Fantasy Football Report: Week 15

Gourav Pany, Staff Writer

No one needs to be told to start Jonathan Taylor on their fantasy team. But what about the flex tight-end/wide-receiver position? What about that one running back on waivers that might be able to fill in a spot for a starting running back on a bye week? Now that the fantasy playoffs are here, it is imperative to start the right players and sit the ones who might be the factor to a loss in the knockout rounds.


QB: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Now that the playoffs are here, some might think benching Kyler Murray is a good option considering his bad performance against the Rams that really wasn’t all that bad at a closer look. Benching Murray is tempting, especially after the floor he showed last week against the Rams that resulted in two interceptions, which factors into a loss on the Cardinals’ behalf. However, Murray faces a lowly Lions defense that gave up 38 points to a struggling Denver offense last week. Murray will possibly be without WR DeAndre Hopkins, who looked injured in the final plays against the Rams, but he will benefit from the emergence WR AJ Green and RB James Conner, who look like bargain free agent signings even though they were much criticized early in the season. When it comes to beating low-end opponents, the Cardinals reign supreme, as they have a stout defense that creates turnovers and an offense that has a mobile quarterback who can tear apart defenses as a matchup nightmare. This should be a must-start week for any Kyler Murray owners.

Projection: 23.96 points (non-PPR)

RB: David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery had a so-so day against the Green Bay Packers, with 10 total rushes and six receptions for 39 yards in a negative game script. The Chicago Bears were trailing for most of the second half, which led to less rushing involvement for Montgomery, who was surprisingly sparingly used in the first half, when the Bears should have been content running the clock down. Now, Montgomery faces a Vikings defense that manages to play up to or down to the level of the offense it faces, which will be good for Montgomery, who is the feature back on an offense devoid of even a decent game plan. Last week, RB Najee Harris exploded in the second half in the Steelers’ furious comeback, so this game for Montgomery looks like a bounce back game that might lead to a playoff win when it’s all said and done for a fantasy team.

Projection: 12.30 points (non-PPR)

WR: Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Michael Gallup might be a risky play considering the crowded receiving corps he plays with (including WR Amari Cooper, WR CeeDee Lamb and TE Dalton Schultz), QB Dak Prescott’s current play and RB Tony Pollard’s return from injury. However, the Cowboys face off against the New York Giants, who have a stout defense that is prone to getting diced up against a strong passing attack. Last week, QB Justin Herbert of the Chargers had his way against the Giants, with 275 passing yards and three touchdown passes on just 21 completions. Gallup has had a resurgence over the past couple of weeks, and would have even posted WR1 numbers for the third straight week if it weren’t for a pass interference penalty on the defense that avoided a possible 47 yard completion. This week is a get right game for a Cowboys team that is determined to prove itself after a 4th quarter near-collapse, and Gallup should factor heavily into that game-plan as the primary perimeter playmaker for the Cowboys offense.

Projection: 11.50 points (non-PPR)

TE: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle is an absolute monster, and any doubt about the position he plays should be erased following his gigantic performance against the Bengals in which he had 151 yards on a whopping thirteen receptions. He was virtually unrecoverable last week, as QB Jimmy Garoppolo posted a 130.83 passer rating when throwing to him, which was one of the best combinations in the league last week. With the return of WR Deebo Damuel, Kittle will not receive as much attention as he did in past weeks, which will lead to more fantasy production, which is a scary proposition for one of the best players in the game. Kittle will draw a matchup against a Falcons defense that just doesn’t have the talent to keep up with the number of weapons on the 49ers offense.

Projection: 14.40 points (non-PPR)

K: Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs

At first, Butker was a scary play at the kicker position because of the limited field goal opportunities he got as a result of the high-flying Chiefs offense that ranked bottom-half in the league in terms of field goal attempts last year. During the middle of the season, the worry was that the Chiefs offense had lost its shine and that they couldn’t even get to the opponent’s territory, which was also not ideal for Butker fantasy owners. However, the Chiefs have now hit a middle ground in which they are effective enough to get into field goal range but not good enough to score touchdowns in those opportunities, which is the perfect situation for Butker, who is one of the best kickers in the league when given the chance to attempt a field goal. Butker will go up against an average Chargers defense that will stuff the Chiefs in the red zone and lead to many more field goal attempts for Butker.

Projection: 11.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars defense this year has been virtually unstartable, and their loss against the Titans didn’t do anything to boost confidence in their defense. However, the Jaguars face the Texans in the battle of the two worst teams in the NFL, which will greatly benefit a Jacksonville defense that is talented enough to take advantage of the shortcomings on Houston’s offense. Even though HC Urban Meyer was fired on Dec. 15, teams with interim coaches tend to show more fight than they otherwise would. This looks like a prime spot to play the Jacksonville defense, especially because of the lack of quality defenses playing against bad teams this week, with the Arizona Cardinals defense being the only exception (bonus suggestion).

Projection: 9.00 points (non-PPR)


QB: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

Carson Wentz has played a little better than average this season for the Colts, as he has thrown 22 touchdown passes to only five interceptions. However, Wentz faces the best defense in football in his Week 15 matchup against the Patriots, who are the best scoring defense in the league these past five weeks, with an average of ten points given up in that span. Wentz will be playing against a rested Patriots secondary that features CB JC Jackson and returns SS Kyle Dugger and SS Adrian Phillips, who will look to lock down a passing game heavily reliant on WR Michael Pittman and TE Jack Doyle. The Patriots will give up some plays in the passing game in their effort to stop RB Jonathan Taylor, who is the best running back in the league fantasy wise. However, the few opportunities that Wentz gets will not be enough against a Patriots defense that is one of the best in the red zone and avoids big plays, which are a recipe for disaster for fantasy quarterbacks.

Projection: 12.68 points (non-PPR)

RB: Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fournette has been a top five fantasy running back for the past four weeks, but he faces a New Orleans Saints defense that ranks in the top five of the NFL in terms of rushing defense. The Saints possess a big defensive line that features DE Cameron Jordan, DE Marcus Davenport, DT Shy Tuttle and DT David Onyemata, who are all worthy of Pro Bowl honors with the way they have shut down opposing running backs. Fournette will also be negatively impacted by the pass-first scheme that the Buccaneers run, which they will heavily lean on due to the soft Saints secondary that they face, which can struggle at times against good receiving corps with lots of depth. With an increasing timeshare with RB Ronald Jones, Fournette should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.

Projection: 7.40 points (non-PPR)

WR: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

Metcalf was a strong fantasy option coming into the season and did have a good stretch in the middle of the season when QB Geno Smith was filling in for QB Russell Wilson. However, Metcalf’s fantasy outlook has plummeted with the return of Wilson, who has been content handing the ball off, checking down to tight ends and throwing deep bombs to WR Tyler Lockett. Metcalf will draw a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, who will presumably be getting CB Jalen Ramsey back to pair along with standout CB Darius Williams. Metcalf has had limited opportunities to prove his worth in a relatively bland Seattle offense, and nothing projects to change against one of the best pass defenses this year.

Projection: 5.90 points (non-PPR)

TE: Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

Schultz was a consistent tight end option early in the season, but with the return of WR Michael Gallup from injured reserve, his targets have plummeted and his production has dipped as a result. The Cowboys will face the New York Giants, against whom they project to score quickly and efficiently, which reduces the amount of opportunities that Schultz gets in this relatively unexciting matchup. Schultz should only be played this week if there is no other option available, and even then he is a risky TE2 play.

Projection: 2.50 points (non-PPR)

K: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Tucker is an absolute weapon on the field in real life, and can create some amazing fantasy output when put in the right scenario. However, the Ravens face the Packers this week, who have a top five defense and will look to take advantage of QB Tyler Huntley’s limitations, who is filling in for injured QB Lamar Jackson. The Ravens are simply not potent enough offensively to thrive without the help of a superstar like Jackson, and Tucker will be negatively affected by their inability to move the football on a stingy defense that features a breakout star in DE Rashan Gary.

Projection: 4.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs defense this season has been on fire ever since their win against the Packers, who were without QB Aaron Rodgers. The Chiefs continued their run of dominance against the Raiders (twice), Broncos and Cowboys. However, they face a Chargers offense that has a superstar quarterback in QB Justin Herbert, who is on fire after being almost automatic with his wide receivers, which include WR Keenan Allen and WR Mike Williams. The Chiefs do have talent on their defense, but with the projected loss of DT Chris Jones to the COVID-19 list, they simply don’t have a game changer that can wreak havoc in the well-oiled machine that is the Chargers offense. Though there is a possibility that the Chargers drop off after starting hot like they have most games, the Chiefs have a greater possibility of letting too many yards and too many big plays to an offense that creates more big plays in the passing game than maybe any team in the NFL.

Projection: 1.00 points (non-PPR)