Dwight Howard

Fantasy Football Week 15: The Fickle Beast

We are heading to Week 16 and you are still reading fantasy football articles on the internet.

Statistically speaking, that means you probably have one or more teams headed to Fantasy Football Championship Week.

Or you’re my mother.

Either way, congratulations!

With 45 players scoring 20 or more PPR fantasy points, there were some impressive and exciting games played in the semi-finals.

In a perfect world, the four teams in the semi-finals would each have 11 of those players.

But, of course, things don’t work out that way.

One of my teams had 4 of the top 12 scorers (Kenyan Drake, Jameis Winston, Saquon Barkley, and James Crowder).

Naturally, it was a team playing in the consolation bracket after delivering a dud in Week 14.

It made for some sarcastic messaging from the contenders after I posted the top score of the week.

In my best remaining money league, my fourth-seeded team squeaked into the semi-finals to face the 13-1 behemoth averaging 130 points per week.

Neither of us broke 100 points, but at least I had more than his 79.

Fantasy football can be a harsh, fickle beast.

Best Path to the Championship Round

Three of my teams will play for a championship in Week 16.

The paths they took to get there varied quite a bit.

My first team dominated all season long, despite an early blip.

My “Late Quarterback” draft strategy left me with Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Goff on the Week 1 roster.

Roethlisberger’s injury kicked off a steady stream of passers. Over the course of the regular season, I used 7 different quarterbacks.

Ryan Fitzpatrick became the eighth when he started in the Week 14 elimination round.

The rest of the roster is as solid as it can be. Five of my six starting receivers and rushers were drafted as such.

Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Chris Carson, Chris Godwin, and Travis Kelce started almost every week.

My sixth Week 1 starter, Tyler Lockett, was on my bench in favor of Courtland Sutton for the semis.

That team is 14-1 heading into the championship game.

Nothing but Quarterback

My second championship round team is the polar opposite of the first.

My Week 1 roster included starting quarterback Carson Wentz and a rookie backup, Lamar Jackson.

It took me two weeks, an 0-2 record, and 66 points on my bench to realize I started the wrong guy.

Jackson started every non-bye week game from Week 3 on, with predictable results.

The rest of the roster looked solid enough with Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Barkley, James Connor, Matt Breida, and Darren Waller starting Week 1.

Josh Jacobs was on my bench, but injuries and ineffectiveness led to some juggling of the starting roster.

In fact, 23 different receivers and rushers would start at least one game in the six non-quarterback skill positions.

But it worked to the tune of a 10-4 regular-season record and first place.

Four of my Week 1 starting six (Hill, Barkley, Connor, Waller) were back in time to lead the semi-final effort.

The Disaster Squad

Back in September, who would believe a lineup of Ryan Tannehill, Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Chris Carson, Raheem Mostert, Patrick Laird, and Tyler Higbee could bring a team to the championship round?

That was my Week 15 lineup and they were good enough to sneak into the final game.

On draft day, I was reasonably content with Ben Roethlisberger, Adam Thielen, Dede Westbrook, Carson, James Connor, Joe Mixon, and Evan Engram as my Week 1 starters.

Matt Breida, TY Hilton, Kupp, and Kirk Cousins were among my bench players.

Disaster hit early and often. My waiver pickups were short-lived fill-ins.

By Week 15, I started 8 different quarterbacks, 13 wide receivers, 12 running backs, and 6 tight ends.

Between Week 10 and the semifinals, 26 different receivers and rushers started for that team.

Somehow, I pieced together lineups that bounced back from a 1-3 start to finish at 10-4, good enough for third place before Tannehill took over in the playoffs.

More tweaking will take place before kickoff.

Anything Can Happen

My healthiest team started off 6-0 before losing 5 of their next 8 games, including a Week 14 play-in game.

My biggest money team was a disaster from start to finish, mainly because I missed the draft.

Autodraft handed me a roster that boasted Odell Beckham (disaster), Devante Adams (hurt), and Antonio Brown (suspended) in front of Baker Mayfield (underwhelming).

They never had a winning record, but they were never more than 2 games under .500 either.

Somehow, they were in a position where a win and 20 points more than a third team would let them steal the final playoff spot at 7-7.

They lost by 60 points when Ryan Fitzpatrick, Adams, and Davante Parker combined for 15 points, but that is still the team I’m proudest of this season.

Collectively, my ten teams were a horrific 9-21 after Week 3.

My big money team was the only one to finish below .500 and six teams recovered to make the playoffs.

I’m not sure if that makes me more of a waiver wire genius or a really bad drafter.

But it does show anything is possible no matter how bleak or how good things look during the year.

Week 15 recap- Solid scoring from the bench

Ten players topped 30 points in Week 15, led by the 4-touchdown performance of Kenyan Drake (39.60).

Unfortunately, the Cardinals running back situation gave many of his owners second thoughts about starting him.

With Kyle Murray leading a potential split of rushing yards with squeaky-wheel David Johnson and Chase Edmunds, some players with other options went away from Drake.

Jordan Howard’s inactive status gave a good percentage of Miles Sanders owners the courage to start their uneven running back.

He rewarded their faith with 35.20 PPR points.

Mike Evans’ absence prompted a mini-debate over whether the season-long WR-3 Breshad Perriman would win championships or if Evans’ replacement, Scott Miller, was a better choice.

If you got cute with Miller, his 13.90 points might not have killed you. However, you would have done better with the 34.60 points Perriman racked up.

Quarterbacks win championships

Lamar Jackson and Jameis Winston have been the top fantasy football passers since Week 7.

If you followed that logic and played either of them, you did alright with either Jackson’s 37.08 points or the 32.72 from Winston.

Ryan Tannehill has been the third-best passer since Week 7, although Drew Brees’ 4-touchdown performance dropped Tannehill (24.76) to fourth-best this week.

Patrick Mahomes collected 22.70 points in the snow. Popular streamers Carson Wentz (21.54) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (20.46) were the only other quarterbacks to top 20 points.

Running backs win championships

It was Kenyan Drake’s week, but every week is Christian McCaffrey’s to share. McCaffrey (37.50) racked up 175 total yards and a touchdown for the second-best running back PPR score.

Ezekiel Elliott (31.00) and Saquon Barkley (30.30) had games their fantasy football owners thought they’d see more often, following Sanders in the top five.

Playing your studs worked well for Chris Carson (26.70), Nick Chubb (23.80), Mark Ingram (23.60), and Todd Gurley (20.80) owners.

Very few owners thought to start Tony Pollard (22.30) even though he joined the others as the ten backs who topped 20 PPR points.

Wide receivers win championships

Julio Jones was the only receiver to top Breshad Perriman’s day. Jones (38.40) collected 13 passes for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns to take the WR-1 spot.

Michael Thomas (30.80) continued his record-breaking season by catching all 12 passes thrown his way for 128 yards and a touchdown.

After a few slow weeks, James Crowder owners can be forgiven for benching him in a week he went off for 2 touchdowns and over 100 yards.

The same can be said for Tyler Lockett fans, after Lockett returned from a month of fantasy irrelevance with a 26-point performance.

Anthony Miller’s owners showed a bit more allegiance to their reborn star, and he rewarded them with the WR-5 showing.

The AJ Brown (25.40) train continued full steam, while bounce-back performances from Davante Adams (23.30), and DeVante Parker (23.2) highlighted the 11 wide receivers who topped 20 points.

Tight ends win championships?

Last season, none of the top-ranked tight ends finished in the top ten scoring during both Week 14-15.

They are off to a better start this year after George Kittle (26.40) and Travis Kelce (25.20) led the tight end scoring.

Zach Ertz’s 17.10 PPR makes him the fourth-highest scorer. Evan Engram remained inactive.

Tyler Higbee (23.10) and preseason sleeper pick Darren Waller (20.20) rounded out the four tight ends who topped 20 points.

If you were quick enough to drop David Njoku and pick up Ricky Seals-Jones after Njoku’s last-minute status change, Seals-Jones continued the desert magic with 2 touchdowns against the Cardinals.

DSTs can help win championships

Seven turnovers and a defensive touchdown helped the Minnesota DST finish with 27 points. New England continued their dominant season with another 20-point effort.

Buffalo put up 18 against the Steelers.

It wasn’t all good

Those of you who decided Kenny Golladay would benefit from the absence of Marvin Jones lost the debate of the week when Golladay settled for 7.40 PPR points.

Likewise, Jarvis Landry’s favorable matchup against Arizona in an anticipated shootout between the last two top draft picks fizzled into a 7.30 performance.

Adam Thielen reminded us not to trust someone coming off an extended injury with his 6.00 PPR points.

TY Hilton wasn’t much better with 6.5 PPR.

Somehow, Dallas racked up over 40 points and still managed to feed Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Michael Gallup a combined 5 PPR points.

Many starting running backs and popular streaming fill-ins found themselves lacking in point production, too.

Dalvin Cook’s 7.3 points before leaving the game was a bummer, but perhaps the most disappointing total was Marlon Mack’s 1.3 point effort on Monday night.

Adding Injury to Insults

Cook’s shoulder forced him out of the game against Detroit. Despite head coach Mike Zimmer’s assessment that Cook can play through the injury, speculation arose that Cook could sit until the playoffs.

Mike Boone had 2 touchdowns and 56 yards after Cook left. He becomes the must-add of the week if you need a running back.

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said Chris Godwin’s hamstring injury “doesn’t look good.”

With no good reason to rush him back into the lineup, Perriman and Miller could both offer championship week contributions.

There were no other notable injuries.

Championship-worthy waiver options

Some of the more popular late-season waiver adds have run their course. If you survived some weak performances in Week 15, it might be time for another upgrade.

Besides the Tampa Bay wide receivers, OJ Howard is probably in line for more targets in the absence of Godwin and Evans.

But be careful because Cameron Brate stole 7 targets in Week 15 and remains Jameis Winston’s favorite end zone target.

Jonnu Smith might be a better choice after his top-ten performance this week.

Anthony Miller is still available on a lot of waiver wires. He’s averaged 10 targets per game since returning as a full-timer in the Bears’ offense.

His 6.6 catches and 88.6 yards average over that span make him PPR worthy. If Trubisky hits him for a touchdown in what could be a shootout, he’s a top-10 receiver again.

Philadelphia’s Greg Ward was the only wide receiver to catch a pass for the Eagles last week. His Week 15 touchdown should put him firmly on Carson Wentz’s radar for the NFC East title game this weekend.

Running back Boston Scott hauled in all 7 of his targets for 65 yards while Miles Sanders got the attention. He is worth a PPR play.

Adrian Peterson gets a Giants defense that had a pretty solid game to help make Eli Manning’s last Giants Stadium appearance memorable.

Expect them to go back to normal, allowing Peterson to enjoy another solid game.

Watch Minnesota’s injury report. If Alexander Mattison returns from his ankle injury, he might bite into any Mike Boone playing time.

Although, if the Vikings get a lead, both could rack up some significant points.

One player I will not pick up this week is Kerryon Johnson. Detroit does not look motivated enough to let any running back win my championship for me.

Plus, I really have a prejudice against rushers in their first game returning from injury.


Next week we’ll go over the best Championship Week performances. And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the small percentage of leagues who play in Week 17.

We’ll explain why that is so difficult and offer some perspective on which teams might rest their stars and which backups might win a Week 17 championship for you.

Until then…

Pat Opperman NFL Fantasy Analyst, click here for more.

Archive @ Pat Opperman


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