Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 15
Dan Malin recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw!
Strange week that was. This is actually the second time I’m having to write this article. I had a nice long run with my laptop, but it crapped the bed on me overnight and I’m having to re-write this article for a second time. That Macbook and I had a great run. We endured many hacking attempts and several viruses, but I find it rather fitting it died on the same day as the Patriots’ playoff hopes.
It seemed we were all in for a bit of a routine week and then inactives hit; no Ezekiel Elliot, and the Dolphins announced they’d be without Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker . So that naturally opened the floodgates for an abundance of Tony Pollard and Lynn Bowden Jr. questions. I had a lot of questions regarding whether to start Tony Pollard over James Robinson, JK Dobbins, Miles Sanders, and others. If I had to do it all over again, there’d still be no way I’d sit James Robinson for Tony Pollard. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Pollard had himself a day. But I subscribe to the theory that we trust the guys that got us here. If you had fringe flex options and were fortunate to pick up Pollard following the news regarding Zeke, then more power to you. But if placed in the same scenario again, I’m still recommend the guys that were leaned on down the stretch.
The L-Word And Tony Pollard
I’ve been pretty lenient with the L-word this year. No, I don’t mean “love” although the previous women in my life may argue I’m a little too cavalier with that one as well. Pollard and this particular hyphenated word that rhymes with “Teague Spinner” aren’t yet ready to be properly anointed. On a side note, it was incredibly difficult finding words that rhymed with “league.” But that’s neither here nor there. While I cringed with every Tony Pollard carry, every Tony Pollard catch, and each Tony Pollard touchdown, we have to be excited. Fantasy sports is outlandishly reactionary so if you used him to beat a team that was on a bye last week, then you’re feeling pretty giddy. Like you, I had to start him in some leagues after news broke that Ezekiel Elliott was going to be out. And perhaps that’s what is holding him back from L-word status. But I don’t want to jinx him just yet. I dubbed Deebo Samuel as an L-word and he’s done for the year. So I’m going to proceed with caution regarding Mr. Pollard because there’s obviously a good chance Ezekiel Elliott tries to suit up next week. But if he doesn’t, Pollard’s obviously in line to carry many of you to the promised land against the Eagles who have given up 13 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs.
Russell Wilson Is Done Cooking
Kitchen’s closed! The Seattle Seahawks are done taking orders. Russ Wilson can pack his knives and go. We haven’t seen him play at the MVP level that he was showcasing at the beginning of the season. In his last six games he has only nine touchdowns and seven turnovers with only one game over 250 passing yards. The rushing numbers are there, but he’s playing more like Russell Stover than Russell Wilson . The Rams are coming to town in Week 16 and they just suffered an embarrassing loss to the Jets after most folks in the media was saying “Wow, the Rams look like a complete team.” That team is going to be pissed off and Wilson didn’t play well against them in their last game. He threw for just 248 yards and committed three turnovers. It’s hard to imagine benching him too. There are very few guys you can feel great about starting over him. Hopefully there are some new menu options next year.
It Doesn’t Feel Like A “True” Breakout Game Is Coming For J.K. Dobbins
That’s a mouthful of a headline, but it feels right. Has Dobbins been bad? Hell no. He’s been really good. He’s scored in four straight games with double-digit touches in each contest over that span as well. But we just haven’t seen a real breakout game that we’ve seen from D’Andre Swift or Cam Akers. Even Jerry Jeudy had one huge breakout performance and he’s struggled to connect with Drew Lock all year long. We just haven’t seen that 100+ yard performance with a pair of touchdowns and it’s probably not coming until next season since Lamar Jackson has found his stride late in the season. You’ll take 50-70 rushing yards and a touchdown to the bank each week and be content with that as your flex. But he’s had really good matchups for three straight weeks now and we keeping buying into it for DFS. He is $6,200 next week on DraftKings against the Giants. Let’s hold off on the “Dobbins breakout game” tweets until 2021.
Darius Slayton Is Flying Way Under The Radar
He hasn’t been very good and that’s likely due to Colt McCoy being under center. However, Slayton still has 17 targets in his last two games from McCoy and Daniel Jones, and he only has one touchdown since Week 2. What I’m really trying to say, is that he’s one of my favorite bargain plays next at just $3,800 on DraftKings. And maybe it’s a little early to preview the DFS slate on a Monday morning, but Slayton is a cheap guy I’m willing to take a chance on next week. The target share is clearly there and while the Ravens matchup may scare some away, we need to pay attention to the practice reports this week. Jimmy Smith and Marcus Peters missed Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. If they aren’t practicing this week then I’m feeling even better about Slayton. But if you’re building around Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next week, why not bring it back with a cheap option like Slayton who could return immense value with a deep touchdown catch? All the Giants are pretty cheap next week, but Slayton’s the one that screams of a player on the brink of a huge game.
No Player Is Worth $9,000+ In DFS
I’m hopeful that this raises a fun, spirited debate because for me, I just can’t stomach paying this much for a player in NFL DFS. Derrick Henry is an elite running back, there’s no arguing that. But he was $9,500 yesterday and while he provides a nice floor and ceiling, he would need 28.5 points at the price tag for 3X value. After all the bonuses and a huge performance, he returned 26.2 points roughly? He had a monster game (per usual) and returned good enough value in cash games, but if paying up in GPP’s, you’re hoping for multiple touchdowns at that price tag. The other issue I have with such costly players is the impact it has on the rest of your roster. If you spend so much on one player, you only have about $5,100-$5,300 left to spend per player. You’ll save money at D/ST and potentially tight end, but assuming you try to solidify your build with one or two more studs and a reliable quarterback you’re looking at a two-to-three dart throws to round out your lineup. And then if you’re $9K predator performs more like a kitten then you’re a bit screwed. It’s not an exact science and only one man’s opinion, but you’ll rarely see me swallowing my pride and rostering a player that expensive. Even in yesterday’s Fantasy Football World Championship, Derrick Henry was rostered in 25% of lineups. So plenty of people disagree with me, but again he didn’t even hit 3X value and he was 19% of their budget. Dalvin Cook was only 3.5% owned but at least he exceeded 3X value, but again he was 18% of the budget. If Christian McCaffrey suits up for next week’s main slate, I can’t imagine his ownership will be very high at $9,200.
Arguably one of my hotter takes from this season. I’m obsessed with the Broncos. I probably think about the Broncos more than anybody at The Denver Post. They’re loaded with weapons on offense and I’ve always been of the mindset that if Denver can just get a competent quarterback then the pass catchers in this offense would shine. But with Lock, that hasn’t been the case. He’s been incredibly frustrating at times. Jerry Jeudy could very well be the next Allen Robinson . That kind of elite talent at wide receiver that is just dealt crappy quarterbacks throughout his career. However, during Saturday’s broadcast of the Broncos/Bills game the announcers did make some arguments for Drew Lock to take that third-year step. Because let’s face it, if he doesn’t improve next year then the organization will likely be looking at a quarterback in 2022. There’s no way they land Trevor Lawrence this year. Jacksonville isn’t dealing the top pick. And it’s unlikely they trade up for Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance. So they’ll likely be with Drew Lock another year. And Lock’s second year numbers aren’t terribly far off from Allen’s in 2019. Last year, Allen completed 58.8% of his passes for just over 3,000 yards with 20 passing touchdowns. Fortunately for him, he ran the ball quite a bit. Currently Lock is at 2,330 passing yards with 14 touchdowns, although he’s been worse with turning the ball over than Allen. His completion percentage is currently 57.7%. And keep in mind, Lock missed three games this season. Is it bold to say he can make the leap that Allen did year-to-year? Of course because he doesn’t have the arm strength Allen has. But working on his mechanics and possibly making use of his legs more could easily improve his chances of sticking around in the NFL. Saturday night was a big night for Noah Fant, but Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Tim Patrick combined for five catches and 37 yards. There is absurd potential here with this offense and it all depends on Lock’s development next year.
Le’Veon Bell Will Make Or Break Championship Teams This Weekend
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely done for the final two games, Le’Veon Bell steps up in an unbelievable matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons defense is pathetic. Even when they started to look better, they just go right back to being awful. Darrel Williams will get mixed in as well, but the running game hasn’t been a consistent piece of success for the Chiefs this year. Edwards-Helaire has been frustrating at times but let’s not forget he has 1,100 total yards in his rookie campaign and he’s going to miss the last two games and he wasn’t given a single touch a couple weeks ago when he was ill. It’s not like the Chiefs are desperate for a running game when Patrick Mahomes is your quarterback and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are at his disposal. But Bell is easily in line for 15+ touches next week and could find the end zone once again similar to Week 15. I’m guessing Bell gets 65% of the offensive snaps and Williams will come on the field for the other 35%. Who knows, maybe we get a touchdown from Anthony Sherman , which would help nobody. Either way, hopefully you’re in the championship without Le’Veon Bell. On paper this is a smash spot, but I’m of the group that believes his smashing days are well behind him and wouldn’t want to rely on him for a fantasy championship.
The Jets Showed How Bad They Really Are… By Winning
The Jets finally won a game in 2020, and in doing so they probably set the franchise back a few more years. The Jaguars are now in line for the first overall pick and you know they’re likely taking Trevor Lawrence if they lose their final two games. But what is truly baffling is that this entire time the Jets were actually trying to win football games. In half their games this year they put up 13 points or less. Against the Raiders, we were all convinced they blew the game on purpose to maintain the first overall pick. The forced usage of Frank Gore , the poor development of Sam Darnold , the lack of first-round picks still with the organization, etc. You have to imagine it’s not long until Sam Darnold joins that list of first rounders that are either no longer with the team or were just busts. But amidst all the poor coaching decisions, blown games, lack of offense, this was somehow a team that wasn’t tanking? As a Jets fan you have to be pretty sick to your stomach. Most of them probably relished in every Jets loss like this particular member of the FANation...