Trending and NoteWorthy: Illusions, risers and must-start performers
Derrick Henry won the week for some owners, while Todd Gurley squashed a title run for others. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson keep playing poorly and scoring successfully. That’s what, where and how Fantasy works. It’s a Winter Fantasyland out here and we’re doing the best we can to help you navigate the lunacy.
In Week 15, I look at the best and worst matchups, the hot and cold players and shed some light on those NoteWorthy situations.
Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled
Tevin Coleman, RB Atlanta Falcons
Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals
Matchups matter, but it’s easy for Fantasy owners to get overly enamored with the potential of a huge game from a mediocre player when they are in a juicy situation and Coleman fits that description in Week 15.
The Cardinals’ run defense ranks 29th in Fantasy points allowed per game (30.4) and dead last in rushing yards allowed (124.4) and rushing touchdowns allowed (16).
In three of Coleman’s last four games, he has had eight rushing attempts or less and in the one game he had more, it was still only 10. He hasn’t rushed for over 60 yards in a game since Nov. 4 and he doesn’t have a rushing touchdown since Oct. 22.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Coleman has three receiving touchdowns in his last six games and five for the year. The downside: the Cardinals have only allowed two receiving touchdowns to running backs all season.
Two of Coleman’s last three games, he had six and eight rushing yards per game. Loving a friendly matchup is understandable, but starting Coleman is “Fantasyland.” Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled.
Chris Godwin, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have allowed the second-fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL (nine) and rank fourth in Fantasy points allowed to wide receivers (29.3).
Godwin has one touchdown since Week Six, 50 receiving yards or less in three of his last four games and has been a double-digit Fantasy scorer just twice in his last seven starts.
Godwin has been a popular Flex question for Fantasy owners while his performance has been lacking. Combine weak performance and inconsistency with a brutal Fantasy playoff matchup and you have a Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled situation for owners.
Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants
Opponent: vs. Tennessee Titans
Shepard is another player that we receive a lot of Flex questions about in our Slack insider forums, and it’s understandable. Evan Engram’s snaps are down and Odell Beckham Jr. was a last second out in Week 14. It looks like Beckham will play in this one, which means Shepard goes back to being an afterthought rather than a serious Flex consideration, which I didn’t think he was last week, either.
He has been targeted only 20 times in the last four weeks and with those limited targets, he had 12 receptions for 104 receiving yards and one touchdown. He has 40 receiving yards or less in eight of 13 games this season, including four straight against bad pass defenses like Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even in good matchups he struggles. The Titans pass defense and their 39.1 Fantasy points per game allowed to receivers shouldn’t scare Fantasy owners, but Shepards lack of production should. Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled.
Dede Westbrook, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Opponent: vs. Washington
Originally, I had Westbrook in the Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled section of this column and I still question whether I should put him back there before it’s published. He has one 100+ yard receiving game and only three with 80 yards or more. He has had two games with more than five receptions and he has only been targeted 23 times in the Jaguars last four games.
Then, I changed my mind.
I decided to slot Westbrook into NoteWorthy rather than Trending or Don’t be Fantasy Fooled because he has five touchdowns this season, including two in his last three games, and he faces a Washington pass defense that ranks 30th in touchdowns allowed (18) and 27th in Fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. His recent performance and spicy matchup makes him a “less-than-ideal” Flex option, but worth a consideration. That’s what a NoteWorthy Week 15 player is.
Playoff owners should have better options. If they don’t, Westbrook’s name should be thrown in the mix and he is owned in only 37 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues. He should be on the waiver wire Sunday morning if needed.
Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans
Opponent: at New York Giants
Henry stunned the Fantasy world after rushing for 238 yards and four touchdowns in the opening game of the Fantasy playoffs. He was added in 17.9 percent of ESPN leagues this week, seventh highest percentage of any player. That kind of “lemming-like” swarm often generates a backlash.
Henry was owned in only 57 percent of ESPN leagues prior to his monster week and started in even fewer. That doesn’t mean he can’t do it again, but most believe he won’t.
Henry’s Week 15 opponent, the New York Giants, rank 27th in Fantasy points allowed per game, have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns and 1,275 rushing yards (98 yards per game) to running backs this season. It’s a “cordial” matchup for a player that has been one of the bigger busts (not named Le’Veon Bell) of the 2018 Fantasy season (ADP of 35, 18th RB drafted).
Henry’s Week 15 explosion was the only game he rushed for more than 60 yards all season, but he has rushed for a touchdown in two straight. Weeks seven through nine Henry scored four touchdowns in three consecutive games with limited rushing attempts and minimal yards from scrimmage. That’s what Henry is and with the Giants across from him, he is a viable Flex consideration. It won’t be an easy decision.
I don’t like touchdown-reliant players, especially in the Fantasy playoffs when owners should be focused on safe, reliable points, but two touchdowns is a possibility. It’s a must-win game for the Titans, as well.
Allen Robinson, WR Chicago Bears
Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers
It’s difficult to be excited about any of the Bears’ Fantasy options—with the exception of their defense—but when they are facing the Packers it’s a place to look for a big game.
The Packers are one of only four defenses that have allowed more than 40 Fantasy points per game to wide receivers (40.2), ranking them 29th, and they rank 31st in touchdowns allowed (19).
The Packers’ struggles against wide receivers dictates that a Bear wide receiver be part of the Flex conversation and compared to the alternatives running routes for Chicago, Robinson is your guy. He has five receptions in back-to-back games while Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel have totaled nine combined in those same games.
Don’t automatically start Robinson because he faces the “swiss-cheese heads” pass defense, but keep the matchup in mind. There are going to be Fantasy points scored in this one, and someone has to be on the receiving end of them. Robinson, as hard as it may be to see, is the highest-percentage bet to be the wide receiver to get them.
Side Note: Tarik Cohen will have more than his fair share of targets against the Packers and while he has been the Bears best player recently, the Packers have only allowed two receiving touchdowns to running backs and they rank 11th in Fantasy Points Allowed to running backs. Cohen is the best Bear player with the worst matchup of the bunch.
Doug Martin, RB Oakland Raiders
Opponent: at Cincinnati Bengals
Martin has 49 rushing yards or more and double-digit rushing attempts in seven straight games. He has scored in three consecutive games and rushed the ball 16,18 and 11 times. That’s a low bar to clear, but that’s what a Trending, middle-of-the-road, Flex consideration looks like.
Bolstering Martin’s case in Week 15 is a Bengals defense that ranks 32nd in Fantasy Points Allowed to running backs (32.3 per game), 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed (14) and 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (122.5).
Owners won’t find a better matchup than the Bungals, and while Martin isn’t a homerun play, especially in Daily Fantasy, he is a reliable seven to 12 Fantasy point play this week. Compare the potential of your alternatives and do the math. Martin is a viable option this week.