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Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers: Week 15

by Sam Schlesinger | @avishai41 | Featured Writer
Dec 18, 2018

The early-season concern over Julio Jones’ lack of TDs has been fully alleviated in the season’s second half

Week 15 is already being dubbed by many as a week of fantasy letdown. Some of the biggest names in fantasy, who likely got you into the playoffs, fell flat on their faces in the fantasy football semifinals. Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen, who were the first and third ranked fantasy receivers going into Week 15, combined for six catches for 65 yards, and Saquon Barkley put up his first single-digit fantasy performance of the season. With one week remaining in the fantasy season, here is my final list of risers and fallers.

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Risers

Julio Jones (WR – ATL)
In his first seven games, Jones had zero touchdowns. In his second seven games, he’s had six total touchdowns and only two scoreless performances. Jones is on pace to complete his fifth season averaging 100+ yards per game. Yardage and catches have never been an issue for Jones, and now that he’s finding the end zone, he’s arguably the most valuable fantasy wide receiver. His production provides a double-digit scoring floor and every touchdown he scores is just padding.

Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
Williams blew up on Thursday night for seven catches, 76 yards, and two touchdowns, along with a 19-yard rushing touchdown. It’s been difficult to predict which games Williams would go off in, but if Keenan Allen is out or limited next week, he could end up winning you a championship. Williams has had a nose for the end zone this season as almost 25% of his catches have been touchdowns. A potential increase in volume should boost his floor next week against the Ravens.

Derrick Henry (RB – TEN)
If you missed out on Henry’s huge Week 14 outing and still survived, I hope you had him in your lineup this week. Henry was given 33 carries (a season high among all running backs) and took them for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He now has seven touchdowns over his last three games. Henry played on 70% of the Titans’ offensive snaps on Sunday, and out snapped Dion Lewis for only the second time this year. He’s averaging 7.47 yards per carry on 60 attempts over his last three games, and while Washington has been stingy at times against opposing running backs, you can confidently start Henry in your championship game next week.

Marlon Mack (RB – IND)
After being held in check against Jacksonville and Houston, Mack went nuts yesterday taking 27 carries for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Adam Levitan tweeted out that while Mack has only played on 60% of offensive snaps in the Colts’ last two games, he’s taken 82% of the carries and 100% of the carries inside the 10-yard line. Mack is their workhorse, and has a nice matchup against the Giants’ 28th ranked run defense.

Jaylen Samuels (RB – PIT)
On Sunday, Samuels proved that he could handle the Steelers’ lead back duties. We’ve seen it with Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, James Conner, and now Samuels. The Steelers backfield is a great place to be for a running back. Last week he was only able to make things happen in the passing game, but against the Patriots he had 172 yards on 21 total touches and averaged 7.47 yards per carry on the ground. If Conner remains sidelined, you can put your faith in Samuels.

Fallers

Brandin Cooks (WR – LAR)
Cooks has now gone five straight games without a touchdown and three straight games without eclipsing 100 yards. This is in large part to Jared Goff playing some of the worst football of his career. Through his first 11 games, Goff had 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions, but in his last three games, he’s had one touchdown and seven interceptions. 

The Rams offense hasn’t looked quite the same since Cooper Kupp was lost for the season. Defenses have been able to key in on Cooks more in the absence of Kupp. In games where Kupp played, Cooks caught 75% of his passes. In games without Kupp, his catch percentage dropped to 61%.

Adam Thielen (WR – MIN)
Thielen was a fantasy darling for the first half of the season. No receiver was more consistent. However, after gaining 100+ yards in his first eight games of the season, Thielen has only hit that mark once in his last six. On Sunday, he had a season-low two catches for 19 yards in a game where the Vikings racked up 41 points. Thielen was also targeted 10+ times in his first seven games but only saw double-digit targets twice in his second seven.

Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE)
Gronkowski got everyone excited last week when he caught all eight of his targets for 107 yards and a touchdown. We thought the real Gronk might be back just in time to win us a championship. Then on Sunday he didn’t make a catch until the fourth quarter and ended his day with two catches for 21 yards. Gronk considered retirement before this season, and with another injury ridden and unproductive season, he may seriously consider it again this offseason.

Kenyan Drake (RB – MIA)
I will never understand the usage of Drake. Frank Gore goes down on Sunday, and Drake has his lowest rushing total of the season. He was given one carry for six yards, and then it became the Kalen Ballage show. Gore is done for the season, but Drake will remain as big a question mark as ever after Ballage’s big day. It’s been a tumultuous season for Drake owners. It’s only fitting that it’s going to end just as unclear as it started, but with Ballage instead of Gore.  

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Sam Schlesinger is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @avishai41.

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