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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 15

Can you trust Matt Ryan, Jalen Hurts or Russell Wilson to help you win a fantasy championship? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson has the answers and gives us the latest injury report in his Week 15 edition of “Traps and Trends.”

THE WEEK 15 FANTASY FOOTBALL SUMMARY:

  • The results of Phase No. 2 of the Jalen Hurts Experiment were mind-blowing and fantastic for anyone who rolled the dice and gave him a start for their playoff fantasy team(s). Even though the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals 33-26 at State Farm Stadium, Hurts impressed for the second straight game. He connected on just 24 of 44 throws (54.5 percent completions) but racked up 333 passing yards and three touchdown strikes versus no interceptions and toted the rock 11 times for 63 yards and one touchdown. In my column last week, I wrote, “It’ll take a Hurts injury for us to see Carson Wentz under center again.” That statement is etched in stone now.
  • The success of David Montgomery remains one of the NFL’s more surprising late-season stories. During the Chicago Bears’ 33-27 upset win over the Minnesota Vikings, Montgomery steamrolled the Vikings defense with 32 carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns, which were all season highs. In his last four outings, Montgomery has rushed for 100-plus yards three times and racked up six touchdowns. It’s no coincidence that his streak of top-shelf fantasy production started after Bears head coach Matt Nagy gave up the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in Week 10.
  • We woke up Sunday morning to the news that Ezekiel Elliott (calf) was inactive, and Tony Pollard was pressed into starting duties. If you used him as a plug-and-play option in an admittedly tough matchup against a San Francisco 49ers defense that had allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the running back position, you hit the jackpot. Operating in a workhorse role with Elliott inactive during the Dallas Cowboys’ 41-33 win over San Francisco, Pollard carried 12 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns, and caught six of a team-high nine targets for 63 yards. The bulk of Pollards’s 69 rushing yards came on a 40-yard jaunt to seal the game, which was 14 yards longer than Elliott’s longest run of the season. Pollard’s 132 total yards also topped Elliott’s best effort of 2020 by five yards. If Zeke’s calf remains an issue, Pollard will draw another start in a more challenging Week 16 home matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • A shortage of healthy wideouts and tight ends was a huge inconvenience for the Miami Dolphins offense, but the Fish opted to use an old school ground-and-pound philosophy on offense to defeat the New England Patriots 22-11, knocking them of the postseason for the first time since 2008. As a team, the Dolphins toted the rock 42 times for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Myles Gaskin (reserve/COVID-19) remained out, but Salvon Ahmed paced Miami with 23 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown while Matt Breida poured in 86 yards on 12 carries. Tua Tagovailoa carried just three times for nine yards but notched two rushing touchdowns. By the way, New England allowed 186 rushing yards to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. You can definitely run on the Patriots.
  • A lot of fantasy mangers understandably shied away from starting Matt Ryan against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have been up and down on defense lately, but the main reason was Ryan’s poor fantasy production without Julio Jones in the starting lineup. On the season, in eight contests played prior to the Tampa Bay game with Jones, Ryan had thrown for an average of 312 yards per game and amassed a 15:4 TD-to-INT ratio. In five games played without Jones or with his very limited participation, Ryan averaged 232.8 passing yards per outing and compiled a 4:7 TD-to-INT ratio. The Atlanta Falcons lost to Tampa Bay 31-27, but Ryan, despite some struggles in the second half, surprised by hitting on 34 of 49 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns. My only guess is that the Buccaneers, who trailed 17-0 at the half, didn’t take the Falcons seriously in the early going.
  • Year 3 of the Josh Allen Experiment is clearly a resounding success. Selected by the Buffalo Bills seventh overall in the 2018 NFL draft, Allen came out of Wyoming with impressive foot speed and scrambling ability for a man of his size (6-foot-5, 237 pounds). However, with a college career completion percentage of just 56.2 percent in three seasons with the Wyoming Cowboys, Allen was considered a major project as a passer despite his rocket arm. As a rookie, he connected on just 52.8 percent of his passes. Fast forward to the 2020 season, Week 15. During the Bills’ 48-19 shellacking of the Denver Broncos, Allen went 28-for-40 for 359 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed three times for 33 yards and one score to lead Buffalo to its first AFC East crown since 1995. It wasn’t his best game of the season, but Allen has now thrown for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns against just seven picks while connecting on a sparkling 68.7 percent of his throws. Allen deserves NFL Most Valuable Player consideration. Hey Bills Mafia, if I had a MVP vote, I’d give it to Allen.

THE WEEK 15 INJURY REPORT

This is the longest report since Week 10. Last week there were no notable injuries at running back, which was unusual. However, we have a notable number of injuries at that position this week. As always, keep in mind that some teams withhold injury information until Monday, so a few more names could be added:

QB Matthew Stafford (ribs)

QB Nick Mullens (elbow)

RB James Robinson (ankle; returned to his game)

RB Raheem Mostert (ankle)

RB Jeff Wilson (hamstring)

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (hip/leg)

RB Le’Veon Bell (arm)

RB DeeJay Dallas (ankle)

RB Cam Akers (ankle)

RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee)

WR Stefon Diggs (foot)

WR Michael Gallup (hip)

WR Jalen Reagor (ankle)

WR Tre’Quan Smith (ankle)

WR Collin Johnson (concussion)

TE Richard Rodgers (shin)

Read on for this weeks Traps, Trends & Toss-ups!

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.