Fantasy championship week has arrived. Congratulations to those who survived the gauntlet of a particularly brutal fantasy season. Hopefully you didn’t have to sweat Justin Tucker’s 24 fantasy points on Monday Night Football—or, perhaps, Tucker saved your season.
At any rate, here are some of the more intriguing targets, touches and throws from Week 15.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington
10 targets—7 receptions, 129 yards, 1 touchdown @ Falcons
Santana Moss, WR, Washington
9 targets—8 receptions, 64 yards, 1 touchdown @ Falcons
We didn’t quite know what we were going to get when Kirk Cousins was named the starter for Week 15. After all, he looked good in relief of Robert Griffin III last year, but the Washington offense had been abysmal in recent weeks. Fortunately for Cousins and Co., Washington was going up against a woeful Atlanta defense.
Garcon finally got things going after five weeks of mediocre results, but it was a bit of a surprise to see Santana Moss rate the second-most targets on the day. He might be worth an emergency fill-in.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
12 targets—8 receptions, 78 yards vs. Texans
Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts
6 targets—2 receptions, 23 yards vs. Texans
Last week saw Da’Rick Rogers break out in the first game action of his career. He garnered the most targets for the Colts, perhaps indicating he would remain a shiny new fixture in that offense. With Lavon Brazill ruled out in Week 15, it looked like Rogers was set for another nice day.
Not so. Apparently the Houston’s secondary tackles better than Cincinnati’s. Rogers was held to just two catches while T.Y. Hilton bounced back with a 78-yard performance. It wasn’t a huge game for Hilton, but he is back to garnering the most targets on the team.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
13 targets—11 receptions, 163 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Eagles
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
6 targets—5 receptions, 35 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Eagles
One of the most surprising outcome of the weekend came in Minnesota, where the Vikings shellacked the NFC East-leading Eagles.
Matt Cassel, of all people, torched the Eagles for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns. Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson provided the kerosene.
Cassel has been named the quarterback for the remainder of the season, which is good for Jennings and Patterson. The latter has quietly had scored the 11th-most fantasy points at wide receiver over the past four weeks, though he has had some good luck to get there. Jennings, meanwhile, ranks just a few spots behind Patterson during that span, and he is garnering more targets than the rookie.
Andre Caldwell, WR, Denver Broncos
10 targets—6 receptions, 59 yards, 2 touchdowns vs. Chargers
Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos
5 targets—2 receptions, 42 yards vs. Chargers
Of course, nothing was more surprising than San Diego’s road victory over Denver last week. The most unexpected part of Thursday Night Football was the relative futility of the Broncos offense, which only put up 20 points against a typically hapless Chargers defense.
Maybe losing Wes Welker to a concussion affected the offense more than usual. It was interesting to see Andre Caldwell emerge as Peyton Manning’s favorite target, though it shouldn’t be surprising given Manning tends to exploit good matchups. San Diego keyed on Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker, which sprung Caldwell for a nice game.
Welker could be back this week, though, which would make Caldwell the fourth-string receiver again.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
18 touches—15 carries, 81 yards; 3 receptions, 87 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Jets
Once upon a time, the Jets run defense was the stoutest in the land. That has not been the case in recent weeks.
DeAngelo Williams had a big game, buoyed by a 72-yard touchdown reception. The Jets were pounded into submission. Meanwhile, Zac Stacy ran wild against the Saints in St. Louis. This seems like a perfect storm for Williams to explode, right?
This week, Williams goes up against a Saints team that held him to just 62 yards rushing. He had to contend with Jonathan Stewart taking some touches in Week 14, but Stewart only garnered seven snaps and two touches that week. Williams has scored just three touchdowns on the season, so there is little reason to trust he can repeat his big performance.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
30 touches—29 carries, 127 yards, 1 touchdown; 1 reception, 1 yard @ Broncos
Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
10 touches—9 carries, 29 yards; 1 reception, 13 yards @ Broncos
Maybe it’s time to shelve the narrative that says Ryan Mathews is made out of porcelain.
The Chargers were trying to slow things down against the Broncos and that offense, which is probably why Matthews got a disproportionate amount of the work. Matthews now has 257 touches on the season to just 159 for Woodhead, however. Who would have guessed this would be the case before the season began?
Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts
23 touches—19 carries, 64 yards; 4 receptions, 38 yards, 1 touchdown vs. Texans
Trent Richardson had a good game? Unicorns do exist!
The much-maligned running back actually had a pretty good line in Week 14, but it was buried in a host of other fantasy storylines. He was still not trustworthy, especially with Donald Brown around to muck up the backfield situation. When Brown went down with a stinger, it was Richardson time. And he delivered.
This wasn’t the first nice matchup for Richardson, but it was the first time in a long while that he put up nice numbers. In fact, it was his first touchdown since Week 4, though it came through the air.
Richardson gets the Chiefs on the road next, however, and Brown could be back this week. Don’t let him bamboozle you in championship week.
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Cleveland Browns
10 touches—5 carries, 7 yards; 5 receptions, 39 yards vs. Bears
Edwin Baker, RB, Cleveland Browns
12 touches—8 carries, 38 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 46 yards vs. Bears
Opportunity came knocking for fantasy owners when Willis McGahee was ruled out of the game last week. Chris Ogbonnaya was the de facto starter, even reported as such shortly before the game, and he was slated to go up against a Bears defense that had given up roughly 7,486 fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
Fantasy owners who snapped up Ogbonnaya in desperation were given a rude awakening, however, when someone named Edwin Baker took the first carry of the game and wound up with the most touches on the day.
Opportunity turned out to be a land shark.
Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said Baker earned himself a bigger role after his performance. But consider this: the Bears hadn’t held an opposing team below 100 yards rushing since Week 5. What does Baker’s 38-yard performance say about his ability to score fantasy points against the Jets defense this week?
Matt Asiata, RB, Minnesota Vikings
33 touches—30 carries, 51 yards, 3 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 15 yards vs. Eagles
Adrian Peterson who?
The fantasy football realm raced to the waiver wire last week, trampling each other like the zombies out of World War Z to grab Toby Gerhart. There was one problem, however–Gerhart was injured, too.
No matter, Matt Asiata was there to save the day. But was it really a great performance? Asiata averaged just 1.7 yards per carry on the day. He only got into the end zone so much because the Vikings were tackled inside the five yard line so often.
Peterson and Gerhart are slated to come back this week, to boot. Don’t bother with a waiver wire addition.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Indianapolis Colts
16 touches—8 carries, 20 yards, 1 touchdown; 8 receptions, 195 yards, 4 touchdowns @ Raiders
Just 20 yards on eight carries? What a pitiful performance.
In all seriousness, Jamaal Charles strapped a rocket on and blasted himself into rarified air last week. His 51 standard fantasy points is one of the highest outputs in NFL history. Had the Chiefs not put in backup players in the fourth quarter, Charles might have shattered the best mark of 55 set by Gale Sayers in 1965.
There is really no advice here. Start Charles, as usual. I just wanted to comment on the amazing game he had.
Matt Flynn, QB, Green Bay Packers
39 throws—26 completions, 299 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception; 3 carries, -3 yards @ Cowboys
It was a comeback for the ages—or at least the annals of the 2013 season—in Dallas, where Matt Flynn led a furious rally helped along by some dubious play-calling and execution by the Cowboys.
Like Josh McCown before him, Flynn took advantage of a porous Cowboys defense, putting up 34 points in the second half. He gets the mediocre Steelers defense this week if Aaron Rodgers is still out, perhaps making him a great value in daily fantasy leagues once again.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
37 throws—25 completions, 312 yards, 3 touchdowns; 1 carry, -1 yard vs. Dolphins
It was a banner day for Ryan Tannehill, who performed marvelously in a comeback victory against the rival Patriots. Moreover, Tannehill had a fantastic fantasy outing. The question is, was he in your lineup?
You might be surprised to know that Tannehill has quietly been the fifth-best fantasy quarterback over the past four weeks. This week he goes up to Buffalo, whose defense has allowed plenty of fantasy points this season.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
20 throws—17 completions, 287 yards, 5 touchdowns; 4 carries, 17 yards, 1 fumble @ Raiders
It was a banner day for Alex Smith, who had a career high five touchdown passes. Let’s be honest here, however—this was the Raiders, who allowed a NFL record seven touchdowns to Nick Foles earlier this year. That is not to mention Foles actually threw the ball downfield—Smith’s touchdown passes traveled a combined 13 yards in the air.