Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v PHI)
Last week certainly didn’t go according to plan for fantasy owners—including myself—that rolled with Jared Goff in Chicago, but the Rams simply weren’t ready for the cold weather and ferocious pass rush at Soldier Field. It would be a huge mistake to go away from Goff at this point, though, as the Eagles aren’t getting the pressure they did in 2017, and their secondary is the worst in football. Back at home where he has averaged 36.0 fantasy points per game in primetime, I expect Goff to bounce back in a big way for another Sunday Night Football clash.
Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (@ PIT)
Including playoffs, Tom Brady is 11-2 with a 30:4 touchdown-interception ratio against the Steelers throughout his career, but every year, there are people that believe things will be different for Pittsburgh; I don’t buy it. Brady will continue to pick apart zone coverage, and New England has as many weapons as ever with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, James White, Sony Michel, and a rejuvenated Rob Gronkowski all finally on the field together for an extended period of time. Plus, the Patriots should be angry after last week’s loss in Miami. TB12 is a must-start for Week 15.
Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (v DET)
Josh Allen has averaged 15.2 fantasy points per game over the past three weeks—based solely on his rushing numbers. Overall, the rookie’s 24.2 fantasy points per game since returning from his elbow injury would trail only Patrick Mahomes (26.5) on the season, and Allen easily has the most upside of the quarterback options that aren’t clear starters in 10- or 12-team leagues for owners in need of a big second week in their fantasy semifinal. The floor is low, but Buffalo’s playmaker is a top-15 option.
Thumbs Up: Nick Foles (@ LAR)
The Eagles will reportedly be without Carson Wentz (back) on Sunday night and perhaps the remainder of the season, so Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles could get a shot to spark another playoff run down the stretch. Foles didn’t put up huge numbers as a streamer to start the year, but he has obviously played his best football in big moments, and Philly will likely need to get in a shootout to keep up with the Rams this week. I like Foles over all the “Thumbs Down” quarterbacks this week.
Others: Matt Ryan (v ARI), Derek Carr (@ CIN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Aaron Rodgers (@ CHI)
No one would blame fantasy owners for starting Aaron Rodgers with a fantasy championship berth on the line, but take away the name and I’m not sure it’s a wise play. For one, the Bears just shutdown Sean McVay’s offense and will get to stay at Soldier Field as they look to redeem themselves for allowing Rodgers to lead a heroic comeback in the season opener. Also, the 35-year-old has been held below 20 fantasy points in all but one game over the past seven weeks, and Green Bay’s protection has been an issue. Rodgers could explode in any given week, but this isn’t the spot to rely on that.
Thumbs Down: Lamar Jackson (v TB)
Baltimore will look to ride the running game and play stout, opportunistic defense against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers on Sunday, but if Lamar Jackson struggles as a passer in a close game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Joe Flacco get snaps in his return. Furthermore, if Jackson is hampered at all by his ankle injury, then the upside on the ground—which still hasn’t been fully unleashed—will take a hit. I view Jackson as more of a low-end QB2 than low-end QB1.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (@ BAL)
The Ravens haven’t been an impossible matchup to overcome this year for opposing fantasy quarterbacks, but they have allowed sub-par days to Drew Brees (16.3 fantasy points), Ben Roethlisberger (14.0), Matt Ryan (7.4), and Marcus Mariota (6.5), and the constant threat of a meltdown for Jameis Winston only increases against elite defenses. Jameis is probably due for multiple interceptions after just one over the past three games.
Thumbs Down: Nick Mullens (v SEA)
Fantasy owners might be considering Nick Mullens based on the numbers he has put up over the past two weeks—373.0 yards per game and a 4:2 touchdown-interception against Seattle and Denver—but I wouldn’t. The Seahawks game in particular included quite a bit of garbage time, and Mullens is still a very inexperienced signal-caller that is too volatile to roll with in the fantasy playoffs. Look elsewhere in two-quarterback leagues.
Others: Ryan Tannehill (@ MIN), Matthew Stafford (@ BUF)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Justin Jackson (@ KC)
This is under the assumption that both Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) don’t play on Thursday night, as Justin Jackson would be locked into a featured role against a Kansas City defense that is among the worst in the league in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to opposing runners (22.8), yards per carry allowed (5.1), rushing yards per game allowed (127.8), and rushing touchdowns allowed (15). The rookie is more than capable of handling at least 18-20 touches and needs to be in lineups as a borderline RB1/RB2.
Thumbs Up: Derrick Henry (@ NYG)
Last week, Derrick Henry finally handled more than 12 carries for the first time since September, and all he did was set the Titans franchise record for rushing yards (238) and find the end zone four times on his way to one of the best fantasy playoff performances of all-time (47.8 points). Tennessee would be crazy to not feed the former Heisman winner down the stretch, and New York has seen their run defense decline significantly since trading Damon Harrison. Henry is my No. 12 running back for Week 15.
Thumbs Up: Damien Williams (v LAC)
Spencer Ware (shoulder/hamstring) is doubtful for Thursday night’s game on a short week, so Damien Williams is an immediate RB2 option in all formats. The 26-year-old flashed when given opportunities in Miami over the past four years, and the Chiefs apparently trust him in short-yardage situations despite profiling more as a receiving back. If the Chargers key on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Williams could have a big night.
Thumbs Up: Jaylen Samuels (v NE)
He isn’t Le’Veon Bell or James Conner, but I think Jaylen Samuels could benefit this week from New England wanting to eliminate both Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, which is basically what happened last year before Brown (2/24) went down with a leg injury and JuJu (6/114) ended up getting loose for a 69-yard gain on the game’s final possession. Samuels was contained to 11 carries for 28 yards last week, but he caught seven passes for 64 yards, and the rookie should be a consistent factor underneath as Ben Roethlisberger (ribs) gets the ball out to avoid taking hits. Consider him an RB2 play in all formats.
Others: Jeff Wilson (v SEA), Zach Zenner (@ BUF)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Aaron Jones (@ CHI)
Fantasy owners were basically trolled last week when Jamaal Williams started over Aaron Jones, but the breakout fantasy star ended up handling the vast majority of the work, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a score. Still, the Packers like to get Williams on the field because he’s better in pass protection—something many fantasy analysts simply cannot wrap their minds around for whatever reason—and the offensive line might need help in Chicago. Even if Jones ends up barely leaving the field, he needs to be downgraded to low-end RB2 status against a defense that just held Todd Gurley to his worst fantasy output of the year.
Thumbs Down: Adrian Peterson (@ JAX)
Excluding a 90-yard touchdown run against the Eagles in Week 13, Adrian Peterson has rushed 74 times for 195 yards (2.6 YPC) since the start of November, and he can’t be viewed as anything more than a touchdown-dependent FLEX option with Washington now down to their No. 4 quarterback. The Jaguars were just destroyed by the powerful Derrick Henry, but All Day doesn’t have the second gear like he did in his prime to make up for a weak supporting cast.
Thumbs Down: Josh Adams (@ LAR)
Philadelphia abandoned the running game against the Cowboys because they barely had the ball and felt they needed to throw whenever they did gain possession, and it led to just seven carries for Josh Adams. Los Angeles has allowed the most yards per carry in the league (5.1), but I don’t trust Doug Pederson to keep the ball on the ground in what will have to be a shootout. Consider Adams more of a FLEX than the RB2 that it looked like he was trending towards.
Thumbs Down: Peyton Barber (@ BAL)
Peyton Barber has been a steady presence for the Bucs as he inches towards a 200-carry season, but I don’t want any part of him against the Ravens this week. So far this year, James Conner (24 carries for 107 yards) is the only opposing runner to average at least 4.0 yards per carry in Baltimore, and Barber has struggled in difficult matchups. The Auburn product is barely a top-40 option this week.
Others: Gus Edwards (v TB), Dion Lewis (@ NYG)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Brandin Cooks (v PHI)
We can safely consider the Rams’ offensive performance in Chicago last week an outlier, and as stated, I expect them to bounce back in a big way against the Eagles. At full strength, Philly would have a difficult time defending Brandin Cooks, so they will likely have no shot when forced to rely on the cornerback group of Sidney Jones (at less than full health), Rasul Douglas (4.59 40-yard dash), and Cre’Von LeBlanc (4.66). Cooks is a high-upside WR1.
Thumbs Up: Julian Edelman (@ PIT)
There hasn’t been a receiver with a higher floor this year than Julian Edelman, and Pittsburgh is the perfect opponent to keep his season-long streak with at least 6.0 standard fantasy points and 9.0 PPR fantasy points going; in three career starts against the Steelers (including playoffs), Edelman has combined to catch 28-of-32 targets (87.5%) for 275 yards and one touchdown. He needs to be in all lineups as a high-floor WR1/WR2.
Thumbs Up: Tyler Boyd (v OAK)
The Raiders were just shredded by JuJu Smith-Schuster for an 8/130/2 line last week, and Tyler Boyd—who is quietly just ten yards away from his first 1,000-yard season—could also have success as a somewhat similar style player to JuJu. The 24-year-old had fallen into the FLEX ranks in recent weeks despite some solid games, but I think he’s firmly back on the WR2 map with the ideal combination of upside and floor that’s probably being overlooked.
Thumbs Up: Curtis Samuel (v NO)
As I said in this week’s fantasy stock report, Curtis Samuel has at least 7.8 standard fantasy points in every game since the start of November, and he’s emerged as Carolina’s No. 1 option—excluding Christian McCaffrey—in the passing game over the past two weeks. The Saints just had success in Tampa Bay, but they are still allowing the most fantasy points in the NFL to opposing wideouts. Samuel is in play as a solid low-end WR2/FLEX.
Others: Nelson Agholor (@ LAR), Jordy Nelson (@ CIN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (@ BAL)
Some production in garbage time allowed Mike Evans to finish with a respectable 86 scoreless yards last week against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints, but the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year had the last laugh on his game-sealing interception. The matchup gets even tougher this week in Baltimore, and besides facing an unforgiving secondary, Evans might get fewer opportunities if the Ravens kill the clock with their ground-and-pound offense. I have the former Texas A&M star ranked as a low-end WR2 for the second week in a row.
Thumbs Down: Kenny Golladay (@ BUF)
When Golden Tate was traded and Marvin Jones (knee) was placed on injured reserve, it looked like Kenny Golladay was set to be an absolute monster down the stretch. However, the schedule is about as tough as it gets, and following a five-yard outing against Patrick Peterson, Golladay will now have to do battle with Tre’Davious White in Buffalo. “Babytron” has the talent to do damage against the smaller White, but he is a volatile FLEX rather than the WR2 many were hoping for.
Thumbs Down: Kenny Stills (@ MIN)
The Dolphins are coming off a shocking victory over the Patriots, and Kenny Stills was a big part of it, catching eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. However, that was his first game with 40+ yards since September, and the Vikings—particularly in Minnesota—are a much more difficult matchup. Stills remains just a low-floor FLEX that probably needs a big play to be worth starting.
Thumbs Down: Dante Pettis (v SEA)
Who do you think the Seahawks are going to try to stop this weekend after Dante Pettis went for a 5/129/2 against them to start the month? Pettis has scored four touchdowns over the past three games, but I think Seattle will be more determined to stop San Francisco’s passing attack after allowing Nick Mullens to throw for 414 yards in the first meeting. The talented second-round pick could disappoint in Week 15.
Others: Doug Baldwin (@ SF), Sterling Shepard (v TEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Rob Gronkowski (@ PIT)
Somehow still ranked as the No. 5 or No. 6 tight end by most, Rob Gronkowski is the top play of the week for me as he finally pays dividends in what has been more of a human-like than cyborg-like season. The career numbers for Gronk against the Steelers really says all you need to know: 5/72/3, 7/94, 9/143/1, 5/94/3, 4/93/1, 9/168.
Thumbs Up: Kyle Rudolph (v MIA)
Kyle Rudolph hasn’t found the end zone since Week 3, but he’s had multiple opportunities where Kirk Cousins didn’t deliver an accurate ball in the red zone, including on a key fourth down against the Seahawks. Miami has allowed nine touchdowns to the position over the past eight games, so Rudolph has a chance to get back on track, and perhaps new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski will make it a point to free him up in scoring territory.
Thumbs Up: Dan Arnold (@ CAR)
There is a bit of risk here after Dan Arnold was a surprise inactive in Week 14 due to the wet surface in Tampa Bay, but the converted receiver had previously emerged with at least 20 yards in four consecutive games, including a 4/45/1 line on Thanksgiving. Carolina has defended tight ends better in recent weeks, but Arnold carries enough upside in Sean Payton’s offense to warrant TE2 consideration.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Travis Kelce (v LAC)
He is ranked as the No. 1 tight end on FantasyPros expert consensus rankings, but Travis Kelce has never scored against the Chargers, as they have made it a point to eliminate him from the game plan throughout his career. In nine matchups, Kelce is averaging just 3.5 fantasy points per game in standard leagues, and over the the past four meetings, Los Angeles has held him to lines of 1/6, 6/46, 1/1, and 1/8. You almost have to start him in redraft leagues, but DFS players should go in another direction.
Thumbs Down: Jimmy Graham (@ CHI)
Jimmy Graham was limited to just two receptions for eight yards when he was fully healthy against the Bears in Week 1, so he could have an even lower floor (i.e. zero points) playing in the rematch with a broken thumb. Chicago hasn’t allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end so far in the second half of the season.
Thumbs Down: Vernon Davis (@ JAX)
It sounds like Jordan Reed (foot) could be done for the year as Washington’s season continues to spiral out of control, but the uncertainty at the quarterback position makes Vernon Davis nothing more than a risky TE2 for me. Besides big games by Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and Eric Ebron, the Jaguars have actually defended the position well for the most part.