Before thinking you have fantasy football all figured out, remember that someone, somewhere won a playoff matchup because of Jason Sanders.
Sure, you might have a star-studded lineup. If reading this column over the last few weeks, perhaps you bolstered that unit by starting Ryan Tannehill or Anthony Miller in Week 14. But did you forget to add the Miami Dolphins’ kicker? on Sunday, 0.3% of leagues consisted of a manager prophetic enough to roster the man who amassed more fantasy points than Lamar Jackson. He had made 11 field goals in as many games before booting seven — including a 53-yarder — against the Jets.
In other words, congratulations to Sanders’ friends, family, and those lazy enough to randomly pick a kicker just because they share the same last name. (See you at Christmas, Robbie!)
Rather than guess who will make seven field goals in Week 15, the lesson here is to rid your league of kickers. Fantasy football is fickle enough already. I haven’t highlighted them all season, so let’s not start now. At least there’s some rhyme and reason to adding these players prior to a pivotal Week 15.
This late in a game, FAAB recommendations aren’t too helpful. Those needing a certain position for their Week 15 playoff matchup need to play like there’s no tomorrow. Players are listed in order of preference by position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA): 19% Rostered
Nobody has bothered to tell Fitzpatrick that he’s an Ivy League-educated 37-year-old playing for an organization that’s trying to lose. The journeyman continues to play with reckless abandon. For the second time in three weeks, he led the Dolphins in rushing yards (65), saving streamers from a dud during The Jason Sanders Show. Hey now, he gets the Giants next. After they squandered three dominant quarters against Carson Wentz, each of the last six opposing quarterbacks has eclipsed 18 fantasy points.
Mitchell Trubisky (CHI): 19% Rostered
Given how horribly most of his season went, it’s jarring to picture Trubisky swinging 2019 fantasy championships. In some leagues, it’s already happened. He’s tossed three touchdowns in consecutive games, and that doesn’t take last Thursday’s rushing score and 63 ground yards into account. The QB31 through Week 9 has since notched the position’s fourth-most fantasy points. In those five games, he’s garnered a 66.5% completion rate and 7.5 yards per pass attempt. Trubisky struggled (26-of-45, 228 yards, one pick) in Chicago’s season opener against Green Bay, so a December clash at Lambeau hardly makes for an ideal matchup play. He’s playing well enough, however, to consider as an intriguing QB2.
Daniel Jones (NYG): 27% Rostered
Eli Manning (NYG): 3% Rostered
This obviously hinges on Jones’ availability after missing Monday night with an ankle injury. There’s little reason for the Giants to rush him back when they can extend Manning’s farewell tour, which started with 203 yards and two touchdowns at Philadelphia. With Miami and Washington on the docket, fantasy gamers should monitor the situation. The rookie has proven a high-upside play, depositing a trio of four-touchdown outings against the Buccaneers, Lions, and Jets. Only three teams have permitted more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Dolphins, so a healthy Jones would have been the week’s top streamer. While Manning also merits some consideration, he’s best reserved for two-quarterback leagues.
Raheem Mostert (SF): 37% Rostered
Let’s break this article’s 30% or lower rule for Mostert, who needs to be claimed in every league. Even with Matt Breida back, Mostert led San Francisco’s three-back tandem in snaps (40) and touches (12). That’s all he needed to notch 109 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-46 thriller. Clearly the team’s top option, he’s totaled 330 yards and four touchdowns over the last three games. Tevin Coleman, who averaged more non-PPR fantasy points per game than Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Le’Veon Bell through Week 10, has 70 yards in those past three bouts. Treat Mostert as an RB2 who continues to brandish big-play upside when fed the football.
DeAndre Washington (OAK): 2% Rostered
A shoulder injury relegated Josh Jacobs to a late scratch. Buried down the depth chart all season, Washington nevertheless proved up for the challenge. Assuming Oakland’s feature role, he produced 53 rushing yards and a score on 14 carries along with catching six of seven targets for 43 more yards. Expected to undergo an MRI this week, Jacobs is hardly guaranteed to return this weekend, or season for that matter. Anyone rostering the Raiders’ rookie should grab Washington to cover their bases.
Peyton Barber (TB): 29% Rostered
Week 14 offered no clarity to Tampa Bay’s backfield mess. Ronald Jones Jr. and Barber each fielded 11 carries in a shootout win over the Colts. Neither did much with those opportunities, respectively recording 36 and 34 yards. Yet to exceed 55 scrimmage yards in a game since Week 2, Barber is a touchdown-dependent option, but he’s compiled 39 carries during a three-game winning streak. Facing Detroit’s 23rd-ranked rushing defense opens the door to red-zone work and another favorable game script.
Boston Scott (PHI): 0% Rostered
Pressed into duty when Miles Sanders briefly left Monday night’s game, Scott saved Philadelphia’s listless offense. Seldom used before the second half, last year’s 201st pick made defenders look silly en route to generating 128 scrimmage yards (59 rushing, 69 receiving) and a touchdown on 16 touches (10 runs, six catches). The Eagles were playing without Jordan Howard and just about every wide receiver, so the 5’6″ back likely won’t maintain such a prominent role over the final three weeks. He shouldn’t vanish either. Scott made a strong enough impression to stayed involved when Sanders returned from an injury scare. He should stick around enough to play the Darren Sproles role, which would help PPR players in deeper formats.
Patrick Laird (MIA): 14% Rostered
It wasn’t pretty, but Laird turned 19 touches into 86 yards (48 rushing, 38 receiving) during Week 14’s field goal fest as Miami’s starting running back. Given the four catches, it was an especially solid showcase for PPR players. The volume makes him a genuinely viable deep-league flex play in another soft matchup (more from a pass-catching standpoint) against the Giants. While ineffective on the ground, the work at least fosters the possibility of a goal-line score boosting his worth.
A.J. Brown (TEN): 27% Rostered
You know the drill by now. Brown has a huge week, gets talked up in waiver-wire columns across the land, and then proceeds to have a quiet encore. The peaks are still undeniable. He wielded 141 yards and two touchdowns just in the first half of Sunday’s win over Oakland. That comes two weeks after posting 135 yards and a score on the Jaguars. Take the highs with the lows, and he’s still submitted 779 yards and six touchdowns in a promising rookie campaign. Although the range of outcomes is wide, most gamers will gladly take a WR3 who breaks matchups open on multiple occasions. The Texans, just dominated by Drew Lock, give him a golden opportunity to finally deliver in back-to-back games.
Zach Pascal (IND): 32% Rostered
Let’s one again conveniently ignore the usual 30% cutoff mark for someone barely above that barometer. With T.Y. Hilton still sitting, Pascal was rightfully a popular play as Indianapolis’ de facto No. 1 receiver against Tampa Bay. A week after compiling 109 yards, he provided 74 yards and a touchdown. Jacoby Brissett has targeted Pascal on a quarter of his passes over those two contests. That might not change anytime soon; head coach Frank Reich said Hilton remains “week to week.” The Saints don’t look nearly as insurmountable after permitting five passing touchdowns to the 49ers, so Pascal would stay a strong start if Hilton can’t play. Marcus Johnson merits a deep-league look after providing 105 yards and a score, but the favorable matchup should probably take the credit for his breakout.
Darius Slayton (NYG): 28% Rostered
Playing with Manning for the first time, Slayton slew the Eagles for two touchdowns on 154 yards. It was just the third time the rookie wideout shared the field with Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. In those contests, he has picked up 283 yards and three scores. The deep threat has scored two touchdowns in three of his last six games, a stretch in which he’s averaging eight targets and 73.7 yards. Miami has relinquished an NFL-high 23 touchdowns to wide receivers, so Slayton sports week-winning upside regardless of who Big Blue starts under center.
Anthony Miller (CHI): 19% Rostered
What’s it going to take for everyone to add Miller? In lockstep with Trubisky’s resurgence, the second-year wideout has drawn a 24.2% target share (37 of 153) over the last four games. All that attention has yielded 24 receptions for 313 yards and a touchdown. He’s delivered at least 11 PPR points in all of those bouts, so it’s past time to take him seriously as a viable WR3 down the stretch.
Breshad Perriman (TB): 0% Rosered
Justin Watson (TB): 0% Rostered
After gifting gamers with a 61-yard touchdown, Mike Evans exited Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Bruce Arians isn’t optimistic about his star receiver recovering in time to face the Lions in Week 15. He’ll vacate 9.7 targets per game (not including Week 14) in the NFL’s third-ranked passing offense. As quickly demonstrated Sunday, that opens the door for others to shine beside Chris Godwin.
Perriman and Watson each found the zone against the Colts. Watson gained more targets (eights) and catches (five), but Perriman turned his five looks into 70 yards. The latter also registered 87 yards as an ancillary option in Week 13; Watson had grabbed his only reception in Week 4. Perriman is thus the better add capable of shining against Detroit’s suspect secondary. Evans’ injury also increases the likelihood of Darius Slay shadowing Godwin.
Tyler Higbee (LAR): 14% Rostered
Sorry for those who took my advice to sit Higbee last week. Maybe it wasn’t just one good day against the Cardinals after all. Another game without Gerald Everett yielded another seven catches for his teammate, who topped Week 13’s career-high 107 receiving yards with 116 on Sunday night. Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz each only have one 100-yard game this season. Playing 68 of 70 snaps in a near must-win game against Seattle, Higbee also drew double-digit targets for the first time ever. Regardless of Everett’s availability, the Rams are unlikely to mess with what’s working as they fight for their playoff lives. Those who see the season through to the bitter end can also look forward to a Week 17 rematch versus the Cardinals.
Noah Fant (DEN): 29% Rostered
You can’t spell fantasy without Fant, who was on the verge of a career performance before exiting Sunday’s game with a bruised foot and hip irritation. Following a five-yard dud in Lock’s debut, the fellow rookie secured all four targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos are still hopeful that the rookie won’t miss any time. When healthy, his ceiling is clearly higher than the typical TE2 type. Keep Fant on the radar in case he’s good to go.
Ian Thomas (CAR): 1% Rostered
In a game Greg Olsen missed due to a concussion, Thomas exceeded his season totals in one sitting. Along with gaining 57 yards on 10 targets, he banked his first touchdown of 2019. Thomas also concluded last season strong in Olsen’s absence, amassing 200 yards and two touchdowns in the final four weeks. Officially out of the playoff hunt, the Panthers have no reason to rush back the 34-year-old when they can give meaningful reps to a talented 24-year-old. If Olsen sits, Thomas is a solid starting option against a Seattle defense that has struggled against tight ends.
Detroit Lions: 13% Rostered
Nobody has thrown 30 or more interceptions in a season since Vinny Testaverde surrendered 35 in 1988. Jameis Winston is at 23 with three games remaining. As long as he plays through the thumb injury, he certainly has a chance after ceding at least two in six of the last eight contests. He’s also gotten sacked 41 times. While he’ll put up plenty of points against a poor Detroit defense, the Lions could nevertheless produce a bountiful fantasy offering. The Colts allowed 458 passing yards and four touchdowns to Winston in a 38-35 loss, but they still managed 11 fantasy points. The upside in a similar scenario makes the Lions the best streamer of the dozen eligible options.