Are you wondering who you should and shouldn’t pick up on the wire in Week 15? Then read on!
As the fantasy football season comes to an end once more, I will also be wrapping up this series this week. It has been an interesting fantasy season to the say the least, with the emergence of a few rookies, sophomore slumps, and season-ruining injuries. Hopefully this series has been helpful in fulfilling all of your fantasy football dreams; it’s been a lot of fun writing these up each week.
Now, for the last time this season, let’s take a look at the fantasy football waiver wire and see who’s worth picking up and who’s not.
*Please note that all stats are from standard scoring in ESPN leagues as of 6 PM 12/13/16*
Tyrod Taylor: The Buffalo Bills’ quarterback has been on this list before, and he gets the honor of taking the final spot of the 2016 NFL season. Despite rumors of Taylor potentially losing his starting position for Buffalo, Tyrod is still a viable fantasy option. While I may not trust the Buffalo signal-caller to win me a real game, fantasy football-wise I am confident in the former Super Bowl champion (ha!) for these reasons:
Well, the Bills play the Browns this week. A consistent trend this season has been to pick on the Cleveland defense in fantasy football. There’s good reason for this, as the Browns have allowed the most touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season (30), and have given up the most fantasy points per game to signal callers.
The Browns give up deep balls. Cleveland’s secondary has given up the ninth-most 20+ yard receptions and the sixth-most 40+ yards receptions this season. According to Pro Reference Football, Tyrod Taylor has completed the fourth-most long passes this season, more than notable quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr.
Taylor’s running ability is underrated. Of all quarterbacks in the league this season, the rushing leader is not Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, or Marcus Mariota. It’s Tyrod Taylor. Evidenced by the 39 sacks Taylor’s taken this season, often times his protection breaks down and Taylor must run with the ball. Luckily for the Bills, Tyrod’s 6.2 yards per carry indicate that the QB does a good job when taking off with the ball. Against a shoddy Cleveland defense, I like Tyrod’s chances.
Kenneth Dixon: A fantasy option who had picked up some steam earlier in the season and had it fizzle, Kenneth Dixon is a legitimate fantasy play this week. The Baltimore Ravens’ running back has played his way back onto the fantasy scene. Following a 13-point fantasy performance last week, I’m liking Dixon as a flex option this week for those without the strongest options in that position. Here’s why:
Dixon seems to be the man in Baltimore. After weeks of snap count uncertainty, Dixon took over the Ravens’ backfield last week against the Patriots. He carried the ball 11 times to Terrance West’s two carries in Week 14. Further, Kenneth Dixon received a whopping 11 targets from Flacco. Consistently eclipsing 70 yards from scrimmage over the last few weeks, Dixon is the guy in that backfield.
Running backs have been scoring against the Eagles. In the last three weeks, just three teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Philadelphia Eagles. In that time, the Eagles have also allowed the 12th-most fantasy points per game to opposing rushers. Though the Philadelphia front-seven is certainly not lacking in talent, the numbers suggest that the group has softened recently. I like this trend for Kenneth Dixon.
The Eagles’ offense has been trending down. Struggles from rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and Philadelphia receivers have kept this offense from soaring lately. In the last four weeks, the offense has averaged 16 points a game and scored over that mark just once. During that period, Wentz has a turnover to touchdown ratio of 2:1. Against the fourth-ranked defense in the league, the Eagles will have a hard time scoring this week.
Low scoring leads to more running! As the 19th (Eagles) and 21st (Ravens) offenses face off against each other, odds are that the game will not be high-scoring. This could indicate that the teams will want to control time of possession by running the ball effectively. Further, by consistently rushing, an offense will be able to to wear down the opposing defense. I expect Dixon to get plenty of opportunities to carry the ball and score for the Ravens.
Chris Hogan: A preseason favorite of mine, the New England Patriot exploded last week for 129 yards and a touchdown. Recording his most fantasy points this season, Hogan looked mighty explosive and reliable against the fourth-best defense in the NFL. An excellent fit in Bill Belichick’s system and dynamic play-maker, I like Chris Hogan’s fantasy chances in Week 15. Here are a few reasons why:
The Denver Broncos are actually not as bad of a matchup for Hogan as you might think. This is largely because Hogan will be most likely playing against Bradley Roby in Week 15. Though he started off the season well, Roby has really fallen off. According to Pro Football Focus, through November, Roby was rated the 112th cornerback in football. That’s 112 out of 119. Hogan has burned better defensive backs already.
Chris Hogan is insanely explosive in Belichick’s system. Hogan is second only to teammate Rob Gronkowski in yards per reception this season. Recording 19.2 yards per reception thus far, Hogan averages more yardage per catch than the likes of DeSean Jackson, Kenny Stills, and Taylor Gabriel. Getting five, five, and seven targets over the last three weeks, Hogan looks poised to make at least one big play in the next week.
Denver’s run defense is suspect. Though Denver’s defense comes with an excellent reputation, losses in their front seven from last season have impacted their run defense. Formerly a top-three rush defense, the Broncos’ defensive front has given up the fourth-most rush yards this season. With one of the best one-two rushing punches in the NFL (LeGarrette Blount and James White), the Patriots will likely look to establish a strong running game.
A solid ground attack will pull additional defenders into the box and leave the top of the defense vulnerable. As the seventh-best rushing team in the NFL, the Patriots should have little problem against a defense that allows more than 127 rush yards per game. From a strategical standpoint, this will allow New England to more effectively execute play action calls and open space for deep threats like Chris Hogan.
Charles Clay: As evidenced by this tweet from Raymond Summerlin,
If you need TE this week, might be out of luck. Green at 56%. Fiedo possible concussion and vs JAX. McDonald IR. Gresham maybe best option.— Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin) December 13, 2016
the tight end pool is rather shallow this week. While Charles Clay has been off my fantasy radar all season, the versatile weapon did work last week for 11 fantasy points. Of the tight ends available, I’d go with Clay this week for a few reasons:
Again, we’re picking on the Cleveland Browns, a perennial fantasy football tradition. To no one’s surprise, the Browns are tied for the most points allowed to opposing tight ends this season. Giving up a whopping 11 touchdowns to the big men this season, the Browns are always a good match up to exploit.
Sammy Watkins is back. With the former first round pick back to near full capacity, space is opening up for other offensive options in Buffalo. It wasn’t a complete coincidence that Clay was open a number of times in the same week when Watkins played the highest percentage of snaps (94.2) all season. Watkins back and healthy is a good sign for unique offensive weapons like Charles Clay.
Who else are you going to pick up? As mentioned earlier, there are very few tight end options this week. Of those who remain, Clay is the best. Jermaine Gresham plays against a New Orleans Saints defense that has been very solid against tight ends this season. No San Francisco tight end should be considered, as none other than Vance McDonald (now on IR) has shown anything this season and that offense is horrid. Jesse James is a no-go with Ladarius Green soaking up targets. You get the picture?
Bills: Okay, I’m sorry that I keep coming back to this match up, but it is too good to ignore. Not only has the Bills’ ownership percentage dropped to near 50%, but the Browns’ offense looks as helpless as ever. With RGIII starting for Cleveland last week, the offense played with no purpose or hope. In the last five weeks, the Browns’ O has averaged fewer than 10 points a game. On the other hand, ESPN writes that “Buffalo ranks third in the NFL in sack rate and eighth in pressure rate.” Seeing as Cleveland has given up the most sacks this season (48) by a large margin, I really like the matchup for Buffalo here.
Sebastian Janikowski: “Seabass” has eluded this list all season, but he makes it in the final segment. Playing on a team with one of the best offenses in the league, Janikowski is ranked the sixth-best fantasy kicker this year. With the fifth-most field goal attempts in the league, Seabass receives plenty of opportunities for points on a weekly basis. Further, the Oakland Raiders play against the San Diego Chargers, who have allowed a lot of points to kickers this season. Ranked sixth in points allowed to the position throughout the season, the Chargers have actually been trending down in recent weeks. In the last five weeks, San Diego is ranked third for this statistic and second in the last three weeks. The Oakland kicker is in a very good position to score a lot this week.
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