2017 NFL Hot Takes: Week 15
Dan Malin takes a look around the NFL and gives you his hot takes from Week 15 of the fantasy football season.
Injuries… Injuries… Injuries… They have defined the 2017 NFL/fantasy football season. Sadly for owners of Antonio Brown, his loss could be costly. In just 13 games this year Brown totaled over 1,500 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Yes he was in the MVP discussion as he could’ve topped over 1,800 yards if given 16 full games, but this will cost a lot of players. Can’t predict injuries, although they haven’t been much of a surprise this year. Antonio Brown got you this far, but unfortunately his loss is a tough pill to swallow. And if you did manage to pull out a ‘W’ without him you’ll need some serious help next week because he’ll likely be sidelined with a partially torn calf.
At this point in the season you can’t really predict guys who will finish top ten at their position the rest of the season. Most leagues wrap up after next week anyway so it’s utterly pointless. So I’ll focus on some upside plays for next week that could pay off big.
Pick Up James White
James White has been lying dormant ever since Rex Burkhead came back. A lot of the work as the pass catching running back that White normally had received went mostly to Burkhead. But with Burkhead potentially out next week with a knee injury it’s time to pick up White. White was a borderline top 20 running back with Burkhead injured earlier and he was used a steady amount in the passing game. Next week the Patriots travel home after playing five of their last six games on the road. They face the Bills and they are arguably the worst defense against running backs so it could be a big day for Dion Lewis and James White. In a game where the Dolphins had to virtually abandon the run, Kenyan Drake still managed to rack up 78 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards on six catches and a touchdown. A few weeks ago the Pats racked up 191 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns against the same Bills defense. White is available in about 50% of leagues and if you’re in need of a high upside flex option White is worth the pick up.
Grab Nick Foles If You Need Him… Or If Your Championship Foe Needs Him
Nick Foles is back. This is the guy who once threw seven touchdowns in a game and this is an opportunity to showcase his talents for 31 other teams while also leading the Eagles through the postseason. Foles is still under contract next season, but he could be trade bait if the Eagles can package him for picks. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets focus on next week. You may have a quarterback you’re confident in. And that’s fine. But even Tom Brady is historically bad for fantasy in December and Foles looked AWESOME today. He threw four touchdowns and basically picked up where Carson Wentz left off. Next week Foles and the Birds face off against the Raiders at home. With the Raiders travelling West-to-East for a game Christmas night (which is kind of dumb to be honest) Foles could easily pick apart that weak defense and have a top five performance next week. Even if you don’t need Foles he may be worth picking up just so your opponent can’t grab him. At this point, QB’s aren’t vital, but Foles is a top short-term option and if there’s a weakness in your opponents team you do everything you can on waivers to ensure that he/she cannot get better.
Martavis Bryant is a Top 20 Wide Receiver Next Week
Bryant is available in less than 50% of leagues. Antonio Brown averages about 12 targets per week. Bryant won’t assume all those targets, but he should see an uptick from his usual six targets, to maybe eight or nine total, and that’s pretty solid. With the Steelers loss to New England on Sunday, Pittsburgh now needs to continue to be aggressive to maintain a first-round bye with Jacksonville nipping at their heels. Bryant managed to find the end zone for just the third time this year, but he should have a bigger role next week on the road in Houston. He’s available in about 42% of leagues and could pay off big time if you need to replace Antonio Brown or Rex Burkhead in the flex. I’m calling seven catches for 70 yards and TWO touchdowns next for Bryant. However, at the same time, I can imagine Le’Veon Bell thrashing the Texans who have been burned in the rushing department but I’m sticking to my hot take regarding Bryant’s production next week.
Legion of S-U-C-K
Sure the Seattle defense is dealing with an abundance of injuries, but at the same time the whole team has been atrocious. Todd Gurley had four total touchdowns and 180 all-purpose yards, the Rams defense sacked Russell Wilson SEVEN times and forced two turnovers, and the Rams owned time of possession 36:46-to-23:14. It was an absolutely dominant performance by the Rams who avenged an early season loss to the Seahawks. But the story has to be the Seahawks. Yes they’re hurting, but this was an effortless performance out of a team that is watching its playoff chances slip away. Next week the Seahawks go on the road to Dallas and the Cowboys will be getting Ezekiel Elliott back after his six-game suspension. Both teams are still fighting for a playoff spot, but next week will certainly eliminate either Seattle or Dallas from playoff contention and Dallas is going to want to let Elliott run wild. The Seahawks will likely be the most dropped DST in fantasy football after accumulating negative points in ESPN standard scoring over the last two weeks.
Eric Ebron is Still Criminally Under Owned
Yes he’s notorious for dropped passes, but he has five straight games with at least four catches. He has 15 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown over his last two games. Next week he gets the Bengals who have given up touchdowns in back-to-back weeks to opposing tight ends. The Lions are right in the thick of the Wild Card hunt for the last playoff spot and won’t be going away from Eric Ebron anytime soon. It’s been working ever since he’s quietly put together some good games. With five wins in their last seven games they’ll keep Ebron involved especially in the red zone where he saw three targets Saturday against the Bears.
Big Week Next Week for the 49ers
Next week the Jaguars are currently just 4.5-point favorites on the road against the 49ers. And I’m truly going to make a bold prediction and predict that Jimmy Garoppolo throws for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Yes even with the Jaguars in town. Yes they have the best defense in the league and the secondary is phenomenal and they could easily get five sacks at the minimum. But I’m rallying around Jimmy Grapes for a big game next week against Jacksonville. Garoppolo has surprisingly picked up Kyle Shanahan’s offense with ease and in just a few weeks. With over 700 passing yards in his last two games he’s won his first three starts as the starting quarterback of the 49ers. I’m buying into the 49ers keeping this momentum going and giving the Jaguars a reality check next week on Christmas Eve. Garoppolo’s going off, Hyde will have 100 rushing yards, and Goodwin will catch two touchdowns. I’ll welcome all jokes to my Twitter account if this blows up in my face, but the 49ers are so awesome to watch right now. (Side note: when I initially wrote this I predicted 450 passing yards from Jimmy G… Really needed to sleep on that call.)
The Jags Will Be In On The Fun Too
Basically I’m calling for a shootout next week in San Francisco/Santa Clara… Wherever the hell the 49ers actually play. Sure it’s going way off the radar, but Blake Bortles is also playing phenomenal football right now and he did his damage Sunday without the usual suspects. Chris Ivory was the right play on Sunday considering he got the most touches in the Jacksonville backfield without Leonard Fournette healthy, but Corey Grant just did more with his workload. Not to mention Tommy Bohanon scored two dirt cheap rushing touchdowns. Marqise Lee got hurt and the targets went elsewhere to Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens who both found the end zone. Injuries will take their toll on each team. A lot of teams will use that as a crutch, but the Jaguars won’t. Blake Bortles is currently riding a 2012 Joe Flacco-esque run as the Jags are heading to the playoffs for the first time in ten years. With a great defense and depth at running back and wide receiver this team is no longer a joke. Next week even if they’re down some key players there’s plenty of reason to remain confident that this team could still put up 28+ points. Keelan Cole will certainly be a very popular option on waivers this week. He’s under two-percent owned on ESPN and he’s scored in three straight games. This 49ers/Jaguars game on Christmas Eve next week will be a Super Bowl LV preview and I think I’m the only person outside Duval County, Florida excited for it.
Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter (@RealDANlanta) and throw Twitter tomatoes my way for some of my takes that go awry. Thanks for reading! Stay strong the rest of the way!