This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all games played this past weekend. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game for week 15.
Dolphins @ Chargers
You watch this game and you really have to wander what the hell the San Diego Chargers were doing this year at RB. Danny Woodhead (12 car. 90 yards TD, 6 rec. 50 yards 3 TDs) is an absolute mis-match/nightmare for opposing LBs out of the backfield yet almost every week this year he was out-snapped by another SD back (usually Melvin Gordon). Woodhead scored three receiving TDs in this game and on every single one he ran himself open. On the second one he even tip-toed/dragged his body on the sidelines to catch a low thrown ball. Woodhead was underused all season by the Chargers, with Gordon now hurt maybe he gets more work week 16 and 17 but watch the news as it’s possible he ends up splitting time with Donald Brown.
Philip Rivers (26-36, 311 yards 3 TDs 2 INTs) has been great passing this year against weaker defenses. Unfortunately, there were no narrative street TDs to Gates or Floyd in this game but he’s still been super consistent for fantasy. He plays the Raiders and Broncos on the road the next two weeks though, two matchups I’m not thrilled with and would probably advocate a rest of the year fade.
I don’t know what the Miami Dolphins are doing at RB either. This seemed like the perfect spot for a Lamar Miller (9 car. 12 yards) heavy carry game but after getting stuffed early they again gave up on using him as a runner and receiver. Rookie Jay Ajayi (6 car. 27 yards TD) is a pretty nice prospect who had some knee issues in college but runs with good agility for a power back. I’d be shocked if the Dolphins didn’t try and get him more carries form here on out.
DeVante Parker (4 rec. 87 yards) had a couple nice long catches in this game. He’s the downfield option now in this offense and someone I’d look to the next couple weeks if he’s min priced or near it. It makes sense that Miami would want to get their rookies some work.
Studs: Danny Woodhead, Philip Rivers
Duds: Lamar Miller
Broncos @ Steelers
I mentioned in my tournament write-ups this week for the DFS Report that Antonio Brown (16 rec. 189 yards 2 TDs) has already once proved this year that he is matchup proof… well he proved it again in this week. In a close game Ben Roethlisberger went to his best player early and often and he delivered. The Pittsburgh offense is basically unstoppable and might even be a better fantasy target against good teams since it forces a fast game pace and the other team to score more too. It’s almost like a reverse trend for fantasy in that the better team Pittsburgh’s offense plays the more likely it is that it will have a huge day.
Both Markus Wheaton (6 rec. 62 yards TD) and Martavis Bryant (10 rec. 87 yards) had big games too. Wheaton found the end zone and Bryant ended up with 10 catches. I wasn’t shocked to see Wheaton show up in this game since he was drawing the third Denver CB in coverage. Long term though Bryant is likely the more consistent option still. I would be careful using Wheaton week to week.
For Denver it’s hard to know what this game means exactly. Like I mentioned the Steelers force teams to play higher tempo and Brock Osweiler (21-44, 296 yards 3 TDs INT) had a great first half and exploited the Steelers secondary by going to Emmanuel Sanders (10 rec. 181 yards TD) down field a ton. The second half was a different story though as the Steelers D really did a good job on Osweiler and stopped him numerous times with the game on the line. The Broncos have a really tough matchup coming up next week with the Bengals so taking a chance on this offense might not be the best idea next week.
Also don’t be afraid to give a look to the Steelers D as a play the next couple of weeks. They have a dream matchup with the Ravens in week 16 and they’ve been good at getting turnovers lately.
Browns @ Seahawks
The Hawks lost Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls so what did they do? They brought in two talented backs to replace them and didn’t miss a beat. Christine Michael (16 car. 84 yards) took the majority of work for the Hawks in this game and averaged 5.25 ypc. Michael will probably be the favorite next week to be the starter and the talent of Michael plus the fact the Hawks will be looking for revenge after an early season loss to the Rams makes me think he might be a very good target for week 16.
At WR I can’t see teams not shifting coverage over the Doug Baldwin (4 rec. 45 yards 2 TDs) in the next couple of weeks. He’s been so good at getting open in the red zone that I don’t know how teams don’t start doubling/shadowing him at every turn. Baldwin caught two more TDs in this game and was honestly barely covered on one of them. Any future shift by D’s would of course mean that Tyler Lockett (5 rec. 55 yards TD), who has been burning teams deep every week lately, might explode soon. Lockett caught a 30 yard TD in this game by just blowing by two defenders to catch up to a perfectly thrown ball from Wilson. Wilson’s big arm is made to throw to a speedster like Lockett.
Johnny Manziel didn’t play poorly in this game and hasn’t been bad all season. That being said this offense ends its season with games versus KC and Pittsburgh, two defenses who are trending wayyyy up. The best strategy is likely to forget about this team for fantasy in the last two weeks. There’s some decent players and TE Gary Barnidge has been a revelation but the upside for a big game isn’t there in those matchups.
Studs: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett
Duds: Travis Benjamin
Ravens @ Chiefs
This game was pretty simple. The Ravens offense is bad and the Chiefs defense is really good. Two defensive TDs mean the Ravens were playing from way behind all game which gave them no chance to win this game. The Chiefs D-line is fantastic against the run and basically shut out Buck Allen (4 car. 18 yards) who had really been a ppr force the last coupe of weeks. Allen lost a fumble in this game and was basically benched for Terrence West who took a lot of snaps but was hurt towards the end. Watch the news next week because Allen could still be an interesting target if he has the backfield to himself the last two weeks of the year.
I’m not a huge Kamar Aiken (8 rec. 128 yards TD) fan but he’s getting a lot of targets now that the Ravens are behind almost from the get go every week. Aiken obviously scored a lot of points on a lucky Hail Mary just before halftime but he was also the most targeted receiver on Baltimore by a lot. If the price stays low he could be a decent target next week versus a gettable Pittsburgh secondary.
Jeremy Maclin (7 rec. 50 yards TD) keeps producing even in this conservative offense. He didn’t make any huge plays in this game but burned the Ravens for a pretty easy score from about 20 yards out. At this point you need to just start trusting Maclin because the Chiefs need to win out to make the playoffs and Maclin is by far their best WR. He’s getting 10 targets a week and capable of putting points up against almost anyone.
Studs: Chiefs D, Jeremy Maclin
Duds: Buck Allen
Cardinals @ Eagles
I’ve written about how good David Johnson (29 car. 187 yards 3 TD, 4 rec. 42 yards) is all year and you saw why in this game. Johnson was 230lbs of absolute terror in this game. What’s amazing to me is how well he changes direction and speed for a man his size and how hard he is to take down once he does. Numerous long carries were created by him just one-cutting and putting his head down and running through or past defenders. Receiving wise, you could not ask for a more talented back either. The Chris Johnson injury might have just won the Cards the Super bowl.
Passing wise it’s beginning to be a bit of a guessing game as to which Cardinals receiver is going to get more points. I like both Michael Floyd and John Brown but there’s only so many targets to go around, especially in games where the Cards are blowing the other team out. Brown is the more explosive WR and could have had multiple TDs in this game but battled drops. Both are safe plays given the offense they’re in but will eat into each other fantasy wise every week.
The Eagles passing game was the best I have seen it all season in this game. Sam Bradford (28-41, 361 yards 2 TDs, 2 INTs) has played well lately and both Zach Ertz (8 rec. 78 yards TD) and Jordan Matthews (8 rec. 159 yards TD) make for interesting tournaments plays for me next week against a very weak Bills secondary. Matthews is someone who’s talent has been completely wasted this season but busted out in this game with numerous big plays from the slot including a long catch and run TD. I’ll probably get sucked into using Matthews next week just cause of the talent and the fact he’s against the weak Redskins secondary.
Studs: Jordan Matthews, David Johnson, Zach Ertz
Duds: Larry Fitzgerald, Eagles running backs
Lions @ Saints
Well this was close to what everyone expected, a back and forth game with not much defense. I don’t care what anyone says there’s quite obviously something bothering Calvin Johnson (1 rec. 19 yards) at the moment and I won’t be shocked if he’s the first to announce he’s getting his ankle repaired once the season ends. The targets have been trending towards Golden Tate (6 rec. 45 yards 2 TDs) the last 4 weeks and in this game he was the preferred red zone target. Tate scored twice on designed plays inside the ten-yard line, a place where the Lions used to just throw to Calvin Johnson at will. I imagine the cat is out of the bag and now and Tate’s price will go up this week, but with easy matchups versus the Bears and 49ers Tate is on track to end the year with some more big games.
If Calvin Johnson is really hurting then I guess you also have to consider Eric Ebron (4 rec. 79 yards) in the last two weeks. He just missed a couple TDs in this game and will have the same easy matchups Tate does. I don’t love the talent but I love the matchups week 16 and 17.
Brandin Cooks (10 rec. 124 yards TD) burned the Lions numerous times downfield in this game. I don’t know why the Saints are so afraid to let Cooks touch the ball 10+ times but they seem content to just throw to him downfield a few times a game and leave his targets at 7-8 every week. Once they got behind early Cooks started to see more targets and was getting open at will most of the second quarter. He’s a great young player but I wish the Saints would use him more along the lines of the way the Steelers use Antonio Brown.
I saw this game coming from Tim Hightower (13 car. 54 yards, 3 rec. 31 yards). Mark Ingram suffered the same fate most weeks as the Saints primary back as the Saints offense has to abandon the run early most weeks. The good thing about Hightower is that he’s way cheaper than Ingram ever was. I guess the Saints are riding him from here on out so if he remains close to the min-price roll him on full point ppr sites.
Studs: Golden Tate, Brandin Cooks, Drew Brees
Duds: Calvin Johnson
Bucs @ Rams
The Bucs pass game is what it is. Against soft coverage late when the Bucs were down by 20 late Jameis Winston (29-50, 363 yards, 2 TDs INT) was able to get Mike Evans (9 rec. 157 yards) and Austin Seferian Jenkins going but the first half was one terrible half of football for all three. I love Mike Evans and honestly feel like he’s probably one of the top 3 most talented WRs in the NFL right now, but in this offense he’s completely hit or miss. Once the pressure was off Winston he was able to get Evans the ball and he had no problem dominating the Rams secondary. Evans has really taken off when Vincent Jackson has been out and so he’d definitely someone to keep an eye at the end of the year.
The Bucs refuse to give Doug Martin (18 car. 91 yards) big workloads and it’s probably cost them a few wins this year. Martin keeps looking great every week to me but Charles Sims (7 car. 50 yards, 3 rec. 22 yards), who isn’t horrible himself, keeps soaking up 35% or so of the work. I’m to the point where Martin is just too expensive to be considered when there’s a ton of value at RB in DFS every week.
Todd Gurley (21 car. 48 yards, TD) got bottled up in this game. The Rams offensive line isn’t great and against a solid run D like the Buccaneers it wasn’t shocking to see them contain him, and even stuff him three times on the goal line late. I’d be wary of using Gurley too much from here on in. I wasn’t shocked to see Case Keenum give the Rams offense a jolt this weekend against a Bucs squad who was coming off a disappointing season ending loss, but in tougher matchups this offense is still going struggle.
Tavon Austin (4 car. 32 yards, 3 rec. 41 yards) did some Tavon Austin things in this game, taking an end around/hand off for a score and catching a short pass for one too. He’s still getting touches in this offense and is their most consistent option at WR for consistent production. Maybe someone to think about week 17 versus the 49ers.
Studs: Mike Evans, Rams D, Tavon Austin
Duds: Doug Martin
Jets @ Cowboys
The Cowboys season is over but they didn’t go without a fight. Their defense has been solid all year and gave Ryan Fitzpatrick (26-39, 299 yards TD INT) all kinds of trouble, constantly pressuring him from the get go. While Dallas might go into the tank now that they’re out of the playoffs their D is still not a great matchup week to week for fantasy. The Cowboys play at a slow pace and have a good pass rush, avoid lining up too many players against them from here on out if you can.
The Jets running back situation has switched from being dominated by Chris Ivory (13 car. 37 yards), to a timeshare to being semi-dominated now by Bilal Powell (6 car. 25 yards TD, 7 rec. 54 yards TD). Powell has turned into a great ppr play in the Jets passing scheme and is the most effective back on the team right now. He caught 6 passes in this game and took a shot gun snap 20 yards for a TD. The Jets employ a lot of quick screens and Powell just looks like a better fit. I’d expect him to keep getting a push as the Jets roll on.
The Cowboys offense is now being led by Kellen Moore. There’s absolutely nothing here for fantasy purposes although it does look like the Cowboys will keep running Darren McFadden into the ground to end the year. Watch to see if the Cowboys sign or call-up anyone else at RB but McFadden could be a decent target down the stretch.
Studs: Bilal Powell
Duds: Dallas Passing game
Titans @ Patriots
The Patriots D is definitely one of the most underrated units in the league and against the pretty pathetic Titans offense this was set up for a big day for them. The Pats pas rush is unbelievable and caused a strip-sack fumble-TD early to set the tone for this game. I like Marcus Mariota but against the top tier defenses he basically has no chance and ended up getting injured early in this game. Hopefully the Titans can get some better talent and coaching around him next year.
The big question mark in this game was who the play was at RB for the Pats. The Pats did do a lot of power running in this game but the real star of the backfield once again was James White (7 rec. 71 yards TD). White is proving to be almost as good a receiving weapon as Dion Lewis and he once again adds a great dimension to this offense. I honestly don’t care who the Pats sign in the next couple of weeks as White right now is the only player I’d consider at RB for DFS form the Pats.
Delanie Walker (2 rec. 64 yards 2 TDs) has always been a special athlete but now that he’s getting number one receiver targets he’s a pretty special play for fantasy purposes too. Walker’s always been one of the few TEs in the league who can do real damage after the catch and he ran over/through half the Pats team on a long 50 yard TD in this game. I thought he might struggle or get semi shut down in this game but even on limited targets he still produced. He’s in the top 4-5 TE’s in the league for fantasy this year and pretty much matchup proof.
Studs: Delanie Walker, Pats D, James White
Duds: Brandon Bolden
Panthers @ Giants
This was a crazy game in more ways than one. First of all, Cam Newton (25-45, 345 yards 5 TDs, 8 car. 100 yards) sealed his status as the MVP of the league for me in this game. I know Russel Wilson is playing at a level no one has seen before but Newton has been great in every game the Panthers have played this year. To say he was great in this game was an understatement. Outside of some amazing deep balls and red zone throws whenever the Panthers needed a first down there was Cam with his legs to pick up 10 or so yards. If there’s one thing I wish I could fix from my DFS year it’s that I didn’t play Cam enough. Late in the year with only two games left you’ll have to keep an eye out to see if the Panthers decide to rest him.
Odell Beckham (6 rec. 76 yards TD) probably should have been thrown out of this game. Josh Norman must have said or done something to him early because for three quarters he was basically just attacking Norman every play. He didn’t get thrown out though and when the chips were down he beat Josh Norman in the corner for a late TD which tied the game. Honestly if not for a few breaks late the Giants probably lose this game by 14 and Beckham ends up with 8 points or so instead of 18 or whatever he had. Don’t go making a habit of targeting WRs against Josh Norman and hope Odell learns something from this game.
Ted Ginn (6 rec. 86 yards 2 TD) is basically unstoppable at the moment and I don’t say that jokingly. He’s always had some of the best speed in the NFL and even though we all like to make fun of his hands he’s getting wide open at will against pretty much everyone right now. I thought the Giants bigger Corner Backs might slow him down and I was dead wrong. The only thing that might slow him down this year is getting rested which he may be next week, keep on eye on news out of Carolina.
In other news the Giants finally started to use Shane Vereen the way he’s supposed to be used in this game, with short routes over the middle that make teams who double Odell pay… 12 games too late for fantasy and for their season.
Studs: Cam Newton, Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen
Duds: Mike Tolbert
Bills @ Redskins
This game was messy and had a lot of big plays for fantasy which I wasn’t shocked about to be honest. The Bills defense has been a mess most of the year and they lost their best corner this week in Stephon Gilmore. Kirk Cousins (22-28, 319 yards 4 TD) hasn’t been the joke everyone makes him out to be of late and played great in this game making use of all his weapons at one time or another. Jordan Reed (7 rec. 84 yards 2 TDs) was fantastic for the second week in a row and just continues to be a red zone menace for other teams. The Bills had zero chance of covering him in this game and the only thing that stopped him from getting more was a couple long passes to Desean Jackson (6 rec. 153 yards TD). Jackson being healthy has given Washington a pretty potent passing attack as teams simply can’t cover Jackson deep and Reed over the middle at the same time. The Skins have played much better at home than on the road this season but have a great matchup next week versus the Eagles too.
The Bills season was already over before this game but now it’s really in the drain-pipe. Lesean McCoy got seriously injured in this game and I’d guess he’s done for the year. There’s still potential for this offense to have big fantasy games though and Sammy Watkins-Tyrod Taylor proved once again that they’re possibly the best downfield combo in the NFL right now (second best to Pittsburgh actually). Watkins burned the Skins secondary badly twice in this game for TDs and I’d look for these two to keep the pedal down until the season is over. All that matters now is padding stats for both these players because new contracts aren’t that far away.
Studs: Kirk Cousins, Sammy Watkins, Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson
Bears @ Vikings
This game was a great example of why I like Stefon Diggs (3 rec. 55 yards) so much. Diggs has that same after the catch ability that an Antonio Brown has he’s just stuck in a conservative offense that doesn’t throw much. Diggs caught a crossing route in this game and then jerked past a couple defenders and carried another one on his way to the end zone. He’s an extreme talent that is being semi-wasted in this offense. He obviously has big upside but with how little Minnesota throws week to week his point floor is pretty scary for fantasy.
Adrian Peterson (18 car. 68 yards) got a little dinged up and if he ever missed time I’d definitely be down with using some Jerick McKinnon in DFS as he’s a much better receiver and a pretty special athlete himself. McKinnon had a big game after AP got slowed by his ankle injury and made a great run after the catch to fid the end zone. Someone to keep an eye on if the Vikes rest Peterson in the last game of the year.
The stat line on Matt Forte (8 car. 47 yards, 6 rec. 57 yards TD) looks OK for fantasy but the Bears were using Jeremy Langford a ton in this game too. Forte is still the better back but with how much Langford is cutting into his time I don’t know how you can consider either. Both are an avoid for me unless one sits the last week or something.
Alshon Jeffery got hurt in this game right after scoring a TD which was unfortunate. With how banged up he’s been it’s possible you don’t see him again this year. TE Zach Miller (6 rec. 57 yards) caught fire in garbage time to post an OK day and would be my guess to soak up a lot of those targets in coming weeks. Offensively the Bears are headed in the wrong direction but as a cheap source of ppr points Miller has some value in future weeks.
Studs: Stefon Diggs
Duds: Jay Cutler
Falcons @ Jags
Well Blake Bortles (23-38, 297 yards TD INT) garbage time fantasy run finally came to an end in this game. Bortles has been better this year but the fact he was bottled up by a mediocre Falcons defense in a must win game tells you something about him long term. Fantasy wise he’s got a lot of great weapons, it just seems like a weekly toss up as to whether he’s going to have a huge passing day against prevent defenses or be ineffective like he was in this game.
The Falcons and the Jags are very close resemblances to each other team wise, they’ve done well beating up on some weaker teams this year but get completely killed by more elite teams. I wasn’t shocked to see Julio Jones (9 rec. 118 yards TD) get back on track in this game and find the end zone as the Jags are pretty awful at covering men in the open field. The Falcons still do a good job of scheming Julio the ball and against weaker pass D’s he’s going to be a very safe play the last weeks of the season.
Devonta Freeman (25 car. 56 yards, TD, 7 rec. 45 yards) perked back up here but predictably did most of his fantasy work through ppr stats and one nice drive in the first Q where he ran for a TD. The Jags are good against the run and Freeman isn’t the greatest inside the tackles runner. The Falcons play the Panthers next week though so in reality I wouldn’t touch this group until week 17 when they get a dreamy matchup versus New Orleans.
It’s not that there isn’t fantasy potential with the Jags passing game every week, there is, but Allen Robinson (3 rec. 57 yards TD) is far from a sure thing to go off, especially with Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas around to steal so many targets. Value wise Julius Thomas (6 rec. 79 yards) was the best play from this group today. The Falcons have really been poor at covering TE’s all year and even though there was no TD to make this a big day he did lead the Jags in all other receiving stats. Thomas has definitely been a favorite of Bortles in the red zone lately and seems like a strong bet for another TD or two this season.
Studs: Julio Jones
Duds: Blake Bortles