2015 Fantasy Football Game Recaps: Week 15
Jeff Mans recaps all of the injuries, breakout performances and under the radar performances in the NFL this week and breaks down the fantasy football impact
Welcome to the 2015 Fantasy Alarm Game Recaps! Nobody watches more NFL football than yours truly mostly because it is impossible to do so. Each week I’ll open up my notepad to all of our Fantasy Alarm readers so that you guys can go beyond the boxscore to get the information you need to win your league.
The highlight of the week was no doubt in New York where the Panther and Giants engaged in what became a heavyweight prize fight. Josh Norman and Odell Beckham wound up going at one another all game long with Norman getting inside ODB’s head all day long. The Giants made it a game but in the end another huge effort from Cam Newton kept the Panthers undefeated.
Elsewhere we saw more injuries curb the fantasy production of stars like Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Alshon Jeffery and Danny Amendola. We’ve said it all year long that these weeks are all about simply surviving and advancing. Hopefully you were able to do just that or are in position to have some Monday Night magic carry you across the finish line.
On a side note, I want to wish each and every one of you a very sincere Happy Holiday. I don’t care which one you celebrate if you celebrate any at all. But I can’t say enough just how much I appreciate each of you who read/listen/support my work. Wherever you are and whatever you do this holiday season I hope that you have a very safe and happy one.
Here are the Week 15 Fantasy Football Game Recaps:
17 – Chicago at Minnesota – 38
The Bears defense had gotten a lot better as the season went on but have laid an egg the last two times out. Last week I chalked it up to LB Pernell McPhee being out but he returned for this drubbing at the hand of the mediocre Vikings offense.
The poor defensive performance could mean good things for this Bears passing offense. Zach Miller has established himself at a viable TE option and WR Eddie Royal is reconnecting with his boy Jay Cutler. Both of these guys could finish the season strong especially if Alshon Jeffery misses any time.
Alshon Jeffery left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. This is the fourth different injury of Jeffery’s season and I’ll be the guy who just comes right out and says that he is turning into a soft player. I’d be real careful of where you select him in next year’s draft.
Teddy Bridgewater’s four TD passes today were a career high and in fact the first time any Vikings QB had three or more touchdowns in a game since the final week of the 2012 season.
The Adrian Peterson ankle injury is much more severe than was let on during this game. If you watch the video you will see that his entire leg bent backward and that he was in extreme pain walking to the lockerroom. He had just three carries in the second half of this game and I expect him to be questionable going into week 16.
23 – Atlanta at Jacksonville – 17
I’m curious to whether or not Falcons fans will be happy with today’s performance from Matt Ryan. Ryan did not play that well but was able to guide the offense well enough to stay ahead of the Jaguars and get a win. The difference today was that he forced the ball to Julio Jones more than he had been recently and allowing the star WR to make plays for this struggling offense.
DeVonta Freeman only had one carry in the entire first quarter of this game. It just so happened that it was a five yard TD run. But it’s been a very up and down season for Freeman though from a fantasy perspective he’ll be considered a stud. This was his first rushing TD since week six.
The Jaguars offense did not convert a single third down in this entire game. They were 0-8 which I cannot even find where or when the last time this has happened this season.
Coming into the game I said that I was very nervous about recommending five Jacksonville players for fantasy this week. I think that this is something we all need to think about when we are discussing who to start each week. It was very unlikely that Bortles, Denard Robinson, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas would each make a significant fantasy impact. In the end, only Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson produced value over average this week.
For the third time in three weeks and fourth time this season Blake Bortles threw a pass after scrambling well beyond the line of scrimmage. It’s safe to say that this is just something that he is going to have to work on as its impossible for a QB to be that unaware.
16 – Houston at Indianapolis – 10
This was an awful offensive football game. Neither team was able to move the ball, convert on third downs or capitalize on the other teams mistakes. The Texans defense was better however limiting the Colts to just 190 yards of total offense.
Speaking of the Texans defense, it should be noted that they are doing well even with a very limited J.J. Watt. Watt only had two QB pressures in all today and has been having a rough time since breaking his hand before last weeks game.
If you started Chris Polk today you deserved this, you really did. Last week Alfred Blue was active but did not play due to a back injury which is the only reason that Polk got the majority of the carries. Blue went for 20-107 on the ground today whie Pols and Jonathan Grimes combined for just five total touches.
Texans T.J. Yates was knocked out of this game with what was later determined to be a torn ACL and will thus miss the rest of the season. Brandon Weeden took over and was equally unimpressive despite getting the win.
Perhaps the oddest play of the entire day of football was the Colts lining up and giving a third down carry to TE Dwayne Allen. He was actually able to pick up the first down but it just felt very odd.
Matt Hasselbeck went out of this game with a back injury but later returned. It’s obvious that Hasselbeck is coasting on fumes right now and this Colts team needs Andrew Luck back desperately next week.
38 – Carolina at N.Y. Giants – 35
This was the game of the day. But as close as the final score looked, this was a blowout in favor of the Panthers most of the day. The Panthers were up 35-7 late in the third quarter before a furious comeback by the Giants tied it up late in the fourth quarter.
Here is the bottom line with the Josh Norman/Odell Beckham situation. I am taking all opinions from Panthers fans and Giants fans out of this because based on your Twitter messages you are all incredibly biased. Anybody who watched this game with an independent mind saw that Odell Beckham played the game like a spoiled brat. Norman absolutely got in his head early but ODB started throwing haymakers and becoming violent as his frustration grew. He should have bee ejected twice without any doubt. The first time he threw a punch, that is an automatic ejection. Then when he led with his helmet in an obvious attempt to injure Norman he should have been thrown out and suspended which could still happen going forward. Don’t be that person who somehow thinks that a late TD makes up for an entire game worth of lack of production because had he kept his wits about him the Giants could have won this game much earlier.
Don’t read into Cameron Artis-Payne leading the Panthers in carries today. He was only in there while the Panthers built and extended a giant lead and was immediately removed as soon as it got close again.
Rashad Jennings finally played the role of a true feature RB today. The Giants used him exclusively on the first three drives and only swapped him out here and there in obvious passing situations with Shane Vereen. Interesting that this coincides with the Giants best rushing performance of the year.
Eli Manning tossed an awful interception in the Panthers endzone while the Giants were in the middle of their comeback efforts today. It’s plays like this that keep Eli from being a true elite lever NFL QB.
16 – Tennessee at New England – 33
The Titans lost starting QB Marcus Mariota early on in this game to what has been determined to be a sprained MCL. I doubt that he plays again this season.
Zach Mettenberger replaced Mariota and actually played well. He went 20-28, 242 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 INT. In my opinion he is among the top five backup QB’s in the NFL and would start on quite possibly 10 of the other 32 NFL teams right now.
I’m pretty shocked that Delanie Walker was able to dent the endzone twice today. The Patriots came in with the plan of stopping him and for the most part they were successful. But he made both of his receptions count especially on his 57 yard rumble down the sideline for his second TD of the game.
Hopefully you listened to reason and didn’t go anywhere near Brandon Bolden this week. He’s just never going to be a legitimate fantasy threat no matter how many RB’s the Patriots lose.
James White had a 70 yard catch and run nullified by a penalty for pass interference on a pick play. He didn’t score on the play but was tackled inside the Titans five yard line after the long gain.
Injuries crushed the Patriots once again today. They lost WR Danny Amendola early on with a knee injury, LB Don’t’a Hightower also with a knee injury and safety Patrick Chung with a hip injury in this game.
25 – Buffalo at Washington – 35
As I tweeted out on Sunday, Tyrod Taylor played an awful game here. He was slow in his progressions, uncomfortable in the pocket and inaccurate with his throws. Yet, he still posted 25.3 fantasy points which was a top seven performance and returned over three times DFS value on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
LeSean McCoy went down with what turned out to be a sprained right MCL early in the third quarter. We have to believe that he is now done for the 2015 season. I would expect to see a committee of Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee for the final two games.
This was the first time all season that the Redskins didn’t alternate a win or a loss. They had traded wins and losses all year but have now put together back to back win which have them on the verge of clinching the NFL East with a win next week.
The Redskins lost a lot of players due to injury in this game. Safety Dashon Goldson went down with a bruised rib, RB Matt Jones left with a bruised hip, LB Will Compton suffered a stinger, RT Morgan Moses has a sprained foot and center Josh LeRibeus left with a sprained ankle.
34 – Kansas City at Baltimore – 14
The Chiefs became the first team since 2010 to score a touchdown on a run, pass, fumble recovery and interception today.
The Chiefs also set an NFL record by becoming the first team ever to win eight straight games after losing five straight to begin the season.
Spencer Ware was technically active but it was luckily announced beforehand that the Chiefs planned to use him only in an emergency situation. Charcandrick West was once again the primary ball carrier and did quite well. I do wish however that West was more active in the passing game which is curious to me. West had only two catches again today which is a low total for a RB in an Andy Reid offense.
The Ravens lost their fifth home game this season today. This is the first time in their franchise existence that they’ve lost five games at home.
In case you haven’t noticed, Ravens WR Kamar Aiken has become quite the receiver this season. Aiken has the size, strength and speed that teams look for in a WR1 but he’s really put it all together this season. To think that he is posting these numbers with far inferior QB play makes him even more intriguing to fantasy owners in 2016.
13 - Cleveland at Seattle - 30
Once again Johnny Manziel put together one drive and Twitter went bananas. Folks, this kid is no good. If you are going to get excited over 161 yards passing with a TD and INT you have horrific standards for production.
Speaking of that first drive in which the Browns gained 80 yards, they only accumulated 150 more yards for the entire rest of the game.
The Browns lost starting RG John Greco to a knee injury early on in this game and he did not return.
The Seahawks clinched a playoff birth with this victory today. They are set up to potentially play whichever team manages to win the NFC East.
Doug Baldwin became the first WR since Jerry Rice to catch 10 TD’s in just four games. He also became only the third player in NFL history with multiple receiving TD’s in four consecutive games.
I thought for sure that Bryce Brown would lead the Seahawks in carries and yards today but I was completely wrong. Christine Michael toted the rock 16 times for 84 yards against this terrible Browns defense. Despite this effort I am not ready to say that Michael would be the Seahawks lead RB next week.
The Seahawks lost starting LT Russell Okung late in the fourth quarter due to a strained muscle in his calf. He’ll be reevaluated on Monday and would be a huge loss for the Seahawks if he had to miss any further time.
30 - Green Bay at Oakland – 20
The Packers began and finished this game well but got real soft in the middle portion allowing the Raiders to come back. With this victory the Packers clinched their seventh consecutive playoff birth but still need one more win to clinch the NFL North.
A lot of you are mad at me for constantly recommending Packers WR Randall Cobb week after week. Here is the question I would ask each of you: Do you trust and play Aaron Rodgers every week? If you say “yes” than you have no argument about Cobb. Cobb goes as Rodgers goes and quite frankly Rodgers has been extremely erratic this season.
For the first time in three weeks both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree were productive fantasy WR’s this week. This is what the entire first half of the season was like for the Raiders WR corps but each had slowed down tremendously over the last month.
27 - Denver at Pittsburgh – 34
It’s going to be real interesting to see just how the Broncos handle the Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler controversy. I’ll be straight up here, I think that a healthy Peyton Manning is the only chance the Broncos have at winning the AFC. But a partially healthy Manning could also be a disaster after a long layoff. Osweiler has done well but he’s not quite a playoff caliber QB by himself.
C.J. Anderson was healthy today and was rumored to return to a feature role but that never happened. He did seem to aggravate his ankle injury early in the first quarter but came back in soon after. Ronnie Hillman carried the ball 14 times compared to just four for Anderson.
Jordan Norwood had an 80 yard kickoff return that was overturned after he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at midfield.
The Steelers have won an amazing 10 straight games in the month of December.
Antonio Brown became the first player ever in NFL history to record two games of 16 or more receptions in the same season. He had 16-189-2 against the top rated secondary in the league coming into this week.
Speaking of Antonio Brown, last week on the SiriusXM show Ted Schuster and I discussed who the #1 overall pick should be next season. While Ted was in favor of Antonio Brown repeating that role again, I was not as sure. But after this performance today I think that Brown is definitely deserving of that top spot heading into 2016.
14 - Miami at San Diego – 30
The Miami Dolphins can rot in hell for the rest of the 2015 season. Everything this team does or tries to do turns into absolute garbage. They have some real good players here but the coaching has been the absolute worst in football for most of the past half decade.
Lamar Miller injured his calf in the second quarter of this game and played sparingly after that.
Miller wasn’t the only Dolphins player to leave due to injury. They also lost their two best offensive linemen to injury. LT Brandon Albert left the game due to a knee injury while starting center Mike Pouncey was carted off with a foot injury. The Dolphins also lost LB Chris McCain to a knee injury and LB Koa Misi to a back injury.
There is a very good chance that this was the last NFL football game ever played in the city of San Diego. The city votes in a month on whether or not to work with the team on a new stadium. It is more likely that the Chargers are moved to Los Angeles as soon as the 2016 season.
I don’t want to hear anything about Danny Woodhead. Hopefully you have all been paying attention this season and will no better than to look at Woodhead’s overall numbers come next August and feel that there is any sense of balance to Woodhead’s game.
Rookie RB Melvin Gordon may have to wait until 2016 to experience his first NFL touchdown. Gordon was knocked out of this game with a knee injury that very likely could keep him out for the next two weeks. Gorodn has gone 169 carries without denting the endzone this season.
24 - Cincinnati at San Francisco – 14
I did a lot of homework on Bengals QB A.J. McCarron going into this week and at the end of it concluded that he could post numbers similar to that of Andy Dalton. Pretty much 20 minutes into this game I knew that McCarron would not quite reach my expectations of him. Despite having success down the field, I was not impressed with his arm strength and specifically his velocity whatsoever. He’ll have to make some big strides if he is to be good enough to start a playoff game for the Bengals this year.
A loop hole in the NFL’s injury reporting policy caused us all to miss the back injury that Bengals WR A.J. Green suffered during the teams walkthrough on Saturday. Green was in bad shape today and played just a few drives before departing for good before halftime.
Jeremy Hill has obviously been a big disappointment to fantasy owners this season. But despite a paltry 635 yards on the ground, Hill has managed to accumulate 10 rushing TD’s this season the most in the NFL.
Hill also put the ball on the ground today losing a fumble that led directly to a 49ers touchdown. Hill was benched earlier in the season for constant fumbles so this could really hurt him in the final two games of the regular season.
Blaine Gabbert didn’t play well today but he also didn’t have any help. 49ers receivers dropped seven passes today which ties them for the most in a game by any team this season.
The 49ers were without RB Shaun Draughn for most of this game after he went out with a knee injury in the second quarter. His status will be updated again on Monday.
San Francisco also lost starting RG Marcus Martin due to a concussion.