrap it up, Tate will likely get a lot of work in Week 17, if your league still has their championship that week.
Lamar Miller, MIA – Like Tate above, the Dolphins rookie could get a lot of work the next two weeks as the primary backup to Reggie Bush, thanks to an injury to Daniel Thomas. The Dolphins need to see what they have in Miller since Bush will be a free agent after the season. He is another name that could get a big run in Week 17.
Mike Goodson, OAK – Goodson came up big last week, totaling 103 yards against the lowly Chiefs. It puts him back on the radar, but the Panthers defense will not provide the same opportunity for success this week.
Week 15 Update:
David Wilson, NYG – Wilson tanked along with the rest of the Giants last week, and Ahmad Bradshaw has vowed to return to action this week. Even if he does, Wilson will still be the more explosive player and the better fantasy start. The Giants will be in must-win mode and I expect a bounce-back game this week for Wilson. I’d flex him if I had him this week.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Moreno kept the ball rolling against the Ravens last week, and should be able to deliver another useful start this week at home against the Browns. He’s become quite the late season hero for those owners smart enough to grab him after Willis McGahee went down.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR – Okay, after two straight weeks of solid production, I guess I have to psoften my stance on Williams with the Raiders coming to town. I still would rather use him as a flex, and have to admit he’s a pretty good one this week.
Bryce Brown, PIT - That’s two straight stinkers from Brown, so his owners will be loathe to start him again this week. LeSean McCoy has been cleared to play, but the Eagles have no reason to rush him back to action. If Brown helped get you to the playoffs, you may have no choice but to plug him in again this week. I think he should be able to have moderate success this week and avoid a third clunker.
Jacoby Jones, BAL – Torrey Smith got his bell rung last week, and looks very iffy for this week’s game. That will open the door for Jones to step in as the No. 2 receiver against a Giants defense that can be beat through the air. If you are looking for a flier to fill out your roster this week, Jones might be the best of the bunch in deeper leagues.
Brandon Gibson, STL – Gibson has benefitted from the schedule the last two weeks, catching 12 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown over that span. The cards are stacked in his favor again this week with the Bucs and their terrible pass defense giving him a great chance to be productive again this week.
Harry Douglas, ATL – Douglas emerged from the shadows to catch 3 passes for a season-high 83 yards last week. The Falcons have already clinched the division, and it seems logical they will not push Roddy White and his injured knee any harder than they need to the next two weeks. If White is a guy you rely on, you might want to add Douglas in case White doesn’t play this week.
Leonard Hankerson, WAS – Hankerson teased us here in the report early in the season, and then promptly disappeared for weeks. He will get noticed thanks to his 2 TD day last week, and if Cousins gets the start again, I guess you could take a shot that the two will connect again. I personally would look for safer options.
Greg Little, CLE – Mr. Drops has been playing much better the last few weeks, actually catching the balls that are being thrown to him. Maybe you want to take a chance in a PPR format, but I don’t love the matchup against a tough Denver secondary.
Joe Morgan, NO – Morgan is a name to file away for next season, as he continues to show his game-breaking ability in the season’s last few weeks. He seems poised to take over the deep-threat role for the Saints next year, and that my friends always has value.
DeVier Posey, HOU – The Texans finally decided to get their third-round rookie involved the last couple weeks, and he has shown enough promise that those in dynasty or keeper leagues might want to speculate and add him to their bench heading into the off-season.
Braylon Edwards, NYJ – Edwards was claimed off the scrap-heap by the Jets and he immediately became their most trusted receiver in his first game back with the team. That’s statement pretty much sums up the state of the Jets passing game this year.
Travis Benjamin, CLE – The speedy rookie displayed his speed with a 69-yard connection, where he just ran past an uninterested Redskins secondary in garbage time. He’s a player to keep an eye on in the future.
Randy Moss, SF – Moss scored a touchdown last week, but you just can’t trust it will happen again. He’s worth more to the Niners than he is to anyone chasing a fantasy title this week.
Week 15 Update:
Josh Gordon, CLE – Gordon came up small last week, but he still remains the Browns best bet for a receiving touchdown in any given week. Peyton Manning will have the Browns in comeback mode early, so Gordon will have a chance to reward owners who stick with him this week.
Rod Streater, OAK – Streater seems to have overtaken Darrius Heyward-Bey in the pecking order, and has been more reliable than Denarius Moore of late as well. The Panthers D has been hot, which is just enough to pour a little ice-water on Streater. Still, He’s another name to file away for next year.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery had a day to forget with three offensive pass interference penalties that wiped out all of his production, including a TD. He looks like the WR2 of the future in Chicago, but you just can’t trust that anymore this year.
Dennis Pitta, BAL – Wow. That’s all I can say. Pitta singlehandedly saved one of my playoff teams last week after I grabbed him and started him over Jermaine Gresham at the last minute. I was correct in predicting that the Ravens would get him more involved, but his monster 7 catch, 125 yard 2 touchdowns were an early Christmas present. This week he gets the Giants, and without Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco will again look to his TE to produce. I am riding him again this week.
Brent Celek, PHI –Celek will return to action from his concussion this week, and gets to face a Redskins defense that has been good to TE’s this season. He’s worth a look in 2 TE leagues this week.
Lance Kendricks, STL – I don’t think Kendricks has cracked the report so far this season, but he is yeat another player on the Rams who has taken advantage of an easy schedule to at least deliver usuable stats in deeper leagues.
Week 15 Updates:
Tony Scheffler, DET – Scheffler was more a victim of Matthew Stafford’s ineffectiveness last week, but he did get the targets we said he would. The Lions receivers are a wasteland after Calvin Johnson, so if you are scrambling for a TE who will get the ball thrown his way this week, than Scheffler is worth looking at.
Ben Watson, CLE – Watson won’t put up big yardage numbers, but he could be a decent play in touchdown heavy leagues this week against a Broncos team that is susceptible to the TE in close.
Jets – The Chargers looked like they have quit playing for Norv Turner, and the Jets defense can still make some noise.
Colts – The Colts will get the chance to welcome Ricky Stanzi to the NFL, and that means a great shot at taking advantage of the many mistakes that are sure to come.
Dan Bailey, DAL – I like Bailey at home this week in a must win game against the high-scoring Saints. If I can get a K who doesn’t have to worry about the elements in Week 16, all the better.