Week 15 is technically over, but we won’t get a break before Week 16 starts. News of outbreaks across the league affecting Week 16 came out as soon as Monday. We’re still waiting on information surrounding players injured on Sunday. The playoffs couldn’t be more chaotic, and checking rosters will be just as much a part of the holidays as opening presents. Like last week, I’ll tailor my notes to some players you might find on the waiver wire, so let’s dive into my notes from Week 15.
Quarterback: Jared Goff, Lions
Week 15 Results: (Projected) 15.6, (Actual) 20.6
I have more confidence in Detroit’s future than Jacksonville’s, which is a complete 180-degree pivot from where I was in August. Honestly, they’re fun to watch (at times). Dan Campbell’s earned the benefit of the doubt, with Jared Goff looking like he still belongs in the NFL. I couldn’t fathom starting Goff in fantasy with a championship on the line, but his production stems from his pass-catchers which could be helpful to a lot of squads over the next couple of weeks.
Advice Moving Forward:
Goff’s still on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but there’s a chance he’s active by Sunday. Goff is a deep streaming option, but we should consider his passing options given their upcoming matchups.
Goff’s problem has always been his inability to create out of structure. Over the last three seasons, he’s been bottom-12 in completion rate while top-10 in interceptions. His play hasn’t changed much since coming to Detroit, but he’s been efficient when given time.
|Week||Pressure Rate||Defensive EPA rank||Goff EPA Rank||Goff FF Pts|
Last week’s game against the Cardinals highlighted what time and a weak secondary does for the offense. Needing a clean pocket against a weak secondary isn’t the hallmark of an elite passer, but it’s where we’re at with Goff. His best results from an efficiency standpoint (Weeks7, 12, 13, and 15) came when he wasn’t under much duress. Contrast those games with his outings against Cincinnati (Week 6) and Philadelphia (Week 8), where both teams applied above-average pressure on him. I’m assuming he’ll be back for Week 16, but if he can continue to take advantage of weaker teams, we should like his pass-catchers more.
Detroit’s next two opponents are Atlanta and Seattle. Both are in the league's bottom half in pressure rate (21.1% and 27.2%, respectively) and schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Atlanta’s given up one top-12 wide receiver in three straight weeks, and the last two WR1’s to face Seattle finished 1 and 13. It might seem like chasing points, but with injuries and players going on the COVID list, we should be looking to Detroit for help on our fantasy rosters.
Running Back: Duke Johnson Jr, Dolphins
Week 15 Results: (Projected) 2.3, (Actual) 25.7
For years, the fantasy community has been pining away for Duke Johnson Jr to get his shot as a starter. All we wanted from his time in Cleveland and even in Houston was one game with a team committing to him. We finally got it. Miami gave him a shot and wound up with their first 100-yard rusher of the season. We should caveat Johnson was running through the Jets’ defense, but let’s bask in the glory for one more day. Because with Gaskin still there, along with other competition for touches, Week 15 may just be the only shot Johnson gets to shine.
Advice Moving Forward:
Be wary of expecting a similar workload for Johnson to close out the season. His efficiency should force a timeshare, but their upcoming matchups may make neither Miami usable in fantasy.
Let’s start with the positives. Johnson had a 54.5% success rate on a 69.7% touch share against the Jets. He also had eight missed tackles forced on his 22 carries. Myles Gaskin hasn’t made that many defenders miss in a single game all season. You’d have to add his last seven games to meet Johnson’s mark. Gaskin also hasn’t been as efficient as a runner.
|Week||Opponent||Touch Share||Success Rate|
Most folks will want to fall back on Gaskin's usage in the passing game. He has an 11.6% target share on the season. He’s also been the clear workhorse for Miami with multiple games over the 80.0% mark in touches. But he’s been less effective with more opportunity. Like Johnson, it took a similar setup against the Falcons to give him his most efficient day as a rusher. And yet, the team still brought in more backfield competition, which is part of the problem with rostering Johnson moving forward.
Brian Flores told reporters that it was Gaskin’s first day back to practice on Friday. It’s likely why his snaps were at their second-lowest of the season. Phillip Lindsay and Salvon Ahmed will also be back. Plus, their matchups couldn’t be worse for the fantasy playoffs.
They’ll face the Saints and Titans over the next two weeks. Between those two defenses, just one player has gone over 100 rushing yards all season (James Robinson, Week 5), and both squads are top-6 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs. At best, Johnson’s forced a split backfield like in Denver but behind a worse offensive line and against more formidable opponents. Running back touches may be hard to come by, but temper expectations if forced to start anyone from Miami’s ground attack.
Wide Receiver: Russell Gage, Falcons
Week 15 Results: (Projected) 12.2, (Actual) 23.1
My bias against Russell Gage stemmed from his opportunity and situation in Atlanta. Cordarrelle Patterson was the only player worthy of a start on a team with a reduced passing rate who’s scored more than 20 points in just two of their last six games. But, amidst the sadness, Gage has stood out as one of their primary players. With his usage trending up, Gage could be the wide receiver you need if you’ve lost any players over the last few days.
Advice Moving Forward:
Gage is a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 the rest of the way. His opportunity within the offense, and their final matchups, should give him a viable floor in PPR leagues.
Gage is Atlanta’s primary slot receiver, with 51.4% of his targets coming from the interior. So, his role appears just volume-driven. As if the opportunity goes away the moment other options present themselves. But in Gage’s case, he is their best option (at wide receiver).
Gage’s targets, air yards, and targets per route run (TPRR) have steadily increased over the last month. He’s graduated from being a role player to having a primary role in the offense. His uptick in TPRR already lends itself to a positive shift in Matt Ryan’s intent to get him the ball, but his contextual usage confirms it. Since Week 11, he’s led all Falcons’ pass-catchers in third-down and red-zone targets. According to PFF, he also has the highest conversion of contested catches (60.0%). Clearly, Ryan’s relying on him, but it’s tough for fantasy managers to rely on any player in Atlanta’s offense.
Gage does have the benefit of having favorable matchups to close out the playoffs. Atlanta hosts the Lions this week, and they head to Buffalo in Week 17. Christian Kirk beat Detroits’ interior defense for 65 yards and a score last week. Justin Jefferson did the same to the tune of 5-96-1. And Buffalo hasn’t fared much better as Chris Godwin ripped them up with an 8-86-0 stat line just two weeks ago. Rostering someone from Atlanta may seem off given their current state, but Gage’s usage may be hard to come by with all of the recent injuries.