Well, we’re here. It’s Fantasy playoff time for everyone (welcome to those leagues who will play their title games in Week 17). I’ve helped you get this far, so let’s slog our way through the next three weeks and get you an extra coin for those after Christmas sales or a good bottle of booze to help ring in the upcoming year.
By George, I Think the Ravens Have Found a Running Back
Ravens running back Alex Collins has quietly become the 10th leading rusher in the league entering Week 15, and he enters Sunday’s matchup against the Browns having scored in four straight games. He’s fourth in the league with a 5.1-yards per carry average and is tied for sixth with six runs of over 20 yards. Collins is a solid must-start, yet it’s worth noting that Cleveland does a decent job when it comes to Fantasy points allowed to opposing runners. Just sayin’….
The Pack is Back (?)
Remember Jordy Nelson? Well, you might want to refresh your thoughts as Nelson gets Aaron Rodgers back for Sunday’s game at the Panthers. Nelson has averaged a paltry 9.4 yards per catch and hasn’t scored since Week 5. He’s also averaged over 10 yards per catch since then, but chances of the old Nelson returning look strong, especially since the Panthers are a less than impressive 23rd in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. The WR2 is strong in this one.
Yes, No, Maybe (Subtitle: It Pays to be Single During the Holidays)
Yes: Panthers receiver Devin Funchess should have a field day against a Packers defense that is 27th in Fantasy points allowed against opposing wideouts at 30.38 points per game. That number is higher over the past eight weeks as Green Bay has given up an average of 39.5 Fantasy points per game to receivers. Start. Him.
No: I’m not feeling good about Leonard Fournette against the Texans. He’s questionable and while he says he can go, Houston happens to be fourth in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. The Texans have allowed just eight rushing touchdowns and it also helps to consider that Fournette has averaged less than three yards per carry in three of his last five games.
Maybe: This could be the week the Eagles let Jay Ajayi loose. He had 16 touches in last week’s shootout against the Rams, his highest total since arriving to Philly. Ajayi averages seven yards per carry and has a potential feast against a Giants defense that is 29th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing runners. I’d love to see more of him as a receiver, but if you have Ajayi, consider plugging him in a Flex spot and hope for the best.
Come On, Come On, Come On and Touch (and Target) Me, Baby
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: Monday night’s 193 yards from scrimmage emphatically proved that Drake can handle a considerable workload. He’s averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 12.5 yards per catch in his last two games and matches up against a Bills run defense that is the worst in Fantasy Football when it comes to average Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. He’s a strong contender for my Jerome Harrison Award, for the running back who comes out of nowhere and carries Fantasy teams to titles.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: He’s fallen off the radar (three catches, 66 yards in his last two) but is in line for a big afternoon against a Redskins defense that is 30th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. Jones is averaging 19 yards per catch and should get a downfield shot or two from the arm of Blaine Gabbert.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: Call me insane, but this feels like the game Bryant makes amends for being a full blown bust all season. You know the Patriots will have Antonio Brown covered like a Christmas tree OD’ed on tinsel, which means Bryant — who has 22 targets in his last three games — will have favorable matchups. New England is 29th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers and considering the Pats have won five of the last six meetings, expect Ben Roethlisberger to throw at least 45-50 times. Translation: the more the merrier for Bryant.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots: Captain Red Zone has six touchdowns in his last five games and has double-digit touches in four of his last five. The Steelers defense is vulnerable to (pass-catching backs, so expect Tom Brady to use Burkhead as a safety valve between the 20s before deploying his red zone weapon. With Rob Gronkowski back, there will be less focus on Burkhead, making him a solid play as an RB2.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: With 33 targets in his first four games, Westbrook has emerged as Jacksonville’s top wideout. Westbrook also has at least one catch of over 20 yards in three of those games and is a sneaky good Flex option against a Texans pass defense that is 29th in yards per catch allowed while giving up 24 touchdown passes.
Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings: Even with a patchwork offensive line, Murray will rebound from last week’s nine-carry, 14-yard fiasco against the Panthers as Minnesota meets a Cincinnati defense that Jordan Howard shredded for 147 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears’ rout of the Bengals last week.
Gimme a Sleeper!
The 49ers are 30th in average Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and with DeMarco Murray still in a funk, this game screams “Give Derrick Henry the ball. Often.” written all over it. He should at least record a touchdown in a third straight game, but if the game flow plays into Henry’s strengths, I’d expect the Titans to hammer down and let the 247-pounder dictate the pace.