The Dolphins made a statement on Sunday, both in fantasy and reality, when they beat the Patriots at home by a score of 24-20. Before you start reading how this person knew Ryan Tannehill would do well, and that person said to play Tannehill, look at their columns or listen to their podcasts and you will see that I was the ONLY fantasy football columnist that I saw to say ON THE RECORD you should start Tannehill this weekend.
It was a wild week 15 for the Manning family as Peyton Manning hurt more fantasy owners than they helped on Thursday night when he threw both of his touchdowns to unowned WR Andre Caldwell. Then on Sunday Eli Manning went out and played catch with the Seahawks. The only problem was it was during regulation!
The Vikings and Chiefs shocked the world when the Vikings did what nobody gave them a chance to do, win without Adrian Peterson. Matt Cassel finally earned his contract in a game almost nobody started him in, and the back-up to Peterson’s back-up racked up 66 total yards and 3 TDs! The Chiefs put up 56 points against the Raiders with Jamaal Charles totaling 215 yards and 5 touchdowns!
This is what fantasy football is, a rollercoaster of highs and lows that we try and navigate throughout the season. We started out in week 1 knowing all there was to know, and here we are in week 15 scratching our heads and wondering where things went wrong. On weeks like this all you can do is get in the ride, strap yourself down, and enjoy the ride!
Ryan Tannehill – QB Dolphins: I told you to start Tannehill this weekend because he was at home, the Dolphins have looked MUCH better in the 2nd half of the season than they did in the 1st half, and the Patriots defense isn’t as good as people think they are. Tannehill finished with 312 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, good enough for the #6 ranking on NFL.com in their standard scoring format. Tannehill is worth holding on to as the Dolphins head to Buffalo to take on a Bills team that just gave up 237 yards and 2 touchdowns to Chad Henne and the Jaguars.
Matt Cassel – QB Vikings: Cassel’s performance on Sunday may have bought him some slack from the Vikings brass as he torched the Eagles secondary for 382 yards in the air, 19 on the ground, and 3 touchdowns. The number to look at is isn’t 382 or 3, it is 43. 43 is the percent of the 382 yards that went to Greg Jennings (163) in this one. And, 11 of Cassel’s 26 completions were also to Jennings. Add those up and you can tell that Cassel had a very good game against a not so good defense, nothing more. The Vikings won’t find it nearly so easy to play pitch-n-catch next week against a Bengals defense that is not so generous.
Matt Asiata – RB Vikings: If Asiata plays fantasy football, I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that not even HE owns himself. I always give respect where it is due, and it is due for the undrafted free-agent RB out of Utah that finished week 15 as NFL.com’s #2 ranked fantasy running back. The 66 total yards weren’t impressive, but touchdowns are king in fantasy football and Asiata scored 3 of them. His 24.60 fantasy points will go down as a career high, and I wouldn’t pick him up even if he was named the starting running back directly after the game because you should never chase points in fantasy football. We all missed an amazing performance by a 3rd string RB and special-teams player; suck it up and drive on.
Trent Richardson – RB Colts: Richardson makes this list because from a pure numbers perspective he had a good game. His 102 total yards and a touchdown were enough to rank him inside the top 10 for RBs this week on NFL.com, but there is also more to look at here. The 64 rushing yards came on 19 carries, meaning he averaged 3.4 yards-per-carry. The 38 receiving yards were on 4 catches, meaning he averaged 9.5 yards-per-catch. Shear volume got Richardson on this list, not an above average performance. Let someone else deal with the headache of Richardson as his week 16 match-up against the Chiefs is terrible.
Andre Caldwell – WR Broncos: With Wes Welker out this week I think most people assumed Jacob Tamme would fill in the slot role as he did when Welker went down in week 15. Not only did Tamme not get the call, but unknown back-up TE Virgil Green drew the start and Caldwell hauled in 6 passes for 59 yards and 2 TDs in the Thursday night loss to the Chargers. Caldwell came into the game with just 87 yards and 5 catches on the season. Don’t go chasing points with Caldwell as nobody knows what the Broncos are thinking anymore.
Mike Wallace – WR Dolphins: Wallace came up big for the Dolphins and his fantasy owners in week 15 as he hauled in 6 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also had one run for 13 yards, which added another point (1) in standard leagues, and 1.30 points in fractional scoring leagues. Wallace’s 17.80 fantasy points on NFL.com landed him in the #7 spot for fantasy WRs this week, a place that all his owners are sure to be happy with. Wallace will be a solid WR2 play next week against the Bills.
Tim Wright – TE Buccaneers: Wright has had some good games and some bad games this season, but week 15 was one of the good ones as he reeled in 7 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the 49ers. Fantasy TE’s are boom-or-bust every single week, so games like this are about as good as it gets.
Cleveland Browns defense: It isn’t often that a defense can give up 32 points to a team and finish as the #2 ranked defense that week. But, that is what the Browns did in week 15 as they were able to mitigate the points allowed by racking up 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 defensive touchdowns, and a recovered fumble against the Bears. The Browns are an excellent play in week 16 as they face the helpless Jets.
Eli Manning – QB Giants: And the reason I refuse to own this Manning brother in ANY format or league size was shown in week 15. Going up against maybe the best defense in the NFL is no excuse for finishing the game with 156 yards passing, no touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. [Eli] Manning managed to finish with -3.76 fantasy points this week, which I think is the worst performance by any quarterback in fantasy football this season. Everyone has a bad game now and then, but a game like this should end the debate over who is truly the better QB in their family.
Matt Ryan – QB Falcons: The Redskins defense entered week 15 as NFL.com’s 25th ranked fantasy defense, but apparently nobody told Matty-Ice that before the game. Ryan finished with 210 yards passing, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and 1 lost fumble, stats bad enough for the #26 ranking for QBs on NFL.com. Games like this is what happens when Roddy White and Harry Douglas are you’re your top two WRs and Julio Jones is on injured reserve.
Shane Vereen – RB Patriots: With Rob Gronkowski gone everyone was wondering who would step up for the Patriots offense, and it sure wasn’t Vereen! Vereen totaled 21 yards on the day, 13 rushing and 8 receiving. I give more of the credit to the Dolphins defense who smothered him and completely took him out of the gameplan for Tom Brady. I wouldn’t lose faith in Vereen just yet as the Patriots will watch film and adjust the gameplan against the Ravens in week 16.
Andre Brown – RB Giants: I saw one of the bigger fantasy websites put Brown as a top-10 RB play this week and I couldn’t figure out if they were joking, or had completely lost all grip on reality. With the Giants behind early, and Eli turning the ball over again and again, Brown really had no chance in this one and finished with 17 yards rushing and 9 yards receiving. The 1.5 yards-per-carry is sure to be something that will be brought up again and again by the New York media this week.
Andre Johnson – WR Texans: The Texans are a mess, their QB situation is one of the worst in the league, and Johnson owners felt the pain on Sunday as he managed just 4 receptions and 18 yards. Case Keenum would have made this side of the list if ANYONE had expected him to actually do well. But, they did, so he didn’t. Johnson will be a boom-or-bust player to finish out the season with Keenum and Matt Schaub throwing just as many interceptions as they do touchdowns.
Dwayne Bowe – WR Chiefs: In a game where the Chiefs scored at will against the Raiders, Bowe accounted for a measly 24 yards receiving on 3 catches. I cut Bowe way back in week 3 in my NFL.com league after he managed just 4 yards receiving against the Eagles, yet he is still owned in 91.6 percent of their leagues in week 15. Bowe just isn’t a part of the offensive gameplan these days and he is more problems than he is worth in fantasy football. Make sure you don’t draft him if he is a Chief in 2014.
Jimmy Graham – TE Saints: The Rams must have decided to allow anyone EXCEPT Graham to beat them when setting up the game plan for week 15. It worked beautifully as Graham had just 2 catches for 25 yards and no endzone visits. This is the perfect example of what I was talking about with [Tim] Wright, TEs are boom-or-bust. More and more leagues are doing away with the TE spot and employing a flex position in its place.
New Orleans Saints defense: The Rams offense is a far cry from the greatest show on turf these days, yet they still managed to run up 27 points on the Saints on Sunday. The Saints were a top-10 play by that same website that I mentioned earlier in connection with [Andre] Brown, and they weren’t able to accrue a single defensive stat. No sacks, INTs, fumble recoveries, nothing. The Saints are not a good play against the Panthers next week, so I’d look for a replacement defense if you have them as your #1 defense.
For those keeping track, I missed on Charles Clay (1 catch for 6 yards), Kirk Cousins (381 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 lost fumble), and Michael Crabtree (5 catches, 45 yards and a touchdown). The Jaguars still finished as Def1 on NFL.com and clarity on Reggie Bush’s status wasn’t known until Saturday, so that pick gets erased. 13-3 is a number I will still take any day of the week for fantasy football!
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.