Week 15 2017
PHI (24) @ NYG (16.5)
Obviously, the Eagles are no longer a Super Bowl favorite after Wentz went down last week with a torn ACL. This is crushing for us Philly fans, and I can’t help but think of that scene from Tommy Boy where the titular character demonstrates how he constantly crushes his hopes with a dinner roll. Wentz going down is the Philly dinner roll getting annihilated. Regardless, let’s dive into what we can with Foles. He came in while the Eagles were down, and Pederson promptly went very pass-heavy. On the last 3 drives combined, he had 12 pass plays called (13 if you want to count that broken play with the Foles fumble, but I’m going to stick with 12 moving forward), which was good enough for a 59:41 run:pass split. If we look at only the last drive, this flips drastically to 1:5 though. I’m not sure how much we can take from this though, as being ultra conservative in that spot makes sense. While Jeffery did return to practice on Friday, that doesn’t exactly give him a lot of reps with Foles under center. Ertz will also be good to go here as he passed the concussion protocol, and we know that TEs are a huge part of this offensive plan. We also know that the Giants get ravaged by TEs, especially since Landon Collins, the Giants’ current best secondary player, is very doubtful for this one. This pass defense was hurting already, and losing him will be another big blow. You also get Ertz at a nice little discount, both price and ownership-wise, so I don’t mind having exposure to him. In general, I think that there are two things that could potentially happen here – Foles gets very limited throws in just because he doesn’t have to throw at all, or Pederson decides to exorcise Foles’ Fisher demons and get his confidence up by letting him throw a lot against a terrible secondary. My money is on the first option, but I don’t think the second is completely out of the question, especially in this rivalry.
After Foles came in, Ajayi was the only RB to have any carries – 9 by my count – with 5 coming on the final drive when they were up as noted above. Thus, assuming that they don’t let Foles toss TDs all game to further make Fisher look like the worst QB coach of all time (which he might be anyway), I think that they will give it to Ajayi a lot here. While Snacks Harrison continues to be a lone bright spot for the Giants, they have now allowed a RB to eclipse 100 yards and 19 DK points in 3 straight games. And these RBs are not exactly the best backs in the game. Case in point, Rod Smith just put up 160 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs on them last week.
I get that this is a divisional rivalry played in NY, but I’m really not sure how the Giants will score against Philly’s elite defense. The pass rush is going to tear through their line and eat Manning alive. The Giants best lineman grades out as “Average” with 2 other as “Below Average” and the final 2 as “Poor” per PFF. The Eagles worst lineman is “Average” with one “Above Average” and 2 – Cox and Graham – graded as “Elite.”
Shepard gets the toughest match-up out of the slot against Robinson who continues to be a top-3 CB on the year, and both of the outside WRs are back-up level. And injured. Someone could have a good game because anyone can hypothetically have a good game on any given Sunday, but I prefer to take less risky gambles.
CIN (15.5) @ MIN (26.5)
LT Riley Reiff returned to practice on Friday, but unfortunately for the Vikings’ o-line, he is still listed as doubtful. Regardless of his status, Murray has averaged over 17 touches per game since Week 8, and he is 5th in the league with 33 RZ rushes on the year. His match-up got even better with both starting LBs, Kevin Minter and Vontaze Burfict, out for the Bengals. Over the past two weeks, the Bengals run defense has just collapsed as they have given up 31.5 and 32.2 points to Howard and Bell respectively. Between the soft match-up, Murray’s usage, and game script, he is in a great spot here and will see very low ownership. I’m going to have a lot of exposure here.
Rudolph sat out again on Friday and has subsequently been ruled out for Sunday. This is obviously huge news for Diggs and Thielen as this should filter an additional 6-8 targets their way. As we saw last week when both Jones and Kirkpatrick were out, the Bengals’ secondary is incredibly vulnerable as they let Trubisky have easily his best game of the year. While we know that both Diggs and Thielen could have absolute field days here, I will be heavier on Thielen due to how Diggs has become more of an afterthought under Keenum. It is also worth noting that Chicago’s slot receiver put up 10-107-0 on them last week.
Mixon is still in the concussion protocol, so Gio might get another start here. His price is all the way up at $5300 this week, and I think that will scare a lot of people off. In last week’s losing effort, he did see 8 targets, however, so he does have a solid floor. Overall, I probably won’t go here since there are so many RBs I like for just a few hundred more, but I don’t hate the idea of going back to the well.
Green clearly has a very difficult match-up against Rhodes here, but Funchess put up 3-59-1 against him last week, and Green has had 29 (!!!!) targets over his previous two weeks. Green’s price is only at $6500 and he will see sub 10% ownership, so I think he makes for a very interesting contrarian option. None of the other Cincy pass-catchers are worth mentioning, and I do think the Minnesota defense is in play.
HOU (13.25) @ JAX (24.75)
Fournette didn’t practice again on Friday due to his quad injury, so he is looking very doubtful to play. The Jaguars did play him earlier in the season after he sat out practice all week, however, so there is still the chance that he suits up here. Regardless of whether he plays or not, I don’t really think I want any of the Jags’ run game here since the Texans are just so bad against the pass.
Hurns has already been ruled out for this one as well, so it will continue to be Lee, Westbrook, and Cole in on 3-WR sets. Lee gets the toughest match-up against Joseph on the right side, but both Westbrook and Cole have extremely exploitable match-ups against Johnson and Jackson respectively. Kareem Jackson is the 93rd-ranked CB, while Kevin Johnson is all the way down at 120th, which is literally dead last in the league. Cole has only seen 6 targets over his past 2 weeks, but he has certainly made the most of them as he has scored a TD in each game. I probably won’t go here due to his lack of involvement, but if the Texans can somehow put points on the board and force the Jags to keep throwing, he is a sleeper option. Westbrook, on the other hand, has averaged 9 targets per game across his last 3 and still only costs $5100. I absolutely think that he is in play, and Bortles is probably my favorite cheap-ish QB option on the week.
Hopkins missed practice again on Friday, but is expected to play regardless on Sunday. He has seen an amazing 40 targets over his previous 3 games (!!!). He obviously has an incredibly difficult match-up, but he is another WR that will see double-digit targets that you can get at a price and ownership discount. Personally, I prefer Green at the further discount, but we did see AB put up 28.7 DK points on this secondary earlier in the year, so I don’t hate having exposure to Hopkins.
I haven’t thought about rostering Miller in months and won’t start again here. JAX is clearly a premier defensive option this week – as they are every week.
ARI (18.75) @ WAS (22.75)
Josh Norman returned to practice on Thursday, so I’m fully expecting him to suit up this week. This doesn’t factor all that much into Fitz’s matchup because, as we know, Norman exclusively plays the right side and Fitz lines up there only 19% of the time regardless. Thus, this will put Norman on JJ Nelson for most of the day (while John Brown did return to limited practice this week, he has already been ruled out). Regardless, Fitz will see Fuller for most of his day, and this still isn’t a great matchup as Fuller has allowed only the second-lowest QB rating on the season among slot corners. In general, Gabbert is in a lot of trouble here as he has taken 15 sacks over his previous 2 games combined, and the WAS DST is probably my favorite on the week due to the conflux of price, ownership, and sneaky good spot that they are in.
AP is now on the IR due to his neck injury, so we can expect Kerwynn Williams to continue to be the Cardinals’ bell cow moving forward (he has averaged 19 carries per week over his last two). While WAS does grade out 20th against the run currently, they have been much stronger at times. Overall, I don’t hate the idea of having some exposure to Williams since he will probably see another 20ish touches at only $4000, but I don’t think the ARI offense will have much luck in general against the Washington defense.
Over his previous 4 games, Perine has averaged almost 22 touches per game, and their newly acquired 3rd-down back, Byron Marshall, just went down last week. This means that Perine will have all of the touches he can handle at only $4800. While ARI is a very strong 3rd against the run, I think having exposure to Perine makes a lot of sense in GPPs. He will likely see multiple opportunities at the goal line and will see a decent chunk of passing work as well at very low ownership. I think it’s also going to be hard for the Washington WRs to have a good day here as, like I mentioned last week, Arizona has tightened up against the pass tremendously recently (they haven’t allowed a WR or TE to put up over 12.8 points against them in any of their last 3).
NYJ (15.75) @ NO (31.75)
Kamara has cleared the concussion protocol, so we he will return this week. The Jets’ best DE, Wilkerson, will miss this one due to a coaching decision (i.e. he more than likely screwed up). At $8600, he is the second-highest priced RB on the slate, but he is always a risky fade as this just seems like a year where he can do no wrong even on limited touches. Ingram clocks in as the 5th-highest priced RB at $8200, but he hasn’t had over 14 carries in any of his last 4 games. I prefer Ingram, but I will probably be underweight on both of them. I’ll probably regret this like I have most of the year. I do also just want to point out that no single back has put up over 12 points against them since Week 5.
Even though the Saints should be able to effectively run the ball here, we shouldn’t discount the pass game either as they have given up four 20+ point games over their past 3 games. While Thomas did see 14 targets last game, I feel like that is more a product of Kamara being out rather than something we can expect moving forward. With that being said, however, he should see his normal 8-10, and obviously he will still be able to do a lot of damage with those. Ginn is always a big play threat, but I don’t love him at $5000 and due to him only seeing 5 targets over his previous two weeks combined.
While the Saints will be even weaker against the run than normal with LB AJ Klein and DE Trey Hendrickson down, a lot will come down to whether Forte suits up or not here. He is currently listed as a GTD and, if he cannot go, Elijah McGuire suddenly becomes an amazing, low-owned GPP option.
The Jets’ pass offense doesn’t deserve a mention as it is now helmed by Bryce Petty. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Saints have multiple sacks and INTs against him.
MIA (17.75) @ BUF (21.25)
Taylor has returned to practice and will start this week as Peterman is still out with a concussion. We need to keep an eye on the Dolphins’ CBs here as both of their starting outside CBs, Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, could potentially miss this one. Benjamin is also questionable though, and the Bills’ passing offense has been so anemic, I’m just not sure if they can take advantage either way. I’m going to steer clear here.
We know that the Bills’ offense will continue to flow through McCoy, but this just doesn’t feel like a great game to play him. He is one of the most expensive RBs on the slate at $8400, and the offensive struggles are real, so I think he has a low shot at multiple TDs.
Williams is still listed as doubtful, so it will continue to be the Drake show here, and he will probably be one of the highest-owned players on the slate. In less than stellar news for him, he will be without starting RG, Jermon Bushrod. Either way, the Bills have given up 130 or more rushing yards in 5 out of their last 6, and it is much easier to run on them than pass. Landry has easily the best match-up in the slot, and he has seen 8 or more targets in 4 out of his last 5. Landry is also tied for 8th-most RZ targets on the year with 19. These are the only two players I’m going to have any exposure to in this game, and due to Drake’s popularity, I think it makes a lot of sense to pivot to Landry in GPPs.
GB (22) @ CAR (25)
The biggest news here is obviously the return of Aaron Rodgers, and this couldn’t have happened in a better spot for him since Carolina has been destroyed through the air recently. I think a lot of people will gravitate towards Nelson as they think Rodgers will be his panacea, but if we look back to earlier in the year, Adams actually seemed to be the top target in this offense. I love, love, love Adams in this spot as he gets the 99th-ranked Bradberry, and I feel like he will be under-owned in this spot. His price tag on DK is irksome, but if anything, that will just drop his ownership further. We do know that anyone can have a huge game with Rodgers though, Nelson and Cobb are also viable options, since they also have good to great match-ups.
Shaq Thompson will miss this one for the Panthers, so GB’s run offense gets a slight bump up, but Kuechly will play, and he is the LB we care most about. While Rodgers’ return will boost the offense in general, I’m not going to go to Williams because of Luke.
Funchess has had 42% of the air yards and 26% of Cam’s targets since Week 8. He also gets the 88th-ranked CB on the year, Josh Hawkins. Funchess has played well even in tough match-ups, so I don’t know how a bad CB will slow him down. While he will be popular, I definitely plan on having exposure to him here.
While GB does rank 7th against the run, they have given up 17+ points to a single back in 4 straight games, and they have given up back-to-back 100+ yard ground games to Crowell and Barber. J-Stew probably had the best game of his career last week, and we obviously cannot count on another 3 TDs from him, but his price remains attractive at only $4100. I probably won’t go here, but I do have some interest in CMC here. While he still remains fairly overpriced versus his touches, the Packers have given up, on average, 17.2 DK receiving points to RBs over their previous 4 games. Between the soft pass defense match-up and the relatively soft recent run D, I think Cam makes for a very interesting option in this spot.
BAL (23.75) @ CLE (16.75)
Wallace confirmed that he will play here after not practicing until Friday, but he gets a very difficult match-up against McCourty here. Slot CB, Brien Boddy-Calhoun, will miss this one, which provides a bump to Maclin, but he has had a low ceiling all year regardless of the matchup, so I’m not going to go there. You could think about Ben Watson due to Cleveland’s weakness to TEs, but I just don’t feel like you have to gamble on him here.
Collins is quietly in an excellent spot here. While the Browns remain #1 in DVOA against the run, we have seen them fall off of a cliff recently. At his price point and ownership, I’m going to have a lot of Collins here.
Gordon was huge chalk last week and he “only” put up 3-69-1 in a great match-up, but I don’t really think much has changed here. Since Jimmy Smith went down, the Ravens are extremely susceptible to WRs as we just saw AB put up 11-213-0 on them last week. He will also get the 91st-ranked Brandon Carr for most of the day, so he will absolutely destroy him here. Gordon’s biggest problem will be the Browns’ play-calling as it #terrible. While his price has risen quite a bit, I will absolutely have exposure here.
While the Ravens have been mediocre against the run – and they just gave up 3 TDs to Bell last week – I don’t see myself going with either Crowell or DJ-lite here.
LAR (22.5) @ SEA (25)
Rams RT Andrew Whitworth, PFF’s #3 run-blocker on the year, while initially looking questionable for this one, has already been cleared to play, which is obviously great news for Gurley. Bobby Wagner will be a GTD, and this will obviously be a big loss for the Seahawks if he cannot play. Either way, Gurley continues to be game-flow agnostic, but I don’t love him in this spot against a very tough run D. He is always capable of scoring a couple of TDs in this offense and he does have the most RZ carries in the league on the year with 52, so there is considerable risk without having some exposure, but I’m toying with the idea of going with a full fade here. At his price tag, you need him to have at least 100 rushing yards, a TD, and 5 catches for another 50 yards before this starts to really hurt you.
Robert Woods will be good to go for this one, and I like him a lot in this spot. Before he went down, he averaged 10.5 targets over his last two and was clearly Goff’s go-to receiver. He costs only $5700 here and should see exceedingly low ownership for what he brings to the table. We have also seen Seattle give up several big games to WRs recently, so even if he puts up only 6-60-1, which feels pretty conservative to me as 3 WRs have put up better lines than this over the previous 2 weeks, he will still 3x his salary.
While the Rams are 3rd against the pass, Russ Wilson is kind of amazing, and he put up 24.84 points against the Jags last week. Richardson has seen 7 or more targets in 3 out of his last 4, and he gets by far the easiest match-up against Troy Hill on the outside. Baldwin has the toughest match-up out of the slot, and he hasn’t seen more than 7 targets over the past 5 weeks, so I think I’m going to completely ignore him. Graham is intriguing here as he only costs $4900 and clearly has multi-TD upside, but he seems to have fallen out of favor over his past two weeks as he only has 6 targets combined. Out of all receiving options here, I like Richardson the best.
Mike Davis costs only $4000 here and will see high ownership as the Rams are 19th in DVOA against the run, but I’m going to go underweight on him. He will probably see around 16 carries, but his o-line continues to be awful, and the Rams have actually only given up 1 game over 14 points in their last 6.
Overall, this feels like a game that should shootout on paper, but I won’t be surprised if it is lower scoring than anticipated.
NE (28.75) @ PIT (25.75)
Hogan’s involvement in his first game back left something to be desired as he only went 1-1-0 on 5 targets. He did play 90% of the snaps, however, so we can expect him to be on the field a lot again this week. He will also get the 95th-ranked Coty Sensabaugh in this one, so he finds himself in an excellent match-up. On the flip side, Haden did return to practice this past week, so that is very bad news for Cooks in this spot. Gronk will also return, he will be angry, and match-ups don’t matter to him. As always, it’s a toss-up on who will have a big game here, but Gronk and Hogan seem like the likeliest options.
The Steelers’ run D has been destroyed recently as they have given up over 27 points in 2 out of their last 3 games. Just like with the rest of the Pats offense, it’s hard to predict who will have a big day, but Burkhead clearly seems like the goal line back. He is all the way up at $6400 here, and he hasn’t seen more than 13 carries in a single game all year (he has only seen 5 in 2 out of his last 4). This feels like the type of game where I’ll probably fade him, but then he will end up with 3 TDs on 10 carries.
We picked on NE’s pass defense heavily early on in the season, but they haven’t given up many big games recently, so what do we do here? First of all, AB can win in any match-up as he put up 10-157-0 against the best secondary in the league earlier in the year (this was an incredibly inefficient game, however, since he had 19 targets). Secondly, let’s take a look at who the Pats have faced recently – Cutler x 2, Tyrod Taylor/Nathan Peterman, Trevor Siemian, Derek Carr, and Philip Rivers. In these 6 games, we still have 3 WRs that went for over 18 DK points – Landry, Sanders, and Travis Benjamin. Landry’s other game was “only” a 15-pointer. Simply put, AB will get fed here, and it’s going to be very tough for the Patriots to stop him. Vance McDonald got knocked out of last week’s game and still isn’t practicing as of Thursday. In that absurd shootout with the Ravens, Jesse James ended up seeing 12 targets, but this is clearly an outlier. Even with that being an outlier, I think that he is an interesting option here as he only costs $2900.
The Pats were already dead last against the run in DVOA, but now they will be also without DT Alan Branch for this one. Bell is incredibly expensive, but he has an amazing floor as he has had double-digit targets in 3 out of his last 4. Bell is going to see a lot of ownership, but I absolutely recommend having exposure.
TEN (22) @ SF (23)
It is worth noting that the Titans plod along to the tune of the 26th-slowest pace in the league. In his first game back, Matthews only saw 5 targets, but I won’t be surprised to see that rise this week. He also gets an amazing match-up against the 118th-ranked Dontae Johnson. This is clearly a GPP only play, but they should throw to him here as the 49ers have just been brutal against the pass.
As I have harped on relentlessly, they aren’t as bad against the run as everyone thinks, and Murray and Henry continue to cap each other’s upside.
There aren’t a lot of options that I love here – Celek and Kittle cannibalize each other’s touches, but the Titans are most susceptible to TEs. Goodwin has looked pretty good with Jimmy G under center, but I just don’t love him here.
Hyde continues to look less than stellar and his usage is erratic, but he costs only $5500 and has seen double-digit carries in each of his last 8. The Titans have only given up 1 game over 20 points all year, however, so I don’t love him or hate him here.