Top fantasy takeaways from Week 15’s action
Jeff Ratcliffe runs through the biggest fantasy lessons we learned over the weekend.
Top fantasy takeaways from Week 15’s action
We’re almost there. A little over a week remains in the fantasy football season, with the semifinal round set to conclude Monday night. Things can be a little crazy at this time of year, so it’s important to quickly process everything we’ve seen. To get you set for the championship round, here are the stats to know from Week 15:
Miami @ NY Jets
Forte plays, but Powell dominates.
Despite suffering a torn meniscus, Matt Forte managed to suit up for Saturday’s contest against the Dolphins. But it was all Bilal Powell, as the back racked up 162 scrimmaged yards on 27 touches. Powell also saw a team-high 12 targets. Brandon Marshall was just behind him with 11, but only managed one catch for 16 yards. Incidentally, those looking to stream Matt Moore in Week 16 may want to reconsider. The fill-in tossed four touchdowns, but did so on just 12 completions. That’s a completely unsustainable rate that will regress going forward.
Green Bay @ Chicago
Ty Montgomery cements himself as the Packers’ lead back
Entering Week 15, the Packers backfield appeared to be in shambles. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case any longer. Green Bay gave Montgomery a season-high 16 carries on which he racked up an impressive 162 yards and two scores. He also chipped in two catches for a yard. Despite wearing number 88, Montgomery really looks the part of a running back with speed and agility. Montgomery’s performance essentially broke our elusive rating, as he managed seven forced missed tackles and a jaw-dropping 10.0 yards after contact per attempt. Green Bay gets a tough matchup against the Vikings next week, but Montgomery has to be considered an RB1.
Jacksonville @ Houston
Tom Savage breathed some fantasy life into DeAndre Hopkins.
It’s largely been a lost season for Hopkins, as Brock Osweiler’s abysmal play has continually held him back. But there were signs of life from Hopkins after Savage entered Sunday’s game following two Osweiler picks. Hopkins finished the day with eight catches for 87 yards. More importantly, he saw 14 targets, most of which came from Savage. That was the first time he’s topped double-digits since Week 10 and just the fifth time this season. Last year, he topped 10 targets 13 times. Hopkins offers more fantasy value if Savage is named the Week 16 starter.
Cleveland @ Buffalo
LeSean McCoy has a massive day.
He didn’t lead the week in rushing yards, but McCoy did have the most runs of 15-plus yards, posting four of them against the Browns on Sunday. McCoy dominated the action with 153 yards and two scores on the ground. He added three catches for 15 yards. McCoy currently sits fifth in the league with 1,125 rushing yards, and his 12 rushing scores is tied for fourth.
Philadelphia @ Baltimore
Pump the brakes on Kenneth Dixon.
It appeared like Dixon has moved past Terrance West in the Ravens’ backfield pecking order, but West was back in the lead on Sunday. He out-touched Dixon 17-9 and was the better back on the day. Dixon did nothing for much of the day, but managed to salvage a somewhat decent fantasy day thanks to a late rushing touchdown. Both backs are still difficult to trust as anything more than flex options.
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Tyreek Hill continues to defy fantasy reason.
Fantasy football production is closely tied to volume. The logic is simple: More touches tends to equal more fantasy points. Hill doesn’t dominate touches for Kansas City, yet he continually puts up strong fantasy numbers thanks to his big play upside. This week, he had just one touch – a handoff – but took it 68 yards to the house. That’s an entire week of production on one play. While Hill has been a strong fantasy asset down the stretch, keep in mind that it’s really hard to sustain big plays over the long haul. He remains a very volatile WR3 play.
Detroit @ NY Giants
Matthew Stafford plays well, but not for fantasy owners.
Here’s a case of where fantasy didn’t meet reality. There were concerns entering the week about Stafford’s injured finger, but he appeared to throw the ball just fine, posting a solid 273 yards through the air. However, he failed to throw a touchdown pass, and managed just 10 fantasy points. He was a recommended fade this week, and may be tough to trust again with a Monday night showdown against Dallas slated for Week 16.
Indianapolis @ Minnesota
Adrian Peterson returns, but gets just six carries.
The future Hall of Famer remarkably made it back on the field for Week 15, but it wasn’t the Vikings’ day. Peterson’s workload doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was actually 66 percent of the Minnesota carries for the week. Playing from behind for essentially the entire game, the Vikings abandoned the run early on. Peterson ended up playing just 12 snaps, with Jerick McKinnon on the field for 34 snaps and seeing nine targets. The Vikings get the Packers on the road in Week 16. It’s going to be tough to trust Peterson as anything more than an upside flex option in that contest.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Big Ben continues to struggle on the road.
The home/road splits for Roethlisberger are pretty staggering. He entered the week averaging over a touchdown less per game on the road. For a while on Sunday, it looked like Roethlisberger wouldn’t throw for any scores, but he managed to connect with Eli Rogers late in the game. This was a tough storm to weather for Roethlisberger owners, but the good news is that the Steelers are home against the Ravens on Christmas Day.
New Orleans @ Arizona
Brandin Cooks explodes.
Remember him? Cooks has been largely silent over the last three weeks, but he put up a monster stat line on Sunday with 186 yards and two scores on seven catches. For the week, he posted the second-highest yards-per-route-run figure of 4.23. Cooks remains a high-upside WR2 play in Week 16 at home against the Bucs.
San Francisco @ Atlanta
Devonta Freeman goes nuts.
He had a lot of fantasy owners concerned after his ugly Week 14 stat line, but the 49ers have the cure for what ails you. Freeman leads all running backs in fantasy scoring for the week, racking up 155 scrimmage yards and three scores on 22 carries. He gets a tougher test this upcoming week against the Panthers, but will still be an RB2-plus option.
New England @ Denver
Tom Brady doesn’t have to do anything.
Welp. This one was rough for Brady owners because he really didn’t have to do much for the Patriots to get the win. Brady finished with 188 passing yards and no scores, and that was more than good enough against a Broncos team that managed just three points. Unfortunately, that translated to a lowly seven fantasy points. Only Jared Goff managed fewer points this week. If Brady owners managed to survive, they likely get a reprieve in Week 16 with the Jets next up for New England.
Oakland @ San Diego
Kenneth Farrow isn’t ready for prime time.
Like we expected, Farrow was the lead back on Sunday, seeing 17 touches. But the rookie struggled for much of the day and managed just 53 scrimmage yards. Melvin Gordon is on the mend and could be back on the field this week. If he isn’t, fantasy owners will likely want to fade Farrow.
Tampa Bay @ Dallas
Ezekiel Elliott continues his torrid pace.
The rookie posted his seventh 100-yard game of the year and currently sits with 1,542 yards. That’s just 266 yards away from Eric Dickerson’s rookie record. Of course, we should keep in mind that there is a chance he’s throttled back or even rested over the next two weeks. If that happens, the next man up is no longer Alfred Morris. The Cowboys activated Darren McFadden this past week and immediate moved him ahead of Morris.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.