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2017 Fantasy Football: Week 15 Fire or Flop; Rodgers Returns, Demaryius Set for Big Day?

Which fantasy football players are likely to catch fire, and which ones might flop during Week 15?

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

This is the Week 15 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding D/ST’s). I will list options from each position group (excluding K’s). As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.

*Keep in mind that Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (knee) and New York Jets QB Josh McCown (hand) are now out for the season*

With the season inching closer to the playoffs and decisions being more crucial, I am going to be taking more questions regarding matchups and start/sits than hard-lining five “Fire” options each week. Be sure to hit me up on my Facebook or Twitter so I can answer your lineup questions on my weekly Q&A videos.


QUARTERBACK

FIRE

Drew Brees vs. New York Jets (32nd | 20.1 FPPG) — The worst D/ST in the league against QB’s against the most prolific passer of the last decade? I know who I’m going with. Plus, now with McCown out, the Jets won’t be able to hang in as easily, leading to more passing opportunities for Brees.

Cam Newton vs. Green Bay Packers (19th | 17.7 FPPG) — The Packers are in the bottom half of the league against QB’s, giving up almost 18.0 FPPG. Newton has averaged 8.4 FPPG just in the run game alone over the last eight games. This could be a really fun matchup of Rodgers vs. Newton.

Aaron Rodgers @ Carolina Panthers (10th | 14.8 FPPG) — With Rodgers now activated and ready to play, you’ve gotta throw him into your lineup. The Panthers aren’t a great matchup but Rodgers is matchup-proof.

Philip Rivers @ Kansas City Chiefs (28th | 19.5 FPPG) — Rivers has been awesome lately, throwing for 365.7 YPG in the last three games to go with 6 TD’s. This is a really good matchup against a familiar division foe.

FLOP

Derek Carr vs. Dallas Cowboys (23rd | 18.3 FPPG) — Carr has been one of the most disappointing fantasy QB’s this year, without a doubt. He’s only had three 20-point games, and he hasn’t performed in good matchups. You can’t risk playing him in the playoffs.


RUNNING BACK

FIRE

LeSean McCoy vs. Miami Dolphins (27th | 25.8 FPPG) — McCoy has averaged 115.8 total YPG and scored 3 TD’s in his last four games, and Miami has surrendered an average of 112.4 rushing YPG and 6 rushing TD’s to RB’s in their last seven games.

Jordan Howard @ Detroit Lions (28th | 25.9 FPPG) — With five games of over 100 rushing yards, Howard is a good start more often than not. This is a good matchup, and Howard has already had a big game against the Lions this year. In Week 11, he ran for 125 yards and 1 TD.

Kenyan Drake @ Buffalo Bills (32nd | 27.8 FPPG) — It turns out that all Miami needed to discover that Drake was pretty good was to trade Jay Ajayi and for Drake’s running mate Damien Williams (shoulder) to get hurt. In the last six games, Drake is averaging 16.7 touches for 98.5 YPG with 3 TD’s. In the last two games, he’s averaging 28.0 touches for 167.0 YPG. Buffalo is the worst team in the league against RB’s.

Devonta Freeman @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22nd | 24.7 FPPG) — RB’s have rushed for 6 TD’s against the Buccaneers in the last three weeks. Freeman is averaging 86.0 total YPG since returning from a concussion two games ago, and he has 6 TD’s on the season.

Christian McCaffrey vs. Green Bay Packers (25th | 25.6 FPPG) — McCaffrey’s true value comes in PPR leagues, as 43% of his touches this year are receptions and he only averages 6.9 carries per game. Cleveland’s Duke Johnson, who is a pretty similar player to McCaffrey, was able to have success against the Green Bay D/ST last week, getting 10 touches for 49 yards and a TD reception.

FLOP

Lamar Miller @ Jacksonville Jaguars (11th | 22.7 FPPG) — With Houston now on their third QB, the Texans are going to need to lean on Miller. The problem is, Jacksonville and their solid run defense knows that. If the Jaguars can build a big lead early, they’ll make Miller irrelevant in a hurry in this one.


WIDE RECEIVER

FIRE

Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders @ Indianapolis Colts (23rd | 33.7 FPPG) — The Colts are without top cornerback Rashaan Melvin (hand) again this week as well as starting nickel Nate Hairston (concussion), and starting corner Pierre Desir (shoulder) landed on Injured Reserve in the last week as well. That leaves Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore as rather inexperienced starters. If Thomas and Sanders don’t both have a pretty good game, it’s Trevor Siemian’s fault.

Devin Funchess vs. Green Bay Packers (28th | 36.1 FPPG) — I thought Funchess would have a rough game last week against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings but he proved me wrong, catching 3-of-7 targets for 59 yards and 1 TD. He gets a much better matchup this week against the Packers, who give up the fifth-most FPPG to WR’s.

Julio Jones @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32nd | 41.7 FPPG) — The most physically gifted WR in the league gets the worst D/ST in the league against WR’s. Jones’ inconsistent production might scare you in the playoffs, but this is a tremendous play this week.

Michael Thomas vs. New York Jets (27th | 34.4 FPPG) — If Brees is due for a big game, then Thomas definitely is as well. In his last five games, Thomas is averaging 7.0 catches (10.4 targets) for 89.4 YPG and has scored a TD in each of his last two games. He’s had at least 70 yards in nine-of-13 games this year.

Jordy Nelson @ Carolina Panthers (25th | 33.8 FPPG) — Rodgers’ return automatically boosts the value of Nelson. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb have been able to have some success with Brett Hundley at QB, but it just wasn’t there for Nelson. Rodgers and Nelson have a chemistry that is second to none, and this is a good matchup for Nelson to break back out.

FLOP

DeAndre Hopkins @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 24.3 FPPG) — I’m not telling you not to start Hopkins, but this game stacks up awfully for him. First off, he draws the matchup of CB Jalen Ramsey and the rest of the Jaguars secondary, which is the top group in the league. Hopkins also doesn’t have anybody as good as Deshaun Watson or even Tom Savage (concussion) throwing him the ball. T.J. Yates — who has been sacked 24 times in 19 career games, averages 89.9 passing YPG and has a career 9:13 TD-to-TO ratio — is expected to start on Sunday.


TIGHT END

FIRE

Hunter Henry @ Kansas City Chiefs (9th | 10.4 FPPG) — Henry wasn’t even targeted the first time that the Chargers faced the Chiefs back in Week 3. However, his situation has improved a great deal since the beginning of the season, especially lately. In the last three weeks, he is averaging 5.3 catches (6.7 targets) for 69.0 YPG and has scored twice. Good TE’s have been able to have some success against Kansas City in 2017, as Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Vernon Davis, Jared Cook (twice) and Charles Clay averaged 4.0 catches (6.0 targets) for 76.8 yards, but only scored 1 TD.

Jack Doyle vs. Denver Broncos (28th | 14.9 FPPG) — As I pointed out in my Week 15 Colts Fantasy Preview, Doyle is the Colt who I feel best about this week from a fantasy perspective. Fantasy’s TE9 gets a matchup with the team that surrenders the fifth-most FPPG to TE’s. Doyle also leads the Colts in receptions (64) and targets (84), so he will definitely get looks. If the Colts play it smart (they usually don’t), they’ll unload a ton of targets to Doyle to keep the chains moving and counter Denver’s pass rush.

Ricky Seals-Jones @ Washington Redskins (30th | 15.5 FPPG) — The Seals-Jones hype train hit a bump last week as he only caught 1 ball for 20 yards. However, based on the three games prior to that (average of 3.0 catches for 56.7 yards and 3 total TD’s) and this matchup, I want to believe that he is due for another big week. Washington is a great matchup for that to happen. TE’s have been a disappointing, inconsistent group this year as is, so there’s not much to lose with this play.

FLOP

Jared Cook vs. Dallas Cowboys (24th | 12.8 FPPG) — I am not digging the Raiders much this week, and that continues with Cook. Before last week’s 75-yard, 1-TD outing, Cook only had a total of 4 catches for 47 yards in the three games prior. Dallas looks like a good matchup on paper, but they’ve been able to hold some good TE’s in check, including both recent matchups with the Redskins.

Greg Olsen vs. Green Bay Packers (2nd | 9.3 FPPG) — A foot injury has limited Olsen to just four games this year, but he hasn’t even come close to being productive in any of them. He has a total of 4 catches for 38 yards, and this is a pretty bad matchup.


DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

FIRE

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans (25th | 8.7 FPPG) — The league’s stingiest, most opportunistic defense hosts a Houston offense led by its third-string QB.

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets (20th | 7.8 FPPG) — With McCown going down for the year, I have no expectation that Bryce Petty can make many plays against this Saints D/ST. They are currently fantasy’s D/ST6 and average 10.6 FPPG.

Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (27th | 8.9 FPPG) — When the Lions are taking the ball away on defense, that’s when they’re really good. They had a rough couple-game stretch recently, but they got back to it last week, getting 3 sacks and 5 takeaways. This week, they face a rookie QB.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (32nd | 12.2 FPPG) — You pretty much have to start any D/ST going against the Browns, as they allow the most FPPG to D/ST’s. They have a little more firepower now with Josh Gordon’s return, but Baltimore is a really good play most weeks. They had 19.0 points the last time they faced the Browns.

FLOP

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams (3rd | 2.4 FPPG) — It’s hard for me to trust Seattle’s defense now with the injuries they’ve suffered, especially this week against an offense as balanced as Los Angeles’. Rams WR Robert Woods (shoulder) is expected to return this week as well, which is a huge boost for QB Jared Goof and the LA passing game.