The fantasy football season is a marathon, not a sprint. But like any race, there comes a point where you have to dig deep and push out every last bit of strength you have to edge out a win over your opponent. Round 1 of the playoffs is now over and hopefully you survived and can now drop the hammer and hit Week 16 (fantasy championship for most) at full speed.
The only problem with that is it wouldn't be a true week in the NFL if we didn't have a season-altering injury to account for. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray underwent surgery on Monday for a repair to his fourth metacarpal bone on his left (non-carrying) hand. For those old enough to remember, Emmitt Smith suffered the same injury and missed one week. As of Monday night the Cowboys wouldn't rule out Murray for Week 16 since they are going to be in a world of hurt if they lose to the Colts this week, but it is highly unlikely that Murray plays just days after surgery. And even if he does play, he is likely to be extremely limited and not worth playing in most fantasy leagues.
Eli Manning – Giants: I'm one of the last people on Earth to give Eli Manning praise, but I have to do just that as the Giants QB put up 250 yards and 3 touchdowns on the Redskins this week. [Eli] Manning is a textbook definition of a QB2, in that he doesn't typically put up 300-plus yards, and six of his 14 games have resulted in either no touchdowns or a single touchdown scored. Nevertheless, Manning finished as NFL.com's #2-ranked QB for Week 15 and that is more than enough for the 42.0 percent of the people brave enough to own him.
Alex Smith – Chiefs: Who would have thought that Eli Manning and Alex Smith would both finish in the top 3 for fantasy QBs for Week 15? Smith finished with 297 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, but what's more interesting is the 297 yards were the most for him since Week 5, of 2012! The Chiefs are a running team, so don't go chasing these stats next week because you'll probably be disappointed.
Jeremy Hill – Bengals: Hill has taken over the lead-back role and isn't looking back! This week the rookie finished with 148 yards and 2 TDs on 25 carries, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with in Cincinnati. Hill out-snapped Giovani Bernard 47-28 this week, but Bernard made the most of his touches by putting up 103 yards of total offense (79 rushing, 24 receiving). Hill was the #1-ranked fantasy RB in Week 15, and Bernard came in at #11. Not bad for two RBs on the same team!
Matt Asiata – Vikings: Asiata is one of those fantasy RBs you own, but feel really nervous about sticking in the lineup because you just don't trust him. This week he managed to end up with 86 total yards and a touchdown, which propelled him to a #7 ranking at RB for Week 15. Asiata is more of a TD-dependent flex play because he averages just 3.3 YPC and 40 percent of his total yards come off of passes. I'd sit him down against the Dolphins in Week 16.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants: ODB has hit the NFL scene and been nothing short of a beast at WR. Over the past 7 games he is averaging 8.7 receptions, 123.7 yards, and nearly a touchdown (0.86 to be precise) per game thanks to his 12-143-3 line this week. Those stats would be amazing for a WR in just one week, but averaging that for 7 straight weeks is remarkable, to say the least. I'm far from a Giants fan, but game respects game and ODB has game!
Mike Wallace – Dolphins: Because the Patriots love to do things that make absolutely no sense at all, they put undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler on Mike Wallace instead of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. Wallace proceeded to haul in 5-of-7 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. While this was a great performance from the over-drafted WR, it was just his first 100-yard game of the season. I'd consider Wallace a WR2 with WR3 downside against the Vikings next week.
Josh Hill – Saints: Jimmy Graham is the clear No. 1 TE in New Orleans, but Josh Hill was the touchdown monster on Monday night as he turned both of his receptions into scores. Hill finished with 2 catches for 15 yards and 2 touchdowns, stats good enough to finish as NFL.com's #2 TE for Week 15. As I've said before, touchdowns are king in fantasy football, and nothing proves that more than a 2-15-2 line being the 2nd-best play at TE for the week.
Cincinnati Bengals defense: The Bengals completely shut down the Browns this week, allowing no points while racking up 3 sacks and 2 interceptions. Thanks to Manziel's inability to move the ball on offense, the Bengals finished as the #3-ranked fantasy defense on NFL.com. The Bengals draw the Broncos in Week 16, making them a risky fantasy play.
Jay Cutler – Bears: Much has been made lately about the Bears and their "buyer's remorse" in regards to Cutler's contract, and the QB did nothing to squelch those headlines this week as he managed to complete just 17-of-31 passes en route to 194 yards, 2 TD, a 2-point conversion, and 3 INTs. Thank God for garbage-time stats because the Bears are in full 2015 mode and Cutler is playing like a man who wants to look for a job next year. I'd find other options at QB if you are still holding on to Cutler for some reason.
Johnny Manziel – Browns: The Browns made the swap from game-manager Brian Hoyer to media darling Johnny Manziel for Week 15, but all did not go as planned in the intrastate rivalry game. Manziel completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards, ran for another 13 yards, didn't throw a touchdown, but did manage to find two Bengals for interceptions. It was an ugly performance that had to make Hoyer smile on the inside. I'd stay away from Manziel as I truly do believe he is Tim Tebow 2.0.
Justin Forsett – Ravens: Everyone around the world who talks fantasy football was telling people Forsett was a must-start player this week because of his matchup with the Jaguars. Well, everyone except me that is. Since I also write for the Jaguars I know they have been playing better defense lately, and they were capable of keeping Forsett in check. That is just what they did as he managed just 48 yards on 16 carries, with no touchdowns.
Alfred Morris – Redskins: Morris managed just 49 yards this week, which is disappointing considering he is owned in 99.5 percent of NFL.com leagues. With him seeing just 14 carries and being removed in passing-down situations, his upside is capped in fantasy football. Robert Griffin III is likely to finish out the season as the Redskins QB, but I'm not really sure that helps Morris' value as RGIII is playing with zero confidence because he apparently knows the coach doesn't want him.
Reggie Wayne – Colts: The once-fantasy monster WR has turned into a liability at 36 years old, both in fantasy and reality. Wayne finished with 4 catches for 24 yards, but lost fantasy points when he lost a fumble and didn't score. At this point in his career there is little reason to own Wayne and little reason for the Colts to continue to run him out there and watch him ineffectively play the WR position.
Percy Harvin – Jets: One of the most overrated WRs in all of fantasy football has to be Percy Harvin. It's a sad day when you gain more yards rushing than you do receiving as a WR, and that is just what Harvin did in Week 15 with his 0 yards receiving and 10 yards rushing. The Jets have possibly the worst QB setup in the NFL, and Harvin is always hampered by some kind of injury. I wouldn't trust Harvin as anything more than a desperation WR play in the deepest of leagues to finish out the season.
Jordan Cameron – Browns: I could have littered this article with Browns players (Josh Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, the defense, etc.), but Cameron was the worst of the bunch outside of Manziel. Cameron managed just one target on the day, but to his credit he did catch it and gained 4 yards on the play. The problem with the TE position is your options are extremely limited; the problem with Cameron is he has huge talent with a QB throwing to him that I personally think is a flop at the NFL level. I'd consider Cameron waiver wire material to finish out the season.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: The #1-ranked fantasy defense on NFL.com completely flopped in Week 15 as they allowed 38 points to the Cowboys. They did manage to get 3 sacks and recover a fumble, which kept them out of the negative for fantasy points (1.00 fantasy points). They should have an easier matchup next this against the Redskins and RGIII, so don't give up on them just yet.