Week 15 of the NFL regular season is the crucial playoff semifinals for many fantasy owners, and to recap all of the action, we turn to our fantasy guru, James Morris, who takes a look at the winners & losers of the week in fantasy football.
Week 15 Winners & Losers by James Morris
Just as like every other week in the NFL, week 15 brought us some studs and some duds in fantasy as well as reality. What makes this week worse for the duds is that their lack of statistical glory caused many people to lose their games and a shot at the league title. You might be surprised to know that despite giving up 34 points to the Patriots, the 49ers defense was still ranked #10 this week in NFL.com scoring. Let’s take a look at who helped and who hurt this week in the Winner’s and Loser’s list for this week.
* Before you email me about all the RBs that were busts this week, there is only so much room in an article to talk about the bad that went on in week 15. Ryan Mathews, Doug Martin, Ray Rice, David Wilson, Jonathan Dwyer, etc. were all worthy of making the loser’s list as well.
Russell Wilson – QB Seahawks: Wilson put on his big-boy uniform on Sunday and took home the #1 ranking in all fantasy football with his 205 yards passing, 92 yards rushing and 4 TDs. Wilson saw 5,906 waiver wire adds this week (21.7 percent total ownership) in NFL.com fantasy leagues, but is still started in just 6.8 percent of their leagues. If you read the Sunday morning injury report, you would have read that I told you all to play Wilson today!
Ryan Tannehill – QB Dolphins: Tannehill put up solid numbers on Sunday with 220 passing yards, 52 yards rushing, 2 TDs and a 2-point conversion. It is well known in Miami that Tannehill has a bright future in the NFL, but I think people around the league will sit up and take notice after a convincing win over the Jaguars on Sunday. His numbers landed him in the #6 spot for fantasy QBs for week 15.
Colin Kaepernick – QB 49ers: Who would have thought this game would be a 2nd half score-fest where 55 combined points are scored? Not me! Kaepernick came up huge and solidified his spot at the 49ers starting QB heading into next season with his 216 passing yards and 4 TDs. I’ll take the low yardage total every single time if he can continue to toss multiple touchdowns!
Reggie Bush – RB Dolphins: Bush was able to find his legs this week as he rushed the ball 21 times for 104 yards. The O-Line opened a gaping hole for him in the 3rd quarter that allowed him to scamper down the field for a 53-yard gain. While he didn’t score, the yards and the bonus for a 100-yard game (in some leagues) put him in the RB2 rankings this week.
Danny Woodhead – RB Patriots: Woodhead finished the night with more carries (12-9) than Stevan Ridley, which hurts because Ridley is owned in 99.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, while Woodhead is owned in just 15.7 percent of them. Woodhead also finished with 61 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving on 5 catches, and 2 TDs. The TDs and catches ranked him #2 this week in our Dolphins NFL.com PPR league.
Beanie Wells – RB Cardinals: When you think of fantasy football not a single Arizona Cardinal’s player comes to mind as someone you want to start anymore (nope, not even Larry Fitzgerald is worth playing these days). But, Wells raised himself up from the ashes to fantasy glory thanks to an inept passing attack and Matthew Stafford playing pitch-n-catch with the defense. He finished with just 67 yards rushing, but scored 3 TDs in the process. And, as we all know, fantasy football lives and dies by the touchdown.
Mike Tolbert – RB Panthers: Tolbert did his best Michael Bush impression by vulturing 2 TDs from DeAngelo Williams. He also ran for 40 yards and reeled in 2 passes for 24 yards on the day. The touchdowns were enough to put him #6 in NFL.com fantasy scoring for RBs this week, despite being owned in just 3.8 percent of the leagues. This was nothing more than a good day against a bad defense, so don’t run to the waiver wire and pick him up for week 16 please.
Michael Crabtree – WR 49ers: I would have never imagined I would have something positive to say about Crabtree in fantasy football terms, but I do this week. He managed to haul in 7 passes for 107 yards and 2 TDs in a slugfest on Sunday night. It was his best game of the season and if you were lucky enough to start him, take your bow now.
James Jones – WR Packers: With so many injuries on the Bears defense, you just knew that someone on the Packers offense would have a huge game on Sunday. It happened to be Jones as he racked up 60 yards on 5 catches and 3 of them went for touchdowns. Despite being started in just 32.6 percent of NFL.com leagues, he finished as the #3 WR in fantasy football this week.
Eric Decker – WR Broncos: Decker had managed just 18 catches for 207 yards and 1 TD in the last 5 games leading up to this week. The recent slumped had left many owners wondering if they should play him or not. I told many of you to play him this week via social media and hopefully you listened. Decker finished with 8 catches for 133 yards and a TD against the Ravens, and that ranked him #3 for fantasy WRs this week.
Brandon Lloyd – WR Patriots: I had given up on Lloyd and cut ties with him in every single league I owned him in. And wouldn’t you know it, he runs out and racks up 10 catches for 190 yards against a tough 49ers defense. Granted, the Patriots were playing from behind the whole night, so Tom Brady had to throw 65 total passes. But, no matter what the reason, stats are stats and Lloyd put a bunch of them up tonight. Even though he didn’t score, the receptions and yards ranked him #4 in NFL.com PPR leagues this weekend.
Dennis Pitta – TE Ravens: I guess the change in Offensive Coordinator benefitted Pitta the most as he finished this week with a robust line of 7 receptions for 125 yards and 2 TDs. His production has been sparse since week 3, but he has caught touchdowns in back-to-back games now and is someone to consider against the Giants next week as a sneaky TE play with Torrey Smith almost a lock to sit out.
Arizona Cardinals defense: The only thing worth talking about these days in Arizona (football wise that is) is if Larry Fitzgerald will demand a trade after the season, and how the defense is the only thing keeping this team in games. This week they finished as the #1 fantasy defense thanks to their 3 INTs, 2 sacks, 2 defensive touchdowns, 1 recovered fumble and 10 points allowed to the Detroit Lions. I’ll be honest and say I thought the 38-10 score would be in favor of the Lions, not the Cardinals. All the credit goes to the defense as they made this win possible.
Miami Dolphins defense: The Dolphins gave up just a field goal on Sunday while sacking Chad Henne 2 times. They weren’t able to register any other defensive stats to bolster their fantasy numbers, so NFL.com scoring had them as a DEF2. But, in Yahoo and ESPN leagues the Dolphins defense finished as a solid DEF1 thanks to the low score.
Josh Freeman – QB Buccaneers: The Bucs offense came out flat this week, which led to Freeman throwing for just 279 yards on the day. He failed to throw a touchdown, but did manage to throw 4 passes to Saints players for INTs. Those numbers, along with losing a fumble, caused him to finish dead last in NFL.com scoring for QBs in week 15.
Eli Manning – QB Giants: Manning has been up and down this season, and week 15 was one of those down weeks as he threw for just 161 yards, no TDs and 2 INTs. He is owned in 98.3 percent of NFL.com leagues, and started in 51.6 percent of them, and he finished just in front of Freeman for the 2nd worst fantasy QB this week. There is a reason why I don’t own this Manning brother in any of my fantasy leagues.
Jacquizz Rodgers – RB Falcons: When word came out that Michael Turner was going to see his role decrease and Rodgers would be the beneficiary, fantasy football owners went nuts picking him up and anointing him an every week starter. The problem with that is that Rodgers has failed to produce much more than a blip on the fantasy radar with a season high on 60-yards rushing in week 8. He has some low-end value in PPR leagues thanks to his 44 receptions for 331 yards this season, but that is not enough to make him anything more than an iffy flex play. This week he managed just 25 yards rushing and 1 catch for 14 yards, which made him the worst RB this week that people normally consider playing.
Bryce Brown – RB Eagles: I was on the Artie Clear Radio Show in Philadelphia this week doing an interview and talking about the Eagles and Bengals game on Thursday. While I warned people about playing Nick Foles this week, I don’t think I was prepared for the team as a whole to look as bad as they did. Brown managed to rush for just 34 yards on 16 carries (2.13 YPC) and hauled in 1 pass for 11 yards. Hopefully you got him out of your line-up and didn’t have to look at the 5 points he put up in NFL.com PPR leagues this week.
Jamaal Charles – RB Chiefs: The Chiefs are down to Jon Baldwin and Terrance Cooper at WR, which explains why Charles managed to gain just 10 yards on 9 carries, and catch 3 passes for 18 yards on Sunday. It is pretty hard to average 1.11 YPC as a featured RB in the NFL, but that is just what Charles did. The Chiefs are struggling to move the ball on offense, so Charles isn’t someone I would even consider playing as the NFL fantasy season comes to an end.
Danario Alexander – WR Chargers: Alexander was someone I thought would have a better game against the Panthers defense this week, but he was held without a catch (3 targets) in week 15. The Chargers have a lot of problems to deal with on offense with Ryan Mathews breaking his right collarbone (broke the left one in pre-season), and Alexander suffered as Philip Rivers had no time to throw the ball. I would consider him as bench fodder to finish out the season now.
Torrey Smith – WR Ravens: Smith has really cooled off as of late, hauling in just 5 passes for 68 yards in his last 3 games (taking week 15 into account). In fact, if you take out the week 12 game against the Chargers, he has just 6 catches for 75 yards in those 4 games. Before leaving with a concussion this week, he managed to get 1 catch for 14 yards.
Martellus Bennett – TE Giants: As always, when your QB makes the loser’s list, you too are going to make the list most days. Bennett suffered from his QB’s awful game and managed to finish with just 1 catch for 15 yards, and it wasn’t even a TD catch. Bennett is shaky with production and can’t be trusted to finish out the season.
New York Giants defense: The Giants got rocked this week as the Falcons put up 34 points on the scoreboard. As if the points allowed weren’t bad enough, the Giants only managed to sack Matt Ryan one time for defensive fantasy stats. For a team owned in 84.3 percent of NFL.com leagues, they sure played like a waiver wire defense this week.
Check back here tomorrow for advice on Week 16 Waiver Wire advice.
Also, for more fantasy guidance, follow James on Twitter here.
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