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Fantasy Recap: Week 15

Posted Dec 17, 2013

This is what fantasy football is: a rollercoaster of highs and lows that we try and navigate throughout the season.


Marvin Jones

James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.

 

It was a wild Week 15 for the Manning family as Peyton Manning hurt more fantasy owners than he 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 backup to Peterson’s backup racked up 66 total yards and three TDs! The Chiefs put up 56 points against the Raiders with Jamaal Charles totaling 215 yards and five 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!

WINNERS


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 second half of the season than they did in the first half, and the Patriots defense isn’t as good as people think. Tannehill finished with 312 passing yards and three  touchdowns, good enough for the No. 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 two 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 three touchdowns. The number to look at is isn’t 382 or three, it is 43. Forty-three 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 No. 2-ranked fantasy running back. The 66 total yards weren’t impressive, but touchdowns are king in fantasy football and Asiata scored three 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 third-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 four 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 matchup 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 backup TE Virgil Green drew the start and Caldwell hauled in six 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 five catches on the season. Don’t go chasing points with Caldwell as nobody knows what the Broncos are thinking anymore.
 
Marvin Jones – WR, Bengals: Jones hauled in five catches for 48 yards and a touchdown Sunday night, and finished as NFL.com’s No. 24-ranked WR for Week 15. The ranking isn’t bad at all when you consider most leagues are 12-team, which makes him a WR2 this week. Jones’s nine targets were second to A.J. Green, who had 18, so it is an encouraging sign for the second-year WR. For him to have true fantasy value though he will need to separate himself from the other receiving options on the team. As of Week 15, Green has 156 targets, Mohamed Sanu 69, Jones 66, Jermaine Gresham 65, Giovani Bernard 60 and Tyler Eifert 59. While Andy Dalton does a good job at spreading the ball around, Jones or Sanu need to separate themselves from the pack to be worth owning in standard 12-team leagues next season.

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 seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the 49ers. Fantasy TEs 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 No. 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 two sacks, two INTs, two defensive touchdowns, and a recovered fumble against the Bears. The Browns are an excellent play in Week 16 as they face the helpless Jets.

LOSERS


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 five 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, one touchdown, one interception, and one lost fumble, stats bad enough for the No. 26 ranking for QBs on NFL.com. Games like this is what happens when Roddy White and Harry Douglas are 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 eight receiving. I give more of the credit to the Dolphins defense, who smothered him and completely took him out of the game plan for Tom Brady. I wouldn’t lose faith in Vereen just yet as the Patriots will watch film and adjust the game plan against the Ravens in Week 16.

Andre Brown – RB, Giants: I saw one of the bigger fantasy Web sites 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 nine 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 four 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 three catches. I cut Bowe way back in Week 3 in my NFL.com league after he managed just four 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 game plan 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 two catches for 25 yards and no end zone 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 Web site 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 No. 1 defense.
 

For those keeping track, I missed on Charles Clay (one catch for 6 yards), Kirk Cousins (381 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, lost fumble), and Michael Crabtree (five catches, 45 yards and a touchdown). The Jaguars still finished as a Def1 on NFL.com and Reggie Bush’s numbers were only good enough for RB2 stats, not the RB1 he was projected as by other Web sites. 13-3 is a number I will still take any day of the week for fantasy football!

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