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Fantasy Football: The Bungals Are Back

RotoExperts Staff December 9, 2014 1:14PM EST
Fantasy Football players to BUY

Jonathan Stewart (and his Panthers teammates): The name is enough to send shivers down the spines of most Fantasy owners, but sometimes winning a title means doing things you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing … like counting on a Panthers running back. The fact that Cam Newton is still handling most of the goal line work is less than ideal, but Stewart finally appears healthy (7.8 yards per touch over the last two weeks) and is getting nearly all of the running back work (accounted for 20 of 28 carries on Sunday, with four of the carries he wasn’t responsible for coming in the fourth quarter of a game that had long been decided). Of running backs that have been on the field for at least 25 percent of their team’s offensive snaps this season, NOT ONE has a higher Elusive Rating (yardage gained beyond what is blocked) than Stewart. In these final weeks, owners that elected to draft with the “zero running back” strategy are targeting touches, and with the Buccaneers and Browns left on the schedule, it is hard to imagine the Panthers straying from a power run game. DeAngelo Williams (finger) isn’t healthy (shocker!) and while the Fozzy Whittaker/Mike Tolbert tandem is a scary one, there shouldn’t be major concerns about which Carolina back is going to be featured for the remainder of 2014.

Remember when we thought the Bengals offense would have weekly upside given the raw ability of their skill position players? Fuhgetaboutit before it costs you a title. Photo: Navin Rajagopalan https://www.flickr.com/photos/navin75/

Remember when we thought the Bengals offense would have weekly upside given the raw ability of their skill position players? Fuhgetaboutit before it costs you a title. Photo: Navin Rajagopalan 

Eli Manning: It may be a lost season for the Giants, but owners that have kept Manning on their radar could reap the benefits in the most important weeks of the Fantasy season. Listen, I’m not saying he’s a QB1 in a standard league, but the fact that he has attempted at least 40 passes in five of his last six games makes him an interesting option given the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. In fact, Manning leads the entire NFL in passing attempts since the beginning of November. It is also worth noting that 76.9 percent of his interceptions have come against top-notch run defenses; defenses that make New York’s offense a one-dimensional attack. The Giants face a defense in Washington that has allowed the most standard Fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, making Manning an interesting streaming option if you’re desperate. The upside isn’t tremendous, but his 6.0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the nine games not played against stingy run defenses indicates that he could finish Week 15 as a fringe QB1 (I prefer him to Ryan Tannehill, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, and Russell Wilson this weekend), and that has value at this point in the season.

Packers D/ST: Some defenses are slightly better than others, but I’m counting more on matchups than talent. The Packers get the Bills this weekend and the Buccaneers in Week 16, a tandem of matchups that is about as favorable as it gets. Again, I don’t think the Green Bay defense is an elite one based on talent, but their red-hot offense is forcing opponents into taking chances, and when below average offenses take ill-advised risks, Fantasy points tend to follow for the opponent. The Packers D/ST are owned in roughly half of leagues, so make sure to make a waiver claim before you attempt to finish your Fantasy season with a W.

Fantasy Football players to SELL

Andy Dalton: The Red Rifle is anything but a reliable Fantasy option, but I think that should be repeated on the heels of a nice 21/29 performance against the Steelers in which he totaled 324 yards and three scores (not to mention zero turnovers). Yes, the fact that he has an elite receiver to throw to is something that no many quarterbacks have, but he also isn’t good at football and I would hate for you to come so far, only to put your Fantasy fate in his hands. The Browns and Broncos are left on the schedule, two defenses that have earned a Top 5 pass coverage grade. A.J. Green is difficult to cover, but without much help on the outsides, it would stand to reason that these strong coverage teams are going to shift in a significant fashion to limit the Cincinnati star. Don’t get cute here and leave Dalton on the waiver wire.

Matt Asiata: As mentioned with Jonathan Stewart, just about any carries are good carries this time of year … except here. Asiata’s 40 touches in two games since the Vikings lost Jerick McKinnon for the remainder of the season have made it clear that he is the team’s lead back, but in an offense that doesn’t threaten defenses downfield (only Geno Smith, Blake Bortles, and Dalton have a lower aDOT and a worse touchdown-to-interception ratio among quarterbacks that still have their starting gig), a running back that lacks explosion can only help you so much. Combine the deficiencies of the Minnesota offense with the ability of the next two opponents (Detroit and Miami) to stuff the run, and you’ve got yourself the rare volume back that isn’t a good Fantasy bet. Asiata has averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in just one of his nine games with at least three carries, a result of a limited vision (119 backs have a higher elusive rating this season). You’re chasing touchdowns here and I think you can do better.

Giovani Bernard: He’s just not as good as Jeremy Hill right now. He is going to continue to get some work, and his raw talent means he deserves a weekly look, but by no means is he a player that you assume is a starter. Many Fantasy owners are hanging onto the “game-breaker” label that Bernard earned coming into this year, but the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t been that this season. Just one of his 142 carries has gone for 20-plus yards, and if you subtract that effort, he is averaging a mere 3.3 yards per carry (Trent Richardson is unimpressed). In theory, he is getting healthier with game action, but his snap count has yet to reflect as much, as his snap percentage since returning from injury is considerably lower than it was pre-injury. The upcoming opponents are less than favorable for opposing backs, as the Browns have given up just one rushing touchdown to a running back over their last seven games and the Broncos have surrendered the second fewest rushing yards this season. Bernard should get his fair share of touches, but don’t be tied to starting him if you have a FLEX option with a favorable matchup.

Week 15 Survivor Picks

Arizona @ St. Louis

Green Bay @ Buffalo

Pittsburgh @ Atlanta

Washington @ New York (Giants)

Miami @ New England

Oakland @ Kansas City

Houston @ Indianapolis

Jacksonville @ Baltimore

Tampa Bay @ Carolina

Cincinnati @ Cleveland

New York (Jets) @ Tennessee

Denver @ San Diego

Minnesota @ Detroit

San Francisco @ Seattle

Dallas @ Philadelphia

New Orleans @ Chicago

Anybody can just list winners, but I like to explain myself.

Fantasy Football Week 15: DraftKings Lineup

QB – Matt Ryan

RB – Alfred Morris

RB – Jonathan Stewart

WR – Alshon Jeffery

WR – Josh Gordon

WR – Julio Jones

TE – Scott Chandler

FLEX – Marqise Lee

D/ST – New York Jets

 

Need a hand bringing home the trophy?

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