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Winners and losers


Week 15 was a wild and crazy week, not just in the NFL but in fantasy football as well.  If I wrote about all the fantasy losers in this article, we'd be here until Thursday morning trying to get through it all.

Fantasy WRs were terrible this week, with cold weather killing any chance they had for success. Meanwhile, RBs racked up yards and points across the league. Hopefully your league has a flex spot, allowing you to play 3 RBs and giving you a fighting chance to continue your campaign for a league title. And to prove God has a sense of humor, nine fantasy TEs scored 10-plus points this week. Tight end is by far the thinnest positing in all of fantasy sports (not just football, but ALL sports), yet this week almost every team in your league could have gotten a 10-point effort from its TE.

Then we have the one position I refuse to try and predict… kickers. Steelers K Chris Boswell put up 29 fantasy points this week, ranking him 13th overall for Week 15. Not 13th for kickers; OVERALL! When a kicker can put up top-15 numbers, you know God was up there saying "watch this; watch what I do to these fantasy football guys this week!"

All we mortals can do is roll with the punches, and accept that over which we have no control.


Matt Moore – Dolphins: With Ryan Tannehill out for the rest of the season, Matt Moore stepped into the starting role and surprised a lot of people this week. Moore, a perennial backup in the NFL, threw for just 236 yards but tossed 4 touchdown passes and just 1 interception. The touchdowns were enough to vault him to the #2 ranking for QBs this week.

The Jets secondary is very generous, so I wouldn't go running to the waiver wire to grab Moore, even in 2-QB leagues. The Dolphins finish the season with the Bills in Week 16, and the Patriots in Week 17, making Moore a one-week wonder in fantasy football.

Matt Barkley – Bears: I said on Thursday that Barkley had been better than expected as the starter for the Bears, and this week was more of the same. Barkley lit up the Packers for 362 yards and 2 touchdowns. Barkley wasn't perfect, as evidenced by the 3 interceptions he also threw.

Next week he takes on the Redskins, a team whose defense gives up the 13th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. The Redskins are basically an average fantasy defense against QBs, making Barkley an interesting streaming option if you want to roll the dice in Week 16.

Ty Montgomery – Packers: Montgomery took his first game as the Packers starting running back and ran with it, pun intended. The converted WR carried the ball 16 times for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Bears' 23rd-ranked fantasy run defense. He also chipped in 2 catches for those in PPR leagues, but managed just a single yard from them.

All this time the Packers have been wasting their time trotting out James Starks, Christine Michael, and even Knile Davis for a hot minute, all while they had a genie they were keeping locked up in a bottle. I would caution fantasy owners to temper their enthusiasm for Montgomery, as the Bears defense IS a bottom-10 fantasy defense against RBs this season.

Next week the Packers host the Vikings, putting Montgomery in the RB2 range.

Bilal Powell – Jets: Powell took over starting duties for Matt Forte after he was forced out of the Jets Week 14 game with a knee injury. I told people to make sure Powell was owned in their league, and he did just about everything you could hope for, except score a touchdown.

Powell finished the game with 84 rushing yards, 11 receptions, and 78 receiving yards. It was an all-around effort for Powell, whose value was in the top-10 for fantasy RBs in PPR formats this week. The Jets head to New England next week, leaving Powell as little more than a flex option if he starts again.

Brandin Cooks – Saints: We all know the Saints have an offense that can put points on the board in bunches, when all things are clicking. They were certainly clicking this week as Drew Brees hooked up with Cooks 7 times for 182 yards and 2 TDs against the Cardinals. The 2 touchdowns give Cooks 8 on the season, tying him for 6th in the NFL at WR.

Next week Cooks get the Bucs, putting him in the lower end of the WR1 rankings. The Saints are out of the playoff hunt, but a QB like Brees won't quit untill the final whistle blows. Brees makes Cooks worth playing, even in DFS leagues, in Week 16.

Tyler Lockett – Seahawks: Locket got the start over Jermaine Kearse, and he did everything he could to keep the job by hauling in 7 of 8 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. For those in leagues that count return yards, Lockett chipped in an additional 64 yards.

Next week the Seahawks take on the Cardinals, a defense that just gave up 389 passing yards to the Saints. Lockett is by no means a sure-fire player to bet on, but he is someone I would consider sticking in my WR3 slot.

Dion Sims – Dolphins: Dion Sims is owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues, which isn't shocking when you consider that he had 20 catches, 315 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns coming into this game. Sims finished this week as the #1-ranked fantasy TE thanks to him adding 2 more touchdowns to that total. In all, Sims posted 4 receptions, 31 yards, and 2 TDs in Week 15 against the Jets.

Sims is unowned in virtually every fantasy league for a reason. You can't trust him any more than you can trust a wild tiger to not eat you. Chalk it up to a missed week of points, and move on.

Jacksonville Jaguars defense: The Jaguars defense was one of the pleasant surprises of Week 15 after they were able to snag 2 INTs, and return a kickoff for a touchdown. They did give 19 points to the Texans, but the INTs and special seams touchdown were enough to put them in the Def1 rankings.

For those who play in IDP (Individual Defensive Players) leagues, CB [Jalen Ramseyinternal-link-placeholder-0] was the #1-ranked defensive back this week thanks to his 4 solo tackles, 5 defended passes, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 35 return yards. It was a massive line for the rookie, who racked up 21.00 fantasy points with the effort.

The Jaguars have promoted Doug Marrone to Interim Head Coach after Gus Bradley was fired following Sunday's loss. The Jaguars take on the Titans in Week 16, and the last time these two teams faced off in Week 8, the Jags walked away with just 2.00 fantasy points. The Giants, Chargers, and Redskins are all worth grabbing as a streaming option next week.


Tom Brady – Patriots:Playing the Broncos defense is never an easy task, but sometimes we expect more from Brady than he is able to give. For fantasy owners who started him this week, they know exactly what I'm talking about. Brady was limited to just 188 yards passing, with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 15.

It's hard to look at a boxscore and see 188 empty yards from Brady, and not be thoroughly disappointed in the future Hall of Fame QB. Brady draws the Jets next week. If Matt Moore can light them up for 236 yards and 4 TDs, I'm looking for at least 350 yards and 4 TDs from Brady.

Kirk Cousins – Redskins:Cousins had a prime matchup on Monday night, at home, and against a Panthers defense that had given up 24 passing TDs this season, and taken away just 15. So, what did he do? While he did throw for 315 yards, he failed to score and threw an INT.

Cousins was in the top 3 for almost every QB projection I saw this week, yet he finished right around the 23-25 range. If you started Cousins, and won this week, chances are it was by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin.  

Kenneth Farrow – Chargers:I should have known better than to start an undrafted rookie, in his first action as the starter. But the Raiders have given up the 6th-most fantasy points to RBs this season, and the matchup was just too good to pass up. Well, I should have passed it up because Farrow managed just 53 total yards, no touchdowns, and lost a fumble on Sunday.

Jay Ajayi – Dolphins:I have been warning people for a while now about Ajayi, and I was once again right. Even though the Dolphins manhandled the Jets on Saturday, Ajayi had little to do with it as he accounted for just 53 empty rushing yards.

Anyone familiar with Ajayi's game log will tell you that 53 yards is right around what you should expect from him. That 3-game stretch when he ran for 529 yards and scored 4 touchdowns, that was nothing more than an amazing 3-game run when he played out of his mind. His value is that of a RB2/3, not the RB1 people want him to be.

Adrian Peterson – Vikings:There is always risk in playing a guy coming back from a major knee injury, so it shouldn't really be a surprise that Peterson was a total bust this week. In fact, Peterson's 23 total yards and a lost fumble were indicative of the game as a whole for the Vikings, who lost by a score of 34-6.

With the Vikings all but eliminated from the playoffs, my guess is Peterson will just shut it down for the remainder of the season. There's no reason for him to risk reinjuring himself for a team whose season is over.

Antonio Brown – Steelers:It was an ugly week for fantasy WRs, with 5 of the top 10 projected WRs scoring 8 points or less. Brown was one of them as he caught just 3 of 5 targets for 58 yards and no touchdowns. Brown is usually a PPR beast, but the Bengals were able to limit him to just minimal yards and catches.

Brown has another tough matchup next week against the Ravens, but he isn't someone you can sit. All you can do is throw him out there and pray he makes up for this week with a big payoff in the fantasy finals.

Mike Evans – Buccaneers:The NFL's leader in targets was able to draw 8 more targets this week, but he reeled in just 4 of them for 59 empty yards. The Cowboys secondary isn't known for shutting down passing games, but this one was easier for them as the Bucs have Evans, and little else in the way of pass-catching threats at WR or TE.

Evans will make up for this week when he plays the Saints in Week 16, if you are still playing that is. The Saints secondary is as soft as butter, and Evans is going to knife his way through it for WR1 numbers. Mark my words; WR1 numbers in Week 16!

Tyler Eifert – Bengals:I was hoping for big things from Eifert in a divisional matchup that is always looked forward to by both teams. The Steelers had given up the 15th-most fantasy points to TEs heading into this one, but held Eifert to just 1 catch for 9 yards.

The Bengals head to Houston to take on the Texans in Week 16, and their pass defense is the best part of their team these days. Tight end is an all-or-nothing position, so it is most likely hard to sit Eifert. If you have other options on deck, you will want to consider sitting him.

Minnesota Vikings defense:Where to even start with the Vikings? Their defense had been elite all season; the Vikings were at home; Adrian Peterson was back, so adrenalin was high; and, the Colts were without 3 starting offensive linemen. All things were lining up for the Vikings to feast on the Colts this week, but that wasn't to be.

Minnesota gave up 34 points and didn't record a single sack, interception, or recovered a fumble. It was an absolute embarrassment for the Vikings, and fantasy owners paid the price for it. With a road game in Green Bay next on the schedule, I'd find other options for a streaming defense in Week 16.

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