News & Analysis

Top fantasy takeaways from Week 15's action

By Jeff Ratcliffe
Dec 18, 2017

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December 17, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) kicks a field goal against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Titans 25-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 fantasy football semifinal round is nearly in the books and there are a number of major takeaways. Here’s what you need to know from every game on the weekend slate.

Chicago @ Detroit

Ameer Abdullah demoted.

The other shoe seems to have dropped on the perennial fantasy hype candidate, as Abdullah had just four touches and played eight snaps on Sunday. The Lions used Theo Riddick and rookie undrafted free agent Tion Green to handle a bulk of the workload. Green has some appeal in deep dynasty leagues, and should be added if he wasn’t already scooped up. As for Abdullah, he’s droppable in season-long and his dynasty arrow is pointing down.

LA Chargers @ Kansas City

Kareem Hunt is back.

He really didn’t go anywhere, but the fantasy community was convinced that Hunt was a fantasy bust after the rookie failed to find the end zone over a 10-week stretch. But that perception didn’t match Hunt’s play, and those who stayed the course with him have been rewarded over the last two weeks. He racked up 206 yards and two scores on 31 touches on Saturday night, which was good enough for the second-highest fantasy total among running backs so far this week.

Miami @ Buffalo

Kenyan Drake continues to play well despite the Dolphins’ struggles.

Miami looked like a completely different team than the one that defeated the Patriots on Monday night in Week 14, but it didn’t matter for Drake. The second-year man posted 113 scrimmage yards and a score on 22 touches. Drake will again slot in as an RB1 option in Week 16 and his 2018 fantasy arrow continues to point up.

Baltimore @ Cleveland

Josh Gordon disappoints.

On last week’s PFF Fantasy Podcast, I expressed concerns about Gordon because of DeShone Kizer and how he’d fare against the Ravens’ pass rush. Unfortunately for Gordon owners, those concerns ended up being justified, as Kizer has one of his worst performances of the season and finished with a lowly 3.9 yards per attempt. His struggles hurt Gordon, who managed five catches on nine targets for 47 yards.

Cincinnati @ Minnesota

A.J. Green posts a dud.

The roads were closed for Green on Sunday, as he saw a shadow from Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes and caught just two balls on four targets for 30 yards. This was a tough draw for Green, but there are bigger questions in Cincinnati follow the news that head coach Marvin Lewis could step down after this season. The Bengals have spiraled down the stretch, making it tough to trust their skill position players for fantasy purposes. If Green owners are still alive after this week, they’ll likely have to continue to start him. But it’s going to be difficult to rely on anyone else from Cincinnati in the fantasy championship.

NY Jets @ New Orleans

Mark Ingram goes off.

He’s been up and down over the last month, but Ingram managed to be up at the right time for fantasy owners who started him in their semifinal matchups. The Saints back posted 74 yards and two scores on 12 carries to go along with five catches for 77 yards. That brings his season total for catches up to 51, which is a career-high. He went over 1,000 yards and topped double-digit touches for the season.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants

Nick Foles proved to be a strong streamer option.

The Eagles had big shoes to fill after losing Carson Wentz for the season, but Foles stepped right in and did a solid job. Foles didn’t put up big yardage numbers with just 237, but his four touchdown passes made him a strong fantasy play this week. He’ll be in the borderline QB1 conversation in Week 16 with a favorable matchup against the Raiders on tap.

Arizona @ Washington

Tough to trust the Cardinals.

Once a team chock full of fantasy options, the Cardinals are now a near-barren wasteland. Some fantasy players turned to Kerwynn Williams for help at running back this week. While Williams saw decent volume with 17 carries, he only generated 61 yards and did not contribute in the passing game. Williams really shouldn’t be considered a viable option for the fantasy championship. Neither should Ricky Seals-Jones, who figured to see an uptick with Jermaine Gresham sidelined. While Seals-Jones played a season-high 31 snaps, he managed just 2 catches for 11 yards. The only Cardinal worth playing this upcoming week is Larry Fitzgerald. Otherwise, Arizona’s skill position players should be avoided at all costs.

Green Bay @ Carolina

Aaron Rodgers puts up strong numbers in his return.

There was a lot of debate in fantasy circles about how Rodgers would perform in his return. Those who thought he’d pick right up where he left off ended up being right, as Rodgers tossed three scores to go along with 290 yards. While it wasn’t the best football performance – he also threw three interceptions – Rodgers showed that he’s a must-start whenever he suits up.

Houston @ Jacksonville

Blake Bortles is surging.

The hot streak continued for Bortles this week, as he threw for 326 yards and three scores. Over the last three weeks, Bortles is tied for second among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Oh, and by the way, he faces San Francisco this week. That means there’s a good chance Bortles will be the starting quarterback on fantasy championship winning teams.

LA Rams @ Seattle

The redemption tour reaches its apex.

How sweet it is for Todd Gurley. After being widely panned by the fantasy community last year, Gurley has been arguably this season’s best fantasy asset. This week was the icing on the cake, as Gurley found the end zone four times and racked up 180 scrimmage yards. The redemption tour marches on against the Titans in Week 16.

New England @ Pittsburgh

Antonio Brown injured. Say it ain’t so.

The season of the injury also reached its apex this week, as Brown suffered a partially torn calf muscle and will be sidelined for the fantasy championship. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant saw six targets on Sunday. With Brown out, expect Ben Roethlisberger to lean on both receivers next week. Bryant will be one of the top waiver adds of the week.

Tennessee @ San Francisco

Robbie Gould for the win.

This is the first, and likely only, time a kicker will be mentioned in this column, but Gould came up huge for a number of fantasy football players this week. The veteran knocked down six field goals and an extra point, which totaled 24 fantasy points in most scoring systems. In the three weeks since Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the starter, Gould has kicked a jaw-dropping 15 field goals. He’ll again be one of the top kicker options for the fantasy championship.

Dallas @ Oakland

Massive volume for Michael Crabtree.

The Raiders receiver has one of the strangest stat lines of the week, as he managed just 39 yards on seven catches, but also scored twice. He also saw 17 targets, which led all receivers for the week. With Amari Cooper still dinged up, the heavy workload for Crabtree is a good bet to continue this upcoming week.

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