We are heading down the stretch run of the 2015 NFL regular season, with just three more weeks to cash in on the full-scale daily fantasy fun. Injuries are really cropping up at a fast rate these days, and that provides us with some potential value opportunities, especially at the running back position. Let’s take a peek at some quarterback and running back options for Week 15.
*Note – FanDuel prices in parentheses
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Five to target
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($9,400)
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ($8,800)
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($9,000)
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($7,800)
5. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills ($7,500)
Nothing much probably needs to be said about Cam Newton at this point, but he is powering his way toward fantasy MVP status for 2015. Of course, those of us playing daily games don’t really care about season-long MVP status. So what about this week? Cam draws a matchup against a team that is allowing more than 20 passing yards per game than any other team in the NFL. Enough said.
Marshawn Lynch is still out. Thomas Rawls will miss the rest of the season. DuJuan Harris was cut on Wednesday. Who will run the ball for the Seahawks? Some combination of Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson will get the carries, but the offense will likely rest on the arm (and legs) of Wilson. He is a very capable runner and the Seahawks should use his skill set to dismantle the Browns Defense. He is a fine high-end option at quarterback in this game.
Obviously, Newton and Wilson are the “safe” top picks at the quarterback position. However, if you are looking for a differentiation play for your tournament rosters, give Aaron Rodgers a look. The Green Bay offense has gotten back on track a little bit over the past two games, though Rodgers has not put up a massive performance in that time. In fact, he has not topped 300 passing yards in any of his last four games. Expect the Packers to test their passing game a little bit more this week against the beatable pass defense of the Raiders. This could be the spot to get Rodgers and his upside at both a cheap price and a low ownership level.
The Lions draw the fantasy-friendly defense of the Saints this week, which should mean good things for Matthew Stafford — especially since the Lions have almost no semblance of a running game. This is also a primetime Monday night contest, and the game has the highest projected total of the week at 51 points on the NFL odds board. A shootout is to be expected, and Stafford should be good for a 300+ yard game against the Saints. They managed to contain Jameis Winston last week, but don’t expect lightning to strike twice. Stafford is a fine option with upside that doesn’t carry a massive price tag.
The appeal for Tyrod Taylor always resides in his dual-threat ability. He is capable of adding 30-40 yards on the ground, and he is a fine daily fantasy target in the right matchups. This qualifies as a good one against the beatable Redskins Defense, and Taylor’s price is still very affordable at $7,500 on FanDuel. Give him a look as a value play this week.
Two to avoid
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($9,500)
2. Eli Manning, New York Giants ($7,200)
This drill has been seen before. Tom Brady is just a little too expensive to target right now. His weapons are still a little banged up, and he remains the most expensive quarterback on the board. I would much rather take a Cam Newton or Russell Wilson, especially since the Patriots are likely to control the game at home against Tennessee. I don’t envision a pass-happy approach, and this will hurt Brady’s upside compared to some of the other options.
Eli Manning is oftentimes capable of a surprising performance when you least expect it, but it’s hard to envision that happening against a Carolina defense that has perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL in Josh Norman. The task for Norman will be to slow down Odell Beckham Jr., and that’s the only reliable weapon that Eli Manning has at his disposal. Look elsewhere in Week 15.
Five to target
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings ($8,600)
2. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins ($6,700)
3. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals ($6,500)
4. Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,300)
5. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs ($5,900)
Minnesota will look to establish the run in this game against the 26th-ranked rush defense of the Chicago Bears, and that means plenty of work for Adrian Peterson. He logged 20 carries for 103 yards in the first meeting between these two teams, and now Minnesota gets them at home. If they can establish a lead in this game, don’t be surprised to see Peterson inch closer to 25 or 30 carries in this game. He is very clearly the top running back on the board for Week 15.
Any concerns over Lamar Miller losing out on carries to Jay Ajayi have been quelled in recent weeks, and Miller has been fantastic over the past few games. He ran for two touchdowns on Monday against the Giants, and he draws another great matchup here against a poor San Diego rush defense. It looks like Miller was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a minor injury, but there are not yet any indications that his status is in jeopardy for this game. Keep an eye on the news and plug him in as a solid mid-range running back as long as he is not limited in any capacity come Sunday.
The new #1 running back for the Cardinals, David Johnson has topped 120 yards from scrimmage in each of his two starts, and he should maintain a healthy workload here in a favorable matchup against the Eagles. He did suffer a thigh bruise in the last game against Minnesota, but he had ten days of rest because that was a Thursday game. The Cardinals have said that Johnson is fine, and there is no reason to be concerned about his status for this one. His price remains affordable, and the matchup is prime against an Eagles rush defense that ranks 28th in the NFL allowing 127 rushing yards per game.
The appeal of Denard Robinson obviously hinges on the health of T.J. Yeldon, but Robinson is an intriguing play this week if Yeldon happens to sit. As of the time this is being written, it looks like Yeldon will be listed on the doubtful side for this game. Robinson is not the most talented back, but he is a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield, carries a cheap price tag, and has a decent matchup with the Falcons. He is worth a look as a value play.
Another injury to keep an eye on resides in Kansas City, where Spencer Ware is uncertain for Sunday’s game against Baltimore with a rib injury. If he sits out, it is impossible to ignore the talented Charcandrick West at a tasty price point of just $5,900 on FanDuel. The Chiefs are solid road favorites against a bad Baltimore squad, and West would be staring at 18-20 carries if he has the backfield to himself. The Ravens are still decent against the run, but the combination of price and opportunity would be too much to pass up.
Two to avoid
1. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons ($8,400)
2. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers ($6,900)
Devonta Freeman has not done anything of late to warrant the excessive $8,400 price tag, and Atlanta is falling apart as a team. They were blown out by the Panthers last week, and now they face a Jacksonville team that carries one of the best rush defenses in the NFL. There’s no reason to target Freeman at this price point, as Adrian Peterson has a much more attractive matchup and costs just $200 more on FanDuel.
Eddie Lacy emerged from the doghouse and put up a solid performance against Dallas a week ago, carrying the ball 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. However, game flow was in Green Bay’s favor for much of the game, and I expect them to go to the air more often in this contest against the Raiders. James Starks is still around, too, as Starks logged 15 total touches in last week’s game. This is still somewhat of a committee, and the masses will flock to Lacy after the big game. Lacy is a fade for me in this spot.