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Starts and Fades: Week 15

Wow. That’s about the only way to describe all the upsets last week. The Miami Miracle took down the Patriots, the Raiders beat the visiting Steelers, and the Bears defense absolutely stuffed the Rams elite offense. The Saints and Chiefs almost joined this list as the Saints sleepwalked through three quarters before finally rumbling to life and the Chiefs needed overtime to put away the visiting Ravens. This was also among the lowest scoring weeks on the year as only one team reached 40 points (you’re lying if you thought that one team would have been the Giants going into this week though).

Overall, that was a wacky week. Of course, with a wacky week of real football, wacky things tend to happen in fantasy as well. Did you start the right players? Or were you bamboozled like Gronk trying to tackle Kenyan Drake? If you fall in the latter category, that’s where we come in, especially as we enter the fantasy playoffs. Before we get to this week’s picks though, let’s look at how we did last week.

Last Week’s Starts: Josh Allen, Chris Godwin

Josh Allen continued chugging along exactly like he has the last few weeks. His passing numbers don’t look great as he only threw for 206 yards and no touchdowns while throwing 2 interceptions and losing a fumble. However, he once again hit the century mark on the ground and added a touchdown as well, leaving him as the QB8 for the week. Godwin wasn’t so successful, though it wasn’t from a lack of effort on Jameis Winston’s part getting Godwin the ball. Godwin lead the Bucs with 10 targets, but only managed to snag 1 catch for 13 yards, easily his worst output of the season.

Last Week’s Fades: Tyreek Hill, Chris Carson

Hill benefited from Sammy Watkins’s absence in a close game. Hill’s 8/139/0 effort wasn’t the best he’d done this year, but it was better than we thought he would do against a stout Baltimore defense. Carson, and really the entire Seattle running game, proved immune to Minnesota’s tough run defense. Carson logged 22 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, continuing his run as a reliable RB2.

Overall, not our best record on the late release. With a little more time this week, our projections should look a little better.

Starts

David Johnson

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals

There’s a good chance that most of you who have DJ are not particularly relevant in the fantasy playoffs. For a top 3 pick, he has been rather underwhelming. He is nonetheless in a good spot this week for those who did make it (or those who traded for him). Atlanta has been atrocious against the run all season as they are allowing 5 YPC, the second worst mark in the league. They also aren’t all that great at defending against receiving backs, although it does look like they’ve improved since the beginning of the season. DJ figures to continue to get fed as QB Josh Rosen stumbles through his rookie season, so with the positive matchup DJ stands to easily reach 100 yards from scrimmage and will likely see a touchdown to end his current 4 game drought.

Ken Dixon

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Yes, the Ravens backfield is a mess. Yes, Gus Edwards appears to be the lead back. So why are we recommending Dixon? Simple; he’s better. Remember, at one point Dixon was the anointed savior of the Ravens backfield. That status was derailed by injuries and a suspension, but the skill is still there. He outproduced Edwards last week against the Chiefs and the Baltimore brass have made it clear that they want to give Dixon more touches. Against a Tampa Bay defense that’s bottom 10 in the league against the run, Dixon should find room to operate. He’s still in a timeshare so don’t expect him to be among the week leaders, but he should be the best option in the Ravens backfield with respectable RB2 numbers.

Doug Martin

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As Oakland’s early down pounder, Martin’s volume has been spotty on the cellar-dweller Raiders. His 3.9 YPC mark isn’t exactly top notch either. However, this could easily be his best week of the season. No team has allowed more rushing yards that the Bengals this year, and their offense sans Andy Dalton, A. J. Green, and Tyler Eifert isn’t exactly putting points on the board. It’ll be hard for the Raiders to find themselves down by enough to abandon the run, which should give Martin plenty of opportunities to rack up points for fantasy owners.

Dalvin Cook

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Well Cook truthers, this is it. John Defilippo, the rising star who Minnesota hired as the new offensive coordinator during the offseason, was removed from his duties at least in part due to his unwillingness to use Cook despite head coach Mike Zimmer’s pleading. Cook has looked like lightning in a bottle when healthy, and if replacement OC Kevin Stefanski follows Zimmer’s orders Cook might finally start seeing some volume. The coaching change came at a good time for Cook too; Miami is allowing 139.5 rushing yards per game, well within the bottom 5 of the league. If the Viking defense can rediscover its spark and shut down the hot-and-cold Miami offense, Cook should be in for a career day.

Fades

Aaron Jones

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Jones owners have probably been aggravated by the Packers’ inconsistent use of their star running back. After all, he’s averaging an incredible 5.6 YPC on the season and has logged a touchdown for 5 straight weeks. While the coaching change might be the breath of fresh air this offense needs, this week will provide a be a bit of a stumbling block. The Bears are the second best run defense in the NFL and are fresh off holding the top fantasy running back to 58 total yards on 14 touches. Jones will likely find very little room to run, and is unlikely to see his touchdown streak extended.

Mike Evans

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Evans hasn’t always been a top receiver play this year, but he’s been a good play more often than not. Unfortunately, this week looks like it’s more likely to be a miss than a hit. This week he draws a tough matchup against a Ravens defense that just held the red-hot Chiefs to their second lowest point total of the year (only 1 point off their lowest). While Tyreek Hill certainly didn’t look too bad, he was also the only 100-yard receiver the Ravens allowed all year. Evans will be operating in a weaker offense and competing with more mouths to feed. Don’t expect much out of him this week.

Kenny Golladay

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Golladay’s production has been rather erratic since he became the only healthy starting receiver the Lions had left. On the one hand, he has a ton of talent and has the trust of Matthew Stafford. On the other hand, with Golden Tate now with the Eagles and Marvin Jones on IR defenses can pile all their DBs on Golladay. This week seems like a week where the defense will win that battle. The Bills’ roller-coaster offense has been overshadowing the stingiest pass defense in the NFL; their 185.8 passing yards allowed per game is almost 20 fewer than the second lowest mark. What’s more, only two players have reached the century mark against them, and both of those receivers were slot receivers (Adam Thielen and Julian Edelman). Golladay is likely to face blanket coverage that will prevent him from being able to do much in the stat sheet.

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