Some key items are below:
- All references to fantasy points assume DraftKings scoring rules unless otherwise specified.
- All stats reference the full 2021 season unless otherwise specified.
- All fantasy points rankings are on a per-game basis to account for bye weeks unless otherwise specified.
This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
- Tweets of the Week
- Unexpected Absences
Be sure to follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date regarding updates to all articles I write here at FootballGuys. Feel free to reach out at any time with questions, comments, and concerns about this article or anything else fantasy football-related.
Tweets of the Week
If you're in the fantasy playoffs. Cut any fringe player like Marvin Jones Jr.— Devin Knotts (@devinknottsfbg) December 14, 2021
Go get players that see a significant role if the starter gets Covid
Commentary and Action Items:
- FootballGuys' own Devin Knotts made a great point on Twitter this week that needs to be amplified. Players like Marvin Jones Jr have an exceptionally narrow, or perhaps non-existent, path to providing value for fantasy football teams throughout the playoffs. The probability that a player like Jones, who is already seeing significant playing time but is not producing, ends up in a starting lineup in the coming weeks for a playoff-quality team is close to zero percent. Players like Jones are simply taking up a place on the team's bench that could be better utilized by taking a chance on a player with the potential of stepping into the starting lineup if a starter is sidelined by injury or COVID. Given the uptick in positive tests in recent weeks, players have been plucked out of starting lineups due to positive tests and put into COVID protocols at a higher volume than we have seen all season. Smart fantasy football managers can leverage this uncertainty by getting out in front of the news before it breaks. Consider trimming the fat off the bench of your playoff teams in season-long formats. Instead, opt to take a low-risk, high-reward flier on a player with the potential to step into a temporary starting role as a near-every-down running back like D'Ernest Johnson, Elijhaa Penny, Benny Snell, Corey Clement, or Samaje Perine.
After less than one year in Jacksonville, Urban Meyer is out as the Jaguars’ head coach, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 16, 2021
Commentary and Action Items:
- Earlier this season, an entire section of #Trendspotting was dedicated to analyzing the dumpster fire that was Urban Meyer's tenure as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meyer made the wrong decision at almost every turn possible while at the helm, and that made for a dreadful experience as both a fan of the game watching the Jaguars and as a fantasy manager trying to forecast the offense's production. Finally, after 14 tumultuous weeks, Meyer has been fired, and he will likely finish his NFL coaching career with fewer wins (2) than college national championships (3.) This coaching change should benefit the entire Jacksonville offense to some degree. The player whose fantasy value increases the most, in this case, is the team's number one running back, James Robinson. After a record-setting rookie year, Urban Meyer unjustifiably demoted Robinson to a role where he shared carries with Carlos Hyde. As head coach, Urban Meyer made personnel decisions based on relationships, not merit. Hyde, one of his former-running backs at Ohio State, stealing significant playing time away from James Robinson, perfectly encapsulates this trend. However, with Meyer out of the picture, James Robinson has the potential to be an every-week starter for a championship-winning fantasy team. Robinson's talent level should earn him a larger role in the offense under a less-biased head coach, and a pair of games against the Houston Texans and New York Jets in the next two weeks should afford him plenty of scoring chances. Do not allow James Robinson's lackluster performance down the stretch to deter you from locking him into season-long lineups when he has a favorable matchup during the playoffs. Additionally, at just $5,400 on DraftKings this weekend, Robinson is a very strong salary-saving option at running back in DFS contests of all formats.
Bears QB -- Justin Fields' finishes in his last three full starts:— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) December 14, 2021
QB3, QB9, QB8
Scramble Rates: 21%, 14%, 19% ðŸ”¥ðŸ”¥ðŸ”¥
Designed-rush attempts: 7%, 14%, 7%
Vikings, Seahawks and Giants up next.
Low-end QB1 with MONSTER upside to climb higher in the stretch run. pic.twitter.com/th4jDFRauK
Commentary and Action Items:
- Justin Fields entered the NFL with a rare combination of size, passing ability, and mobility. However, the Chicago Bears' coaching staff made life in the NFL an uphill battle for the rookie quarterback from day one. First, head coach Matt Nagy committed to Andy Dalton as the team's unquestioned starter almost immediately upon Fields's arrival in Chicago. Then, after Dalton eventually went down with an injury, Fields was forced into action and expected to run the same offense and strictly distribute the ball from the confines of the pocket. Finally, after a multitude of coaching failures, including a pair of interceptions on plays that coaches told Fields through the speaker in his helmet to snap the ball immediately for a "free play" because the defense had 12 men on the field when the defense only had 11 men on the field, Fields's usage has finally started to change. As Dwain McFarland noted on Twitter earlier this week, Fields's designed run rate and scramble rate have both increased substantially across his last three full starts. The rookie quarterback has averaged over 70 rushing yards per game over this span to go along with his moderate passing production. The only other quarterbacks with a comparable combination of rushing and passing fantasy production are Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Taysom Hill, four of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football this season. Lastly, as Dwain McFarland also points out, the Bears have a trio of matchups against the Vikings, Seahawks, and Giants lined up in the coming weeks, and all three defenses rank in the bottom 15 of the NFL in DVOA allowed. Expect Justin Fields to utilize his unique rushing and passing abilites to capitalize on an exceptionally soft schedule across the next three weeks and rank as one of the most valuable players throughout the fantasy football playoffs.
The following players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID List leading up to this week's slate of games. Some of these players may be removed from the list and allowed to play, but the current expectation is that the following players will be inactive in Week 15.
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
- Running Backs
- Wide Receiver
- Other Notable Players
- Rashawn Slater, Left Tackle, Los Angeles Chargers
- Wyatt Teller, Right Guard, Cleveland Browns
- Jedrick Willis, Left Tackle, Cleveland Browns
- Chris Jones, Edge Rusher, Kansas City Chiefs
- 4 Houston Texans defenders
- 9 Washington Football Team defenders
Commentary and Action Items:
- The Cleveland Browns stand out as one of the teams that are expected to be especially short-handed this weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to missing Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Jedrick Willis, and Wyatt Teller, the Browns will be without their head coach and running backs coach on Saturday afternoon. There is not much to like in this offense for fantasy purposes this weekend-- the missing players at key positions will hamstring this offense overall to the degree that it is almost impossible to justify starting anyone outside of starting tight end, Austin Hooper. His role in the team's passing attack will expand this weekend due to Jarvis Landry's absence, making Hooper a startable option at tight end, which is arguably the thinnest position in fantasy football.
- The Washington Football Team also jump off the page this weekend as a team that could be without nine or more players on the defensive side of the football. Here, fantasy managers should target this defense by utilizing the top producers on the Philadelphia Eagles. At quarterback, Jalen Hurts has been a no-brainer starting quarterback option all season, thanks to his combination of rushing and passing production, and this weekend is no different. At running back, Miles Sanders carried the ball 24 times in his last outing against the New York Jets, his highest tally this season. Sanders sustained an ankle injury late in that game, but a week to rest during the team's bye, he should be ready for this weekend's NFC East clash with the Football Team. Although Sanders has been difficult to trust this season due to his volatile rushing volume, Week 15 projects to be one of his strongest performances to date, and he is a player worth starting in both season-long formats and on DraftKings, where he costs $5,800. On the outside, Philadelphia is expected to be without Quez Watkins, the team's number-two wide receiver in terms of receiving yardage this season. This serves to benefit rookie DeVonta Smith, whose receiving volume had trailed off leading up to the Week 14 bye week. Look for Smith to get back on track with a strong showing in Week 15, although his $6,100 price tag on DraftKings makes him a viable option in tournaments, not cash games.
- Lastly, the Miami Dolphins backfield has been decimated this week, with each of the team's top three running backs landing on the Reserve/COVID List. It is unclear who will fill this hole in the backfield for Miami this weekend, but that should not be much of an issue against the dismal defense of the New York Jets. Additionally, due to poor offensive line play, the Miami Dolphins have built their passing attack around short quick-hitting throws to playmakers like Jaylen Waddle. Expect the Dolphins' passing attack to continue to feature a heavy dose of run-pass options for short completions that the team views as an extension of its run game. Leverage Miami's uncertainty at running back by targeting Tua Tagovailoa as an elite point-per-dollar selection on DraftKings, thanks to the expected increase in passing volume against the league's worst defense, according to DVOA allowed. Additionally, Jaylen Waddle is one of the weekend's safest selections at wide receiver. Despite his $6,600 price tag, the rookie's expected receiving volume makes him one of the best cash-game selections in Week 15.