5 Burning Questions: Week 15 (2019 Fantasy Football)
After talking about how fantasy points might be hard to come by in the Saints 49ers game last week, they go on to put up 94 total points and there are fantasy points all around (except for Alvin Kamara). The biggest story of last week was how many benches Drew Brees and Raheem Mostert were sitting on. The next story was injuries. The last two weeks of the fantasy season could be significantly shifted based on all the injuries that were incurred last week, and that’s where I’ll begin my five burning questions for Week 15:
Who gets the biggest fantasy boost because of an injured teammate?
Week 14 gave us some exciting performances across the league, but it also gave us a ton of injuries to key players on our playoff rosters. Mike Evans, Alshon Jeffery, Marvin Jones, Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny, Calvin Ridley, and Parris Campbell were all ruled out for the season. So the big question is, who is going to be the biggest fantasy beneficiary? Breshad Perriman was a popular waiver add, and guys like Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, and whichever Eagles skill position players are healthy enough to play should see a boost in workload, but I think the biggest riser of this injury wave is Chris Carson.
Before his injury, during the previous two weeks, Rashaad Penny has been ramping up both his usage and his production. His 46% and 47% snap share in weeks 12 and 13 were both season highs, and he managed 203 rushing yards (his two biggest outputs of the season) and two rushing touchdowns combined in those two games. So just as Penny was breaking out, Chris Carson finds himself once again as the undisputed leader of the Seahawks backfield. With matchups against the Panthers and Cardinals, who have given up the most and 11th most points to running backs this season, Carson could be an absolute league winner when it matters most. The Seahawks also run the ball 46.4% of the time which ranks fifth-most in the league. Carson should really feast.
How heavily will the Redskins feed Adrian Peterson?
Another guy to keep on your radar for these last two weeks of the fantasy season is Adrian Peterson. The Redskins have shut down Derrius Guice for the remainder of the season and there seems to be a strong desire among Redskins players to get Peterson, at 34 years old, to another 1,000-yard season. He’s currently 282 yards shy. the lady running back to hit the 1,000-yard mark at age 34 or older was John Riggins in 1984, who coincidentally also played for the Redskins.
Peterson has had an illustrious career and has always seemed to defy the odds when it comes to what a human body should be able to handle. After tearing his ACL at the end of 2011, he came back in 2012 and not only led the league in rushing but ran for 2,097 yards, the second-largest single-season rushing output in NFL history. Being the first 34-year-old in 35 years to hit the 1,000-yard mark seems like something right down AP’s alley, and a few of his offensive linemen are said to be using that goal as motivation for playing these last three games in an otherwise forgettable season. This would be Peterson’s ninth season passing 1,000 rushing yards if he can do it. He gets the Eagles defense this week and the Giants defense in the fantasy championship.
Will the Patriots’ defense ball out again?
It feels weird to discuss a defense when talking about the biggest questions for the semifinal round of the fantasy playoffs, but the Patriots defense is probably a big part of the reason you made it to the playoffs, to begin with. Through the first eight weeks of the season, only Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson had scored more points in half PPR than the Patriots defense. They were winning fantasy matchups left and right, and at that point, they had scored 75 more total points than any other defense.
Now, in week 15, Patriots defense would still rank 24th among all FLEX players, but they’ve cooled down after playing the Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs over the last six weeks. This week they play the Bengals. A 1-12 team who rank 31st in points scored and 25th in yards gained. The Bengals are averaging barely more than one offensive touchdown per game, and the Patriots are reeling after suffering two losses in a row, something that’s been extremely rare over the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. This is a blow-up week for the Patriots defense.
Is Derrick Henry saving his best for last again?
We all remember last year when Derrick Henry exploded for 238 yards and four touchdowns in the first week of the fantasy playoffs while sitting on almost everyone’s bench. He then followed that performance with 170 yards and two more touchdowns. We all wondered what this late-season explosion meant for 2019, and those of us who took a chance on him have been rewarded with a much more consistent Henry this year. His late-season heroics, however, seem to be alive once again, on a much more sustainable level.
Henry’s last four stat lines read: 23 carries – 188 yards – 2 touchdowns, 19-159-2, 26-149-1, and 18-103-2. He’s the RB4 overall on the season and is far and away the best fantasy running back over the last three weeks.
Ever since Ryan Tannehill became the starter and the Titans’ all the sudden had a field-stretching passing game, holes have opened up for Henry and he’s taken advantage. The Titans have also been feeding him the ball regardless of the game script this season as he’s only had a single game with less than 15 carries (last year he only has six games with more than 15).
While he’s been good all season long, the pairing with Tannehill is bringing out the best in Henry and should continue through championship weekend.
Can Todd Gurley win you a championship once again?
There was an incredible amount of unknown surrounding Todd Gurley and his arthritic knee during the off-season, and many fantasy owners talked themselves out of drafting him. We saw how he looked at the end of last season and were afraid of anything like that happening again and wasting a top pick. To his credit, Sean McVay has been completely transparent with how he was going to use Gurley, and he’s done everything he said he was going to do. He pulled back on Gurley’s usage at the beginning of the season, but now in crunch time, they’re feeding him the rock.
Over his first eight games, Gurley never had more than 18 carries, but he’s had at least 19 carries in three of his last four and hit the 20 carry mark twice. Despite his decreased load, Gurley is sitting as the RB13 and since the usage boost, has been the RB8 over the last four weeks. He looks fresh and healthy and is making vintage Gurley moves on the field. If you’re still alive in your league, you should feel confident that Gurley over the next two weeks will look a lot more like the Gurley you remember from last year.