News & Analysis

Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Week 15 Saturday Night Football doubleheader

Dec 19, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) stiff arms Denver Broncos linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) during the third quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 of the NFL season brought with it the year's first iteration of Saturday Night Football and a doubleheader that featured two games that few expected to be close. 

The BillsBroncos game went exactly as expected, with the 48-19 win giving Buffalo its first division win since 1995 and eliminating Denver from playoff contention. The PackersPanthers wasn't quite as one-sided, but Green Bay prevailed to take hold of the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

All the players who fantasy managers have been able to trust either hit or exceeded expectations, even though the Bills gave their receiving touchdowns to players with generally low target shares.

As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action. 

Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos

Buffalo Bills Denver Broncos
WR WR
Gabriel Davis – 68 snaps Tim Patrick – 57 snaps
Stefon Diggs – 67 snaps Jerry Jeudy – 56 snaps
Cole Beasley – 45 snaps K.J. Hamler – 49 snaps
Isaiah McKenzie – 22 snaps DaeSean Hamilton – 11 snaps
Jake Kumerow – 5 snaps Diontae Spencer – 1 snap
TE TE
Dawson Knox – 40 snaps Noah Fant – 44 snaps
Lee Smith – 30 snaps Troy Fumagalli – 19 snaps
Reggie Gilliam – 10 snaps Nick Vannett – 16 snaps
HB HB
Devin Singletary – 39 snaps Melvin Gordon III – 34 snaps
Zack Moss – 34 snaps Phillip Lindsay – 23 snaps
Taiwan Jones – 1 snap Royce Freeman – 7 snaps
Total – 73 snaps Total – 64 snaps

Winner: QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Allen led an effective Bills offense that scored on the majority of its drives. He put together his seventh 300-yard passing day of the season after failing to hit that threshold in every game of his career before 2020.

Allen found the end zone twice through the air and added another two touchdowns on the ground. As usual, his favorite target was Stefon Diggs, who gained 147 yards off 11 catches. Cole Beasley was his second favorite, with eight catches for 112 yards. No one else on the team recorded more than 36 yards.

Injury: WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Diggs was carted to the locker room late in the fourth quarter with a foot injury, though not much is known about the extent of the injury yet.

John Brown was designated to return from the injured reserve earlier in the week, and there is a chance he will be ready to play in Week 16. If that’s the case, all of Diggs' snaps will go to Brown if Diggs were to miss the game. If Brown isn’t ready to go, we’ll see a combination of Isaiah McKenzie and Jake Kumerow.

Loser: WR Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos

At times, Patrick was the most reliable receiver for Denver, and he was seeing the highest target share among Broncos receivers heading into the game. He even accomplished a six-game stretch where he averaged seven targets per game.

His target share has declined over recent weeks, but his fantasy value remained high due to the three touchdowns in his previous two games. However, he caught three of his four targets for 14 total yards today, with most of his yards coming in garbage time. It will be hard to trust any of the Broncos' wide receivers next week, and it will be as hard to trust any of them in dynasty leagues with Courtland Sutton coming back next year.

Returning From Injury: TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

Fant barely played in the Broncos' last game due to an illness. He failed to come away with a catch in the game, much to the ire of the country's fantasy managers.

Today, he was fully recovered, reaching career highs in both targets (11) and receptions (8). He was the most effective part of the Broncos' offense, gaining 68 yards compared to 64 yards accumulated by the rest of the Broncos' receivers combined.

Fant also led the Broncos in targets in his last full game, and he sees a favorable matchup next week against the Los Angeles Chargers. His recent target share mixed with the opponent gives him top-10 potential in Week 16.

Dynasty Watch: RB Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

Moss has been the clear lead back for Buffalo in most weeks for which he’s been healthy, outside of two weeks ago when he was benched for fumbling.

The rookie running back was the trusted closer for the Bills today, gaining most of the fourth-quarter carries. He was the best running back of the game, too, as he racked up 81 yards on 13 carries.

Devin Singletary was held to 17 yards on seven carries over the first 58 minutes of the game, though he broke off a 51-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes with the backups in the game.

The Bills' running back situation will be one to watch all offseason. If the team doesn’t address the position, Moss should see a higher percentage of the snaps in 2021. However, Buffalo could look to add someone to the mix in free agency or the draft if they aren’t happy with the production they’ve seen this year.

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Carolina Panthers Green Bay Packers
WR WR
Robby Anderson – 62 snaps Davante Adams – 60 snaps
Curtis Samuel – 58 snaps Allen Lazard – 48 snaps
D.J. Moore – 56 snaps Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 40 snaps
Pharoh Cooper – 9 snaps Equanimeous St. Brown – 11 snaps
Brandon Zylstra – 5 snaps Tavon Austin – 4 snaps
Malik Taylor – 1 snap
TE TE
Ian Thomas – 50 snaps Robert Tonyan – 39 snaps
Chris Manhertz – 26 snaps Marcedes Lewis – 30 snaps
Colin Thompson – 11 snaps Dominique Dafney – 11 snaps
HB HB
Mike Davis – 37 snaps Aaron Jones – 56 snaps
Rodney Smith – 24 snaps A.J. Dillon – 5 snaps
Jamaal Williams – 4 snaps
Total – 69 snaps Total – 62 snaps

Winner: RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Jones was on fire early in the game, piling up 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the first half. Part of that was down to a 46-yard run, but he was consistently gaining yards on his other carries. Jones produced a first down or touchdown on 42% of his runs and was always grinding out a minimum of two yards.

The fourth-year back was given some work in the last few minutes of the game while the Packers tried to run out the clock, which hurt his yards per carry average, but he ended the game with 145 yards on 20 carries and three catches for 13 receiving yards.

Loser: WR Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers' passing game had trouble getting anything going, with Anderson having the worst day of the group.

Anderson's fantasy-point total was sitting in the negatives over the first three quarters, as he ran the ball once for -1 yard, caught one pass on a play called back due to penalty and failed to catch his other target. He started to make up for it in the fourth quarter, with two catches for 21 yards, but it was still his worst fantasy outing of the season.

Waiver Wire Target: WR Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers

Lazard’s fantasy value is trending in the right direction at an important point of the season. He received more offensive snaps than Marquez Valdes-Scantling for the first time since returning from injury, and he even ran more pass routes. This led to Lazard leading the Packers in receiving yards, as he caught five of the six passes thrown his way for 56 yards.

The Packers play the Titans next week, and Tennessee is among the top three teams in allowing fantasy points to wide receivers. The Titans should score plenty against this Packers defense, too, so Green Bay will need to pass a lot to keep up. That should be an excellent sign for the Packers' wide receivers, including Lazard.

Injury: RB Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

Williams suffered a quadriceps injury in the first quarter and didn’t return to the game. He touched the ball on three of the four offensive plays when he was on the field, highlighted by a six-yard carry and two catches for 14 yards.

Williams' injury resulted in a lot more playing time than usual for Aaron Jones, which is part of the reason why Jones touched the ball so much. It also allowed second-round rookie A.J. Dillon to receive a few snaps, and the rookie even managed to break off an 18-yard run.

If Williams misses next week’s game, Jones will be even more valuable than usual.

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