Fantasy Football Weekly Recap: Week 15 (2019)
Week 15 had it all, good and bad. It had a colossal upset (Atlanta over San Francisco). It had a messy snow game (Broncos-Chiefs). It had emotional farewells to Eli Manning and the city of Oakland. It had a few closely-played games with playoff implications — mixed in with a whole bunch of blowouts with no playoff implications whatsoever.
It had lots of random players popping off for two touchdowns, including Chris Conley, Kenny Stills, Mike Boone, Ricky Seals-Jones, and my personal favorite, the immortal Wes Hills (who?). It had Kenyan Drake and Breshad Perriman putting up gigantic stat lines that surely swung fantasy matchups. And it had some very impactful injuries, most notably to Dalvin Cook and Chris Godwin, each top-two fantasy scorers at their respective positions this season.
Hopefully, you survived and advanced to your fantasy championship game — or are at least alive going into the Monday night game. Because Week 15 isn’t quite over yet.
Top 5 Surprises
Kenyan Drake (RB – ARI)
Drake has looked better than David Johnson since coming over to the Cardinals at the end of October, but that’s a pretty low bar. Despite taking over lead back duties from DJ, Drake hadn’t scored a touchdown or surpassed 80 scrimmage yards since his debut in the desert way back on Halloween. It would have been understandable if you decided to sit him for the fantasy semifinals, but if you did, you missed out on the 146 yards and 4 — yes, four — touchdowns he put up against Cleveland on Sunday. Drake suddenly looks like a must-start option for next week’s matchup with a middle-of-the-pack Seahawks run defense, and his dynasty owners will be pleased to know that he now looks like the odds-on favorite to be starting at tailback for the Cardinals in 2020, too.
Breshad Perriman (WR – TB)
I play in a deep dynasty league with some of my fellow FantasyPros writers, and I owned Perriman in that league earlier this season with the thought that he could explode if Mike Evans or Chris Godwin went down. But entering Week 15, it had become unclear whether Perriman, Justin Watson, rookie Scotty Miller, or even tight end O.J. Howard would be the main one to benefit from the season-ending hamstring injury that Evans suffered last week. Well, we have our answer. Howard’s eight targets led the team and Miller hauled in a nice touchdown catch before suffering a hamstring injury of his own, but it was Perriman who inherited Evans’ role making big plays down the field. With Godwin also hurting his hamstring — yes that’s three hamstring injuries to Bucs wide receivers — Perriman now looks like a very intriguing option against a beatable Texans secondary next week.
Chris Conley (WR – JAC)
Among the so-called “random” group of players who posted two touchdowns in Week 15, Conley is the one we could have most easily seen doing it, and the one with the most fantasy intrigue going forward. This was Conley’s third big fantasy performance of the season — he’s twice topped 95 yards with a score — and he’s managed at least 49 yards in four of the Jags’ five games since their Week 10 bye. With Dede Westbrook doing nothing on Sunday and D.J. Chark looking very iffy for Week 16, Conley looks like the Jaguars receiver to own at the moment. He’s a serviceable WR3/flex option for a favorable matchup with the Falcons next week.
Mike Boone (RB – MIN)
Savvy fantasy managers have had Alexander Mattison on speed dial all season long as a handcuff to Dalvin Cook, but with Mattison inactive in Week 15 due to an ankle injury, it was Boone who was ultimately called upon to step up when Cook exited with a shoulder injury. Boone, who hadn’t had a single touch all season prior to Week 14, responded with 13 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. Boone clearly played ahead of Ameer Abdullah, and with Cook and Mattison both uncertain at best for Week 16, Boone could be a true difference-maker for fantasy championship week. If you have any FAAB left to spend, this is a good guy to spend it on.
Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
Speaking of handcuffs, Pollard has been one of the most highly-owned handcuffs all season, dating all the way back to Ezekiel Elliott’s preseason contract holdout. Pollard’s upside in the event of an Elliott injury is obvious, but Zeke is one of the most durable bell-cows in the game, so Pollard has been quiet for the better part of three months. The Cowboys hadn’t blown anybody out in quite awhile, but that’s exactly what they did to the Rams, and it allowed Pollard to showcase his skills in the second half. He busted off big run after big run, finishing with 143 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Paradoxically, the need to roster Pollard only decreases in most leagues after this big performance, as there is no need to roster handcuffs for the final week of the fantasy season. But he’ll surely be an intriguing player to keep tabs on again next season.
Top 5 Disappointments
Julian Edelman (WR – NE)
Edelman was listed as questionable this week with knee and shoulder injuries, but the Patriots are notorious for listing half their roster on the injury report each week, so there wasn’t much reason for concern going into the game. Judging by his Twitter account, Edelman himself seemed confident about his health status, but maybe there was more to the injuries than we realized. Edelman is typically an every-down player, but he played far fewer snaps than Mohamed Sanu on Sunday, and barely more than N’Keal Harry. Despite a highly-favorable matchup with Cincinnati, his two catches for nine yards were both season lows, and likely sent many of his owners crashing out of the fantasy playoffs.
Kenny Golladay (WR – DET)
It’s always a bit dicey relying on a wide receiver who is catching passes from an undrafted rookie QB, but Golladay’s Week 15 performance was disappointing nonetheless. He had gone 4-158-1 and 6-58-1 over the last two games with David Blough throwing him the football, and with Marvin Jones placed on injured reserve, it stood to reason that even more targets would be coming Golladay’s way. The Week 15 matchup against Tampa Bay was also as good as you could ask for, but it only translated into three catches for 44 yards. It turns out that the main beneficiary from Jones’ absence is Danny Amendola, who caught eight passes on 13 targets for 102 yards. Those 13 targets are three more than Golladay has had in any game this season. Woof.
Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN)
It’s now been a full month since the Broncos indicated that they would “ride” Lindsay as their clear lead back, and the results have been uninspiring, to say the least. Neither Lindsay’s touch nor yardage totals have increased since then, and he bottomed out for a season-low 32 yards on a season-low seven touches on Sunday. The performance was particularly disastrous when you consider that Lindsay was seemingly set up for a huge day. He was facing the Chiefs, who are strong against the pass and weak against the run, with an inexperienced rookie QB in snowy conditions and a hostile road environment. Given those circumstances and Denver’s supposed commitment to Lindsay, you’d expect him to get 30 touches, not seven.
Melvin Gordon (RB – LAC)
Nobody really expected Gordon to have one of his better games against the Vikings’ stout run defense, but this performance was disastrous by any standard. Gordon had a season-low seven carries for just 28 yards, and yet he still managed to put the ball on the ground twice. He did make a few plays in the passing game, but not nearly enough of them to salvage his day. The Chargers are a train wreck, and Gordon may already have his mind on reaching greener pastures via free agency next season. But if you managed to survive this one, you’ll likely want to go right back to Gordon next week in the fantasy championship. He gets the Raiders, after all.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR – SF)
This is one disappointment that I saw coming, but even I expected Sanders to do a little better than two catches for nine yards. Whether in Denver or San Francisco, Sanders’ season has been one of peaks and valleys. He has five games with 86+ yards this season, and nine games with 41 yards or fewer. At the end of the day, the 49ers are simply not a high-volume passing offense, and George Kittle is the only San Francisco pass-catcher than you can comfortably slot into your lineup each and every week. Sanders is going to be very hard to trust as even a WR3/flex option next week against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams, who just held Dallas’ top wideouts in check despite getting completely blown out.
Raheem Mostert had five more touches (15) than Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida combined (10). Kyle Shanahan said Mostert deserved more opportunities, and he was true to his word. He’ll be an appealing RB2 next week against the Rams.
Miles Sanders had nearly twice as many touches (25) as Boston Scott (13). Scott may have outplayed Sanders last week, but Sanders reminded everyone why the Eagles took him in the second round of the 2019 draft by piling up 172 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against Washington.
Mike Boone and Breshad Perriman could be league-winning waiver wire additions. If 2019 has taught us anything, it’s that you want the Vikings’ starting running back and the Bucs’ starting wide receivers. There’s no point in saving your FAAB with one week to go in the fantasy season, so you know what to do.
If you pulled out a W, you’ve only got one team left to beat. You may feel like your team is limping into Week 16 (perhaps literally), but if you’ve made it this far, you’ve got a real shot at a title. That’s all we can ever really ask for. Plus, there should be less competition on the waiver wire than there’s been all season, so if you have holes, you can probably find a way to plug them.