The Primer: Week 15 Edition (2019 Fantasy Football)
There’ve been a lot of lessons learned throughout my life, but one that I must continually remind myself of is that not everyone is created the same. That’s a blanket statement, but anyone reading this can relate. You know those things that come naturally to you, but when you try to explain them to someone else, they just can’t seem to make sense of it? You ever wonder how in the world someone can take something you said a completely different direction than what you meant when you didn’t think there was any other way it could be interpreted?
You’ve certainly felt this way, and others have felt this way about you, though you may not think of it from that perspective. You see, it’s natural to think everyone thinks or feels the way you do, because that’s who you are and it’s what you know. Don’t feel bad about it either, it’s human nature. But there’s a lesson to be taken from this.
Have you ever noticed a flaw in yourself? It could be a trait, habit, something with your personality that you know you needed to work on. I know I’ve had many of them over my life, and most of them were extremely tough to get over and change. If they weren’t, I would’ve changed them overnight. Think about the last time you tried to change something about yourself.
Now, I want you to remember that the next time someone disagrees with you or takes something you say the wrong way, even when you know you didn’t mean it the way they took it. Before you try to figure out a way to change their mind or change how they see things through their eyes, you mustn’t forget how hard it is/was to change yourself.
This is an important message surrounding the holidays as you get together with family. You may wonder why some aren’t as considerate as others. Whether it be arriving late, starting arguments with other family members, gossiping about others’ problems, or not respecting the house they’re in. With some, there may be something going on beyond the surface that’s affecting their life. For others, they simply are the way they are. But you need to remember that not everyone is you, and just because you want them to change, it isn’t as easy as you’ve made it in your mind.
So, when getting together with family, co-workers, or friends, understand that everyone sees the world through their own eyes, and believes it to be the reality for everyone. We know it’s not, but that’s the beauty of us being individuals. I wish you could see the world through my eyes. I wish you could see the world through my eyes, but I’m continually trying to remember that you cannot.
In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been going back into The Primer on Saturday morning trying to update you on the injury reports that impact your decisions. While I cannot write a whole new article, I do talk about a lot of these things on our Sunday morning livestream, which is FREE to everyone. It’s where I discuss all the latest injury news and then take your questions live from 11-12am EST. Click here to be taken to our YouTube page where you can get notifications when we go live.
If you’re new around these parts, here’s what you can expect out of this article each and every week: numbers, facts, stats, opinions, and some shenanigans here and there. It’s my unbiased opinion about everyone on your roster. Whether it be season-long advice, DFS advice, wide receiver/cornerback matchups, or snap counts, it’s all covered. The idea here is to give you as much information as possible and give you as much confidence as possible when you hit that ‘submit lineup’ button each week. Who should be in your lineup this week?
CHI at GB | NE at CIN | SEA at CAR | HOU at TEN | DEN at KC | TB at DET | MIA at NYG | PHI at WAS | CLE at ARI | JAC at OAK | LAR at DAL | ATL at SF | MIN at LAC | BUF at PIT | IND at NO
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Line: GB by 5.0
Mitch Trubisky: Outside of that Rams game on Monday night, Trubisky has played rather well over the last five weeks. He’s completed 117-of-176 passes (66.5 percent) for 1,223 yards (6.9 yards per attempt), 11 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 97 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. From a fantasy perspective, he’s totaled at least 18.9 fantasy points in four of the last five games, including back-to-back season-highs of 23.9 and 32.1 points over the last two weeks. The important part is that he’s becoming a bit more mobile, totaling 21 carries over the last three weeks, netting 85 yards and two touchdowns, after he totaled just 15 carries for 58 scoreless yards in the first 10 games. Now on to the Packers, a team he’s played three times in the last 15 months. He’s failed to throw for more than 235 yards in any of those games and has combined for four total touchdowns in them. The Packers defense looked a lot different back in Week 1, as the Bears had very little chance to know how they’d use their new personnel. The Packers were a tough defense the first three weeks, but as time has gone on, they’ve started to show some weakness. Over their last 10 games, they’ve allowed 274.8 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns per game. That’s despite their opponents averaging just 32.5 attempts per game. The issue is that if Trubisky has another one of his bad days through the air, the Packers have been the best in football when it comes to limiting quarterbacks on the ground, allowing a league-low 2.78 yards per carry to them. In a divisional game on the road, it’s tough to say you should trust Trubisky to keep up his hot streak. He’s in the low-end QB2 conversation as someone who’s simply too risky to play in a win-or-go-home fantasy football situation.
Aaron Rodgers: It was another underwhelming fantasy performance out of Rodgers, as the Packers offense is apparently content with barely beating bottom-of-the-barrel competition. However, if there were ever a week to get a lead and sit on it (like they did against the Redskins), it’s this one. When throwing the ball against the Bears you open yourself to turnovers, which can swing a game. The Bears have still yet to allow a top-12 quarterback performance against them this year, though David Blough and Dak Prescott finished with two of the top three performances against them, which both came in the last two weeks. The ceiling against the Bears was Teddy Bridgewater‘s 281-yard, two-touchdown performance back in Week 7, which netted 19.9 fantasy points and a QB13 finish. They’ve now allowed four multi-touchdown games, but never more than two touchdowns. Oddly enough, the only quarterback to average more than 7.7 yards per attempt against the Bears was Jared Goff, who completed just 11 passes in their Week 11 game, though a 50-yard completion propped-up his YPA numbers. The Bears have faced a decent number of passes, too, as the 37.2 pass attempts per game suggests. Back in their Week 1 matchup, Rodgers threw for 203 yards and one touchdown. He was a bit Jekyll and Hyde against the Bears last year, totaling 286/3/0 in the first matchup, but was then held to 274/0/1 in the second one. Over the last eight times he’s played the Bears, Rodgers has topped 300 yards once (2016). However, he’s thrown 10 touchdown passes over the last three games he’s played against them at home. Rodgers has been so hit-or-miss in fantasy, it’s tough to see him overcoming the brutal matchup that’s yet to allow a quarterback finish as a top-12 option, but at home, it’s tough to bet against him. Consider him a low-end QB1 this week.
David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen: Keeping our sample size recent, we’ll look at the touch splits over the last four weeks between these two. Montgomery has received 68 touches (63 carries, 5 receptions) while Cohen has received 43 touches (21 carries, 22 receptions). So, we’re looking at a 61/39 split, though opportunity is closer to 55/45 when you consider the fact that targets are worth more than carries. The Packers are a team you can run the ball on, though the question is about gamescript. The Packers almost refuse to blow teams out, allowing opposing running backs to rack up the touches, as they’ve faced an average of 28.6 per game. They’ve allowed a massive 4.89 yards per carry but just 5.39 yards per target to running backs, so it’s one that clearly favors Montgomery’s role. The worst a running back has finished against the Packers with 12-plus carries is RB26, which is obviously high-end RB3 territory. There have been six running backs who’ve finished in the top-12 against the Packers, and oddly enough, four of them were on losing teams. Knowing Montgomery has totaled at least 13 carries and 15 touches in each of the last seven games, he should be in lineups as a middling RB2 who’s getting all goal-line work for the Bears. Cohen is still getting in plenty of work to be fantasy relevant, though the matchup doesn’t suit him as well. No running back has totaled 50 yards through the air against the Packers this year, though Cohen does own the highest reception (8) and receiving yardage total (49) against them this year, which came back in Week 1. Cohen should be considered a high-end RB4 who offers more upside than most in that range, though his floor is likely in the 5-7 PPR-point range.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams: The Bears defense has gotten things together after struggling a bit once they lost Akiem Hicks on the defensive line and have now allowed just 3.68 yards per carry on the year. The fact remains that they’ve struggled on the goal-line, though. They’ve now allowed 12 rushing touchdowns over the last 10 games, one every 19.8 carries, which would be the second-most often in the league behind only the Panthers. They have allowed six different running backs to rush for at least 81 yards, but each of those running backs carried the ball a minimum of 19 times, a number the Packers running backs rarely reach. There have been seven running backs who’ve finished as the RB18 or better against the Bears, and each of them totaled at least 16 touches, with six of them finishing with 20-plus touches. Bottom line, it’s taken volume to even get into the middling RB2 conversation. Knowing Jones totaled 22 touches to Williams’ 7 touches, he’s in must-start low-end RB1 territory, especially when you know that inside linebacker Roquan Smith was placed on injured reserve this week, and were already without Hicks (who may return this week) and Danny Trevathan. The biggest question mark in this game is Williams, because losing any of the work he was getting is crushing to his appeal, as his volume was already a big question mark. Is Jones the new passing-down back after seeing seven targets to Williams’ one target, because carries aren’t worth nearly as much. The Bears opponents have averaged 28.8 touches per game, so we could see touch totals similar to the ones we saw last week. Williams is shaping up to be a risky low-end RB3/high-end RB4 with a diminishing role where it matters most.
Allen Robinson: With Trubisky playing better, we’re starting to see a higher ceiling for Robinson, who’s delivered a stable floor all year. Robinson has 19 receptions for 265 yards and four touchdowns over the last three games, and he’ll bring that into a matchup with the Packers, who’ve really struggled to contain perimeter receivers this year. They were without Kevin King last week, though that may be a good thing considering he’s been the weakest link by far this year. Back in Week 1, Robinson hung 7/102/0 on them, though it could’ve been much more had Trubisky played well, as Robinson routinely beat their cornerbacks. There have been just four wide receivers who’ve seen double-digit targets against the Packers and each of them finished with 100-plus yards. There have been just two teams all year who didn’t have at least one top-30 receiver against the Packers, so feel free to start Robinson as you normally would, as a high-end WR2. If you’re worried about shadow coverage from Jaire Alexander, don’t be, because the Packers haven’t shadowed with him all year.
Anthony Miller: The fluctuating targets have been exhausting with Miller this year, as he now has five games with seven-plus targets but has finished with four or less in each of the other eight games. He’s been able to overcome that and has now totaled at least 9.2 PPR points in seven of his last nine games, including 11.4-plus points in four straight. The issue is that the Packers have been rock-solid against the slot this entire season. Tramon Williams has done a great job limiting production out of the slot, as the biggest performance they’ve allowed to a slot-heavy receiver was Sammy Watkins‘ 5/45/0 way back in Week 8. Behind that, it was Randall Cobb‘s 3/53/0. Those are the two biggest PPR games against the Packers from slot-heavy receivers all season. If Miller was seeing six-plus targets every week, you’d want to start him with confidence, but knowing it’s shaky matchup combined with his inconsistent target totals, and you have yourself a middling WR4 who shouldn’t be considered a must-start.
Davante Adams: There were a lot of people who asked me why I was high on Amari Cooper last week when he was playing the Bears. Well, because he’s simply better than Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. The same applies to Adams. It didn’t hurt Cooper/Gallup’s production with Amukamara out for that game, but this is a matchup that elite players can do well in. Even with the Bears playing at an elite level in 2018, Adams racked up 5/88/1 in the first matchup and then 8/119/0 in the second matchup. Knowing that Rodgers has thrown 10 passing touchdowns against the Bears in the last three games at Lambeau Field certainly helps Adams’ projections, too. We likely won’t know if Amukamara will return until late in the week, but if he were out, it’d be a nice bump to Adams projection, as the Bears don’t shadow, which means Adams would see Kevin Toliver in coverage quite a bit (Amukamara has trended in the right direction). He’d played three defensive snaps all year prior to allowing 5-of-6 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown to the Cowboys last week. Plug-and-play Adams as a high-end WR1 no matter what.
Allen Lazard: He’s still the No. 2 in the offense, though there doesn’t appear to be enough volume for there to be two fantasy relevant receivers on a consistent basis. The Bears haven’t allowed consistent production to wide receivers, either. They’ve allowed just 14 receivers to finish as top-40 options against them, with every receiver seeing at least five targets, and 11 of them totaling at least seven targets. There’s no way you can put Lazard down for either of those numbers confidently, as he’s failed to hit five targets in every game since Week 10. It would surely help if the Bears were without Prince Amukamara once again, but even then, it’s tough to say Lazard is anything more than an upside WR5.
Jesper Horsted: It’s become increasingly difficult to remember all the names of the Bears tight ends, as we’ve gone from Trey Burton, to Adam Shaheen, to Ben Braunecker, to J.P. Holtz, to Horsted. Knowing it was Horsted who led them in pass routes run last week, he’s the one to consider, though if Braunecker returned, it’d further cloudy the situation. The Packers have been a matchup to target with tight ends, as they’ve allowed nine different tight ends to finish as top-16 options, but this is not a tight end situation with a clear-cut beneficiary of the great matchup. There are better options available on waiver wires.
Jimmy Graham: The Packers continue to split snaps among tight ends and even got rookie Jace Sternberger out there last week. Graham led the team with 19 routes, but Robert Tonyan chipped in with 9, Marcedes Lewis 8, and Sternberger 3. It’s worth noting that Graham did see five targets, which was the first time he’d hit that number since Week 8. He finished with 3/30/1 in the first matchup with the Bears this year, though his touchdown was on a straight-up jump-ball that he came down with, and something Rodgers doesn’t leave to chance very often. It’s kind of crazy how consistent the Bears have been against tight ends since the start of 2018, as there’ve been just two tight ends who’ve totaled more than 50 yards against them (Zach Ertz and George Kittle). They have, however, allowed 11 different tight ends total at least 30 yards, which has provided a semi-stable floor. Because of that, Graham stays in the middling TE2 conversation, though he’s far from a must-start, as he comes with a limited ceiling. *Update* He’s listed as questionable for this game with both wrist and groin injuries.
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Line: NE by 10.0
Tom Brady: It’s been a rough go for Brady over the last two months and we’ve talked about that rather extensively. The question fantasy owners will be asking themselves this week is whether or not the Bengals are a good enough matchup to play him. To start, opponents have averaged just 29.8 pass attempts per game against the Bengals, which is the second-lowest total in the league. Brady has averaged 40.2 pass attempts per game, but do the Patriots dial it back in this one, or do they to instill some confidence in the passing game? When quarterbacks drop back to throw a pass, they’re averaging a massive 8.39 yards per attempt, which ranks fourth-highest in the league behind only the Raiders, Giants, and Cardinals. The touchdown-rate of 4.13 percent is a bit lackluster for that type of yardage, but that’s because they can’t stop anyone on the ground. Oddly enough, the only three quarterbacks they’ve held to less than 16.3 fantasy points is over the last three weeks, as Devlin Hodges, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield struggled to hit that mark. Playing Brady this week comes down to pure narrative. If you’re basing it on his play as of late, he’s nothing more than a mid-to-low-end QB2 with limited upside. If you’re expecting the Patriots to try and get their passing-game on track while using this game as a springboard, you’re expecting more. I’m somewhere in-between, but I will say this… Brady hasn’t attempted less than 36 pass attempts since way back in Week 2. The Bengals have held exactly 2-of-13 quarterbacks to less than 7.2 yards per attempt. Even if we take the lows of those two numbers, we’d have 260 yards and likely two touchdowns. He’s in the mid-to-high-end QB2 territory this week and should present a solid floor.
Andy Dalton: He’s coming off a game in which he didn’t look particularly good, and that was against a sub-500 Browns team. Since returning to the starting job, he’s completed 44-of-75 passes for 505 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. That’s not going to give fantasy owners anywhere near enough confidence to start him against a Patriots team that has allowed one quarterback to throw for more than one touchdown, and that was when most of the defense had the flu and didn’t practice all week. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson were the only two quarterbacks to post more than 14.3 fantasy points against them all year, as the 5.78 yards per attempt and 1.84 percent touchdown-rate is far too much to overcome. Now missing both A.J. Green and Auden Tate, Dalton is not even on the 2QB radar this week.
Sony Michel and James White: This is the worst part of the fantasy playoffs. It’s win or go home. If you made it through last week with Michel, you should be counting your lucky stars. However, how do you not consider him against the Bengals, a team that’s been constantly abused by running backs, particularly on the ground. Opposing running backs have combined to average 24.4 carries per game against them, which is the third highest mark in the league. On those carries, they’ve allowed 4.74 yards per carry. There have been 10 running backs who’ve totaled at least 12 carries against the Bengals, and every one of them finished as a top-20 performer on the week. While Michel has only received 15 carries the last two weeks combined, the gamescript has been negative throughout both games. In the 18 games the Patriots have won over the last two years, Michel has averaged 17.3 carries. In the eight losses, he’s averaged 10.9 carries. The Patriots are going to win this game, which is what brings up the tough question of what to do with Michel this week. Despite the bad performance in Week 14, Michel should be back in fantasy lineups as a low-end RB2 who should fare much better. It’s tough with White, as running backs haven’t had to do much work against the Bengals through the air. There’ve been just four running backs all year who’ve totaled more than three receptions. When targeted, they are averaging a robust 7.66 yards per target (3rd-highest), and with Brady struggling to get much done, it’s possible he’s treated as a slot receiver. There’s still been just one game all year where White has finished with less than 9.6 PPR points, which highlights a solid RB3 floor, though his upside has been limited. He should be considered a high-end RB3 this week.
Joe Mixon: At some point, the Bengals just said, “No matter what the scoreboard says, we’re giving Mixon 15-plus carries.” He’s hit that mark in each of the last six games, but even more importantly, he’s now seen four targets in each of the last two games. He’s run 37 routes in those games, which ranks 17th among running backs, so at least he’s been involved there. We’ll test the theory of 15-plus carries in every game this week, as the Bengals are double-digit underdogs against the Patriots. Mixon has been handling 88 percent of the team’s carries over the last six weeks, which is important considering running backs have averaged just 18.4 carries per game against them, the third-lowest mark in the league. The Patriots have still allowed just one rushing touchdown on the year as well, so it’s unlikely a touchdown can bail you out as a Mixon owner. There have been just three running backs who’ve finished as top-20 options against the Patriots this year, and two of them came in games the Patriots won. Ezekiel Elliott was the only running back on the losing team who finished top-20 against them, and it took him 25 touches in the rain to get there. This isn’t a week to get excited about starting Mixon as anything more than a low-end RB2/high-end RB3.
Julian Edelman: Despite Brady’s struggles this year, Edelman currently sits as the No. 4 fantasy wide receiver in PPR formats. It certainly helps that he’s averaging 10.4 targets per game, but that’s all that matters to us. He’s now seen double-digit targets in eight straight games and hasn’t finished below 13.7 PPR points since way back in Week 4. The Bengals have Darqueze Dennard covering the slot for them, a veteran who’s played well this year, allowing just a 54.5 percent catch-rate in his coverage with just 4.63 yards per target. Is that who he is? Over the course of his six-year-career, this is the best he’s ever played in coverage, though volume hasn’t been there. The only slot-heavy receiver who was heavily targeted against him (when he played) was Dede Westbrook back in Week 7 when he finished with 6/103/0 on nine targets, though not all production was in Dennard’s coverage. You’re starting Edelman as a low-end WR1 in season-long leagues with all his targets, though you may not need to play Edelman in cash games this week. *Update* Dennard is listed as questionable with an illness, so he may not be 100 percent, even if he does play.
Mohamed Sanu: There was no receiver outside of Edelman who recorded more than one catch for the Patriots last week. Sanu is seemingly pushing through the ankle injury he suffered a few weeks back and it has him sharing snaps with Jakobi Meyers. It’s impossible to trust Sanu when coming off a one-target game, but he’s now finished with 23 yards or less in 4-of-5 games with the Patriots. He also has just one game he finished with more than five targets. Knowing how much Brady’s struggled, it’s going to take more than that to play him with any confidence. When you add in the fact that the Bengals have seen an average of just 16.4 wide receiver targets per game, and it’s tough to say Sanu is anything more than a WR5, even in a great matchup.
Tyler Boyd: He’s now registered at least five catches and 59 yards in each of the last three games, providing some stability to fantasy lineups, though the Week 15 matchup will cause owners some stress. Many talk about the shutdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but Jonathan Jones has been pretty dang good in his own right. While covering the slot, he’s allowed just a 58.7 percent catch-rate, though he has accounted for three of the eight passing touchdowns the Patriots have allowed this year. As a team, they’ve faced 20.3 wide receiver targets per game (12th-most), but have allowed just one wide receiver to finish better than the WR20 against them all season. That’s ridiculous. The player who did that was a fellow slot-heavy receiver, Golden Tate, though most of his production came on one play, which is extremely difficult to project. Knowing the Patriots just played against the Texans and Chiefs wide receivers and didn’t allow anyone over 64 yards is worrisome. Boyd should be considered a low-end WR3 who’s in a tough spot this week, but it’d be surprising to see him wind-up with less than eight targets here.
John Ross: He returned to the lineup in Week 14, playing 36-of-73 snaps, though he came out of that game healthy. He saw three targets, catching two of them for 28 yards while dropping the third. With Auden Tate likely out for this game, Ross is likely going to step into a more full-time role this week. Unfortunately, the Patriots are the opponent, a team that’s allowed just 5.82 yards per target to wide receivers, easily the lowest mark in the NFL. Part of the issue is simply completing passes, as receivers have caught just 50.4 percent of their targets against them, while no other team in the league has allowed less than 57.6 percent. We did see both Will Fuller and Kenny Stills get behind this defense a few weeks back, though it’s worth noting that most of the defense was sick that week. Ross has one-play upside, but there’s no way you’re trusting him in fantasy lineups.
Ben Watson: It seems the Patriots have safely ignored the tight end position this year, as there’s been just one of them who’s topped 8.2 PPR points all season, and that was Ryan Izzo way back in Week 5 who caught two balls for 39 yards and a touchdown. Watson is sharing snaps/routes with Matt LaCosse and it’s turned a weak situation into something even worse. The Bengals have been horrendous against tight ends when targeted, though teams haven’t felt it necessary, as they’ve averaged just 5.8 targets per game against them. If a Patriots tight end scores, it would be a results over process situation because it makes no sense to trust either of them.
Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah: After watching Uzomah out-target and out-route Eifert in Week 13, it seemed like a changing of the guard. One week later, it’s Eifert running six more routes, seeing two more targets, and finishing with 4/49/0. The Bengals are missing a lot of targets with both Auden Tate and A.J. Green out of the lineup, which should clear the path to more targets for this duo. The issue is that the Patriots have not been a very giving team to the position. Sure, Zach Ertz was able to post 9/94/0 against them, but there’s no way Eifert or Uzomah is getting 11 targets like Ertz did. On a per-target basis, the Patriots have allowed a stable 7.31 yards per target and 69.3 percent completion-rate, so quarterbacks have had much more success going to them than wide receivers, but do you want to trust a tight end (Eifert) who hasn’t seen more than four targets since back in Week 8? Not me.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Line: SEA by 5.5
Russell Wilson: What a miserable time for Wilson to have his worst game of the year, as he failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since… Week 14 last year. If you made it through that debacle, you should be rewarded in Week 15 when he heads to Carolina to play a Panthers team that was lost without Ron Rivera. They allowed Matt Ryan to complete 20-of-34 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. That was the sixth time this season they’ve allowed a quarterback to finish with 300-plus yards through the air. The biggest issue for quarterbacks against the Panthers has been the lack of touchdowns through the air, as running backs have rushed for a league-leading 21 touchdowns against them. Of the Seahawks 38 offensive touchdowns, Wilson has accounted for 29 of them (26 passing, 3 rushing). So, when you see that the Panthers have allowed the sixth-most points per game (27.7) to opponents, including 103 points over the last three weeks, you should get excited. The Seahawks aren’t going to be subject to a “trap game” either, as they’re playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Coming off that game on Sunday night, expect them to bounce back strong. Wilson should be in lineups as a rock-solid QB1.
Kyle Allen: After another abysmal performance from Allen, the whispers are getting louder for Will Grier to get a shot under center. While in the fantasy playoffs, the last thing you want to do is start a quarterback who might get benched. Allen has now fumbled 12 times through 11 games and has thrown 12 interceptions over his last seven games. The sky is falling, but can the Seahawks secondary allow him to bounce back? The miniscule 4.34 percent sack-rate surely helps, as Allen has struggled under pressure. Quarterbacks have averaged 38.9 pass attempts per game against them, which ranks as the second-most in the league, and it’s allowed 10-of-13 quarterbacks to finish with at least 16.1 fantasy points. The volume has been all quarterbacks have going for them, as the Seahawks have still yet to allow more than two passing touchdowns in a game. Looking at the 17 to 13 TD:INT ratio the Seahawks have allowed weighs heavily when you consider Allen himself has a 9:12 ratio himself over the last seven games. Rushing touchdowns have saved him the last two weeks, but it’s not advisable to start someone who may get benched at halftime if he’s not playing particularly well.
Chris Carson: So much for Carson losing the grip on the starting job. Rashaad Penny injured his ACL early in the first quarter against the Rams, allowing Carson to rack-up 19 touches in the losing effort. There’s not a better spot to bounce-back for the entire Seahawks offense than heading out to play the Panthers, a team that’s allowed at least 29 points to each of their last four opponents. Injuries on the defensive line haven’t helped, but they’ve been torched by running backs all season, allowing a league-leading 30.0 PPR points per game to the position. They’ve allowed 21.8 of those points per game on the ground (no other team has allowed more than 18.4), which is right in Carson’s wheelhouse. Let’s do the math: Carson averages 18.9 carries per game while the Panthers allow 5.34 yards per carry. Carson has totaled at least 15 carries in 12-of-13 games while the Panthers have allowed a rushing touchdown every 14.0 carries. It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that Carson’s set-up for a crush spot in Week 15. He needs to be in lineups as an elite RB1 play this week.
Christian McCaffrey: After scoring at least one touchdown in 9-of-10 games to start the season, McCaffrey has now scored in just one of the last four games, though he’s kept his fantasy totals afloat while racking up the yardage. The hope for a 1,000/1,000 season still has hope, as he now needs to average 91.3 receiving yards over the final three games. While unlikely, it’s neat to think it’s possible. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Seahawks have allowed 7.30 yards per target to running backs, which ranks as the seventh-most in the league. The concern has come up that the Panthers may rest McCaffrey down the stretch with nothing to play for, but after seeing him play 70-of-71 snaps last week, you shouldn’t be concerned. The Seahawks have played against seven running backs who’ve seen 18-plus touches. Each of them totaled at least 16.2 PPR points, while five of them broke the 20-point barrier. Based on overall opportunity, the Seahawks have allowed 0.94 PPR points per opportunity, which ranks sixth behind only the Panthers, Jaguars, Texans, Lions, and Chiefs. You’d play him in DFS cash games every chance you got against those defenses, so why not against the Seahawks this week?
Tyler Lockett: It’s now been four straight games where Lockett has been outside the top-50 fantasy receivers. That comes after nine straight games as the WR46 or better. Clearly, the leg injury he sustained in that 49ers game affected him. He’s playing a full complement of snaps, so we have to think he’ll bounce back at some point. The Panthers are probably the best team to do it against, as they have James Bradberry and Donte Jackson on the perimeter with Ross Cockrell in the slot. While Cockrell is a solid NFL cornerback when healthy, he’s not a slot cornerback. He’s allowed 16-of-23 passing for 133 yards and a touchdown in his slot coverage, but just 12-of-32 passing for 212 yards and no touchdowns on the perimeter. We’ve seen Chris Godwin (twice), Dede Westbrook, Larry Fitzgerald, and Adam Humphries all finish as top-36 options against them. I’m trusting Lockett as a middling WR2 this week and expecting him to bounce back in a big way.
D.K. Metcalf: Despite being covered by Jalen Ramsey for much of the game, Metcalf hauled in all six of his targets for 78 yards and is looking more and more like someone who is going to be a dominant force in this league for years to come. He’s now seen at least six targets in each of the last five games and has totaled at least 70 yards in four of them. This could be a game he takes a backseat to Lockett, though, as the matchups are tougher on the perimeter against the Panthers. The question, however, is whether or not the Panthers think it would make sense to have James Bradberry move over to the right side of the defense to cover him. Bradberry did move a little bit against the Falcons, though he didn’t completely shadow Julio Jones. Metcalf is in must-start territory at this point, especially when we know the Panthers have allowed a league-high 196 receptions to the receiver position (15.1 per game). Bradberry semi-shadowing him would be a bit of an issue, which keeps him in WR3 territory.
D.J. Moore: Week 14 was the first time since Week 4 where Moore saw less than eight targets in a game. Fortunately, he was able to turn them into 81 yards, though more was expected in the matchup against the Falcons secondary. The Seahawks have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, but it’s required volume, as the 1.56 PPR points per target they’ve allowed ranks as the fifth lowest mark in football, behind only the Patriots, Bills, Ravens, and 49ers. So, we’re going to need that volume to come back. The Seahawks play a lot of zone coverage, which hasn’t been great for Moore, as the quarterback rating when targeting him in zone has been 67.7, while it’s been over 100 against man coverage. The good news is that Moore plays most of his snaps on the left side of the formation, which means he’d see more of Tre Flowers in coverage, who’s easily the worse perimeter cornerback on the Seahawks. We’ve also watched Shaquill Griffin get downgraded to questionable with a hamstring injury. Knowing the only time Moore has finished outside of the top-36 wide receivers in the last nine games was against the 49ers, you start him every week, though he’s more of a WR2 this week than the WR1 we’ve come to know him as.
Curtis Samuel: With Allen struggling to complete passes down the field, the Panthers have started to find other ways to get him the ball, as he’s totaled seven carries over the last three weeks, adding 57 yards to his overall production. Oddly enough, the Seahawks have allowed the second-most rushing yards to wide receivers this season. That helps make up for the fact that Samuel has totaled just four targets in two of the last three games. He hasn’t topped four receptions or 70 receiving yards since way back in Week 3, making him a touchdown-or-bust option most weeks. The Seahawks have allowed a wide receiver touchdown every 28.2 targets, which is the sixth-highest mark in the league, so betting on it this week wouldn’t make too much sense. Samuel also lines up on Shaquill Griffin‘s side of the field most of the time, which is the tougher matchup of the two perimeter spots (Griffin has been downgraded to questionable with a hamstring injury). Samuel is a middling WR4 who has some big-play upside to his game, though Allen can’t unlock it.
Jacob Hollister: Since joining the starting lineup, Hollister has seen a rather-high 42 targets over seven games. That amounts to 6.0 targets per game, which is a number that you should be comfortable starting a tight end every week with, especially when that tight end plays with Russell Wilson. The Panthers were able to keep Austin Hooper in check last week, but that hasn’t been the case for much of the season. They’ve allowed 8.89 yards per target to the tight end position, which ranks as the second-highest mark behind only the Cardinals. Whatever it is, teams haven’t targeted their tight ends very often, as the Panthers have seen a league-low 66 target to the position, which amounts to just 5.1 targets per game. The 13.3 yards per reception is the most in the league, while the touchdown every 22.0 targets is right around the league average. The matchup against the Panthers comes down to targets, so knowing Hollister has seen at least six targets in four of the last five games, he should be in lineups as a low-end TE1.
Greg Olsen or Ian Thomas: So much for that timeshare talk. Thomas saw 10 targets against the Falcons with Olsen out of the lineup, hauling in five passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. He played 61-of-71 snaps, so you can say he’s a full-time player. Stay tuned for updates on Olsen’s status, but we’ll go forward as if it’s another week with Thomas as the starter. The Seahawks have allowed nine different tight ends to hit double-digit PPR days against them, with each of them finishing as top-14 options in those weeks. They’re the opposite of the Panthers, as teams have gravitated throwing to tight ends against them, averaging 9.3 targets per game to the position (3rd-most). It’s a recent problem for them, too, as Tyler Higbee finished with 7/116/0, Kyle Rudolph 4/50/1, Zach Ertz 12/91/1, ad Dallas Goedert 7/32/0 have shown over the last three weeks. If Olsen is out again, Thomas is back on the low-end TE1/high-end TE2 radar. *Update* Olsen has officially been ruled out for this game.