Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers – In his last matchup against Kansas City way back in Week 1, Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards, three touchdowns and totaled 31.8 fantasy points, all of which are season-highs for Rivers up to this point in the season. Prior to Week 14, Rivers had thrown at least two passing touchdowns in every game and had totaled at least 20 fantasy points in 8-of-12 games this season. Rivers’ lackluster performance in Week 14 against Cincinnati where he threw for just 220 yards and one touchdown en route to a measly 13.5 fantasy point day should be viewed as an outlier performance in what otherwise has been a remarkable season for the veteran quarterback.
A Thursday Night matchup in Week 15 against Kansas City has all the makings of a high-scoring, shootout type of affair between two of the best teams in the AFC, so you would have to be crazy to consider benching Rivers after one subpar performance. Kansas City’s defense has been prone to giving up bunches of yards on chunk plays this season. Kansas City has given up an enormous 56 plays of at least 20 passing yards through 13 games, which ranks dead last in the NFL. Kansas City’s defense also ranks 31st in completions allowed (338), 32nd in passing yards allowed per game (304), and 28th in fantasy points allowed per game (20.8) to opposing quarterbacks. It’s a plus matchup (even on the road), so don’t get cute and consider benching Rivers – not this week. He’s been awesome all season and should rebound nicely after a forgettable performance last week against Cincinnati. View him as a legitimate, mid-level QB1 for the rest of the season.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh – As a New England fan, this one stings, but you can’t ignore the fact that New England’s defense has been awful on the road this season, and against some really suspect quarterbacks in the process. Here is a list of the quarterbacks New England has faced on the road this season and their performances in those games:
Week 2 – Blake Bortles (376 passing yards, 4 TD, 35 rushing yards 34.5 fantasy points)
Week 3 – Matthew Stafford (262 passing yards, 2 TD, 17.4 fantasy points)
Week 7 – Mitchell Trubisky (333 passing yards, 2 TD, 85 rushing yards, rush TD, 33.3 fantasy points)
Week 10 – Marcus Mariota (228 passing yards, 2 TD, 22.2 fantasy points)
Week 11 – Josh McCown (276 passing yards, TD, 25 rushing yards, 15.5 fantasy points)
Week 14 – Ryan Tannehill (265 passing yards, 3 TD, 23.9 fantasy points)
For those keeping track at home, that’s an average of 22.1 fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks on the road this season for the New England defense. If you exclude the Week 8 matchup against Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman, who, frankly, are absolute jokes and have no business playing quarterback in the NFL, New England has given up an average of 24.5 fantasy points per game on the road. That’s um, not very good. Really, though, look at that list of quarterbacks’ right there. That’s a whole heap of garbage and mediocrity that New England has faced on the road this season. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are an entirely different animal that is going to wreak havoc on a Jekyll and Hyde defense in Week 15. They all make for high upside fantasy players this week who will propel many fantasy teams to the championship in Week 16. Lastly, New England’s defense ranks in the Bottom 10 in the league in completions allowed, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns allowed, and average fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks this season. Keep an eye on Roethlisberger’s injury situation, but seriously, what are the odds Roethlisberger sits out a game of this magnitude at this point in the season? He’ll play, and he’ll likely finish as a Top 5 fantasy quarterback in Week 15, so keep him locked into your starting lineup and enjoy the bevy of fantasy points you’ll get from him this week.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver – Phillip Lindsay is having an outstanding rookie season in 2018. He has taken full control of the Denver backfield and is well on his way to an RB1 finish in 12-team leagues. The undrafted rookie out of Colorado-Boulder had another solid performance in Week 14 against San Francisco, scurrying for 30 rushing yards on 14 carries with one rushing touchdown, and hauling in four receptions (on seven targets) for 21 receiving yards in Denver’s 20-14 loss to San Francisco, bringing his point per reception (PPR) league fantasy point total to 15.1 on the day. That 15.1 PPR point performance marks the sixth time in the last seven games where Lindsay has totaled at least 15 PPR points, and the eighth time he’s accomplished that feat this season. He ranks 11th among running backs with 220.1 PPR points and will finish in the Top 10 among running backs with a couple more solid performances to end the season. Denver is 6-1 in games where Lindsay has rushed for at least 70 yards, and 0-6 in games where he has fewer than 70 rushing yards. That’s a telling stat if you ask me. The Denver offense, now without Emmanuel Sanders, has to run through Lindsay in these final three weeks of the season if it wants to have any shot at making the playoffs. A Week 15 matchup against a poor Cleveland defense that has allowed 255 rushing yards on 49 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and 14 receptions and 116 receiving yards to opposing running backs over the previous three weeks is an appealing matchup for Lindsay and the Denver offense. Cleveland’s defense also ranks 26th in average PPR fantasy points allowed per game (27.8) to running backs, so slot Lindsay into your starting lineup and expect a big performance from your stud running back and hope he can catapult your team to the fantasy championship in Week 16.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville – For as difficult of a player he is to like given his antics of late, Leonard Fournette has a tantalizing matchup in Week 15 against a below-average Washington defense that has been gouged on the ground over the previous five weeks. Since Week 11, Washington’s defense has allowed 523 rushing yards on 93 rushing attempts (5.6 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs and currently has some guy named Josh Johnson running their offense. Washington’s season, for all intents and purposes, is lost, so expect Jacksonville’s above-average defense to force the Washington offense to punt early and often in this game. Less time on the field for the Washington offense will result in more offensive plays for the Jacksonville offense. Jacksonville should feature Fournette from the get-go and let him run wild against this soft defense. Fournette has seen at least 14 carries in the four games since he’s been back from injury, running for 279 yards and four touchdowns while also catching 12 receptions for 120 yards and a receiving touchdown, as well. He’s an elite fantasy running back when he’s on the field, which he will be in Week 15. If you’ve made it this far with Fournette on your roster this whole time, it must have taken some skilled waiver wire moves and savvy trades to get where you are now. I’m here to tell you that being patient with Fournette and never giving up at any point this season is going to pay off in a big way in Week 15 to the tune of at least 25 PPR points from your second-round draft pick (Fournette). View Fournette has a mid-level RB1 for this week and for the rest of the season.
Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas – Amari Cooper has been one of the best fantasy wide receivers over the last six weeks. Since joining Dallas, Cooper has hauled in a staggering 40 receptions (on 53 targets) for 642 receiving yards and has scored six touchdowns. He’s averaged 23.9 PPR fantasy points in that timeframe and has cemented himself as a legitimate, high-end WR2 for the rest of the season. Cooper had the best fantasy performance of his career in Week 14 against Philadelphia, catching 10 passes for 217 receiving yards and three touchdowns, good for a total of 52.7 PPR points. He and Dak Prescott have connected on a bunch of deep passes and have been wreaking havoc on opposing defenses these last six weeks. Dallas is 5-1 since Cooper joined the team and is well on its way to an NFC East title and a playoff berth.
Cooper’s Week 15 matchup against Indianapolis is another prime opportunity for Cooper to propel his fantasy owners to the championship. The Indianapolis defense has done a good job defending the wide receiver position this season. Indianapolis is allowing an average of 29.7 PPR points per game to receivers (which ranks sixth in the NFL), but the fact that the Dallas offense cannot be stopped right now should lead you to believe that Cooper will once again have a dominant fantasy performance in what should be a high-scoring affair between two above-average offenses. Looking ahead to Week 16, Dallas will host a hapless Tampa Bay defense that is allowing an average of 39.9 PPR points to receivers this season (28th), which is a highly favorable matchup for the Dallas offense. Keep Cooper locked into your WR2 spot for the duration of the season.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston – Speaking of elite fantasy wide receivers, Hopkins is having one of the best seasons of his career in 2018. Hopkins enters Week 15 averaging 19.7 PPR points per game, which ranks eighth among receivers through 14 weeks. Hopkins is one of two receivers in the NFL who has recorded at least 70 receiving yards or scored a touchdown in every game this season (the other being Davante Adams). He is also one of three wide receivers to have totaled at least 12 PPR points in every game this season (Adam Thielen, Davante Adams being the others). He ranks in the Top 10 in targets (114), receptions (80), receiving yards (1,151), and touchdowns (9), and is well on his way to back-to-back Top 7 wide receiver finishes in 2018. A Week 15 matchup against a porous New York Jets secondary sets up perfectly for Hopkins to deliver another high-end fantasy performance for fantasy teams vying for a spot in their league championship. New York’s defense has surrendered the third-most receptions (189), receiving yards per game (189), and PPR fantasy points per game (40.8) to opposing wide receivers this season. View Hopkins as an elite, mid-level WR1 with a high weekly upside in Week 15 and for the rest of the season.