The Fantasy Cover 4 – Week 15
While everyone drafts to pick the best available players at a position for the entire year, week-to-week there are always matchups to exploit and matchups to avoid. I’ve got you covered. Welcome to Start ‘Em Up and Shut ‘Em Down.
This is where you find out what matchups to jump on and which ones you may want to pass on.
(General Rule: ALWAYS start your stud players*. For everyone outside of that, follow the matchups)
Start ‘Em Up
Ben Roethlisberger: he’s thrown for 785 yards and 5 TDs the past 2 weeks, and looks to be hitting playoff stride. Getting a matchup with the league’s worst pass defense is a made-to-order Fantasy Playoff start. The Falcons give up 288 YPG passing (dead last) and a brutal 8.2 YPA (also dead last). Ben should have all day to throw as well, as the Atlanta pass rush has managed just 15 sacks this season – you guessed it – dead last.
Philip Rivers: he should be quite relieved not to have to look at the Patriots corners blanketing his receivers this week. With RB Ryan Mathews likely out, its going to be on Rivers to get it done offensively for the Chargers this week. In Denver Week 8, Rivers threw for 252 yards and 3 TDs without Mathews. Should be something close to the same results this week, good numbers for Rivers in a loss.
Matt Ryan: Ryan has thrown at least 39 passes in each of his last 4 games, and has 6 TDs the last 2 weeks. Pittsburgh D – well, they aren’t the Steelers of years past. The Steelers are 23rd in the NFL in pass D (248 YPG) tied for 24th in INTs with only 8 on the season, and they are giving up a whopping 8.0 YPA (29th). Even without Julio Jones, Ryan should put up good numbers this week.
Mark Ingram: Redemption, thy name is Chicago. Ingram flopped hard last week (just like the rest of his teammates) when they had a chance to seize control in the division. He gets a Bears D that is 16th in the NFl in rushing D, allowing 112.3 YPG, but don’t let the number fool you. They just got torn up for 179 yards by DeMarco Murray, and that was a week after giving up 91 yards and 2 TDs to Joique Bell. The Bears are fortunate to have teams like Tampa bay and Minnesota on their schedule that have no running games. Saints need to get back to balance on offense, and that means Ingram getting the rock. Here’s no RBBC here, so expect a strong bounce back.
CJ Anderson: Ronnie Hillman is not likely to play this week, which makes Anderson the man in Denver this week. The Broncos aren’t afraid to feed him at the goal line (3TDs last week). While San Diego’s run D is solid (14th, 108.4 YPG) whoever the starting back is in Denver with that offense is always a good play…unless its Montee Ball.
Justin Forsett: This is why, unlike in fantasy, Rbs are devalued in the NFL. Forsett has climbed the depth chart due to suspension, injury and ineffectiveness, and despite not getting more than 14 carries in a game until Week 7, already has 1080 yards and 8 TDs. He’s gone over 100 in 3 of last 4 and scored 5 TDs in that span. The Jaguars 28th ranked run D (132.5 YPG) will be like having Thanksgiving dinner all over again.
DeAndre Hopkins: the Texans will be without Andre Johnson this week, so look for Hopkins to be a target machine this week against the Colts 22nd ranked pass D (247 YPG). Hopkins has 90 targets on the season, 2nd to Johnsons 115. The next highest targeted WR: Damaris Johnson with 36. Hopkins and Arian Foster will be asked to carry the load big time
T.Y. Hilton: Hilton absolutely owns the Texans. In 5 career games vs Houston, he has 31 receptions for 611 yards and 6 TDs. He blew Houston up for 223 yards and a TD Week 6. Andrew Luck’s favorite receiver will continue to feast as the Colts look to lock up the AFC South this week.
Alshon Jeffery: He will be Jay Cutler’s favorite target for the rest of the season with Brandon Marshall on IR. He’s scored in 4 straight games, and facing the Saints’ 29th ranked pass D (265 YPG) shouldn’t challenge him much. He’s only 51 yards from 1000 on the season.
Coby Fleener: Fleener has been targeted at least 7 times in 4 of the past 5 weeks, and is the Colts’ 2nd leading receiver with 650 yards. The Texans do not cover TE’s well, and are 28th in the league in pass D (264 YPG). He’s a very good start this week.
Greg Olsen: Derek Anderson starts for the Panthers at QB this week against the Bucs. Anderson also started Week 1 in Tampa Bay, and went 24/34 for 230 yards and 2 TDs, one of which went to Olsen. Olsen was targeted 11 times that day, and had 8 receptions for 83 yards as well. Expect much of the same this week vs Tampa’s 24th ranked pass D (249 YPG)
Martellus Bennett: The Black Unicorn figures to be heavily involved in the passing game with Brandon Marshall out for the rest of the year. He’s been rejuvenated of late, with 20 receptions for 193 yards and a TD in the past 2 games. The Saints are abysmal against the pass this year (29th – 265 YPG). Bennett will be Cutler’s #2 option for the rest of the season.
Shut ‘Em Down
Andy Dalton: Last time Dalton faced the Browns, he had the worst game of his career, throwing for 86 yards and 3 INTs. However, he wasn’t much better against the Browns last year either, going a combined 36/69 for 299 yards 3 TD 3 INT. Dalton just has trouble with the Browns recently. In his last 5 road games, Dalton has not passed for more than 233 yards. The Browns’ 9th ranked pass D (231 YPG) should give him trouble again.
Mark Sanchez: is the bloom off the rose? Chip Kelly’s “QB Proof” offense wasn’t so spectacular at home against the Seahawks last week, when Sanchez amassed only 96 yards passing. Week 13 in Dallas, Sanchez threw for 217 yards and a TD, and ran for another in a romp. The rushing TD was the outlier, though, and 217 yards and 1 TD won’t win you fantasy playoff games.
Ryan Tannehill: QBs that aren’t top 6 guys should be sat vs the Patriots D right now. Tannehill is not now, nor will he ever be confused with a top 6 QB. Don’t even think about this one. New England is holding opposing QB’s to a 58.7% completion rate (3rd in NFL) – expect him to struggle this week
Rashad Jennings: The Giants have said they will limit his workload this week. That’s an automatic no-no in fantasy playoffs right there. The Redskins 10th ranked run D is too good to start a guy who won’t necessarily get the lion’s share of the carries in what is the semifinal week in most leagues.
Frank Gore: The 49ers are a dysfunctional mess on offense. It’s really amazing how much they have regressed. In the last 3 weeks, Gore has gotten 13, 10, and 12 carries. He has only 2 TDs on the season and the Niners continue to misuse him. The Seahawks are peaking right now. Avoid.
Giovani Bernard: He is another guy who finds himself on the short side of a platoon. With Jeremy Hill getting the bigger end of the carries, Bernard is a very risky fantasy play against the Browns since bernard’s value will come in the passing game and Dalton has struggled last 3 games vs Cleveland.
Michael Crabtree: he has 14 targets last week against the Raiders, and caught 9 of them. Somehow, he finished with 56 yards and no scores. That’s pathetic. No Niners are worth starting this week in Seattle.
Wes Welker: With the Broncos expected to have all of their top 3 passing weapons available this week (D. Thomas, Sanders, J. Thomas) Welker will once again be on the outside looking in. PPR leaguers who are desperate can hope for some short passes but standards leaguers should avoid.
Reggie Wayne: Maybe his triceps injury is more severe than the team is letting on, but his production has fallen off a cliff the past 3 weeks. Facing the Jaguars, Redskins, and Browns, Wayne has a total of 8 catches for 46 yards. Yes, that’s combined. He’s a very risky play.
Owen Daniels: Has exactly 2 catches in each of the past 4 games. Maybe Gary Kubiak doesn’t like him anymore, but it’s very strange to see a Kubiak offense not feature it’s TE. Maybe it’s the end of the line for OD.
Jordan Cameron: If you are hoping that he will somehow regain last season’s form, forget it. There’s no way to know how he will be used with Johnny Manziel making his first career start. Outside of Week 6 vs Pittsburgh, Cameron has not even had 50 yards receiving in a game.
Vernon Davis: see Crabtree, Michael. No Niners worth starting this week, especially a guy who hasn’t topped 50 yards receiving in a game all year and hasn’t scored since Week 1.
Week 15 Top 5’s
Andrew Luck – Ind (vs Hou)
Drew Brees – NO (@ Chi)
Peyton Manning – Den (@ SD)
Aaron Rodgers – GB (@ Buf)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pit (@ Atl)
Le’Veon Bell – Pit (@ Atl)
Arian Foster – Hou (@ Ind)
Matt Forte – Chi (vs NO)
DeMarco Murray – Dal (@ Phi)
Jamaal Charles – KC (vs Oak)
Antonio Brown – Pit (@ Atl)
T.Y. Hilton – Ind (vs Hou)
Alshon Jeffery – Chi (vs NO)
Demaryius Thomas – Den (@ SD)
Calvin Johnson – Det (vs Min)
Jimmy Graham – NO (@ Chi)
Rob Gronkowski – NE (vs Mia)
Julius Thomas – Den (@ SD)
Martellus Bennett – Chi (vs NO)
Greg Olsen – Car (vs TB)
QB: Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers, Luck, Brady
RB: Charles, McCoy, Forte, Lynch, Murray, Bell, Foster
WR: A. Brown, Bryant, AJ Green, C. Johnson, Marshall, Nelson, D. Thomas, Julio Jones
TE: Graham, Gronkowski, J. Thomas, Gates
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1