Drew Magyar
What Did We Learn - Week 15

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This week, let’s talk fantasy headlines from Week 14. Looking at the numbers, there are some guys you can trust going forward, and there are others that may even be on waivers that you can either add to your starting lineup or just prevent your opponent from grabbing. Then, we’ll discuss guys and matchups that may mean tough decisions for fantasy owners.

Roddy White is back healthy. I know, I know. It took him long enough. But White looks like he’s finally healthy again. Now, chances are that teams who invested a third- or fourth-round pick in White are probably out of the playoffs. But if you find yourself in a situation where you’re still in the running, and White is on your roster, you have to at least consider using him. He caught eight balls for 74 yards on Sunday, meaning he’s hauled in 18 balls for 217 yards in his last two games. And this week he gets the Washington Redskins, who have struggled against the pass all season. They also might struggle with all the coach Mike Shanahan drama, and I think White will put on a show in Atlanta this Sunday.

James Starks becomes an interesting name this week. Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He played through the pain, but he didn’t look all that great following the injury. While Lacy’s status is still uncertain, I feel like he probably won’t suit up, meaning Starks may draw the start. He faces a Dallas run defense that has been the most generous to opposing running backs. Oh, and he also may be getting back that Aaron Rodgers guy, who I hear is pretty good. If Starks is available in your league, he needs to be owned this week. If you have him on your roster, he’s a valuable piece this week.

Matt McGloin provides some hope for the Oakland offense. The Oakland offense sputtered quite a bit with Terrelle Pryor at the helm. Since making the switch to McGloin, the Raiders seem like they have more options. They can still throw long, but they also have more flexibility in the short passing game. He provides more offensive balance. On Sunday, he threw for 245 yards and a pair of scores against the New York Jets. Keep in mind that the Raiders do play Kansas City this week, but Rashad Jennings has been cleared to play. Marcel Reece will return to his fullback/receiver role, but I think McGloin’s success means better numbers for Jennings and the Oakland receivers, specifically Rod Streater.

Josh Gordon: there are no words. Gordon has been the surprise player of the season in my opinion. I targeted him in drafts because I figured his eventual production would be worthy of cracking my starting lineup. I had no idea that he would be the top fantasy wideout at this point. On Sunday, he had his worst game in three weeks, catching only seven passes for just 151 yards and one measly touchdown. Seriously, that was his “worst” game in his last three. He set a record for receiving yards in a four-game span with 774 yards, and that’s with a combination of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. He should be a second-round pick next year. Or, possibly first.

Charles Clay is for real. Going into his tough Week 14 matchup with Pittsburgh, Clay was already a top-10 tight end in pretty much every scoring system. Then he went out and put up seven receptions for 97 yards and two scores. He’s clearly a focal point in the offense, and a trusted target for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Despite being a guy who wasn’t really on preseason draft boards, Clay has now caught 60 balls for 678 yards and six touchdowns. The strange thing is that he’s only owned in about half of leagues. If he’s available, you may want to grab him, as Rob Gronkowski’s owner will surely be looking. This week, he faces a New England defense that just allowed Jordan Cameron to reel in nine balls for 121 yards and a score.

Daniel Thomas looks like a good play for Miami. Thomas is another Miami player that has remained under the radar. Thomas had always fallen well short of expectations, burning many fantasy owners in the past. As a result, the Dolphins drafted Lamar Miller, who was a preseason fantasy darling. But the Dolphins coaching staff kept insisting that they would employ a committee approach in the backfield, which seemed crazy. While Miller has received more attention and more touches, Thomas has continued to get his share as well. On Sunday, he ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on just 16 rushes. As I mentioned above, Miami hosts New England next week, and the Patriots have struggled this season against the run.

Montee Ball is getting some late season run. Ball has established himself as the clear No. 2 in Denver behind Knowshon Moreno. He’s had his struggles with ball security, but he’s played well lately, posting solid back-to-back games. In Week 13 at Kansas City, he ran 13 times for 117 yards, and this week, he followed it up with a 15-carry, 77-yard, one-touchdown outing. The Broncos have clinched a playoff spot and have all but locked up the division as well, so they may look to keep Moreno fresh for the NFL playoffs, meaning Ball may pay dividends in the fantasy postseason.

Toby Gerhart is a top pickup this week. Unfortunately, it took an Adrian Peterson injury to put Gerhart on our wish lists. Peterson’s diagnosis is a mid-foot sprain, and since the Vikings have nothing to play for at this point, he’ll probably rest. That means Gerhart, who tweaked his hamstring towards the end last week’s game, may get the spot start. He racked up 89 yards and a score on 15 carries on Sunday, and he has a shot at decent numbers against the Philadelphia Eagles this week.

Hakeem Nicks is a mirage. On Sunday, Nicks caught five balls for 135 yards. He flashes playmaking ability on occasion, but he’s really fallen flat on his face in a contract year. His 49 catches for 789 yards don’t seem bad, but he’s yet to score this season. While the offense is likely to be passing a lot, it just seems that Victor Cruz is really the only Giants receiver you can rely on. Plus, he gets Seattle next week, and they’ve been kryptonite for opposing wideouts.

Colin Kaepernick has been really disappointing this season. After a late-season run that culminated with a trip to the Super Bowl, we all figured he was going to just tear the league apart. We figured he’d average 300-400 total yards per game and drive defenses crazy with the read option. Instead, he hasn’t run all that much, and the offense has been fairly unimpressive most of the season. He opened the season with a 412-yard, three-score effort against the Green Bay Packers. But since then, he’s failed to top 300 yards passing, topping 200 yards just three times. The 49ers have been a solid team, but Kaepernick has disappointed fantasy owners, and we all need to remember this next season.

Now we get to something that may be the most difficult part of the fantasy postseason. All year long, we preach depth and patience. You have to be able to weather the storm with bye weeks and injuries, but what do you do when you’ve got your entire roster at your disposal. You may have some tough decisions to make.

Let’s discuss the guys who might be second, third, or fourth on your depth chart and whether you should play him or sit him based on his Week 15 matchup. I’m not saying you should sit Jamaal Charles or Dez Bryant for these guys, just that they’re good starts.

Recommended Plays

Quarterback

Nick Foles at Minnesota

Philip Rivers vs. Denver

E.J. Manuel at Jacksonville

Running Back

James Starks at Dallas

Pierre Thomas at St. Louis

Daniel Thomas vs. New England

Wide Receiver

Eric Decker vs. San Diego

Keenan Allen at Denver

Riley Cooper at Minnesota

Marlon Brown at Detroit

Tight End

Delanie Walker vs. Arizona

Andrew Quarless at Dallas

Brent Celek at Minnesota


What about the other side of the coin? Here are the third and fourth guys at a position who have rough matchups this week:

Recommended Sits

Quarterback

Carson Palmer at Tennessee

Mike Glennon vs. San Francisco

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cincinnati

Running Back

Chris Ivory at Carolina

DeAngelo Williams vs. New York Jets

Joique Bell vs. Baltimore

Wide Receiver

Hakeem Nicks vs. Seattle

Kendall Hunter vs. Arizona

Golden Tate at New York Giants

Marvin Jones at Pittsburgh

Tight End

Timothy Wright vs. San Francisco

Jermaine Gresham at Pittsburgh

Brandon Myers vs. Seattle

Good luck in Week 15!

Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at drewmagyar@gmail.com.