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Editors Note: ETR is hosting a Week 15 DFS contest at DraftKings. In addition to cash prizes, first prize receives a lineup review from Adam Levitan and 2nd-5th win a limited edition ETR T-shirt. There’s no rake, it’s only $3 to play with $1,000 to first place, and 500 spots pay out cash. This will fill before Sunday, sign up here! To see last week’s winners review video, click here.

 

 

Patriots at Bengals
Team Totals: Patriots 25, Bengals 16

Losers of three of their last five with anemic point totals of 16 > 22 > 13 > 17 > 20 during that span, the Patriots will try to kickstart their bumbling offense in Week 15’s road trip to Cincy. The Bengals’ defense has been no pushover lately – allowing offensive points totals of 17 (Raiders), 16 (Steelers), 6 (Jets), and 20 (Browns) in their last four games – and Tom Brady has top-12 fantasy scores in just one of his last six starts. He’s still a fringe season-long starter at best. … Vanishing from even flex usability, Sony Michel enters Week 15 with 12 touches or fewer in four of his last five games and a total of 16 receiving yards since Week 6. He’s a touchdown-or-bust Hail Mary at this point. The Patriots have shown a consistent willingness to abandon Michel, even when he runs well early. … Comeback game script in losses to Houston and Kansas City played a big role, but James White operated as New England’s clear Weeks 13-14 lead back on touch counts of 22 and 11 with Michel and Rex Burkhead taking firm backseats. In a three-man backfield on what’s consistently been a low-scoring team struggling mightily for production in its pass-catcher corps, White’s receiving skills make him the Pats’ best bet for running back results.

Brady’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Julian Edelman 23; White 18; Jakobi Meyers 10; Phillip Dorsett 8; Mohamed Sanu and Matt LaCosse 6; Ben Watson 4; Burkhead and N’Keal Harry 2; Michel 1. … New England’s lone pass catcher with any real fantasy appeal at this stage, Edelman has drawn double-digit targets in eight straight games, banking 89-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven of them. Matchups are irrelevant for Edelman on that kind of usage. He’s an every-week WR1. … No other Patriots wideout or tight end topped four targets in last week’s loss to Kansas City, nor did they deserve to. This is how routes run were distributed: Edelman 39; Meyers 27; Dorsett 23; LaCosse 22; Sanu 21; Watson 16; Harry 2. … Meyers continues to look like the Patriots’ second-best wideout bet and is popping in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Nonetheless, this passing offense needs to continue to revolve around White and Edelman with New England’s ancillary pieces struggling for separation, dropping passes, and drawing Brady’s weekly sideline ire.

The Patriots’ fantasy D/ST scoring has unsurprisingly tailed off against better offenses lately, but this is a rebound opportunity. Eight of the last ten defenses to face Cincinnati tallied top-ten fantasy weeks, including six top-six scores. The Bengals have failed to top 23 points in a game all year. … Andy Dalton is a poor two-QB-league play without a fantasy finish over QB15 since Week 7, especially against a Patriots defense allowing the NFL’s fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Dalton has a 6:7 TD-to-INT ratio and is averaging a middling 252.3 passing yards over his last seven starts. … Although Joe Mixon’s playing time frustratingly fell from 80% in Week 13 to 59% in last Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, Mixon totaled 100-plus yards and/or scored a touchdown for the sixth time in his last seven games and is averaging 23 touches since Cincy’s Week 9 bye. Mixon is a bet-on-talent, bet-on-volume RB1 play against a Pats run defense that has stiffened lately, limiting enemy backs to 82/279/0 (3.40 YPC) rushing over its last four games.

Dalton’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 16; Auden Tate 11; Alex Erickson 9; C.J. Uzomah 8; Tyler Eifert 6; Giovani Bernard 5; Mixon 4; John Ross 3. … Boyd enters Week 15 with five-plus catches in six of his last seven games and 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven of Dalton’s ten starts. Fellow slot WRs Golden Tate (6/102/1), Randall Cobb (4/86/0), JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/78/0), Cole Beasley (7/75/0), Jarvis Landry (5/65/0), and Kenny Stills (3/61/1) have exposed leaks in New England’s interior coverage, where Boyd runs 66% of his routes. … Erickson operated as Cincinnati’s No. 2 receiver in last week’s loss, leading the Bengals in targets (7) and running only four fewer routes (34) than Boyd (38). Yet Erickson has cleared 50 yards twice all year and is scoreless since November of 2017. Nevertheless, I’m leaving the light on for Erickson to outkick Week 15 box-score expectations based on his usage and appearance in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … In Ross’ return from his Week 4 collarbone injury, he shared time almost evenly with Tate before Tate suffered a year-ending MCL injury. Ross figures to ascend to No. 3 duties this week, and hopefully the Bengals’ No. 2 wideout role by Week 16 against the Dolphins. I’m just not buying into Ross yet with Stephon Gilmore’s coverage looming. … Eifert showed signs of Week 14 life with a 4/49/0 stat line on 23 routes – his most since Week 8 – but Eifert drew only those four targets against the Browns, and he continued to play under 50% of Cincy’s offensive snaps. He long ago settled in as a low-floor TE2.

Score Prediction: Patriots 20, Bengals 10

 

Bears at Packers
Team Totals: Packers 22, Bears 18

Winners in four of their last five with playoff hopes alive, the 7-6 Bears come off a mini-bye following last Thursday night’s triumph over Dallas with Mitchell Trubisky playing red-hot football. A top-ten fantasy QB1 in four of his last five starts, Trubisky is 117-of-176 passing (66.5%) for 1,223 yards (6.95 YPA) and an 11:5 TD-to-INT ratio during that span, adding two rushing scores. Trubisky’s individual matchup sets up as difficult on paper – eight straight quarterbacks to face Green Bay have managed fantasy finishes of QB12 or worse – yet Bears top receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller each catch plus Week 15 spots. Trubisky has also resumed running lately, raising his floor and ceiling as a confident two-quarterback-league start. … Green Bay has been beatable all year on the ground – allowing 4.89 yards per carry and 15 all-purpose TDs in 13 games to enemy running backs – while Chicago’s ground attack has shown signs of life with David Montgomery tallying a crisp 36/161/0 (4.47 YPC) rushing line over the last two weeks. With 15-plus touches in eight straight games, Montgomery is a workload-secure RB2/flex option whose ceiling continues to be capped by Montgomery’s shortage of passing-game usage. He’s topped 20 receiving yards once since Week 1. … Cohen has cleared 60 total yards in 1-of-13 games, doing more to eat into Montgomery’s fantasy stock than establish his own.

Trubisky’s 2019 target distribution: Robinson 100; Cohen 68; Miller 56; Taylor Gabriel 47; Montgomery 27; Javon Wims 17; Cordarrelle Patterson 12; Ben Braunecker 11; Jesper Horsted 6; J.P. Holtz 3. … Identified before the season as Establish The Run’s most-undervalued player, Robinson has more than answered the bell with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-13 games (77%). Robinson slayed Green Bay’s overrated secondary (7/102/0) in these teams’ Week 1 meeting, while the Packers have coughed up the NFL’s ninth-most 20-plus-yard completions (48) and second-most pass plays of 40-plus yards (14). …. Gabriel (concussions) and Wims (leg) both appear unlikely to face Green Bay, which should raise Miller’s floor. With 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in four straight games, Miller has gone as Trubisky has gone and emerged as a bankable season-long WR3. Miller projects to spend most of Sunday’s game in 36-year-old Packers CB Tramon Williams’ slot coverage. … Fourth-round pick Riley Ridley is next man up in three-receiver sets after he drew one target on 40% of last week’s offensive snaps. Matt Nagy could also opt for increased two-tight end packages featuring Holtz and Horsted to account for Gabriel and Wims’ injuries. Holtz got hot early for 56 yards on three catches in last week’s win over the Cowboys but wound up running just 11 routes on 53% of the Bears’ offensive snaps. Horsted ran 21 routes, drew four targets, and is the preferred streamer against a Packers defense yielding the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Like Holtz, Horsted (44%) remains a part-time player.

His name bigger than his box-score game at this point, Aaron Rodgers enters Week 15 with fantasy scores above QB15 in just 5-of-13 starts hosting a Bears defense that’s yielded top-12 finishes to only 2-of-13 quarterbacks faced. Even with DT Akiem Hicks (elbow) due back, Chicago is best attacked on the ground missing top ILBs Roquan Smith (pec) and Danny Trevathan (elbow). Aaron Jones is fresh off a monster breakout, and Green Bay’s run game is humming in general, ranked No. 4 in rushing offense DVOA. Rodgers is a fringe QB1 in this suboptimal draw. … Perhaps Jamaal Williams’ late-week knee ailment played a part, but Aaron Jones reemerged as Green Bay’s clear lead back in Week 14’s win over the Skins with 192 yards and a touchdown on 22 touches and a 58% playing-time clip compared to Williams’ innocuous seven touches on 42% of the snaps. Jones’ primary 2019 calling card has been touchdown scoring – he’s hit pay dirt 15 times in 13 games – while Chicago has surrendered 11 rushing TDs over the last nine weeks and the NFL’s 12th-most running back catches (72) over the course of the year. A good bet for 15-plus touches on a Packers team favored by four points at home, Jones is an RB2 play with obvious RB1 upside versus Chicago. Williams is a high-risk flex with shaky health and an uncertain role.

Rodgers’ Weeks 10-14 target distribution: Davante Adams 38; Jones and Williams 14; Allen Lazard 13; Geronimo Allison and Jimmy Graham 11; Marquez Valdes-Scantling 6; Jake Kumerow 2. … The Bears’ overrated cornerbacks got eaten up by WRs Kenny Golladay (4/158/1), Michael Gallup (6/109/0), Amari Cooper (6/83/1), and Marvin Jones (3/40/1) in their last two games, positioning Adams for a bounce-back affair after his talents simply weren’t needed in last week’s Jones-dominated win. Adams is an elite WR1 play whose DFS ownership may not reflect it. … The rest of Green Bay’s pass-catching corps offers minimal fantasy appeal with wide-ranging rotations at receiver and tight end. The Packers are splitting snaps between four tight ends – Graham, Marcedes LewisRobert Tonyan, and Jace Sternberger – while five wideouts are sharing playing time, and neither Lazard nor Allison has stepped forward as a bankable No. 2 behind Adams. Lazard has finished below 50 yards in six of Green Bay’s last seven games.

Score Prediction: Packers 21, Bears 20

 

Broncos at Chiefs
Team Totals: Chiefs 28, Broncos 18

Following consecutive unlikely wins highlighted by Week 14’s stunning upset of the Texans, this sets up as a major letdown spot for Denver against one of the NFL’s best teams at one of pro football’s toughest places to play. Each of the past three quarterbacks to face Kansas City managed fantasy scores of QB18 or worse with point totals allowed of 16 (Patriots), 9 (Raiders), and 17 (Chargers) during that span. Drew Lock’s athleticism and vertical aggressiveness have impressed through two starts, but I would rather bet on the Chiefs’ D/ST here. … The Broncos’ biggest Week 15 offensive edge is still on the ground, where enemy backs have burned Kansas City for 4.98 yards per carry, 14 all-purpose touchdowns in 13 games, and the league’s second-most receiving yards per game (60.8). Phillip Lindsay’s touches advantage over Royce Freeman is up to 70 to 32 over the last four weeks. While matchup, workload, and the Broncos’ Lock-improved play are working in Lindsay’s favor, projected game script is a worrisome obstacle as a ten-point road dog. The Chiefs boat raced the Broncos 30-6 in Denver when these clubs met in Week 7.

Lock’s 2019 target distribution: Courtland Sutton 12; Noah Fant and DaeSean Hamilton 7; Freeman and Jeff Heuerman 6; Lindsay and Tim Patrick 5. … Lock is 9-of-12 for 108 yards and two touchdowns when targeting Sutton, who tallied 6/87/0 receiving when Denver and Kansas City met in Week 7. Sutton never feels like a comfortable WR2 play, but he’s produced like one all season and should be treated as such here. Sutton also popped as Week 15’s No. 3 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Fant will try to gut out a bruised foot and hip irritation after lasting only 28 snaps in last week’s win over Houston. Fant is always a boom-bust streamer with fewer than 40 yards in 10-of-13 games but over 100 in two of his last five. His matchup is certainly favorable; Kansas City has yielded a league-high 85 catches to tight ends. Heuerman will be worth a long-shot streamer look if Fant sits. … Hamilton is scoreless on the year and hasn’t topped 36 yards since Week 4. If Hamilton had enough playing time to qualify, he would rank dead last in the league in yards per route run (0.50) among 88 wide receivers. … A part-time player, Patrick’s target counts are 3 > 2 > 3 over the past three weeks.

Update: With the exception of one-legged LE Von Miller (knee), the Broncos’ first-team defensive line is on the verge of disintegration. RE Bradley Chubb (ACL) is long gone. DT Derek Wolfe (elbow) is on I.R. Neither LE/DT Adam Gotsis (knee) nor DE/DT DeMarcus Walker (ankle) will return anytime soon.

Among fantasy’s most disappointing stretch-run passers with QB16 > QB13 > QB20 scores over his last three starts, Patrick Mahomes can only be described as a fade-matchup play against the Broncos, who have held 10-of-13 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB14 or worse. Mahomes has one top-12 score since Week 6. With all of that said, Mahomes’ DFS-tournament stock remains intact because his ceiling is always one of the highest on each slate. … Although K.C. should run efficiently on Denver’s Derek Wolfe-less defensive front, the Chiefs continue to lack reliable individual fantasy plays in what remains a thinly-spread RBBC. LeSean McCoy hasn’t topped 14 touches all year. Darwin Thompson flashed open-field burst in last week’s win over the Patriots but played only 27% of the snaps and still isn’t trusted in blitz pickup. Street free agent add Spencer Ware “gained” two yards on six touches last week. And Damien Williams (ribs) should return versus the Broncos. Good luck figuring this one out.

Mahomes’ Weeks 10-14 target distribution: Tyreek Hill 37; Travis Kelce 35; Sammy Watkins 23; McCoy 12; Demarcus Robinson 8; Damien, Thompson, and Mecole Hardman 6; Ware and Byron Pringle 2. … Over their last five games, the Broncos have been clocked by Stefon Diggs (5/121/1), DeAndre Hopkins (7/120/1), Mike Williams (5/117/0), Odell Beckham (5/87/0), Cole Beasley (6/76/1), Keenan Allen (6/68/1), Keke Coutee (5/68/0), Jarvis Landry (6/51/1), and John Brown (2/39/1). With top CB Chris Harris no longer playing at an elite level and the rest of Denver’s cornerback corps quite burnable, this is a much better spot for Tyreek than it may initially appear. Hill is also promisingly popping as Week 15’s No. 2 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Like Mahomes, Kelce is a bet-on-talent, fade-matchup play against a Denver defense that contained Kelce (6/44/0) in Week 7 and is yielding the NFL’s ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. … Watkins’ theoretical matchup stands out, but he hasn’t scored or cleared 65 yards since Week 1, devolving into a low-floor WR4 option in a slumping passing game. … Once again evidenced on last week’s 48-yard touchdown sprint, Hardman is always a threat for a big play. Unfortunately, Hardman played just 18% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps against New England and has drawn miniscule target counts of 0 > 1 > 4 > 0 > 1 over Kansas City’s last five games.

Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Broncos 16

 

Dolphins at Giants
Team Totals: Giants 24.5, Dolphins 21.5

After flopping as one of Week 14’s most-popular streamers and DFS-tournament plays, Ryan Fitzpatrick is dealt a weaker hand at The Meadowlands with DeVante Parker (concussion) and Albert Wilson (concussion) looking unlikely to play and Allen Hurns (ankle/knee) debilitated by multiple lower-leg injuries. While Fitzpatrick’s YOLO style keeps him two-QB-league playable, the Giants’ D/ST looks like a preferable one-for-one streamer. 11-of-13 defenses (85%) to face the Dolphins have banked top-12 fantasy results. … Operating as Miami’s clear-cut lead back in last week’s loss to the Jets, Patrick Laird held his own with 86 yards on 19 touches, playing 82% of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps compared to Myles Gaskin’s measly 18% playing-time clip. De’Lance Turner didn’t play at all. As Laird dabbled at wide receiver in college and has drawn five-plus targets in three of Miami’s last four games, it’s notable that the Giants are allowing the NFL’s 11th-most catches (5.6) and receiving yards (46.2) per game to enemy backs. Laird is an underrated, PPR-specific flex play with a good chance to catch five-plus balls.

Update: I made the mistake on Thursday night of assuming DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson would miss Sunday’s game. Both practiced fully on Friday and appear set to play against the Giants. This is a very big deal for a lot of Miami players. Ryan Fitzpatrick is an awesome DFS-tournament option in Parker stacks. Mike Gesicki remains playable but isn’t quite as appealing from a ceiling standpoint. Isaiah Ford and Allen Hurns take big Week 15 hits. Eli Manning‘s outlook benefits in what now has a chance to be a Dolphins-Giants shootout.

Update: The Giants released CB Janoris Jenkins on Friday after he called a faux-social media “fan” ” a “retard” the day before. Rotating between both the slot and outside, Jenkins has been one of the NFL’s best corners since Mike Evans pummeled him in Week 3. The G-Men will now roll with burnable Sam Beal and turnstile rookie DeAndre Baker at outside corner, upgrading DeVante Parker‘s Week 15 matchup in particular.

Assuming Parker and Wilson sit, Hurns and Isaiah Ford will be Miami’s likeliest candidates for wideout snaps with Mack Hollins and Trevor Davis behind them. Due to Hurns’ shaky health, Ford looks like Week 15’s best bet for box-score production after leading the Dolphins in Week 14 targets (9) and receiving (6/92/0). Only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the G-Men. Virginia Tech’s all-time leading receiver, Ford is a quicker-than-fast short to intermediate weapon who flashed Marvin Jonesian skills on college tape before spending the last two-plus seasons toiling on Miami’s practice squad. Ford and Hurns are both WR4/flex options with punt-play DFS appeal. … The highest-ceiling pass-catcher play on the Fins is still arguably frustratingly inconsistent Mike Gesicki, who has topped 75 yards twice in the last month and a half but finished under 30 yards in each of the other four games. Gesicki still ranks No. 4 among tight ends in both Air Yards (353) and targets (37) during that span.

Although he got worse as last Monday night’s game progressed, Eli Manning showed enough against the Eagles to be teed up as a two-QB-league start with some punt-play DFS appeal in a softer Week 15 draw at home versus Miami. Eli needs everything around him to be perfect to succeed at this stage of his career, but he might just get it on Sunday. His three-receiver set is fully intact, Evan Engram reportedly has a realistic shot to play, and Manning’s pocket should be clean against a Dolphins defense that ranks dead last in sacks (17) and second to last in QB hits (55). … Saquon Barkley admitted this week that the mental aspect of his early-season high ankle sprain has caused a bigger drain on his production than the physical injury itself. Per PFF, Barkley is 41st among 50 qualified backs in yards after contact per carry (2.52) after ranking No. 8 among 56 qualifiers (3.34) last year, and he’s cleared 100 total yards just twice over his last eight games. Barkley’s workload still hasn’t been threatened, of course, and Sunday’s matchup is soft enough to potentially springboard him with Miami hemorrhaging 4.62 yards per carry and 165.5 total yards per game to enemy backs. He’s a usage- and matchup-driven RB1 play this week.

Update: On Friday, the Giants ruled out Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion), locking back in Kaden Smith as the team’s every-down tight end.

Manning’s Week 14 target distribution: Darius Slayton 8; Sterling Shepard 7; Golden Tate and Kaden Smith 5; Barkley 4. … The Eagles never stood a chance against 4.39 burner Slayton last Monday night (5/154/2), and the Dolphins are even more vulnerable to big passing plays, having conceded the NFL’s fifth-most completions of 20-plus yards (54). Averaging a robust 9.5 targets per game over the last month, Slayton is an upside WR3 here. … Adding to optimism for Eli to turn in a fantasy-useful game, both Shepard and Tate are popping in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. In a plus draw, Shepard and Tate’s outlooks are similar as fringe WR3/flex options with higher-floor projections than Slayton but less upside. … Even though Engram missed Week 14, he still leads the Giants in targets (21), catches (16), and yards (158) on throws from Eli and will be worth immediately reinstalling as a TE1 if cleared to face Miami. Smith played on all but two of the Giants’ offensive snaps in last week’s loss to Philly and would remain stream-able if Engram again misses. This matchup is that good against the Fins.

Score Prediction: Giants 24, Dolphins 17

 

Eagles at Redskins
Team Totals: Eagles 22, Redskins 18

This sets up as a potential trap game for Philly’s offense in D.C. without monumental difference-maker RT Lane Johnson (high ankle sprain), top WR Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc), and probably slot WR Nelson Agholor (knee) against an underrated Redskins defense that held its last three opponents to point totals of 20, 21, and 16. Just 3 of the last 11 quarterbacks to face Washington banked top-12 fantasy scores, while Carson Wentz has two top-12 outcomes in his last seven starts. He’s firmly on the QB1 fringe. … Jordan Howard’s (shoulder) return would throw a wrench into all of this – he practiced on a limited basis all week yet has not been medically cleared – but Boston Scott played his way onto the fantasy radar by exploding for 128 yards and a touchdown on 16 touches in last Monday night’s win over the Giants. Scott captured the “hot hand” when Miles Sanders left with cramps, never relinquished it, and is minimum priced on Draft Kings this week. As enemy backs are averaging 159.7 total yards per game against Washington, there is room for Sanders to deliver RB2 results and Scott to pay flex dividends in the same backfield. … Sanders still paced the Eagles in Week 14 touches (19), out-snapped Scott 50 to 38, and was Doug Pederson’s preferred goal-line option in crunch time against the Giants. Averaging 16.4 touches over the Eagles’ last five games, Sanders will remain RB2 playable if Howard can’t go.

The continued disintegration of Philly’s wideout corps has locked Zach Ertz into extreme-volume usage with double-digit targets in four of his last five games and a sparkling 80.6-yard average during that span. The Skins have allowed the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends. Ertz is Week 15’s No. 1 overall fantasy tight end play. … The Eagles’ wide receiver losses should preserve Dallas Goedert’s near every-down usage in this plus draw. Averaging nearly seven targets per game over his last four, Goedert is a fringe TE1 at Washington. … Should Agholor sit out again, the Eagles’ two wide receivers likeliest to see the most playing time are ex-AAF slot man Greg Ward and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Whereas Arcega-Whiteside’s target totals in his four starts are 4 > 3 > 5 > 3, Wentz showed an actual affinity for throwing to Ward with nine targets in last Monday night’s win over the Giants, including three in the end zone. Ward is a PPR-specific WR4 option. Arcega-Whiteside offers far more theoretical upside but has given us no reason to believe he will realize it during a mostly-invisible rookie season.

Regardless of matchups, opposing D/STs continue to be better fantasy bets than ultra-raw Redskins rookie Dwayne Haskins, who is up to 22 sacks absorbed through five NFL starts and a 3:8 touchdown-to-turnover ratio with five fumbles on the year. Haskins’ five individual fantasy finishes are a repugnant QB27 > QB14 > QB25 > QB33 > QB32. 4-of-5 defenses to face him have banked top-12 fantasy results. Haskins is also battling an ankle sprain, further enhancing Philly’s defensive outlook. … Washington’s talent-poor offense lost even more when short-term phenom Derrius Guice suffered a year-ending MCL sprain in last week’s loss to Green Bay, restoring Adrian Peterson to lead-back duties with Chris Thompson and Wendell Smallwood behind him. The good news for Peterson is he has a legit shot at 20 touches in Guice’s absence. The bad news is Peterson seems likely to run in place against the run-stuffing Eagles, who’ve held enemy backs to 3.62 yards per carry. Peterson is a low-floor, touchdown-or-bust option with just six receptions since Week 6. … Coming off a seven-catch game at Lambeau, Thompson led Washington in Week 14 targets (8) and is arguably just as PPR viable as Peterson.

Haskins’ 2019 target distribution: Terry McLaurin 34; Kelvin Harmon 25; Steven Sims 18; Jeremy Sprinkle 14; Thompson 13; Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn 11; Peterson and Smallwood 7; Guice 6. … Coming off last week’s 4/57/1 receiving line at Lambeau highlighted by one of the niftiest one-handed touchdown grabs of the year, McLaurin will try to do his best Darius Slayton impression after Slayton eviscerated Philly’s secondary (5/154/2) last Monday night. Nine different wideouts have topped 100 yards against the Eagles in 13 games, including McLaurin himself (5/125/1) all the way back in Week 1. McLaurin’s floor is lowered by Haskins’ quarterbacking, but he checks boxes for talent, matchup, and opportunity as a high-ceiling season-long WR3 play with enough upside for DFS consideration. It can only help that McLaurin is popping in Week 15’s Air Yards Buy Low Model. … Rookie possession WR Harmon and special teams dynamo Sims round out the Redskins’ three-receiver sets with Quinn demoted and Richardson (hamstring) forever on the shelf. … Sprinkle has 98 yards and a score to show for his 14 targets from Haskins. Sprinkle didn’t draw a single target on 32 pass routes last week.

Score Prediction: Eagles 20, Redskins 17

 

Seahawks at Panthers
Team Totals: Seahawks 27, Panthers 21

Following Rashaad Penny’s ACL tear, Chris Carson visits Carolina as an enormous-ceiling RB1 facing the Panthers’ league-worst run defense, which has been steamrolled for a combined 56/394/5 (7.04 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in two games since losing NT Dontari Poe (quad) to I.R. Pete Carroll’s staff fancies the running game as its offensive foundation, while Seattle’s pass protection isn’t sturdy enough to support a dropback-driven track meet against a Panthers defense that ranks No. 2 in the NFL in sacks (47). Carson is averaging 22.6 touches over his last ten games. Suddenly back in league-winning position, Carson next catches the Cardinals at home in Week 16. … Russell Wilson has taken a clear backseat in 2019’s NFL MVP race while disappointing monumentally in second-half box scores. Fantasy’s overall QB1 in Weeks 1-9, Wilson’s weekly results in the four games since are QB14 (49ers), QB18 (Eagles), QB17 (Vikings), and QB27 (Rams), albeit all against formidable defensive foes. Carolina does qualify as the latter, having held 9-of-13 quarterbacks faced to fantasy finishes of QB15 or worse. With top threat Tyler Lockett playing like a shell of himself, we’ve reached the point of questioning Wilson’s season-long QB1 viability, especially in a game Seattle could control with its rushing attack and curb Wilson’s usage.

Wilson’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Jacob Hollister 14; D.K. Metcalf 13; Lockett 8; Carson, Josh Gordon, and David Moore 6; Malik Turner 3; Jaron Brown 2. … Averaging 6.8 targets over Seattle’s last five games, Hollister has maintained TE1-caliber usage for a sustained stretch while playing 78% or more of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps in four of the last five weeks. Although Carolina has yielded the NFL’s sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, Hollister has earned volume-based starter treatment in season-long leagues. … Metcalf’s Week 15 matchup also looks tough on paper against Panthers top CB James Bradberry, but the rookie phenom is an entrenched WR2 with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 11-of-13 games. Bradberry has been far from perfect lately, surrendering 25 catches on 31 targets (81%) for 343 yards (11.1 YPA) and a touchdown in Weeks 8-14. … Clearly debilitated by some combination of his pre-bye shin injury and a lingering illness, Lockett hasn’t exceeded 43 yards since Week 9. Struggling to generate both separation and yards after catch, Lockett has devolved into a boom-bust WR3 option. I’m still willing to stick with Lockett against the Panthers’ unimposing slot coverage. … Although Gordon has taken over as Seattle’s No. 3 receiver, Moore and Turner are still mixing into sub-packages, and Gordon has yet to top 34 yards or hit pay dirt through four games with his new team. Pete Carroll did indicate this week that Gordon needs the ball more, enhancing his long-shot, narrative-driven WR4 appeal.

Losers of five straight and their longtime head coach along the way, the wheel-spinning Panthers catch a plus Week 15 draw assuming their offense is mentally and physically up to take advantage. Even amid a flurry of turnovers, Kyle Allen has quietly banked top-12 fantasy results in three straight games, while Seattle’s pass rush has stayed in the tank with the NFL’s third-fewest sacks (23) and seventh-fewest QB hits (62), easing the burden on enemy signal callers. Allen is still best viewed as a two-quarterback-league play with a bit more upside this week than most. … Although Christian McCaffrey was essentially vultured twice in last week’s loss to Atlanta – once on an Allen rushing score and again on Ian Thomas’ one-yard TD following a play fake to CMC – McCaffrey largely laid to rest concerns about a late-season slowdown with 135 yards on 22 touches, including 11 receptions. Allen’s increasing propensity to check down has benefited CMC for an average of twelve targets per game over the last month. Nothing about McCaffrey’s Week 15 matchup particularly stands out – Seattle is middling in run defense – but he’s long since earned every-week overall RB1 treatment with 130-plus total yards in 10-of-13 games. CMC’s Week 15 matchup is enhanced by the absence of Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney (flu, core).

D.J. Moore faces Seattle with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six straight games, earning every-week WR1 treatment on pace for a 96/1,306/5 receiving line. He’s No. 3 in the NFL in Air Yards (844) since Carolina’s Week 7 bye. … Albeit at the smack-dab bottom, Curtis Samuel popped in Week 15’s Air Yards Buy Low Model, giving him some DFS-tournament appeal even as Samuel has topped 70 yards once all year with vertically-challenged Allen at the helm. Samuel remains a fringe WR3/4 in season-long leagues. … Whichever Panthers tight end starts will offer locked-in TE1 playability against the Seahawks, who’ve conceded the NFL’s second-most yards (918) to Greg Olsen and Ian Thomas’ position. Thomas dropped a pass that resulted in one of Allen’s two Week 14 interceptions but saw elite usage with ten targets and a whopping 46 routes on 86% of Carolina’s offensive snaps. Olsen’s return would eliminate Thomas from this week’s streamer conversation, however, and Olsen returned to practice Wednesday. The Seahawks have been rocked for PPR-useful stat lines by fellow TEs Gerald Everett (7/136/0), Tyler Higbee (7/116/0, 3/47/0), Zach Ertz (12/91/1), C.J. Uzomah (4/66/0), Austin Hooper (6/65/1), Kyle Rudolph (4/50/1), Vance McDonald (7/38/2), Ricky Seals-Jones (4/37/1), and Dallas Goedert (7/32/0).

Update: The Panthers ruled out Greg Olsen (concussion) on Friday, locking in Ian Thomas as one of the best streamers on Week 15’s fantasy slate.

Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Panthers 24

 

Texans at Titans
Team Totals: Titans 26.5, Texans 23.5

Update: While there are still no guarantees, Friday reports indicated Will Fuller (hamstring) does appear likely to play against the Titans, the fallout of which is covered extensively here.

I waited as long as possible to do my Week 15 Texans writeup in hopes of gaining clarity on Will Fuller’s (hamstring) availability because of how much he moves the needle for his teammates, from Deshaun Watson on down. Unfortunately, that clarity was never gained, and Fuller seems headed for a dreaded game-time decision after going back on the shelf last week. Watson nevertheless reproved his every-week QB1 legitimacy with two rushing scores and Week 14’s overall QB4 result versus Denver, and on the season is now fantasy’s QB2 in points behind only Lamar Jackson. In one of this week’s highest-totaled games, Watson is an elite fantasy start in Nashville. But his ceiling for DFS-tournament purposes will heighten if Fuller plays. … The Texans went right back to a Carlos Hyde-paced backfield following Duke Johnson’s Week 13 spike; Hyde out-touched Johnson 16 to 7 and continues to be Bill O’Brien’s preferred lead-back play. Yet Hyde remains a weekly fantasy trap with atrocious PPR point totals of 6.7 > 14.0 > 8.3 > 3.5 > 10.4 > 9 > 9.5 > 3.2 > 9.8 in the nine games where he has not scored a touchdown, and the Titans excel at limiting rushing production by holding enemy backs to 3.97 yards per carry. Hyde is a low-floor flex option. Johnson has reached double-digit touches twice over Houston’s last eight games.

DeAndre Hopkins is an elite WR1 play at Tennessee regardless, but it’s notable he’s averaging nearly three more targets in games missed by Fuller. Already down RCB Malcolm Butler (wrist), the Titans will be without LCB Adoree Jackson (foot), too, after trotting out Cardinals castoff Tramaine Brock and fifth-year retread Tye Smith as their starting perimeter corners last week. Hopkins has 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last seven games. … After appearing in just one game since Week 7, once-doghoused slot WR Keke Coutee sprung to life for eight targets on 72% of last week’s offensive snaps and will be WR4 playable in deep PPR leagues against the Titans if Fuller can’t go. … There has been virtually no rhyme or reason to predicting Kenny Stills’ productive games, but it’s always at least a little bit concerning when a receiver (Stills, in this case) plays 96% of his team’s offensive snaps, his quarterback (Watson) drops back to pass 53 times, and said receiver draws two targets, gaining eight scoreless yards. That’s what happened against Denver. … Texans tight end snaps were distributed as follows in last week’s defeat: Jordan Akins 48, Darren Fells 42, Jordan Thomas 7. Houston spent the entire game in catchup mode, favoring catch-first Akins over superior blocker Fells. Sunday’s game projects to be closer. Held below 25 yards in five straight, Fells is still a touchdown-or-bust streamer.

Back home after boat racing the Raiders at their place, Ryan Tannehill catches a similarly inept Texans pass defense that wide-eyed rookie Drew Lock shredded for three touchdowns and 11.4 yards per pass attempt last week and has yielded top-12 fantasy finishes to 10-of-13 quarterbacks faced. Badly missing J.J. Watt (pec), Houston has fallen to 27th in the NFL in sacks (26) and 18th in QB Hit Rate (15.8%). Tannehill’s pass volume is an ongoing concern – he’s thrown fewer than 30 passes in 5-of-7 starts – but Tannehill can compensate with rushing value and projects to be especially efficient at home against Houston’s lifeless pass rush. With top-12 fantasy outcomes in 6-of-7 starts, Tannehill is a cinch season-long QB1 with enough upside for serious DFS consideration. … Also getting pummeled on the ground, Houston’s defensive front has been gashed for 144/679/3 (4.65 YPC) rushing by enemy backs over the past six weeks. Although Derrick Henry was somewhat slowed by a hamstring injury at Oakland, he returned to the game after a brief absence and logged 19-plus touches for the fourth straight week. Incredibly, Henry has 15 combined rushing touchdowns over his last nine November and December games. Firmly in the NFL rushing-lead race, Henry is only 38 yards behind league leader Nick Chubb.

Tannehill’s 2019 target distribution: A.J. Brown 40; Corey Davis 31; Jonnu Smith 28; Adam Humphries 24; Anthony Firkser 17; Tajae Sharpe 15; Dion Lewis 13; Henry 12; Kalif Raymond 8. … Brown’s stat lines are all over the place in Tannehill’s seven starts, but he’s flashed a monster ceiling with 135-plus yards in two of his last three games. Brown is a boom-bust WR3 play with a genuine WR1 ceiling. … Davis has cleared 50 yards just twice in his last 17 games and is averaging a measly 3.5 targets over the last month. … With Firkser and MyCole Pruitt making sporadic receiving contributions, Smith has settled in as primarily a blocking tight end. Smith ran just 11 routes in last week’s victory – tied for his fewest since Week 6 – and has drawn six combined targets in three games since the Titans’ Week 11 bye. Smith is a low-floor, touchdown-or-bust streamer.

Score Prediction: Titans 28, Texans 27

 

Bucs at Lions
Team Totals: Bucs 25, Lions 22

Jameis Winston was cleared early in the week to start at Detroit after missing six snaps in Week 14’s shootout win over the Colts to attend to a hairline fracture in his right (throwing) thumb. While the injury combined with Mike Evans’ (hamstring) loss are causes for concern, otherwise this game sets up as the ultimate Winston smash spot. Jameis plays his best ball against man coverage – which the Lions run at the NFL’s second-highest rate – and has thrown 22 of his 26 touchdown passes in clean pockets; Detroit ranks 29th in sack rate (5.0%) and dead last in QB Hit Rate (11.5%). This game also lacks weather concerns beneath Ford Field’s dome. … Although Ronald Jones’ 15 touches edged out Peyton Barber (13) and Dare Ogunbowale (5) in last week’s victory, Jones played just 35% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps and remains entrenched in a three-man committee. The good news is Detroit has been trampled for an average of 156.3 total yards and 19 touchdowns by enemy backs in 13 games, and this is a game Tampa Bay could potentially control against the David Blough-quarterbacked Lions, who are missing key skill-position players T.J. HockensonMarvin Jones, and Kerryon Johnson as well as tackle-machine MLB Jarrad Davis (ankle/knee). Jones’ floor is never safe – we’ve seen Bruce Arians bench him at a moment’s notice – but he makes for a compelling DFS-tournament start with big-play potential in a cupcake draw. Jones is a boom-bust RB2/flex play in season-long leagues.

With Evans sidelined, Chris Godwin is a no-brainer WR1 against the Lions’ slot coverage, which Anthony Miller (9/140/0), Randall Cobb (4/115/1), Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), Golden Tate (8/85/0), Hunter Renfrow (6/54/1), Nelson Agholor (8/50/2), and Bisi Johnson (4/40/1) have all torn up. Detroit has given up 11 TDs in the slot this year. Godwin’s target ceiling is among the highest on Week 15’s slate. … Breshad Perriman projects as Tampa’s No. 2 wideout in Evans’ absence and an upside WR3 play against a Lions secondary yielding the NFL’s fifth-most yards to receivers. Perriman efficiently parlayed 12 targets into a 9/201/1 stat line over the last three weeks. As Evans exited last Sunday’s win early, Perriman ran a season-high 50 routes and played 83% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps. … Justin Watson (5/59/1) was another big beneficiary of Evans’ Week 14 injury, drawing eight targets against the Colts. Watson is firmly on this week’s WR4 radar but isn’t quite safe with Scotty Miller due back from his two-week hamstring pull. Before the injury, Miller was running ahead of Watson on Tampa Bay’s depth chart. … With consecutive stat lines of 5/61/0 and 4/73/0 against Jacksonville and Indy, O.J. Howard has re-earned TE1 treatment at Detroit. He’s again playing over 80% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps and last week ran 37 pass routes to Cameron Brate’s 14.

David Blough lit up the Bears in the first half of Detroit’s Thanksgiving loss, and it’s been downhill from there. Over his last six quarters, Blough is 39-of-63 passing for 306 yards (4.9 YPA) with a 1:3 TD-to-INT ratio and six sacks taken. Blough remains two-QB-league viable due to this week’s matchup. 10 of the last 11 quarterbacks to face the Bucs banked top-15 fantasy scores, while only three defenses have allowed more touchdown passes (29). As Arians’ team is likely to pour points on Detroit’s tissue-soft defense while rendering the Lions’ run game nonexistent, Blough quietly offers one of the highest sheer pass-attempt ceilings on Week 15’s slate. By that same token, weekly streamers should give Tampa Bay’s D/ST a hard look. … Still a missing person in Detroit’s passing game now facing a Bucs defense that’s held enemy backs to 3.18 yards per carry and just six all-purpose TDs in 13 games, Bo Scarbrough is a hard fade with only rushing points to work with and almost no touchdown equity with zero carries inside the five all year. Sparingly used scatbacks J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson offer even less appeal.

Blough’s 2019 target distribution: Danny Amendola 16; Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones 13; McKissic 7; Johnson and Logan Thomas 4; Scarbrough 3; Jesse James 2. … Held below 50 yards in six straight games and scoreless since Week 1, Amendola nevertheless warrants PPR-specific WR4 treatment after the Lions shut down Jones (ankle) for the season. … Ideally, however, Blough will pay Amendola less mind and challenge DC Todd Bowles’ secondary outside the numbers, where Christian Kirk (6/138/3), D.K. Metcalf (6/123/1), Michael Thomas (8/114/1), Marcus Johnson (3/105/1), Calvin Ridley (6/85/1), Andy Isabella (3/78/0), and Zach Pascal (5/74/1) all beat fantasy expectations against the Bucs within their last six games. Golladay is a locked-in WR1 play with monster target potential sans Jones. I like the idea of game stacking Bucs-Lions with Winston-to-Godwin pairings and “bringing it back” with Golladay. … Thomas and James shared tight end time almost right down the middle in Detroit’s first post-T.J. Hockenson game, with Thomas narrowly topping James in routes run (23 to 18) and out-targeting him 4 to 2. Thomas is a touchdown-or-bust streamer idea. … Chris Lacy appears in line to take over in three-receiver sets, but the Lions could easily emphasize two-tight end packages more with Jones on the shelf.

Score Prediction: Bucs 28, Lions 20

 

Jaguars at Raiders
Team Totals: Raiders 26, Jaguars 19.5

Unthinkably blown out in five straight games with an abominable -117 point differential during that span, the sunk-ship Jaguars travel all the way across country for Week 15’s date with the nosediving Raiders. Even as Gardner Minshew’s matchup on paper is about as good as it gets – only Arizona allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks than Oakland – Minshew is a mere two-QB-league play without a fantasy score above QB22 since Week 8 on a melting team missing top WR D.J. Chark (ankle). … Leonard Fournette’s Week 14 clunker largely resulted from negative game script in Jacksonville’s 45-10 loss to the Chargers. He still finished with 18 or more touches for the tenth time in 13 games and catches a plus Week 15 on-paper draw against the Raiders, who enemy backs tagged for 136/588/6 (4.32 YPC) rushing over the past six weeks and the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards per game (50.1) over the course of the year. Third among all running backs in catches (68) behind only Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler, Fournette’s floor is raised by his enormous passing-game role. He’s a locked-in, every-week RB1 play.

Chark’s absence frees up a ton of opportunity; he’s No. 13 in the NFL in Air Yards (1,262), and only 14 wide receivers have more targets than Chark’s 106. The Jaguars’ Week 15 three-receiver package should consist of Chris Conley and Keelan Cole outside with Dede Westbrook in the slot, and all are appealing sleepers relative to format. Priced affordably on DFS sites, Conley is popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model and is best equipped from a skill-set standpoint to exploit the Raiders’ easy-to-beat perimeter coverage, where DC Paul Guenther’s unit has yielded league highs in 20-plus-yard pass plays (63) and 40-plus-yard completions (15) and was pillaged by A.J. Brown (5/153/2) last week. … Cole has been efficient as the Jags’ No. 4 receiver, collecting 17-of-23 targets for 195 yards and two scores. He’s worth a long look as a DFS punt play in a plus draw with spiked opportunity. Cole should be on the field for over 80% of the Jags’ offensive plays. … Westbrook is the Jaguars’ highest-floor wideout with five-plus catches in 8-of-12 appearances. Westbrook runs the vast majority of his routes inside, where PFF has charted only three slot corners with more yards allowed than Raiders CB Lamarcus Joyner (417). … Nick O’Leary is an under-the-radar streamer playing nearly 70% of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps over the past two weeks. He’s drawn at least four targets in three straight games and tagged the Chargers for 4/30/1 receiving last Sunday. The Raiders allow the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to tight ends.

In what’s sure to be a rowdy atmosphere for the last game ever played in Oakland’s Black Hole – the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas next year, in case you hadn’t heard – this sets up as a full-throttle Josh Jacobs affair facing a Jaguars “defense” enemy running backs have gutted for 128/824/8 (6.44 YPC) rushing over the past five weeks. As Oakland is favored by nearly a touchdown at home, it’s noteworthy that Jacobs’ per-game touches spike from 16.3 in losses to 23.0 in wins, and Jacobs has scored all seven of his touchdowns at home this year. Beyond his chronic shoulder problems, Jacobs checks most boxes as an upside RB1 play. … Derek Carr enters Week 15 with top-12 fantasy scores in just 3-of-13 starts, offering little more than a confident two-quarterback-league asset in a talent-poor passing game.

Carr’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Darren Waller 15; DeAndre Washington 10; Tyrell Williams 8; Zay Jones 6; Jalen Richard 5; Keelan Doss and Foster Moreau 4; Derek Carrier and Alec Ingold 2; Rico Gafford 1. … Allowing the NFL’s 11th-most fantasy points per game to tight ends, the Jaguars coughed up a combined 3/53/2 stat line on five targets to Chargers tight ends last week and 5/61/1 receiving on six targets to once-dead O.J. Howard the week before. Scoreless in six straight, Waller is due for positive-TD regression, and his scoring chances are aided by Moreau’s year-ending knee injury; Moreau vultured five end-zone trips in the first 13 games. … Williams is scoreless since Week 8 and has cleared 50 yards once in his ensuing six contests. Still the favorite for Raiders vertical targets, Williams’ matchup is favorable enough for WR3/flex consideration. Only six NFL teams have allowed more 20-plus-yard completions than the Jaguars (49), who got fellow touchdown-slumping WR Mike Williams off the schneid last week.

Score Prediction: Raiders 24, Jaguars 17

 

Browns at Cardinals
Team Totals: Browns 25.5, Cardinals 22.5

A top-12 fantasy passer in just 3-of-13 starts, Baker Mayfield catches an optimal draw to briefly right the ship in a non-weather-impacted affair versus a Cardinals defense that’s yielded top-ten scores to 10-of-13 quarterbacks faced in addition to NFL highs in completion rate (72%) and touchdown passes (32). All of Baker’s weapons are in plus spots, while Cleveland’s skill players should endure opportunity spikes; offenses facing Arizona average an NFL-high 68 plays per game. Through 13 weeks, the Browns average 62 per-game plays, eighth fewest in football. … Nick Chubb faces a Cardinals defense enemy backs have tagged for a 147-total-yardage average on the year. Even as Kareem Hunt’s presence caps his ceiling, Chubb’s workload remains secure with 16-plus touches in 14-of-14 games. He’s a fringe RB1/2 against Arizona’s soft defensive front. … Hunt has commanded double-digit touches in 5-of-5 games, while the Cardinals have allowed five running back TDs over the past five weeks. Hunt has done his most damage in the passing game, while Arizona has yielded the NFL’s eighth-most running back receiving yards (632).

Mayfield’s Weeks 10-14 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 48; Odell Beckham 41; Hunt 28; Chubb 12; Demetrius Harris 8; Rashard Higgins 5; KhaDarel Hodge and Stephen Carlson 4; David Njoku 3; Ricky Seals-Jones 2. … Easily Cleveland’s most bankable pass catcher, Landry enters Week 15 with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 11-of-13 games, including 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six straight. He’s a surefire WR2 play against Arizona’s leaky slot coverage. The Cardinals recently cut slot CB Tramaine Brock for ineffectiveness and are digging into their depth. … Although Beckham deserves to be downgraded into WR2/3 range based on his lack of to-date production, he is popping in Week 15’s Air Yards Buy Low Model against a Cardinals secondary that’s permitted the NFL’s ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Cards top CB Patrick Peterson has struggled mightily all year, surrendering 31 completions on 39 targets (79.5%) for 440 yards (11.3 YPA) and three touchdowns. Beckham is nearing squeaky-wheel territory amid reports he’s unhappy in Cleveland. … Njoku came back from his fractured wrist in Week 14 but drew just three targets on 20 snaps. The good news is Arizona’s defense has been lit on absolute fire by tight ends, yielding the most fantasy points to the position by a wide margin. After shaking off the Week 14 rust, it would be surprising if Njoku were not elevated to near-full-time duties in the desert. Until we see hard evidence of that usage change, however, he’ll be a boom-bust TE1 play. It does help that Njoku wasn’t even mentioned on Week 15’s final injury report.

His fantasy season slowing to a halt with under 200 passing yards in three straight starts and mobility somewhat compromised by a hamstring pull, Kyler Murray is a high-variance play versus Cleveland, which held 8 of its last 12 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB16 or worse. I’m leaving the light on for Murray as a DFS-tournament play; this game offers shootout potential in a friendly environment, and the Browns have permitted the NFL’s seventh-most QB rushing yards per game (18.8). … Although David Johnson chipped in a nifty Week 14 receiving score, Kenyan Drake kept Arizona’s lead-back job with 14 touches to Johnson’s 5 and Chase Edmonds’ 1. Drake dominated snaps (66%) versus Pittsburgh and is the Cardinals’ best running back play against a Cleveland defense that’s struggled to stop the run all year and got tagged for Joe Mixon’s 23/146/1 rushing line last week. Drake does risk losing increased work with Johnson and Edmonds healthy, however, rendering Drake more flex play than bankable RB2.

Murray’s Weeks 11-14 target distribution: Christian Kirk 25; Larry Fitzgerald 19; Drake 15; Pharoh Cooper 11; Andy Isabella 6; Johnson, Charles Clay, and Damiere Byrd 4. … Another reason for Kyler optimism is Kirk and Fitzgerald’s twin appearances in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. Kirk popped in the model for his slate-breaking 6/138/3 receiving line at Tampa Bay in Week 10, and he is averaging a sturdy 8.5 targets over Arizona’s last six games. He’s a WR2 play against the Browns. … Fitz is a tougher sell with just one game above 60 yards since Week 6 and a single end-zone trip since Week 3, but his matchup is awfully tempting against frequent burn victim T.J. Carrie in the slot and opportunity on Fitzgerald’s side. I like him as an underrated WR3 option. … Isabella still can’t find his way into full-time work. He played 21% of last week’s offensive snaps and has 11 yards on six targets since Week 10.

Score Prediction: Browns 24, Cardinals 23

 

 

Vikings at Chargers
Team Totals: Vikings 24, Chargers 21.5

On the road facing a near-full-strength Chargers defense that’s still playing hard despite its 5-8 plight, this is an imposing matchup for Minnesota’s passing game in what sets up as a relatively low-scoring affair. Just 1-of-13 quarterbacks to face Los Angeles has exceeded QB12 fantasy results, while Adam Thielen‘s effectiveness (hamstring) remains uncertain, and teams facing the slow-paced Bolts are dealt a limited hand averaging a league-low 57.8 offensive plays per game. I’m projecting Kirk Cousins to finish outside the top-15 fantasy passers for a third straight week. … As expected, the Vikings were able to work in Alexander Mattison (16 touches) more than usual in last Sunday’s smooth-sailing victory, building a 17-0 first-half lead and shutting out the Lions for three-plus quarters. But Dalvin Cook showed his chest injury was barely problematic with 20-plus touches for the tenth time in 13 games. As Week 15 sets up as likely to be far more competitive, we should anticipate Cook resuming full-time bellcow duties and Mattison returning to his pace-change role. This is a mildly above-par matchup; enemy backs have touched up the Bolts for a weekly average of 5.5 receptions and scored 13 all-purpose TDs in 13 games.

Update: On Friday, the Vikings ruled out Alexander Mattison (ankle), enhancing Dalvin Cook‘s usage projection in an unimposing draw with Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah behind him.

Although Thielen is likely to return after resuming practicing, his risk factor is high having played just 16 snaps since Week 6 due to multiple hamstring setbacks. Thielen did log 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his previous seven games before initially going down, yet the Chargers have given up the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. I think Thielen is best approached as a low-floor WR3 option. … Although Stefon Diggs seems likely to attract Casey Hayward’s shadow, Thielen’s return would at least make that a bit less certain, and this is a matchup we should be willing to fade with Diggs sitting atop Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 15 Buy Low Air Yards Model. Diggs’ ceiling is always sky high – he’s topped 90 yards six times in the Vikings’ last ten games – and elite route-running chops render Diggs capable of winning against even the NFL’s best corners. … Twelve different Vikings caught Week 14 passes from Cousins, a reminder that Minnesota’s passing-game distribution can be spread thin on a run-first team with Thielen tentatively due back to command a meaningful target share. If Thielen does play, the likes of Kyle RudolphIrv Smith, and Olabisi Johnson will be removed from fantasy playability.

Back home after last week’s energized, 45-10 road romp over Jacksonville, a 5-8 Chargers team that is still playing hard gets its chance to play spoiler against the Vikings. Unfortunately, Philip Rivers’ season-best Week 14 game is tough to chase; just 3-of-13 quarterbacks to face Minnesota have beaten QB14 fantasy results, while Rivers himself has done so in just 4-of-13 starts. Los Angeles’ wide receiver corps does draw enough favorable matchups for Rivers to stay stapled into two-QB-league lineups. … As nothing overly positive stands out about Melvin Gordon or Austin Ekeler’s Week 15 draws, they must be characterized as bet-on-talent/volume plays against the Vikings. Leading all NFL backs in yards per touch (7.1), Ekeler has demonstrated exceptional consistency with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 12-of-13 games and is averaging a rock-solid 12.4 touches over the last five weeks despite Gordon’s resurgence. Gordon’s last five touch counts are 23 > 23 > 17 > 22 > 17, topping four yards per carry in all of them. Even against Minnesota’s stout front seven, Ekeler and Gordon are both locked-in RB2s.

Rivers’ target distribution under OC Shane SteichenKeenan Allen 39; Hunter Henry 33; Ekeler 28; Mike Williams 22; Gordon 18; Andre Patton 5; Jalen Guyton 2. … Over its last five games alone, Minnesota’s pass-funnel defense has been blowtorched for wide receiver lines of 11/147/1 (Amari Cooper), 6/140/1 (Tyreek Hill), 5/113/0 (Courtland Sutton), 6/106/1 (Randall Cobb), 4/77/0 (Tim Patrick), 4/76/1 (Michael Gallup), 6/75/0 (D.K. Metcalf), 2/65/1 (David Moore), 7/63/0 (Sammy Watkins), and 6/58/1 (Kenny Golladay). Allen is a surefire WR1 play and Williams an upside WR3 after finally busting his season-long scoring slump on last week’s 44-yard end-zone jump ball against Jaguars CB Tre Herndon. … Although the Vikings have allowed just one tight end touchdown all year, only four teams have allowed more catches to the position (79), and only nine more yards (729). This is a better matchup for Henry than it may seem. On the year, only six tight ends are averaging more PPR points per game than Henry.

Score Prediction: Chargers 23, Vikings 21

 

 

Rams at Cowboys
Team Totals: Rams 24.5, Cowboys 24.5

Back in a small-sample groove after knifing through Arizona and Seattle for 54-of-74 passing (73%), 717 yards (9.7 YPA), four touchdowns, and two picks, Jared Goff catches another soft opponent in favorable environs beneath JerryWorld’s dome. Six of the last eight quarterbacks to face Dallas’ disappointing defense banked top-12 fantasy scores, while the Cowboys surrendered 26-plus points in four of the last five weeks. Goff is back on the season-long QB1 fringe with contrarian DFS appeal. … Although Malcolm Brown’s continued goal-line vulturing cuts into Todd Gurley’s sheer scoring upside, Gurley’s recent workload spike has vaulted him back into full-fledged RB1 stock. Gurley visits Big D with 20-plus touches in three of Los Angeles’ last four games, falling short only in Week 12’s blowout loss to Baltimore in which Gurley logged a year-high 96% of the Rams’ offensive snaps. Gurley is an every-down back again facing a Cowboys defense that’s permitted 100-plus rushing yards each week during its three-game losing streak and yielded the NFL’s sixth-most running back catches (78) over the course of the year. As we’ll explain next, the Rams went all out to support Gurley in a major personnel-package shift during last week’s decisive win over Seattle.

Goff’s Weeks 12-14 target distribution: Robert Woods 36; Tyler Higbee 25; Cooper Kupp 20; Gurley and Brandin Cooks 8; Josh Reynolds 6; Gerald Everett 2. … Overtaking slowing-down Kupp as Goff’s go-to weapon, Woods is on absolute fire with 80-plus yards in five of his last six games and 95-plus yards in four straight. Woods’ extreme-volume usage will keep him matchup proof as the new centerpiece of Los Angeles’ passing attack. He’s averaging 11.8 targets over the last month. … Higbee has been an all-out monster in Everett’s (ankle/knee) absence, leading all NFL tight ends in Air Yards (188) and actual yards (223) over the past two weeks. As the Cowboys have permitted the NFL’s sixth-most receptions to tight ends (70), Higbee will remain a truly elite TE1 play if Everett stays out. … Kupp set season lows in routes run (18) and snaps (28%) in last week’s blowout of Seattle. As alluded to above, the Rams morphed into a two-tight end, power football team with Higbee and blocking TE Johnny Mundt on the field together and fellow plus-blockers Woods and Reynolds as their two primary wideouts. Positive game script likely also had much to do with it as Los Angeles jumped out to a decisive 21-3 first-half lead. Sunday’s affair sets up to be far more competitive, while fellow slot WRs Cole Beasley (6/110/1), Julian Edelman (8/93/0), Danny Amendola (4/47/0), and Anthony Miller (3/42/1) each met or beat expectations against Dallas over the past four weeks. Kupp is a matchup-based WR2. … Coming off a goose egg versus Seattle, Cooks has played his way off even WR3/flex radars with seven straight games below 60 yards. The Rams played superior blocker Reynolds on 20 more snaps than Cooks last week.

Update: On Friday, the Rams ruled out Gerald Everett (knee/ankle), locking back in Tyler Higbee as an elite TE1 play at Dallas.

Even as Dak Prescott’s on-field performance has tailed off down the stretch, his box-score production has held steady with top-12 fantasy results in 10-of-13 starts, including top-10 finishes in 7-of-7 games at JerryWorld. Prescott’s yards per attempt spike from 7.6 on the road to 9.2 at home, and he averages 2.7 all-purpose touchdowns per game in Big D versus 1.6 TDs in away games. Even against a stout Rams defense that’s allowed 17 points or fewer in five straight games, Prescott’s dual-threat skills and stacked deck of weapons keep him above the season-long QB1 fringe, especially in this potential shootout indoors. … L.A. never presents a plus matchup for running backs – DC Wade Phillips’ unit has held the position to 3.76 yards per carry and a miniscule 34.2 receiving yards per game – rendering Ezekiel Elliott a usage-based RB1 averaging 23.6 touches over the past eight weeks with a low of 18 and high of 33. It is perhaps worth noting that Phillips sold out hard to stop Zeke in these teams’ playoff date last January, successfully stymieing Elliott for 66 yards and a touchdown on 22 touches in the Rams’ 30-22 victory.

Dak’s post-bye target distribution: Michael Gallup 51; Amari Cooper 50; Jason Witten 40; Randall Cobb 38; Zeke 25; Blake Jarwin 21; Tony Pollard 12. … Gallup torched the Rams in last January’s playoff loss (6/119/0) and is far less likely than Cooper to draw Jalen Ramsey, positioning Gallup for WR2 viability in Sunday’s rematch. … Although Ramsey has made his fair share of highlight-reel plays, he hasn’t been impenetrable with a 74% completion rate and 9.3 yards per attempt allowed since joining the Rams. Amari has cleared 75 yards and/or scored a touchdown in 11-of-12 home games since joining Dallas. An elite route runner capable of creating separation versus any corner, I’m confidently riding with Cooper as a borderline WR1/2 here. … Although Witten’s volume has risen in a small sample lately, he remains a touchdown-or-bust streamer without a game above 58 yards all season. The Rams have allowed the NFL’s eighth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. … Cobb came back to Earth in the Cowboys’ last two games, continuing to fight with Witten and Jarwin for passing-game scraps behind Gallup and Cooper.

Score Prediction: Cowboys 27, Rams 24

 

Falcons at 49ers
Team Totals: 49ers 29, Falcons 18

Even after Drew Brees poured an unholy six all-purpose TDs on the 49ers at the Superdome last week, DC Robert Saleh’s unit should not be taken lightly as it pertains to Matt Ryan, whose pass protection is an ongoing concern with 16 sacks absorbed over Atlanta’s last three games, and whose arsenal is in downward ascent with Calvin Ridley (abdomen) done for the season and neither Julio Jones (shoulder) nor Austin Hooper (knee) playing at 100%. In the Falcons’ first away game since November 17, I like the 49ers’ D/ST to overpower Atlanta’s shriveling offense. Ryan is best approached as a boom-bust QB1. … Devonta Freeman visits the Bay Area with 21 touches in consecutive weeks to face a Niners defense that enemy backs stung for 4.52 yards per carry over its last ten games but has allowed the league’s second-fewest receiving yards per game to Freeman’s position (26.9). Up front, San Francisco will play this game without DE Dee Ford (hamstring) and NT D.J. Jones (ankle). Ultimately, Freeman’s Week 15 playability hinges almost entirely on volume with anemic per-carry (3.6) and per-catch (6.6) efficiency in an offense likely to struggle facing one of the league’s best defenses on the road. He’s a low-upside RB2. … Although Brian Hill’s touchdown came in deep garbage time of last week’s win over the Panthers, Hill has stayed involved with touch counts of 7 and 9 since Freeman returned from injury two games ago.

Atlanta’s primary three-receiver set to close out the season figures to field Julio Jones and UDFA rookie Olamide Zaccheaus outside with Russell Gage in the slot. Ridley’s absence combined with San Francisco’s loss of top CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) improves Jones’ outlook as a mid-range WR1 with DFS-tournament appeal in a spot where Julio’s volume could spike. Jones’ usage floor remains intact with eight targets or more in seven straight games. … Zaccheaus’ third-quarter 93-yard TD in last week’s win over Carolina occurred on his first career catch. Small (5’8/188) and not especially fast (4.54), Zaccheaus’ big play is not worth chasing against a 49ers defense allowing the NFL’s fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Zaccheaus could easily share No. 3 wideout time with Christian Blake and Justin Hardy. … As a rotational slot receiver, Gage is impacted less by Ridley’s injury because his role is unlikely to change much. He’s a PPR-specific WR4 option in this suboptimal draw. … Hooper’s Week 14 return-game snaps (64%) weren’t quite as lofty as usual, but he drew six targets and should be closer to 100% here. While San Francisco has played lights-out tight end coverage for most of the season, Jared Cook and Josh Hill’s combined Week 14 receiving line (4/68/3) against the Niners plus Ridley’s absence provide optimism Hooper can recapture his pre-injury production. Safety-valve checkdowns to Hooper will come in handy if the Falcons struggle to protect Ryan and take away Atlanta’s deep passing game.

Albeit not quite worthy of “revenge” game billing, Kyle Shanahan catches his former team at the 49ers’ house in an opportunity for San Francisco to pour points on Atlanta’s leaky defense, which lost top CB Desmond Trufant (arm) for the season last week. 8 of the last 12 quarterbacks to face the Falcons tallied top-12 fantasy outcomes, while Jimmy G is on a torrid run having completed 141-of-204 passes (69.1%) for 1,756 yards (8.6 YPA) and a 16:4 TD-to-INT ratio over his last six starts. Although Garoppolo’s floor is never especially safe on what remains a run-first, defense-oriented 49ers team, this does stand out as a potential upside spot, and Garoppolo has shown a high ceiling with three top-five fantasy scores in the last month and a half. … Deservedly so, Shanahan stuck with Raheem Mostert as his lead back in last Sunday’s thrilling shootout win over the Saints; Mostert paced San Francisco’s RBBC in snaps (59%) and touches (12) while Matt Breida (7, 19%) and Tevin Coleman (3, 16%) took firm backseats. Easily the 49ers’ most effective back all season, Mostert is experiencing a legitimate breakout year by leading all NFL backs with at least 100 rushes in yards per carry (6.0) and ranking second behind Austin Ekeler (7.1) in yards per touch (6.7). On Thursday, Shanahan acknowledged Mostert “has given us no choice” but to remain the 49ers’ backfield leader. With San Francisco favored by two scores at home, Mostert’s workload has a chance to spike in positive game script. He’s an RB2 play with RB1 upside against undermanned Atlanta.

Garoppolo’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 15; George Kittle and Deebo Samuel 12; Kendrick Bourne 7; Mostert 4; Kyle Juszczyk 3; Breida and Coleman 1. … Confirming his rib injury is a concern of the past, Sanders shredded Saints DBs Eli Apple and Vonn Bell throughout last week’s first half and has now topped 95% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps in consecutive games. He’s an upside WR2 play against the Falcons, who’ve allowed the NFL’s seventh-most yards per game to wide receivers (178.7). … Kittle enters Week 15 with 85-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last eight games. Fellow tight ends Jared Cook twice (3/85/0, 6/74/0), Ian Thomas (5/57/1), and Greg Olsen (5/57/0) all dropped TE1-caliber box scores on Atlanta within the last five weeks. … Samuel’s targets (8) rebounded in last week’s shootout after he drew just 2 and 4 in the two games prior. Samuel’s volume isn’t secure with Sanders and Kittle healthy, but he’s earned WR3/flex treatment in this plus draw with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games. … Bourne hit pay dirt twice from close in versus New Orleans but remains a touchdown-or-bust WR4 option with just one game above 42 receiving yards all season.

Score Prediction: 49ers 30, Falcons 17

 

Bills at Steelers
Team Totals: Steelers 19, Bills 17

Slowed to a halt for his season-worst fantasy score (QB29) by Baltimore last Sunday, Josh Allen catches an even tougher Week 15 draw at Pittsburgh. Just 2 of the last 11 quarterbacks to face the Steelers have topped QB14 fantasy results, while Allen is likely to face heavy pressure against a defense that leads the NFL in sacks (48) and QB hits (96). Allen also picked up a Week 14 ankle injury that may compromise his mobility after Allen scrambled just twice for nine yards against the Ravens. The Bills could barely move the ball and look likely to endure similar offensive struggles in what projects as an exceptionally low-scoring game at Heinz Field. … Also tied for the NFL lead in tackles for loss (96), the Steelers have stopped enemy backs in their tracks for 3.88 yards per carry and six TDs in 13 games, boding poorly for Devin Singletary as a low-floor RB2. Singletary did set or equal season highs in touches (23), targets (8), catches (6), and snaps (82%) in last week’s loss, keeping Singletary alive as a purely volume-based play.

Allen’s 2019 target distribution: John Brown 96; Cole Beasley 84; Dawson Knox 43; Singletary 36; Isaiah McKenzie 32; Robert Foster 13; Frank Gore 12. … Held below 40 yards in three straight games, Brown is an increasingly risky play against Pittsburgh’s smothering secondary in a likely low-scoring contest where his quarterback seems likely to struggle. I’d characterize Brown as a big-play-dependent WR3 option. It does help that Brown popped in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Beasley has passed Brown as Allen’s most reliable weapon lately, clearing 70 yards and/or hitting pay dirt in seven of Buffalo’s last eight games. Beasley is the floor play, Brown the ceiling play in Sunday’s matchup. … None of the Bills’ ancillary pass catchers have stepped forward as legitimate fantasy options in season long or DFS. Knox is sometimes intriguing but hasn’t reached 40 yards in a game since Week 4.

Although UDFA rookie Devlin Hodges has moved to 3-0 as a starter, his pass attempt totals are 20 > 21 > 19 with fantasy scores of QB23 > QB25 > QB23 in the NFL’s most conservative offense. Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) tentatively due back, Hodges is a weak two-quarterback-league play, especially against Buffalo’s stingy defense. … James Conner (shoulder) looks on pace to finally return and should have fresh legs versus Buffalo’s beatable run defense, which generously concedes 4.56 yards per carry to enemy backs. Inefficient rookie grinder Benny Snell’s chances of staying involved were damaged on last week’s costly lost fumble, although explosive change-up back Kerrith Whyte deserves to maintain a complementary role. In two games prior to going down, Conner tallied touch counts of 23 and 26 with total-yardage results of 119 and 150 against the Dolphins and Chargers. Assuming he’s truly back to full health, Conner sets up as an RB2 play with RB1 upside as the focal point of Pittsburgh’s run-first attack.

Update: JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) pulled up lame in Thursday’s practice with a setback and was ruled out on Friday, locking in Diontae Johnson and James Washington as Pittsburgh’s two-receiver set with Deon Cain third in line for playing time.

Hodges’ 2019 target distribution: Diontae Johnson 19; James Washington 13; Smith-Schuster, Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Vance McDonald 7; Snell 2; White 1. … Although none of Pittsburgh’s receivers qualify as confident Week 15 plays on a low-volume passing team facing one of the league’s top pass defenses, I’d take my chances with Johnson if forced to pick. Johnson leads the Steelers in targets, catches (9), and Air Yards (139) in Hodges’ three starts. Johnson is also popping in this week’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Washington’s production has been most dependent upon Smith-Schuster’s availability, while Johnson has the lowest average depth of target (9.3) of the trio, meaning he’s running the highest-percentage routes. … Usual blocker Nick Vannett will take over as Pittsburgh’s primary tight end in place of McDonald (concussion). The Bills have allowed the NFL’s third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.

Score Prediction: Bills 17, Steelers 16

 

Colts at Saints
Team Totals: Saints 27.5, Colts 18.5

Severely shorthanded in their pass-catcher corps even despite T.Y. Hilton’s (calf) potential return, the Colts figure to attack a similarly undermanned Saints defensive front on the ground as part of Frank Reich’s 2019 run-first philosophy. Only four teams have run the ball at a higher frequency than Indy this year, and New Orleans was severely weakened this week when DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles’) and DE Marcus Davenport (foot) went on I.R. Marlon Mack remains a high-risk RB2 play as a big road underdog who was eased in off injury with just 13 touches on 41% of last week’s snaps against the Bucs, but there is reason to believe Mack will be the focus of Reich’s Monday night game plan, especially in an effort to keep the Saints’ high-flying offense off the field. … Jacoby Brissett may still be forced into an indoor track meet if the Colts can’t control this game up front, which is an aggressive ask anyway at the Superdome. The Saints have supported high quarterback floors by permitting top-15 fantasy results in 10-of-13 games, while four straight signal callers to face New Orleans have banked top-12 finishes. If Hilton does play, Brissett will become a legit candidate to outscore Drew Brees on one-game DFS slates.

With just 18 yards since Week 8 and several ensuing calf-injury setbacks, Hilton will be a high-volatility WR3 option if greenlighted against the Saints. Hilton would also attract Marshon Lattimore’s shadow coverage; since Week 4, Lattimore has yielded just 19 completions on 38 targets (50%) for 201 yards (5.29 YPA) and one touchdown. … Hilton’s return would likely push Zach Pascal into the slot with Marcus Johnson on the opposite side. Interior WRs Tyler Lockett (11/154/1), Chris Godwin (7/125/2, 3/47/1), Cooper Kupp (5/120/0), Christian Kirk (8/79/0), Anthony Miller (5/64/0), Russell Gage (5/52/1), Kenny Stills (3/37/1), and Kendrick Bourne (3/18/2 have given New Orleans fits, keeping Pascal in the WR3 conversation. Pascal has been terrific when lined up inside, catching 14-of-19 slot targets (74%) for 242 yards (12.7 YPT) and three TDs. … Johnson’s volume would come into too much question for season-long reliance if Hilton is active, but Johnson would remain very playable on one-game DFS slates based on his big-play potential. Over the past two seasons, 12 of Johnson’s 18 catches (67%) have gained 10-plus yards. … Jack Doyle flopped in last week’s loss to the Bucs because he dropped a pass and was the recipient of several un-catchable throws from Brissett. He still saw six targets, ran 32 routes, played 78% of the Colts’ snaps, and belongs in the TE1 conversation against a Saints defense that was touched up consecutively by Cameron Brate (10/73/0), George Kittle (6/67/1), Greg Olsen (5/44/0), Jaeden Graham (4/41/1), and Austin Hooper (4/17/1) over its last five games.

His home-road splits back in full effect this season, Drew Brees enters Monday night with a 13:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 8.1 yards-per-attempt average in the Superdome versus 4:1 with 6.4 YPA in away games. It’s been very historically profitable to bet on Brees as matchup proof at home, and that especially looks like the right decision following last Sunday’s laser-show overall QB1 finish versus San Francisco. Bend but don’t break for most of the season, the Colts have begun springing major leaks defensively, allowing top-12 fantasy scores to three of their last four quarterbacks faced, including Jameis Winston’s overall QB2 effort in Week 14. … Indianapolis has increasingly played pass-funnel defense, holding enemy backs to 121/467/1 (3.86 YPA) rushing over its last six games. They Colts are still allowing the NFL’s fifth-most running back catches per game (6.1), ideally foreshadowing a voluminous receiving effort from Alvin Kamara. Like Saquon Barkley, Kamara’s midseason high ankle sprain is likely mainly to blame for his slow 2019 season, but he’s still topped 75% playing-time clips in consecutive games and is averaging 17.4 touches since returning from the injury in Week 10. Kamara remains a volume-based RB1 play in a plus draw for any pass-catching back. … Latavius Murray’s touch counts since Kamara’s Week 10 return are 7 > 12 > 7 > 4 > 9, enough for one-game DFS-slate consideration but not season-long flex-play use.

Brees’ 2019 target distribution: Michael Thomas 83; Kamara 51; Jared Cook 32; Ted Ginn 29; Murray 23; Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill 14; Taysom Hill 11. … The zone-heavy Colts play the exact style of defense Thomas shreds as a classic zone-beating receiver in the short and intermediate areas. With double-digit targets in 10-of-13 games and 100-plus yards in six of his last seven, Thomas is Week 15’s No. 1 overall WR1 play. … Cook has 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven straight games and will be a surefire TE1 if greenlighted following his Week 14 concussion. If not, Hill will draw the start after managing receiving lines of 3/43/1 and 3/39/0 against Chicago and Arizona filling in for Cook in Weeks 7-8. That would make Hill a sleeper on one-game DFS slates; the Colts allow the NFL’s sixth-most tight end catches per game (5.4). … Ginn hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 1, while Smith hasn’t gotten to 50 all year. They’re both touchdown-dependent dart throws whose stock is limited to one-game DFS tournaments.

Update: Jared Cook (concussion) practiced in full on Friday, suggesting he is likely to gain full clearance ahead of Monday night’s game.

Score Prediction: Saints 30, Colts 20