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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 15

Welcome back for the Week 15 edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, your matchup guide for all of this weekend’s NFL contests. While the information conveyed below piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used to evaluate those decisions as well.

In each NFL Week 15 game profile below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious matchup/usage concerns, require lowered expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory.

Note: Fantasy points allowed statistics are based off of the Fantasy Sharks default PPR scoring system. Point Spreads and Over/Unders are based off the Fantasy Sharks consensus analysis.

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2019 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Patriots Bengals
Quarterback 32nd 9th
Running Back 31st 10th
Wide Receiver 32nd 23rd
Tight End 25th 23rd
Defense/Special Teams 26th 6th
Vegas Line: Patriots -9.5
Vegas Over/Under: 40.5
green-light
  • Julian Edelman – On an 8 game streak of games played with 10 or more targets. Edelman is pretty much the only wideout Tom Brady can rely on, and it shows in the weekly box scores.
  • Patriots D/ST – Yes, reinstalling QB Andy Dalton as their starter has given the Bengals a shot in the arm, but let’s be real, they were an 0-8 football team prior to his benching. The Patriots defense should have their way this week.
yellow-light
  • Sony Michel – Burned fantasy managers badly (me being one) who believed a cupcake matchup against the Chiefs last Sunday would get Michel going. I’m doubling down here as the Bengals aren’t capable of generating enough offense of their own to force New England into hurry-up mode.
red-light
  • Tom Brady – Cincinnati hasn’t exactly been a pass funnel, and New England likely won’t need to throw a ton to win this one.
  • James White – At his best when New England is chasing points on the scoreboard, which is highly unlikely to be the scenario this Sunday.
  • Joe Mixon – Since the Bengals’ Week 9 bye, Mixon is averaging 117.8 total yards per game with three touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Patriots are among the NFL’s best at containing opposing running backs, and they’ve only allowed two of them to score all year.
  • Tyler Boyd – Like Mixon, Boyd has also come on strong lately, but is all but certain to get erased from this week’s equation by New England’s secondary.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2019 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Buccaneers Lions
Quarterback 5th 8th
Running Back 30th 3rd
Wide Receiver 1st 11th
Tight End 3rd 15th
Defense/Special Teams 13th 18th
Vegas Line: Buccaneers -3.5
Vegas Over/Under: 47.5
green-light
  • Kenny Golladay – Up to 10-216-2 on 13 targets in two games catching passes from third-string turned starting quarterback David BloughMarvin Jones‘ (ankle) recent trip to IR likely means even more opportunities for Golladay against Tampa Bay’s pass funnel defense.
  • Chris Godwin – The Lions have allowed the 5th-most receiving yards to opposing wideouts. Look for Godwin to pick up the slack with Mike Evans (hamstring) reportedly done for the remainder of 2019.
yellow-light
  • Jameis Winston (thumb) – The NFL’s second-leading passer (yardage) suffered an injury last Sunday, but is expected to play through it. The Lions have allowed the third-most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks, but the risk of Winston suffering re-aggravation is real, and he’ll be without stud wideout Mike Evans (hamstring).
  • Ronald Jones – While he continues to be stuck in a timeshare with the plodding Peyton Barber, Jones has breakout potential against a Lions defense allowing 156.3 total yards per game to opposing backfields.
  • Buccaneers D/ST – While Lions QB David Blough hasn’t been terrible in two starts, he has thrown three interceptions and taken 6 sacks. The Bucs will be able to force Detroit to become one-dimensional, so the shaky secondary needs to step up and create some turnovers.
red-light
  • O.J. Howard – It’s likely no coincidence that his season-high 73 receiving yards came in a game that Mike Evans exited early. Detroit has not allowed more than 10 PPR fantasy points to an opposing tight end since Week 7.
  • Bo Scarbrough – The second-year bruiser figures to have an excruciatingly frustrating day against the NFL’s best rush defense.

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2019 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Texans Titans
Quarterback 7th 17th
Running Back 5th 11th
Wide Receiver 14th 18th
Tight End 12th 7th
Defense/Special Teams 20th 11th
Vegas Line: Titans -3
Vegas Over/Under: 50
green-light
  • Ryan Tannehill – Continues to play some of the best football of his career with a 391 passing yard/three touchdown performance last Sunday against the Raiders.
  • DeAndre Hopkins – Figures to be targeted relentlessly with Will Fuller (hamstring) still trying to get healthy. Hopkins has at least 74 receiving yards and/or a touchdown in 10 of 12 career games played against the Titans.
  • Deshaun Watson – Has accounted for 877 combined rushing/receiving yards and 8 total touchdowns over the Texans last three games. Tennessee has allowed the 8th-most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks.
yellow-light
  • Duke Johnson – He’s gone 11-94-1 receiving on 14 targets to go along with 10-41-0 on the ground in two games without Will Fuller. Johnson is the safest of the Texans’ running backs considering his PPR floor, and no team has permitted more than Tennessee’s 110 to the position.
  • Derrick Henry (hamstring) – The Texans allow just 90.5 rushing yards and 0.38 rushing touchdowns per game to opposing backfields. Currently at less than 100 percent, Henry could see a few more of his carries than usual go to capable backup Dion Lewis.
  • A.J. Brown – The pattern appears to be Brown alternating huge fantasy performances with mediocre ones, at last Sunday was the most impressive of them all (5-153-2 receiving on 7 targets). Only Mike Williams averages more yards-per-reception than Brown’s 20.0 among wideouts with at least 60 targets.
red-light
  • Carlos Hyde – On pace for one the quietest 1,000+ yard rushing seasons in recent memory, but it all just feels like empty calories considering Hyde doesn’t score or catch passes. Tennessee allows the 10th-fewest rushing yards per game to opposing backfields.
  • Corey Davis – It’s just not happening this year for the former 5th overall draft pick (’17), as he’s been held to two catches or less in each of the Titans’ last 5 games.
  • Jonnu Smith – Houston allows the 9th-most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends, but Smith’s recent usage isn’t at a point where he can be safely deployed in fantasy lineups.

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2019 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Broncos Chiefs
Quarterback 24th 15th
Running Back 20th 1st
Wide Receiver 26th 31st
Tight End 19th 5th
Defense/Special Teams 10th 31st
Vegas Line: Chiefs -10
Vegas Over/Under: 46
green-light
  • Chiefs D/ST – They’ve held their last three opponents to 17 points or less. Even with rookie Drew Lock playing well through two starts, Denver is the NFL’s 6th-lowest scoring team.
yellow-light
  • Tyreek Hill – Over the last four weeks, the normally stingy Denver secondary has allowed the 8th-most receiving yards to opposing wideouts. Hill went 3-74-1 against these same Broncos back in Week 7 while catching passes from Matt Moore.
  • Travis Kelce – Has at least 62 receiving yards or a touchdown in every game since Week 8. Denver is a team Kelce typically torments, as he’s averaged 80.6 receiving yards against them across 10 career contests played.
  • Patrick Mahomes (hand) – As mentioned above with Tyreek Hill, the Denver pass defense has sprung a few leaks (over the Broncos last seven games, five different quarterbacks have accounted for multiple touchdowns against them). Mahomes is expected to play through the injury he picked up last Sunday against the Patriots, though he could get pulled if/when the Chiefs stake a large lead.
  • Noah Fant (foot) – Has three performances of 60 receiving yards or more, and two with 14 or less over the Broncos’ last 5 games. Kansas City allows the 5th-most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends, though Fant’s injury has him in danger of being limited, if not sidelined altogether.
  • Phillip Lindsay – This is a pristine matchup considering the Chiefs allow the most total yards per game to opposing running backs. However, Lindsay hasn’t eclipsed 70 rushing yards in any contest since the Broncos’ Week 9 bye.
red-light
  • Chiefs Running Backs – Damien Williams (ribs) returned to practice this week, and appears on track to play. Newly signed Spencer Ware led this group in offensive snaps played last Sunday against the Patriots, though was primarily used as a pass blocker. LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson also figure to remain involved as well, so there’s no telling how head coach Andy Reid plans to use his backfield stable in what projects as an unfavorable matchup.
  • Royce Freeman – Even in a blowout win last Sunday, Freeman carried the ball just 8 times as compared to Phillip Lindsay‘s 16.
  • Courtland Sutton – The Chiefs have allowed the 4th-fewest receiving yards per game to opposing wideouts. Sutton went 6-87-0 against KC back in Week 7, though that was with Emmanuel Sanders playing alongside him and drawing additional defensive attention.

Miami Dolphins at New York Giants

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2019 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Dolphins Giants
Quarterback 3rd 6th
Running Back 7th 16th
Wide Receiver 4th 2nd
Tight End 16th 18th
Defense/Special Teams 1st 5th
Vegas Line: Giants -3.5
Vegas Over/Under: 46.5
green-light
  • Saquon Barkley – After opening 2019 with two straight 100+ yard rushing efforts, Barkley’s has zero in 8 games since. Miami’s NFL-worst rush defense (against opposing running backs) should help Barkley finish out his disappointing sophomore campaign on a high note.
  • DeVante Parker (concussion) – Still not cleared to play, but will be in a blow-up spot if that can happen before Sunday. The Giants’ secondary has allowed the second-most receiving yards per game to opposing wideouts, and had been thriving as the Dolphins’ alpha receiver prior to getting concussed last Sunday. Update: Parker practiced Friday wearing a regular jersey, which would seem to indicate he’s good-to-go.
yellow-light
  • Golden Tate/Sterling Shepard/Darius Slayton – Tate and Shepard took a backseat to Slayton last Monday night in rainy conditions. Miami has allowed a NFL-high 23 receiving touchdowns to opposing wideouts, so there should be production to go around. However,  there are concerns around how consistently Eli Manning can feed three different receivers, as well as the potential return of TE Evan Engram (foot). Update: Engram is not expected to play.
  • Eli Manning – Threw two touchdowns in spot-start duty last Monday evening. Daniel Jones (ankle) is at least a week a way, so Manning will helm the offense this Sunday, and has a favorable matchup going for him.
  • Patrick Laird – It wasn’t the flashiest performance last Sunday against the Jets, but Laird generated 86 total yards on 19 touches, and was on the field for 86 percent of the Dolphins’ offense snaps. Given that Miami is banged up at receiver, Laird’s pass-catching prowess will come in handy.
  • Mike Gesicki – Bombed with just 1-5-0 on five targets against a Jets defense that has been stingy to opposing tight ends this season. The matchup isn’t great, but the Dolphins are starved for guys to step up and make plays in the pass game.
red-light
  • None of note.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.