Fantasy Football FAB Report: Week 15
The fantasy playoffs are in motion! To those of you reading this, congrats on making it to the semi-finals in an unprecedentedly chaotic season -- you've earned this. To those of you not reading this because you were already eliminated, well...you're not reading this, so I don't have to offer any words of sympathy.
Free agent budget waivers (FAB) are, without a doubt, the way to go. While some leagues are still sticking to the ancient ways of rolling list waivers (yuck) or waiver priority determined by the reverse order of standings (barf), many of the savvy ones are moving over to budgets. It makes sense -- why not give every manager an equal shot at every player? Do you really want to reward people for sucking at fantasy? Okay...rant over.
Anyhoo, playoff waivers are a whole different animal. The time to be stingy should be a dot in your rearview mirror. You don't get any brownie points for finishing your season with leftover budget. No moral victories. No pat on the back. Only the sad, pitting feeling of "I could've done more" -- do yourself a favor and avoid that feeling. Remember in 2016, when Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided to preserve closer Zach Britton for Game 6 of a five-game series? As it turns out, a five-game series only has...five games (I know, I was shocked too). Do you want to have a fresh closer for a non-existent Game 6? Or do you want to pony up and advance to the next round?
In short, if there's a player out there on waivers that can help you win this week, don't be afraid to wipe the cobwebs off that wallet and spend generously. Sure, strategy is still key -- if you're in a position to save so that you'll have some left for the next round, do it. But don't do it at the expense of getting a W this week.
This Tuesday evening, I -- along with most managers in leagues with FAB waivers -- will spend countless hours trying to figure out how much to offer for the week's top available players -- which so happens to be exactly what this piece will cover.
Let's get to this week's top players and how much of my remaining budget I'd be willing to offer to acquire them.
(The suggested offers are for 12-team, half-PPR leagues.)
Seeing as though most leagues will only have four teams left standing, take a look and see if any of the other teams need a quarterback. If they do, spend away. If they don't, save some FAB for other positions.
When I refer to quarterbacks points, I'm utilizing Yahoo scoring.
Jalen Hurts (17% rostered) - I'll be the first to admit, I was wrong about Hurts' Week 14 prospects -- not just once, but twice. Going up against the New Orleans Saints, a team that bolstered one of the league's most elite defenses over the last couple of months, Hurts totaled 21.3 fantasy points -- the highest total the Saints had ceded since Week 5. Hurts ran for an impressive 106 yards against a team that had surrendered just 75 yards on the ground to quarterbacks. In Week 15, the rookie will get to face an Arizona Cardinals squad that has given up more than 20 fantasy points to a passer in five of their last seven games, and at least 18.5 nine times this season. Hurts is -- by far -- the week's top streamer.
Suggested offer: 75% of your remaining budget. 90-100% if QB is your biggest/only weakness.
Derek Carr (47% rostered) - Starting Carr in Week 15 is a litmus test for how big your cojones really are. Carr's upside is undeniable -- he's recorded more than 20 fantasy points seven times this season, including 32.7 and 25.8 in his last two. However, Carr also comes with an extremely low floor, as evidenced by his 1.6-point output against the Atlanta Falcons, the most generous defense for fantasy purposes. In Week 15, Carr will face off against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that has ceded the eighth-most fantasy points to signal-callers. Los Angeles has allowed more than 20 fantasy points to a passer five times this season, though just one has topped that number since Week 8. Carr himself managed just 14 points when these teams met in Week 9.
Suggested offer: 30-40%
Philip Rivers (41% rostered) - Rivers has been as anti-Carr as it gets over the last few weeks. While he hasn't surpassed 22.4 fantasy points in his last five games, he also hasn't scored fewer than 16.3 during that stretch. On the season, Rivers has only had one game where he's managed more than 22.3 -- his upside is clearly limited. This week, the veteran will be going up against a Houston Texans defense that has yielded more than 19 fantasy points to signal-callers in seven of their last eight non-hurricane games. Rivers got to them for 19.2 points just two weeks ago, and they followed that up by ceding 25 to Mitchell Trubisky of all people.
Suggested offer: 30-40%
If you are somehow desperate for a running back in Week 15, your luck might be about to run out -- there's next to nothing out there. Let's take a look at a couple of options you can plug into your lineups without gagging in the process.
Lynn Bowden Jr. (1% rostered) - Here are Bowden's snaps over the last three weeks, let me know if you can spot the trend: 22, 31, 59. Those 59 snaps in Week 14 were the most by any skill-position player on the Miami Dolphins. It's not just his snaps that have trended up -- here are his opportunities over the last three weeks: 1, 5, 10. Nine of Bowden's 10 opportunities on Sunday came via targets, so he's essentially a receiver with running back eligibility. Given the dearth of viable running back options available on waivers, Bowden is probably the best plug-and-play option for those in need.
Suggested offer: 75-90%
Jeff Wilson (19% rostered) - Despite the presence of other backs in that backfield, Wilson continues to get volume -- he's totaled 12, 12, and 14 opportunities in his last three contests. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15, and of the 17 backs to garner more than 10 opportunities against Dallas this season, 10 have posted 8.9 half-PPR points or more, including 8 backs with more than 13. The Cowboys have also yielded 13 rushing scores to backs this season, and Wilson's four carries inside the five over his last three games is tied for eighth-most in the league during that stretch.
Suggested offer: 40-60%
Unlike quarterback and running back, there are a number of receivers available in a majority of leagues who should make for good plays in Week 15 -- don't be afraid to splurge in order to ensure you get one of the top available options.
Tim Patrick (28% rostered) - Jerry Jeudy is rostered in 65% of leagues and has totaled double-digit half-PPR points twice all season. Meanwhile, Patrick is on just 28% of rosters, and he's posted 10.9 or more in seven of his last nine non-Kendall Hinton games. It's pretty clear that Patrick is the player who should be rostered in a majority of leagues. The Denver Broncos are matching up with the Buffalo Bills this week, and although the Bills have ceded the 11th-fewest fantasy points to wideouts, they have allowed 10.4 or more to a receiver eight times over their last five outings. Patrick is a rock-solid WR3 for this one.
Suggested offer: 70-90%
Nelson Agholor (36% rostered) - If you don't land Patrick, you can make a play for another high-upside wideout in Agholor. The 27-year-old has amassed 12.4 or more half-PPR points in 6 of his last 10 contests, though he's had fewer than 8 in the other four. The matchup with the Chargers isn't great, as they've been the seventh-stingiest team against opposing wideouts. That said, the fact that Agoholor has garnered at least six looks in four straight is quite encouraging and makes him worth streaming in Week 15.
Suggested offer: 60-80%
Keke Coutee (45% rostered) - Coutee made the most of his mere three targets on Sunday, turning them into 24 yards and a tuddy. That was in a game where he was playing through an injury and was the focal point of the offense against one of the league's better defenses with Brandin Cooks out. With Cooks expected to return this week, Coutee should be able to feast against a defense he torched for 141 yards just two weeks ago.
Suggested offer: 60-80%
Other options: Tyron Johnson (0% rostered) could make for an excellent fill-in if Mike Williams (back) can't go on Thursday night. In Williams' absence, Johnson saw a 74% snap share on Sunday, garnered 7 targets, and turned those looks into 55 yards and a score. On TNF, Johnson will go up against a Las Vegas Raiders secondary that's surrendered the 12th-most fantasy points to wideouts. He's worth an offer of 50-75% if Williams looks like he'll miss the game. ... Russell Gage (11% rostered) is worth an offer if Julio Jones looks like he'll miss another game. Excluding his passing touchdown, Gage managed 10.4 half-PPR points on Sunday -- this after scoring 13.1 in Week 13. Prior to those two outings, Gage had gone nine straight without reaching double-digits, so tread carefully. I wouldn't offer more than 30% of your remaining budget unless you're extremely desperate. ... Gabriel Davis (7% rostered) has scored in three straight, but what's even more encouraging is that he saw eight targets against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. He's worth a flyer as long as John Brown remains out. An offer of 30-40% of your remaining budget should do it.
As usual, the tight end position isn't loaded with options that aren't already rostered. There are, however, two players worth making an offer for.
Irv Smith Jr. (6% rostered) - In Kyle Rudolph's absence, Smith saw 28 snaps as the team's primary receiver at tight end, and he managed 64 yards and a score on 4 targets. If Rudolph were forced to miss another game, Smith would be back on the streaming radar. He'll be going up against a Chicago Bears defense that's conceded the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. The nine touchdowns Chicago has given up to tight ends are tied for third-most in the league.
Suggested offer: 35-45%
Cole Kmet (6% rostered) - Kmet has seen a snap share of at least 78% in three straight games, and he's garnered seven targets in each of his last two. The matchup against the Minnesota Vikings is basically neutral, but his peripherals make him a solid streamer.
Suggested offer: 25-35%