Skip to main content

The Primer: Week 15 Edition (2021 Fantasy Football)

Dec 16, 2021
  • Go to page:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco 49ers

Date/Time: Sunday December 19, 4:05pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: 49ers -9
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 46 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: 49ers 27.5, Falcons 18.5

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan: It has now been five straight weeks where Ryan has finished outside the top-20 QBs on the week. Even with plenty of teams on bye throughout that time frame, Ryan has not been able to do enough to crack the top-20 at the position any given week. This means that we simply cannot view him as a confident streaming option down the playoff stretch and he should be left on your league’s waiver wire. He’s nothing more than a low-end QB2 in Week 15.

Jimmy Garoppolo: Did you know that out of his last 7 games, Garoppolo has finished outside the top-16 QBs just once? Over his last two games specifically, Jimmy G has finished as the QB13 and the QB12 respectively and he’s been an extremely relevant fantasy option. With that in mind, it’s time to get excited for Garoppolo from a fantasy perspective for Week 15 because he gets to take on the Atlanta Falcons defense. The Falcons are currently allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season with 23.8 per game and if you’re in need of a streaming option for the first round of the fantasy playoffs, you can trust Garoppolo in your starting lineups.

Running Backs

Cordarrelle Patterson: We are now in week 15 of the 2021 NFL season and Patterson is the RB7 on the year. He’s outscored players like Ezekiel Elliott, Aaron Jones, Antonio Gibson, and so many others at his position this season and he’s truly been the waiver wire pickup of the season. While he’s seen a dramatic drop-off in his production and opportunity as a receiver this season, he’s continued to see significant volume in this offense due to his carry totals. Over the last three games, Patterson has 45 rush attempts, and he’s converted that into 244 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. He’s a locked-in option into your fantasy lineups at this point as a mid-range/low-end RB1.

Mike Davis: After being hyped up in draft season to being completely forgotten about in fantasy circles over the middle part of the year, Davis has bounced back slightly and is now back in the redraft conversation. He’s slowly seen his snap counts rise back up over the past few weeks and he’s actually now out-snapping Patterson in this backfield (57% to 47% in Week 14). It might be a little bit too late though for Davis to experience this resurgence in 2021 as fantasy managers have very little faith and confidence in plugging him into their starting lineups. He’s worth adding in your leagues if you need RB depth, but we simply cannot view him as anything more than a low-end RB3 at this moment.

Elijah Mitchell: At the time of writing, it’s unclear whether or not Mitchell is going to be able to make it back for this matchup against the Falcons. Assuming that Mitchell is at full strength though – we’ll continue to keep you updated as the week progresses – then he belongs in your starting lineups in this matchup. With his guaranteed workload, plus the favorable opponent, we could be looking at a massive performance here for the rookie RB. He can be viewed as a mid-range RB1 if he returns to full practices later this week. Update: Mitchell has been ruled out for Week 15. 

Jeff Wilson: There’s been the expectation that any RB who is able to step in as the lead option in the 49ers backfield would instantly deliver for fantasy purposes. Unfortunately, that just has not been the case with Wilson this season whenever he’s been called upon. He’s been deemed the top guy in the 49ers offense a couple of times this season and he has yet to top 6 Half PPR fantasy points in any game this season. Even if Mitchell isn’t able to make it back in time for Week 15, we shouldn’t be viewing Wilson as anything more than a touchdown-dependent RB2. The matchup’s favorable, so there’s a decent chance he falls into the end zone, but we can’t get too excited. He’s a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 if Mitchell isn’t able to go.

Wide Receivers

Russell Gage: Did you know that since Week 11, Gage is the WR16 in Half PPR scoring formats and that he’s averaging the same number of fantasy points per game as Ja’Marr Chase (11.9)? Gage hasn’t been someone that fantasy managers have raced out to add to their rosters due to the fact that he doesn’t have superstar potential, but he’s providing an incredibly high floor each week and he’s getting the job done for fantasy football. Looking ahead to Week 15, the 49ers are middle of the pack when it comes to defending opposing WRs on the season, but their secondary is currently banged up right now. He should draw coverage this week from K’Waun Williams, who is allowing an 81% catch rate on the season. He can be started as a mid-range WR3 with confidence.

Deebo Samuel: How much longer are we going to be writing about Samuel in the WR section? Samuel has just one catch in each of his last three games, but he’s been getting the job done for fantasy football on the back of his 22 rush attempts over that same time frame. Despite the limited workload, he’s been incredibly efficient and dynamic with the ball in his hands as he has 534 Yards After the Catch this season and a ridiculous 9.4 YAC/Reception. Without the receiving work, we need to downgrade him slightly down the rankings due to the limited opportunity volume. However, he’s still a rock-solid start every single week. He can be viewed as a high-end/mid-range WR2 this week.

Brandon Aiyuk: There were plenty of questions surrounding Aiyuk last week and how we should view him heading into the matchup against Cincinnati. He had reeled in just six total catches over his previous two games combined and had just put up 7 Half PPR points in a prime matchup against Seattle. Aiyuk soaked up targets in Week 14 though and had a 29.7% target share. His 11 targets turned into six receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown and he rewarded fantasy managers that stayed patient with him. With Samuel turning into a pure RB in this offense, Aiyuk essentially has to compete with just George Kittle in this offense for targets. With such a skinny target tree, Aiyuk can be started with confidence each week due to the guaranteed volume. In a matchup like this against Atlanta’s defense that’s allowing the 7th most fantasy points to opposing WRs, Aiyuk’s a mid-range WR2 with upside.

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts: Is Pitts one of the most talented TEs in the entire NFL already at this point? Yes. Does he need someone else on this roster to help open things up for him and take attention away? Yes. While he has the potential to be a weekly top-3 TE, it’s just not going to happen this year unless we see Calvin Ridley miraculously work his way back onto the field in time. We should continue to start Pitts as a top-10 option every week, but the upside is non-existent. Against the 49ers, who are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing TEs, Pitts can be viewed as a low-end TE1.

George Kittle: Fantasy managers had to wait a little while for Kittle to come back into the lineup off of IR, but that is far off in people’s minds due to the production he’s putting up here recently. Over the past two weeks alone, Kittle has seen 27 targets and reeled in 22 of them for 332 yards and three touchdowns. He has now finished as a top-5 TE in five of his past six games and is on an absolute tear right now. Against Atlanta, who is not going to stand a chance of slowing down Kittle, he’s the TE1 in consensus rankings this week.

Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Date/Time: Sunday December 19, 4:25pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Packers -5.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 43.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Packers 24.5, Ravens 19

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is dealing with a bothersome toe injury, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up dominant fantasy numbers. Rodgers has now finished as a top-3 fantasy QB in each of his past three games and he now gets to take on a Baltimore secondary that is extremely banged up. The Ravens are now allowing the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year and Rodgers should be locked into starting lineups as a borderline top-5 option.

Lamar Jackson: At the time of writing, it’s unclear whether or not Jackson’s ankle is going to be stable enough for him to suit up in this game. Even when Jackson has been fully healthy though, fantasy managers have struggled with how to view him due to the inconsistencies he’s showing over previous weeks. He’s still providing a high floor due to his rushing ability, but that may be off the table now if his ankle isn’t 100%. Against the Packers defense that’s been keeping opposing passing games in check for the most part, it’s probably best to turn to a streaming option in Week 15 if Jackson doesn’t get in full practices on Thursday and Friday. He can be viewed as a high-end QB2 for the time being.

Running Backs

Aaron Jones: There was a lot of talk last week about Jones and Dillon moving into a 1a/1b split in this backfield. That certainly played out as Dillon carried the ball 15 times to Jones’ five, but Jones was the one who was able to cash in and find the end zone twice. It’s extremely concerning for fantasy managers though to see that Jones just had eight total opportunities last week in a game that was fairly close the entire way through. That’s not going to be enough volume to comfortably rely on Jones as a top-15 option moving forward and he’s going to need to continue to find the end zone regularly to even crack the top-24. This week, Jones can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB2, but we need to be officially concerned if we see another low-volume performance from the talented RB in this one.

A.J. Dillon: Dillon has worked his way into more opportunity in this Packers offense over the course of the season, but fantasy managers didn’t exactly expect to see the second-year RB work his way into nearly double the amount of touches as Aaron Jones. Dillon saw 15 carries last week against Chicago and he looked great in the process, averaging nearly 5 Yards Per Attempt. While the touchdowns went to Jones, Dillon’s volume is encouraging to see moving forward and he deserves to be in the starting conversation for fantasy lineups this week against Baltimore. The Ravens are one of the tougher matchups for opposing RBs this season – they’re allowing just 13.9 fantasy points per contest – but Dillon should see enough volume to return low-end RB2 value.

Devonta Freeman: Freeman continued to see plenty of work in this Ravens offense this past week against Cleveland – 18 total opportunities – but he was “vultured” on the goal line by Latavius Murray who scored on his only touch of the day. Freeman should continue to remain a very reliable option out of this backfield for Baltimore, but there’s never any guarantee that Baltimore won’t pull something like this again to limit his fantasy upside. He can be viewed as a low-end RB2 against the defense that ranks 24th in Football Outsiders’ Rush DVOA metric.

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams: It’s truly remarkable how dominant Adams has been for this long. There’s not much to say about the talented WR that hasn’t already been said, so let’s not waste each other’s time. You know you’re starting Adams this week as a top-3 WR that has plenty of upside against the defense that’s allowing 21.2 fantasy points per game to the position. Fire him up with confidence as long as Aaron Rodgers is throwing him the ball.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: MVS had been hyped up coming into Week 14’s matchup against Chicago due to the fact that he had seen 19 combined targets over his previous two games. Unfortunately, MVS took a backseat to Allen Lazard last week and only saw a total of five targets. He had the opportunity to come down with an end zone look, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. Valdes-Scantling now moves back to a boom-or-bust FLEX option that has a wide range of outcomes.

Allen Lazard: Lazard had been essentially off the redraft radar all season long, but he re-emerged on Sunday night with an 18-point performance in Half PPR formats. Lazard has had solid games in the past, but he’s then disappeared and faded into the background, which means that we shouldn’t be racing to plug him into our starting lineups in round one of the fantasy playoffs. It seems as though it’s either MVS or Lazard that’s going to have a good game behind Davante Adams in this offense and it’s impossible to predict which one it will be. Proceed with caution, friends!

Marquise Brown: There were points earlier on this season where Brown was routinely crossing over 15 fantasy points in Half PPR scoring. Unfortunately, those days seem to be behind us now as Brown has gone four straight games without even crossing the 10-point threshold. He’s seen his Yards Per Reception numbers drop significantly here in recent weeks and he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 7. With a hobbled Lamar Jackson at QB or potentially Tyler Huntley this week, Brown has to be moved down rankings yet again. He can be viewed as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 against Green Bay.

Rashod Bateman: Bateman was able to take advantage of an increase in playing time this past week with Sammy Watkins leaving the game with a knee injury. He showcased his talent on multiple occasions and it resulted in a 7-103-0 final stat line with Huntley at QB. After essentially being written off for fantasy purposes due to his decreased playing time, Bateman was able to come back to life this past week and there are going to be fantasy managers clamoring to get him back into starting lineups. Unfortunately, our expectations need to be held in check until we hear more on Watkins’ status. If Watkins is forced to miss this contest, Bateman will be a solid low-end WR3 with upside. However, if Watkins is healthy enough to play, we have no clue exactly what Bateman’s snap count share is going to be. With John Harbaugh commenting this week about how he wants to continue to spread the ball around, Bateman’s a risky play in a tougher matchup against the Packers.

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews: Andrews has been utterly dominant this season. Even with different QBs throwing him the ball, it hasn’t made much of an impact for his fantasy outlook. Since coming out of the bye week, Andrews hasn’t seen less than eight targets in any single game and he’s now coming off of a monstrous performance against Cleveland. After going for 11-115-1 against the Browns, we should have zero reservations starting Andrews as a top-3 option at the position in the fantasy playoffs.

New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Date/Time: Sunday December 19, 8:20pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Buccaneers -11
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 46.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Buccaneers 28.75, Saints 17.75

Quarterbacks

Taysom Hill: Say what you want about Hill as a passer in the NFL, but there’s no denying that he’s been productive for fantasy football. Over his last two starts for New Orleans, Hill has finished as the QB4 exactly in each contest and he’s doing it largely on the back of his rushing ability. Hill now has 174 rushing yards in these two games, which provides an insanely high floor for fantasy managers. Looking ahead to Week 15, the Bucs are allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and they’re more specifically allowing 22.6 rushing yards per game to the position, which is towards the bottom of the league. Hill can be started as a low-end QB1 this week.

Tom Brady: Could we actually see Brady win the NFL MVP award at 44 years old? Based on his recent play, we have to assume that it’s going to happen if he can close the year out strong. After demolishing the Atlanta Falcons defense in Week 13 – as we all expected he would, there were questions about Brady and his fantasy outlook in Week 14 against the stout Bills unit. Brady picked them apart just as much as he did Atlanta the week prior as he put up 363 passing yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions. He’s playing lights out football and he now gets to take on a Saints defense that’s allowing 20.0 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, which is middle of the pack this season. If he just was able to torch Buffalo’s defense, which is allowing the fewest fantasy points in the league, Brady should be a solid play here in Week 15. Fire him up as a mid-range QB1.

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara: Welcome back, Kamara! Fantasy managers missed you – except the ones who had to go against you last week – and it’s good to have you back in our starting lineups. In Kamara’s first game back since Week 9, he saw 32 total opportunities and put up 145 total yards of offense to go along with a touchdown. The Bucs are obviously one of the toughest matchups for opposing RBs this season, but they are allowing a shocking 7.2 receptions per game to the position, which trails only the Seattle Seahawks. With Kamara’s involvement in all aspects of the RB position in New Orleans, he’s a rock-solid start again this week as a high-end RB1.

Mark Ingram: Ingram was activated from Reserve/COVID-19 on Friday and should be back in action against Tampa Bay this weekend. With that being said, he’s not worth putting into your starting lineups unless you’re in an absolute pinch. There are better options available. He can be viewed as a low-end RB3.

Leonard Fournette: It’s worth noting that Fournette was unable to practice on Wednesday, which is a concerning development for fantasy managers that have to rely on the veteran RB this year. Assuming that Fournette does play in Week 15, he’s a solid start despite the tough matchup against the Saints. He has now finished as a top-10 RB in each of the past three games and he has a complete stranglehold on this backfield. If he’s able to practice later on this week and is at full strength on Sunday, he can be started as a mid-range RB1.

Ronald Jones: Jones has no standalone fantasy value, but it’s worth noting here that Fournette missed Wednesday’s practice. If Fournette is unable to start, Jones would instantly vault up to a low-end RB1 due to his opportunity. If he’s still out there on your waive wire, he needs to be added immediately.

Wide Receivers

Tre’Quan Smith: Smith wasn’t able to come through this past week in a plus matchup and even though this is another solid opportunity, we simply can’t trust this Saints passing game. Smith is only worth holding onto still in deeper formats and he should be on your bench this week.

Chris Godwin: How dominant has Godwin been over the past two weeks? Against Atlanta and Buffalo, Godwin saw 32 targets and he reeled in 25 of them for 248 receiving yards. While he hasn’t been able to find the end zone in either of two contests, he’s been able to put up back-to-back top-15 fantasy finishes on the back of this ridiculous volume. With Antonio Brown out of the lineup, Godwin has been feasting and it’s working for the Buccaneers’ offense. Against the Saints defense that’s allowing the 9th most fantasy points to opposing WRs this season, Godwin’s a borderline top-5 play this week.

Mike Evans: We’re through 14 weeks of the season and Evans trails only one player in the entire NFL in receiving touchdowns, Cooper Kupp. Evans has now scored 11 touchdowns in 13 games this season and he’s only 115 receiving yards from crossing over the much-discussed 1,000 receiving yard threshold. At the beginning of the season, I was skeptical about Evans’ consistency week in and week out, but he has been an incredibly reliable option essentially every week. While having AB out of the lineup since Week 6 has aided that, there’s no reason we need to ever move Evans out of our top-12 in weekly rankings through the remainder of the playoffs. In this plus matchup, he can be started yet again as a low-end WR1 with upside.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski has just dominated this season. Despite being essentially forgotten about in fantasy drafts this off-season, Gronkowski has come out and essentially performed as a top-tier option all season long. He’s now gone four straight weeks finishing inside the top-10 TEs on the week and he’s not just living on touchdown volume. He’s averaging 78.5 receiving yards per game over these past four games and he’s coming with an incredibly high floor, plus his ridiculous upside due to his connection with Brady in the red zone. Gronk is now a top-3 option every single week moving forward through the rest of the fantasy playoffs.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns

Date/Time: Saturday December 18, 4:30pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Raiders -1.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 38.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Raiders 20, Browns 18.5

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr: The touchdowns have dried up for Carr, who’s thrown only three TD passes in his last four games. And while Carr still ranks second in the league in passing yards (3,926), he’s had only one 300-yard passing day since the beginning of November – his 373-yard performance vs. the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Raiders have gone 1-5 in their last six games, and negative game scripts aren’t doing anything to help the cause. The Raiders have been blown out by 19 or more points in three of their last five games, and Carr has averaged 246.3 passing yards in those blowouts. Carr offers a decent weekly floor because of the stable passing yardage, but there’s not much of a ceiling here. He’s a mid-range QB2 for Week 15.

Nick Mullens: With Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum landing on the COVID-19 list, Mullens  is expected to get the start against the Raiders on Saturday. Among the other Browns on the COVID-19 list are Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and Wyatt Teller, so Mullens will have a depleted supporting cast. Mullens has some starting experience, having made eight starts with the 49ers in 2018 and another eight starts for them in 2020, but he’s still unplayable for fantasy purposes.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs: After scant usage as a pass-catcher in his first two seasons, Jacobs has started to pile up receptions. A week after recording a career-high nine receptions against Washington, Jacobs had five catches for 46 yards in a Week 14 loss to Kansas City. The usage in the passing game has raised Jacobs’ weekly fantasy floor, and he needed it last week, as the Raiders were forced to abandon the run early in a 48-9 loss. Jacobs had nine carries for 24 yards and contributed to the bad result with a fumble-six on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Jacobs’ newfound versatility and dependable workload make him a high-end RB2 this week in a matchup against an above-average Browns run defense.

Nick Chubb: The COVID-19 chaos in Cleveland might boost Chubb’s Week 15 fantasy value. The Browns are going to be without QB Baker Mayfield, WR Jarvis Landry, and TE Austin Hooper, who all landed on the COVID-19 list this week. There’s also a good chance they’ll be without Kareem Hunt, who injured his ankle last weekend and hasn’t been able to practice. When Hunt was sidelined by a calf injury earlier this season, Chubb averaged 19.4 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) over a three-game stretch from Halloween to mid-November, with 52-328-3 rushing and 5-48-1 receiving. Chubb is a must-start this week against a Raiders run defense that’s giving up 21.8 fantasy points per game to running backs. He’s the RB2 in this week’s rankings behind only Jonathan Taylor.

Kareem Hunt: Hunt sprained his ankle during the Browns’ Week 14 game against the Ravens and hasn’t been practicing this week. It seems unlikely he’ll be able to face the Raiders on Saturday, and he’d be a much dicier play than usual even if he suited up.

Wide Receivers

Hunter Renfrow: Renfrow is on fire these days and has become a valuable fantasy football asset. Over his last three games, Renfrow has 30-353-1 on 33 targets, making him the WR4 in half-point PPR scoring over that stretch. Renfrow has claimed a massive 27.0% target share over the Raiders’ last three games. The Raiders face the Browns on Saturday, and Cleveland slot corner Troy Hill is expected to miss the game with a knee injury. This is yet another smash spot for Renfrow.

PRISTINE MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Each week, we’ll pick a matchup of the week, presented by Pristine Auction. For Week 15, Hunter Renfrow is our Pristine Matchup of the Week.

Donovan Peoples-Jones: With Jarvis Landry on the COVID-19 list, Peoples-Jones is the only usable Cleveland receiver in fantasy this week, but he would still be a risky fantasy play. Browns QB Baker Mayfield is also out, so People-Jones will be paired with backup Case Keenum. In 10 games, Peoples-Jones has 23-430-3 receiving and is averaging 18.7 yards per catch. DPJ has averaged 3.5 targets a game this season, and he’s likely to get a target bump this week with Landry and TE Austin Hooper both out. However, it’s dicey to elevate a receiver’s fantasy projection based on the absence of a teammate. The Chargers’ Mike Williams was regarded as a must-start last week because Keenen Allen was on the COVID-19 list, and Williams wound up with 6-61-0 on only six targets. Consider People-Jones a mid-range WR4.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller or Foster Moreau: Waller is dealing with an iliotibial band strain, which means there’s connective tissue rubbing against his knee. He still isn’t practicing, leaving his Week 15 status in doubt. With Waller out the last two weeks, Foster has had a golden opportunity to contribute, but he’s had only 4-47-0 on nine targets. Last week against the Chiefs, he caused an interception by bobbling what should have been a fairly routine catch. If Waller is out, Moreau will still only be a high-end TE3. Update: Waller is reportedly out for Week 15.

David Njoku: With Austin Hooper on the COVID-19 list and Harrison Bryant dealing with a high-ankle sprain, Njoku and Miller Forristall are the only healthy tight ends on the Cleveland roster. WR Jarvis Landry is also on the COVID-19 list, so Njoku could be in for a substantial target bump. He’s the TE15 this week.

  • Go to page:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Featured, Featured Link, NFL, NFL Primers, Rankings, Start/Sit, Streamers, Waiver Wire NFL, Weekly Advice