We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty in fantasy football. Some of you can smell the money/bragging rights coming to you, but don’t ease up just because you think you have the upper hand.
You lose focus in this game for one second and game-time decisions become late scratches who then post zeroes in your starting lineup. Don’t be that owner, check out the good, the bad, and the most likely to surprise you, this week.
Stud: Cam Newton – It’s easy to look at what the Carolina Panthers have done, as a team, this season and be cautious of Cam, but don’t. The fantasy playoffs are the absolute most important time to go for the lower risk option, and few QBs have a higher floor than Cam. Sure, you don’t love what he’s done the past two weeks, but we’re still talking about a top-5 scorer, amongst signal callers, for 2018. He’s also scored over 20 points (ESPN) in eight different games. Sure, the Saints defense has, on average, held opposing QBs to under 20 points, but that’s been against Wentz, Ryan, Prescott, and Winston. Cam is much more talented than all of those guys.
Dud: Matt Ryan – The Cheat Sheet for Week 15 left him out of the top-10, but I have seen him in other sites’ lists of startle QBs. He shouldn’t be. Sure, he’s got Julio Jones, but he’s facing an Arizona Cardinals side that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal callers, over the last four weeks. Two of those weeks were Derek Carr and Matt Stafford, but another two of those weeks were Phillip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. He’s produced like a top-5 fantasy QB, all year, but he has two-straight weeks of 14 points, or less, and poses too much of a risk to your playoff success.
Sleeper: Mitch Trubisky – The Cheat Sheet does have him in the top-10 for week 15, but I think it bears mentioning that he would be the kind of guy to start instead of Ryan. He was turnover prone against the Rams, but the Packers have forced just seven of those, all year. Chicago has done a decent job of keeping the pressure off him and will be able to defray a pass rush, in Green Bay, that has generated as many sacks as the vaunted Chicago D.
Stud: Leonard Fournette – Two reasons, here. The first, and you may be reading my mind on this, Jacksonville has no other offensive weapons. As far as opportunity goes, he’s it. Doug Marrone will go to him once, twice, three times in a row to get something going, which leads me to point two. He has a variable matchup. Mitigate risk, exploit matchups, that is the big picture with the fantasy playoffs. Fournette is going to get a boat-load of touches in this game and the Redskins are in the bottom-10 when it comes to how well defenses have shut down opposing running backs. Washington is allowing just over 26 points, on average, to opposing backs over the last four weeks.
Dud: Derrick Henry – Figured I would remind anyone bullish on that performance, last week, that Henry has put together no less than eight weeks of 10 fantasy points, or less, with four of those being smaller than five points. Last week was, by far, the most carries he’s seen, and it was still just 17. He is far too risky to trust in your lineup.
Sleeper: Jaylen Samuels – He’s being ranked as an RB2 for the week, but I think he can put up RB1 numbers against a New England defense that has allowed 27.3 points per game, over their last four. He caught seven passes in week 14 and will be busy, again, as Pittsburgh continues to try and hold on to their slim AFC North division lead.
Stud: Adam Thielen – While Kirk Cousins has been a bit of a bust, his number one target has been a stud, all year. He’s scored the third-most points among all receivers and is a catch, or two, away from the top scoring spot. Xavien Howard has been an amazing cornerback, and that will be a fun matchup to watch, but he is questionable to play and may miss this one. Should Howard miss, Thielen will feast, but I still think he gets his even if Howard plays.
Dud: Amari Cooper – Pop quiz: Which defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points, on average, over the last month, to opposing wide receivers? Answer: Indianapolis. This looks like the game that Dallas gives the ball to Zeke and says “Carry us.” The Colts will be able to shut down Cooper after his monster scoring week.
Sleeper: Tyler Lockett – He came back down to earth, a bit, last week, but he’s going right back up, this week. The Niners have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts over the last month, and it is a staggering 44 points, per game. Doug Baldwin may miss this game, too, so Lockett will be in the forefront of Russell Wilson’s mind.
Stud: Jared Cook – I’ve been so wrong about this dude, all year, so this could be bad thinking, but the Bengals just simply don’t cover tight ends. Cook is the number passing option for Derek Carr and will be featured in a game that so many cough will watch. He hasn’t put up less than 10 since week 10, and doesn’t figure to change that trend this week.
Dud: Vance McDonald – Old McDonald had a farm and just so happens to play a New England defense that has allowed just eight fantasy points per game, over the last four. Funny, if you remember my post from last week, McDonald was my projected stud and Cook my projected dud. How the turn tables…
Sleeper: CJ Uzomah – You know who else doesn’t cover tight ends? Oakland, that’s who. Opposing TEs are scoring just under 22 points a game, during the last four weeks, and Uzomah will be Jeff Driskel’s safety net in a week that the defense will be keying on Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon.
Stud: Baltimore Ravens – They’re going to force James Winston into so many bad passes that there will be plenty of picks. They’ve rounded into form, again, sitting squarely in the top-10 of least points allowed to opposing QBs, RBs, and WRs. Easy start, this week.
Dud: Dallas Cowboys – This is not a good look for them. T.Y. Hilton is healthy and ready to go. His best friend, Andrew Luck, has been healthy, all year, and will step up to keep the Colts playoff chances alive.
Sleeper: Washington Redskins – Almost put them in as my stud defense of the week, but I just liked Balti-more. See what I did there? Anyway, I mentioned earlier that Leonard Fournette is going to have a good day, but a good day for him could be over 100 yards and a score. Fantasy owners love that, and so do the Redskins D, because they will keep the rest of the Jaguars O at bay.
You’re almost there (talking to you, playoff fantasy owner) and the championship is in sight. Keep an eye, or two, on GetSportsInfo.com for all your fantasy advice, and look up @jefffcarr on Twitter!