by Noah Pires
December 15, 2018
It's the heart of the playoffs, which means the fantasy gods have been toying with our emotions. Big injuries have been sustained recently, wreaking havoc on millions of lineups across the nation. On top of that, there are Saturday games, which makes it even harder to set your lineup if you have a guy playing Saturday and are debating between whether or not to play him or risk it in hopes a guy like T.Y. Hilton suits up on Sunday. There's only two things we can really do in that situation: pray and read this article.
CARSON WENTZ - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
In the middle of the week, it was announced that Wentz was dealing with some sort of back injury. Now, his Week 15 status, as well as his rest of season outlook, are in jeopardy, which means Nick Foles will be at the helm. Now, how does this impact their offense? Outside of Zach Ertz, I don't trust anybody. Alshon Jeffery has been extremely inconsistent recently and Golden Tate has yet to cement himself into this offense. Unless Foles returns to his Super Bowl form, I won't have any faith in rolling out any wide receiver in this offense. The only reason I trust Ertz is because he's the clear cut #1 for Philly, and with the lack of TE depth in fantasy football, who are you going to bench him for? As for their running game, not much should be affected by the QB change. Josh Adams is still a back end RB2 due to his consistent volume, but his upside relies heavily on finding the endzone, which could be hard to come by if the offense takes another step in the wrong direction without Wentz leading the charge.
MATTHEW STAFFORD - DETROIT LIONS
Staff is reportedly dealing with a back injury, but is going to play through it. Honestly, there are about 20 different QBs I'd prefer to play over him. This offense is terrible, he has one actual receiver, and Detroit has nothing to play for. Look elsewhere if you were planning on relying him or basically anybody in this offense, and that includes you, Kenny Golladay owners.
CAM NEWTON - CAROLINA PANTHERS
I said it last week; Cam's arm is a debacle. He looks like he's in serious pain every time he throws the ball, which isn't a good look in a game where they'll have to keep up with the Saints. Would I still start him? Yes. Last week was the first time all season he didn't record a touchdown, and although you may chalk that up to his injury, I see it as an outlier. He has an extended week to recover (playing on Monday night), though, that extra day likely won't do much in aiding his shoulder. If you have Newton, roll him out there, as well as most of their offensive weapons (Moore, Samuel, Thomas, McCaffrey), though I'd temper expectations against a Saints' defense who has looked much improved as of late.
WAIVER WIRE REPLACEMENTS
LAMAR JACKSON - BALTIMORE RAVENS
MATCHUP: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Since taking over the starting job in Baltimore, Lamar has yet to finish below the QB15 mark. Sure, he's not going to throw 3 touchdowns, but he's averaged 83 yards on the ground while heading the Ravens, which is equivalent to 2 passing scores in most league formats. He's practically averaging the equivalent of 3 passing touchdowns with his 83 rushing yards and .8 passing scores per game, and against the Bucs, his production should continue. Tampa has allowed decent rushing lines to mobile quarterbacks this season (Cam Newton - 6/33/0, 11/33/0; Mitchell Trubisky - 3/53/0), and with Lamar loving to run, I wouldn't be shocked if he tops 100 rushing yards for the second time since he took over the starting job.
JEFF DRISKEL - CINCINNATI BENGALS
MATCHUP: OAKLAND RIADERS
Ok, let's be real, there's a very small chance you're considering starting Driskel this week, and I don't blame you. At this point in the season, where it's one and done territory, you're not looking for a guy who hasn't proved much, but if you've recently lost Carson Wentz or hate your QB's matchup (Winston @ Baltimore, Mayfield @ Denver, etc.), Driskel isn't a terrible play. Firstly, his matchup is what dreams are made of. The Raiders have allowed 2 or more touchdowns to the QB position in all but one game this season, and that was in Week 2 against Case Keenum. Oakland also cant stop quarterbacks with the ability to run, as Lamar Jackson went for 71 and a TD on the ground and Mahomes broke off 52 yards on 9 carries. Driskel hasn't run much at all, but he's athletic enough to be able to take advantage of Oakland's weaknesses, of which there are many. Driskel was also about an inch away from a rushing touchdown last week, which should inspire confidence. Overall, he's the ultimate dart throw that'll either make you look incredibly smart or like a complete idiot, and if you know me, then you'd know I'm down to look like an idiot as long as if it pays off, it'll pay dividends.
There aren't any stashes for the QB position. Every backup is pretty much a bum and the only way it'll pay off is through injury. I doubt Tampa reverts back to Fitzmagic at this point and it looks like Baltimore is rolling with Lamar Jackson, so there's no point in stashing Fitzy or Flacco.
RASHAAD PENNY - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Penny isn't going to suit up against the 9ers, which leaves Mike Davis and Chris Carson alone in the backfield. Since week 11, when all 3 Seattle backs have been active, Penny has commanded an average of 20.5% of the team's snaps. In his absence, I'd imagine Carson gets around 60% of the snaps (8.75% more than he's seen over the past four weeks) while Mike Davis is on the field about 30% of the time (4% more than the past 4 weeks). Davis has been much less involved recently, so I'm not sure these increased snaps work too much to his benefit, but Carson has seen nearly 20 touches a game, which should easily continue, making him a must-start RB2.
ISAIAH CROWELL - NEW YORK JETS
Crowell got injured last week, which led to Elijah McGuire handling 20 total touches. Now, with Crowell headed to the I.R. McGuire stands to greatly benefit. Sure, the Jets' offense may suck, but their backfield has been cut down to Eli and Trenton Cannon, which will likely result in a 70/30 split. I will get into McGuire later in the article, but overall, this injury doesn't impact much outside of the backfield.
JAMES CONNER - PITTSBURGH STEELERS
James Conner practiced for the first time all week, making him questionable to play this Sunday. He gets a great matchup against the Patriots, so if he's good to go, roll him out there as a solid RB1. If he doesn't, though, we have another week of Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley. Sure, Ridley is in a revenge game, but if you're starting him, you're relying heavily on a 1-yard TD run. Last week, he converted, but only after Samuels was given the first attempt. The Steelers obviously prefer Jaylen, as he dominated snaps (80%), so if Conner's out, he's a must-play back-end RB1, and a top 5 tight end for you scum MF'ers in Yahoo leagues.
LESEAN MCCOY - BUFFALO BILLS
It's the Bills, their running game is atrocious and basically unusable for fantasy purposes. Josh Allen, over his past 3 games, has rushed for 335 yards, which is crazy in it's own right, but even more wild when you realize that LeSean McCoy has 479 rushing yards ON THE SEASON. Josh Allen is the RB to own here, and it just so happens he plays the QB position. If McCoy sits, don't play Ivory/Marcus Murphy, and if he's active, you'd be foolish to start LeSean. Outside of maybe Josh Allen, I'd stay far, far away from this offense, despite being in a pretty good spot against the Lions.
MATT BREIDA - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Breida is questionable for week 15, which, knowing Breida, means he'll suit up. If he's in, send Jeff Wilson Jr. to Dumpsville, as there's no way he'll get anything more than 30% of the snaps, and against the Seahawks, that isn't nearly enough to produce. As for Breida, if he plays, he'd slot into a back-end RB2 play, but not one that I'm all too confident in. Seattle will probably control this game, forcing Mullens to throw, limiting MB's volume. Now, if Breida doesn't manage to play, Wilson become a RB2 simply because he'll have nobody to compete with and San Fran has shown they want to get him involved in the passing game.
ELIJAH MCGUIRE - NEW YORK JETS
MATCHUP: HOUSTON TEXANS
This is a terrible matchup for McGuire, but it's hard to argue him as anything less than a RB2. He's set to see 15+ touches, which will include work in the passing game, as well, so he has one of the safer floors for a guy who isn't owned in the majority of leagues. Last week, he commanded 17 carries and was targeted 4 times (3 receptions), showing New York isn't afraid to let him get full control of that backfield. If you need a guy with a safe floor who is guaranteed volume, look no further than Eli as a solid RB2/FLEX play.
KENNETH DIXON - BALTIMORE RAVENS
If you've read this article in the previous weeks, you'd know Dixon has been in the "deep stashes" section for weeks. He's easily the best all-around runningback in Baltimore, as he can catch passes AND run between the tackles, which is a combination Montgomery and Edwards don't have. Last week, Dixon's snap share increased from 21% to 32%, while Mongtomery and Edwards' both decreased from 33% to 27% and from 51% to 44%, respectively. Now in game against a defense who couldn't stop a D3 offense, Dixon should eat. Even if he gets 12 touches, his ability in this matchup will allow for him to produce top 24 RB numbers.
DARREN SPROLES - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
I'd only hold onto Sproles if you're in a full PPR league. This backfield has dwindled down to Adams and Sproles, and of the two, Darren is the far superior pass catcher. On top of this, he also equaled Adams' snap share (40%) last week, just two games after returning from injury. He isn't an upside play for certain, but he could easily see 5+ targets per game and produce Chris Thompson-esque numbers in that role.
ODELL BECKHAM JR - NEW YORK GIANTS
Guess who's out, out again. If you want an in depth analysis of how this injury impacts the Gaints' offense, I analyzed it more in last week's article. In short, Engram and Sterling Shepard get a boost, while Saquon Barkley remains one of, if not, the safest RB in fantasy football. Even in a tough matchup against the Titans, I'd be extremely shocked if he finished as anything lower than the RB5 overall this week. As for Shep, he's a solid WR3 play and Engram is a must-start TE1, unless you own a guy like Ertz, Kelce, Ebron...you get the picture.
BRUCE ELLINGTON - DETROIT LIONS
Who the hell do the Lions have left? Outside of Golladay, I don't think I could name another receiver (ok, maybe I know T.J. Jones). Even with Ellington out, absolutely NOBODY gets a bump in value. Stafford sucks, their running game is a mess, and they're playing in Buffalo. I wouldn't watch this game if you paid me, and with Tre'Davious White likely shadowing Golladay, I want nothing to do with the Lions' offense.
T.Y. HILTON - INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Hilton didn't practice all this week, which makes his outlook for Sunday look extremely unlikely. He's a true game-time decision, so if you have someone like Jarvis Landry going tonight, I'd slot him in over Hilton to be safe. Other than Juice, though, I don't think I'd play any of the other guys on Saturday night over Hilton. Let's say, for example, you play DaeSean Hamilton tonight and then Hilton suits up. In that case, you'll likely be leaving a lot of points on the table. Now, what if Hilton doesn't play? Well, if that happens, you can just scoop someone off waivers who would produce similar numbers to what Hamilton is expected to put up. The reason why I'd play Landry, though, is because if Hilton plays, the difference between T.Y. and Jarvis is much less than the difference between Jarvis and a waiver receiver (if Hilton doesn't play). If you're not in this predicament, then count your blessings, and fire up T.Y. as a back-end WR1 if he's active.
DOUG BALDWIN - SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Once again, it looks like Doug is a game-time decision. He plays at 4:05 on Sunday, so it may be tricky to set your lineup if his status is unknown, but I wouldn't worry all too much, simply because Baldwin isn't a "must-start" guy. The last time they played the 9ers, Seattle put up 43 points, and Baldwin only put up a 2/22/1 line. Seattle simply doesn't throw enough to give these receivers any value on a weekly basis outside of Tyler Lockett. Baldwin is a WR4 play, so if you're concerned about his injury and have replacements going at 1:00, just play them instead and save yourself the headache.
DANTE PETTIS - SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
MATCHUP: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Pettis has been on a tear recently, finishing as a WR2 or better in each of his last 3 games. He's also seen 7 targets in each game since Week 12, making him one of Mullens' favorite targets. Two weeks ago against the same Seahawks team he's playing Sunday, he put up a 5/129/2 line. This performance likely won't happen again, and his 3 game stretch of touchdowns may also come to an end, but with San Francisco being underdogs, they'll be in a game script that calls for a lot of passing. With Mullens only having two reads, Pettis and Kittle, he should see enough volume to produce as a fairly reliable WR3/FLEX play this week.
CURTIS SAMUEL - CAROLINA PANTHERS
MATCHUP: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The fact that Samuel is available on any waivers is bizarre. Over the last two weeks, he's totaled 19 targets and has played in over 85% of the offensive snaps. On top of that, he's finished as at least a WR3 in each of his last 4 games and in 5 of his last 6. Devin Funchess has become a non-factor in Carolina, and with Olsen out, targets are being funneled to Curtis. He's a dynamic player and has become one of Cam's favorite targets, so in a game where the Panthers will be trailing and Marshon Lattimore will be on D.J. Moore, Samuel's volume should continue. He's a high end WR3 play for me this week, and playing on Monday night, he'll give you that adrenaline rush of hope if you're down after Sunday's slate of games.
MICHAEL GALLUP - DALLAS COWBOYS
Gallup hasn't exactly produced recently, but he's getting tons of volume. His target total has increased in each of his last 4 weeks (3, 5, 6, 7, 9) and has played in over 80% of the snaps in all but one game since week 6. Dallas's offense has looked much improved since bringing in Amari Cooper and have even been moving towards the pass since the acquisition (54% pass rate weeks 1-8; 5th lowest percentage, 57% weeks 9-14; 18th highest percentage). I don't feel comfortable starting him, but in terms of a deep stash, he's worth a roster spot and could provide value if you lose a WR to injury heading into your championship week.
JORDAN REED - WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Surprise surprise. Sadly, Jordan Reed's streak of healthy games has come to an end after 14 weeks. Despite being healthy all year, he hasn't done much of anything to bring value, and now, with their QB situation, I'm staying away from Washington (for the most part). Their wide receivers are extremely inconsistent, Adrian Peterson heavily relies on touchdowns, and Chris Thompson is made of glass. Outside of one player, who I'll touch on shortly, I'm avoiding everybody in this offense, especially against the Jaguars.
Nobody is questionable heading into week 15, but let's be honest, outside of 4-5 tight ends, they're all questionable plays.
CHRIS HERNDON - NEW YORK JETS
In Week 1, would you have ever imagined having to rely on a guy named Chris Herndon at the tight end position? If you answered yes, you're a psychopath. Well, Week 15 is here, and with about 87% of starting tight ends in the NFL getting injured, you may have no other options. There are certainly worse options than Herndon, though, and here's why: Herndon gets the Texans, who have been abysmal against tight ends. From Week 9 on, they've allowed a tight end to hit double digit points in every game, outside of when David Njoku totaled 8 yards on 3 receptions three weeks ago. Guys in that span who produced were Jeff Heuerman (10/83/1), Jordan Reed (7/71/1), Jonnu Smith (2/63/1), Anthony Firkser (4/52/0), and Eric Ebron (4/65/1). Herndon doesn't have much upside at all, but he's in a good spot in game where the Jets are going to throw, which makes him a serviceable back end TE1 play this week.
VERNON DAVIS - WASHINGTON REDSKINS
MATCHUP @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Vernon Davis is now starting at tight end for the Skins, which means he's usable for fantasy. Sure, Washington blows, but so does every tight end in the NFL. He's still got some juice in the tank, as seen by his 53 yard TD in Week 11 with Colt McCoy at QB. If he gets more than 5 targets, which is certainly possible, he'll be a viable back-end TE1 play, especially against the Jags, who have struggled against tight ends this season (Ebron - 10/81/0; McDonald - 3/27/1; Alie-Cox - 2/28/1; Ebron - 3/69/2 [and a rushing TD]; Goedart - 1/31/1; Ertz - 4/26/1; Kelce - 5/100/0).
DALLAS GOEDART - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
My affinity for Goedart is slightly reduced after learning Foles will likely be the team's QB from here on out, but still, if Ertz goes down with an injury, GODart become a TE1. At this point, there's no reason to hold onto him, so play it safe, especially if you're an Ertz owner.
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