Week 15 review
In the words of Nobby Holder “IT’S CHRISTMASSSSSS” and few traditions are as enjoyable as stealing glances at fantasy updates whilst your family grumble about the state of the world whilst you knock back your eighth beer of the day, whilst the kids complain that the batteries of their new GarbageToy6 have run out… no? Just me? Well, this slate is messy, as have been most of the slates of late and updates will be needed. For now though, I’m liking the look of this slate and have built several teams I like already. Before we get too deep into that, let’s check in on last week.
Two out and out bad plays, and they hurt me personally, I built a lot of teams with Michael Carter and Chase Edmonds in and it was very tough to overcome their combined 8.3 points. Good plays featured Jimmy G, Robby Anderson, Mike Gesicki and Josiah Degura, who all did just about enough to justify their price tags. What really matters though is the great plays, because they really were great. D’onta Foreman was RB3, Christian Kirk was WR3, and MVS was WR6. Those plays were all fantastic at the price and the level they were rostered at. I played MVS in the $27 fair catch and he was rostered by just 1% of teams. We also notched great plays with Tua, James Robinson and James O’Shaugnessy. For the season that leaves us;
Great plays (3x$) – 92 (47%)
Good plays (2x$) – 55 (27%)
Bad plays (<2x$) – 53 (26%)
I’m around all this week, in between the festivities, so I’ll update when possible and as always hit me up with those questions. I’m always happy to run your lineups through my process and give an opinion. I’m hoping to release a lineup building tool that I use in the coming weeks, so as ever keep an eye on my Twitter feed for that (@BestballUKNFL). I’ve added stack ideas and correlations within each blurb. Let me know if that’s useful. Have an incredible Christmas folks, I really appreciate each and every one of you who read the column and a special thank you to those who share the column each week. It really helps.
Joe Burrow $5900 Vs Baltimore Ravens – 44.0 over/under
Pain. Pain and more pain as a Ravens supporter of late and I don’t expect a break from it this weekend. The last time these two teams met it became clear to everyone that the Ravens had a problem giving up big plays in their secondary and with the injuries that have occurred since then that has only exacerbated. The Ravens are a pass funnel team, holding running backs to mediocre days but unable to prevent the pass, allowing 279.1 passing yards per game and allowing the third-most adjusted fantasy points per game. Tyler Huntley is priced at $6000, which given Burrow’s sub-$6k price seems a bit daft. I would prefer to stack Burrow and Chase or Higgins and play Andrews or Brown as a bring back.
Ben Roethlisberger $5500 @ Kansas City – 44.0 over/under
Big Ben is toast, we all know it. Anyone with half a brain knew it before the season started. When Roethlisberger attempts a deep shot these days it’s a bit like playing keepie uppie with a balloon, the balloon floats about and seems to have a mind of its own. It might land where you think, or it’ll move off-target slightly and aimlessly drift to the ground. The Steelers, however slow to awaken to this fact, have mitigated it somewhat by bringing his yards per attempt to 6.8 and moving more of the game closer to the line of scrimmage. The Steelers are in a cornered-animal game against the Chiefs, who have issues of their own, and anything but a win will not do. The Chiefs defence allows a league-leading 321.5 passing yards per game and Big Ben might just get there through game script and desperation. It’s a really ugly play, but with the Chiefs struggling through Covid I can just picture the post-game interview where Roethlisberger hints at how heroic he feels for narrowly beating a depleted team. If I’m making this play I’d stack Roethlisberger with Diontae Johnson and consider using Clyde Edwards-Helaire also.
Matt Ryan $5400 vs Detroit Lions – 44.0 over/under
Death, taxes and targetting the Detroit Lions! I really like the Lions. Much more than when Matt Patricia made them a dull team. Now Dan Campbell brings a personality to the HC role it’s a lot easier to enjoy the Lions, but that doesn’t mask the fact that they give up a league-leading 9.75 yards per attempt and the second-most passing yards per game (316.7). I’m not sure I’ll watch this game, but it feels like the kind of game both teams need. Neither team has a great defence and neither gets to the QB often, as they rank 31st and 32nd in average sacks per game. The over/under is a middling 44.0, but I like this game to have a reasonable value as both teams allow top eight amounts of points per game.
Justin Fields $5200 @ Seattle Seahawks – 42.0 over/under
** Fields has been ruled out and Nick Foles will play in his place. At $4000 we should always take a look at the player. Foles hasn’t played this year but with both Dalton and Fields out he’ll be called upon. Foles is a middling backup with very limited upside. Personally I’d prefer to play a quarterback like Josh Johnson who can at least add rushing yardage.
As the best ball playoffs tick on I’m reflecting on my drafts and pre-season choices a lot. I really believed Justin Fields would be a dual-threat that would make a difference. Whilst he averages 6.0 rushing attempts per game these are predominantly coming in scrambles and he has just 15 designed runs on the season. As Hayden Winks pointed out, that’s fewer than Trey Lance. For Fields to truly be unlocked that side of his game is something that needs to come out more often and no doubt firing Matt Nagy would be a great help. For now, Fields 35.0 yards per game on the ground prop him up nicely and in his last two games, he’s averaged 19.65 Draftkings points. The Seahawks face the third-most passes per game (39.1) and whilst they’ve improved slightly on the defence of late, they’re down and out now and the offence can’t sustain a drive, leading to the defence tiring quicker. If I was to attack this game I’d be looking at stacking Fields with Kmet (see TE’s) and running that back with Tyler Lockett (providing he comes off the covid list).
Josh Johnson $4000 @ Cincinnati Bengals ** SUNDAY UPDATE **
With Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley both ruled out Josh Johnson is being forced into action a matter of ten days after signing back with the Ravens. Johnson does know the playbook having had spells in Baltimore previously and his dual-action style will fit with the play calls more than other options. In week nine for the Jets against the Colts, Johnson put up 28.5 points when replacing Mike White. He’s by no means an elite option, but at $4k we can get away with picking up around 12-15 points and making up for it elsewhere in our lineups.
D’Andre Swift $6300 @ Atlanta Falcons – 44.0 over/under
This one won’t take long. If Swift is off the report, play him. Falcons allow the fifth-most adjusted points to running backs. Perhaps the Lions use Craig Reynolds to spell Swift slightly, but I’m all about attacking players as soon as they come back whilst people feel apprehensive about playing them. If Swift sits, keep an eye out for updates here and on Twitter on who might play instead, but I’d be fine with either Jamaal Williams or Reynolds.
James Robinson $5900 @ New York Jets – 40.5 over/under (lowest of the slate)
With Urban Meyer starting his sympathy tour of media interviews James Robinson saw the sixth-highest snap count for an RB in week 15 (83%), combining for 22 touches. Next up he takes on a long-time target of the column, the New York Jets. No team allows more adjusted fantasy points, or rushing yardage (141.9) than the Jets do to running backs and the Jaguars have had more touchdown success on the ground than in the passing with a 12-9 rush/pass TD ratio. Last week was J-Rob chalk week, but this week might be the better play. It’s also worth noting defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh is out with Covid, along with a host of Jets players and Carlos Hyde is now on I.R. Wheels up.
Sony Michel $5500 @ Minnesota Vikings – 49.5 over/under
The Rams backfield is less defined than at times this season and I wouldn’t blame anyone for steering clear altogether. Whilst both Henderson and Michel are available they’re out of cash game consideration but worth considering for multi-entry contests. The Vikings allow the eighth-most yards per game to running backs (128.5) and rank 13th in adjusted points. It’s not a gimme matchup, but Michel had 71% of the snaps on Monday night and I’m fine with gambling that continues for now. At his price, he offers an interesting pivot away from more chalky options like our next selection.
Ronald Jones $5100 @ Carolina Panthers – 44.0 over/under
Yes, as I write this several days before the slate, Ronald Jones looks to be the certifiable chalk of the week. With league-winner Lenny now on I.R with a hamstring injury you’d be forgiven for thinking the news was all terrible, yes my 13-1 dynasty team is in a bad place, but Ronald Jones has a chance for redemption. In games without Fournette in the last two years, RoJo has finished with two RB4 performances and two RB14 ones and averaged 21.77 PPR points. Carolina looks like a tough matchup, ranking 28th in adjusted fantasy points allowed on the season, but they’re also a complete mess with little to play for and over the last five weeks, the Panthers rush defence has allowed the 15th most adjusted points, a noticeable drop-off.
Justin Jackson $4200 @ Houston Texans – 45.0 over/under
Despite the best efforts of some to ignore Covid, it’s very much still around. Austin Ekeler was the latest invited to the Covid wine and cheese party and his status for Sunday looks very unlikely. Ekeler was already struggling with injuries so providing he has a mild case of Covid the break might actually do him well. With Ekeler unable to play a full snap count last week Jackson was the clear favourite, playing on 53% of snaps. The Texans allow a league-high 151.4 rushing yards per game and the sixth-most adjusted fantasy points. At $4200 it’s too cheap to ignore for all types of lineups.
Alexander Mattison $6800 Vs L.A Rams – 49.5 over/under
Dalvin Cook’s Thursday addition to the Covid-19 list was the latest of many kick’s to the balls of fantasy managers, and unlike Vikings kickers, those kicks don’t miss. We’ve seen Mattison enough in games without Cook to know the Vikings will use him in a similar fashion, and whilst he doesn’t have the same ceiling, he’s put up three games over 20 points this year, with 26.1 against Seattle, 30.3 against Detroit and 21.4 also against Detroit. The Rams aren’t as soft a matchup as those two, but they aren’t elite against the run either, allowing the 14th most adjusted fantasy points and the 13th most receptions to the position along with the fifth-most receiving points to RB’s in the last five games. The Rams also allow 4.65 yards per carry, which is the sixth-most and face the seventh most rush attempts per game (29.4).
Damien Harris $5600 vs Buffalo Bills ** SUNDAY UPDATE **
With Stevenson ruled out Harris should see a dominant workload in this backfield. Harris has shown the ability to handle that kind of workload and whilst the Bills are a solid run defence, ranking 10th best on the season in fantasy points allowed, over the last five games they’ve been the 29th ranked. Harris won’t pop in many models and he’s hardly the type of play for GPP’s that you would usually use, but in multi-entry lineups I like adding him to the pool.
Antonio Brown $4900 @ Carolina Panthers – 44.0 over/under
Another Buccs player who will get chalky is the return of troublemaker Antonio Brown. Despite Bruce Arian’s giving it the big un’s it was obvious Head Coach/General Manager Tom Brady wasn’t parting with one-time roommate Brown. With injuries to Godwin, Evans and Fournette the Buccs really do need whatever talent they can muster, or they’d be reduced to starting Perriman, Johnson and Miller… We know how much Brady likes AB and despite the off-field issues, he’s a solid and chalky play against what some may consider being a tough Carolina defence, but it’s starting to fade, giving up the fifth-most points to receivers in the last five, which is a big jump from there on the season rating of sixth-best, and should be outmatched by a Brady led side that passes the ball at the second-highest neutral rate over the last four weeks.
Nico Collins $3400 vs L.A Chargers – 45.0 over/under
Collins looks like the only pony at the race at the minute. Brandin Cooks is on the Covid list and many people might struggle to name another Texans receiver after Collins. The rookie has impressed at times despite the messy season that is happening in Houston and over the last four weeks, Collins is second in target share with 14.4%, behind only Cooks and has averaged 4.4 targets per game. With Cooks out that should increase. The Chargers give up the fourth-fewest points to the position on the season, although of late that’s dropped to fourteenth over the last five games, hopefully Collins can make the most out of small opportunities. Thankfully he’s tied for third on the team for red zone opportunities, with Cooks and David Johnson. At this price, it’s an appealing choice to run back with Chargers pass-catchers.
Amon Ra St.Brown $5600 @ Atlanta Falcons – 44.0 over/under
I’m annoyed that I missed on St.Brown in the last couple of weeks. He’s the kind of receiver this column lives for and I try to be early on these guys rather than following the gravy train. Whether I like it or not the Gravy Train has departed and the next stop is Soggy Defence City, with the Falcons giving up the 3rd most adjusted fantasy points. This paragraph is going to be full of the number ‘3’ as over the last three weeks Amon Ra St.Brown is the overall WR3 and has seen a 33% target share in those games… seems inevitable he scores three touchdowns now. Despite a slow start to the season, like many rookies, he’s come on in recent weeks and now has established himself as a big part of the offence and despite that slow start, he has nine red-zone targets, which is the equal most on the team.
Odell Beckham Jr. $5300 @ Minnesota Vikings – 49.5 over/under
This Vikings defence is woeful against the pass, ranking dead last in allowing the most points to receivers over both the season and over the last five games. The bookies expect this game to have the most points of the week, and with OBJ down this low in price, expect him to be popular. In truth, I like both him and Van Jefferson ($5500) and the smart move may be to pivot to Van Jefferson as people will look to pay down whenever possible. Before Tuesday’s game, where Beckham had not long returned from Covid, he had posted 13-186-3TD’s over the previous three games, averaging 16.5 DK points. The Rams target wide receivers at a league-high 73.7% of their targets, with no other team going over 69%. This feels like a spot where the Rams shouldn’t even have to try hard to beat the Vikings but in recent weeks the Rams have a habit of playing to their opponents and perhaps if Thielen returns for them we see more of a shoot-out score.
Byron Pringle $3300 vs Pittsburgh Steelers – 41.0 over/under
Look, folks, I get it, you love hearing me whine about my fantasy teams. Nobody on Earth has it as bad as my team in my home league, I have Hill and Kelce both struck by Covid and now seem doomed to losing my first playoff game for about the fifth year in a row. Thank you, folks, I feel your sympathy from here. Anyhow, if either Hill or Kelce miss out I’ll be firing up Pringle. Hardman seems to be picking up some steam but excuse me if I haven’t learned my lesson from being burned on that hot pan. Hardman has been out-snapped over the last four weeks by the ghost of Josh Gordon. Pringle is behind only Hill and Kelce in snaps. Pringle also runs more routes and sees more targets per game. In the interests of both sides of the argument, it’s worth mentioning Hardman has 12 red-zone targets compared to Pringle’s three, but I see Pringle picking up more consistent usage in an offence that has had to learn to take what is there in recent weeks when facing cover-2 defence’s, now that the book is out on Mahomes. With Hardman at $3500, I won’t have problems with people choosing to play him, but I’m more confident in Pringle putting up a solid floor.
Josh Palmer @ Houston Texans $3300 ** SUNDAY UPDATE **
Palmer came up big two weeks ago when Keenan Allen missed out and now with Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Jalen Guyton on Covid IR, it’s Palmer’s time to shine again. The rookie has been reliable and shown well and there’s no reason to avoid him in either cash or GPP’s against this Houston defence that will be overmatched.
Isaiah McKenzie @ New England Patriots $3000 ** SUNDAY UPDATE **
With anti-vaxxers Gabe Davis and Cole Beasley testing positive for Covid, McKenzie will be required to play an almost every down role. Sanders should also return but is banged up and McKenzie’s speed and ceiling should be a potential difference maker. As Dwain McFarland pointed out on Twitter, last time McKenzie saw a full workload he went for 9/6/65 and two touchdowns in week 17 of last season.
Cole Kmet $3300 @ Seattle Seahawks – 42.0 over/under
Cole Kmet is having a really nice season and if it wasn’t for Jimmy Graham’s mind-boggling presence on the Bears, it could have been an excellent fantasy season. Graham has done just enough at times to eat into what could have been Kmet’s production, but the young tight end has still made things work. As the always excellent @DynastyIsland put it on the always excellent @5YardDynasty podcast mentioned, over the last four games Kmet has seen at least five targets per game and on Sunday saw a target share of 25% which he turned into 9-6-71. The Seahawks rank 3rd in adjusted points allowed to the position and over the last five weeks only one team has allowed more to the position. Fire him up and enjoy.
C.J Uzomah $2800 vs Baltimore Ravens – 44.0 over/under
Let’s preface this by saying I’m not expecting another performance from Uzomah like the last time he played the Ravens and put up 24.1 points. Those kinds of games don’t happen often for Uzomah, with just two career games over 20 PPR points and he just isn’t that kind of threat. What might be fair though is a performance in the low double-digits. As people try to heavily attack the Bengals passing game and the Ravens weak secondary, which if you haven’t heard, is in dire straits, adding another less obvious piece to your stacks helps to differentiate your teams from others. Over the last five games, the Ravens have improved their season-long rating on 28th against the position up to the dizzying heights of 20. Sadly for them, more injuries have occurred along with Covid issues and if the Bengals choose to target Uzomah often, he’ll do just fine. In his last three games he’s seen 16 targets and has a target share of 15.2% dating back to week 11, so whilst it’s not been particularly fantasy relevant the matchup pushes it into the interesting column. It’s not a play I’m wild on unless a) you really need to pay down or b) you’re stacking the Bengals.
Brevin Jordan $2500 vs L.A Chargers – 45.0 over/under
I’ve sneaky liked Brevin Jordan going back into the draft class and I’m pleased to see him doing well in recent weeks. We’ve already mentioned the lack of Brandin Cooks in this game and whilst I wouldn’t advocate stacking Jordan with Collins, I like the either-or play of the two players. Amongst the Texans tight ends, Jordan runs the most routes, sees the most targets and has the most touchdowns, you can also see below how well Jordan stacks up against the fellow rookies in certain stats. At the $2500 minimum, all we need is one touchdown to make it worthwhile and the Chargers have allowed a league-leading 12 touchdowns to tight ends and the fifth-most points to the position. Punt away fellow degenerates.
So that’s it for now. Check back for updates soon and as ever, please do retweet the column and hit the like button, these things help more people see it. Anything you need, you know where to find me – @Bestballuknfl