15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 15
Most of us only have two more weeks of fantasy football, and some, well, some of us played Peyton Manning and Jimmy Graham in the first round of the playoffs and will be watching our leaguemates battle it out for first place.
If you're still alive, let's get things going by looking at a player no one wants to trust in the playoffs, but has a cakewalk of a matchup.
Add Eli Manning
No. In the fantasy playoffs? No. Not Eli Manning. Anyone but Eli Manning.
Facts are facts, people: Eli gets the best matchup imaginable in Week 15. The Redskins have the 32nd-ranked pass defense according to our schedule adjusted Net Expected Points metric, and have surrendered a passing touchdown in each game this season. Oh, and remember what Eli did against them earlier this season? No big deal -- he just threw four touchdown passes, ran for another one and was the top-ranked quarterback that week in fantasy.
The ceiling is incredible - Washington's allowed five weekly top-five quarterbacks this season - while the floor is just as good. Eli's a good play this week and should be added off the wire.
Add Marquess Wilson
My favorite waiver wire add this week is Marquess Wilson, who's going to step in for Brandon Marshall in the Chicago Bears' offense. Why love him? Well, Marc Trestman tends to keep the same personnel on the field throughout a game - think the opposite of the Saints - which means Wilson should see a good number of snaps. Given Marshall's 106 targets in an injury-filled season, that's good news.
The Bears also get the Saints and their 31st-ranked secondary in Week 15, which makes Wilson a great play in a lot of leagues. If you're hurting at wide receiver, I'd make him my top waiver wire priority.
Add Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson now has 30 targets over the Vikings' last four games, ranking weekly as the 22nd-, 22nd-, 64th- and 16th-best wide receiver in PPR leagues. He's become Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target, and has the physical profile to be a solid wide receiver in the league -- it's not really a fluke.
The issue with Johnson is the final two games for Minnesota are against Detroit and Miami, two of the better - albeit not playing as well as they were earlier this year - pass defenses in the league. He's certainly worth an add if he's out there, but temper expectations.
Drop Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill's had a fairly good season, but it's generally been a roller coaster. After ranking fourth, third, eighth and third in weekly scoring across a six-week stretch, Tanny's posted QB20 and QB26 games over the last two weeks in incredibly favorable matchups. Given his games against New England (best against the pass) and Minnesota (17th) over his next two games, you can safely drop him and get rid of the headache.
Add Marqise Lee
Lee's been a pretty good wide receiver play in PPR leagues over the last two weeks, securing 16 Blake Bortles targets for over 30 PPR fantasy points. Fellow rookie wideout Allen Robinson ended his season three weeks ago, so this spike in production somewhat coincides with Robinson's unfortunate injury.
I'd officially trust Lee over other Jacksonville wide receivers, and he gets juicy matchups against Baltimore, who's struggled against the pass since cornerback Jimmy Smith's season ended, and Tennessee, who's been torched of late through the air.
Add Jarvis Landry
Landry's been a regular within this column, but his ownership percentage is still far too low, so I'm forced to mention him again. He's seen a total of 49 targets over his last six games, ranking no worse than WR35 in PPR leagues during this stretch. The issue with Landry is that he generally catches passes close to the line of scrimmage, so his big-play ability is a bit limited. However, in PPR formats, you've got a crazy-good floor from a guy who's still sitting on a lot of waiver wires.
He does get New England and Minnesota to close out the fantasy football season, so hitting any sort of ceiling could be tough -- New England has the best pass defense per our metrics, while Minnesota has the 17th-ranked one. Nonetheless, he's worth an add.
Add Kerwynn Williams
Where did that come from?
Kerwynn Williams tallied the most touches by far in the Cardinals' Andre Ellington-less backfield this past weekend, and finished with 100 rushing yards as a result. With Ellington now officially done for the year, Williams could be the guy the Cardinals lean on as they move towards the playoffs.
There are a handful of problems if you end up playing Williams though. First, the team's schedule is completely brutal over the next two weeks, as the Cards face the Rams and the Seahawks, two of the better rush defenses in the league. Second, Arizona's been brutal running the football this year -- Ellington has the worst Rushing NEP of any running back in the league, while the Cardinals, as a team, rank 25th in efficiency. And finally, we're not certain that Williams will continue to carry the load. I'd certainly expect him to have the best chance to, but the backfield is a giant mess full of mediocre running back talent.
I'd snag Williams off the wire, but mostly as insurance. I can't imagine really starting him in the fantasy football playoffs.
Drop Colin Kaepernick
I featured Kaepernick in this very column a couple of weeks ago, so I hope you listened and didn't have the urge to play him against Oakland last week. Because it was bad.
Kap hasn't ranked better than 15th at the quarterback position in a given week since Week 6, never hitting the 15-point mark during this time. Over these seven games, he's faced the Saints, Giants, Redskins and Raiders, all plus matchups. There's no reason he should be rostered.
Add Johnny Manziel
Evidently Mike Pettine is finally going to give Johnny Manziel the start, which means there could be a legitimate fantasy starter sitting on your waiver wire.
Whether Manziel is a good passer or not is the biggest question, but what I do know is that he can pick up points on the ground. As we know from this classic article on numberFire a year and a half ago, that's sometimes all you need to be a start-worthy quarterback in fake football.
The Bengals are an admittedly tough matchup for Manziel -- before Ben Roethlisberger in Week 13, Cincinnati hadn't allowed a top-10 quarterback performance in fantasy since Week 7. I'd still stream Manziel though, because he could end up with 60 or so rushing yards.
Drop Frank Gore
If you plan on watching the show Dexter, there's a spoiler alert coming. Just a fair warning -- I don't want people complaining in the comments section about what I'm about to say.
Dropping Frank Gore is going to feel like dumping Deb into the ocean during the massive Miami hurricane that should have killed Dexter. (No one liked the lumberjack ending. No one.) You love him, you've been around him for so long, and he's generally been good to you. But it's time to let go.
Gore has scored more than 10 PPR points just twice since Week 6, and has about 12 fantasy points over his last three games combined. The 49ers upcoming schedule shouldn't even matter given this fact alone, but they get Seattle this week and San Diego in Week 16. While the Chargers aren't a terrible matchup, there's no way I'd trust Frank Gore with the championship on the line.
Add Latavius Murray
So much for Latavius Murray slowly returning to action. He ended up out-attempting every Raiders running back by at least 12 rushes against the 49ers, and finished Week 14 as the 20th-best running back in PPR leagues. Not bad.
This week, he'll face a Chiefs defense that allowed him to rank in the weekly top five at running back on just four touches. Kansas City ranks 24th against the run according to our metrics, so he shouldn't have a lot of trouble producing again.
Murray's available in about 70% of ESPN.com leagues. That should be closer to 10%.
Add Donte Moncrief
In Week 14, Moncrief saw 4 targets for the third straight game, catching 3 passes for 33 yards. We can't ignore his big-play ability though, something he showed off against Washington the week prior. He also played 32 more snaps than Hakeem Nicks against Cleveland, making it known that he has indeed won the number-three wide receiving job in the high-powered Colts offense. If you need a boom or bust play in the playoffs, he's a good add.
Drop Arizona Cardinal Receivers
The last time an Arizona Cardinals' receiver finished as a top-10 one in fantasy football? Week 8. Probably just as bad is the fact that the Cardinals' wideout that ends up putting up numbers isn't predictable -- Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown have just three top-20 performances this year, while Michael Floyd has only two. Two of the team's wide receivers have finished in the top 20 during the same week just twice this season as well. With Drew Stanton under center, this offense isn't a reliable one.
Add Alex Smith
Playing Alex Smith in fantasy football is like driving your car with a helmet on.
But Smith will get a Raiders defense that he posted 17.9 fantasy points against a few weeks back, finishing the week as a QB1 (top-12 quarterback). It was the third-best game of his season, and with the contest at home this week, he should be able to come close to that total.
As I like to tell all owners who use Smith -- don't watch the game. Just watch the box score. You'll want to punch a wall if you watch Alex Smith, your fantasy quarterback, throw the ball.
Add the Panthers' Defense
I'm not entirely sure where that Panthers defense has been all year, but it was good to see it return in Week 14 against the Saints. Week 15 presents a great matchup for the Panthers, as they play at home against a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. Six of the Buccaneers last seven opponents have finished as top-15 fantasy defenses, while four of those ranked in the top seven. Though the Panthers have been porous this year, I'd expect them to force a few Josh McCown turnovers.