SNEAKY WEEK 15 STARTS: ELI MANNING, JORDAN CAMERON
Just when we thought we’d seen the biggest highlights of the season, Week 14 served to trump them all. Thirty-three different plays crested the 20-point mark, setting the high water mark for the 2014 season. Le’Veon Bell’s outstanding performance kept pushing Fantasy owners through the playoffs while A.J. Green and Julio Jones flashed their elite status badges for all to see. A whole mess of quarterbacks went wild from Cam Newton (a week late for this column) to Russell Wilson and many in between.
Our results last week were middling at best (Chris Johnson, anyone?) so let’s move forward and attack the Fantasy playoffs, as Lawrence Taylor would say, like a bunch of crazed dogs.
Eli Manning vs. Washington – The Giants are coming off of their most complete performance of the season against the Titans during a week where they did not need Eli to do anything more than manage the game. He currently ranks 19th in Fantasy points among QBs, which likely slots him below even where some of his detractors had his headed into this season. However, he will be facing a Washington defense that has yielded the most points to opposing QBs in the league including Eli’s 300-yard, 4-TD performance in Week 4--his best of the year. Washington’s run defense has been capable but that has been countered by seeing the league’s most passing attempts and third-most passing yards. This is not a recommendation to bench your (far) more consistent starter but in 2QB leagues and in daily formats, Eli should provide some very solid returns.
Chris Ivory/Chris Johnson vs. Titans – For the first time this season, we are going back-to-back weeks recommending the same player, which in this case is a duo. Since they went a second consecutive week splitting carries, we left them as a duo for Fantasy owners to play whichever back is on their roster. Not a lot of people would guess that the Jets have the league’s second-most rushing yards. Unfortunately, their struggling passing offense has limited the amount of touchdowns that Fantasy owners so desperately crave. The Titans have allowed the second-most points to opposing backs and rank dead last in the league in rushing attempts and yards against this season. If deciding between the two, Ivory has been the lead back for most of the season but the recent splitting of the carries plus an added motivation against his old squad has Chris Johnson slightly in front for us.
Steve Smith vs. Jaguars –With Torrey Smith playing decoy last week, Steve Smith pitched in a very solid seven reception, 70-yard performance with a score. While Torrey may play this week there is no reason to assume he will be back at full strength. The Jags have been the league’s worst defense against WR1 according to Football Outsiders metrics, allowing over 80 yards per game. Many teams have had their success running the ball on Jacksonville, but Steve Smith lines up for another good performance despite falling off of the radar for a lot of Fantasy owners.
Jordan Cameron vs. Bengals – Having to consider Jordan Cameron a sneaky play in Week 15 says everything we need to say about the tight end position for the 2014 Fantasy season. He was a consensus Top 5 selection going into the year but injuries combined with shaky QB play have netted him only 17 receptions thus far. Cameron led the Browns in catches and yardage last week, his first game back since Week 8. He faces a Bengals defense that has allowed the 10th most points to opposing Fantasy tight ends, including a touchdown to Heath Miller of the Steelers last week. To be fair, overall Cincy has been good against the position since getting torched by Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 7. But, with Johnny Manziel, aka “Johnny Football”, taking the snaps this week it is likely he will need to target his best pass-catcher as well as check down to some easier throws and that puts Cameron in a better spot than he has been in months.
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