WEEK 15 PLAYOFF PREPARATION
9 THOUGHTS WORTH THINKING
I like to follow stats, trends, and matchups, as well as a little thing I like to call, a hunch. These thoughts are based on those observations.
1. Can you rely on Josh Allen to come through for you in Week 15 vs. Carolina? The Bills should win this game. They are favored by 11 points over the five-win Panthers who have struggled to find a rhythm on offense this season. Josh Allen is dealing with a mid-foot sprain and may curtail his running this week as he heals. If he can't run, he'll have to pass, however, Carolina is the #1 defense against the pass, allowing 177.7 yards per game. They have also been fairly stingy in terms of scoring via the pass, allowing only four games of two-plus touchdown passes this season. Carolina's strength is their defense, and they just might have enough in the tank to cause problems for Buffalo, who also tend to play down to their level of competition. If Allen can't run (effectively), his fantasy numbers could struggle this week. He's not the best option, but it will be extremely difficult to bench a player of his caliber in a home game against a five-win team.
2. You can rely on Tyler Huntley to keep the Ravens' fantasy personnel afloat if Lamar Jackson is out. The Ravens will host the Packers in a key matchup this week. Baltimore can't afford another loss and it looks like they may have to play this game without Lamar Jackson (ankle). First, is Baltimore better off with Huntley under center than a hobbled Jackson? That's debatable. We all know Jackson likes to run, and you'd have to think if he plays he won't run much for fear of re-injury or he simply just isn't effective as a rusher. Put me in the camp that thinks Baltimore is better off with Huntley than a less-than-100% Jackson this week. Huntley performed admirably last week against Cleveland, tossing for 270 yards and a touchdown with 45 additional yards rushing. He was able to give Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman 100-yard games last week. Green Bay's top cover corner, Jaire Alexander (shoulder) has not played since Week 4 and there are rumblings that he may try to play this week in a pivotal game for playoff seedings. The Packers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers since Week 10, including allowing 7 touchdowns to wide receivers in the last three games. This is a good matchup for the Ravens unless Alexander returns and is effective. Stay monitored on this situation throughout the week.
3. If/when you make it past Week 15, consider targeting one of these defenses for Week 16 and 17 in this week's waiver claims:
- Who plays Baltimore? Since Week 10, the Ravens are allowing 4.6 sacks, 1.4 interceptions, and 2.0 turnovers per game. Week 16 - at Cincinnati. Week 17 - vs Los Angeles Rams
- Who plays Cincinnati? Since Week 10, the Bengals are allowing 4.0 sacks, 1.3 fumbles, and 2.0 turnovers per game. Week 16 - vs Baltimore. Week 16 - vs Kansas City.
- Who plays Chicago? Since Week 10, the Bears are allowing 2.3 sacks, 1.8 interceptions, 0.5 fumbles, and 2.3 turnovers per game. Week 16 - at Seattle. Week 17 - vs NY Giants.
- Who plays Jacksonville? Since Week 10, the Jaguars are allowing 2.4 sacks, 1.0 interceptions, and 2.2 turnovers per game. Week 15 - at Washington. Week 16 - Los Angeles Rams
4. Both Patrick Mahomes II and Justin Herbert are excellent plays this week - Both quarterbacks are top 5 in fantasy scoring since Week 10, and both are projected as top-5 fantasy plays this week. This game (at Los Angeles) on Thursday night, is the highest over/under point total on the board in Week 15. The line is 52 and the Chiefs are favored by three points. That's roughly a 28-25 game with three touchdowns apiece for each team. A back and forth battle is exactly what you want out of this matchup from a fantasy perspective. The first time these two division foes met, in Week 3, the Chargers won 30-24, and both quarterbacks combined for 7 touchdown passes. A similar outcome would be perfect for all fantasy participants involved in this battle.
5. Playoff Lenny for the win? Since Week 10, Leonard Fournette has 32 receptions (the most in that span for running backs), six touchdowns, and only 3.9 PPR points less than Superman, Jonathan Taylor. Chances are Fournette is your team's RB2 or RB3 on your roster, if all other drafted running backs are healthy. He has league-winning potential with a schedule that includes New Orleans, at Carolina, at NY Jets. Ride him to the trophy.
6. Two sneaky flex plays that will be difficult to keep on your bench - Sometimes the last player to make your lineup winds up giving you the "W" any given week. No time is it more important and welcomed than the fantasy playoffs. These players (if you're in deeper leagues) may be worth starting. Consistency is a big factor in finding success in a three-week stretch during the playoffs. These players have found a niche and are producing well enough to start. Amon-Ra St. Brown has 30 receptions over the last five games including back-to-back 12-target games. You could do worse from your flex spot. Consider the Lions' rookie wide receiver. Another, that may surprise you is Michael Gallup. It's tough to feel confident about Gallup with CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper upstaging him on the field, but Gallup leads the team in targets (41) since Week 10. He has eight targets or more in four straight games.
7. Exploit your tight ends against the Seahawks, Browns, and Chargers - Seattle has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in the last five games. Cleveland four in the last four games, and Los Angeles, five in five games. So now the big question is - who plays these teams in Week 15, 16, and 17?
Seattle - at Rams, Bears, Lions - Higbee time? Could Cole Kmet pay off in Week 16 and Hockenson for the title?
Cleveland - Raiders, at Packers, at Steelers - Moreau or maybe Waller? Josiah Deguara in Week 16? Freiermuth for the trophy?
8. 75 players/personnel have tested positive for COVID in the last two days (Mon&Tues) - Be ready for anything. If you have roster space, grab backups at key positions, especially if those backups have logged decent snaps lately. Players that come to mind who could be useful...Phillip Lindsay, Breshad Perriman, Terrace Marshall Jr, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Albert Wilson, Darius Slayton, Ameer Abdullah, Kenneth Gainwell, Kalen Ballage. It could get ugly and it's better to be prepared with a pre-emptive pickup.
9. Go with your gut - New England has allowed three touchdown passes and zero 200-plus yard passing games since Week 8. Maybe Michael Pittman Jr isn't the best play this week? The Patriots have also been stingy against the run allowing just three rushing touchdowns to running backs all season. Jonathan Taylor isn't the best matchup either, but no way in Peyton Manning's forehead are you benching him this week. If Taylor rises to the occasion this week, he deserves the MVP. Having said that, you may want to dig a little deeper into your roster on a gut call knowing you may need a big boost to make up for a deficiency elsewhere. This is where playing Amon-Ra St. Brown or Michael Gallup could be the make-or-break move for you. You always hear about, start your studs, which is good advice, except when your gut is right. Determine who your studs are and who you can substitute out. Is DK Metcalf a stud? That's debatable based on his recent play. If you have a better, consistent option, consider it. Go with your gut feeling.
Good luck this week. Here's hoping you all Survive and Advance.
Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org