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Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 15

by Dan Harris | @danharris80 | Featured Writer
Dec 16, 2019

With one week left in your fantasy season, all conventional wisdom goes out the window. Teams out of contention may start mixing in lesser-known players to see what they have for the following season. Teams in contention may pull out all the stops to get a much-needed win. Gauging the value of any player at this stage is more difficult than at any other point in the fantasy season.

As always, here we’ll examine some players whose recent performances may have their owners panicking and consider whether or not the concern is warranted.

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Kenny Golladay (WR – DET) – Panic Meter Rating: 9

I don’t know how Golladay has been able to survive this long with David Blough as his quarterback, but his fantasy prospects came crashing back down to earth with his three-catch, 44-yard performance against the Bucs. Tampa Bay, as almost every fantasy owner knows, had allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and with Marvin Jones out for the season, Danny Amendola was seemingly all that stood in between Golladay and fantasy greatness in Week 15.

But it was not to be. Blough looked lost, and there was no fluky or late, garbage-time touchdown pass around to save Golladay. And now, he draws the Broncos, which entered Sunday having allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. And not only that, but he’s almost certainly going to be shadowed by Chris Harris Jr. With an ineffective quarterback and an excellent cornerback all over him, fantasy owners will need to think long and hard before deciding to start Golladay.

Jameis Winston (QB – TB) – Panic Meter Rating: 4

Obviously, Winston’s presence on the meter has nothing to do with his stellar performance. Despite being down Mike Evans, Winston threw for 458 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions, following up his 456-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Colts a week earlier. He’s putting up incredible fantasy numbers right when his owners need them most.

The problem is that Chris Godwin left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, and with a Saturday matchup with Houston on tap, there’s almost no chance Godwin will be back for Week 16. Another Tampa Bay wide receiver, Scotty Miller, also left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. This means Winston could be looking at Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson as his starting wide receivers. That’s a terrifying proposition, despite Perriman’s monster game on Saturday.

But if you own Winston, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get away from him in Week 16, especially against a Houston defense that allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. With O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate still in the fold, Winston should do enough to keep his fantasy owners happy. But there is certainly a mild bit of panic given Winston’s lack of weapons.

Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN) – Panic Meter Rating: 6

Before you get too worked up, of course, Lindsay is hardly a fantasy stalwart at this point. But since the Broncos had made the commitment to him over Royce Freeman a few weeks ago, Lindsay had been reliably seeing 14-18 touches and doing enough with them to warrant starting in a fantasy lineup.

So, when his panic meter rating sits at a six, it’s relative to his performance. But after Sunday’s seven-touch, 32-yard effort, there’s reason to be concerned, particularly when Freeman saw nine touches. Lindsay played just 26 snaps, while Freeman played 29.

The bottom line, however, is that the game against the Chiefs was just odd. Despite the snowy weather, the Broncos went with a pass-heavy attack with Drew Lock, and the consequences were disastrous. Considering that the formula to beating the Chiefs is generally to control the ball on the ground and keep Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines, the strategy was particularly puzzling.

Really, it seemed that the Denver coaching staff panicked when the team fell behind, as evidenced by Devontae Booker’s 19 snaps, as Booker is considered more of a pass-catcher. It’s a good bet that the game flow against the Lions next week will result in a more run-heavy attack, which should keep Lindsay on the field much more. Freeman’s snap-count is worrisome, but at this point, if you survived with Lindsay in your lineup, you’ll likely be able to leave him there next week.

Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN) – Panic Meter Rating: 2

There are few circumstances that should have led to you starting Boyd this week. Almost without exception, you could have been able to find a better option on your waiver wire, given that all signs pointed to Stephon Gilmore shadowing Boyd, as he did. Thus, Boyd’s three-catch, 26-yard performance was right in line with expectations.

Boyd has generally had success with Andy Dalton back at quarterback, and now he gets the Dolphins, a team that allows big plays to wide receivers at a near-historic rate. Boyd continues to see solid targets (32 over the last four games), and against Miami, that is almost certainly going to lead to excellent fantasy production.

The one caveat is A.J. Green’s potential return, as those rumblings have gotten louder of late. Boyd is still startable if Green returns, but his ceiling will be lowered a bit.

Melvin Gordon (RB – LAC) – Panic Meter Rating: 4

The Chargers played a terrible game against the Vikings on Sunday, particularly offensively, where they turned the ball over six times. Two of those turnovers came on Gordon fumbles, both of which left the Chargers in a pretty bad spot defensively.

Gordon lost some snaps after his second fumble to Justin Jackson, though Gordon did play as the game wound down and was out of reach. As Mike Tagliere said on the Sunday night recap edition of the FantasyPros Football Podcast, that may have been more of a punishment than a sign that Gordon remains in Anthony Lynn’s good graces.

Absent further word, you’re almost certainly starting Gordon against the Raiders next week. But is there a risk, given his contract situation, his poor performance, and the Chargers’ place in the standings, that he loses significant work to Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson? There is.

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Dan Harris is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive or follow him on Twitter @danharris80.

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